Wednesday, February 22, 2017

February 22: Leviticus 13; Psalm 39; Proverbs 10:10; Mark 6:1-29



Overview

            Leviticus: One of the duties of the priest was to determine if a skin disease was leprous or not. They were to look to see if a spot on the skin that was suspect. Some signs would require an immediate proclamation of unclean. Others would require a time of isolation to see if the disease had progressed. Other signs would indicate that it was not leprous and not require isolation.
            Some of the signs that revealed leprous diseases would be the appearance of raw flesh and the hair in the area turning white. If the disease spread while in isolation, it was considered leprous. When a disease didn’t spread and the hair remained black, it was ruled to be a harmless disease. Some dull white spots were considered harmless rashes. If a person was all white with no raw flesh showing, he is considered clean.
            A person who is unclean because of a leprous disease must wear torn clothes, let his hair hang loose, cover the lower part of his face, live alone outside the camp, and cry “Unclean.” If the disease departs, then he must be declared clean by the priest and wash his clothes.
            The priests are also required to examine greenish or reddish spots in clothing to determine if it is leprous. The priest will shut it up for seven days and reexamine it. If it has spread, it is leprous if not then it will be washed and shut up for another seven days. Even if it hasn’t changed, it is leprous and must be burned. If it fades then the spot may be removed. If it appears again, then it must be burned. If the spot disappears the article must be washed a second time and be clean.
            Psalm: David appears to be trying to keep from sinning by not talking much. However, he has to let it out. It then appears that he has been silent in talking to the Lord as he asks the Lord to show him just how brief our lives are. He then asks God to deliver him from his sins. He then blames God for causing his own time of silence; it is a form of disciple. He then pleads for relief and asks that God look away so he can rejoice.
            Proverbs: A person who winks to imply something is ok when it isn’t; he is in the same class as someone who yammers on without thinking. They both have problems.
            Mark: Jesus returns to Nazareth with his disciples. The people wonder about Jesus asking how he came to be and do the things he is doing. But they knew his relatives and took offence at him. Jesus healed a few people there but marveled and their unbelief. So he left and went to other villages.
            Jesus commissioned the twelve to preach and sent them two by two. He told them not to take provisions but to stay where people welcome them. They preached repentance, cast out demons, and healed people.
            Herod heard about Jesus and the miracles. He thought Jesus was John the Baptist raised from the dead. Herod had put John in jail because he pointed out that it was wrong for Herod to marry his brother’s wife. Herodias, his wife, wanted John dead but Herod was afraid, knowing John was righteous. At Herod’s birthday party, his step-daughter danced and he promised her anything she wanted. She asked mommy what she whanted and the request was John the Baptist’s head. So Herod beheaded John.

What Stood Out

            Leviticus: “[He shall] cover the lower part of his face and cry out, ‘Unclean! Unclean!’” (Lev 13:45 NIV).
            Psalm: “Let me know how fleeting is my life” (Ps 39:4 NIV).
            Proverbs: “Whoever winks the eye causes trouble” (Prov 10:10).
            Mark: “Where did this man get these things? What is the wisdom given to him? How are such mighty works done by his hands?” (Mark 6:2).

Insight

            Leviticus: Thank you, Lord, for modern medicines. The descriptions of trying to determine skin diseases and keeping them from spreading in the past is so much different than it is with the aid of modern equipment. G. H. A. Hansen discovered the bacterial cause of true leprosy in 1873. It wasn’t until the 1940s and 50s that effective treatment was found. Though leprosy is not very contagious, it is thought to be transmitted by coughs or sneezing.[1]
            The leprosy described in Leviticus is not only Hansen’s disease (true leprosy) but could be other diseases as well. Some were obviously labeled rashes. The interesting thing is that the process of isolation and reexamination provide safety for the people in the camp until it was determined that the disease was something that needed continual separation.
            Most people would think that Hansen’s disease is transmitted by touch. But the Lord ensured that covering a person’s lower face helped prevent the spread of the disease long before we understood it. We should not think that the Lord didn’t know this or claim that he caused undue problems by isolating people. He was dealing with the problem as it occurred thousands of years ago. Jesus demonstrated that he knew more about the transmission of the disease when he healed a leper by touching him (Mark 1:40-41). He didn’t need to touch him, but he demonstrated his compassion as well as knowing the risk of contamination was minuscule.
            Psalm: What a strange Psalm. At first, it’s hard to understand just what is going on with David. It sounded like he was just going to be a good person and not talk to others about the Lord. But it then it becomes obvious he was trying to avoid talking to the Lord about his situation, whatever it was. The Lord really was causing his depression or anguish. He is being disciplined and he doesn’t like it. He even goes so far as to ask God to stop looking at him before it kills him.
            The lesson for me is that trying to do good to make up for a sin doesn’t work. God isn’t going to let us think our own works will make up for our sin. It is also a lesson not to blame God for the discipline I receive when I have sinned. I know that his disciple is to correct me and get me back on the right path (Heb 12:3-11). It may not be pleasant, but to ask God to stop it before it has accomplished his purpose is a formula for disaster. In the previous Psalm, David confessed his sin and expressed sorrow for it. That’s the way to go.
            Proverbs: There are many ways to deceive others. One is saying something but using body language to imply that you mean something else. This wink of the eye has malicious intent. Making jokes or sarcastic comments about someone’s habits instead of being honest causes trouble instead of getting down to true and transparent communication.
            Mark: The episode with Jesus in his hometown shows what happens with many people today. They may hear about Jesus and all that he has done, and ask some penetrating questions such as, “Where did this man get these things? What is the wisdom given to him? How are such mighty works done by his hands?” (Mark 6:2). These are all good questions to answer. If a person is honest about wanting to know God, he will find the answers in Mark. He will find out that Jesus does these things because he is the Son of God. However, many people are like Jesus’ hometown neighbors. They look only with a worldly viewpoint. They looked at Jesus’ family and concluded that he was just another person with brothers, sisters, and a mother.
            Today, people want to look for the historical Jesus, the good teacher, the prophet, the wise man, but they don’t want to acknowledge that Jesus is God in the flesh. They don’t even acknowledge the miracles that Jesus performed. They pick apart the Gospels and look only for what they want to believe. Anything that Jesus said or did that proves he is God is discounted. The emerging church looks only at the story of Jesus as an example for us to be like him in community. This provides their salvation. They reject or minimize his sacrifice on the cross for our sins. The result is unbelief in who Jesus really is. There can be no salvation in a Jesus who only serves as an example.

Application

            I need to be careful in the way I interact with others. It is easy to be sarcastic with others. It is easy to babble about politics and say things about politicians or those who agree or disagree with them. The end of these things is ruin. If not in current relationships, it is ruinous of my relationship with the Lord and that is of extreme importance. It certainly doesn’t help anyone see the real Jesus in me.


[1] "Leprosy," Wikipedia, February 21, 2017, accessed February 22, 2017, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leprosy.

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