Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Spirit of Bezaleel, son of Uri.

I've been reading Exodus, and it is has been amazing. I never cease to be amazed at how God continues to reveal His glorious unchanging truths in passages of Scripture that I have read many times before. I just want to point out something really powerful, that I never noticed before.

Reading the ten commandments (Exo. 20:1-17), we see the first commandment (Exo. 20:2-3), which is a precursor to all the others - who do we worship? The LORD, and Him alone! Worship is the centre of the Christian life, without a shadow of a doubt. Ask why was God so merciful to save such wretched and despicable sinners as us? That we might show forth His praises! (I Pet. 2:9) And most especially, the glories of His unending, incomparable grace! No surprise that this is what all the commandments are about.

I like to ask people what makes the second commandment (Exo. 20:4-6) different to the first. Some people seem to have the idea that it also speaking about who we worship - but in fact it is teaching that if we are not worshipping God according to His way - His commandments, then we are worshipping idols. The second commandment is about how we worship! We don't worship God with graven images. What is a graven image? (Deut. 4:15-19, Isa. 40:18-21) It's just something from our own ideas - our own imagination. No surprise that today, the most popular kind of worship is always this imaginative human-invented worship. Well, God tells us that this kind of worship is not what He requires, and that it is worship of idols - not Him. He requires worship in spirit and in truth (John 4:24).

To teach us this, He shows us the example of the Israelites who asked Aaron to make them a graven image (Exo. 32:1-35). He gathered their bits of gold and just formed a molten calf to represent the God who brought them out of Egypt (Exo. 32:2-4; 23-24). Remember that the word "gods" is the same as the word referring to the one true "God", Elohim. They did not think they were worshipping an idol - Aaron told them that by means of the calf they would worship the LORD - the God who brought them out of Egypt (Exo. 32:4-6). But God identifies this practice as despicable idolatry (Exo. 32:7-8)! Why? He cannot be represented by anything in heaven or on earth, and cannot be worshipped in any other way that the way that He has commanded.

All evangelicals ought to know this very well. Without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb. 11:6). Apart from that narrow way of faith in Jesus Christ alone, we have no way to worship God (Rom. 3:20-31). We cannot worship the Father except that we are in the Son by faith. Without His life, death and resurrection for our sins, we would be utterly separated from God - and heading to hell. We could not even pray to God except for faith in what Christ has done for us (Prov. 15:8; 26; 29; 28:9; Isa. 59:1-21; Jas. 1:6-8).

So we see the burning anger of the Lord against this wickedness, and Moses' pleading for them - his pleading rooted in the desire for God's name to be hallowed and the promise of the covenant established and maintained throughout generations (Exo. 32:11-14). And then we see Moses' anger at such wickedness and the terrible judgments brought upon the children of Israel that day (Exo. 32:19-20; 25-28).

A little later on, we see Moses, having been given the detailed instructions about how God is to be worshipped. The first person in the Bible, that we are told that was filled with the Spirit of God, was Bezaleel, son of Uri, who God raised up to follow exactly His instructions about the tabernacle (Exo. 31:2-11; 35:30-35). What follows is one of the most beautiful passages in Scripture (and I used to think it was boring!). In clear and sharp contrast to the wickedness of idolatrous Israel with the molten calf of their prideful imagination, Bezaleel carefully, worshipfully, and lovingly crafts all the articles for the tabernacle according to every detail - just as God had commanded (Exo. 36:1), so that the children of Israel may worship Him as He ought to be worshipped - in the splendour of holiness.

And here we see another glorious picture of Christ who alone builds the altar of the Lord and provides the sacrifice by which we may worship our Lord with clean hands and a pure heart. Not only do we see such glorious pictures in the various articles of the tabernacle and the glorious truths that the tabernacle itself points to - all these things pointing to the Person and work of our Lord and Saviour, but we see the Spirit of the Lord at work in Bezaleel to do all these things, just as God had commanded.

The contrast is mind-blowing. On one side we have the impatience, pride, and presumption of Aaron and the children of Israel who worshipped with a hastily made molten calf. On the other side we have Bezaleel and the others, who painstakingly, carefully, attentively, prepared everything just perfectly so that they could worship exactly as God had commanded. And we taught even more - Bezaleel, was chosen for such a task only because God had filled him with the Holy Spirit.

May God graciously grant us that same Spirit, so that we also, with Bezaleel, may be delivered from wicked idolatry, to worship God in spirit and truth, as He has commanded us and no other way. And may we take great delight in worshipping God in His way in His temple, the body of Jesus Christ, which has been raised from the dead - to proclaim His glory!


From all this, I have some sad conclusions too. Popular contemporary worship, in all it's attempts to be new and fresh and relevant, is no different to the idolatrous ritualism of the medieval Roman church - it is Romanism at best. But to use this biblical example we have - it is simply worshipping that golden calf again - and will bring those terrible judgments again. May God cleanse us of such wicked practices and may He open our eyes to see them, may He reveal His commandments to us, so that we may delight in them and glorify His name.

And I see no suggestion anywhere throughout Scripture that we are commanded to sing any songs as praise to God, except the Psalms. We are reminded again and again throughout Scripture to sing the Psalms of David - and that he is the sweet psalmist of Israel, speaking the words given to him by the Holy Spirit, as a picture of Christ (II Sam. 23:1-2).

Again, we ought to be reminded of this truth that runs throughout all this: that the only way to worship God is the way that He has made and given to us. The only tabernacle to worship in, was the one which God Himself had laid down the instructions for, and even more, had Himself crafted by means of His Spirit at work in Bezaleel. The truth of salvation is Christ alone is also taught in this. We cannot worship in any way that we have invented - only the way that Christ has made and Him alone. Faith itself being a gift of God (Eph. 2:8), and Christ even entering this world by the virgin birth - teaching us that man was not involved. We have no part in our salvation (Rom. 9:11-16).

How much then, ought our worship to reflect this? We are nowhere instructed to craft our own songs to worship God with - but we have been given the Psalms and are told to use them, over and over again (Jas. 5:13; Psa. 95:2; 105:2; I Chr. 16:9; Eph. 5:18-20; Col. 3:16). Some people point to the phrase used twice in Scripture: "psalms, hymns, and songs, of the Spirit." (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16) How can this suggest that we ought to write our own songs? Such would simply be more golden calves.

The word, "of the Spirit" is always used to refer to something coming from the Spirit of God, that can only be Scripture - and especially, it can only be the songs of the sweet psalmist of Israel who spoke by the Spirit. These "psalms, hymns, songs" also are called the "word of Christ" (Col. 3:16) with which we are to "teach and admonish one another" and to be "filled with the Spirit" (Eph. 5:18) - and in the Psalms, David speaks the word of Christ, filled with the Spirit. This can only be the Psalms of David. And "psalms, hymns, songs" are three Greek words, which are the three different titles used in the headings of the Psalms in the Greek version of the Old Testament, and triplets used to describe the same thing are used elsewhere in Scripture too. There is no suggestion anywhere that they could refer to anything other than the Psalms.

Finally, what would the Ephesians and Colossians assume that Paul meant when he wrote to them? The Bible is persipicuous, clear and lucid to believers - Paul wrote to be understood, as he would prefer to speak five intelligible words than ten thousand in an unknown language (I Cor. 14:19). There is no question as to what Paul was referring to - the Psalms. And so we ought to sing the Psalms only, and any who claim otherwise must have to go to terrible lengths to prove something different. But why even try to go to such lengths? What songs could be better than the biblical Psalms?

And why bring something less than the best to God in worship? The prophet Malachi was sent to rebuke the priests for bringing lame and sick sacrifices to the Lord (Mal. 1:6-14). He will not accept them - He requires the best sacrifices - and so only what Christ has given us in the Psalms should be the sacrifice of praise on our lips (Heb. 13:15). And what other songs come so infallibly from the Spirit of God, with such continual recommendation and exhortation to sing? After all that, we ought to remember that whatever is not of faith is sin (Rom. 14:23). If one has no conclusive proof for singing other songs - then don't risk worshipping with a golden calf.

The Psalms are the songs of Jesus Christ, of whom David was a type, and nothing less than these songs could possibly be worthy as an offering before God. Heb. 13:15 teaches that it is by Him that we must praise God, how else but by the Psalms? May God grant us the spirit of humility and grace to delight in the songs that He has given us, and not seek broken cisterns elsewhere that will only bring judgment on us (Jer. 2:9-13). May God's name be hallowed among His people. May Christ's grace and mercy be known among the nations.

Monday, April 20, 2009

FYP finished! Now exams...

Probably the next post will be after the exams - the next four weeks are going to be intense. I would love to tell all about our amazing time in Ballymena with the lovely saints of the CPRC, but that will have to wait.

I'd also love to tell about the next lecture in Limerick that is coming up, but that too will have to wait. See details on the Limerick Reformed website. The important thing is that you didn't need to be at part one to get a lot out of part two. Sounds like it will be superb and very encouraging. It's really crazy that the very same issues that were dealt with in the Reformation by men like Calvin (by God's mighty grace), are just as bad, if not worse today. May God help us.

Now, to the subject of this post, I finally finished my FYP last thursday and handed it up on Friday. I took a breather last weekend again, and now I feel ready and rejuvenated to tackle the coming weeks head on - for the glory of my Saviour and my God.

Next few challenges are six essays to prepare and memorise for the exams, and some lecture notes to catch up on. But then, I'm finished college. Weird. I hope that I will seek first the Kingdom of God in all my study and whatever work I have to do.

- Sam W.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Listen to the Bible - not feelings.

Things have been really tough going recently. I don't really understand why, apart from the general reason - my many sins, especially my lack of faith. At times, I am in awe of the cross, and then I lose sight of it and get stuck in rut staring in horror at my depravity.

Has Christ not set me free? How then can I not give Him the praise He deserves? Can my wickedness be so deep that I fail in some many things to honour Christ above all? I know the answers to these questions - scripturally, logically. I believe the answers, but how often my actions do not match my beliefs! How quick is my heart to run after the things which cannot satisfy and which profane the name of my Saviour!

But I am comforted, when I recall, and when I bring to mind (oh, what glorious miracle!), the words of my Saviour. "Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." I remember that it is impossible to serve God and Mammon, and I am in no doubt as to who Christ serves with all His heart and mind and soul and strength - His Father. And I am in no doubt as to the Father's love for the Son!

What despair I would be in if Christ had not preached to me the Gospel and loosed my from my bonds! How devoid of all hope I would be if Christ was not my Saviour. As it is I struggle to overcome feeling down now and again. If not for Christ, I would have no weapon with which to strike against my constant enemies - the world, the flesh, and the devil. If my own feet were to support me, I'd be groveling in the dust with the serpents. But Christ is my Rock who makes me to stand. How glorious a thing it is, that the ground on which I stand does not depend on myself! The only light I can see is that Christ is the all-sufficient Saviour - He will not leave me nor forsake me.

How I long to see Him more clearly, and yet how often I struggle to even find such a longing in me! Why do I not hate wicked apathy as I ought! But Christ will keep me waiting for His deliverance - His rod and staff will guide me down the narrow path. I have no strength of myself - of that I am certain. It seems that the people in the world have plenty of strength, they struggle and succeed in the world, yet I struggle to struggle, and often don't struggle. Yet how much more motivation I have, than they. They live to please themselves, I live to serve Christ who saved me, and yet their perseverance and dedication puts me to shame. And is my longing to be rid of this old man, also selfishness and pride, rather than love for my Creator? A lucid moment is very precious.

I've not been working on my final year project for college as much as I ought to have been. I should have been finished weeks ago. Now I've had the deadline extended and I wonder will I even meet that target. And I tell myself not to get stressed - and depressed. I remind myself of Romans 8:28. I imagine the possibility of failing utterly and tell myself that it wouldn't be the end of the world. And then I feel like it would be. But what business has a Christian to listen to himself - especially a Reformed Christian. Scripture alone is our authority. We must listen God, and not ourselves, for we are filled with lies - our old man in the image of that father of lies, Satan.

I've been keeping up to date with and they've really been pumping out some great articles. I wanted to share a great quote (not an endorsement) from Louis Berkof:

"Since the entrance of sin into the world, man can gather true knowledge about God from His general revelation only if he studies it in the light of Scripture"

I ended up sharing a few thoughts that have been running through my head for weeks instead though, which is fine. Funny how it came around to a very similar topic - the authority of Scripture. I also need to remember their sufficiency, that same sufficiency of the Holy One who breathed them. May we rest in Him and give Him glory - for He is worthy.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Is the climate-deniers position credible enough for a convincing April fool's joke?

See recent April fools joke on

Samuel Watterson Says: Your comment is awaiting moderation.

What I find most hilarious about this post is the number of people who were momentarily fooled by it. (I wasn’t, knowing how deeply committed these authors are - at least to their position if not always the data…)

Isn’t the idea of a good April’s fool gag that is it is convincing enough to fool some people? Makes me wonder whether daring with this wasn’t conceding that the “contrarians” might just have some credibility… Perhaps this gag was a bit too far after all.


Of course, I believe that term "climate-deniers" is more suited to the legends at The fact is that the proxies and methodologies used for historic reconstructions have not been verified by cross-examination with modern records, and the studies resulting from these do not match the historical documentary evidence. The Little Ice Age was very cold, and it was not so cold before it. Are we now warmer than before the Little Ice Age? Do we know? What significance would it have if we were? Documentary evidence indicates that at least the Northern Hemisphere is not as warm as it was.

Is our climate stable or unstable? Is it's instability so bad that a 0.01% change in the atmospheric composition (that roughly represents the increase in CO2 possibly due to human activity) could irreverisibly disrupt it? First we ought to remember who designed it:

"For thus saith the LORD that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am the LORD; and there is none else."
- Isaiah 45:18.

And then let us remember the unconditional promise of the Sovereign Lord:

"And the LORD smelled a sweet savour; and the LORD said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man's sake; for the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done. While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease."
- Genesis 8:21-22.

Of course this doesn't rule out disruption of the climate system by human activity altogether, but it does set boundaries and limits on it. We ought also to remember the terrible woes that are promised as this present evil age draws to its close. As Christians, we look for the city that has foundations, and the new creation - the new heavens and the new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness with the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ when He will bring fiery vengeance on those who obeyed not the gospel and loved wickedness, while we who by His grace were called, we dwell with Him. And He will be our God, and we will be His people, and He will wipe every tear from our eyes.

So what is the obsession with trying to prove global climate change caused by human activity - first, a global problem requires a global solution, second, human pride loves that sense of self-importance, that if the climate is awry, we are not only responsible, but can save ourselves too. Wonder at the glory of man! He can save himself from every distress! Not even global climate change will stop his progress! But he is godless, his glory is his shame, and his progress is towards hell.

- Sam W.