Saturday, February 25, 2017

February 25: Leviticus 16:29 – 18; Psalm 41; Proverbs 10:15-16; Mark 7:24-8:10


            Leviticus: The Day of Atonement is to be kept on the tenth of the seventh month. The people shall afflict (deny) themselves and not do any work on that day. The day shall be observed forever by having the priesthood passed from father to son.
            No one may sacrifice an animal any place other than at the tabernacle. If they do, they shall be cut off from Israel. They are not to sacrifice to demons either.
            The life of an animal is in its blood. The Lord has given the blood to us as an atonement by the life that is in it. That is why the Lord prohibits anyone from eating blood. If someone kills an animal for food, then they must drain the blood and cover it over with earth. If anyone eats blood, he is to be cut off from Israel. If anyone eats an animal that has died by itself or killed by other animals, he is unclean and must wash his cloths, himself, and be unclean until evening. If he doesn’t he will bear his iniquity.
            The Lord told Moses the regulations prohibiting sexual relationships between relatives. He said that in Egypt and Canaan, these things were done and the people must not do as they did. If they follow God’s statutes, they will live. Various forms of incest were prohibited as well as sex during a woman’s menstrual period.
            Additional prohibitions include offering children as sacrifices because that profanes the name of God. Homosexuality is prohibited and labeled an abomination. Bestiality is prohibited and labeled a perversion.
            The Lord said all the nations were doing these things causing the land to become unclean. That is why he is removed them from the land. If Israel starts doing these abominations, the Lord promises that the land will vomit them out from it. Every person who does these abominations is will be cut off from Israel. So make sure no one does these abominations.
            Psalm: David extols the blessings of a person who takes care of the poor. The Lord takes care of him when he is ill. But David is ill and asks for help. He considers this may be because of his sins. His enemies and even his close friends are no help in this illness. Some are waiting for him to die and others are spreading gossip about him. But David knows that the Lord cares for him and will uphold him. He asserts his integrity and praises the God of Israel.
            Proverbs: There is a contrast between what a rich man trusts and the ruin of a poor man. A righteous person gains life while the wicked gain sin.
            Mark: Jesus goes way out of town to the primarily Gentile area of Tyre and Sidon. While staying in a house a Gentile woman whose daughter is demon-possessed asks him to heal the daughter. He says he isn’t there to do things for dogs (Gentiles) but for Israel. She asks for some crumbs dropped from the Israelites and then Jesus heals the girl.
            He moves back southeast to the Decapolis region where he heals a deaf-mute man. He tells them not to tell anyone but the more he tells them, the more they proclaim what Jesus did.
            From there, Jesus goes to a desolate area where a huge crowd gathers. They have nothing to eat so he asks the disciples to feed them. They don’t know how, so Jesus ask for their loaves and fish. He feeds the crowd of 4,000 people with seven loaves and a few fish. They pick up seven baskets of leftovers. Jesus and the disciples get in a boat and go to Dalmanutha.

What Stood Out

            Leviticus: “For by all these the nations I am driving out before you have become unclean, and the land became unclean, so that I punished its iniquity, and the land vomited out its inhabitants” (Lev 18:24-25).
            Psalm: “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting! Amen and Amen” (Ps 41:13).
            Proverbs: “A rich man's wealth is his strong city” (Prov 10:15).
            Mark: “But the more he charged them, the more zealously they proclaimed it” (Mark 7:36).


            Leviticus: Life is in the blood. This is a very important concept from a theological viewpoint as well as a scientific fact. When blood stops moving, death occurs. From a spiritual standpoint, God has used this to demonstrate that sin is serious. When sin is committed, we are separated from God (Isa 59:2) and that is spiritual death. Atonement is the means by which the death of an animal takes the place of the spiritual death of a person. That is symbolically done by spreading that blood on the altar and the mercy seat. This cleansing from sin by blood applies to almost everything (Heb 9:22).
            Fortunately, those times have passed and it is by Jesus’ blood we have eternal life. His blood contains life for all of us since his atonement is for all time and he never had any sin. Not only does his blood atone for our sins but it cleans our consciences from guilt (Heb 9:14).
            However, this doesn’t negate the fact that the Lord provided some very specific rules about sexual relationships. We have found that these rules against incest are very practical to prevent genetic problems. However, up until this time, brothers and sisters often married as in the case of Abraham and Sarah. Isaac and Rebekah were first cousins once removed or more precisely, Rebekah was Isaac’s cousin-niece. Jacob married sisters. Now, God says enough of that. Don’t do it. I’m sure there are many more reasons than simply protection from genetic problems. Certainly, there are untold emotional problems that occur when incest occurs in families.
            If there is any doubt about what God thinks of homosexual relationships, this is the clearest and strongest denunciation in the Bible. We don’t need to go to other verses to understand that God puts this in the category of abomination. He labels all these perversions as abominations repeating the word five times in Leviticus 18:22-30. The scary part of this is that God drove out the inhabitants of the land because of these sins. He promises that if Israel does them, they will be driven out as well. The tribe of Benjamin was almost extinguished because of this (Judges 19 – 21). If God was so adamant about this in the past, what make us think we will escape the same judgment today?
            Psalm: What do we do in times of illness? We often wonder if the illness is a result of sin. We even have some friends who will be quick to tell us that our illness, especially long term debilitating illnesses are a result of our sins. They are like Job’s friends who tell him to confess and God will heal him. When we are ill, we don’t always think right either. We are susceptible to thinking the worst. David remembered he was kind to the poor and that God would deliver him before all these bad thoughts came crashing in on him. However, he remembered that he was walking in integrity and that God delighted in him. Even when we sin, if we confess our sins, God delights in us. We will never be out of his presences. We can praise God along with David even before we see the deliverance from our illness.
            Proverbs: Rich people generally trust in their wealth. They believe it will sustain them in this life. That is why there are so many suicides whenever there is a market crash. They find out that wealth is fleeting and ultimately, it is out of their control. Jesus said it was hard for a rich man to be saved (Luke 18:24) and this is one reason. On the other hand, a poor person is not always doing better. Poverty can destroy a person just as easily if he is envious of the rich. He doesn’t realize that the riches are just another prison.
            The solution to both problems is to seek God’s kingdom (Matt 6:33), live a good life and avoid the pitfalls of both.
            Mark: Jesus didn’t do anything by accident. His encounter with the Gentile woman was hardly a chance crossing of paths. I looked at a map to see where Tyre and Sidon are. They are on the coast of the Mediterranean north of the Sea of Galilee. This is Gentile territory. The last mention of Jesus’ location was Genneserat on the shore of the Sea. Matthew and Mark record no other activity in this area except the encounter with this Gentile woman. Afterwards, he goes back to the region of the Decapolis, which is on the opposite side of the Sea.
            It seems logical that Jesus went to this Gentile area just to meet this woman, have this conversation, and free her child from a demon. Yet, everything in the conversation would make it seem like he was oblivious to the Gentiles and wasn’t going to help them. That goes against other instances when Jesus healed a Samaritan leper (Luke 17:15-16), a Roman’s servant (Matt 8:13), and spoke with a Samaritan woman at a well (John 4:7). Rather, this was an important teaching tool for us and for his disciples.
            The disciples’ first reaction was to send her away (Matt 15:23). Jesus calls her a dog, probably not the worst thing anyone could be called but still a significantly degrading term. It totally disrespects her. Yet her comeback demonstrated the truth that Jesus wants us and everyone else to know. The crumbs of God are more than sufficient for the needs of mankind, Jew or Gentile.
            We are all dogs if we look at our spiritual condition before coming to Christ. We were dead in our sins; our spiritual selves were rotting corpses (Eph 2:1). Surely, Jesus came to the lost of Israel first, but he took this journey to show that we are also important. The leftovers from Israel are so abundantly powerful that we are freed from sin just as the woman’s daughter was freed from the demon. Instead of dogs, we are now sons and daughters in the family of God when we trust Jesus for our salvation.
            Based on what the deaf-mute man did after he was healed, Jesus should tell us not to tell anyone about what he’s done for us. Because, “The more he charged them, the more zealously they proclaimed it” (Mark 7:36).


            I need to keep my eyes on Jesus. I don’t always understand what he’s doing. When I trust him, I know that whether it is illness or any other situation in life, I’m in good hands. I need to tell others about what he has done for me.

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