Tag Archives: Law

Leviticus 12-14, Psalm 111, Hebrews 5

If you were a fly on the wall of our home in the last several weeks, you would be sick of hearing the same things over and over again. You would wonder why there was a need for continued repetition. You would think, what is so hard to understand? If you were a fly on our wall and you have raised children, you would not be surprised. The repetition is daunting and wears a person down. We have been hitting hard on the rules and expectations of our home and the reasons for them. We explain that much like the reasons for the Ten Commandments, we are placing rules and expectations in our home to protect our family and help us live for the Lord each and every day. We discuss obedience and ow broken rules have consequences. But no matter how much we discuss them we still find the same conversation occurring at least once a day. I become easily frustrated because I feel like we are in the movie Groundhog’s Day!

Today I was thinking about my own sin and how I am constantly breaking the heart of my Father. Day after day I commit the same sins. I too must suffer the consequences and heartbreak that sin affords. If there was a fly on the wall of my heart it would be asking the same questions that I wonder about why my kids are so sinful.
I have read through portions of Leviticus many times but honestly, I get lost in the rules between neighbor’s broken fences and hurt animals and unclean women after childbirth. Hundreds of regulations and consequences that follow if broken. But even then, the Lord provided a way for atonement. He appointed priests to perform ceremonies that would make the sinner clean again. He provided a mediator between Himself and the people.
When I think about Jesus becoming that mediator, I am in awe. He was appointed by God. Chosen but willing.

4-6 No one elects himself to this honored position. He’s called to it by God, as Aaron was. Neither did Christ presume to set himself up as high priest, but was set apart by the One who said to him, “You’re my Son; today I celebrate you!” In another place God declares, “You’re a priest forever in the royal order of Melchizedek.” MSG

It is hard to comprehend the great love that God the Father has for us that he would send his only Son to be the atoning sacrifice for us. It is even harder for me to fathom the deep love that Jesus has for us that he would give up heaven and willingly come to Earth to take on our sin and shame as the Ultimate Passover Lamb. Jesus prayed for us and interceded for us in eternity past, while on earth and continues to do so to this day. What a difficult thing to understand.

7-10 While he lived on earth, anticipating death, Jesus cried out in pain and wept in sorrow as he offered up priestly prayers to God. Because he honored God, God answered him. Though he was God’s Son, he learned trusting-obedience by what he suffered, just as we do. Then, having arrived at the full stature of his maturity and having been announced by God as high priest in the order of Melchizedek, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who believingly obey him. MSG

Praise you, Lord. I will give thanks to you with my whole heart. Great are your works. You are full of splendor and majesty. Your righteousness endures forever. You sent redemption to your people and you keep your promises. Holy and awesome is your name. Jesus, you are our Eternal Salvation, the Hope of the the world! Amen.

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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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Gen. 40; Mark 10; Job 6; Rom. 10

God’s way of doing things.

Joseph in prison, where God wanted him. He interprets dreams.

Interpreting dreams is God’s business,” he says to the cup-bearer and baker. Joseph interprets their dreams and he requests–remember me  to Pharaoh when you’re set free, I’m imprisoned, but I did nothing to deserve it.

The rich man in Mark, letter keeper of the law, what must he do for eternal life?

21 Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him. “There is still one thing you haven’t done,” he told him. “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

22 At this the man’s face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions. Mark 10:21-22 NLT.

I know what enthusiasm they have for God, but it is misdirected zeal. For they don’t understand God’s way of making people right with himself. Refusing to accept God’s way, they cling to their own way of getting right with God by trying to keep the law. Romans 10:2-3 NLT.

I wonder how it looks to refuse to accept God’s way. The rich man didn’t reject God’s law–he kept it. And perhaps he didn’t want to reject Jesus, but he was saddened by the way he would have to follow Jesus.

Joseph is imprisoned for nothing he had done wrong. He didn’t want to be there, didn’t think it was right. But he continued to serve in the way God made for him. A servant, who would later lead.

Job is pierced with arrows of grief–this is no light matter, when he lost everything. Everything. He works through waves of emotion, and his friends offer insight to make sense of it–they don’t understand God’s way.

Disciples shooing away little, bothersome children. A rich man with a flawless track record. Brothers who want to be seated beside the King in his kingdom. They didn’t understand: Jesus blessing children; treasure in heaven; the least being greatest.

Maybe my circumstances are God’s way too of getting me right with him. Certainly Jesus did all that I could not do, and he died for my sins and made me righteous and clean before God. God still works on my heart–and maybe things I don’t understand (sibling rivalry, a work-related stress, a busy kindergartener, and even a move to a new zip code) are all also God’s way of making me right with him–a sanctification of heart.

I don’t always understand. I can also refuse to accept it. Or I can lean into God on stormy days, and serve him–like Joseph–right where I am.

Lord, I often get caught up in details that I don’t see how they fit into a bigger picture. It is in hindsight, and walking through trials, that I see your great mercy upon me–you’ve saved me from things that I thought were good for me, but truly weren’t. I hope to keep you and your kingdom in focus and serve you where you have me–in my community, in my activities, and in my relationships.

Courtney (66books365)

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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, Mark, New Testament, Romans

Nehemiah 7, 8, 9; Revelation 18

I think a lot of people do this: look back over the year and remember the things that happened. Make resolutions to be different going forward, the clean slate of a new year. A fresh start.

In Nehemiah, the people who are gathered together listen as Ezra reads the words of God to them.

So on October 8 Ezra the priest brought the Book of the Law before the assembly, which included the men and women and all the children old enough to understand. He faced the square just inside the Water Gate from early morning until noon and read aloud to everyone who could understand. All the people listened closely to the Book of the Law. Nehemiah 8:2-3 NLT.

And there is weeping. Conviction. When faced with the law, they see how far they are from what God wanted for them.

Then Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who were interpreting for the people said to them, “Don’t mourn or weep on such a day as this! For today is a sacred day before the Lord your God.” For the people had all been weeping as they listened to the words of the Law.

10 And Nehemiah continued, “Go and celebrate with a feast of rich foods and sweet drinks, and share gifts of food with people who have nothing prepared. This is a sacred day before our Lord. Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!”

11 And the Levites, too, quieted the people, telling them, “Hush! Don’t weep! For this is a sacred day.” 12 So the people went away to eat and drink at a festive meal, to share gifts of food, and to celebrate with great joy because they had heard God’s words and understood them. Nehemiah 8:9-12.

There is something about being in God’s Word that changes a heart. For me, it has sparked renewal and produced great joy–the presence of the Lord–words written by holy inspiration, here in my hands. My journey through these 66 books has brought me closer to God than I ever imagined, how he has changed my heart, by Word and whisper–more than any list I’ve resolved to do. Still, looking back over a year, I do want to take an honest account of my shortcomings, repent of sin, and pray that going forward, God will continue to meet me where I am in my walk. As in Nehemiah, they praise the Lord of all the things he has done for them–and I should too.

 And you have done what you promised, for you are always true to your word. Nehemiah 9:8b.

I think of the days when the world spoke to me and I followed it, prioritizing earthly things over a heavenly kingdom. But he has shown me a different way.

Come away from her, my people.
Do not take part in her sins,
or you will be punished with her. Revelation 18:4

Father, thank you for your word in my hands, for this community who hungers for you and follows you, for your whispers to my heart and the change you’ve made in my life. Thank you for making a way that we are together another year, for the friendships forged and founded in you. You have blessed me in ways I never imagined, and I am grateful.

Courtney (66books365)

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Micah 4-5, Acts 21:18-40

And it will come about in the last days

That the mountain of the house of the Lord
Will be established….

That He may teach us about His ways
And that we may walk in His paths.”

Though all the peoples walk
Each in the name of his god,
As for us, we will walk
In the name of the Lord our God
forever and ever.
 

“But they do not know the thoughts of the Lord,
And they do not understand His purpose;
Micah 4:1-2, 5, 12
 

“But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
Too little to be among the clans of Judah,
From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel.
His goings forth are from long ago,
From the days of eternity.” Micah 5:2
 

After saluting them, Paul gave a detailed account of the things God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry.  And upon hearing it, they adored and exalted and praised and thanked God. Acts 21:19-20

Though Paul won many for Christ, the Jews disagreed so vehemently with his teaching that they threatened his life. Paul knew that he had to stand up for His Lord, regardless of what others did or who they chose to follow.

Very recently, I felt angry toward a politician over legislation I disagreed with. After listening to him speak, my anger subsided, though the difference in opinion remains. We each continue to go our own way.

I wonder about our walks. Are we learning from God’s teachings? Or do we fail to understand God’s purposes and just delude ourselves about our choices?

Jesus came forth from Bethlehem to set us free from the law. I still struggle. My heart and my head oppose one another all the time. I don’t want to act like a Pharisee, but I don’t want to behave like a pagan either.

Does anyone ever really understand God’s plans and purposes?

Many of the issues we have to vote on in November directly relate to Gods word. Whose path are we going to take?

yicareggie

 

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