Thursday, February 17, 2005

Vehicle Not Needed

One of the definitions of a vehicle is: A medium through which something is transmitted, expressed, or accomplished. A vehicle helps us get to our destination, assists us in sending something, helps us say something. It may even help us accomplish something. While a vehicle takes us from point a to point b, once we reach our destination we no longer need it, for it has done its job. Naturally,
the only exception is, of course, if we have not reached the end of our journey. In such a case, we do not dispose of the vehicle, we merely park it as we may need it to continue on. A car is the perfect example of such a vehicle. Although we often use a car to symbolize our status, it still remains a vehicle to assist us in reaching a chosen destination. Whether the destination is our home, school, workplace or any of the myriad of places we may desire to go, once we're there, the car is useless. Oh,
I know many of you will disagree and say the car still remains of value because you can use it again, and again-- and you're right. But, the main point is that as long as you're shopping at the store, or taking a test at school, or working, the value of the car is negligible. It truly becomes of value or use again when you want to drive home. You get the picture-- I hope.

The Hebrew sacrificial system was a vehicle. It was a medium through which God transmitted or expressed the Gospel message to humanity. It foreshadowed the death of Christ, and was a living parable of what His death would do for the World. The sacrifices of birds and animals made by the people and the priests, symbolized Christ. Thus, Christ became the antitype. While we say that the sacrifices were symbolic, in no way does that lessen the enormity of the penalty for the lack of corporate and individual participation. There is danger in merely viewing the sacrifices as symbolic, for the guilt and punishment of those who did not participate was real-- they were cut off. You see, the sacrifices in themselves meant nothing, unless there was true sorrow and turning toward Christ, the Saviour. The genuineness of repentance and conversion was demonstrated by penitent sinners' participatation in the sacrificial system. God required this so all could truly understand the depravity of Sin, and the depths to which it would take its victims. He further desired the Israelites to discern that "the wages of Sin is death, but the GIFT of God is eternal life ..." (Romans 6:23). This is what the the earthly sacrificial system vehicle was to teach the people.

When Christ died on the hill of Golgotha, the sanctuary vehicle used to teach the Israelites had come to rest. It was no longer needed, for type had met antitype. The whole world had reached the destination intended by the creator-- that of being justified by the Lamb of God slain from the foundation of the world (Romans 5:18,
Revelation 13:8). The books of the gospel record the crucifixion, and the ripping apart of the old vehicle to make way for the new. Let us look at Matthew 27, which reads:

Matthew 27:45 Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land
unto the ninth hour.
Matthew 27:50 Jesus, when He had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up
the ghost.
Matthew 27:51 And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to
the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;

In another Gospel Jesus is recorded saying, “It is Finished.” As John the Baptist had stated, The “Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world,” had been sacrificed for Humanity’s sake. It was a complete and sufficient sacrifice, which rendered the human race reconciled with God (Romans 5:10, Ephesians 2:16). The old had gone, and the new had come. Sister White writes of the death of Christ, the ripping apart of the veil, and the new vehicle of intimacy with God in this way:

The darkness still hung like a pall over Jerusalem. At the moment in which Christ died, there were priests ministering in the temple before the vail which separated the holy from the most holy place. Suddenly they felt the earth tremble beneath them, and the veil of the temple, a strong, rich drapery that had been renewed yearly, was rent in twain from top to bottom by the same bloodless hand that wrote the words of doom upon the walls of Belshazzar's palace. The most holy place, that had been entered by human feet only once a year, was revealed to the common gaze. God had even before protected His temple in a wonderful manner; but now its sacred mysteries were exposed to curious eyes. No longer would the presence of God overshadow the earthly mercy-seat. No longer would the light of His glory flash forth upon, or the cloud of His disapproval shadow, the precious stones in the breastplate of the high priest … When Christ died upon the cross of Calvary, a new and living way was opened to both Jew and Gentile. The Saviour was henceforth to officiate as Priest and Advocate in the heaven of heavens. Henceforth the blood of beasts offered for sin was valueless; for the Lamb of God had died for the sins of the world. (E. G. White Notes, page 58)

Prior to Christ dying, He initiated another symbol to serve as a vehicle foreshadowing the type of intimacy He wished us to have with one another, and with the Godhead. That intimacy is symbolized in the Service of Humility and in Holy Communion (Luke 22:19). With the foot washing, we become humble in mind and in attitude. We are reminded that all our righteousness is as a filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6), and that the washing and purifying of the Word, cleanses us. In the eating and drinking of unleavened bred and wine, we partake further of the mind of Christ, and are fed with the Words or scenes of His life, death and resurrection. Accepting God and others above ourselves, we become one with God, and leave self behind. The symbol of foot washing and communion is in and of itself meaningless, unless the heart is repentant. But a repentant heart often comes from or through the vehicle of participation, by the Holy Spirit. While non-participation may not harden our hearts, by the same token, it does not allow the Holy Spirit to soften our hearts either. Ultimately, if we choose not to participate in an ongoing manner in the Service of Humility & Communion, if we choose not to take the new vehicle, we probably will not arrive at our new destination. Unfortunately, that means we'll probably miss out on
that great event to which we've all been personally invited, the Wedding Banquet of the Lamb. What a disappointment that will be to Jesus, and to all who love us and are there. Those who are willing, and take the vehicle to our new destination, will find when they arrive that the vehicle is no longer necessary, for it has delivered us safely. I'm looking forward to that day, how about you?
Raul Diaz & Maria Greaves-Barnes

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