Lent 5 Midweek (Ex 29, 38–46; Num 28, 1–8)

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The other lamb you shall offer at twilight, and shall offer with it a grain offering and its drink offering, as in the morning, for a pleasing aroma, a food offering to the LORD.

᛭ INI ᛭

Flesh and blood; flour and wine—that’s what’s offered “each day regularly.” Lamb as a whole burnt offering. Most likely slaughtered with its blood left in a pool “at the entrance of the tent of meeting.” “Fine flour mixed with oil”—unleavened dough—was also offered each day. “Drink offering” also—that was left in a pool beside the Altar of Incense “in the Holy Place.”

Flesh and blood; dough and wine—this was the daily offering, but not just daily. Twice a day! “The other lamb you shall offer at twilight, and shall offer with it a grain offering and its drink offering, as in the morning.” Every day—morning and evening—the LORD gave this offering to His people. He gave this offering because “I will dwell among the people of Israel and will be their God.”

The daily offering really gets at who the LORD is and who He wants to be for His people. Not just the people of Israel, but you and me, too. He institutes these offering for His people. He wants them to receive them and to enjoy them by faith in Him, because it’s not so much about obedience to YAHWEH but enjoying YAHWEH’s presence among them.

So it is today. The Lord Jesus gives us gifts, too, that we would receive them, that we would enjoy them by faith, and that we would enjoy His presence among us. Different Testaments, but it doesn’t matter to Jesus. It’s the same for His Old Testament people as it is for His New Testament people—both Israel.

THE LORD GIVES GIFTS FOR HIS PEOPLE TO RECEIVE AND TO ENJOY HIS PRESENCE AMONG THEM.

(I. His people often forsake the gifts they desperately need.)

Flesh and blood; flour and wine—“a pleasing aroma to YAHWEH,” one of His “food offerings.” The people would not stink from their daily and much sin. Daily given. Daily enjoyed. Daily benefit because of the Lord’s promise. He promised to be among them, “to sanctify with His glory.” This daily offering is all wrapped up in that. He gave it to His people for them to receive it, but would they believe it?

Sadly, the Lord’s people think He’s pleased with empty actions and mouthed words. The Lord calls out His people who think that way. The Lord calls out His people who act that way, even though they know they shouldn’t. “Whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin,” (James 4:17)

The Lord says through Isaiah that His “people draw near with their mouth and honor Me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me.” The Lord condemns them for their empty sacrifices through Asaph: “Hear, O my people, and I will speak; O Israel, I will testify against you. I am God, your God. Not for your sacrifices do I rebuke you; your burnt offerings are continually before me…Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and perform your vows to the Most High, and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.” (Ps 50:7–8, 14–15)

Our outward behavior toward others when compared with our inner motivations betrays us. Our outward behavior toward God compared with our inner motivations betrays us as well.

In our mess of sin, we forsake the Lord’s gifts. First, by focusing on ourselves, fixing ourselves first. Second, by not worrying about trusting what the Lord says about His gifts, wrongly thinking, “All matters is doing it rightly. Who needs faith?” In both ways, we forsake the Lord’s gifts that we desperately need.

(Transition.)

What’s the Lord going to do? Well, the Lord Jesus does what He always does. The Lord always calls His people to repentance. He doesn’t change His gifts. He institutes what He institutes and calls His people to what He institutes. Not just the doing it, but the receiving it with faith. He does this because He wants to dwell with His people. Jesus wants to be their God—your God—and for you to be His people.

THE LORD GIVES GIFTS FOR HIS PEOPLE TO RECEIVE AND TO ENJOY HIS PRESENCE AMONG THEM.

(II. The benefits of the Gifts stand firm.)

Flesh and blood; flour and wine—that’s the gift, the twice daily gift and offering the Lord set up. He kept it around in spite of His ancient people’s unbelief because that twice daily sacrifice pointed forward to the true sacrifice—Calvary. There Jesus died for the sins of His people, dying around the 9th hour, the time when the evening sacrifice was offered.

Flesh and blood; bread and wine—that’s the gift the Lord instituted for you, too. Jesus gives His body and blood in, with, under bread and wine. Through His Supper He is with you to forgive you your sins. His Supper is for the forgiveness of all your sins. The bread and wine are His body and blood, and when they’re eaten with faith give the benefit of the forgiveness of sins. You are thus kept in both body and soul unto life everlasting.

We need this medicine constantly. Christ commands us to do this often, as Luther teaches, because of our own “pressing need.” The Christian Questions (LSB 330) remind us:

20 But what should you do if you are not aware of this need and have no hunger and thirst for the Sacrament?

To such a person no better advice can be given than this:

First, he should touch his body to see if he still has flesh and blood. Then he should believe what the Scriptures say of it…

Second, he should look around to see whether he is still in the world, and remember that there will be no lack of sin and trouble, as the Scriptures say…

Third, he will certainly have the devil also around him, who with his lying and murdering day and night will let him have no peace, within or without, as the Scriptures picture him…

A devil who attacks day and night had to contend with the daily morning and evening sacrifices in the Old Testament. Of the Lord’s Supper, Luther himself says in the Large Catechism, “There are so many hindrances and temptations of the devil and of the world that we often become weary and faint, and sometimes we also stumble [Hebrews 12:3]. Therefore, the Sacrament is given as a daily pasture and sustenance, that faith may refresh and strengthen itself [Psalm 23:1–3] so that it will not fall back in such a battle, but become ever stronger and stronger.” (LC V 23–24)

“Even though the Christian does not receive it daily, his life is oriented to the next approach to the Lord’s Table. The daily approach to the Lord’s Supper is the advance to the crucified body of our Lord through whom forgiveness and with it life eternal are granted us.” (Schlink, 181–182, alt.) But even if you did actually receive it daily, the benefit always stands firm—forgiveness of sins! (More on that next week.)

(Conclusion.)

Flesh and blood; flour and wine—

THE LORD GIVES GIFTS FOR HIS PEOPLE TO RECEIVE AND TO ENJOY HIS PRESENCE AMONG THEM.

The Lord doesn’t change His institution to accommodate His people’s unbelief. There’s no “stop the gift till you appreciate what I’m doing” but rather a call to repentance, to a faith-filled receiving of the Gift. Besides the fact that “We believe, teach, and confess that no true believer ’as long as he has living faith, however weak he may be’ receives the Holy Supper to his judgment.” (Epitome of the Formula of Concord, VII: The Lord’s Supper, § 19) “My ways are not your ways,” (Is 55) says the LORD Jesus, for “the foolishness of God is wiser than men.” (1 Cor 1)

THE LORD GIVES GIFTS FOR HIS PEOPLE TO RECEIVE AND TO ENJOY HIS PRESENCE AMONG THEM.

The Lord did that in the Old Testament through all the sacrifices but especially the daily morning and evening ones. He does that today in the Supper of His body and blood, which He gives you to eat and to drink for the forgiveness of your sins.

᛭ INI ᛭

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