Saturday, February 18, 2017

February 18: Leviticus 6 – 7:27; Psalm 37:1-11; Proverbs 10:3-5; Mark 3:7-30



Overview

            Leviticus: Now we are getting to sins against the Lord by doing wrong to another person. The wrong must be righted and a fifth added to the value of things taken. In addition, the person must take a ram without blemish or its equivalent to the priest for a guilt offering.
            More regulations for the priests: they are to keep the fire burning on the altar continually. They are to remove the ashes each morning, change clothes, and take the ashes outside. When they eat the grain offering, they must do it in the court of the tent of meeting. Only males may eat it.
            When a priest is anointed, he must make a grain offering.
            The sin offering is to be killed in the same place as the burnt offering. The priest are to eat their portion in the court of the tent of meeting. If blood is splashed on an object, it must be washed in a holy place (in the court of the tent of meeting) because whatever the meat touches becomes holy. The meat the priest eats must be boiled. If in an earthenware pot, it must be broken afterwards, if in a bronze pot then it must be scoured. However if the blood of a sin offering is taken inside the holy place to make atonement, then the sin offering may not be eaten but burned in the fire.
            Rules for the guilt offering are repeated and some additions provided; it is the same as the sin offering. The priest that offers it may keep the skin of the animal. If it is a grain offering then he shares the remaining grain with all the other sons of Aaron.
            More nuances for the peace offering are provided. No meat may be left until morning. If it is a vow or freewill offering it may be kept one more day but not a third day. Anyone who eats it on the third day has sinned.
            If any of the flesh of an offering touches something unclean, it because unclean and may not be eaten. If an unclean person eats the offering, he will be cut off from his people. No one may eat the fat of an animal or the blood. If they do, they must be cut off from his people. They may use the fat of an animal not used as an offering for anything but food.
            Psalm: David tells us that we don’t need to fret about evil people or get upset when we see them doing wrong. Their end will come soon enough. While they are doing evil, we must delight in the Lord and commit our ways to him. He will take care of us and our righteousness will be as bright as the noonday sun. So we are not to get angry or envy them, they will be no more but the righteous will inherit the land.
            Proverbs: The Lord takes care of the righteous so they don’t go hungry but wicked people don’t get what they crave. Examples are lazy people versus workers.
            Mark: More and more people come to Jesus from Tyre and Sidon. They crush in on him so that he told the disciples to get a boat ready for him. People pressed in to be healed and demons cried out that he is the Son of God. He silenced them.
            He then went up on a mountain and called disciples to him as he desired. He chose twelve of the disciples to be apostles who would be with him, to teach, and cast out demons.
            Then he went home where crowds came so that he couldn’t eat. His family went to take him away because they thought he was crazy.
            The scribes said he was possessed by Beelzebub. So Jesus told a parable asking how Satan could cast out himself. It would mean there was no one in charge and his kingdom would not stand. He concludes that all sins can be forgiven except blaspheming against the Holy Spirit.

What Stood Out

            Leviticus: “If anyone sins and commits a breach of faith against the Lord by deceiving his neighbor …” (Lev 6:2).
            Psalm: “Fret not yourself because of evildoers; be not envious of wrongdoers!” (Ps 37:1).
            Proverbs: “A slack hand causes poverty, but the hand of the diligent makes rich” (Prov 10:4).
            Mark: “And he told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, lest they crush him” (Mark 3:9).

Insight

            Leviticus: At the beginning of this passage, the Lord clearly teaches that sins against people are first and foremost sins against him. This is one of the most overlooked concepts in the world. When someone does something to us, we focus on the fact that we are a victim. We have been wronged. We must have justice. However, this one phrase, “If anyone sins and commits a breach of faith against the Lord by deceiving his neighbor …” (Lev 6:2), clearly reveals that God is offended first. The verse lists several other offences so it isn’t like it is a comprehensive list either. Look at what the Lord said to David after he committed adultery and murder, “Why have you despised the word of the Lord, to do what is evil in his sight?” (2 Sam 12:9). When confronted, David understood that his sin was first against God (2 Sam 12:13).
            Our problem is that we think too much of ourselves and too little of God or our neighbor. When we see ourselves as the focal point of offences instead of God, we do all sorts of crazy things. We want vengeance, we want to punish the person, we don’t want to forgive. When we recognize that God has been offended, we can approach our hurts from the perspective that it is his job to take care of the offenders (Prov 20:22, Rom 12:19). Don’t get me wrong, we also have a responsibility in society to report crimes, confront others when they sin against us (Matt 18:15-17), but when we recognize who has been harmed the most (Jesus on the cross), then we can approach all these things without the horrible pitfalls of bitterness and human anger.
            Psalm: This Psalm fits right in with what I said about Leviticus. When we are delighting in the Lord and committing our way to him, we can see the sins of the world through God’s eyes. Their time on earth is short and their eternity is nothing but anguish forever. How should we view them in light of this? Rather than becoming angry or fretting over what they are doing, we need to first focus on God. When we are doing what he wants, then we will be a contrast to their evil. Hopefully, we will be able to witness to them and help them see that they need to get right with Jesus. If they don’t, they will be no more.
            Proverbs: There are several verses about the righteous never going hungry (Ps 34:9, Ps 37:25). This proverb adds two verses after it that shows that the righteous are not going hungry because they are industrious. They work. It doesn’t mean that disasters won’t happen. They happen to everyone, good and bad alike. But the opposite is true of wicked people. Whatever they crave, they can never get enough. “They have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more” (Eph 4:19 NIV, 1984). Think about that for a while. God thwarts their cravings but they always lust for more.
            Mark: The region of Tyre and Sidon’s population is primarily Gentiles. People heard about him and so many people came that he had to have a boat ready to escape. We often wonder why Jesus told people not to tell about being healed or why he silenced the demons that tried to proclaim him as the Messiah. This is one example of why he did this. The people were coming for the wrong reasons. They wanted to be healed. They wanted a prosperity Messiah, one who would take care of their needs. The result was making it almost impossible for Jesus to teach.
            The demons may have had another agenda. They wanted the religious leaders to understand that he is the Messiah long before his time comes. If they could get Jesus killed at the wrong time, it would nullify Scripture and prove God is not in control. They also could have wanted more people coming for the wrong reasons and that would hamper his ministry.
            But Jesus is in control. At this point in his ministry, he selects those that he wants to follow him. He may have selected more than the twelve Apostles, but the emphasis is on the twelve. These are the ones that are going to be his inner circle. He will soon withdraw from public ministry and focus on the disciples he has called.
            Jesus called us all to make disciples. We should be pouring our lives into a few people. This should start within our own family, our spouses, and children. Depending on our calling, we may expand this to a few more. But one thing is certain, we can’t minister to everyone. We do have to pick and choose.

Application

            I need to be careful about being a victim. It is easy to be offended by someone and take it personally, especially when witnessing. The lesson to focus on God and his kingdom helps me realize that there are a lot of wicked people out there who are hurting. They don’t get what they want and sin to get it but are never satisfied. I don’t want to add to the problem by getting mad at them. I want to give them grace to see Jesus.

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