~ Click on this link for today's readings ~
Leviticus 16:29-18:30 ~ Mark 7:24-8:10
Psalm 41:1-13 ~ Proverbs 10:15-16
Old Testament - Today we finish up Leviticus chapter 16 with a very simple but I think very powerful statement in verse 34 - "Moses followed all these instructions that the LORD had given to him." Moses followed all of the instructions... That sounds so simple, but think about really how amazing it is. Moses did not veer to the left or the right. He stayed on the narrow path. He followed these instructions. I know we don't live under the same Old Covenant laws today... but, I still do think there are clearly some instructions for us under the New Covenant. The Sermon on the Mount in Matthews 5-7 is a nice summary of some instructions to us from Jesus. Can what was said of Moses be said of us today? Are we following all of the instructions Jesus has given us? Don't beat yourself up over this if the answer is no. Not one of us is perfect this side of heaven - except for Jesus. Moses was not perfect either. But, I think we can hopefully learn something from Moses' obedience to God's instructions. I do believe that each of us today can walk along the narrow path to follow Jesus in faith, follow his teachings in faith, and become more and more like Him as we go. Even if we trip or stumble as we along the Way, if we continue in our faith in Jesus and who he truly is, we will indeed become more like Him as we follow Him.
Bob Deffinbaugh at bible.org's commentary on Leviticus chapter 17, "The Preciousness of Blood," is at this link. A quote from Bob from this link - "The Israelite of old learned from Leviticus, as nowhere else up to that point in time, the preciousness of blood to God. How much greater value does blood take on for the New Testament saint, whose blessings are all a result of the shed blood of Jesus Christ. As Harrison summarizes the matter, "The blood is the life of the flesh (Lev. 17:11), and it is through the atoning blood of Christ that the believer receives redemption (I Pet. 1:18-19), forgiveness (Eph. 1:7), justification (Rom. 5:9), spiritual peace (Col. 1:20), and sanctification (Heb. 13:12)."
Leviticus 18 is primarily a chapter about forbidden sexual practices. However - before we get to those - I think verses 1-5 are incredibly powerful as God reminds the Israelites that he is their God - and that he has set them apart from the pagans surrounding them - and that his laws must be obeyed by the Israelites - "Then the LORD said to Moses, "Say this to your people, the Israelites: I, the LORD, am your God. So do not act like the people in Egypt, where you used to live, or like the people of Canaan, where I am taking you. You must not imitate their way of life. You must obey all my regulations and be careful to keep my laws, for I, the LORD, am your God. If you obey my laws and regulations, you will find life through them. I am the LORD." As I read this I see the compassionate nature of God throughout history. Yes, these are Old Covenant laws, but the laws were so much better than the pagan ways of the nations surrounding Israel. The laws were better. More compassionate than immorality to be sure. Check out again Bob Deffinbaugh (can you tell I'm a fan of this guy's writing? :) on Leviticus chapter 18 verses 1-5 titled "Obedience—The Obligation of Being Owned" at this link. I think it probably is good at this point to share with you a few verses from Galatians chapter 3 verses 10 - 14, and you'll note that verse 5 of Leviticus 18 above is quoted here by Paul - "All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law." (Deut. 27:26) Clearly no one is justified before God by the law, because, “The righteous will live by faith." (Hab. 2:4 ) The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, “The man who does these things will live by them.” (Lev. 18:5) Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.” (Deut. 21:23) He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit." Amen.
For the rest of Leviticus chapter 18 I'm going to punt over to Bob Deffinbaugh at bible.org at this link. Here's a quote from Bob at this link - "Leviticus 18:6-29 has a very simple structure and message. Its intent is to define the boundaries of godly human sexual relationships. There are three of them, which I call the inner, middle, and outer boundaries of godly sexuality. Verses 6 through 18 define the “inner boundary,” prohibiting sexual relationships with close relatives. Verses 19 and 20 define the “middle boundary,” which limits sexual relations within marriage and prohibits them outside marriage. Verses 21 through 23 define the “outer boundary” of unnatural sexual relations. Verses 24 through 29 tell us about God’s judgment upon a nation that crosses these boundaries. They clearly tell us that God’s judgment for sexual sin is all nations, not just the covenant nation of Israel."
New Testament - Mark chapter 7 opens up with a gentile woman begging Jesus to release her daughter from the control of a demon. Verses 27 through 29 are a fascinating look at Jesus' ministry - "Jesus told her, "First I should help my own family, the Jews. It isn't right to take food from the children and throw it to the dogs." She replied, "That's true, Lord, but even the dogs under the table are given some crumbs from the children's plates." "Good answer!" he said. "And because you have answered so well, I have healed your daughter." Here we see that Jesus' ministry was initially to the Jews, but here he heals a gentile woman's daughter because of her humility and faith. And of course as we get to the Great Commission at the end of the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus' ministry is clearly for "all nations". In fact, Mark's Gospel is a good indicator of how Jesus' ministry quickly expanded beyond the Jews as Mark likely wrote this Gospel in Rome and to a primarily Roman gentile believer audience.
Today in chapter 7 verses 32 through 34 we read - "A deaf man with a speech impediment was brought to him, and the people begged Jesus to lay his hands on the man to heal him. Jesus led him to a private place away from the crowd. He put his fingers into the man's ears. Then, spitting onto his own fingers, he touched the man's tongue with the spittle. And looking up to heaven, he sighed and commanded, "Be opened!" Instantly the man could hear perfectly and speak plainly!" I love this image below... please meditate on this for a few moments...
Psalms - Today in Psalm 41 verse 1 we read – “Blessed is he who has regard for the weak; the LORD delivers him in times of trouble.” For some reason this verse really opens up my heart. Something about the word “weak.” Maybe this verse really speaks to me because I myself feel weak at times. And yet, I am so blessed in so many ways. And I realize that there are so many others out there in this world who may not have the blessings that I have, and who are struggling through an extremely tough cycle of weakness. And I wonder – what am I doing to help those who are weak? Do I really have regard for the weak? Do you? What in our life really demonstrates that we have regard for the weak? Are we investing time or finances into the weak? Are we praying for the weak? Are we loving the weak?
Proverbs chapter 10 verse 16 is powerful stuff! "The earnings of the godly enhance their lives, but evil people squander their money on sin." This is so true... I know there have been times in my life in the past where I was not walking with the Lord and I absolutely squandered my money on sin - and my life was certainly not enhanced in the process... For some reason this verse also makes me think about how sometimes we pursue big salaries and big jobs or careers so that we can spend big bucks on a lavish lifestyle. And I wonder... at the end of the day what that game buys us? I don't think much... I have been thinking more and more lately about how much wisdom there is in living a simple godly life. Maybe take a job that pays less.... but where you work less... you are less stressed... but you can do things like spend more time with God, your family, your friends, and serving others.... where you can read more good books... exercise more.... sleep a full 8 hours a night.... enjoy each day and not be so worried about the future... Sure - with a job that pays less you won't be able to be out and about on the town each night living the high life. But is this really living? Really? I realize this is quite a random tangent off this Proverb. :) But, in my own life, I do think about how much "earnings" do I really need - and if maybe.... perhaps.... somehow less is actually more?
What verses or insights jumped out for you in today's readings? Please post up in the Comments section below!