Wednesday, March 1, 2017

February 28/29: Leviticus 22:17 – 23; Psalm 44:1-8; Proverbs 10:19-20; Mark 9:30-10:12



Overview

            Leviticus: The Lord told Moses the regulations for burnt, vow, freewill, and peace offerings. These pertain mainly to the condition of the sacrifice. They must be perfect, without blemish. If they are blind, disabled, mutilated, scabby, or anything else wrong, they must not be offered. The only exception is a bull or lamb with a part that is too small or too long is satisfactory as a freewill offering. However, it isn’t acceptable for a vow offering. It is unacceptable to offer an animal before it is eight days old. It must not be killed on the same day as its mother.
            The commands are provided so that God’s name will not be profaned. He is to be set apart (sanctified) among the people of Israel. He is the one who sanctifies Israel.
            Then the Lord reviews the feast days of Israel. The Sabbath is the first. It is a holy convocation (ESV). No work is to be done.
            The second is the Passover. It starts on the evening of the fourteenth day of the first month. No bread with leaven may be eaten for seven days. The first day is a holy convocation. Food offerings are made for seven days. The seventh day is a holy convocation.
            The third is the Festival of Firstfruits. When the first grain is harvested, a sheaf is brought on the day after the Sabbath and waved before the Lord. A male lamb burnt offering, a food offering of grain, and a drink offering are all required after the sheaf is waved. No one is to eat of the new harvest before this is done.
            The fourth is the Festival of Weeks. Seven weeks after firstfruits, that is fifty days after the Sabbath of the firstfruits, will be a holy convocation with offerings of grain, loaves, seven lambs, one bull and two male lambs (burnt offerings), one male goat (sin offering), two male lambs (peace offerings).
            The fifth is the Feast of Trumpets. It is a day of rest on the first day of the seventh month. Food offerings are presented.
            The sixth is the Day of Atonement on the tenth day of the seventh month. It is a holy convocation, a day to deny (afflict) oneself and present a food offering. If a person doesn’t afflict himself he will be cut off from his people.
            The seventh is the Feast of Booths on the fifteenth day of the seventh month. It lasts for seven days presenting food offerings. It starts with a holy convocation and the eighth day is also a holy convocation with a food offering. During the seven days, the people are to dwell n booths made from tree branches. They are to celebrate, remembering that the Lord brought them out of Egypt and made them dwell in booths.
            Psalm: The Psalmist recounts what he has heard of God’s salvation for Israel. God drove out the people of Canaan, not by the power of Israel. He did it because he loved them. He proclaims that God is their king and that he is still saving them from their enemies. For that reason, they will boast in the Lord and give thanks to him forever.
            Proverbs: The more we talk, the more likely we are to sin. There are times when it is best to keep silent. A righteous person’s speech is valuable but the heart of the wicked isn’t.
            Mark: One more time, Jesus tells his disciples about his impending death and resurrection. One more time, they don’t understand and they were afraid to ask. Jesus asks what they were talking about and they didn’t answer because they were talking about who was greatest. So Jesus explains the greatest is the least and servant of all.
            Jesus also explains that anyone receiving a child in his name receives him and the one who sent him. John diverts the conversation to a person who was casting out demons in Jesus’ name but he was not one of the disciples. John tried to stop the person but Jesus said not to because he would not be able to speak evil about Jesus.
            Jesus then explains the seriousness of tempting believers to sin and the seriousness of ridding sin the keeps us from salvation from our lives. He use hyperbole to say that one must cut out any part of his body that causes him to sin.
            Jesus then teaches about divorce because the Pharisees asked if it was lawful. Jesus explains the original purpose of marriage Genesis. Since God joined man and woman, people shouldn’t cause divorce. He explains that divorce and remarriage to another is adultery.

What Stood Out

            Leviticus: “I am the Lord who sanctifies you” (Lev 22:32).
            Psalm: “For not by their own sword did they win the land, nor did their own arm save them” (Ps 44:3).
            Proverbs: “Whoever restrains his lips is prudent” (Prov 10:19).
            Mark: “For the one who is not against us is for us” (Mark 9:40).

Insight

            Leviticus: It was extremely important for Israel to follow the regulations for all these offerings. They were to do them in this way because the other nations had their own ways. God’s way set the people apart from the other nations. He said, “I am the Lord who sanctifies you” (Lev 22:32). This is one of the compound names of God, Yahweh Mac-caddeshcem.
            This name means, “The LORD Thy Sanctifier.” The word, Mac-caddeshcem, is the verb form of qadosh, to make holy or set apart. “In the Old Testament qadosh has a strongly religious connotation. In one sense the word describes an object or place or day to be ‘holy’ with the meaning of ‘devoted’ or ‘dedicated’ to a particular purpose.” [1] The context is God giving Israel the command to make the sacrifices properly so that his name is not profaned. It signifies their separation (holiness) from the other nations. God separated them; it isn’t something that they did on their own. Therefore, God is their sanctifier. As it relates to us, we have been sanctified by the Holy Spirit. It isn’t anything we can do on our own merits.
            The nations around Israel created their own forms of worship. They thought that their sacrifices could appease their gods and bring them into a relationship with those gods. The Lord sanctifying Israel shows us that our methods of religion are useless. They only profane his name. We must depend on God sanctifying us.
            Unfortunately, Israel morphed from what God intended to trying to establish their righteousness based on their laws and traditions. Paul explains how that relates to us today, “For, being ignorant of the righteousness that comes from God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God's righteousness. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes” (Rom 10:3-4). Jesus is our sanctifier.
            All these festivals were reminders that God was taking care of them. The Passover showed that God saves. The other festivals demonstrated God’s provision for all their needs. When we believe and trust in Jesus to be our Mac-caddeshcem, we know that he is sufficient for all our needs.
            Psalm: The wonder of reading the Old Testament is that we can see all that God has done from the beginning of time. We can see how he worked in the individuals lives of the Jewish patriarchs. This is exactly what the psalmist was doing as he referred to what his fathers had told him. It put life in perspective and makes sure we don’t think too much of ourselves. If we paid more attention to the Old Testament, we would realize that nothing happens because of our own abilities. It only happens because God is working to make sure it happens. We can boast in his sovereignty over all things, but we can’t boast in our own feeble attempts to control our surroundings. The sooner we learn this, the better off we are. Then we will know it is God working through and in us. We will realize along with Paul that God’s grace is sufficient for us, his power is made perfect in our weakness, and we can then boast in our weakness because Christ’s power is resting on us (2 Cor 12:9).
            Proverbs: We should all be careful in the way we speak. Some people talk and can’t seem to stop. They always have to be yammering on and on. The danger is that in doing so, there isn’t much thought going into it. When there isn’t much thought, there is the potential for gossip, slander, and carelessness causing hurt to others. James warns us that only a perfect person does not stumble in what he says (James 3:2). Restraining our tongue doesn’t mean we are perfect. It simply means that we have more opportunity to consider what we say and avoid many sins. When that happens, what we say will be considered valuable, like silver.
            Mark: Have you ever wondered what Jesus meant when he said that anyone who is not against us is for us (Mark 9:40)? Does that mean that a person who doesn’t believe in Jesus but is not actively opposing Christianity is really helping Christianity? It is puzzling for me because Ephesians 2:1-2 indicate that anyone who is not saved is following Satan. In addition, Jesus said that anyone who is not with him is against him and scatters while Jesus gathers (Matt 12:30).
            The context may help understand this because this verse is sandwiched between receiving a child in Jesus’ name and giving a cup of water to a disciple. Both of these have rewards. The person who uses Jesus name properly won’t be able to speak evil of Jesus. On the other hand, the one that is clearly against Jesus is one who causes others to sin.
            As I look at this, it appears that Jesus is talking about people whose hearts are being softened by God. The first person expresses a soft heart by receiving a child in Jesus’ name. I wonder how many people adopted a child from a Christian adoption agency even though they were not Christians. They now have the care of one of these little ones that Jesus had been protecting. I believe God uses that to bring them to a crisis point. They are either softened or hardened. That happened to me when my ex-wife and I adopted a girl from the Holt Adoption Agency. It wasn’t much later that I became a Christian.
            However, the warning is also true for the one that will adopt or be a foster parent but teach or steer the child away from the Lord. That person is hardened and Jesus’ advice is to do everything possible to remove sin or end up in hell. I don’t think Jesus was advocating salvation by works or self mutilation as the statements are clearly hyperbole. If the Lord working through interaction with other Christians, whether children or disciples, doesn’t soften a person, then perhaps this warning will break through his heard heart.

Application

            I need sanctification in my life, always. It isn’t just a one-time deal but a daily dedication to the Lord. Remembering what God has already done for me helps. I must be careful about what I say or write. I pray it helps others rather than causes someone to sin.


[1] W. E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger, William White, Jr., Vine's Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, s.v. “OT:6942,” (Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1985), Biblesoft edition.

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