11.19.2016

Ezekiel 47:8-12

ppt

Jesus who make us holy and pure
Reading: Ezekiel 47:8-12
Additional readings: Lev 18:25

About 1400 years before Jesus came, Moses heard these words.
In Numbers 5:2, God said to Moses:
“Command the Israelites to send away from the camp anyone who has a defiling skin disease or a discharge of any kind, or who is ceremonially unclean because of a dead body.”

In Leviticus 15:31, God also said to Moses:
“You must keep the Israelites separate from things that make them unclean.
Then they will not die in their uncleanness for defiling my dwelling place, which is among them.”

At that time, Moses and his people were living in the camp in the desert.
And when people became unclean, they were removed from the camp.
Those who had skin diseases or were bleeding or touched something dead were living outside of the camp.

Then Moses was guiding people not to touch those who were unclean.
So what happened when people touched them who became unclean?
Let’s say your friend touched something dead or had a skin disease.
But you didn’t know and played with him for the whole day.
Now what do you need to do?
You need to follow some religious ritual to be clean again.
Until then, you were temporally unclean.

Moses also commanded if priests and Levites touched a corpse, they should be barred, from temple service for a week.
In fact, if anyone touched a corpse, they were unclean for seven days.
So for seven days, they underwent a purification ritual:
That is, they washed their clothes and bathed themselves on the third day and on the seventh day. (Leviticus 17:15-16, Numbers 19:11-13)
Then they were clean:

What if they did not purify themselves on the third and seventh days?
They were not clean.
They had to follow this 7 days ritual.

If priests or Levites were unclean like this, they should not serve in the temple.
What if an unclean priest approaches the sanctuary which is holy?
His uncleanness may cause him to die:
So they should avoid touching what was holy.

Now let’s say that there was a priest who didn’t care about this.
So he didn’t purify himself after he became unclean, and then served in the tabernacle.
Then he defiled the Lord’s tabernacle.
Even if he was still alive, he was out.
He was no longer part of Israel.

Now remember the Good Samaritan story?
The priest and the levite didn’t want to touch the man who was half dead.
Remember?
They might have thought like this:
“While I help this man, he may die.
Then I touch the dead and become unclean.
Then I can not serve in the temple for seven days.”

But the good Samaritan didn’t care about that but helped the victim.
So telling this story, Jesus was stating that compassion is more important than religious ritual of cleanliness.
Loving a person is more important.

Then we also see that Jesus touched dead bodies: e.g., Matt 9:25; Mark 5:41; Luke 8:54, Luke 7:11-17.
Jesus touched the dead and raised them up.
When Jesus touched them, they started talking.

Even though Jesus touched the dead, he is still clean.
We are going to think about why is that later.

Anyway, Moses asked people to follow a religious ritual of cleansing with water for a period of time.
They understood that through water they can be clean religiously.

John the Baptist simply used this concept in his ministry of baptism.
Then he asked people to repent, be baptized and be clean.
We still use this concept a bit in our baptism.

But also this cleansing water itself explains the ministry of Jesus.
The water washes people and cleanses them.
Jesus touches people, and heals them.
Same thing, huh?

In Leviticus 15:19-24, we read:
“‘When a woman has her regular flow of blood, the impurity of her monthly period will last seven days.
Anyone who touches her will be unclean till evening.”

If you read on, it explains that whatever she touched became unclean.
If this lady touched those who were clean, they also became unclean and impure religiously.

So remember the Jewish lady who came and touched the corner of Jesus’ garment to be healed: Matt 9:20-22; Mark 5:27.
She was a woman with a flow of blood.
She was unclean.
According to what we read in Leviticus 15:19-24, whatever she touched became unclean.
So since she touched Jesus, did Jesus become unclean?

Anyway, she was very worried when Jesus was looking for her.
She was not supposed to touch anyone.
But she was healed when she touched Jesus.

Then Jesus said to the woman:
“Your faith has healed you.
Go in peace and live healthy.”
Now what?
She became pure and clean through her faith.

Did Jesus wait and wash himself to be religious pure after this?
No, Jesus didn’t become unclean.
Jesus was differently.
So Jesus continued the works of God because he was clean.
In fact right after this, Jesus raised a dead girl to life.

Now Moses was told that if someone touched lepers, he or she became unclean.
So after touching lepers, they needed to follow a purification process.

But Jesus touched the leper and healed them: Matthew 8:3
Jesus could heal the leper through the power of his words: Luke 17:11-17.
But sometimes, Jesus reached out his hand and touched them and said:
"I am willing. Be clean!" (Matt 8:1-4; Mark 1:40-45)
Then immediately they were cleansed of their leprosy.

When Jesus touched the leper, the Pharisees could not understand this Jesus.
They were surprised whenever Jesus touched the impure.
But they could not accuse Jesus, because when Jesus touched those were unclean, they became pure and clean.
So they could not ask Jesus to follow water purification rituals.

A sinful woman in town came with an alabaster jar of perfume.
She stood behind Jesus at his feet weeping: Luke 7:36-38.
She began to wet his feet with her tears and then wiped them with her hair.
Then she touched Jesus:
She kissed his feet and poured perfume on them.
She was religiously and morally unclean.

But Jesus said something like this to her:
“Your sins are forgiven.
Your many sins are forgiven.
You are clean.”
So again, the one who touched Jesus was cleansed and healed.

Now let’s think about this:
Why did Jesus never go through a purification process?
Why did Jesus ignore that purification process of washing with water?
Why didn’t Jesus become unclean?

Jesus was theologically a very different person.
Then who is this Jesus?
The Bible explains like this:

About 800 years before Jesus came, Isaiah saw a vision.
Isaiah said like this: Isaiah 6:6-7
A seraphim (which means an angel) took a live coal from the altar with tongs.
This seraphim flew with a live coal and touched the mouth of Isaiah with it and said:
“See, this has touched your lips.
Your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.”

Just one touch cleansed his sins completely.
His sins were forgiven and taken away.
As soon as this live coal touched him, he was clean.
This live coal explains the power that Jesus has.
That is, Jesus was the live coal that Isaiah saw.
So people experienced forgiveness through Jesus the Christ.
Jesus can forgive people and say:
“Your sins are forgiven.”
When Jesus says this, it is true.

About 600 years before Jesus came, Ezekiel also saw a vision.
Ezekiel said like this: Ezekiel 47:8-12
From the Sanctuary of the temple, this special water flows toward the eastern region and goes down into the Dead Sea.
When it empties into the sea, the salty water becomes fresh.
Swarms of living creatures (honeybees) will live wherever the river flows.
There will be large numbers of fish as this water flows and makes the salt water fresh.
Where the river of water flows everything will live.
Fishermen will stand along the shore.
There will be places for spreading nets in the Dead Sea.
There will be many kinds of fish like the Mediterranean Sea.

But since people need salt, some swamps and marshes will not become fresh.

But still fruit trees of all kinds will grow on both banks of the river.
Their leaves will not wither.
Their fruit will not fail.
Every month they will bear fruit.
Because the water from the sanctuary flows to them.
Their fruit will serve for food and their leaves for healing.

What does it mean?
Have you been to the Dead Sea?
Have you seen the Dead Sea in TV?
The Dead Sea is dead, literally dead.
Meaning, there is no trees, no fish, no life because there is too much salt in the water.
No tree can grow.
No fish can swim under the water.
They float above the water.
So no fish could live there.

But in this vision of Ezekiel, the special water flows from the temple.
Whatever it touches, it gives life.
Wherever the water touches, there is living things: tree, fish, fruit.

This water explains that there is something that does not become unclean when it touches something dead.
This water makes everything clean and alive.
This water explains the power that Jesus has.
This water explains the ministry of Jesus.

Jesus was the living water flowing from God.
So when Jesus comes close and touches us, we are alive and clean.
When Jesus touches, people become clean.
In fact, people need to touch him to be healed.
People need to believe in him and get to know him to be clean.
Because in Jesus, there is holiness and purity.
His words purify people.
His purity transforms them to be pure.
When Jesus touches, he gives life.

Moses said like this: Deuteronomy 30:6:
“The Lord your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, so that you may love God with all your heart and with all your soul, and live.”
Moses saw that in the future, God will make our hearts pure and make them live.

Jesus encouraged people not to worry about cleansing the outside with purification process.
Jesus encouraged people to have inward purity and pure love.

Jesus was like:
“Instead of working hard to be ritually clean, learn to have a clean heart.
If your hearts are clean, everything is clean.
You are spiritually clean.
So learn to guard your hearts.
Learn to have pure hearts.”

Jesus teaches us to have a clean heart.
His words purifies our hearts: Matt 23:25-26; Luke 11:39-41.
When Jesus creates a pure heart in us, we start noticing that we pray differently and live differently and experience God differently.

When God speaks in the name of Jesus, we become clean before God.
Our hearts become clean.
Then we may live speaking the holy truth.

So we Christians do not follow those old cleansing ritual with water.
Instead, we believe in Jesus.
We confess that we just need Jesus.
Then when we want to be pure and holy in God, we come to Jesus.
We come and enter into his presence.
Then we are clean.
In the name of Jesus, we become clean and holy.
So we allow Jesus to cleanse us and purify us and heal us.

May we continually allow Jesus to do his good work in us.
May God live through us and speak through us.
Then we may live for God and speak for God.
May God touch and heal so many people and purify them in the name of Jesus.
Amen.

Let’s pray:
Jesus, thank for cleansing us to live holy.
Purify our hearts.
Purify our life.
Purify our words.
Purify our thoughts.
May we live holy in you.
In your name, we pray.
Amen.