Monthly Archives: February 2015

Leviticus 26-27; Psalm 112; Hebrews 10

Yesterday, I read an article about the increasing number of walls going up in the modern world. Some walls are meant to scare; tall and formidable, they are surrounded and topped with broken glass and razor wire. Armed guards look down menacingly on those who would attempt a breach. We have airport security checkpoints where we gain admittance after passing through a series of inspections. There are computer firewalls and passwords, simple locks and keys to prevent access to our homes and possessions, and then there are the masks that we put on from day to day to prevent people from gaining access to our thoughts and affections. Some walls are meant to protect what or who lies behind them while others exist to protect us from going somewhere potentially dangerous. Walls exist because we live in a broken world and we are a broken people.

The wall that I sense most acutely is between God and I. Within me is an aching desire to know Him, to love Him fully and enjoy the wonder that his presence brings. The wall between us stands because He is holy and I am a sinner. In my sinful state, I would get burned by the beauty of his 100% holiness. It would be more than I could take. Enter Jesus, who as my priest, forgives my sin and invites me beyond the wall and into the presence of God:

Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.  Hebrews 10:19-23

Does this mean that every time I pray or read my Bible that I sense some mystical thing happening? No, I am firmly planted on this earth. Too often, the shouts of this immediate world seek to drown out the persistent whispers of God’s kingdom BUT those whispers never let go. Something happens even though I may not feel it; God is drawing me closer to him and in that intentional turning to him, the peace and joy come, maybe not immediately, but his presence always comes and always delivers.

As I consider how Jesus has graciously torn down the walls that separate God and I, I ask myself, what walls have I erected to keep God out of my life? Where have I denied him access? May God, in his goodness bring those carefully constructed barriers to light and give me the desire and strength to tear them down .

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bBfHUrLGzNY

klueh

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Leviticus 24-25; Psalm 81; Hebrews 9

“Do not take advantage of each other, but fear your God. I am the LORD your God.  Follow my decrees and be careful to obey my laws, and you will live safely in the land.  Then the land will yield its fruit, and you will eat your fill and live there in safety.”  (Leviticus 25:17-19)(NIV)

“How-to for Living with the Holy”

The whole of Leviticus reads like an instruction manual.  It’s dry, and a bit tedious, full of regulations and infinite detail.  But the level of instruction makes perfect sense when read with the realization that God was taking up actual, physical residence with His chosen people.  The Israelites could not make simple adjustments in their lives to fit God in.  Rather, they had to re-structure the entire framework of their lives – changing everything from what they ate, to the specifics of sex, cleanliness, law and worship – to guarantee the Almighty’s predominance among them.  Much like workers at a nuclear power plant, extreme caution and assiduous detail were required in communing with the Most High.  In fact, in chapters 24 and 25 alone, God reminds his people no fewer than 4 times that “I am the LORD your God.” This verbal refrain served to illustrate that God, through His regulations, was setting his people apart for a purpose, and that each ordinance was to be met with the solemnity required of co-habitation with the Living God.

So serious were these regulations, that those who broke them (intentionally or otherwise) were punished – sometimes by death.  Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu (chapter 10) were an example.  Then, there is the brief tale of the man with an Egyptian father and Israelite mother who cursed God during a fight with an Israelite.  This uncharacteristically narrative passage in Leviticus gives names and specifics, and ultimately, an extremely harsh punishment: “’Say to the Israelites: If anyone curses his God, he will be held responsible; anyone who blasphemes the name of the LORD must be put to death’” (Leviticus 24:15-16).  To this day, observant Jews protect themselves from the unintentional invocation of God’s wrath by never writing His name, substituting it for “G-d” instead.

In this narrative, it is as if God is saying, “I have rescued you.  I have provided for you.  Now, you’re going to do things my way.”  There is a perfect, nearly poetic equity in this.  This was (and is), as the Israelites were reminded, not a golden idol, not a fictitious deity, not a man-made creation, but a vibrant, powerful, and mighty God.  Living with Him meant towing the line.

It seems we get away with an awful lot these days.  This, I suppose, is a function of in living in a post-New-Testament world, wherein Jesus has become our representative to God (taking the place of the high priest), has cleansed the source of contamination in all of us (our sin nature), has taken the place of any animal as the ultimate sacrificial offering.  There is no pillar of cloud above the Tent of Meeting to tell me when to get up and move, and I am not struck dead upon the utterance of a curse (I won’t admit how many times I’ve been thankful for this).  But in reading Leviticus, I have a new respect for God’s holiness and intent.  Yes, there are a great many rules, many of which are incomprehensible in a life eased of regulation by the lightness of Grace, but the fact of God’s power and his purpose remains unchanged.  Let us not forget we have been set apart, and though this may result in temporal difficulty and short-term discomfort (I Peter 3:14-16), it is the smallest price to pay for the ultimate gift: a chance for co-habitation with the Almighty for the rest of eternity.

Sarah

Excerpts from a post originally published February 10, 2009.

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Leviticus 21-23; Hebrews 8

But when God found fault with the people, he said:

“The day is coming, says the lord,

when I will make a new covenant

with the people of Israel and Judah.

This covenant will not be like the one

I made with their ancestors

when I took them by the hand

and led them out of the land of Egypt.

They did not remain faithful to my covenant,

so I turned my back on them, says the lord.

But this is the new covenant I will make

with the people of Israel on that day, says the lord:

I will put my laws in their minds,

and I will write them on their hearts.

I will be their God,

and they will be my people.

And they will not need to teach their neighbors,

nor will they need to teach their relatives,

saying, ‘You should know the lord.’

For everyone, from the least to the greatest,

will know me already.

And I will forgive their wickedness,

and I will never again remember their sins.” Hebrews 8:8-12

Leviticus is full of rules – do this, do that, don’t do this, etc. – all designed to keep the Hebrews, priest and layman alike, on the straight and narrow; all designed to steer people toward righteousness. No matter how hard they tried to uphold the law, they failed, falling back into sin and unfaithfulness. The only way to be redeemed is through sacrificial offerings and feasts of worship.

God gives a clear picture through the Mosaic law that it’s impossible to live up to everything He asks; it can’t be followed and obeyed perfectly. Though God temporarily turned His back on His people, He never left them nor forsook them. He had a plan; a plan to draw us back to Him.

His plan, a new covenant, sealed with Jesus’ blood and my belief.

The new covenant allows me to be in relationship with God. The new covenant restores me and allows me to be forgiven, cleansed, and pardoned forever from my sins. It simplifies 613 commandments and refines it – love God with all my heart, soul, and mind and love others as I love myself – imprinted on my heart by God’s hand rather than being carved into stone. It allows me to experience God, know Him in a different way and helps move me toward a life of walking with God in the cool of the day like Adam did in Eden.

I am God’s and He is mine.

 

Blessings – Julie, Sholavandan, India (written in the U.S.A.)

 

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

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Leviticus 19-20; Hebrews 7

God spoke to Moses: “Speak to the congregation of Israel. Tell them, Be holy because I, God, your God, am holy…Don’t take up with no-god idols. Don’t make gods of cast metal. I am God, your God…

Don’t, Don’t, Don’t…I am God, your God. I brought you out of Egypt. Keep all my decrees and all my laws. Yes, do them. I am God. Set yourselves apart for a holy life. Live a holy life, because I am God, your God. Do what I tell you; live the way I tell you. I am the God who makes you holy.” Leviticus 19&20 MSG

I’ve been listening to Chris Tomlin’s “Jesus Loves Me.” I let the lyrics wash over me as I am reminded of how much Jesus Loves Me. When I pray with my kids at night I will say to help them to remember how much Jesus loves them. Because I am hoping that they will grasp the love of Christ. That it doesn’t matter how much they mess up because I still love them and more importantly Jesus loves them. I am hoping that this sets them apart in this world that is trying to find love and acceptance in so many other places. I hope love is what sets me apart too. That the fruits of the spirit are so evident in my life that His glory shines through.

How am I living a life that is set apart for Him?

So now we have a high priest who perfectly fits our needs: completely holy, uncompromised by sin, with authority extending as high as God’s presence in heaven itself. Unlike the other high priests, he doesn’t have to offer sacrifices for his own sins every day before he can get around to us and our sins. He’s done it, once and for all: offered up himself as the sacrifice. The law appoints as high priests men who are never able to get the job done right. But this intervening command of God, which came later, appoints the Son, who is absolutely, eternally perfect.” Hebrews 7:26-28 MSG

Dear Jesus, Thank you for loving me enough to die on the cross for my sins. I pray that I would be able to show that love to others. Help me to love like Jesus loves. I desire to live my life surrendered to do Your work. In Your Name I pray. Amen.

Amy(amyctanner)

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Leviticus 15-18; Psalm 31; Hebrews 6

I am not fond of reading Hebrews 6.  You see, I know what it says about those who once tasted the goods set out on our Lord’s table, only to spurn them and walk away.  Frightening thoughts of severe punishment, of permanent estrangement, and of final judgment fill me with anxiety and dread if ever I or those whom I love should choose to turn from God. Rather, I cling to Scriptures such as Psalm 31:1-2, which says, “In You, O Lord, I put my trust, Let me never be ashamed; Deliver me in Your righteousness.  Bow down Your ear to me, speedily; Be my rock of refuge, A fortress of defense to save me.”  For in these verses, I find constancy and comfort in God’s Presence so close beside me.

Yet, we cannot deny that God is concerned about those who come near His grace and goodness, but who reject His righteousness. What if our faith is small or our works of service to others do not demonstrate that we are ‘good enough’ to be saved?  There are times when most of us question our faith and waver in our faithfulness. We may entertain, even if briefly, that our belief in the resurrection is in vain. Or we may look around us at the evil that man is capable of and wonder who is in charge in this earth and what benefit is all this striving to do good.  At these times, are we in peril of losing our salvation?  What if we are hurt by the very ones that profess to be children of God or His priests?  If that pain drives us from Him, will this cause damnation to our souls? And what of those whose mind has been broken, like the wing of a great bird, grounding that person from soaring free and beautiful with heavenly song?

If in these questions you hear me falling away, think again. What really happens when I go down this thorny path of uncertainty is that I search the heart of God for the truth that heals. Truth such as Leviticus 17:11, “For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.” My fears and questioned are always answered by this one Truth – sacrificially, Christ became that flesh and blood that once and for all atones for whatever mistakes, bad choices, fears, misunderstandings, and deep hurts we experience here on earth.

Why would Christ do this for us, for me? Hebrews 6 goes on to tell us that God’s faithfulness to His promises is so that “we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us. This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast…”  So in the end, it is because of Truth’s sacrifice, not because of anything we have done or not done, or said or left out, or hoped to be but were not, that we will one day be able to say, “Into your hand I commit my spirit; You have redeemed me, O Lord God of truth.” Psalm 31:5

I do not know the final call that the dead hear, but I’m sure that there is one.

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