~ Click on this link for today's readings ~
Leviticus 15:1-16:28 ~ Mark 7:1-23
Psalm 40:11-17 ~ Proverbs 10:13-14
Old Testament - Today in Leviticus chapter 15 we read about bodily discharges... Anyone want to be the guest blogger on this chapter today? :) I am thinking today is a good day to share with you some of Bible.org's essays on the topic of sex. (though sex is only mentioned briefly in this chapter, still seems appropriate) Check out Bob Deffinbaugh's "Sex and the Spiritual Christian" at this link. (it's not based on this chapter but 1 Corinthians 7) Daniel Wallace with bible.org has comments on Biblical views of sex at this link. And then Bob Deffinbaugh again at bible.org has commentary on the relationship between spirituality and sexuality at this link. Finally, a sermon on Leviticus chapter 15 from Peninsula Bible Church is at this link.
In Leviticus chapter 16 we read about the Day of Atonement. Ever wonder where the term "scapegoat" came from? Now you know! This chapter. Check out verses 20-23 about the scapegoat - "When Aaron has finished making atonement for the Most Holy Place, the Tabernacle, and the altar, he must bring the living goat forward. He is to lay both of his hands on the goat's head and confess over it all the sins and rebellion of the Israelites. In this way, he will lay the people's sins on the head of the goat; then he will send it out into the wilderness, led by a man chosen for this task. After the man sets it free in the wilderness, the goat will carry all the people's sins upon itself into a desolate land." There was also the other goat which was sacrificed. I read a commentary that said that both of these 2 goats foreshadowed Jesus' death - that Jesus was both sacrificed for atonement for our sins and Jesus is our permanent scapegoat.
In verse 34 we read – “This is a permanent law for you, to make atonement for the Israelites once each year." You’ll notice the “once a year” wording in this verse. Contrast this with Jesus’ “once for all” sacrifice discussed in Hebrews chapter 10 verses 12 – 14 – “But when this priest (Jesus) had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God. Since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool, because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.” For further study on Jesus’ “once for all” sacrifice, please read Hebrews chapters 10 and 9. Bible.org's commentary on Leviticus chapter 16 & "The Day of Atonement" is at this link.
New Testament - How very interesting that today's readings in Mark are about "Clean and Unclean" - based on all of our Leviticus readings recently about this subject. Today we read about Jesus confronting the Pharisees about their "own traditions". I read in Zondervan's & Tyndale's commentaries that after the Babylonian exile (we'll read about this late this year in the One Year Bible), Jewish rabbis began to make meticulous rules and regulations governing the daily life of people. And that these rules were added to God's law and essentially elevated to the same sacred status by the Pharisees. In 200 A.D. these traditions of the elders were put into writing in the Mishnah. I think what Jesus gets at here in this chapter is that the Pharisees were allowing the "rules & regs" to overshadow the spirit of God's law. They were not honoring their parents because of the practice of Corban - giving $ to the temple. Which is a good thing... but at the expense of a great thing of caring for your parents? I know we all could probably go round and round on what is the greatest good - how should we spend our time and our money and our lives. I like that Jesus basically takes us to the heart. What is the heart of the matter? No matter what the matter is - taking care of your parents, giving to your church, following God's laws, receiving God's grace - what is the heart of the matter? One thing that I have been so blessed to learn over the past few years is that the condition of our hearts matters. Immensely. The motives of why we do something - anything - matters. Immensely. We are called in Proverbs to "guard our hearts, for it is the wellspring of life." If we do not care for the state of our hearts, we can become very regimented or insensitive in our thinking and doing. We might even get to the point in verse 8 of this chapter where Jesus quotes from Isaiah - "`These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far away." How is the state of your heart today? Is it close to God?
Jesus continues to speak about the importance of what is in our hearts in verses 20-23 today - "It is the thought-life that defiles you. For from within, out of a person's heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, eagerness for lustful pleasure, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness. All these vile things come from within; they are what defile you and make you unacceptable to God." I think this takes us back again to the Sermon on the Mount - where Jesus teaches us in one example that yes, it is wrong to commit adultery. But, if you commit adultery in your heart, it is just as wrong. Because if you commit adultery in the heart, you have essentially defiled your own heart. And from the heart could come the actual act of committing adultery - which would then shatter several lives. But it all starts in the heart.... So - the good news? Jesus can heal our hearts! Jesus is in the business of heart-healing! Maybe in your life, you might need to refocus a little bit less on some external actions and start focusing on the state of your heart? Maybe by focusing on what's going no inside your heart, the external actions will ultimately change? Maybe allow Jesus to heal your heart - and then your external life will be healed as well? I'm not sure you can go about this the other way - trying to work from the outside back in... I think you may need to start on the inside first and work your way out. But don't do this alone - let Jesus walk this healing path with you.
Psalms - Today Psalm 40 verse 16 stood out to me for it's pure joy and praise - "But may all who search for you be filled with joy and gladness. May those who love your salvation repeatedly shout, "The LORD is great!"" Does this verse resonate with you today? Have you searched for God in your life? Are you filled with joy and gladness because of that search? Do you love God's salvation? Do you shout praises to God for all he has done for you?
Maybe if verse 16 does not resonate for you today, hopefully verse 17 can encourage you - "As for me, I am poor and needy, but the Lord is thinking about me right now. You are my helper and my savior. Do not delay, O my God." Do you believe that Jesus is thinking about you right now? Do you believe that Jesus is your helper and your savior?
Proverbs - Proverbs chapter 10 verse 14 today is a great teaching to literally treasure knowledge. Do you treasure knowledge?
Comments from You & Questions of the Day - Back to my reflections above on Jesus' "once for all" sacrifice in the OT section above. Do you believe that Jesus’ sacrifice was “once for all”? Do you believe that Jesus is your High Priest who has made Atonement for your sins? Do you believe that Jesus as your High Priest sits at the right hand of God? If so, how might fully realizing this change how you live? How you pray? Also, what verses or insights stand out to you in today's readings? Please post up by clicking on the "Comments" link below!