Thursday, February 16, 2017

February 16: Leviticus 1 – 3; Psalm 35:17-28; Proverbs 9:13-18; Mark 1:29-2:12


            Leviticus: These three chapters specify the laws for burnt offerings, grain offerings, and peace offerings. The burnt offering may be from the herd (cattle), flock (sheep or goat), or a bird. When a person brings an animal, it must be a male and must be without blemish. The person lays his hands on its head to make atonement for the person. He must then kill and butcher the animal. The priests collect the blood and throw it on the altar. The priests take care of the fire and washing the legs and entrails before putting them on the altar. If the animal is a bird, the priest wrings its neck, removes the crop, and throws it in the ashes on the east side of the altar. The blood is drained on the altar then it is torn open before it is burnt.
            The grain offering may be flour, baked bread, ears, already roasted, or crushed new grain. It must all be unleavened and no honey may be burned. The flour will only be a handful and the priest will pour oil and frankincense on it. It is to be seasoned with salt. The baked bread will be broken and a portion burned. The remaining portions are given to the priest as their allotment.
            The peace offering is almost the same as the burnt offering. It may be a female or male animal. It is not an atonement. Only the fat covering the entrails, kidneys, and long lobe of the liver is burned. Depending on the animal, some other fat parts are also included. The blood is thrown on the side of the altar. All the fat is the Lords. No one is to eat blood or fat.
            Psalm: David continues in this Psalm crying out for God to vindicate him. He wonders how long God is going to put up with all the crud his enemies are exhibiting toward him. He recounts some more things they have done. He almost gets accusative when he asks God to awaken and rouse himself (Ps 35:23). But then it’s as if he thinks about that and realize any vindication must be done according to God’s righteousness (Ps 35:24). He praises God in the end but it is for taking care of him.
            Proverbs: Folly is personified in almost the same way as wisdom. The end of folly is the depths of Sheol.
            Mark: Continuing in rapid narration, Mark tells of Jesus healing Peter’s mother-in-law and all who came in the evening from the whole city. In the morning, Jesus goes out to pray in a desolate place. The disciples find him and tell him everyone is looking for him. Rather than going to the people, he leaves and goes from town to town.
            Jesus heals a leper and commands him to tell no one but the priests and make the offering for his cleansing. But the leper told everyone and so many people came to him that he stayed in desolate places.
            Jesus returned to Capernaum and many people came to his home so that no more could enter. Four men brought a paralytic, dug through the roof, and lowered the man down in front of Jesus. Jesus told the man his sins were forgiven and the scribes thought he was blaspheming because only God can forgive sins. Jesus knew their thoughts and healed the man telling them that it was proof he had authority to forgive sins. Everyone was amazed and glorified God.

What Stood Out

            Leviticus: “Then he shall kill the bull before the Lord, … Then he shall flay the burnt offering and cut it into pieces” (Lev 1:5-6).
            Psalm: “Vindicate me, O Lord, my God, according to your righteousness, and let them not rejoice over me!” (Ps 35:24).
            Proverbs: “‘Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!’ And to him who lacks sense she says …” (Prov 9:16).
            Mark: “The Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins” (Mark 2:10).


            Leviticus: I had not seen before that the person bringing the burnt offering to the priests had to kill the animal and to butcher it. I always thought this was the priest job. However, it appears that the process changed over time as other places describe the priest doing this work (2 Chron 29:34). The burnt offering was an atonement for sin. When the person laid his hands on the animal’s head, he was symbolically transferring his sin to the animal so that its blood was shed instead of his own. Having to kill the animal was probably not as hard for them as it would be for us. They were an agrarian society and killing animals for food was part of life. However, it served to show how serious it was to commit sin. Imagine having done something wrong and then having to take one of your bulls or rams to the priest for a sacrifice.
            First, it would have been costly, this is your animal, not something you picked up at the butcher shop on the way to the temple. Your herd, flock, or chicken house now has one less animal in it. If you continue to sin, you will become poorer. Second, everyone knows why you are there. You’ve sinned. They may not know what it was, but they know you are a sinner. This would be a very humiliating thing to do.
            Today, this would be totally politically incorrect. If Israel ever gets to have a temple and offer sacrifices in our lifetime, I’ll bet the outcry will be universal. The animal rights people will scream the loudest. Those who believe in being tolerant will be shocked that anyone would admit their guilt in this way.
            The picture for us is the costliness of sin. It has current consequences but to have the eternal penalty removed from us is very costly. It takes the blood of Jesus to purify us. We don’t have to come before a priest for everyone to see when we are washed in the blood. But we must come in humility before our God.
            Psalm: We need to be very careful before praying to God like David did. I wouldn’t advise this in any way for anyone. It is very easy to become bitter, especially if God doesn’t answer the prayer in the way we want. It makes presumptions on why God would do something, except for doing it for his righteousness. I think many Christians in our country have this kind of attitude toward those who are hostile toward us for whatever reasons they have, and there are many. What did Jesus prescribe for us to do? He really turned the Old Testament thinking on matters like this upside down. He said, “But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also” (Matt 5:39). All Scripture is for our instruction (Rom 15:4) but the instruction I get from Psalm 35 is to not have this kind of attitude towards my enemies or even Jesus’ enemies.
            Proverbs: It is remarkable that the author of these proverbs on wisdom and folly use almost the exact same words to describe them calling out to people to come in and partake of their bread (Prov 9:4, 16). The bread of wisdom is to leave the foolish ways. The bread of folly is purported to be wise because it is secret. But it ends in death. Many cults and deceptive societies hold out this secret knowledge sucking a person deeper into its clutches until it is too late and the victim can’t discern the truth. The Bible is wide open for all who come. However, it is still hidden from fools (1 Cor 2:7-8), those who do not fear God and don’t want to do his bidding.
            Mark: Jesus continues to show that he is the Son of God by healing many people. The leper is an interesting case because Jesus wanted him to be a witness to the priests. Instead, he told everyone about his cleansing. The result was a flood of people coming to him for healing. It caused him to avoid towns but people found him and came to him anyway. It is apparent that people were coming mainly because he was healing people and casting out demons. Unfortunately, there are many people in the U.S. today who only come to Jesus to find health and wealth. The prosperity gospel is still their motivation.
            However, Jesus shifted gears when he went back to his home in Capernaum. The crowds came, but he revealed that he came to forgive sins as well as have compassion on the ill and injured. Announcing that the paralytic’s sins were forgiven was a big shock to the religiously educated scribes. They rightly presumed that only God could forgive sins, but they wrongly understood Jesus to be only a man. Jesus declared his divinity clearly and without question when he said the man’s sins were forgiven.
            The problem with the prosperity gospel is that it seldom deals with sin. It isn’t confronted and that means that there is no salvation because salvation doesn’t occurs without repentance. Jesus’ Gospel includes both repentance and belief. The prosperity gospel focuses on belief. However, Jesus’ healing of the paralytic was only the outward manifestation of what he wants to do in our lives on the inside. He wants transformation and that starts with repentance.


            The sacrifices of the Old Testament and Jesus healing the paralytic reminds me of the seriousness of my sin. I need to take it seriously and repent when I sin. It is too easy to blame other or ignore my sin.

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