READING FROM THE OLD TESTAMENT: LEVITICUS 19:1-20:21
REMINDER: THE LORD CALLS HIS PEOPLE TO BE HOLY
Leviticus 19:2 2 “Speak to all the congregation of the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy’.
This is the only time that Moses is told to speak to the entire nation of Israel. His message not only summarizes this chapter, but the entire Book of Leviticus. They are to be holy. How holy? As holy as God is holy. The code of conduct is based on God’s nature. God’s holiness is the standard because we are made in God’s image, rather than vice versa.
Verses 3-8 recapitulate the first table of the Law from the 5th to the first (minus the third pertaining to taking the name of the Lord in vain, which is restated in verse 12).
Lev 19:3a- Honor given to parents. The family is the first unit of society and the one through which the children should come to the knowledge of God. Here the mother is placed before the father, which suggests honoring God’s design for the full participation of each parent. This is the fifth commandment on the first table of the law (Exodus 20:12).
Lev 19:3b- Observe the Sabbath. The Sabbath recognizes God’s rights to our time. It was a sign of the covenant relationship that God established with Israel. Sabbath-breaking was considered rebellion against God. This is the fourth commandment (Exodus 20:8-11).
Lev 19:4 Prohibition of Idolatry (Idol Worship and Idol Making). Idolatry is a denial of the one true God. (This combines the first and second commandments- Exodus 20:3-4).
Take your allotted share of the peace offering. This was the only offering in which the offerer could take a portion. But the offerer was to resist the temptation of taking more than their allotted portion or keeping it longer than two days. Leftovers beyond that were to be burned up.
Verses 9-18 summarized the second table of the Law highlighting that a right relationship with the Lord demands a right relationship with others.
Verses 9-10 Consider the Needs of the Poor. Leave the corners of your crop fields unharvested.
Verse 11- You shall not steal; You shall not lie– bear false witness (Commandments 8 and 9- Exodus 20:15-16).
Verse 12- Prohibition against false swearing and taking the Name of the Lord in Vain (Commandment 3- Exodus 20:7).
There are laws for equitable labor relations (Lev 19:13), care for the helpless (19:14), righteous judgments and fair trials (19:15; see also Deuteronomy 25:16), and warnings against sins of the tongue (19:16).
Verse 17 “You shall not hate your brother in your heart.” a negative stating of what is found in verse 18 and is quoted by Jesus as the follow-up to the greatest commandment (Matthew 22:36).
Leviticus 19:18 18 ‘You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the LORD. Jesus teaches in the Parable of the Certain Samaritan that our neighbor is anyone we come across in the pathway of our lives. (Luke 10:29-37)
We see other ordinances listed, some of which relate to the evil religious practices of the Canaanites.
There is a prohibition of hybrids. Mixture of seeds and cloth made of two kinds of material. Some of the reasons for this are explained later and are relevant even in their symbolism. (for example, wool representing the works of the flesh from the old animal nature, causing sweat, and linen representing the righteousness of Christ, spun from the flax produced by a seed falling into the ground and dying (John 12:24).
We see laws purposed to prevent oppression and exploitation.
If an employer took advantage of a female sexually, it was to be recognized and dealt with as sin, yet the man alone was judged as guilty and was required to bring the guilt offering. The intent of the law is to maintain God’s standards for purity and protect vulnerable female slaves.
Though slavery was existent in most cultures, and its ills are recognized in the Bible, it should not be construed that slavery was ever endorsed by God or the Scriptures even though it acknowledges the existence of these relationships.
God’s people are to have no participation in heathen rites. Charms, enchantments, divination, fortune-telling, horoscopes, sorcery, witchcraft, interpreting natural phenomena such as clouds and stars, and attempts to communicate with the dead are forbidden.
Tattoos and painting the body were customs that denoted belonging to a pagan cult. The body is God’s creation and belongs to Him. It should be kept whole according to His design. (1 Corinthians 6:8-20)
Leviticus 19:28 28 ‘You shall not make any cuts in your body for the dead nor make any tattoo marks on yourselves: I am the LORD’.
Among the pagan customs that the Israelites were to condemn was the practice of offering children to Molech (Lev 20:1-5). Excavation in Palestine have revealed piles of ashes and skeletons of infants buried around heathen altars. Sadly, the worship of Molech, which included the sacrifice of children was encouraged by Solomon (1 Kings 11:7) and Manasseh (2 Kings 21:6) and the last kings before Judah fell to the Babylonians (Jer 32:35). According to God’s law a person who gave his child to be sacrificed was to receive a punishment equal to the crime.
TODAY’S READING IN THE NEW TESTAMENT- MARK 8:11-38
We can see in these events that Jesus is surrounded by disbelieving and arguing Pharisees, seeking a sign, yet blinded to the fact that Jesus was fulfilling the Messianic prophecies. He also was surrounded by his disciples who were expressing their lack of perception and hardness of heart by their anxiety about having insufficient supply of bread. And this was after Jesus had just fed multitudes of five thousand and four thousand with enough leftovers for his disciples to take with them!
Jesus heals the blind man and does not let him go until he sees men as they really are. His gracious touch enables us to see Him as He is and ourselves as we are.
And this happens to the disciples also at Caesarea Philippi. The Father opens their eyes and Peter as the disciples’ spokesperson confesses that He sees Jesus as He really is- The Christ.
Jesus strictly charges that they do not tell others at this time. There may be many reasons for this- it may have caused attempts to kill Him prior to His arriving for His appointed time to be offered as the Lord’s Passover. But we note that the disciples were given a gag order until after the resurrection. Only then could they present the right message of Christ crucified, risen and glorified, having completed the work of redemption.
Who do you say that Jesus is?
Mark 8:31 is a turning point in this gospel. As Tim Keller brought out in his book, “King’s Cross”, the first half of the book, Chapters 1-8, demonstrates Jesus’ supreme authority as King through his miraculous works. The second half of the book, Chapters 9-16, has the cross in view.
Mark 8:31 31 And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.
Now that the disciples know who Jesus is, they too must be willing to bear the cost of identifying with Him. Even as Jesus had his imminent death on the cross in view, we are to keep our identification, our co-crucifixion, co-burial, co-resurrection and co-ascension in view.
Mark 8:34-38 34 And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. 35 For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. 36 For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? 37 For what will a man give in exchange for his soul? 38 For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”
Have you identified with Christ to the degree that you have accepted your death with him, and that your life is singularly bound up with His?
Do you shy away from identifying with Christ and His Words publicly?
TODAY’S READING FROM THE BOOK OF PSALMS
Psalm 42 reminds us that we need to continually resort to the Lord. We are not to let the moods of our souls, our feelings and partial perceptions dominate our lives. The Psalmist speaks to his soul and so must we.
Psalm 42:11 11 Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God.
Not only does the Psalmist counsel his soul, speaking the truth of God’s rock-solid praise-worthiness, but he meditates upon God’s faithful doings throughout his life journey, the whole breadth of it, from the land of the Jordan where he drinks from the streams to the source of all his refreshment in the mountain springs of Hermon. Like the Psalmist, we should reflect upon our lives being resourced by outpouring of His love (v.8).
The Psalmist knows the value of not just speaking truth to his soul, but he also is speaking honestly to God in prayer (v.9), confessing his frailty, yet remaining confident in the revelation of His faithfulness and our God and Savior.
THE PROVERB FOR TODAY:
Proverbs 10:17 17 He is on the path of life who heeds instruction, but he who ignores reproof goes astray.
How do you respond to criticism, instruction and reproof? You are an example, so be sure you are walking on the right path.
PRAY FOR THE NATIONS– Continue to pray for Austria today.
According to Operation World, “Austria needs more full-time workers. It is possible that more Austrians are serving outside Austria than inside it. …Austria is showing signs of accelerating response to the gospel. Pray for the Lord of the harvest to send more workers, both Austrians and foreign missionaries to this needy field.
PRAYER– Lord, You are holy. Thank you that You have turned the command, “You shall be holy” into a Promise in Christ Jesus. May the grace of our Living Savior help us to say no to ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in this present age. Thank You for your sanctifying presence and You sanctifying Word. Fill us with Your Spirit so that Your love flows out towards You and our fellow man.
Father, You have revealed to us by the work of the Holy Spirit that Jesus is the Christ. We bind ourselves to Him by faith, taking to ourselves all that He is and all that He has done on our behalf. We chose to take up our cross and boldly identify with Him, knowing that we have been crucified with Christ and the life that we now live we live in Him and through Him and for Him! Help us this day to be disciple-making missionaries. In Jesus’ Name. Amen
So, naturally, we proclaim Christ! We warn everyone we meet, and we teach everyone we can, all that we know about him, so that, if possible, we may bring every man up to his full maturity in Christ. (Colossians 1:28, J.B. Phillips paraphrase)
New Life Community Church, Concord, MA 10742
Meeting Sundays at 10:30 AM at the New Life Ministry Center, 221 Baker Avenue, Concord, MA 01742
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