Summary: What are some things we can do, or focus on, to adjust from long summer days, Bermuda shorts and tanning oils, to shorter days, cooler weather and pulling out the autumn gear? I know, autumn is a dirty six letter word but its coming.
In a recent Canada survey, is it reported that one out of every 10 Canadians aged 15 and over, about 2.6 million people, reported symptoms consistent with alcohol or illicit drug dependence, or illnesses from major depression, mania disorder, panic disorder, agoraphobia (open spaces), social anxiety disorder (Social phobia), at some time during the 12 months prior to the interview. Except for the alcohol statistic, women are leading the way in all the other forms of illness.
Staying focused on the essentials and maintaining some semblance of normality and sanity is a daily survival game for far too many people.
Summer is nearly over. Another two weeks and we’re back into routines of work with vacation used up; children’s education costs and back to school priorities are in full swing; church life and activity will call for our attention and unfortunately, the oasis called home is the last thing most people will schedule in.
What are some things we can do, or focus on, to adjust from long summer days, Bermuda shorts and tanning oils, to shorter days, cooler weather and pulling out the autumn gear? I know, autumn is a dirty six letter word but its coming. Have you noticed the leaves are changing color already?
In today’s text, God provides us with a few stabilizers to balance us in the storms!
1. CELEBRATE YOUR POSITION IN CHRIST
A man wanted to see Buckingham Palace. His guide took him to the gate. “Oh, I don’t mean here. I want inside.”
“I’m sorry sir,” replied the guide, “I don’t have authority. Only members of the Royal Family can get you inside.”
Jesus has done this for us! - Verses 18-22…
Quick history lesson:
The history of the Israelites was such that because of their slavery in Egypt and their sojourn in the desert for forty years on route to the Promised Land, Canaan, those who left Egypt died in the wilderness. As a result their children inherited the Promised Land, but they had no skill or knowledge to build architectures or a temple of worship for their God. They only knew warfare and battle. The ark of God’s covenant, the Ten Commandments on stone and the Law of Moses (called the Pentateuch) - handed him by God, were always on display in a (SLIDE) tabernacle or tent that was set up and taken down as they continued their nomadic desert wanderings. Their experience of an established place of worship where they could sacrifice to God was a long-awaited reality. So we can appreciate that when that reality finally came, they took great pleasure in celebrating God’s presence, represented in the icon of Solomon’s temple.
A cut-away view of Solomon’s temple (SLIDE). There were two sections: i) the Holy Place (SLIDE) where the priests offered sacrifices as prescribed by God’s Law; and ii) the Most Holy Place (SLIDE). The Most Holy Place was separated from the Holy Place by a curtain. Only the Priest could enter here once a year to offer sacrifices for the sins of the people. He had to engage in a lengthy purification ceremony before entering the Most Holy Place. Leviticus 16 outlines the ceremony requirements before, during and after presentation to God. After reading the 34 verses in one sitting it can feel somewhat cumbersome and awkward. Yet, it was serious business coming into God’s presence. God told Moses in verse 3, "Warn your brother Aaron not to enter the Most Holy Place behind the inner curtain whenever he chooses; the penalty for intrusion is death.” Legend has it that when the Priest of God was to enter the Most Holy Place for the annual sacrifice he would have a rope tied to his leg in the event his purification was not complete and he died in God’s presence. The only way to get him out would be to drag his body out because no one else could enter! (BLANK SLIDE)
It is this to which the author of Hebrews refers in these verses of 19-22. The language of “19Most Holy Place…20through the curtain…21great high priest” are all images drawn from Solomon’s temple and the people’s understanding of how they can now come to God through a new order – through the sacrificial atonement of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, on the cross!
The purpose of this lesson injection is hopefully to impress on us the incomprehensible privilege we have to come into God’s presence through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross for our sins! The sacrifice of Jesus means we have something on which to focus to keep us anchored, to keep us centered, to keep us purposeful every day we open our eyes to His gift of life and opportunity!
There is another thing we can do:
2. HOLD ON TO HOPE