Numbers 8:3 And Aaron did so; he arranged the lamps to face toward the front of the lampstand, as the Lord commanded Moses.
Numbers 8:5 Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: “Take the Levites from among the children of Israel and cleanse them ceremonially.
God begins this chapter instructing Moses regarding the light of the Menorah but then instructs Moses on the cleansing of the Levites for service. I believe the reason that God places instructions about the light of the Menorah before the cleansing of the Levites is that Christians are to reflect the light of Christ into the world which means that everything we do must be done in the presence of the light of Christ. This means that we must serve God in agreement with His Word. We cannot live like the world and serve God in the presence of the light of Christ because to do so would be in disagreement with His Word. We cannot participate in many of the things that the world does because to do so would be in disagreement with His Word. The church should not operate or incorporate anything into itself that is not in agreement with God’s Word.
In our study of the book of Acts, we looked at the first church and looked at those things that they devoted themselves to and all of these things were very much in agreement with scripture. And it’s interesting to me what is not mentioned in that list of things they devoted themselves to.
Acts 2:42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.
In chapter 2 of Acts, we find that in addition to doctrine, prayers, fellowship, sharing meals and observing the Lord’s Supper, they met together, were reverent, were of one mind, cared for one another and worshipped together. What is missing is what most churches focus a great deal of their attention and resources on … that is outreach, and yet Acts 2 ends with the statement, “And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.” Outreach is important and yet outreach that makes disciples springs from activity in the church body that is in agreement with God’s Word. I think we can conclude (when we balance the great commission of Matthew 28 and Acts 1 with the activities of the first church as we see in Acts 2), that abiding in those scriptural activities of the first church is itself a means of outreach as the light of Christ is reflected into the world, and the world sees a joy and hope that they don’t have and that can only come out of living in agreement with God’s Word … and they desire it. In other words, a church that teaches the full counsel of God will grow healthy sheep and healthy sheep reproduce.
It comes as a surprise to many people that the Epistles (letters) which follow the book of Acts are not arranged in the order they were written. When they were assembled in about AD 200, with a few exceptions, they were ordered according to author and then by length. So, we find in our Bibles, the Epistles ordered like this:
- The ones attributed to Paul
- The one attributed to James
- The ones attributed to Peter
- The ones attributed to John
- The one attributed to Jude
- The book of Revelation
In other words, Paul, who’s letters are the most numerous in the New Testament comes first, and then his letters are ordered from the longest letter to the shortest letter. The book of Hebrews is a bit of an anomaly, because, while most certainly inspired scripture, the author of the book is not explicitly revealed in the text. I believe it was written by Paul, but there are others who have a different take.
So, the order of the Epistles in the Bible are ordered not chronologically, but according to book binding practices of the past. Without understanding this, it is difficult to correlate what is written in the Epistles with the historical background and actions contained in the book of Acts. I’m not criticizing the order in which the New Testament has been handed down to us, I just want to make sure we understand these things because they will be pertinent to our study in Acts and important to our growth in Christ.
2 Timothy 3:16–17 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
The whole Bible is important to us because it was all given to us by God so that we will be complete and equipped. When we consider the key themes of the books of the New Testament we discover that they each deal with important aspects of Christian life that we each have either encountered or will encounter as we move forward in our walk, and so they are all very important.
The Four Gospels deal with God’s provision of the Messiah, Jesus and the salvation of the sinner. The Gospels are followed by the Acts of the Apostles, which deals with what the Apostles did with the gospel. In other words, this arrangement of the books reveal the logical order of salvation followed by works, just as pictured in the Gospels coming before the book of Acts. But God doesn’t save us and send us without preparing us and so every book of the New Testament holds something very important for our continued growth in Christ:
- Romans – Being built up in knowledge and faith.
- 1 Corinthians – Wrong attitudes and conduct.
- 2 Corinthians – The need for discipleship.
- Galatians – Standing fast without compromising freedom.
- Ephesians – Maturing in Christ.
- Philippians – Follow Jesus.
- Colossians – The sufficiency of Christ in all things.
- 1 Thessalonians – Comfort through the sanctification process.
- 2 Thessalonians – Looking up rather than out.
- 1 Timothy – Living as examples.
- 2 Timothy – Endurance in ministry
- Titus – Maintaining
- Philemon – From bondage to brotherhood
- Hebrews – Christ alone without adding anything.
- James – The characteristics of true faith.
- 1 Peter – Dealing with suffering.
- 2 Peter – Sticking with the truth.
- 1 John – Keeping in fellowship with God.
- 2 John – Not straying from the gospel.
- 3 John – Fellowship with one another.
- Jude – Stand firm and contend for the faith.
- Revelation – What is to come.
I think it is obvious that a Christian who desires to grow in Christ will place great importance on studying the whole Bible. They will be all the better for it because the Bible was designed not just to save the sinner but to solidify the saint.
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