Thursday, March 2, 2017

March 2: Leviticus 25:47 – 27:13; Psalm 45; Proverbs 10:22; Mark 10:32-10:52



Overview

            Leviticus: If an Israelite sells himself to a foreigner in the country, the same redemption rights apply as with an Israelite selling himself to a fellow Israelite. The redemption is calculated by the price of a hired servant and the number of years until the year of jubilee.
            The Lord reiterates that he is to be worshiped and not idols. The Sabbaths are to be kept. When Israel walks in the Lord’s statues, he will bless the nation. Rains will come at the right time, food will be plentiful, and there will be peace in the land. They will overwhelm their enemies with only a few warriors. The Lord will dwell with them and he will not abhor them.
            Disobedience of the statutes will bring panic, diseases, and oppression by enemies. The Lord will be against them to break their pride and there will be famine. Wild beast will attack them. The Lord repeats four times that he will repay them sevenfold for their sins.
            The Lord will send them captive to their enemies’ land and their land will have a Sabbath rest. Those who remain will live in fear of their enemies. The ones in the foreign land will rot and perish there. It will be a result of their sins.
            If they confess their sins and repent in humility, the Lord will remember the covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He will not spurn them, abhor them, or utterly destroy them in the foreign lands.
            The Lord then provides regulations for making a vow of dedication to the Lord of people or animals. A person dedicated to the Lord is valued according to his or her age. That amount is paid. If the person making the vow is poor and can’t afford the standard amount, the priest will determine how much the person should pay.
            Animals that are dedicated become an offering the animal cannot be substituted for a different animal. If someone does try to make an exchange, then both become dedicated to the Lord. An unclean animal may not be sacrificed so the value of it must be paid as determined by the priest. The person may redeem the animal by paying the value plus one fifth.
            Psalm: The king is described as a very handsome man who is a mighty warrior for the causes of truth, meekness, and righteousness. Verses 6 and 7 are messianic as the Psalm turns toward God and not the king. It continues with a description of a wedding, instructions for the bride, description of the bride, and the bride’s entrance. The king’s future is described.
            Proverbs: The Lord makes a person rich and when he does it, sorrows do not accompany it.
            Mark: As Jesus and his disciples walk toward Jerusalem, Jesus tells again of his impending death in more detail. He also says he will be raised after three days. James and John ask that they will sit on Jesus’ right and left in his kingdom. He asks them if they are able to go through what he is about to go through and they answer they can. He agrees they will but, the positions of left and right are already determined. The other ten disciples heard it and were upset. Jesus reminds them all that to be great in the kingdom they need to be slaves unlike the Gentiles who lord it over others. He points to himself being a ransom for many rather than coming to be served.
            When they pass through Jericho, a blind beggar hears that Jesus is passing by. He cries out for the Son of David to have mercy on him. People try to silence him but Jesus calls for him and the crowd’s tune changes. Jesus asks what he wants. He wants his sight. Jesus heals him and tells him to go his way, but he follows Jesus.

What Stood Out

            Leviticus: “I will continue striking you, sevenfold for your sins” (Lev 26:21).
            Psalm: “Hear, O daughter, and consider, and incline your ear: forget your people and your father's house” (Ps 45:10).
            Proverbs: “It is the blessing of the Lord that makes rich, And He adds no sorrow to it” (Prov 10:22 NASU).
            Mark: “And throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus” (Mark 10:50).

Insight

            Leviticus: People are very stubborn, especially when it comes to sin. The Lord called Israel stiff-necked several time (Ex 32:9; 33:3, 5; 34:9). When it comes time to reiterate his statues with their blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience, it isn’t remarkable that he spends four times as much time describing punishment for disobedience than he does blessings for obedience. Four times, he tells the people that he will repay them sevenfold for their sins. Each punishment is detailed and explicit. When they undergo these disciplines and punishments, they should understand why it is happening. That is why the psalmist in yesterday’s reading in Psalm 44 appeared to be so arrogant. He was complaining because God was doing the very thing that he had promised to do if the nation sinned.
            Today’s society should pay careful attention to the way God laid out his promises. The blessings are short and sweet. He didn’t have to say it four different ways to convey the concept of his blessings. On the other hand, he knew the people to be stiff-necked so he essentially repeated his punishments four different ways. When we set boundaries for our children, we should do it in the same way. Tell them the rewards for obedience but quadruple the time spent explaining the consequences if hey disobey. That would probably offend child physiologists.
            The problem is that our tolerant society believes we are basically good instead of basically sinful. They believe that emphasizing the negative consequences of bad behavior instead of only dangling rewards is poor motivation. On the contrary, God’s example is based on knowing our sinful hearts and he does both, but puts more emphasis on the consequences of bad behavior.
            However, God also tells us of the rewards for repentance. It is having him dwell with us. While he dwelled in the tabernacle with Israel, we now have the promise of eternal life and the Holy Spirit living in us. The world system can’t compete with that!
            Psalm: While this Psalm was probably written for a wedding for a king, it is also very symbolic and applicable to the Bride of Christ. Psalm 45:6-7 is quoted in the book of Hebrews and is specifically attributed to Jesus (Heb 1:8-9). This makes it easy to attribute the rest of the verses to either the Church as the Bride of Christ or to Jesus. One thing that stands out is that the bride is now leaving her father’s house. She is told to forget her people and her father’s house because the king is now her lord (Ps 45:10-11).
            This is exactly what we must do when we come to Christ. We must forget our old life of sin and our allegiance to the evils of this world. We are now coming into a new life where Jesus is Lord. We must bow before him. Jesus will have many sons who replace the fathers. Instead of the Church being built on the patriarchs, the whole Church becomes a royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:9-10). Jesus will be praised forever and ever.
            Proverbs: It’s easy to look at Proverbs and find prosperity gospel verses. But this really isn’t one. Yes, the Lord does make people rich. After all, he is in control and gives us the ability to become rich (Deut 8:18). This Proverb affirms it. When he is the one that provides riches, and we acknowledge that he is the one who has done it, then we will not have the sorrows over it as do those who wish to get rich by their own desires (1 Tim 6:9-10).
            Mark: The blind man who heard Jesus was passing by had great faith. His first demonstration of faith was his knowledge of who Jesus is. He calls out to him, “Son of David.” Just how does a blind man in Jericho know that Jesus is the Son of David? Obviously, he had to hear that from someone else. A few days ago, we read that Jesus asked who the people said he was. Their answers were odd, Elijah or John the Baptist raised from the dead. Neither of these would have qualified him as the Son of David. So somewhere between Jesus’ time in Caesarea Philippi (Mark 8:27) and his way to Jerusalem, people are becoming more aware of who Jesus is and that he is a descendent of David. People are talking about Jesus and this blind man, Bartimaeus, has been listening. He’s heard about the healings and miracles that Jesus has done.
            When he calls out to Jesus, people try to shush him. His response is to yell even louder. Like now, some people don’t call on Jesus because they don’t want to trouble him. Other try to keep people with faith quiet. A person with faith is going to call on Jesus and no one can stop him.
            When Jesus calls, Bartimaeus does something no self-preserving blind man would do. He throws off his cloak. His cloak could very well be the only thing he owns as poverty and blindness usually go together. It is what keeps him warm at night wherever he is. Being blind, led through a crowd to Jesus and if he remained blind, it may be impossible for him to find it again. But he doesn’t care because he has heard the Messiah call for him. Do we react with the same abandon when Jesus calls? Do we trust that life after coming to Jesus will be different, not necessarily physically, but spiritually?
            Bartimaeus most likely had assurance that Jesus would heal him before he tossed his coat. Yet, his faith is still in Jesus working a miracle. He doesn’t yet know that Jesus is his eternal Savior as well as his healer. Jesus does heal him. But Jesus tells him to “go his way” (Mark 10:52). A continued demonstration of his faith is that his way was to follow Jesus.
            He didn’t have a perfect faith because he didn’t know everything about Jesus. But he had enough faith. He puts many of us to shame by immediately following Jesus instead of going back to his old way of life.

Application

            I need to pay attention to God’s promises. I love his promises for eternal life. I don’t like his promises for discipline. However, I probably should pay more attention to them so that I don’t have to undergo discipline for my stubbornness. Thankfully, he also promises restoration when I confess and repent.

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