Monday, February 20, 2017

February 20: Leviticus 9:7 – 10; Psalm 37:30-40; Proverbs 10:6-7; Mark 4:26-5:20


            Leviticus: Now that Aaron and his sons are anointed as priest, it becomes their duty to offer the sacrifices. The whole congregation is waiting as they perform their duty just as has been described previously. They follow the rules exactly. When they are finished, Aaron blesses the people then goes into the tent of meeting with Moses. When they come out, the glory of the Lord appears to all the people and fire comes from him, burning up the sacrifices. The people shout and fall on their faces.
            Two of Aarons sons offer incense before the Lord, but it is not the prescribed incense. Fire comes out from the Lord and consumes them. Moses calls two of their cousins to take away the bodies. Moses instructs Aaron and his remaining sons not to mourn the loss. They can’t leave the court of the tabernacle either. The congregation may mourn.
            Moses tells of another statute. They must not consume strong drink before going into the tent of meeting or they will die. This is so that a distinction may be made between what is holy and common, clean and unclean. The priests are to teach the people.
            Moses instructs Aaron and his sons to continue with the ritual by eating their portions of the sacrifices. It is clarified that the sons and daughters of the priest may eat the breast. However, they don’t eat it and burn it instead (which they must do with any leftovers). Moses becomes angry with them and demands an explanation. Aaron replies that they did everything required but with the death of his sons, he asks if God would have approved eating the meat. That satisfies Moses.
            Psalm: The continuation of Psalm 37 keeps the same theme of the Lord watching over the righteous but destroying the wicked. We are again advised to wait for the Lord. He will bring about good for us but the end of the wicked will be cut off. Salvation belongs to the righteous because the Lord delivers them from evil men.
            Proverbs: The contrast is again made between the righteous and the wicked. It is seen in their blessing or violence, the good or rotten memories.
            Mark: Jesus continues telling parables about the kingdom of God. The first is a person who sows seed. He doesn’t understand how it spouts and finally produces a crop, but he does know when it is ready for harvest.
            The kingdom is also like a mustard seed. It is the smallest of seeds but produces a large garden plant in which birds can nest. Jesus told many other parables and explained them to his disciples.
            Jesus leaves the crowd with his disciples in a boat. A storm comes up and the fearful disciples awaken Jesus. He rebukes the storm and asks why they were afraid and have no faith. Now, the disciples are fearful of him wondering who he is that the wind and sea obey him.
            When they get to the other side, a demon-possessed man runs up to him. The man was incredibly strong, breaking his chains and living among tombs. He falls down before Jesus proclaiming who he is and asking what Jesus is going to do to him. Jesus tells the spirit to come out but nothing happens. He asks the name of the spirit and it replies, “Legion,” because there are many spirits in him. The spirits beg Jesus to let them go into a herd of pigs rather than be sent away. Jesus lets them go and the pigs run down into the sea and drown.
            The herdsmen tell everyone what happened so people come from the city and country to see what happened. They see the man in his right mind and ask Jesus to leave. The man wants to go with Jesus but Jesus tells him to go and tell everyone what Jesus did for him. He did.

What Stood Out

            Leviticus: “And he presented the burnt offering and offered it according to the rule” (Lev 9:16).
            Psalm: “But he [the wicked man] passed away, and behold, he was no more;
though I sought him, he could not be found” (Ps 37:36).
            Proverbs: “The memory of the righteous is a blessing” (Prov 10:7).
            Mark: “Who then is this, that even wind and sea obey him?” (Mark 4:41).


            Leviticus: All these rules and regulations are to be executed exactly as God has prescribed. The first time through for Aaron and his sons, they appear to do it flawlessly. God accepts the sacrifice by burning the offerings immediately. It doesn’t take overnight. With his glory appearing, all the people worship him.
            So why did two sons blatantly violate the law regarding incense? Did they make an honest mistake and mix the wrong ingredients? No, a perfumer was supposed to mix the incense. Did they open the wrong jar of incense and make a simple mistake? Probably not, but even if they did, the point is that the priest were to teach the people the difference between the common and the holy. If they couldn’t get something as simple as which incense to burn right, how would they be able to teach others?
            The seriousness of the situation should not be lost on us, especially when we are in a position of leadership. Leadership includes parents. Nearly everyone is a leader in some way, even if it is just in the way we live our lives before an unbelieving world. While the Lord doesn’t burn us alive in this age, we have ample warnings from Jesus about the seriousness of our example. If temptations come because of us, it would be better for us to have a millstone tied to us and thrown in the ocean (Luke 17:1-2). His statement is assuredly hyperbole, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t ignore the fact that sin has its consequences and teachers are more accountable (James 3:1).
            Psalm: The Psalms are often couched in terms of temporal salvation for the righteous and defeat and destruction for the wicked. Indeed the whole Old Testament covenant was related to the people of Israel in terms of blessings and curses (Deut 28). When I read this Psalm, it reminds me that we are now looking at eternity and not just our own lifetime. When David says he can’t find the wicked man anymore, he has not just passed away from this life. He has passed away from all life. When we die and are with the Lord, we won’t see him. His place will be eternal torment and gnashing of teeth (Matt 13:42).
            We sometimes shy away from witnessing to people who are so wicked. We think they have made up their minds, they are set in their ways. But this Psalm should help us to understand their end if we don’t share Jesus with them. It should help us to have compassion on them and show them grace. If we are harmed because we try, we always know we have our refuge in the Lord (Ps 37:40).
            Proverbs: My aunt passed away about two weeks ago. I didn’t know her well, but all the memories of here are good. She was kind, considerate, serving, and always smiling. What a contrast to the memories of wicked people. They are described as rotten. History will probably not remember my aunt, but those who do will have great memories of her. History records the names of some of the most wicked people and they are always remembered for being rotten. I’d rather be forgotten in a generation than have my name rot for ages.
            Mark: So Jesus has been explaining the kingdom of God using parables. He has healed many people, cast out demons, forgiven sins, and now he displays his sovereignty over nature by calming a storm. What is the disciples’ response? They are afraid and want to know who he is (Mark 4:41). They still don’t really understand who Jesus is. They don’t have the whole Bible so that is not too surprising. Yet, he was with them and they saw what he did and heard what said. What does it take to convince someone that Jesus is God in the flesh?
            Jesus continues to provide proof of his deity when the demoniac approaches him. The spirits identify Jesus as the Son of the Most High God. I don’t know if this helped the disciples understand more, it was certainly an answer to their question. But the reaction of the locals is baffling. They had tried to restrain this man and couldn’t Jesus now has the man clothed and in his right mind. They look at the pigs and the man then ask Jesus to leave.
            How so like the world of today! Some people are asking who Jesus is, but some of them don’t want to know the real answer. They see the changes that must occur in their life if they are to follow him and they are unwilling. They don’t want to leave the comforts they have, not just the nice homes, but the comfortable sins. The locals raised pigs and they were all destroyed. Sometimes we need to get rid of the pigs in our lives, the sin that destroys us, but seems so comfortable. Some people are like the disciples who have seen great miracles and haven’t realize just who Jesus is.
            Fortunately, Jesus keeps on going. He doesn’t stop when ridiculed or asked to leave. He doesn’t stop when the disciples don’t get it. His timing is perfect and he still has more miracles to show. For us, though, all we need to do is take a few minutes to read the Bible and find out who Jesus is. If we don’t know then, it’s because we are like the locals who have chosen the wrong way because it is more comfortable, or so we think.


            I need to be careful to not let sins crop up and not only affect my relationship with Jesus but affect others as well. I need to think about the wicked and their end. My sin will not help them see Jesus. I need to keep going sharing the good news of salvation through Jesus even if I’m asked to go away.

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