~ Click on this link for today's readings ~
Leviticus 24:1-25:46 ~ Mark 10:13-31
Psalm 44:9-26 ~ Proverbs 10:20-21
Old Testament - Today in Leviticus chapter 24 we read the well known law of retaliation from verses 19 & 20 - "Anyone who injures another person must be dealt with according to the injury inflicted-- fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth. Whatever anyone does to hurt another person must be paid back in kind." I've read commentaries that say that this law of retaliation was actually compassionate for its time - in that it limited what one person could to another person in a very lawless age. If you lost an eye, you could take an eye - but you could not kill in return, for example. So, I see the logic behind saying that the law of retaliation limited punishments.... but, I also think we would do well to remember Jesus' words in the Sermon on the Mount where he quotes from Leviticus 24 verse 20 in Matthew chapter 5 verse 38 & 39 - ""“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also." Jesus teaches that there is a higher law of love that is better than the law of retaliation. Commentary on Leviticus chapter 24 titled "The Lamp, the Loaves and The Loudmouth" :) is at Bible.org at this link. Commentary on Leviticus chapter 25 is at this link and at this link.
Well, I learned something new! This is pretty cool - the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia is so named because this statement from Leviticus chapter 25 verse 10 is written on the bell - "Proclaim Liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof." (which you won't be able to see in this photo below - I believe the inscription is around the top of the bell, where you'll see 2 lines near the top)
In Leviticus 25 verses 9 & 10 today we read - "Then on the Day of Atonement of the fiftieth year, blow the trumpets loud and long throughout the land. This year will be set apart as holy, a time to proclaim release for all who live there. It will be a jubilee year for you, when each of you returns to the lands that belonged to your ancestors and rejoins your clan."
New Testament - Today in Mark chapter 10 we read about the Rich Man. I have heard plenty of sermons on this passage of scripture and read a bunch of commentaries. The message is probably not that every Christian needs to sell all they have, give to the poor, and you'll have treasure in heaven. However... this could be the message for some of us. Basically, the message is probably more along the lines of what in your life are you holding on so tight to, that you need to let go of? What are you worshiping? What are you letting stand in the way of your relationship with Jesus? And what must you let go of? What's your "camel" that's holding you back? It might be money or material possessions. It could be an addiction. It could be status. It could be anger. It could be lust. I don't know what it is for you - that's between you and Jesus. But, can you let your "camel" go, so that you won't be like this big guy here trying to get through the eye of a needle... :)
Psalms - Every time I read Psalm 44 verse 23 it reminds me of one of the amazing aspects of the Psalms - that the Psalms are people like us speaking to God - and in all sorts of emotional ways: "Wake up, O Lord! Why do you sleep? Get up! Do not reject us forever." This type of verse reminds me that it's okay for us to not always talk to God in our "church voice." It's okay to get a little bit passionate in our prayers to God. I think God would prefer us to be real with him - where we are right now or at any given moment - rather than try to put on any special facades for God. If ever you feel like you are at a loss for words for what you might want to say to God - how you might be needing to pray to God - surf through the Psalms... you'll very likely find voice for what you are trying to say.
Proverbs - Proverbs chapter 10 verses 20 & 21 are interesting - they are both about the words that come out of the mouths of the godly - "sterling silver" & "good advice". I pray that each one of us would grow more and more in our relationship with the God, so that our words are indeed like sterling silver and that we give good advice.
Comments from You & Question of the Day - I know this will be a controversial question... so please post up gracefully and respond to others comments gracefully. I am very interested in hearing everyone's views on Leviticus 24:17 in today's readings - "Anyone who takes another person's life must be put to death." Do you think Jesus' higher law of love changed this at all? The reason I ask this is in part is because I heard Sr. Helen Prejean, author of Dead Man Walking, speak recently. Obviously we all know where she stands on the death penalty. I was intrigued by her arguments against it (politics, racism, poverty, economics/cost, etc.). At the same time I am a Dennis Prager fan, and know he is strongly in support of the death penalty - and being Jewish, he certainly would go back to this Leviticus verse (among others). Theologically / Biblically, what are your views on the death penalty? (again, I know this is a hot topic! Let's go for grace in our comments/responses to each other) Also, what verses or insights stand out to you in today's readings? Please post up by clicking on the "Comments" link below!