JULY 1, 2008
The quote above is in response to Gideon's Offering.And fire rose out of the rock and consumed the meat and the unleavened bread.
Much has been made of Gideon's fleece testing, while little has been said about his offering. When the Angel of the Lord appeared to him and told him that he would save Israel, he wanted to make sure that it was God speaking to him. So, he told the Angel to wait until he could prepare an offering. The Angel instructed him to place the meat and bread upon a certain rock and pour away the liquid. The poured out liquid was a sign, similar to the drink offering, that it could never be retrieved. As the Angel touched his staff to the offering, fire came forth from the rock. Nothing remained of that offering. Nothing could be retrieved from it; none of it was consumed by the Angel. It was consumed by the fire. Through this fire, God revealed Himself. God was speaking.
There probably are a few upon the earth who know that the passage in Paul's writing to the Romans is actually connected to Gideon's fire. Romans 12: 1, 2 says:
Some may know that the "proving" Paul is talking about is the sort of testing that Gideon did. They may even understand that real sacrifice is neither the meat of animals nor the bread of ovens, but is their own bodies. They fully and willingly offer themselves to be consumed by His fire from THE ROCK. If no modern ones exist, it is comforting to know that some Old Testament characters were accustomed to the fire!I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
Was it not the task of the Old Testament priest to offer holy fire before God during the meat offerings? Was it not God who answered by fire in the Holiest Place, thereby accepting the blood? Such reciprocity was a form of spiritual communion and communication on a visual and visible level. Neither party could possibly doubt that what they saw, through their mutual fires, was anything other than covenant. Today, that sort of reciprocity still exists, but on a different level. In the non-visible place of the heart, sacrifice of spirit, mind and body take place through the baptism of fire. It is yet a mutual act. At the Temple altar stood a priest offering holy fire and raising holy hands, while at the atonement altar, the Holy God was accepting a holy sacrifice through His descending fire. Moses understood this.
Moses, along with his multitudes, heeded the command of the Lord and offered fire offerings that were described as "a sweet smelling savor to God."
Paul took this example and urged the saints in Ephesus to identify with Moses and offer a sacrifice that would exceed the whole burnt offering. It was to be the sacrifice of self. Their sacrifice would also be a "sweet smelling aroma" to God, just as Christ's was.And Moses burned the whole ram on the altar. It was a burnt sacrifice for a sweet aroma, an offering made by fire to the LORD, as the LORD had commanded Moses.
There it is--the connection between the Old Testament sacrifices and the New Testament ones. One was a single offering for the multitudes, while the other is a multitude of single offerings comprising a spiritual multitude. There can be no other form of Christian unity. The only unity recognized in heaven is that which forms a "sweet smelling aroma." (Any attempt to obtain unity through man's agenda is apart from God and will resemble the "strange fire" offerings of Nadab and Abihu. The smell of that sacrifice reeked of human burning flesh.)And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.
Paul stated it best when he compared his personal sacrifice for the Philippian saints in terms of community. He did for them what they gladly would have done for him.
In that same book, two chapters later, Paul attested that indeed they had already sacrificed in material ways for him. (How strange to hear, from pulpits and lecterns, one verse of great promise expounded upon without the predicating verses just before it. How strange to see included in sermonic soliloquies, "My God shall supply all your needs," apart from the mention of a "sweet smelling" sacrifice preceding it.)I am being poured out as a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all.
Philippians is not the only site for this kind of sacrifice. No more powerful giving of self can be found than what is spelled out in the book of Hebrews. Speaking of Jesus' supreme sacrifice, in Old Testament terms, the author introduced scripture which points the way for every believer and his/her commitment to sacrifice.Indeed I have all and abound. I am full, having received from Epaphroditus the things sent from you, a sweet-smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God. And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
Is this not the service of every saint? Should this not be the expression of everyone who names The Name? Shouldn't every saint have as his own testimony, "In the volume of His book, it is written of me-to do Your will, O God." When all the saints have spoken these words, and truly mean them, a glorious church will be ready for presentation.Therefore, when He came into the world, He said:
The glorious church unity of the upper room bunch found their sacrifice of self and agenda met by fire resting on their person. An acceptable sacrifice is always met by fire. It is the loss of fire in pulpit and pew which has left a generation without example.
Those searching for the missing elements in the congregations of the Twenty-first Century had best look no further than to the loss of the "fire of acceptance" from God. In this, the church has erred. (Countless times in the Old Testament, offerings were made that consumed the offerer, because the offering was an affront and stood unacceptable to God.) As simplistic as it may sound, a repeat of "the failure offerings" noted in the Old Testament will draw the same answer in the New Testament. A brief review is sufficient to prove this point: Three unacceptable offerings in the Old Testament.
This brief study reveals much about the nature of offerings and sacrifices. It shows how "unacceptable offerings" are judged and how "acceptable offerings" are blessed. It emphasizes the holy and underlines the error of sacrificing with the wrong intent.
The intent of the sacrifices offered to God is perhaps the most important element in garnering the fire of favor from Him. Many an Old Testament offering wound up being little more than those sacrificed to idols and God knew the difference.The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination; How much more when he brings it with wicked intent!
The church, though, has a sacrificial mandate given to it by Peter. Its demand is simple and direct and absolute.
Nothing is accomplished by the church, nor can it be, without spiritual sacrifice. These sacrifices are to be orchestrated through the Great High Priest, Jesus. The Holy Spirit draws the believer to the altar and, whether through command or gratitude, the offering is proposed and given. Much has been made about how saints are kings and priests, but little has been certified of their spiritual duties before God. Nearly every example in the Old Testament shows sacrifice being made by both groups (Kings and Priests). Samuel, David and Solomon, to name three, continually offered up sacrifices to God. Some commanded for special occasions, some for direction and guidance, some out of love and gratitude, but all with the mandate of David, "I will not offer up a sacrifice that costs me nothing."You also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
Yes, there are sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving among the ranks of believers, but what of the "greater sacrifices," the ones that make spiritual high places quiver and quake. What sacrifices are being made that shake the domain of idols and cause fear to rise in the hearts of God's enemies? Can one accept the mantle without the mandate?
When Paul used terms bearing Old Testament references in Romans and Philippians, he did so as a Jewish Rabbi applying rules of acceptable sacrifice. He applied them to the church. The church is currently in a dangerous position as it offers up its corrupted versions of "sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving." The church is in grave danger when it offers at the altar of God, a profane message, held in unholy hands. The church is in trouble when it moves according to its own agenda, as opposed to God's will, while holding a communion cup in one hand and bread in the other.
Surely the Lord is not pleased with sacrifices and burnt offerings, but there are sacrifices to which all saints must give and keep giving throughout their walk with God. If the church is to become the "house of sacrifice" as was said of Solomon, then it must give the "acceptable" offerings. In the following passage is the exact missing sacrifice that is not found in modern worship and must be restored at all costs. Such sacrifice will be met with renewed Holy Ghost fire!
For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it;
Until next month,
Dr. C. R. Oliver
In all fairness to the Mission Catalyst group, featured in the June 1, 2008 newsletter, I must explain some things: At the time of publication, I personally did not have certain materials in my possession which are used by MC, namely their book, entitled, World Impacting Churches, by James R. Eby. In that volume are references, by quote, from Rick Warren's, Purpose Driven Life, a program and project that I do not support. Although I firmly believe the MC organization has Godly people in their organization; therefore, it is with sadness that I report this news.
I am issuing an appeal for anyone who will assist us in building churches in Cambodia. We now have the funds to do so and want to contact reliable ground personnel that will oversee this project. We have some leads, but need to know others. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org .
FROM THE MAIL BAG:
Jerry G., TexasJ.A.C., Maui, Hawaii: (the readers will know this is the same person as was cited in the missionary report.
Wow.....I have just started reading your book, The Sons of Zadok...I'm not sure where I received this copy...I think it may have been handed to me at a memorial service.
I have been ministering for the past twenty so years as a pastor. I serve our local funeral home for families when they have a need for a pastor, about 200 during the past five years. I say that, because your book is blowing my mind wider open, yet confirming so many things for me. I was raised in a very denominational church. Our family reunions were always divided along belief lines, hard headed Baptist and pew-jumping, holy-roller, tongue talking, Bible thumping, Assemblies of God--- the rest considered themselves heathen… so went my life for too many years.
I am married and raising three sons, spiritually I soon realized I needed something in my life. I had just received an award for 33 years of faithful service, plus a pin of perfect attendance for five years without missing a single church service.
In all my getting, I never got God....until he got me. He got me right where He wanted me…every Sunday morning, teaching Sunday school, singing in the choir, serving on several committees (feeling hollow and dry as a gourd...empty…desperate…needy… beyond hope).
Then God.....I have been studying Ezekiel for almost 25 years now....I call my study, "The on duty, off duty Christian." I have come to many, if not all, the same statements that you have. (God is so good to always confirm his word I went through the Elijah cave-time, thinking I was either crazy or at least the only one that felt the way I did. I found out I was not alone. I'm sorry for the rambling, but I just had to make contact.
Author's Note: These letters reflect such humble hearts and the persons which they represent are the "saints" of our Lord. Certainly I answer every one of these emails, often with tears and often with prayers of blessing.
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