Wednesday, March 1, 2017

March 1: Leviticus 24 – 25:46; Psalm 44:9-25; Proverbs 10:21; Mark 10:13-10:31


Overview

            Leviticus: The Lord continues to explain the nuances of the Law. The high priest must keep the lamp inside the tabernacle burning every night. The people supply the oil. The people also supply the showbread baked exactly the way the Lord describes. The high priest arranges it daily. The priest eat the bread the next day.
            A man blasphemed the Lord during a fight and the people wanted to know what to do. So the Lord had everyone who heard it lay their hands on the his head and the congregation stoned him. This is the penalty for blaspheming the Lord.
            If a person harms another, the penalty is to do the same harm back. If an animal is killed, the person must pay it back. If a person is murdered, then the murder is put to death.
            The land is to be plowed and vines tended for six years but not on the seventh. What grows by itself on the seventh year must not be harvested. Rather than harvesting, the people and animals are to take what they need out of the field.
            Every forty-nine years a year of jubilee is declared on the Day of Atonement. A trumpet is blown and all the land sold during the forty-nine years will be returned to the original owner. The fiftieth year is the same as the seventh with no planting or harvesting. Property sold during the forty-nine years will be valued based on the time remaining to the fiftieth year.
            Doing this will ensure large crops and living securely in the land. If anyone worries about what to eat during the seventh and eighth year, the Lord promises that the sixth year will produce enough for food and seed until the harvest of the ninth year.
            There are some more specifics about selling property during the forty-nine years. Close relatives may buy it back before the jubilee. Houses within walled cities may only be redeemed for one year. After that, they belong to the person who bought it. Houses in villages without walls are treated the same as land. Houses belonging to Levites are also treated the same as land regardless of where they are.
            Israelites are to take care of the poor the same as foreigners or sojourners. They are not to charge interest or make a profit on food sold to them. If they are so poor as to sell themselves to an Israelite, they are to be treated as hired workers, not slaves. They are freed on the year of jubilee. Treating them this way shows that they fear the Lord.
            However, Israelites are permitted to own slaves who are foreigners. These slaves are treated as permanent property being transferred to the next generation.
            Psalm: After boasting in the Lord, the psalmist now turns to complaining about how God has abandoned Israel to their enemies. He goes on for eight verses detailing how God has let them down. He then says that they have been faithful but God has sent these problems. He then asks God to wake up and redeem them.
            Proverbs: When a person is righteous, what he says blesses many people. But fools die when they don’t pay attention.
            Mark: People were bringing children to Jesus so they could be blessed. The disciples tried to stop them but Jesus said to let them come because the kingdom belonged to people who had faith like them.
            A rich young man approached Jesus asking what he must do to have eternal life. Jesus tells him to keep the commandments. He says he has. Jesus looks at him and loves him. He then tells him to sell all he has, give it to the poor, and follow him. The man then sorrowfully turns and leaves.
            Jesus tells his disciple that it hard for rich people to be saved. That really bothers them and asks who can be saved. Jesus replies it is only possible with God. The disciples, still concerned, say they have left everything, so what will they have. Jesus tells them whatever they left in this life, they will have one hundred times over along with persecution, and eternal life. But many who are first here will be last there and vice versa.

What Stood Out

            Leviticus: “I will command my blessing on you in the sixth year, so that it will produce a crop sufficient for three years” (Lev 25:21).
            Psalm: “Awake! Why are you sleeping, O Lord?” (Ps 44:23).
            Proverbs: “Fools die for lack of sense” (Prov 10:21).
            Mark: “Let the children come to me;  do not hinder them” (Mark 10:14).

Insight

            Leviticus: God’s economy is nothing like what we would dream up. Ours is focused on getting what we can and canning what get. We store up and provide for ourselves. We are self-sufficient and never sure about the future. So here comes God and tells people that they can’t plant or harvest every seven years. I know that some farmers used to rotate their fields so that each field would be left fallow for one out of every seven years. However, they didn’t do that all at once like God commanded Israel.
            The mistaken belief is that the land will produce better if it has one year to recharge itself. Yes, he called it a year of solemn rest for the land, but it is a rest unto the Lord (Lev 25:4). But that isn’t the primary purpose of the seventh year. The key is found in Leviticus 25:21. God provided in the sixth year enough to take everyone through to the harvest in the ninth year. He made a promise and his down payment on the promise was an abundant harvest on the sixth year. He then expected his people to trust him and do what he commanded. If the people believed God and were faithful, then God promised continuing prosperity and security. Every seven years they had to renew their faith in God.
            This economy was also self-limiting. We are always trying to get more and bigger, houses, property, money, or whatever. It leads to inflation. Their economy was based on collapsing back to what was first established forty-nine years in the past. Values of property were based not on how much someone was willing to pay but how long it would be before you had to give it back. We are so ingrained in capitalism that we can’t imagine how a society could exist like this. I think it gets back to trusting the Lord because he knows best.
            Psalm: I want to stand back and get away from this psalmist. I want to do this whenever I hear anyone blaming God for his troubles. I don’t want to be in the vicinity when lightning strikes. OK, I know that God doesn’t do that to people who shake their fist in his face and blame him for their problems, but I wouldn’t blame him if he did.
            The “Sons of Korah” wrote this Psalm. Based on the problems Israel is facing, this must have been written quite a while after David and Solomon. It may have even been after the Assyrians took the northern kingdom into captivity (Ps 44:11). I wonder if the psalmist was clueless as to what was going on in the country. How can he say that they had not forgotten God? That is precisely why they were sent into captivity and why their enemies were trouncing them. Maybe the psalmist was one of the few who had remained faithful, but if that were so, he should have been very aware of how far the country had drifted.
            The psalmist is arrogant, calling on God to wake up. This is like a prosperity preacher hitting the wall. He finds out that his wealth is gone and the IRS has caught up with him. Rather than repenting and turning as some have done while in prison, he is still expecting God to rescue him without admitting to his guilt.
            Proverbs: I really hope that what I write is a blessing to others. I know that I don’t always get it right, but somewhere in this I pray people will be fed. If I’m doing a good job, then maybe someone who lacks sense will read this and be helped instead of dying of foolishness.
            Mark: Jesus had a very soft spot in his heart for children. He made comments about how bad it would be for someone who caused a little one to sin (Matt 18:6). He didn’t want anyone to hinder a child from coming to him (Mark 10:14). He took them in his arms and blessed them (Mark 10:16). We need to receive the kingdom of God in the same way as they do.
            They are completely dependent on their parents. A small child will soon perish if their parents are not constantly watching over them. We must feed, clothe, clean, protect from danger, and love children or they will perish. If we don’t realize that God does the same for us, we will perish. We must acknowledge our complete dependence on our heavenly Father. We must allow him to love us and respond to that love in obedience and gratitude. Most of all, we must allow him to cleanse us from all our sins through the blood of Jesus. We can only do that by faith and even that is a gift of God.
            Children believe everything their parents tell them. We must believe everything that our heavenly Father tells us in the Bible. Like little children, we don’t always understand it but we should accept it because we trust him just like a tiny tot trusts his parents.
            Since kids believe all their parents tell them, it is extremely important for us to make sure we teach them correctly. Parents who think they can ignore a child’s spiritual development and let them decide which way is correct when they are older are guilty of hindering their children from coming to Jesus. The ones that decidedly teach another way or that there is no way are even worse. They have put roadblocks in the way of their development. The ones who say what is right but belittle or exasperate their children, or live ungodly lives are just as bad. Because Jesus loves the little children, being parents that hinder their children is not a good place to be.

Application

            I want to be a person who sees God’s gracious hand in all things going on in the world. I want to avoid blaming God when it doesn’t go the way I want. If he disciplines me or my country, I don’t want to have to ask why. I want to know him well enough so that I recognize the why. I need to repent of some of my attitudes about what is going on as well.

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