Thoroughly Equipped: Final Perfection

Today’s reading includes Leviticus 20:22-22:16, Mark 9:1-29, Psalm 43:1-5, Proverbs 10:18.

Today’s reading includes many more instructions, some of which highlighted exclusions.  As I read through today text, I couldn’t help but wonder about the exclusions.  There were exclusions for those who had a tainted past, exclusions for those touched by grief and shame, exclusions for those handicapped.  When I compare this text with the other text I know in the rest of the Bible, for a moment is does not add up.  For this is what I know about the character of God:  He is love, He removes our sin as far as the east is from the west, He says we are fearfully and wonderfully made. He makes all things new. So why the exclusions?

Then I went back to study a bit more and realized the exclusions were not required of the people, the exclusions were for the process.  The exclusions were about the priests who fulfilled those processes.  And the exclusions were about the sacrifice.  As we have discussed before, God made a perfect world, but it was tainted by sin.  And so much of what we see in our Old Testament readings is God revealing His plan to get back to that perfection.  If the priests were part of that visual, then they needed to be as close to perfection—as close to how it was in the beginning—as was possible for them.

Of course, they weren’t perfect and no matter how much they tried, no matter how much they excluded people and things and animals from their lives, they could not be perfect.  They were just instructed to take the effort seriously.  Remember, God is painting a picture for us to see His plan to return to the perfection He originally created.

And in this picture, there is a priest who is perfect, there is a perfect animal sacrifice.  The perfect priest offers the perfect lamb and perfection can be achieved.  Only, remember this is a picture painted which will be revealed in the future.  It is a picture of Jesus the perfect High Priest.  It is a picture of Jesus, the perfect Lamb of God.  That is when the perfect painting was revealed.

Even though Jesus has come, even though the price has been paid with the perfect sacrifice, we still live in an imperfect world.  There is still illness and sin and shame and tragedy.  Why?  Because the end of the story has not been fulfilled.  We know the ending, we can read about the ending, but in His grace and mercy God has delayed the ending. He has delayed the ending so that those who have not understood the only way to perfection, will have the chance to understand and hear and follow.

Today, I want to remember the end of the story.  Let’s look at Revelation 5:1-13.

Then I saw a scroll[a] in the right hand of the one who was sitting on the throne. There was writing on the inside and the outside of the scroll, and it was sealed with seven seals. And I saw a strong angel, who shouted with a loud voice: “Who is worthy to break the seals on this scroll and open it?” But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll and read it.

Then I began to weep bitterly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll and read it. But one of the twenty-four elders said to me, “Stop weeping! Look, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the heir to David’s throne,[b] has won the victory. He is worthy to open the scroll and its seven seals.”

Then I saw a Lamb that looked as if it had been slaughtered, but it was now standing between the throne and the four living beings and among the twenty-four elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which represent the sevenfold Spirit[c]of God that is sent out into every part of the earth. He stepped forward and took the scroll from the right hand of the one sitting on the throne. And when he took the scroll, the four living beings and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp, and they held gold bowls filled with incense, which are the prayers of God’s people. And they sang a new song with these words:

“You are worthy to take the scroll
    and break its seals and open it.
For you were slaughtered, and your blood has ransomed people for God
    from every tribe and language and people and nation.
10 And you have caused them to become
    a Kingdom of priests for our God.
    And they will reign[d] on the earth.”

11 Then I looked again, and I heard the voices of thousands and millions of angels around the throne and of the living beings and the elders. 12 And they sang in a mighty chorus:

“Worthy is the Lamb who was slaughtered—
    to receive power and riches
and wisdom and strength
    and honor and glory and blessing.”

13 And then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea. They sang:

“Blessing and honor and glory and power
    belong to the one sitting on the throne
    and to the Lamb forever and ever.”

In the next chapters of Revelation, we see that Jesus, the Lamb who was slain, opens the seals.  And the seals reveal that though the victory is complete, though the spiritual war has ultimately been won already, there are still pockets of satan’s strongholds on this earth.  The war has been won, but there are still battles to be fought.  The topics of these battles can cause fear and worry.  But for us, the Redeemed, there is security and confidence.  The heading of Revelation 7 is God’s People Will Be Preserved.

After this I saw a vast crowd, too great to count, from every nation and tribe and people and language, standing in front of the throne and before the Lamb. They were clothed in white robes and held palm branches in their hands. 10 And they were shouting with a great roar,

“Salvation comes from our God who sits on the throne
    and from the Lamb!”

In further chapters there are beasts and battles and fire and plagues.  But there will be a time when the return to the way it was meant and created to be is restored.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.

I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them.[a] He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”

And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.”And he also said, “It is finished! I am the Alpha and the Omega—the Beginning and the End. To all who are thirsty I will give freely from the springs of the water of life. All who are victorious will inherit all these blessings, and I will be their God, and they will be my children.

And the description of what is to come is beyond beautiful with sparkling stones and pearls and gold and God’s glory.  And the perfect has returned.

22 I saw no temple in the city, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. 23 And the city has no need of sun or moon, for the glory of God illuminates the city, and the Lamb is its light. 24 The nations will walk in its light, and the kings of the world will enter the city in all their glory. 25 Its gates will never be closed at the end of day because there is no night there. 26 And all the nations will bring their glory and honor into the city. 27 Nothing evil[f] will be allowed to enter, nor anyone who practices shameful idolatry and dishonesty—but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.

And in that time, the picture God painted will be fully fulfilled and revealed.  There will be no more need for temples or regulations or exclusions.  There will be no more evil, no more shame, no more imperfections.  We are waiting for the final battle and even still we are victors now.  And in the victory we experience now, we wait expectantly for the final and ultimate victory.

17 The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” Let anyone who hears this say, “Come.” Let anyone who is thirsty come. Let anyone who desires drink freely from the water of life.”

No wonder the entire Bible ends with these words:

Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!

21 May the grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s holy people.[f]

Leave a Reply