Sunday, February 19, 2017

February 19: Leviticus 7:28 – 9:6; Psalm 37:12-29; Proverbs 10:5; Mark 3:31-4:25


            Leviticus: A peace offering includes the animal’s breast that the person waves before the Lord. The breast is not burned but belongs to the priest. The right thigh is also given to the priest. This is the last of the instructions about the different offerings.
            The consecration of Aaron and his sons as priest is recounted. It details all that Moses did to dress Aaron including placing the Urim and Thummim in the breastplate. He used the anointing oil to anoint the tabernacle, the altar, utensils, and Aaron’s head. He dresses Aaron sons.
            Aaron and his sons brought the bull of the sin offering and laid their hands on its head. Moses sprinkled the blood as prescribed, burned the prescribed parts, and took the rest outside the camp and burned it. Then they did the same with the first ram. The second ram was a bit different with Moses putting blood on Aaron’s and his sons’ right ear lobes, right thumbs, and right big toes. The right thigh of the animal is also burned with the other specified parts. A loaf of the unleavened bread is anointed and placed on the right thigh. Before being burned the thigh and bread are waved by Aaron and his sons.
            Moses sprinkles the anointing oil and blood on Aaron, his garments, and his sons. Aaron and his sons are then to eat at the entrance to the tent of meeting what is left of the bread and meat that is boiled. What they don’t eat is to be burned. They are not to leave the tabernacle area for seven days.
            On the eighth day, Moses tells Aaron and his sons to bring a bull calf for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering. He tells the people to take a male goat for a sin offering, a calf and a lamb for a burnt offering, an ox and a ram for a peace offering along with the grain offering. He says that the Lord will appear to them. So they brought everything.
            Psalm: There is a contrast drawn between the righteous and the wicked. The wicked plot against and seek to harm the righteous, but the Lord laughs at their attempts. He thwarts their plans and they ultimately perish. On the other hand, the Lord takes care of the righteous, even when they have little. They will inherit the earth. The ways of the righteous and wicked are also contrasted. The advice is to turn from evil and do good because the Lord loves justice.
            Proverbs: If we don’t work but sleep the day away, we bring shame to ourselves and our parents.
            Mark: Previously, Jesus’ mother and brothers thought he was crazy and now they appear where he is teaching. They want to take him away. But he simply says that those who were learning from him were his brothers, sisters, and mother.
            When teaching by the sea, Jesus had to use the boat that he had previously asked his disciples to make available. He sat in the boat and taught those on the shore. He taught in parables. He taught the parable of the sower where grain fell on different kinds of soil and produced nothing or much depending on the soil. The disciples asked about the parables. He explained that the kingdom of heaven was revealed to them in the parables but those outside would not understand. He explained the meaning of the parable in that the seed was the word of God. The seed that fell on soils that did not produce represented people where the word didn’t produce results for one reason or another.
            In another parable he said that hidden things are like a light that isn’t kept under a basket but put on a stand. Everything come to light. So pay attention and what you learn will increase and if you don’t understand, even the little that is understood will be taken away.

What Stood Out

            Leviticus: “And he placed the breastpiece on him, and in the breastpiece he put the Urim and the Thummim” (Lev 8:8).
            Psalm: “But the Lord laughs at the wicked, for he sees that his day is coming” (Ps 37:13).
            Proverbs: “He who sleeps in harvest is a son who brings shame” (Prov 10:5).
            Mark: “To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables” (Mark 4:11).


            Leviticus: Two things included in Aaron’s breastplate were the Urim and Thummim. They knew what they were or they would have been explained. However, now, no one knows exactly what these two objects were. The Hebrew words translate to lights and perfection. Various theories have been proposed over the years, such as some kind of stones that were used like a lottery, stones that would glow or become dark, or stones or gold engraved with God’s name and attributes of light and perfection used for meditation.[1] However it worked, every time the high priest came before the Lord he bore “the judgment of the people of Israel on his heart before the Lord regularly” (Ex 28:30). The purpose is described in other passages to give the high priest an answer from God according to the guilt or innocence of a person (1 Sam 14:41) or other decisions that only the Lord could provide (Ezra 2:63).
            At some point in history, they were lost and no one seems to know when or where. However, it may have been even before they were lost that Israel stopped using them. Even in Ezra and Nehemiah it appears that they may have had them but didn’t have a priest to use them (Ezra 2:63, Neh 7:65). Their use also seems to have diminished as the Lord spoke directly to prophets.
            It is obvious that hearing from God or learning of his decisions by use of these devices is no longer in God’s plan. “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son” (Heb 1:1-2). Jesus said, “The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life” (John 6:63). When we have Jesus’ word in our hearts, not just over our hearts like the Urim and Thummim, we have life eternal. Aaron bore the judgment of Israel before the Lord, but Jesus bore our sins taking away the judgment of God for punishment and replacing it with the judgment of righteousness in Jesus. When we want to know God’s will we only have to go his word, the Bible. If we need decisions, we can ask God for wisdom and he will give it as long as we aren’t double minded and looking only for confirmation of our own evil desires (James 1:5-15).
            Psalm: There is very little in the Bible that describes God as one who laughs. Jesus talks about his joy and that we will have a fullness of his joy (John 15:11). But only a few places speak of God laughing. They are found in Psalm 2:4, 37:15, 59:8, and Proverbs 1:26. In each case, God laughs at, not with, those who think they can oppose God, overcome the righteous, think God will not notice their evil, or are fools who ignore his wisdom. This isn’t the laughter of joy and merriment. We experience this laughter when we see someone do something so unbelievably stupid that it surprises us. While nothing surprises God, he still has that same laughter regarding these people. The only thing I can say about this is that we don’t want to hear God laughing at us. If we do, then we are in big trouble. When we think we can sin because God doesn’t see us or the he will never punish our sin, then we are in trouble. When we ignore God’s counsel in the Bible and rush headlong into bad decisions resulting in calamity, God laughs at us (Pr 1:26).
            Thankfully, we can repent and his laughter will be turned to joy.
            Proverbs: I remember growing up on a farm and I didn’t like bring in the hay. It wasn’t that the job was hard, I just wanted to do other things. Being lazy and avoiding work, whether to sleep or pursue other leisure is simply shameful in God’s eyes.
            Mark: Previously, I said that the Bible is an open book for everyone to read. Christianity isn’t some kind of secret religion where only the elite understand. This passage about the parables seems to say the opposite. Jesus quotes Isaiah 6:9-10 to explain that the parables are a way of teaching so that only those who really want to seek God will be able to understand. The problem is not that Christianity contains some esoteric rules and regulation that only the elite can understand. The problem is that some people’s hearts are hardened against God. They can listen to a parable and understand that it was said to reveal their sin (Mark 12:12). The problem is that they don’t want to repent. If they did, then they would be forgiven, but since their desire is to continue in their sin, they won’t be forgiven.
            Even the disciples were slow to understand the parable. If Jesus hadn’t explained the sower and the seeds, I’m quite sure we would not understand it either. In fact, that parable is still debated. No one questions the part where Satan steals the seed. Those people are not Christians. Neither is there debate about those that bear fruit. They are Christians. But I’ve witnessed the debates about the others. Some say that only those who produce fruit are really Christians. Others say that even the ones that sprang up a short time are Christians because they can’t lose their salvation if they believed. Then there is debate about fruit. Some say if we aren’t winning others to Christ, then we aren’t producing fruit. Others say the fruit is the same as the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23).
            Jesus said we will know a tree by its fruit in the same as we know a good person by what he produces out of his heart (Luke 6:43-45). If a person never produces any good things, then the implication is that person isn’t a Christian. The parable of the light under a basket underscores one thing. Everything will be exposed and come to light. Secret things will be made known. The problem is that we may not know in this lifetime the true heart of a person. And we will be judged by the measure by which we judge others. So if we believe that a person is a Christian when they exhibit the qualities of a Christian then we have no excuse for doing less.


            I don’t want God to laugh at me. I don’t want to be a person who has no understanding of God’s word or live a life that some can look at and question my faith in Jesus. Therefore, I need to be one who, through the power of the Holy Spirit, demonstrates the qualities of a Christian.

[1] Merrill Frederick Unger, The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary, s.v. “Urim and Thummim,” (Chicago: Moody, 1988), Biblesoft.

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