Sermons on important subjects by Rev. Paul C. Jong
The Altar of Burnt Offering
< Exodus 27:1-8 >
"You shall make an altar of acacia wood, five cubits long and five cubits wide-the altar shall be square-and its height shall be three cubits. You shall make its horns on its four corners; its horns shall be of one piece with it. And you shall overlay it with bronze. Also you shall make its pans to receive its ashes, and its shovels and its basins and its forks and its firepans; you shall make all its utensils of bronze. You shall make a grate for it, a network of bronze; and on the network you shall make four bronze rings at its four corners. You shall put it under the rim of the altar beneath, that the network may be midway up the altar. And you shall make poles for the altar, poles of acacia wood, and overlay them with bronze. The poles shall be put in the rings, and the poles shall be on the two sides of the altar to bear it. You shall make it hollow with boards; as it was shown you on the mountain, so shall they make it."
I would like to discuss the faith manifested in the altar of burnt offering. When the people of Israel broke any of the 613 articles of the Law of God and the commandments that they had to keep in their everyday life, and when they recognized their sins, they gave to God their unblemished offerings according to the sacrificial system set by Him. The place where they gave these offerings is the altar of burnt offering. The people of Israel, in other words, received their remission of sin by laying their hands on the head of the unblemished sacrificial animal, cutting its throat and drawing its blood, putting this blood on the horns of the altar of burnt offering and pouring the rest on the ground, and burning the flesh of this sacrifice on the altar.
What Is the Spiritual Meaning of the Altar of Burnt Offering?
The altar of burnt offering, measuring 2.25 m (7.5 feet) in both length and width and 1.35 m (4.5 feet) in height, was made of acacia wood and overlaid by bronze. Whenever the Israelites looked at this altar of burnt offering, they came to recognize that they were the ones who had been locked in their judgment and unable to avoid their condemnation. And just as the sacrificial animal was put to death, they also realized that they, too, had to die because of their sins. But they also came to believe that the Messiah would come to this earth and blot out their sins by being condemned and put to death like the sacrificial offering because of their sins.
The altar of burnt offering was a shadow of Jesus Christ our Savior. As the unblemished animals were sacrificed with the laying on of hands and the shedding of its blood, Jesus Christ came to us as the Son of God and bore the condemnation of all our sins. Just as the sacrificial offerings of the Old Testament had to accept all sins through the laying on of hands and shed their blood, He accepted all the sins of the world passed onto Him by being baptized by John, and bore the condemnation of these sins by shedding His blood on the Cross.
In this way, the altar of burnt offering shows us that Jesus Christ took all our sins upon Himself with His baptism, died on the Cross, rose form the dead again, and has thereby saved us.
To Be Forgiven of Their Sins, the Israelites Had to Give Their Sacrificial Offerings at the Altar of Burnt Offering
When we look at chapter 4 of the Book of Leviticus, we see that whenever the anointed priests, the whole congregation of Israel, a ruler, or any of the common people sinned, they received their remission of sin by bringing a sacrificial offering to God, putting their hands on its head, killing it, drawing its blood, and taking it to the altar of burnt offering and offering it to God.
As a matter of fact, as this altar of burnt offering was where the Israelites gave their sin offerings everyday, not a day went by when it was not busy. The Israelites who wanted to get rid of their sins prepared an unblemished animal and gave it to God on the altar of burnt offering as their sacrificial offering. Sinners passed all their sins onto the sacrificial animal by putting their hands on its head, and, as the judgment of these sins, drew its blood by cutting its throat. Priests then put this blood of the sacrificial offering on the horns of the altar of burnt offering, and burnt its flesh and fat on the altar. This is how the people of Israel received their remission of sin.
Regardless of who it was that sinned, whether it was a leader of the people of Israel, the High Priest, ordinary priests, the whole congregation, or any of the common people, they had to receive their remission of sin by bringing a sacrificial animal, such as a bull, goat, or ram, and giving it to God as the sacrificial offering.
Sinners or their representatives had to put their hands on the head of the sacrifice, kill it, put its blood on the horns of the altar of burnt offering, pour the rest of the blood on the ground, and thereby burn the fat of their sacrificial offering that would forgive them of their sins. Therefore, many had to bring their sacrificial animals to the altar of burnt offering, lay their hands on the head of the offerings, draw their blood and give it to the priests.
When offerings were given at the altar of burnt offering, these sacrificial offerings had to be unblemished. And when sinners gave offerings to God, they had to make sure to bring unblemished animals before God, and only by laying their hands on the heads of these unblemished sacrificial offerings were their sinned passed onto them. As such, nothing could be left out when giving the sacrificial offering.
Normally, the person who sinned had to put his own hands on the head of his sacrificial animal, but when the whole congregation of Israel sinned, its representative elders laid their hands on the sacrificial offering (Leviticus 4:15). Of course, the sacrificial animal on whose head hands were laid had to be killed by cutting its throat and drawing its blood. And lastly, it had to be burnt on the altar.
The smoke of burning flesh, fat, and wood therefore always filled the place around the altar of burnt offering, and its horns and the ground underneath it were all soaked with the blood of sacrificial animals. The altar of burnt offering was the place of the remission of sin where sacrificial offerings were given to God to cleanse away the sins of the people of Israel.
This altar of burnt offering, where smoke never ceased to rise, was a square measuring 2.25 m (7.5 feet) in both length and width, it was 1.35 m (4.5 feet) in height. A grate of bronze network was placed at its middle, and smoke incessantly rose from the offerings that were burnt by the fire of wood on its grate. Like this, the place where the offerings were burnt and given to God was the altar of burnt offering.
The Utensils of the Altar of Burnt Offering Were All Made of Bronze
The utensils of the altar of burnt offering used to remove and put away ashes were all made of bronze. The altar of burnt offering itself was made by overlaying bronze on acacia wood, and so the altar and its utensils were all made of bronze.
This bronze of the altar of burnt offering has a definite spiritual meaning. Bronze refers to the judgment of sin before God. As such, the altar of burnt offering is a place that shows us clearly that the sinful are most certainly judged of their sins. God will surely condemn people for their sins without fail. The place where the sacrificial offerings were vicariously judged for the sake of sinners by being burnt was this altar of burnt offering, and the altar itself and all its utensils were made of bronze; as such, these things tell us that every sin most certainly entails its judgment.
The altar shows us that because of their sins, people are bound to be condemned and put to death, but by bringing their sacrificial animal to the altar of burnt offering and giving it to God, they can be washed of their sins, receive the remission of sin, and thereby live again. Here, the offerings that were sacrificed on the altar of burnt offerings all tells us that the baptism of Jesus Christ and His bloodshed has forgiven the sins of believers. So this faith that gave the sacrificial offering at the altar of burnt offering is continued on into the New Testament's time as the faith in the baptism and blood of Jesus Christ.
When we believe in Jesus Christ as our Savior, we must give to God our faith that believes in the baptism of Jesus and His blood as our remission of sin. In the Old Testament, this faith is traced to the faith that opens and enters into the gate of the court of the Tabernacle woven of blue, purple, and scarlet thread and fine woven linen.
All the Offerings That Were Sacrificed at the Altar of Burnt Offering Symbolize Jesus Christ
What did Jesus Christ do when He came to this earth? We were sinful; we had sinned against God and broke His Law and commandments. But to blot out all theses sins of ours, Jesus Christ was baptized by John and took the sins of the world upon Himself, and thereby shed His blood on the Cross. Just as the sacrificial offering bore the sins of the Israelites passed onto it with the laying on of hands, and was thereby killed and burnt at the altar of burnt offering, because Jesus Christ came to this earth as the unblemished sacrificial offering, and was baptized, He could then shed His blood of sacrifice on the Cross and die on it in our place. By being nailed on both his hands and feet and shedding His blood, our Lord bore the condemnation of all sins for us, instead of us being condemned for our sins. Thus, He has saved us from all our sins and condemnation.
What did Jesus Christ, who has become the true substance of this altar of burnt offering, do when He came to this earth? Jesus Christ has saved us by taking all our sins upon Himself with His baptism, being crucified and dying on the Cross, and rising from the dead again. Our Lord came to this earth, completed our certain salvation, and then ascended to the Kingdom of Heaven.
We Who Cannot Help But Sin Everyday
There is also another meaning of the altar of burnt offering, which is "ascending." As a matter of fact, you and I sin everyday. Therefore, we have to always give our sacrificial offering to God, and because of this, the smoke of the condemnation of our sins is always ascending to God. Is there any day at all when you do not sin but live perfectly? The sacrificial offerings of the people of Israel were given continuously until the priests were too exhausted from giving these offerings that forgave the countless of sins of the Israelites and could no longer carry them out. Because the people of Israel broke the Law and sinned against God everyday, they had to give their sacrificial offerings everyday.
Moses, representing Israel, declared the 613 articles of the Law and commandments of God to the Israelites: "If you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation" (Exodus 19:5-6).
The people of Israel then promised, "All that the LORD has spoken we will do" (Exodus 19:8). So the people of Israel wanted to recognize and believe in this God who appeared before Moses and spoke to them through him as their true God, and they wanted this God to protect them. By keeping all that God spoke to them, they also wanted to become not only a special treasure to Him, but also a kingdom of priests and a holy nation that belonged to God. As such, they tried to keep all the commandments of God that He had given them.
Did God already know that the Israelites would sin? Of course He did. This is why God called Moses to the Mountain Sinai, showed him the Tabernacle in vision, explained its format in detail, told him to build it, and made him build it accordingly. And He also established the sacrificial system by which offerings were to be given in this Tabernacle.
When the people of Israel sought to give a sin offering to God, they had to bring an unblemished bull, sheep, goat, turtledove, or pigeon; and save a few exceptions, they had to make sure to pass their sins onto their sacrificial offering by putting their hands on its head (Leviticus 1:1-3). And then draw its blood by cutting the throat and give this blood to the priests. Their priests then took this blood, put it on the horns of the altar of burnt offering, poured the rest of the blood on the ground, cut the sacrificial offering into pieces, put these pieces on the altar, and offered them to God by burning them.
This is how the Israelites could be forgiven of their sins. When the offering was burnt, they had to burn not only its flesh, but they had to also strip and burn all its fat from the entrails and the liver. In this way, God forgave the sins of the Israelites.
The Only Way to Receive the Remission of All Sins
When we look at ourselves, we can all actually realize that we cannot help but sin all the time. We live our lives always sinning. We commit countless sins for various reasons, whether it is because we are weak, have too many blemishes, are too greedy, or have too much power. Even among those who believe in Jesus as their Savior, there is no one who does not sin.
The only way for us, who always sin like this even as we believe in God, to be washed of all these sins and be saved is to believe in the baptism of Jesus Christ. He is God Himself who came by water and blood (1 John 5:6); He came to this earth as the sacrificial offering of the altar of burnt offering through the blue, purple, and scarlet thread and the fine woven linen. When this Jesus took our sins upon Himself by being baptized and paid the wages of our sins by shedding His blood on the Cross and dying on it, how could we not receive the remission of sin through faith? Because of the salvation of our Messiah Jesus Christ, through faith you and I could receive our remission of sin all at once.
Although we indeed sin always, because of the salvation of the baptism and the blood that Jesus Christ fulfilled when He came to this earth, we could be freed from all our sins. Our Lord took our sins upon Himself with His baptism, carried the sins of the world to the Cross and was crucified, and has thereby delivered us from our sins wholly. By being baptized for our sins, bearing the condemnation of all our sins with His crucifixion, and rising again from the dead, He has wholly saved us who believe in this truth. Though we could not avoid but be condemned for our sins, because of the love of salvation and mercy that Jesus has given us through the blue, purple, and scarlet thread, you and I have been saved through faith. God, in other words, has saved us from our sins. It is by believing in Him that we have been delivered from all our sins. This is what the altar of burnt offering is showing us.
You may think that inside the Tabernacle everything was beautiful, but if you had actually entered into its court, you would encounter an unexpected and disgusting scene. The bronze altar of burnt offering, shaped as a rectangular, would be threatening to spew out smoke and fire at anytime. The bronze altar would be waiting for sinners, its ground would be soaked in blood, and anyone would realize that this was the place of the condemnation of sin. As this place was where the sacrificial offerings were given everyday, you would be overwhelmed by the stench of burning flesh and wood.
Beneath the altar of burnt offering, blood would be flowing like a river. Whenever the Israelites sinned, they brought their sacrificial animal to the Tabernacle, passed their sins onto it by putting their hands, cut its throat, drew its blood, and gave this blood to the priests. The priest then put this blood on the horns of the altar of burnt offering and poured the rest on the ground.
They then cut the offering into pieces, and along with its kidneys and fat, put its flesh on the grate and burnt them. When blood is drawn, it is quite fluid at first, flowing in red. But after some time, it coagulates and becomes rather sticky. If you had actually entered into the Tabernacle, you would have seen this horrifying blood.
Whenever the people of Israel broke God's commandments, through the altar of burnt offering, they recognized that they were to die like their sacrificial offerings on the altar. Why? Because God made His covenant with them with blood. "If you keep My Law, you will become My people and the kingdom of priests, but if you fail to keep it, you must die like these sacrificial offerings are put to death." This is how God established His covenant with blood. As such, the people of Israelites accepted it as a given fact that if they sin and break the Law, they had to shed their blood.
As a matter of fact, not only the Israelites, but those who believes in God must also all give the blood of sacrifice for their sins. It shows us that anyone who sins before God and therefore has a sin in his/her heart, regardless of how small or great it is, must face the condemnation of this sin as a result. Although the law of judgment-that the wages of sin is death-applies to everyone before God, there are not so many people who actually are afraid of God's judgment and thus try to commit themselves to God's law of salvation manifested in His sacrificial system.
The altar of burnt offering tells us that according to the law that set the wages of sin as death, Jesus Christ has saved us from our sins and condemnation through the blue, purple, and scarlet thread and the fine woven linen manifested in the gate of the court of the Tabernacle. For us, who always sin and must be condemned for our sins, Christ came to this earth in the flesh of a man, took all the sins of us the mankind onto His own body by being baptized by John, carried these sins of the world to the Cross, was crucified and shed His blood on it, bore great sufferings and pain, sacrificed Himself, and has thereby saved you and me from all our sins.
It is because Christ sacrificed His own body and has thereby saved us that you and I could be delivered from all our sins by faith. For the sake of those who could not avoid but die because of their sins, in other words, Jesus Christ took all their sins upon Himself with His baptism, was crucified to death, rose again from the dead, and has thereby save them from all their sins and condemnation.
When we look at this altar of burnt offering, we come to have this faith. Seeing that the sacrificial offering was given all the time at the altar, we can realize and believe that even though it is we who have to die because of our daily sins, God did not turn us into His sacrificial offerings, but instead our Lord Himself came to this earth and fulfilled our salvation. By being baptized, shedding His blood on the Cross, and rising from the dead again, Jesus has saved us.
This is why God the Father accepted the sacrificial offering of the Israelites and forgave all their sins, instead of condemning them for sinning. By making the people of Israel pass their sins onto their sacrificial animal by putting their hands on its head, and by making them kill it and offer its blood, flesh, and fat to Him, God forgave the sins of the Israelites. Through this sacrificial offering, He has also washed us of all our sins. None other than this was the mercy of God and His love.
God Has Not Dealt with Us Only by the Law
If God were to judge you and me, and all the people of Israel just according to His Law, how many would still remain alive on this earth? If God measures and judges us by His Law alone, none of us would live even for a day. The vast majority of us would last not even for 24 hours, but die in just a few minutes. Some of us might die in just an hour while others might last for 10 hours, but the difference is insignificant-either way, we would all be bound to die. People would not be able to live as long as they do now, reaching 60, 70, 80, and even beyond. In no time, everyone would be condemned.
Think of what happened this morning. Your son is still struggling to get out of the bed, having stayed up all night partying. Your wife is trying to wake him up. A shouting match ensues, with your son yelling at his mother for waking him up, and your wife yelling at your son for shouting at her-and thus begins the morning battle. In the end, both the mother and the son here end up sinning before God, and neither of them would last even for today, for they would both be condemned for this sin.
But God has not dealt with us only by His righteous Law. "He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor punished us according to our iniquities" (Psalm 103:10).
Far from judging us by the righteous Law, God instead prepared the sacrificial offering that would take our place, to fulfill this righteous Law. By making us pass our sins onto this offering of sacrifice by laying our hands on it, and by making us give Him the blood of this offering instead of our own life, God has accepted the life of the sacrificial offering instead of our own life, and has forgiven all the sins of mankind, including ours and those of the Israelites, has saved us from them all, and has made us live again. And by saving the believers from their sins, God has made them His own people. This is how God made the people of Israel into the priests of the Kingdom of God.
The sacrificial offering here refers to none other than Jesus Christ. Because of our sins, Jesus Christ became this sacrificial offering, and to save us who had faced the condemnation of sin, He took all our sins upon Himself with baptism, shed His blood and died on the Cross. To save us from our sins, the only begotten Son of God came to this earth in the flesh of a man and became the sacrificial offering through His baptism, all in obedience to the Father's will. By taking the sins of mankind upon Himself with His baptism received from John, by carrying these sins of the world to the Cross, being crucified, shedding His blood, and thereby sacrificing Himself, and by dying and rising from the dead again, Jesus has saved you and me wholly.
When we hear the Word of salvation telling us that Jesus, in our place, was baptized, crucified, and rose again from the dead in three days, our hearts are greatly inspired. Because He who was sinless received, instead of us, the baptism that passed all sins onto Him, and as the wages of these sins, He bore all kinds of persecution, oppression, pain, suffering, and ultimately death, all of which should have been ours in the first place. When Christ has thereby saved us from our sins, nothing could be more malicious than not believing in this truth.
We Must Believe in the Salvation Fulfilled through the Blue, Purple, and Scarlet Thread
When Jesus Christ bore our sins and the condemnation of these sins through His baptism for us, and when He has saved you and me from our sins by sacrificing Himself in our place, we must all have the kind of faith that says, "Thank You, Lord!" Though many people are easily inspired by touching love stories, life stories, or just about any kind of heartfelt stories, when it comes to their hearts toward God's unconditional love, they are as cold as ice. When the grace of our Lord is so great that He was baptized and died on the Cross for our sake, there are still beastly people who cannot realize this grace and do not thank Him for it at all.
Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came to this earth and became the sacrificial offering for us. He accepted all our sins onto His own body with His baptism and sacrificed Himself by giving up His body on the Cross. He was slapped, stripped naked, persecuted and oppressed, all for us. This is how He has saved us. It is by believing in this truth that we have become God's children. This is the greatest inspiration of all, the great grace of God that words cannot express. When this is how Christ has saved us, it saddens me deeply to see that many people still do not believe and thank Him even after hearing it.
It is because Jesus came to this earth, received His baptism, and sacrificed Himself that you and I have been saved from all our sins. Therefore, Isaiah 53:5 says, "But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed."
We sin throughout our entire lives. To save us, who could not avoid but be condemned, from all our sins, condemnation, destruction and curses, our Lord left the throne of the Kingdom of Heaven behind, and came all the way down to this earth. He bowed His head before John and was baptized, carried these sins to the Cross and suffered greatly, shed all the blood of His heart to the ground, rose from the dead again, became the sacrificial offering for us, and has become the true God of our salvation.
Do you think about this fact and keep it in deep in your hearts? When you hear the Word, it is only proper that you should believe and be greatly inspired in your hearts that Jesus Christ indeed came to this earth in the flesh of a man, and that He was baptized, crucified to death, and resurrected to save His people from their sins. If we realize that we had all been bound to hell, we can realize deep in our hearts just how greatly inspiring and thankful this salvation is. Though we had wanted to believe in God and become His people, there was no way for us to achieve this. But for you and me, who truly sought after our remission of sin, He has met us with the Word of truth that Christ came to this earth, was baptized, died on the Cross, and rose from the dead again in three days.
Were it no this sacrifice of Jesus, how could we ever have received our salvation? We could never have! Were it not for baptism of Jesus and the blood of the Cross, and were it not for the salvation of the blue, purple, and scarlet thread and the fine woven linen manifested in the Tabernacle, salvation would have been only a midnight summer dream for us. Were it not for His sacrifice, we could never have been freed from our sins and avoided their punishment, but would be cast into the eternal fire of hell and suffer forever. Yet Christ has saved us by sacrificing Himself for our sake, just like the sacrificial offering of the Old Testament.
The Salvation of the Blue, Purple, and Scarlet Thread Fulfilled in the New Testament
My beloved readers, you must never forget the truth of the blue, purple, and scarlet thread and the fine woven linen used for the Tabernacle. The fine woven linen is the Word of the Old and New Testaments, the Word that God promised from long ago that He Himself would come to us as our own Savior, and in accordance to this promise, Jesus Christ came to this earth. The blue thread tells us that Christ, coming to this earth, took all our sins upon Himself through His baptism. He was baptized, in other words, according to the promise that He would save us from our sins and deliver us from our condemnation. To take our sins and the sins of everyone in this world upon Himself, He was baptized by John, and did indeed bear all the sins of the world. We must never forget this, for if we forget that Jesus came as our sacrificial offering and took all our sins upon Himself through His baptism, there would be no salvation.
More often than not, we live in this world attaching a great self-importance to ourselves. People's hearts are such that although they cannot tolerate hearing someone else boasting, they themselves love to boast nevertheless. But there came a certain time when I started to boast of not myself, but of someone else, and this was when I became grateful to Jesus for saving me through the blue, purple, and scarlet thread and the fine woven linen. In other words, I came to boast of Jesus. Now, I tell and boast as often as I can that Jesus came to this earth; that to blot out our sins, He took all our sins upon Himself by being baptized; that Jesus could be crucified on account of His baptism; and that this is how the Lord has saved us. I do not fail to boast of this truth, to preach it, and to give all glory to God.
Yet there are way too many people who, though professing to believe in Jesus, preach the Word while leaving out His baptism, or only boast themselves by borrowing His name. There was a false minister who used to claim that he only spent $300 a month for his living. As if it were a great accomplishment, he used boast that he can get by with only $300 a month, and that he doesn't have to take any money when he is traveling because his followers pay for all his expenses. But is the believers' money somehow not money? Does this money not count for anything, while only his own money matters? This Christian leader claimed that all that had to do was just pray whenever he needed something. "God, cover my travel expenses! I believe You, Lord!" With this prayer, some saint popped out and gave him a load of cash, he testified. Looking at such people who say these things as if they were something to boast of, what kind of thoughts come to your minds?
Matthew 3:13-17 state, "Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. And John tried to prevent Him, saying, 'I need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?' But Jesus answered and said to him, 'Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.' Then he allowed Him. When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, 'This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.'" This passage describes what happened when Jesus was baptized. When Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist at the Jordan River and came out of the water, the gate of Heaven was opened and the voice of God the Father was heard: "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." John the Baptist was stunned at that time.
John the Baptist was astonished twice at this Jordan River. He was first stunned when he saw that Jesus came to him and wanted to be baptized by him, and he was stunned again after baptizing Jesus when the gate of Heaven was opened and heard the voice of God the Father saying, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."
What is the reason for Jesus to be baptized by John the Baptist? Matthew 3:15 here gives us the answer. Let's read verses 15 and 16 again: "But Jesus answered and said to him, 'Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.' Then he allowed Him. When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him."
Matthew 3:15 tells us the reason why Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist. Even though Jesus was the High Priest of the Kingdom of Heaven and the only begotten Son of God, He nevertheless came to this earth to save us, His people, from our sins. In other words, Jesus came to this earth as the sacrificial offering that pays the wages of our sins by taking these sins upon Himself and being sacrificed in our place. This is why Jesus sought to be baptized by John.
But why was Jesus baptized by none other than John the Baptist? Because John the Baptist was the representative of mankind, for he was the greatest of all those born of women. Matthew 11:11 says, "Among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist." John the Baptist was the servant of God prophesied from the Old Testament's time in the Book of Malachi: "Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet Before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD" (Malachi 4:5). John the Baptist was this very Elijah whom God had promised to send.
Why did God call John the Baptist as Elijah? Elijah was a prophet who turned the hearts of Israelites back to God. At that time, the people of Israel were worshipping Baal as their God, but Elijah showed them clearly who the real God was, whether it was Baal or Jehovah God. He was the prophet who, with his faith and through the sacrificial offering, demonstrated to the people of Israel who really was the living God, and thereby led them, who had been worshipping idols, back to the true God. This is why at the end of the Old Testament, God promised, "I will send you Elijah." Because all the human beings, who were made in the image of God, were on the wrong path of idolatry and demon-worship, God said that He would send them His servant who would lead them back to God. The one who would thus come is John the Baptist.
Matthew 11:13-14 state, "For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. And if you are willing to receive it, he is Elijah who is to come." This Elijah who is to come is none other than John the Baptist. In verse 11-12, it is written, "Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force."
So when it says here that "among those born of women there has not rise one greater than John the Baptist," it means that God raised John the Baptist as the representative of all mankind. God made John the Baptist be born unto this earth six months before the birth of Jesus. And God prepared him as the last prophet and priest of the Old Testament. Therefore, as the High Priest of the earth, John the Baptist baptized Jesus Christ and thereby passed all the sins of mankind onto Him. In other words, the reason why John the Baptist baptized Jesus was to pass all the sins of the world onto Him. The reason why Jesus Christ was baptized by John the Baptist was to take all the sins of mankind upon Himself through His baptism.
This is why Jesus said in Matthew 3:15, "Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness." Because all righteousness could be fulfilled only when Jesus received His baptism from John the Baptist to accept all the sins of the world, Jesus said that it was fitting.
Our Lord Has Thus Saved Sinners with This Method
This baptism that Jesus received from John is the same as the Old Testament's laying on of hands. It was, in other words, the laying on of hands that was done before the altar of burnt offering in the Old Testament's time to pass one's sins onto the sacrificial offering. By coming to this earth and being baptized, Jesus Christ fulfilled the promise of the laying on of hands-the promise made whenever the daily offerings were given where sinners passed their sins onto their sacrificial offering by putting their hands on its head, and whenever the yearly offering was given on the 10th day of the seventh month, the day of great atonement, through which the High Priest passed the year's worth of sins of all the Israelites onto the offering of sacrifice by putting his hands on its head.
Like the Old Testament's laying on of hands, because Jesus accepted all the sins of the world onto Himself by being baptized, He washed away all these sins, and because He took all these sins of mankind upon Himself, He bore the condemnation of these sins in our place and was sacrificed. This is how Jesus Christ could become the true God of our salvation.
As such, we must truly admit that because of our sins, we could not avoid but face our certain death and be condemned. We must know this and feel it. And we must realize that Jesus Christ our Savior has saved us by coming to this earth and being sacrificed for our sake-that is, through His works of salvation with His baptism, crucifixion, and resurrection, Jesus Christ has washed us of all our sins and saved us wholly from our sins. We must also believe that Jesus has given us the gift of salvation, that He has fulfilled our salvation and has given us this completed salvation as His gift for us. Jesus has fulfilled all righteousness, so that if one were to only believe, and if one were to only accept, he/she would surely be saved.
To make us realize this, the gate of the court of the Tabernacle was woven of blue, purple, and scarlet thread and fine woven linen. This is also the reason why we would first see the altar of burnt offering if we open and enter into this gate of the court of the Tabernacle. The offerings that were given at the altar of burnt offerings were also the foreshadow of the method of salvation through which Jesus Christ has saved us. The offerings that were sacrificed on the altar of burnt offering had to accept the iniquities of sinners onto themselves through the laying on of hands and bleed to death in the sinners' place. The blood of the sacrificial offerings was then put on the horns of the altar, and the rest was sprinkled on the ground. Then, they offered the flesh and fat of the animals on the altar as the burnt offerings. These were the method by which the sacrificial offerings were given to God. All these features of the sacrificial offerings are exactly the same as the method by which Jesus Christ has become our Savior. Through the sacrificial offerings, in other words, God has shown us that Jesus Christ would come to this earth and save us in this way.
Without fail, sinners' hands had to be put on the sacrificial animals given at the altar of burnt offering. This is why the Tabernacle is telling us of the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Coming to this earth, Jesus Christ was baptized to take the sins of mankind upon Himself. Baptism is the antitype of salvation that Christ received to become the sacrificial offering for all the sinners of the world before God the Father.
Through this Tabernacle, we can now have clear faith. Just as the sacrificial offering accepted the sins of the people of Israel on the Day of Atonement through the laying on of the High Priest's hands, and just as it had to be sacrificed in their place because their sins had now been all passed onto it (Leviticus 16), Jesus Christ came to this earth to take our sins upon Himself and to become our own sacrificial offering for these sins, did indeed become our sacrificial offering, and has thereby saved us from all our sins and condemnation. We can now wholly believe in this salvation of love. It is by believing in this truth that we can thank and repay our debt to God for this salvation of love that He has given us.
No matter how knowledgeable of the Tabernacle one might be, if he/she does not believe, then all this knowledge is useless. As such, we must realize, as well as believe, just how important the baptism of Jesus Christ really is. The Tabernacle had three gates, all of which were woven of blue, purple, and scarlet thread and fine woven linen. People may express each gate of the Tabernacle differently because of their ignorance.
In its ordering of threads, the first to be woven was blue thread, followed by the order of purple thread, scarlet thread, and fine woven linen. Only by making the gate in this way can it properly be described as the real gate of the Tabernacle, for this is exactly how God commanded the Israelites to build it in the Old Testament's time.
There was a reason why the gates had to be made in this way. Regardless of how Jesus Christ was born unto this earth as the Savior of mankind in the flesh of man and through the body of the Virgin Mary, if He had not been baptized to take our sins upon Himself in the first place, He could not have become our true Savior. If He had not been baptized, He could not be crucified and die on the Cross, either. As such, the blue thread had to be woven first, and its relative importance was also critical.
Whom Must We Believe in?
Therefore, we must believe in Jesus Christ who has saved us from our sins. We can be truly born again only when we believe in the salvation that this Son of God, Jesus Christ our Savior, has given us. When we believe in the Son of God as the God of our salvation, and when we believe in the truth that He came to this earth, took our sins upon Himself all at once by being baptized for us, and bore our condemnation on the Cross, we can then all receive our true salvation.
Because Jesus Christ could not take our sins upon Himself in any other way but through His baptism, only by bearing our sins by this exact method could He go to the Cross, shed His blood and die on it. No matter how He is the Son of God and how He came to this earth as our Savior, if He had not taken our sins upon Himself through His baptism, our salvation could never be found in this world.
Therefore, it is essential for you to confirm the biblical evidences in detail to be in full conviction that your sins have been blotted out already.
Let's assume for a moment that you owe a considerable debt. Then someone says to you, "Don't worry; I'll pay it off for you. No need to worry; I'll solve this problem." Whenever you meet him, this guy keeps telling us, "Didn't I tell you not to worry? I told you that I'd take care of it!" Let's further assume that this person even gets angry, asking why you don't believe him. Even if this person tells you everyday, "I paid it all off; just trust me," when he did not actually pay your debt off, would you really be freed from this debt just by believing him? Of course not!
No matter how confidently he tells you, "If you trust me, all your debt is resolved," if he did not actually pay it off, then your debt remains as it is, and this person is only deceiving you. So you ask him again and again, "So did you pay off my debt?" He then tells you repeatedly, "Why are you so doubtful? Just trust me unconditionally! I told you that I paid off all your debt. All that you have to do is just believe me, and yet you are so suspicious! Don't be like this!" So, let's assume again, you trusted him with all your heart. But no matter how much you believed him, if he did not actually pay off your debt, then his words are all lies.
This Is How the Faith of Today's Christians Are
Today's Christians say, "Jesus has saved you by shedding His precious blood on the Cross. He bore all the condemnation of sin there. This is how He has saved you." Many pastors preach like this to their congregations. When someone among the congregation rises and tells them, "But I am still sinful," they say, "That's because you have little faith. Just believe! None other than your disbelief is your sin!" "I too really want to believe, sir. But I don't know why I can't believe." "I don't know why I'm still sinful even though I believe. I really believe." "You don't have enough faith. You need to believe more. Climb up a mountain and try fasting. Believe while skipping your meals." "Can't I just believe while not skipping meals?" "No, you have to try believing while you fast."
Many of today's pastors tell you to believe, yet they do not solve the problem of your sins, and they only rebuke you for not believing. On your part, you try to believe and yet it's too hard to believe, or you truly believe blindly but the problem of your sins still remains. What's wrong here? What can explain this? People cannot have true and strong faith because they do not know that Jesus Christ took all their sins upon Himself by being baptized. It is because they believe in delusions with which they cannot solve the problem of their sins no matter how much they believe.
Does faith come just by believing unconditionally without any definite evidence? Of course not! Whole faith comes all at once only when you know how the problem of sin was really solved and believe in it. "Though I had doubted You, it is far too clear that You have already solved the problem of my sins. No matter how much I try not to believe, I cannot help but believe in Your salvation, for this salvation is so certain. Thank You for solving my problem." Though we may doubt at first, in other words, because the evidence of our salvation is so certain that we can no longer doubt anymore. As the mark of our salvation and its evidence, Jesus has shown us His receipt called the gospel of the water and the Spirit. "I have paid off your debt for you in this way." Only when we look at this receipt that shows that all our debts have been paid off can the truth faith come to us.
We cannot believe even as we profess to believe in God, say that Jesus Christ, God Himself, is our Savior, and claim to believe in the Savior, when we do not have the evidence of how He has saved us and how our sins were blotted out. In other words, we can't have firm conviction unless we have seen the receipt showing the full payment of the wages of our sins. People who believe without seeing this receipt may appear to have a strong feeling of faith at first, but their faith is, in fact, simply blind. It is no more than a fanatical faith.
Do You Consider a Fanatical Faith as a Good Faith?
How would you like if a pastor with a fanatical faith demanded the same fanaticism from others also? "Believe! Receive the fire! Fire, fire, fire! The Holy Spirit that is like the fire, fill us with the fire! I believe that the Lord will bless you all! I believe that He will make you all rich! I believe that He will bless you! I believe that He will heal you!" When such a pastor puts up this kind of show, the audience's ears start ringing and their hearts start jumping. Channeled through a sound system of the highest quality, when he starts shouting, "Fire, fire, fire," the audience's hearts start jumping at the majestic sound of his voice. They are then overwhelmed emotionally, as if a strong faith had really come to them, and wail, "Come, Lord Jesus! O, come, the Holy Spirit!"
At about this time, the pastor then incites the audience's emotion even more by saying, "Let us pray. I believe that the Holy Spirit is now descending and filling us all." The band's playing of inspiring hymns soon follows this, and people raise their hands up high, going wild with enthusiasm, and their emotional outbursts reach the climax. Right on cue, this is when the pastor says, "Let us give our offerings. In particular, this evening, God wants to receive a special offering from you. Let us all give this special offering to God."
Overwhelmed by their emotions, people then end up emptying their pockets. This false pastor has already prepared an immense pulpit that is large enough to pile up all the money collected, and put dozens of butterfly nets (collection bowls) at its front. When the band starts playing hymns and people's hearts are overwhelmed by their excitement, he then sends off the butterfly collectors (volunteers passing the collection bowls) amid the audience.
By lying that more offerings mean more blessings, and by incite people's emotions, such false pastors induce people to shed their tears and open their wallets. It is to make them hand over their money without even realizing by depriving them of their reason and perception and overwhelming them with their emotions instead. This is neither based on the Word of God, nor any kind of a sermon, but a fanatical and blind act that verges on a fraud. Like this, the pastors whose faith is fanatical incite people's emotions to reach their own ulterior objectives.
If we know that our Lord took our sins upon Himself through His baptism, and if we believe in this Jesus Christ as our Savior, then we are not shaken, but remain at peace. The only thing that inspires us quietly is that Jesus shouldered our sins with His baptism and was crucified to death. When we think about this, that Jesus, God Himself, took our sins upon Himself with His baptism and died to pay the wages of these sins, we become immensely thankful, and our hearts are filled by a great joy. However, this tranquil inspiration in our hearts is far greater than anything else in this world; neither any romantic confession of love, nor any gift of the most precious diamond of this world can ever inspire us more than this.
In contrast, the emotionally oriented inspiration of the fanatics does not last that long. Though they may dwell in this inspiration for a while, when they sin everyday and are disgraced by such sins, they cannot but hide their faces out of shame. "When Jesus bore our condemnation and died on the Cross for us, why do I still sin everyday?" So they lose their face and can no longer be inspired as time passes by; what's more, out of shame, they cannot even go to God.
This is why God has shown us the altar of burnt offering. The offering of sacrifice that was given on this altar of burnt offering according to the sacrificial system was none other than Jesus Christ our Savior. As such, the altar of burnt offering manifests that Jesus came to this earth and has in fact saved us all at once through the blue, purple, and scarlet thread and the fine woven linen. God has made us see this altar of burnt offering, and He wants us to be saved by believing in it.
What Is It That We Must Do in This Era?
There are many things that we the born-again must do in this era. First of all, we have to preach the gospel of the water and the Spirit all over the world. We must spread the truth to those who remain ignorant of this truth of the blue, purple, and scarlet thread and the fine woven linen, and we must thereby help them to be saved from the condemnation of fire in hell. Why? Because there are many people who are following Jesus without even realizing and believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit manifested in the Tabernacle.
To spread this truth to them, there are still many things for us to do. We have to publish our books that are sent throughout the whole world; from translating, proofreading, and editing to make these books to securing the necessary funds to print them and send them to countries all over the world, there indeed are many works that need to be done.
So when we look at our fellow workers and ministers, we see just how busy they all are. Because all the saints and workers of God's Church are so busy in this way, they are going through some tough time physically. It is said that marathon runners reach a certain point in their 42.175 km course when they become so exhausted that they are not even sure if they are running or doing something else entirely different. In short, extreme exhaustion would make them mentally vacuous. Perhaps we now have also reached this point in our run for the gospel. Living our lives for the gospel is like running a long distance toward our goal without stopping, as the marathon runners do. Because our running for the gospel must go on until the Day of our Lord's coming, we all face hardship.
But because our Lord is in us, because we have the gospel of the water and the Spirit, because our faith believes that the Lord has saved us with the blue, purple, and scarlet thread and the fine woven linen, and because we believe in the most certain truth, we can all receive new strength. It is because Jesus has given us the gift of salvation that you and I have received this gift. So our hardships of the flesh cannot trouble us. On the contrary, the more difficult it gets, the more strength the righteous find. I truly thank the Lord.
Spiritually, in our hearts, in our thoughts, and throughout our actual surroundings, we can feel the new strength that our Lord has given us, and that He is with us. Because we can feel that He is helping us and holding us, and that He is with us, we give even more thanks to Him. So, the Apostle Paul also said, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:13). We therefore confess everyday that we cannot do anything at all if the Lord does not empower us. Not only was Jesus Christ baptized for us, but He was also sacrificed for us by being crucified, faced His own death, rose from the dead again, and has thereby become our true Savior. Whenever we look at the altar of burnt offering, we come to remind ourselves of this truth.
The altar of burnt offering was made of acacia wood, and it was overlaid in and out with thick bronze. Its height was about 1.35 m, and its grate, a network of bronze, was placed near its middle, at about 68 cm in height. The flesh of offerings were put on this grate and burnt.
Whenever we look at the altar of burnt offering, we must be able to see ourselves as we are. We must also be able to see that Jesus Christ took our sins upon Himself by being baptized in His flesh, and that He bore all the condemnation of our sins by shedding His blood on the Cross. You and I truly could not avoid but die before God because of our sins and condemnation. Because of our sins and condemnation, you and I could not avoid but die and be cursed forever. But because of Jesus Christ, who came to this earth as the eternal offering of atonement, was baptized, and died, all for us, like the sacrificial offering of the Old Testament, we have been saved.
A sacrificial animal may look cute and cuddly when alive, but how gruesome would it be when it bleeds to death, with its throat cut open, after it accepts sins through the laying on of hands? That we, who deserved to die in this gruesome way, have escaped our condemnation is truly a great blessing. This blessing has been possible because the Lord has given us the gift of the salvation. Just as manifested in the blue, purple, and scarlet thread and the fine woven linen, Jesus Christ came to this earth in the flesh of a man, has saved you and me through His baptism and the blood of the Cross, and has thereby given us the true gift of salvation. God has thus given you and me the gift of salvation-do you believe this in your hearts? Do you believe in this gift of salvation, the love of Jesus? We must all have this faith.
When we look at the altar of burnt offering, we must realize that Jesus Christ has saved us this way. He was sacrificed like this to give us the gift of salvation. As hands were laid on the sacrificial offering, and as this sacrificial offering bled to death, Jesus has given us our salvation by suffering in this manner. This is how He has saved us from our sins. We must realize this, believe in our hearts before God, and give thanks to Him with all our hearts.
God wants us to receive through faith the gift and love of salvation that He has given us. He wants us to believe in our hearts in the salvation of the baptism and the blood of the Cross that He fulfilled by coming through the water and the Spirit. It is my hope that you would all believe in the love of our Lord in your hearts and truly accept into them His gift of salvation. Do you truly accept it into your hearts?
Who Was Sacrificed in This Way for You?
I once saw a witnessing leaflet that said, "Who will die for you? Whom did you meet today that comforted you? Jesus Christ was sacrificed for you. Is your heart not comforted by this?" Who will really bear your sins by being baptized and die on the Cross in your place to blot out your sins? Who will shed all his/her blood and die to bestow his/her love on you? Who will ever be willing to face this sacrifice for you? Is it your relatives? Your children? Your parents?
None of them! It is God Himself who made you. To save you from your sins, this God came to this earth in the flesh of a man, was baptized to take your sins upon Himself, was crucified and shed His blood to bear the condemnation of your sins, has become your true Savior, rose from the dead again, is living even as now, and has given you His salvation and love as a gift. Do you truly want to accept this salvation of love into your hearts? Do you really believe in your hearts?
Whoever believes will receive the Lord, and whoever receives Him will be saved. Receiving Him means to accept the salvation and love that Christ has given for us. It is by believing in our hearts in this love, this remission of sins, this bearing of sins, and this condemnation of sins, that we are saved. This is the faith that receives the gift of salvation.
Everything of the Tabernacle manifests Jesus Christ. God does not demand any sacrifice from us. All that He asks from us is that we believe in the gift of salvation that He has given us in our hearts. "To give you the gift of salvation, I came to this earth. Like the sacrificial offering of the Old Testament, I accepted all your sins passed onto Me through the laying on of hands, and like this offering of sacrifice, I bore the gruesome condemnation of your sins for you. This is how I have saved you." This is what God is telling us through the Tabernacle.
No matter how God has thus saved us, has loved us this much, and has given us the gift of perfect salvation in this way, if we do not believe, everything is useless. The salt in your cabinet must first be put into your soup for it taste salty; likewise, if you and I do not believe in our hearts, even His perfect salvation turns completely useless. If we do not thank in our hearts for the gospel of the water and the Spirit and accept it into our own hearts, the sacrifice of Jesus becomes worthless.
Salvation can be yours only when you know just what sacrifice and love Jesus, God the Savior, has given you, accept them into your hearts and thank Him for them. If you do not accept Christ's gift of perfect salvation into your hearts but only understand it in your heads, then it is completely useless.
All You Have to Do Is Just Grab the Truth
It does not matter how much your soup is boiling on the stove; if you only think to yourself that you are going to put in the salt and yet do not actually do so, your soup can never be salty. You can be saved only when you accept into your hearts and believe that our Lord has saved you from your sins by being baptized and sacrificed for us, just like the sacrificial offering that was sacrificed on the altar of burnt offering. When God is giving you the gift of salvation, just accept it in thankfulness. When our Lord is telling us that he has saved us wholly, the right thing for us to do is to simply believe so.
Is the love of God that He has given you only half-hearted? Of course not! The love of our Lord is perfect. Our Lord, in other words, has saved you and me completely and perfectly. Because He took our sins upon Himself perfectly with His baptism and died on the Cross for sure, we cannot have any doubt about this love. He has saved us this perfectly and given us the gift of salvation. We must all accept this gift of salvation that God has given us.
Let's assume for a moment that I am holding a very valuable jewelry made of most precious gems. If I give it to you as a gift, all that you have to do is just accept it instinctively. Is this not the case? How simple and easy is it for you to make it yours? To make this jewelry yours, all that you have to do is just reach out and grab it. That's it.
If you would just open your hearts and pass all your sins onto Jesus through His baptism, you can all easily receive the remission of your sins and fill your empty hearts with the truth. This is how the Lord said that He would give us salvation as a free gift. Salvation can be yours just by reaching out and grabbing it.
We have received our salvation as a gift, without paying a single cent for it. And because God is the One who is pleased to give this gift to whoever wants to receive, blessed are those who have received it in thankfulness. Those who accept the love of God in joy are clothed in His love, and they are the ones who love this giver, for by accepting it, they have pleased His heart. Accepting this gift is the right thing to do. It is only when you accept the gift of perfect salvation that God has given you that this true gift of salvation can be yours. If you do not accept it into your hearts, then the gift of salvation can never be yours, no matter how hard your try.
I, too, have received this gift of salvation. "Ah! The Lord was baptized in this way for me. By being thus baptized, He bore the condemnation of all my sins. He was baptized ultimately for my own sake. Thank You, Lord!" This is what I came to believe. I am, therefore, now sinless. I have received the perfect remission of sin. If you, too, would also like to receive this remission of sin and be saved, accept it right now.
I have thought about this gift of salvation all the time from then on. Even now, when I think about it again, I realize that there is nothing else I can do but to thank the Lord for my salvation. Because this love of salvation is in my heart, I can never forget it. When I first received my remission of sin by accepting and believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, the truth manifested in the blue, purple, and scarlet thread and the fine woven linen, I was infinitely grateful to God. And even now, after several years have passed by, I still have this same thankful heart, and am renewed everyday.
Jesus surely came to this earth to save me, was baptized to take all my sins upon Himself, and died on the Cross to bear the condemnation of my sins. When I realized that all these things were done for me, I immediately accepted them and made them mine. I realize all the time that this was the best thing that I have ever done in my entire life, the wisest and smarted act of all. I therefore believe that the Lord truly loves me and cares for me, and I also believe and confess that He did all these things because He loved me. "Lord, I give all my thanks to You. Just as You have loved me, I also love You." Confessing thus is a great joy for the born-again.
God loves us forever. That our Lord came to this earth as a creation for our sake was because He loved us to His own death. Now, I entreat you to believe in this love of God for yourselves. And accept it into your hearts. Do you believe now?
I thank the Lord for saving us perfectly from our sins with this love.