November 15

Today's Bible Reading
      I Chronicles 5-6
      Hebrews 10
      Amos 4
      Psalms 148-150
            ''For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect." (Hebrews 10: 1)
            It sounds strange to speak of a shadow of something not yet a reality, yet that is exactly what the writer of Hebrews used as his analogy. In the times of the Old Testament,the Israelites only had shadows. They had no reality. The substance is Christ Himself. The shadow of a key cannot unlock a prison door; the shadow of a meal cannot satisfy a hungry man; the shadow of Calvary cannot take away sin.
            The writer of Hebrews tells us that the law was only a shadow of good things to come. The repeated and endless offerings of Levitical ritual could never make the confessors perfect. All the Levitical sacrifices did was salve the offerers disturbed conscience.
            On the Day of Atonement, the rituals simply called back to remembrance the sins of the people. As a part of the ceremony, the High Priest had to actually recite all the transgressions of the entire nation over the head of the scapegoat. This was the enacting, ceremonially, of transferring the national sin to a trembling beast that was led away to expire alone in the wilderness. It was instructive, and illustrative, but wholly ineffective.
            To illustrate this, a businessman asks his banker to give him a loan for a business venture. He explains how much he wants and what he wants to do with it. A wealthy friend agrees to endorse the note and repay the debt should the venture fail. The loan is made and a promissory note is drawn up. The rate of interest agreed upon, and the date of repayment set for a year’s time.  The businessman signs the note and his friend endorses it. After a year has passed, and the business has not done well, the businessman asks for further credit on the same terms of adequate endorsement. The banker agrees. He goes through the same procedure once again, and carries forward the accumulated debt for another year. This goes on and on, year after year. The only thing that keeps the businessman afloat is the endorsement of his friend.
            That is exactly what happened in the Old Testament. The animal sacrifices were just so many promissory notes. When they approached the altar, the Israelites acknowledged their accumulated debt of sin. They made sacrifices time and again, but none of them did away with sin.
            There came a time, of course, when those notes had to be taken care of. That is exactly what the Lord Jesus did when He shed His blood on the Cross of Calvary. The writer of Hebrews wants us to know that the blood of animals cannot take away sin. It is only the perfect blood of Christ that removes sin. Where sins are not removed by the blood of Christ, their guilt and liability remain as the sinner's personal responsibility. By rejecting Christ, one repudiates the Endorser of His note, so to speak. What folly to go back to the shadows of Judaism or any other empty religion when, in Christ, the substance that cast those shadows is to be found.
.           Pray today for the Tokelau Islands, with a population of only about 1500 people. These are Polynesian in background,and it is a territory administered by New Zealand. Christian influence has been strong for 150 years. Church attendance is high, but only a few have real assurance of salvation. Many of the smaller islands in this group have no known evangelical witness. Pray that God will raise up strong evangelistic witnesses to these small islands. It seems that the most likely group to reach them now is the Assembly of God churches.  Pray for a new infusion of spiritual life into the witness to these islands.
''I believe the promises of God enough to venture an eternity on them."
G. Campbell Morgan