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No Sweat

The global market for antiperspirants is about $25 billion. People just don’t like to sweat…or stink. But sweating is a normal body function. When body temp exceeds a certain point, it automatically triggers sweat glands to help the body cool itself down. Sweat is a biblical concept, and an instructive one. There are just three references to “sweat” in scripture. But together they tell a beautiful story.  

We begin with Ezekiel 44:18, which pertains to the priests who ministered before the Lord in the holiest place: “They [the priests] shall have linen bonnets upon their heads, and shall have linen breeches upon their loins; they shall not gird themselves with any thing that causeth SWEAT.” Linen, which is woven from cotton, is what we know today as a ‘breathable’ fabric. In other words, it does not trap body heat, such as “wool” does (44:17), and therefore mitigates sweat. 

So why did the Lord require that priests ‘don’t break a sweat’ as they ministered before him? The first reason might be SWEAT would signify WORK on man’s part. God wanted OT priests (and NT priests alike, who enter into his presence by the blood of Christ), to know entry into his glorious presence was ALL a matter of GRACE.  

The second reason might be SWEAT was reminiscent of the CURSE brought upon mankind by the Fall of Adam. Genesis 3:19: “In the SWEAT of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground.” NO SIN would have meant NO SWEAT. When the priest ministered in the holiest of holies, God demanded there be no representations of the curse, or of unholiness. 

There is, however, one exception—the Lord Jesus Christ, the One who would become our High Priest, and to whom all God’s requirements for his OT priests pointed. In Luke 22:44, we read: “And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his SWEAT was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” The SWEAT God disallowed from his OT priests was inevitable from his Son, who was on the cusp of becoming a CURSE for us, SIN for us, who knew no sin. 

Jesus of Nazareth was not only the first and last SINLESS priest, but the One who would become the very MERCY SEAT upon which the OT priest would sprinkle the blood of atonement. There was nothing prohibitive about the SWEAT Jesus expended for you and me in his passion as our Great High Priest. 

When a believer enters the holiest today by the blood of Christ, he should be cognizant of the fact Jesus has already done all the sweating required for us to gain access to his presence. The privilege believers enjoy at this hour is ALL of GRACE on his part, NO SWEAT on our part!


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