Ramblings

I rejoiced when they said to me, Let us go unto the house of YHWH."

When some people think of worship in the Old Testament an image of over-ritualized ceremony comes to mind in which there is slaughter and bloodshed.  To such people, rejoicing when going would be the farthest thing from their minds.  Yet King David rejoices, he rejoices because there is deliverance at the house of YHWH – deliverance from sin – and David knew a lot about sin and deliverance.  He was delivered from the field, Goliath, and Saul in order to become the King of Israel; he was also delivered from the sin that he committed with Beth-Sheba.  And this deliverance from sin, death, and the power of the devil, which is for all God’s people, is played out at God’s house.

 

In Leviticus 16 we see YHWH lay out his plan of worship.  This worship is much different than the other pagan religions.  This YHWH worship had the motive of deliverance behind it.  Not that the worshipers would deliver to God their gifts, as all the pagans did, but this was God delivering his people from the thing which they needed to be most delivered – sin.  In this ceremony that God designed there was not just one action to show and symbolize his forgiveness, but many.

 

YHWH wished to grant, through Aaron the Priest, forgiveness to his people, but Aaron himself was also a sinner.  To rectify this situation the Lord wished Aaron to make an offering for his sins that he might be pure before God and do His work.  Once this was completed, Aaron would make a sacrifice for the people; it would be a goat of the Lord’s choosing, and this was done by casting lots over two goats.  One for sin and one sacrifice, yet both were done for the deliverance of YHWH’s people; one to make amends for sin, viz. sprinkling its blood on the ark, and one to remove sin, viz. the scapegoat being led out to the wilderness to be forgotten.

 

This ceremony was done each year on the Day of Atonement, but this was only a foreshadowing of who was to come, the Christ.  The Christ came, in Jesus, to deliver His people from sin.  He became the goat of sacrifice by suffering on the cross, and also the scapegoat by taking on our sins and taking them away as far as they could go, the grave.  But He was different than those goats; he rose, and therefore we rise too.

 

Saul at first was heading toward the grave of sin and death, but Christ, while Saul was on the road to
Damascus
, broke into his world and offered deliverance (Acts 9).  This deliverance killed Saul, but in Baptism he was raised as Paul.  Now Paul knew about deliverance, and, he too, would deliver something to those whom he served.

 

Paul tells the Corinthians in his first letter to remain in the traditions which he gave them.  These traditions include rubrics for worship (e.g. head coverings), but he also delivered something greater to them (1 Corinthians 11).  He delivered to them the precious body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 11).  This deliverance brings deliverance from sin, death, and the power of the devil.  This deliverance delivers Christ to his people, and it is a deliverance that is greater than the Day of Atonement, because now every day that the Eucharist happens is a Day of Atonement.

 

Here the Lord breaks the bonds of a single day and grants it to us every day, not only in His Supper, but also in our Baptism which raises us up to new life.  And when this new life promise is fulfilled we shall be delivered to the heavenly kingdom and, on that day of our deliverance, from the veil of tears we shall be with Christ.

 


St. John
was privileged to see a glimpse of this place, to which we will on day be delivered.  A place where, to God, are delivered the praises of all creation: man, created things, angels, and four seraphs singing, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come (Revelation 4)!”  After this takes place all bow down and worship Him who is on the throne.  Here it is striking that even in heaven, a place where there is no time, there is an order to things.  But in John’s account there is another deliverance to be handed down, and it is the deliverance of the scroll to the Lamb, who is Christ.

 

When Christ delivers the scroll from His Father’s hand, and opens the seals he ushers in the Day of the Lord, when he shall come and deliver all His people from this veil of tears.  When we all are delivered we shall sing to the Lamb with all the hosts of heaven singing, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever (Revelation 5)!”

 

Thus it shall be then for all eternity when all deliverance has come.  We see now our glimpse; it happens each Lord’s day.  We see the story of deliverance played out once again.  God wished to deliver His people, and so he sent the Priests to offer atonement to His people, and yet, those would not suffice so He sent his own Son.  His Son came to deliver His people by delivering Himself unto death.  Christ also delivers to us the fruits of His delivering act to us in the waters of Baptism, and each Eucharist He delivers His own body and blood to us.  Now we know fully the answer to the Psalmist’s question, “Whence cometh my deliverance (Psalm 120:2)?”  Our deliverance comes from Him who delivers us from sin, death, and the power of the devil by delivering to us Himself in water, bread, wine, and word; until he at last shall deliver us to Himself, and we shall praise him forever and ever.  But until then we can proclaim as David did, “I rejoiced when they said to me, ‘Let us go unto the house of YHWH (Psalm 122:1).’”

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