"FELLOWSHIP WITH GOD."
I. GOD MADE MAN FOR THE PURPOSE OF MEANINGFUL LOVING FELLOWSHIP.
A. As we look at Adam and Even in the Garden of Eden, we see man fulfilling the ultimate intention of God as he communes with God in the garden.
1. I do not pretend to understand this, but it would seem that God longs for and desires fellowship with man.
2. In the past we have pointed out that for the fellowship to be meaningful, God had to create man with the capacity of choice.
a. He could have created robots, but the love and fellowship would not have been meaningful.
b. The capacity of choice would not have been valid if there was nothing to choose.
c. The alternative would have to be very attractive and desirable for the choice to be truly meaningful.
B. So we see Adam and Eve in the garden with all kinds of freedom to enjoy the exotic fruit of all the trees except one. The tree in the middle of the garden has been placed off limits by God.
1. What is it in our make up that makes the forbidden seem so desirable?
2. They now are faced with the choice of obeying God and remaining in fellowship with Him, or disobeying God and losing that fellowship.
3. We are all too aware of the folly of the choice they made. All mankind has suffered ever since.
4. Satan had promised that they would be as gods, but in the final analysis they lost their god likeness.
a. They had been made in the image of God, now they have fallen from that image.
b. They were created in the kingdom of God, now they have been cast out of the kingdom of God. For God's kingdom is where God rules, and God no longer ruled over their lives. They had usurped that rule from God. Their lives will now be ruled by their flesh.
C. God still loved man even in his fallen state, and still desired to fellowship with him.
1. But a great problem now exists. God is absolutely holy. In Him we are told is no darkness at all.
2. Man is in the kingdom of darkness and there can be no commingling of light and darkness.
3. John said that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all, and if we say that we have fellowship with God and we walk in darkness, we lie and know not the truth.
4. The problem is how can God open the door for sinful man to know the joy and fulfillment of being restored to the image of God and have fellowship with Him?
D. In the Tabernacle that Moses was commanded to build, we see God's provision to bring man into fellowship with Himself.
1. We have seen that God has made a place where man can meet Him, it is in the most holy place of the tabernacle. That golden room in the innermost part of the tabernacle.
2. This room was a model of heaven with the golden ark of the covenant covered by the mercy seat with the golden cherubim on the top of the mercy seat.
3. This room was separated from the rest of the tabernacle known as the holy place by a curtain, known as the veil.
4. In the holy place was the table of bread, and the golden altar of incense, the room was lighted by the golden lampstand with the seven arms with the cups to hold the oil.
5. The bread reminds us of Jesus who declared that He was the bread of life.
6. The lighted candlestick reminds us of Jesus who said that He was the light of the world.
7. All the wood in the tabernacle was covered with gold, which symbolizes heaven.
E. To get to the tabernacle you had to go through the outer court, a curtained off enclosure 150 feet by 75 feet. The curtains were 71/2 feet high.
II. THE OUTER COURT HAD AN ALTAR OF BRASS AND A BRASS WASH BASIN. BRASS IS A METAL THAT SPEAKS OF JUDGMENT.
A. Before a sinful man could approach a holy God for fellowship, something must be done about the sin issue; otherwise, sinful man would surely die.
B. We noted that all of the furnishings within the tabernacle were made of gold, which speaks to us of the person of Jesus Christ. While all of the furnishings in the outer court are made of brass, which speaks to us of the work of Christ.
C. The children of Israel did not just approach God directly, they came through the priest.
1. They would bring their ox or lamb for their sin offering to the priest in the outer court. After he would inspect it to insure that it had no blemishes, the person would lay his hands on the head of the sheep and confess his sins, in a sense transferring his sins onto the animal. He would then slay the animal and the priest would dip his finger in the blood and place it on the horns of the brass altar. The lamb was then to be burnt on the altar.
2. Now the man would be ready to offer the peace offering, which signified communion with God.
3. Through these rituals man would be able to fellowship with God.
D. These sin offerings could not put away their sin, only cover them. The word atonement as used in the Old Testament came from the Hebrew world kofar which means cover. It covered their sins, but did not put them away.
1. In the book of Hebrews, we read that it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.
2. These things were all a foreshadowing of what God would one day do through His Son.
3. In Hebrews we read:
And almost all things are by the law washed with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.
[It was] therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.
For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, [which are] the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us:
Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entered into the holy place every year with blood of others;
For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.
III. HOW CAN WE ENJOY FELLOWSHIP WITH GOD?
A. We have the same problem that they had in Moses' day, that is the problem of sin.
1. The Bible tells us that God's hand is not short that He cannot save, neither is His ear heavy that He cannot hear, but your sins have separated you from God.
2. When John the Baptist saw Jesus coming to him, he announced to the people, "Behold the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world."
B. The prophet Isaiah wrote: "All of us like sheep had gone astray, we had turned every one of us to our own ways, but God has laid on Him the iniquities of us all." Just as the Israelites brought their lamb and laid their hand on the head and confessed their sin and transferred the sin to the animal, so Jesus took our sin and died in our place.
C. Paul tells us that God has made Him to be sin for us who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God through Him.
D. The sin issue has to be settled before you can ever have fellowship with God.
1. Paul tells us that God has demonstrated His love toward us, in that even while we were still sinners, Christ died for the ungodly.
2. Bottom line, God loves you so much He wants to fellowship with you, your sin has barred the door, and has kept you from the blessings and fulfillment that man can know who lives in fellowship with God. God sent His Son into the world to be a sacrificial lamb. He took your sins and died in your place that He might open the door for you to come to God. Now the way is opened for you to come. Jesus said, I am the door to the sheepfold, He said, "I am the way the truth and the life, no man can come to the Father but by Me." "Jesus Christ the Lord, opened up the way, The way to heaven's gates, When He died on the cross, to redeem all the lost, He prepared a road that leads to His abode. It's a road marked by blood, but it leads us home to God."
3. Now comes the choice. You can choose to be forgiven of all your sins, be freed from the destructive consequences of your sins, and know the joy of fellowship with God forever, or you can continue in your sins and be banished from the presence of God forever in the place that God has prepared for Satan and his followers.
4. One of the biblical definitions for death is separation from God. Jesus was using that definition when He said to a woman named Martha, who was grieving over the death of her brother; "He that lives and believes in Me shall never die." That is, he will never be separated from the fellowship with God. He then asked her, "Do you believe this?"
5. This radical statement immediately divides all of mankind into one of two categories: those who believe, and those who do not believe, those who have a hope of eternal life, and those who have no hope of eternal life.
6. You are in one or the other by your own deliberate choice. Should you end up in hell, you will never be able to accuse God of sending you there. You are there by choice. You choose not to believe because you loved darkness rather than light.