Monthly Archives: February 2021

Leviticus 24-25; Psalm 81; Hebrews 9

This morning I’d like to take a step back and look at two systems. My observations flow a bit away from the passages above, but can be found in these as well.

What we see is a study in contrasts between Leviticus and Hebrews. The difference between an old covenant and a new one, an imperfect one and a perfect one, one that involves the blood of most like likely hundreds of thousands of animals versus the blood of but one man. What a contrast.

In today’s reading we don’t find instructions about blood offerings, but about grain and flour offerings. These were precise and intricate and a penalty would paid if not done right. In other chapters in Leviticus we do find instructions about sin blood offerings. The loss of animal life to temporarily atone for sin was staggering. Here’s one theologians take on just one festival:

The Bible gives no record of how many sacrifices were offered each day, but if even a small fraction of a percentage of the millions of Israelites brought a sacrifice each day, then hundreds or thousands of sacrifices were made every day. On the day of passover, one lamb was sacrificed for every family in Israel. Tens of thousands of sacrifices were made on that one day alone. (Everlasting Truths Blog)

Another theologian makes this observation about the Feast of Booths:

When you look at some of the festivals, the numbers are even more astounding. Take a look at the Festival of Shelters, for instance, discussed starting in (Numbers) 29:12. The Festival of Shelters was a seven day festival, with sacrifices required each day in addition to the normal daily sacrifices:
Day One
13 Young Bulls
Two Rams
14 one-year-old lambs
78 quarts of choice flour to go with the bulls
8 quarts of flour to go with the lambs
28 quarts of flour for the lambs
1 Male goat for sin offering along with grain and liquid
Day Two
12 Young Bulls
Two Rams
14 one-year lambs
108 quarts choice flour (Bulls: 6 * 12 == 72) (Rams: 4 * 2 == 8) (Lambs 2 * 14 == 28)
1 Male goat for sin offering along with grain and liquid
This list goes on for each of the seven days of the festival, with the bull count lessening by one per day. So that leaves a total of:
Lambs: 14 * 7 == 98
Rams: 2 * 7 == 14
Bulls: 13 + 12 + 11 + 10 + 9 + 8 + 7 == 70
Flour for Lambs: 2 * 98 == 196 Quarts
Flour for Rams: 4 * 14 == 56 Quarts
Flour for Bulls: 6 * 14 == 84 Quarts
(Everyday Bible Blog)

And this person didn’t know if this was per family or for the whole nation. The biblical text is unclear. However over a years time as you start adding up just for the Israelites how many animals were sacrificed it had to be in the hundreds of thousands. That’s the old covenant.

The sad thing is that Israel could never keep all the laws and festivals and offerings. They were a people that would not follow strong after God. In fact historians state that Israel didn’t even keep all that’s found in Leviticus and Numbers long enough to celebrate the Year of Jubilee. When on the fiftieth year the land and slaves all went back to their orginal owners or set free. And the land would receive a rest. That is observed in our third passage today from Psalm 81.

Now we come to the new covenant. One Man/God gave his life and shedded his blood for billions on this earth. Those that ever lived or would live. Hebrews 9 gives us this contrast:

Now the first covenant also had regulations for ministry and an earthly sanctuary… 11 But Christ has appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come. In the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands (that is, not of this creation), 12 he entered the most holy place once for all time, not by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption. 13 For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a young cow, sprinkling those who are defiled, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, 14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, cleanse our consciences from dead works so that we can serve the living God? (Hebrews 9:1, 11-14 [CSB])

To do what he has done he could only be the very God of this universe and a person we need to put our faith and hope in for salvation. Have you done that yet. Today would be a perfect time to become a member of God’s family.

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Leviticus 21-23; Hebrews 8

Here is the main point: We have a High Priest who sat down in the place of honor beside the throne of the majestic God in heaven. There he ministers in the heavenly Tabernacle, the true place of worship that was built by the Lord and not by human hands.

And since every high priest is required to offer gifts and sacrifices, our High Priest must make an offering, too. If he were here on earth, he would not even be a priest, since there already are priests who offer the gifts required by the law. They serve in a system of worship that is only a copy, a shadow of the real one in heaven. For when Moses was getting ready to build the Tabernacle, God gave him this warning: “Be sure that you make everything according to the pattern I have shown you here on the mountain.” (Hebrews 8:1-5, NLT)

Leviticus goes into description about offerings, cleanliness, worthiness. It lists the festivals and holy days, the reasons why and the ways they should be celebrated.

Growing up, holidays were commercial, and the traditions were meaningless, self-serving pleasures. When I read about the how and why of these holy days, they are rich with meaning in a way I was unaware of for at least half my life.

As an adult, I remember one year our friends David and Anita invited us to be guests at their Passover dinner. Anita lined up tables and covered them with beautiful tablecloths, giving an impression of one long table to seat over twenty people. It was spring. The sun set later in the evening and lit the room with a golden glow. I looked around at the faces of their family and friends and felt grateful to be counted among them. They explained the reasons for everything to us, and there were opportunities for each one of us to contribute to the evening’s celebration and remembrance.

When my kids were in their elementary school years, we read a book called All of a Kind Family by Sydney Taylor. Other holidays and traditions came to light in this story–costumes, games, merry making–that, today, in the reading of Leviticus strike a chord of memory and curiosity. Of value and tradition.

I wonder if we sometimes forget the why of tradition in the focus of the what and how. I didn’t have a personal religious context for the Old Testament readings today. But I sat with the outline of what, how and why, and it reached my heart–it spoke of community, worship, honor and gratitude. It spoke of remembrance, celebration, humility and submission. So when Hebrews 8 mentions this is only a copy, a shadow of the real one, I am deeply moved.

Majestic God in heaven, thank you for holy days, tradition, community and worship. Thank you for reminding me that it’s about you, your sovereignty, love and power. Thank you for a challenging read today, to draw me closer to you. Thank you for glimpses of goodness in the copy of now.

Courtney (66books365)

2 Comments

Filed under 5 day reading plan, 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan

Leviticus 19-20, Hebrews 7

I know people who are generous. I know people who are stingy. I know people who are encouraging. I know people who are deceptive. I know people who are patient. I know people who are easily ruffled. I think about traits that mark an impression and define a life and lifestyle.

How will my children remember me?

How will my words or actions influence a stranger?

Whether my life is lived in a big way or a small way, it will leave a mark that seems temporary, but one that has a potential to affect generations. (Lord, help me steward well what you’ve entrusted me.)

The Lord speaks of being set apart as holy in Leviticus.

So set yourselves apart to be holy, for I am the Lord your God. Keep all my decrees by putting them into practice, for I am the Lord who makes you holy. (Leviticus 20:7-8, NLT)

I find comfort in these words as they point to Jesus, the author and perfecter of my faith. He is the Lord who makes me holy. He is at work within me, transforming me.

26 He is the kind of high priest we need because he is holy and blameless, unstained by sin. He has been set apart from sinners and has been given the highest place of honor in heaven. 27 Unlike those other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices every day. They did this for their own sins first and then for the sins of the people. But Jesus did this once for all when he offered himself as the sacrifice for the people’s sins. (Hebrews 7:26-27, NLT)

I don’t expect my kids to master any topic in a first reading. Learning takes practice. I’m so grateful for a gracious God who will walk with me all the years of my life to guide and correct me and love me all the while–on my good days, on my bad days.

Lord God, thank you for your words in my hands, that I can turn to you for instruction and wisdom. Thank you for your great patience in my life, the hard tests and tasks that transform me. Thank you for relationship–that I can be close to you and know I am loved.

Courtney (66books365)

From the archives. Originally published February 22, 2018.

3 Comments

Filed under 5 day reading plan, 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan

Leviticus 15-18; Psalm 31; Hebrews 6

The simple quote “And if not, He is still good” hangs in a prominent place in our home and serves as a constant reminder of God’s goodness and my hope.  It hangs there because I am a slow learner who needs a lot of reminders.  Rather than a loving and good God, I typically choose to put my hope and confidence in my doctor or my bank account or my own abilities, all of which fail me regularly.  As I read and reread today’s passages, I saw a pattern of God’s goodness—to Israel, to King David, and to me—a constant reminder that I can unquestionably place my hope and confidence in Him because He is unquestionably loving and good. 

Leviticus 16, which outlines the rituals and practices for the Jewish High Holy Day of Atonement (better known as Yom Kippur) is a difficult passage to read and can be easily dismissed as irrelevant or not applicable.  After all, I’m no longer required to observe the Day of Atonement.  But a closer look at its meaning and purpose reveals that the Day of Atonement was ultimately the design of a good and loving God to atone for the sins of His people and restore their relationship with Him.  The Day—and all of Leviticus for that matter—reflects God’s goodness and His love for Israel.  In the same way, I can see His goodness and love for me through His perfect plan that culminated in Christ’s death on the cross and fulfilled the need for rituals and sacrifices, covering my sins once and for all.  His goodness in sacrificing His son was the ultimate act of unselfish love and gives me the hope of eternal life.  It is the reason I can be confident and hopeful in Him and His good plan for me.

It’s been a difficult week at our house.  One of our dearest missionary friends is fighting for his life overseas in a country where good healthcare is not readily available.  We have been begging God for a miracle on his behalf and, so far, God has answered with a yes.  But that aforementioned quote reminds me that if even if God chooses not to heal our friend, He will still be loving and good.  And, because of Christ’s sacrificial death and our shared hope in Jesus, we have the promise of heaven and eternity together.  

Just as we have been begging God to heal our friend, in Psalm 31, David begs God to punish his oppressors and rescue him.  He doesn’t hide his fear or sorrow.  He acknowledges his grief.  But he also reiterates over and over again that God can be trusted.  He is not just good.  He is “abundantly good” (vs 19, NRSV).  David says confidently “I trust in YOU, O Lord…You are my God.” (vs 14, NRSV)  The writer of Hebrews expresses this same confidence in Hebrews 6:19 “We have this [the hope set before us], a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul” (NRSV)

This hope of David and the author of Hebrews and ME is only possible because a loving God who desires relationship with me was willing to sacrifice His Son and provide a way for that to happen.  He outlined the rituals and sacrifices in Leviticus out of a deep love for Israel.  He repeatedly showed His love and goodness even in trials, giving hope and confidence to David and the writer of Hebrews.  He loved me enough to become the scapegoat and provide complete payment for my sin.  Because of that, I can know that I am forgiven and, in good times and bad, I can place my hope and confidence in a God who is the only sure and steadfast anchor for my soul.

We have an anchor that keeps the soul
Steadfast and sure while the billows roll
Fastened to the Rock which cannot move
Grounded firm and deep in the Savior’s love


Will Your Anchor Hold?
Priscilla J Owens

Jen


1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Leviticus 12-14; Psalm 111; Hebrews 5

“He is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray, since he himself is subject to weakness.”
‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭5:2‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Photo by Mandy Baldwin

When I got my first job out of college I was scared!! You train for 4 years for a job that you are passionate about and then comes the day when you actually have to do it!! I wondered if I could. What if I wasn’t good enough? What if my co-workers and the students didn’t like me? What if I made a mistake?

I think back to those first years and a lot of my fears came true. I did mess up. Not everyone liked me. There were things I wasn’t great at. And unfortunately, there were times when my pride got in the way and I didn’t ask for help. I felt as though my training prepared me and I knew best.

Have you heard the phrase, “but for the grace of God go I”? It reminds of this verse in Hebrews 5. Verse 2 above is referring to the High Priest. His authority is real and powerful because of who His God is not because of his perfection. His humility is essential because of he has to make sacrifices for his own sins. The author of Hebrews goes on to make a comparison to Jesus and how He didn’t claim his “Godness” but humbled himself…and suffered…and died.

Who am I to act and believe I know best…or am better than? I cringe when I think back to my own arrogance and it’s a reminder to me today to be humble and open to learning. I was surrounded by patient co-workers and leaders who allowed me to fail and came alongside me to help me succeed. That’s who I want to be today. I want to be someone who helps others succeed not stand over them when they fail.

God, what an example of humility and grace we see in the person of Jesus. May we never take for granted His life and ministry. May we seek to follow His example. May we love as He loved. May we serve with gentleness. May we never believe we are better than. Thank you for you grace! Amen.

Mandy

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized