Hebrews Lesson 120 April 3, 2008
NKJ Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding;
NKJ Proverbs 3:6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your path
Well this morning when I woke up and was fixing breakfast watching Fox News, I was hit with an interesting announcement that they had on Fox News. It's been the tradition at West Houston Bible Church to always have the very best cutting-edge Bible teachers in America. So I was amazed to discover that this Roman Catholic priest in Chicago yesterday announced that the Reverend Jeremiah Wright was the best Bible teacher in America. So I was wondering if we ought to have him come to West Houston Bible Church. (Laughter!) You know, I think the very worst first year failure at Dallas Seminary is a better Bible teacher than Jeremiah Wright ever thought he would be. It is just amazing how this country has shifted to where people can think that that is Bible teaching. There is nothing in liberation theology that is consistent – whether it is black liberation theology or Latin American liberation theology. There's nothing in liberation theology that is consistent with the Bible. There is nothing in liberation theology that a Bible believing Christian should be comfortable with. It is a total distortion of the problem. It's a total distortion of the solution. It is an interpretation of the Bible that is purely Marxist and socialist. It has nothing to do with sin and redemption and the glories of God's grace. Anyone who is attracted to that kind of teaching is in the deepest form of backsliding and rejection of truth that you can possibly, possibly imagine.
The thing is that the people who sit under that kind of teaching (whoever they may be) are going to be influenced that in the same way that those of you who sit under my teaching are influenced by what I teach. I can tell you that if you sit under my teaching for 5 years I can almost 100% tell you what your views are on economics, politics and social issues. For you, that will flow out of what you hear the Bible teach. The same thing is true for people who sit in any other kind of congregation in America. You listen to a pastor and…that pastor's message influences how people think about social issues, politics, and economics because ultimately the Bible applies to every area of human thinking. Unless your brain cells don't connect whatsoever and they only have a rare acquaintance with one another in a way that a distance once every 10 or 12 years, you can't sit there. So this is a slap in the face to every Bible believing Christian. What an assault that we had this week from that particular Roman Catholic priest. Of course that reflects his own lack of biblical training.
As I pointed out the other night, I think I made a comment on this sometime recently that when I was a student at the University of St. Thomas - of course there were always one or two nuns that were taking classes with us in the Philosophy Department there. We would get into interesting discussions. There was another Dallas Seminary grad in the program also. We would get into some interesting discussions.
Whenever I would try to relate something to the Bible, the response I'd get from this one nun was – she would kind of jokingly say, "Well you know you can't go to the Bible with us because we're Roman Catholics. We don't ever read the Bible."
So that's how I understand that position. So that's the first contemporary issue this morning.
The second issue that comes up is that occasionally we've had speakers and we've had things that have come up in relationship to the Chafer Seminary Conference the past couple of years and some of the other things have gone on. Every now and then people hear a speaker from this pulpit say something that they sort of wiggle their ears about or they raise an eyebrow over and they'll come up and ask me questions. One of the things that I've sort of warned people about prior to this last winter is that we have to treat people with a certain measure of grace. Every now and then you're going to hear this. You'll hear it from people. Shoot, I say things that 5 years from now I may go back and go, "I don't believe that anymore." Everybody changes and everybody grows.
But, one of the things that Arnold taught when he was here that generated several questions – he said the same thing when he was at Preston City Bible Church when I had him up there several years ago. That's how I knew about it and I got the same questions. He made the comment that the virgin birth was not designed to block the transmission of Adam's original sin to Jesus. It was purely a sign, a miracle designed by God to give evidence of the messianic character of Jesus Christ. In making that statement (which I don't agree with), he also made the comment that this doctrine was first taught by a radio Bible teacher back in the 40's. Well today as I was preparing for class on Monday night (the history of Doctrine Class where we're going through the Doctrine of the Atonement, a very important study), I ran across this particular quote from Gregory I known as Gregory the Great, the one protestants think is the first real pope in the Roman Catholic church. His dates are at the end of the sixth century from roughly about 570 to 604. In his writing about the atonement, he makes this statement that I have up on the screen. What's important is the last sentence, but I was to set it up with the previous part. He talks about the atonement. He correctly identifies the problem with man. See that's the real issue in understanding the atonement. If you don't understand man's problem correctly of sin and guilt (that man is spiritually dead), then you're going to misidentify the nature of the atonement because if man is spiritually dead he doesn't need a substitutionary penal atonement. But if he's just spiritually sick, then he needs moral influence or something like that. So the issue is guilt. We are guilty of Adam's original sin.
So Gregory wrote:
Guilt can be extinguished only by a penal offering to justice.
What a fabulous statement on propitiation and the nature of the atonement.
But it would contradict the idea of justice, if for the sin of a rational being like man, the death of an irrational animal should be accepted as a sufficient atonement.
In other words, animal sacrifices can't atone for human guilt.
Hence, a man must be offered as a sacrifice for man; so that a rational victim may be slain for a rational criminal. But how could a man himself stained with sin,
be an offering for sin? Hence a sinless man must be offered. But what man descending in the ordinary course
That's normal human procreation if you didn't figure that out.
would be free from sin? Hence the Son of God must be born of a virgin and become man for us.
…a clear statement approximately 600 AD that the purpose of the Virgin Birth was to block the perpetuation of Adam's guilt and Adam's original sin and the assigning of that to Jesus Christ. So that is an indication that this did not originate in the 1940's.
Now for the third current event. This is one that has a little background. The background is that back in the early 80's Zane Hodges wrote a fabulous book, a book that really caught people's attention and generated a lot of controversy called The Gospel Under Siege. Those that didn't agree with him thought that the title was poorly punctuated and should have been punctuated The Gospel Under Siege by Zane Hodges. But, that really gave people a real understanding of what the issues were between a true free grace gospel versus what has come to be called or what was known then as Lordship salvation. It really woke a lot of people up as to what the key passages were that were at the center of the debate and what the issues were. There have been I would say thousands, tens of thousands of people who have been positively impacted by his ministry and by the ministry of the organization that developed around him called the Grace Evangelical Society. They have produced a journal for the last I know at least 18 maybe 20 years called the Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society as well as a bimonthly newsletter that comes out called Grace in Focus. They have been very instrumental in my understanding of the issues related to numerous problem passages on the gospel and in the lives of many others. But in the last few years they have begun to emphasize an aspect of the gospel that I cannot and do not agree with. Many others who have been members of the Grace Evangelical Society do not and cannot agree with.
We saw a glimpse of this debate two years ago at the Chafer Seminary Conference when John Neimala who was teaching or the seminary at the time and who follows in locked step with the GES position delivered a paper arguing that if a person does not understand that he is getting eternal life in sense of a life that cannot be lost, then he is not saved. What they are fundamentally arguing for is that faith in the gospel is essentially accepting the free gift of eternal life from Jesus and you don't necessarily have to believe that Christ died on the cross for your sins. In other words, if I'm witnessing to somebody and I simply tell them that Jesus died for your sins so that you can have forgiveness from God; then that's an insufficient gospel because for them the issue is accepting the free gift of eternal life from Jesus. That's it, and the nuance "eternal life" meaning that when you understand eternal life to be eternal life; then you understand that it can't be lost. What they are actually saying is that if you don't have a sense of eternal security, you're not saved. It's not until you have that that you are saved.
Last year I had Dave Anderson (Dr. Dave Anderson) who's the pastor of Faith Bible Fellowship I think it is or Faith Bible Church or Fellowship of the Woodlands – Something like that. No, it's not Fellowship of the Woodlands. It's up in the Woodlands. I had Dave give a paper at the Chafer Conference last year and one of the major thrusts in his paper rather than dealing with some of the exegetical issues was the historical reality that the whole idea of eternal security wasn't clear in the history of the church until the Reformation. You go through much of the early church and they have a view that you could lose your salvation. They're confused. So what one of his arguments was that if the position of GES today is true, then very few people (on the order of just dozens) got saved for the first 1500 years of Christianity. That's a historical argument, which is a valid argument in this context.
Well, there have been a number articles, questions. I you want to read some things on this. There's Duluth Bible Church up in Minnesota where Dennis Rokser is the pastor and one of the men out of that ministry named Tom Seigel has written a series that are on the internet dealing with the cross-less gospel where he's interacting with a number of articles that have been published by Zane Hodges, John Neimala, Bob Wilkin and others where they make these affirmations.
So this has been coming to a head in a number of areas. Just this last week I received the latest Grace in Focus newsletter. It's volume 23, number 2. I'm sure it's on their website because they put most of their things on the website. In the inside of it Bob Wilkin has written an article called "Do You Know Our View on Assurance of Salvation?" The background for this (and I appreciate his clarification) is that approximately three or four years ago GES revised their doctrinal statement and they posted it on their website. Now I didn't know they had revised their doctrinal statement. A friend of mine, Fred Lybrand told me that they had. He said he changed it and put it on the website and didn't tell anybody. As far as I know I was never informed. They said that they informed people and I'll take them at their word; but I never knew it and I know a lot of other people didn't know it. When I went back after Fred told me that last year, I looked at their website online and looked at the doctrinal statement. I realized I could no longer affirm their doctrinal statement. There were two or three modifications that had been made that I didn't think were accurate. So in this newsletter Wilkin addresses that and he says:
Here is the key clarification that we made.
Then he quotes the statement in the affirmations.
Assurance is of the essence of believing in Jesus for everlasting life. That is as long as a person believes in Jesus for everlasting life.
You have to understand what he's not saying. He's not saying believing in Jesus for justification. He's not saying believing in Jesus for forgiveness of sin. He's not saying believing in Jesus for atonement or any of those things. He's saying unless a person believes in Jesus for everlasting life.
That is, as long a person believes in Jesus for everlasting life he knows he has everlasting life.
In case you don't understand what he means by that, he tells us in the next paragraph. He says:
In other words until a person believes that what he has received from the Lord Jesus Christ is permanent and cannot be lost whether he understands that as eternal life, salvation, or living forever…
See the term salvation he throws that in. That could mean anything to anybody.
…with Him in His kingdom, he is not yet born again.
Now see there are vast numbers of churches and denominations that will teach that Jesus died for your sins, but you can lose your salvation. Now what he is saying is none of those people are saved.
He makes an illogical shift in the next part of the article because what we are saying is that a person can believe Jesus died for their sins, but they may not understand eternal security. I don't think I did when I was 6 years old. By trying to make this salvation…if you believe you are getting saved, you understand eternal security. That is just poor verbiage. What he is saying is that until you understand you have eternal life and that it can't be lost, you're not saved. So once again it seems to me they're adding something to the gospel.
He gives a couple illustrations of what he means. A couple of paragraphs later I see a serious shift in logic – a real logical fallacy. He shifts the terms. The terms are not about being a religious Christian. There are a lot of people who are religious and have pseudo-Christianity. You have all kinds of different denominations and people in state church countries that say they're Christians and they don't understand the gospel at all. We're not talking about people who are just overtly religious. We are talking about people who understand that Jesus died for their sins, but they may not understand eternal security. So he says:
Of course this is in some ways a radical doctrine today. It means that there are lots of very religious Christian who are unregenerate and who need to be born again.
Now the issue isn't about very religious Christians; it's about Christians who believe Jesus died for their sins. But, they haven't understood eternal security. That doesn't necessarily put you in the category of a religious Christian who really doesn't understand the gospel. So there's a logical fallacy there. He reiterates this in the next paragraph.
This wasn't a radical thought in the early 70's when I came to faith. At that time everyone I knew who was involved in Campus Crusade was concerned for and witnessed to Roman Catholics, Eastern orthodox and all flavors of protestants. We never assumed that because someone was religious or a member of a church that they were born again.
Well, that's an accurate statement. I never assume that just because somebody has a lot of religious activity in their lives that they are truly regenerate. But that's not the subject of the doctrinal statement. The way he should say that is, "We never assumed that because someone didn't believe in eternal security that they weren't born again." That's what they're talking about. So he shifts the whole terms of the argument in the latter part of this particular newsletter.
So the interesting thing is that in this article…. Bob was a debater in college so he knows what he is doing debate wise. He mentions two people in the article and both people he mentions in the article Fred Lybrand who is pastor of Northeast Bible Church and Hugh Crowder who is a doctrinal pastor in the Seattle area: neither of those two men believe this doctrinal statement that they have shifted to. But he quotes them in other context as if that affirms his view. So, I had read that a few months ago and just due to procrastination had not removed the church from membership (from being on their website). So, I took that action this afternoon.
So that brings us up with some little contemporary things that are going on. It's really sad to watch this because it's going to have a lot of long-range consequences for a lot of different people. This is an organization that has had a great impact for a lot of years. But they are majoring in a very minor hermeneutical decision that they have made and they want everybody within the organization to affirm their little gnat's hair.
In organizations that go through things where you have a doctrinal change there should be a procedure where there is a lengthy period of time (more that four or five years). Of course they would say that they had held this view for decades. Actually many of us who have researched this and gone back…A year ago I took several of Zane Hodges books with me when I went to Kiev and read through them and realized that he had been stating the gospel this way for a long time, over 20 years. You could see it in his first book. But he never really came out and said this. It wasn't in black and white. It wasn't clear that this was all there was to the gospel and if you don't believe in eternal security you're not saved. But he has always articulated the gospel in this way believing in Jesus, accepting the gift of eternal life from Jesus, believing in Christ for eternal life. He had always expressed it that way. In and of itself, it doesn't sound wrong. Your radar is not going to go off. It's not until you get in the context of a distortion and you hear someone clarify something the way Bob Wilkin did in that article that suddenly you begin to read that phrase in a different light. That's what happens all through church history.
Those who are coming to the history of Doctrine class on Monday nights are seeing that. One of the things that happens throughout the course of church history is that when error comes often it is not clearly seen and understood as to just why it is wrong for awhile. And, most people at first don't want to say it's wrong because there's a tendency to want to avoid conflict and division. But, sooner or later people begin to see what is truly and actually being said. Then you have to make an issue out of it. It's unfortunate that we do. So I thought I would enlighten you on these issues.
Now let's get back into our text in Ezekiel - Ezekiel 36 where we are continuing our study on the New Covenant. Just to remind you of what we were doing last week I emphasized the fact that in Ezekiel 36 we have once again a clear statement on the nature of the New Covenant. It's very important for us to understand this.
I know it seems to me sometimes like, "Well, am I just boring everybody to death going through all these passages and taking forever to look at all these facets of the New Covenant that are in the Old Testament."
But it is so crucial to do this because there are things that just aren't clear. We read in numerous works by good men, good theologians who are dispensationalists. In three sentences or two paragraphs they explain the New Covenant, and they'll cite these verses as references. You go back and you read them and you begin to ask some questions and need some clarification and to see how things are put together.
One of the things I pointed out last time in Ezekiel 36 is that in the core passage that begins in verse 25, God says that at the time the covenant is enacted, the time it is enacted, He is going to cleanse Israel.
NKJ Ezekiel 36:25 "Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols.
He uses a word for cleansing that relates to ceremonial or ritual cleansing. We'll look at these words a little bit in a chart I have. This is the Hebrew word taher and it is used predominantly for ritual or ceremonial cleansing. That is when someone is going to go to the temple to worship, come before God under the Levitical laws, the Mosaic Laws that in order to come into God's presence they must be cleansed of ritual impurities. If a woman gives birth, then she has to be cleansed 7 days later or 8 days later. She has to go through the proper cleansing ritual and sacrifices. The same thing if you touch a dead body. Then you have to wait so many days and there has to be cleansing ritual.
These are not sins, but there are elements in both of these. For example, the giving of birth for a woman is now in pain and suffering because of the curse. So there is something about giving birth that is different because of the judgment on sin. So it's used as a picture of sin and what has to happen because of sin - the same thing with touching a dead body. The reason that there is physical death is because of sin. It's a reminder of the curse so there is ceremonial cleansing that has to take place. But these things are not sin in and of themselves.
So the whole idea of cleansing isn't related to confession of sin and forgiveness of sins. These are two different things. If you are out in the fields of up in the Galilee and you are working out in the fields and you're living your life and you commit sin, then you can confess your sin to God like David did in Psalm 51 and have forgiveness. But when you go into the temple if you have committed any acts that render you ceremonially or ritually unclean, then you have to be cleansed of those sins with a sacrifice, which is a picture of a spiritual reality.
What I am arguing here is this cleansing terminology that is in this chapter - and it will be made so clear to you when we get into Ezekiel 37 - this cleansing takes place nationally at the time of the Second Advent when Jesus Christ sets up His kingdom because He is going to reestablish His physical presence on the earth in the millennial temple. Because there once again will be a physical reality of physical presence of God on the earth then we go back to certain ceremonial ritual cleansing that must take place. First the nation has to be cleansed after all the war and everything that takes place during the tribulation period. There has to be a cleansing because of their past history of idolatry and their rejection of Jesus as Messiah. So it's a national cleansing.
Then what goes beyond that, in addition to that God says:
NKJ Ezekiel 36:26 "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you;
The way that that's punctuated in the English, you have a semicolon indicating that it's one independent clause and you have two things that are stated there. This is I believe a topical sentence and should be punctuated as a topical sentence.
What God is saying is, "I'm going to do things for you. One involves a new heart and one involves a new spirit."
Then the second sentence which should begin with the second half of verse 26:
I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
See that relates to the giving of a new heart.
So He is saying, "I'm going to do two things for you, A and B."
The next sentence describes more fully what He says about how He is going to do A. Then the third sentence is going to tell you more about how he is going to do B. If that's true, then that means that the "s" in spirit in the topical sentence isn't a lower case s, it's an upper case "S" because the key of this whole thing is God put His Spirit into every Jewish person under the New Covenant.
So I pointed this out last time that the new Spirit here is not a reference to the human spirit, which would be simple regeneration. It is talking about something beyond that in terms of the personal indwelling of the Holy Spirit in every Jew in the millennial period. It has features associated with it that go far beyond the features that we see related to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the Church Age. It has a different purpose and different manifestation. This is why in Joel 2 when Joel says:
NKJ Joel 2:28 " And it shall come to pass afterward That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your old men shall dream dreams, Your young men shall see visions.
All of this is a different manifestation that occurs in the spiritual life of the Jewish believer in the Church Age. So that means that we should translate this differently. It results in a radical transformation of the spiritual life.
NKJ Ezekiel 36:27 "I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.
I pointed out last time (and this is so crucial) that if this took place in 33 AD on the Day of Pentecost (if the New Covenant was enacted in 33), then this would mean that if you are truly regenerate you can't apostasize the faith. See, that is the core principle in Lordship salvation and the fifth "P" in the Calvinistic system of TULIP – the perseverance of the saints - that the person who is truly regenerate cannot fully apostatize and deny Christ as Savior.
So the reason I point that out is because in both a-millennial systems of interpretation and in the neo-dispensational view of progressive dispensationalism, they want the quotation of Joel 2 in Acts 2 (When Peter says, "This is what the prophet Joel spoke of."; they want that) to mean that we are now living under an enacted New Covenant. It's only partial, but it's here.
That's why theology makes a difference. If that's true, then all the charismatic gifts should still be in operation because your young men should see visions and your old men dream dreams and daughters prophesy and everything in Joel should be happening today. What I'm saying is that no, we should not understand Joel 2 to be enacted in Acts 2. All Peter is saying is that what is happening now (the coming of the Holy Spirit, the speaking in languages that these men didn't learn) that is just a manifestation of the Spirit that is like what will happen when Joel 2 is fulfilled.
So the key to understand this is the whole concept of cleanings. So we're going to have two things happen. A new heart will take place where their heart is changed. The deceptive heart (Jeremiah said: NKJ Jeremiah 17:9 " The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?) is changed.
See I remember a few years ago I read an article by a classmate of mine when I was in a doctrinal program at Dallas who was critiquing an old debate that in 1918 Louis Sperry Chafer wrote a book called He that is Spiritual. At the time one of the greatest reformed Calvinistic theologians at Princeton Seminary was Benjamin Breckenridge Warfield. Warfield had some great things to say and he is worth reading in certain areas. But Warfield took Chafer to task for that book. I think in some ways he misunderstood it.
This article that this friend of mine wrote criticized Chafer. This is such a telling comment. At the end of the article he says, "The weakness with Chafer is that he had a low view of regeneration. He did not realize that at regeneration the sin nature is changed."
That is classic. That kind of thinking is what comes out of this: not being able to rightly understand what is happening with the New Covenant and that it doesn't come into effect until the Second Coming. So it affects how the people teach the spiritual life.
It's no wonder people get confused. You turn on your radio now. It used to be in the old days that KHCB was always solid and they always had men who always taught basically the same Chaferian theology. Now you have different people from R. C. Sproul to John MacArthur to others who teach different views of sanctification. The average person in the pew doesn't know that there are about 8 different models of sanctification. They don't know that John MacArthur teaches out of one view and R. C. Sproul teaches another view and Chuck Swindoll teaches another view. So they listen to these people as if they are all teaching the same ideas on the spiritual life and they're not. They go home and they're a little confused.
Then if they continue to listen for long they go, "Well, if these guys can't figure it out how can I be expected to figure it out? I'm just going to go down and feel good at Lakewood and everything will be okay. I don't have to worry about thinking about the Christian life."
You laugh, but there are people who are at Lakewood who are there for that very reason.
It is because people think that, "Well, all these scholars who know all this Greek and Hebrew can't figure it out; then I can't figure it out, so I'm going to quit trying to think."
So the key issue in here is understanding ritual cleansing externally, which is the first part is about: that "I will sprinkle clean water on you and you will be clean."
Then verses 26 through 27 talk about the inner transformation that will occur for every Jewish believer in the Millennial Kingdom.
So let's talk a little bit about this whole concept of cleansing. This is so important to understand and it's good background for us right now because when we finish Hebrews 8 and the New Covenant (when we get into Hebrews 9 and Hebrews 10), those chapters are built on an understanding of the ritual system in the tabernacle and temple and Levitical sacrifices and offerings. So we're going to have to spend a lot of time in the Old Testament to understand the backdrop for Hebrews 9 and 10. We may not understand it as well as the original recipients of Hebrews understood it, but we have to understand it so that these chapters even make sense to us. The writer is assuming that you understand it.
So the first word is "cleansing". Cleansing is the Hebrew word taher. It always refers to ritual cleansing, ceremonial cleansing and it's not the same as inner spiritual cleansing or transformation. It is contrasted with the word tame which, is translated in the Greek with the word akatharsia, which has to do with that which is unclean. Katharizo is the Greek verb you've heard me talk about before that is the verb for cleansing. (When you put the alpha privative in front of it, it's like putting the English "un" in front of it. It negates the word.) So it's translated "unclean" or sometimes the Greek word miaino which has to do with being defiled. These are ceremonial terms, ritual terms. They're not talking about sin per say. So we have to understand that particular word group.
As I pointed out last time as we got into the introduction to Ezekiel 36, I pointed out that earlier in the chapter there was a contrast between holy and profane. I believe that started in about verse 20.
NKJ Ezekiel 36:20 "When they came to the nations, wherever they went, they profaned My holy name
God is the speaker here.
-- when they said of them, 'These are the people of the LORD, and yet they have gone out of His land.'
NKJ Ezekiel 36:21 "But I had concern for My holy name, which the house of Israel had profaned among the nations wherever they went.
The word profane doesn't mean you're uttering certain curse words. It means that which is common. It's contrasted to holy which means that which is "set apart" or distinct. These are the two opposite terms. So you have on the one side, holy and profane. See the priest is holy because he had been consecrated and set apart to the service of God. The people are common or profane. That doesn't mean that they are...it's not a derogatory term. It's just that they haven't gone through that process of being set apart ceremonially or ritually. Neither of those terms…and most contexts have to do with whether a person is saved or unsaved. So a priest is holy because he has been set apart to God and he can commit certain acts that render him ceremonially unclean. So he can be holy and unclean and when he performs the ritual he can be holy and clean. But he can be holy and clean and unsaved because the only requirement for being a priest is genetic relationship to Aaron and the tribe of Levi. If you read through all the qualification for priest it never once talks about his spiritual life or the fact that he trusts in God. It has to do with the fact that he is simply in that genetic relationship.
I wouldn't be surprised if the two sons of Eli… Eli was a High Priest at the time of Samuel in the first part of the book of Samuel. His two sons were Phinehas and Hophni. They were rebellious and they used the sacrificial system to rob the people. There's nothing good said of them. It's very likely that they were not saved. So here you have two cases of priests, who aren't saved, but they're holy and they could be holy and clean. So we have to understand that this terminology is related to ritual terminology and it's not related to eternal soteriological conditions.
A place in the Old Testament where you see these words used together is in Leviticus 10:9 through 11. I want you to turn with me to Leviticus 10. I am going to cross reference a couple of passages and then we'll look at the events of Leviticus 10.
NKJ Leviticus 10:9 "Do not drink wine or intoxicating drink, you,
God is addressing the requirements for the priesthood.
nor your sons with you, when you go into the tabernacle of meeting, lest you die.
In other words if you profane the Holy of Holies, there is the death penalty which is what had just happened to two of Aaron's sons. God says:
It shall be a statute forever throughout your generations,
NKJ Leviticus 10:10 "that you may distinguish between holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean,
See the priests were to teach this distinction between the holy and the profane and between the unclean and the clean. I've highlighted that verse because if you read it in Leviticus 10 it looks as if holy and profane (that word group) and unclean and clean (that second word group) - that those two word groups are synonymous. But they're not. I will show you why in just a minute. But the role of the priesthood according to verse 11 was to teach the sons of Israel all the statues which God had spoken.
Their role was to teach the law to the people part of which was the distinction between holy and profane on the one hand and unclean and clean on the other hand. We see that in Ezekiel 22:26. There it is very clear from the grammar that these are two separate categories. This is his indictment of the priesthood and why Israel was going out under the fifth cycle of discipline.
NKJ Ezekiel 22:26 "Her priests have violated My law and profaned My holy things; they have not distinguished between the holy and unholy, nor have they made known the difference between the unclean and the clean;
So the way the grammar is structured these are two separate categories.
and they have hidden their eyes from My Sabbaths, so that I am profaned among them.
So we have a chart here that I've developed to try to show this – the difference between holy and clean. "Holy" means to be set apart. So the priests were set apart in the service of God at the beginning of their service. For the High Priest there was a complete bath that took place which was a type of the complete positional cleansing of the believer at the instant of salvation. He is set apart therefore to the service of God. That's the key idea in holiness. It doesn't mean being morally pure or perfect or righteous. It means to be set apart to the service of a god. That's the core semantic meaning. When it's applied here set apart to the service of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
The temple itself is holy. The furniture is holy. Furniture can't be moral or immoral. Those qualities just can't fit a piece of furniture, a piece of metal. You can't say that the lamp stand or the clothing of a priest is morally pure. It doesn't have moral qualities, but it is set apart to God.
Now when it is violated in terms of ritual law, then it becomes profaned. That word means common. The people are profaned. Everyday utensils are profane until they are ritually purified for the service of God. They are profane. So you have these two categories on one side.
Then on the other side, we have the word clean. That which is cleansed ritually can enter into the Temple and can be brought into the presence of God. This is contrasted with that which is unclean or defiled our words that we have seen already. This means that it is ritually unclean. It does not equal sin.
I think too many people read Leviticus or Exodus and when they read clean and unclean what they think of is sin and not sin. This is a physical feature. So again in Ezekiel—the last verse we looked at in Ezekiel was 22:26 which precedes Ezekiel 36 and 37 talking about the New Covenant—in Ezekiel 44:23 where again this is talking about the future temple and the priesthood in the future temple (the millennial temple)...
NKJ Ezekiel 44:23 "And they shall teach My people the difference between the holy and the unholy, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean.
That's going to be happening during the Millennial Kingdom.
Alright, so we understand these particular features. Now I had you turn to Leviticus 10. This is the episode of a priestly rebellion that took place at the time that the temple is being dedicated. In previous chapters, for example if you just sort of page your way through, you have in the first 7 chapters of Leviticus the different laws and the different offerings. We'll come back and look at those as we get into the next chapter of Hebrews. Then in chapter 8 Aaron and his sons are consecrated. This is when the High Priest would take his full bath as a washing indicating a complete cleansing from sin so he is consecrated. This was also associated with various other offerings indicating that he is set apart to the service of God.
The word consecration comes out of another word within the qadash word group. Qadash is the Hebrew word for holy just as hagios is the basic Greek noun for holy and you have various forms for that root word which indicates consecration, sanctification, holiness – these ideas. Then if we read in chapter 9 the first verse of Leviticus 9:
NKJ Leviticus 9:1 It came to pass on the eighth day that Moses called Aaron and his sons and the elders of Israel.
2 And he said to Aaron, "Take for yourself a young bull as a sin offering and a ram as a burnt offering, without blemish, and offer them before the LORD.
3 "And to the children of Israel you shall speak,
…and give various instructions to them. So this sets the stage and this is the 8th day after the consecration of the priesthood.
Then skip over to the end of the chapter, verse 23. I am setting some chronology here for you.
NKJ Leviticus 9:23 And Moses and Aaron went into the tabernacle of meeting, and came out and blessed the people. Then the glory of the LORD appeared to all the people,
So this is when you have the Shekinah glory coming in and taking up residence in the Holy of Holies in the tabernacle.
NKJ Leviticus 9:24 and fire came out from before the LORD and consumed the burnt offering and the fat on the altar. When all the people saw it, they shouted and fell on their faces.
…incredible scene. Before all of Israel this occurs. Then something happens. The first verse of the next chapter is not some later time. This is still talking about the events of that day.
NKJ Leviticus 10:1 Then Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it, put incense on it, and offered profane fire before the LORD,
See this came from a source that had not been consecrated. So it's not holy. So they're going to offer unauthorized fire. It hasn't been sanctified yet. It hasn't become holy.
which He had not commanded them.
Great example of what happens when people start trying to invent their own ideas of what gives them a relationship with God. You can't make up the rules on your own. You have to let God make up the rules and follow His rules. So they are going to offer profane fire before the Lord.
NKJ Leviticus 10:2 So fire went out from the LORD and devoured them,
They are just incinerated on the spot. What an object lesson!
"That's that harsh evil God of the Old Testament," the liberals like to say.
Well, God is teaching the importance of His justice and righteousness and you can't come before God in an unauthorized manner. There is only one way and that's God's way.
and they died before the LORD.
NKJ Leviticus 10:3 And Moses said to Aaron, "This is what the LORD spoke, saying: 'By those who come near Me I must be regarded as holy; And before all the people I must be glorified.' " So Aaron held his peace.
Now I'm sure there is a lot more that went on. We're just given the Holy Spirit's abridged version of the events of that day. But I am sure that this had quite an impact on everyone. This is the context of the verses that I've just read where Aaron is reminded that the role of the priesthood is to distinguish between holy and unholy and between unclean and clean down in verse 10.
NKJ Leviticus 10:11 "and that you may teach the children of Israel all the statutes which the LORD has spoken to them by the hand of Moses."
Now I want you to just stop there and we're going to go through a whole lot of laws that are going to be developed in the following sections. You have starting in verse 12 references to the grain offering, wave offering, heave offering, peace offering. This isn't wave offering (Robby waves his hand). I just wanted to make sure you understood that. I've been in churches where they've done that. Don't laugh. Let's all give a wave offering to the Lord and they'll wave. (I just wanted to make sure that you were all awake. Okay, it's not a basketball game.) You have wave offering, peace offering, heave offering, sin offering. We'll go through all of those as we go through Hebrews.
Then in chapter 11 you get into dietary laws. The things you can eat and the things you can't eat, that some animals are clean and some animals are not clean. It doesn't have anything to do with health. You can't go out and pick up one of these diet books that says that this is the biblical diet. (There are a bunch of them out there, trust me.) So you can't eat shrimp and you can't eat catfish and you can't eat crawdads or crawfish or anything like that because that's not on the Mosaic Law. This doesn't have anything to do with health. It had to do with that most shellfish are scavengers that eat dead things. Why do you have dead things? You have dead things because of the curse of Genesis 3. So anything associated with death renders you ceremonially unclean. That which eats certain other things…these animals aren't scavengers, don't touch dead things or not involved with dead things. You're okay.
In Acts 10 when God when authorized Peter and the church to do away with the dietary laws, it wasn't because Peter had finally discovered that you have to cook pork to a certain temperature to avoid trichinosis or that they had suddenly discovered how to properly cook shellfish so you wouldn't get any diseases. It had nothing to do with that. It had to do with what God was teaching through the sacrificial system and through the dietary laws as a training aid, as a visual, physical image of the impact of sin.
So chapter 11 in Leviticus talks about the dietary laws. Then you have various others laws in chapter 12.
In chapter 13 they talk about what renders you clean and unclean. If you just go through here and I've done this in these chapters, underline every use of the word clean or unclean. That's what these chapters are all about.
Now what started this? This is why you have to do the big picture in Bible study. You can't just say let's hone in on three verses and spend 6 weeks on them because you lose the context. You have to have the flow. The priests are consecrated. Seven days later God moves in to the Temple. On the same day that God moves into the Temple you have the Shekinah glory and He consumes the offering. Then you have two of Aaron's sons violate the sanctity—
that's another word that comes from these word groups for holy and consecrated and sanctification—of the Holy of Holies by taking profane fire in.
Then God rebukes Aaron and says the role of the priest is to teach people the difference between the holy and profane, and clean and unclean. Then he proceeds to give instructions on what makes you clean and unclean and that covers the rest of chapter 10. Chapter 11 and chapter 12 you have the woman unclean at childbirth. Then chapter 13 which is about leprosy and dealing the things related to that. Chapter 14 is the ritual for cleansing of the leper. The last part of that chapter deals with cleaning the ritual of cleansing of a house where a leper has been. Then chapter 15 you have various other types of cleansing. Then you come to chapter 16. Everything from the second half of chapter 10 through chapter 15 talks about what makes you clean and unclean. Then chapter 16, verse one reads:
NKJ Leviticus 16:1 Now the LORD spoke to Moses after the death of the two sons of Aaron,
Now it probably took you and your morning Bible reading a week to get through those 5 chapters because they are boring and you don't like reading all those lists. People forget that chapter 16 verse 1 takes place right after the death of Nadab and Abihu.
when they offered profane fire before the LORD, and died;
NKJ Leviticus 16:2 and the LORD said to Moses: "Tell Aaron your brother not to come at just any time into the Holy Place inside the veil, before the mercy seat which is on the ark, lest he die; for I will appear in the cloud above the mercy seat.
NKJ Leviticus 16:3 "Thus Aaron shall come into the Holy Place: with the blood of a young bull as a sin offering, and of a ram as a burnt offering.
And then it describes how he shall dress and goes through all of this. This is the description of what he is to do once a year on the Day of Atonement. So Leviticus 16 describes the Day of Atonement in the context of - what have we been talking about for 5 chapters? Cleansing.
Now the interesting thing is that you and I were mostly taught that the word atonement, the Hebrew word kaphar, means covering. (It isn't bad, but it probably isn't right.) There has been a lot of discussion among Hebrew scholars on the meaning of that word the last 20 years or so. Many of them believe that the core semantic meaning of kaphar has to do with cleansing. It is a picture of ritual cleansing, of guilt. It is a ritual cleansing and this is backed up by the fact that 60 or 70 percent of the time that the word kaphar is translated into the Greek Septuagint, it's translated with a word related to katharsis or katharizo which means cleansing. So the idea of the Day of Atonement isn't primarily focusing on phase 1 salvation justification, but the ongoing cleansing of the nation from year to year because of the blood of bulls and goats can't permanently take away sin. We'll get into that in Hebrews 10.
So we tie all these things together and we're hit with an understanding that what Ezekiel is talking about when he talks about the New Covenant being a covenant for cleansing is that this has to do with the ritual cleansing of the nation because of their past sins in preparation for the present dwelling of Jesus Christ physically in their midst in the millennial temple.
So that wraps up what I want to cover on Ezekiel 36. Next time we will come back and get into Ezekiel 37 and go through that section which won't involve a whole lot. Most of what I've said is already covered there. We'll summarize that and go look at three other key passages in the Old Testament and then we will get into New Testament passages on the New Covenant.
Let's close in prayer.