TODAY’S READING: Don’t just read, feed! Come apart before you come apart! Pursue purity in your heart and your house.
Today we will change the order of our reading, starting with the New Testament portion.
Mark 6:31 (NASB)
31 And He (Jesus) said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a while.” (For there were many people coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.)
Jesus gives an important invitation to His disciples that should not be refused: To come apart from the busyness of our heavily scheduled lives and spend time with Him.
Come apart before you come apart!
The Lord is mindful of our need to rest, recharge, and be replenished; physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
I hope that each of you are developing a habit of setting aside some time each day not just for READING the Word, but for FEEDING upon it.
Be sure to spend quality time with Him, so that you may abide in Him throughout the day.
By reading through the Bible you are getting a PANORAMA of THE STORY and meeting its HERO on every page.
Susannah Wesley, with at least ten children in the house, would seek a quiet time with the Lord despite the pressing distractions around her. Her sons, John and Charles, who would grow up to be mighty instruments in the Great Awakening of the 18th century, noted that if their mother could not find a room to retreat to, she would flip her apron over her head and create that interior seclusion where she could focus on speaking to the Lord in prayer and drawing wisdom and strength from Him.
We have already observed this principle in the Book of Leviticus. Moses and Aaron needed first to go INSIDE the Tent of Meeting where they could hear from God, bless Him, and be blessed by Him before they came OUTSIDE to minister to the people. They needed to enter into fellowship with the Lord before they could come out and bless them with ministry.
Leviticus 9:23 (NASB)
23 Moses and Aaron went into the tent of meeting. When they came out and blessed the people, the glory of the LORD appeared to all the people.
In the gospel of Mark, we see that the disciples did take Jesus’ suggestion.
However, it is doubtful that their time was as restful as they had hoped it would be. The crowds had soon caught up with them. Jesus sees the multitude as sheep without a shepherd and, filled with compassion, he begins to teach them many things.
As the hour grew late, Jesus’ disciples suggested that the crowd be sent away to get something for themselves to eat in the surrounding villages.
Jesus responds by challenging the disciples to feed them.
At first, the disciples look to their insufficient financial resources. They only have 200 denarii in their treasury (equivalent to the pay for 200 days of labor). Then Jesus asks how many loaves they have. They look to the meager supply at hand, replying, “Five loaves and two fish.” Jesus commands them to sit in groups of fifty. Then He takes the five loaves and two fish and looking up to heaven gives thanks. He breaks the loaves and the fish and as they distribute the food it is multiplied to feed all. There were 12 baskets full of leftovers. Jesus is teaching them that He is the same person who fed their forefathers manna in the wilderness (See John 6).
God supplied miraculously and abundantly for those upon whom He had compassion. We see that He is able to supply more than what is adequate. This is illustrated also in the miracles witnessed by Elijah (1 Kings 17:16) Elisha (2 Kings 4:7,42-44) and the miraculous catches for the disciples (Luke 5:6-7; John 21:6,11). May this encourage us all to make our requests known to God.
20 Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, 21 to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen. (Eph 3:20-21)
WALKING ON WATER
The Sea of Galilee is subject to violent downdrafts and is known for its sudden windstorms. After the feeding of 5000 men, plus women, and children, Jesus departed to a mountainside to pray. The disciples were attempting to cross the Sea of Galilee and are caught in a storm trying to reach the other side. Between 3 and 6 AM (during the fourth watch) they see Jesus walking on water. Once again, the disciples are challenged as they see Jesus doing something that defies the natural order of things. They had been struggling all night to cross the sea and Jesus, having spent the bulk of the time in prayer, comes ‘walking’ on the water. There is no striving, struggling, or running in His advance. He is not hindered by the adverse circumstances. He is Lord over the circumstances.
The words that Jesus speaks to His terrified disciples should settle our hearts as well:
“Take courage; it is I, do not be afraid.” (Mark 6:50)
It could read, “Take courage, I AM, do not be afraid.” The Great I AM is in the midst.
Mark notes that it looked as if Jesus “intended to pass by them” (Mark 6:48).
The ESV Study Bible has a comment in the margin:
“The passage echoes the incident where God “passed” before Moses (the same verb, ‘parechomai’, occurs in the Septuagint of Exodus 33:19,22; 34:6) giving a glimpse of his glory. But it also echoes Job 9, where Job says that it is God who trampled the waves of the sea” (The Septuagint has ‘peripaton..epi thalasses’, ‘walking on the sea’, using the same words as Mark 6:48, and then also says “he passes by me” (Job 9:11). There is an implicit claim to divinity in Jesus’ actions.” (ESV Study Bible) (The Septuagint is the Greek translation of the Old Testament).
OLD TESTAMENT READING: Leviticus 14:1-57
THE LAW OF THE LEPER IN THE DAY OF HIS CLEANSING
The leper’s hope, in Leviticus 14, is called “the day of his cleansing.”
Leviticus 14:1-2 (NASB) 1 Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “This shall be the law of the leper in the day of his cleansing.
There are two ceremonies that ratify the cleansing of the leper. One takes place outside the camp (Lev 14:2-9) and the other, in front of the tent of meeting eight days later (Lev 14:10-32).
CLEANSING OUTSIDE THE CAMP
Notice the parallels. The priest goes outside the camp. (This is a picture of Jesus going outside the camp to be identified with those condemned under the law and numbered among the transgressors. There, outside the camp, He was crucified.)
The priest goes where the leper resides. The leper cannot go to the tent of meeting. So, Christ comes to meet us where we are outside the camp. His love compels Him to go the distance. The priest leads the leper to a source of fresh ‘living’ water.
The priest takes two live birds considered ‘clean’ according to the law of Moses. One of the birds is to be killed over an earthenware vessel with its blood mixing with the fresh water. The priest would take the live bird and dip it in the vessel with the hyssop, cedar wood, and scarlet yarn.
Hyssop was the plant used for applying the blood of the Passover Lamb to the post and lintels of the Israelite homes in the final plague when the angel of death came to strike the firstborn son of any home in Egypt that did not have that protection (Exodus 12:22). When Solomon spoke wisely of all the vegetation of creation, he spoke of trees, “from the cedar to the hyssop” (1 Kings 4:33). Scarlet speaks of both the obvious nature of sin (Isaiah 1:18) and the promise of salvation (Joshua 2:18). Hyssop, cedar wood, and scarlet were put into the earthen vessel with the blood and water in a similar manner to when they were cast into the midst of the red heifer offering which we will read about in Numbers 19. Such a mixture may also be what is called ‘purifying water’ in Numbers 8:7.
The priest sprinkles the mixture seven times on the leper who has been cleansed. The priest then pronounces him clean and lets the bird fly free in an open field. The cleansed man then washes and shaves and is restored to the camp, living outside his tent for seven days as a testimony.
The two birds represent the two natures of Christ and the two aspects of His provision in the atonement, His death for us, and His life in us. Jesus was both God and man. Both birds are designated by the Law as clean and holy. One bird was killed as a substitutionary sacrifice outside the camp, with the evidence of its shed blood being mingled with water in the earthen vessel. The bird had to be killed before the leper could be legally pronounced clean. The bird was killed at the command of God. It was in obedience that Jesus went to the cross. The bird was slain in an earthen vessel. This speaks of Jesus taking the earthen vessel of humanity for the purpose of suffering death. (Heb 2:9; 10:5).
The bird was killed over ‘living’ water, fresh from a running stream, in an earthen vessel. Jesus spoke of Himself as being a source of living water. Let Him who is thirsty come to Him and drink (John 7:37-38). When Jesus died, the apostle John witnessed water and blood coming from His side (John 19:34). Water is symbolic of eternal life (John 4:14) the Word (Eph 5:24) and the Holy Spirit (John 7:38-39). Both the Word and the Spirit are living (John 6:63; Heb 4:12) and serve as pure witnesses to the death of Christ as our perfect substitute.
The living bird would be marked with the stains of blood from the bird that was slain. The Lord Jesus rose from the dead and appeared with the marks of His death by crucifixion on His resurrection body, evident in His nail-pierced hands and wounded side (John 20:27).
The living bird once marked by death is taken to an open field to fly free. So, Jesus having died for sin, once and for all, is alive forevermore, free from the hold of death.
“He who has died is freed from sin.” (Romans 6:7)
“8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, 9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. (Romans 6:8-9)
The blood of the slain bird was sprinkled on the leper seven times. The three-letter root of the Hebrew word for seven (Sheva) is the same as the word that means ‘enough’, ‘full’, ‘plenty’, and ‘satiate’ or ‘satisfy’. It is the number standing for perfection.
The blood was applied with hyssop, as was the blood of the Passover lamb to the post and lintels of the doors of the Israelite homes in Egypt as a provision to avert the judgment of the angel of death. The use of hyssop in the Bible is a consistent type meaning ‘applying by faith’ in God’s Word. It signifies ‘believing with your heart’.
After the personal appropriation by faith of what has been provided for the cleansing of the leper, (the sprinkling of the water and the blood that testifies to the death and resurrection of the substitutionary sacrifice of Christ), the person who was judicially reckoned dead, cut off, unclean and unfit for fellowship, is legally pronounced ‘clean’.
He has witnessed both the death and the liberation of a Substitute. He has looked upon One who died for him and rose alive. Now the cleansed man is given access to his family and can enter the camp. He lives outside his tent as a testimony to the fact that He has been cleansed.
Romans 10:9 (NASB) 9 that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.
On the eighth day, the first day of a new week, signifying ‘a new beginning’, the cleansed person acknowledges he is a new creation by taking two male lambs without blemish and a ewe lamb, with a grain offering mixed with oil and a log of oil. He is going to provide for four of the five major offerings (the burnt offering, grain offering, sin and trespass offering, Leviticus 1,2,4-5).
At the entrance to the tent of meeting the priest “who cleanses him” presents the man and his sacrifices before the Lord. Even though he has been cleansed, there is One who cleanses him. Christ who has cleansed us from our sin continues to keep us clean before the Lord (1 John 1:7).
One lamb is a guilt (trespass) offering belonging to the priest. The blood of the guilt offering is put on the right ear lobe, the right thumb, and the big toe of the right foot of the cleansed leper. The priest then takes some of the oil and sprinkles it with his right finger before the Lord and then he applies it to the right ear, the right hand, and the right toe, over the blood that has just been freshly applied. The blood that cleanses us is the blood that purchased, redeemed, and ransomed us. It is because of the blood (Jesus accomplishing the work of our redemption) that we can receive the anointing, the oil of the Holy Spirit.
The priest is to make atonement by offering the sin offering and then the burnt offering and the grain offering. All five offerings are involved, and the leper shall be clean.
Leviticus 14:21-32 describes a poor man’s cleansing ritual with a male lamb for a guilt offering to be waved, and its blood applied to ear, thumb, and toe, with a smaller, rationed grain offering, oil, to be sprinkled seven times before the Lord and applied to ear, thumb, and toe. For the sin and burnt offerings he can offer two turtledoves or two pigeons, “which ever he can afford”.
In centuries past, people have criticized the scrutiny demanded by the Book of Leviticus for the transmission of health problems through garments and buildings.
Today we know that Leviticus was right. The spread of mold and mildew impacts human health. Inspections of walls, ceilings, roofs and garments are not to be discounted. Detection of mold, asbestos, lead, carbon monoxide and radon is to be taken seriously.
God is interested in every area of our lives. He is concerned with the health of our bodies, our homes, and our relationships. He is concerned with what we wear and how we live.
He recognizes that as people we can easily be corrupted and spread corruption.
Yesterday we learned about the ceremonial procedures for the detection and cleansing of infectious skin disease and polluted garments.
Jude, the half-brother of Jesus, expressed the need for Christians to be on guard with a regular inspection of their lives and those around them. What can we do to save ourselves and our neighbors from potential disaster? Are we ready to take his recommended action to avert the sabotaging influence of inward and outward corruption? He admonishes believers to-
“save others, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh.” (Jude 1:23)
A house that is infected with disease needed to be cleansed or destroyed. Mold and mildew in a home can cause lung problems, nausea, sickness, and structural problems.
Whatever in our lives that has been affected by the contamination of sin should be either cleansed or destroyed. Some old associations that have proven to be corrupting influences need to be inspected, and if they are not treatable, they need to be torn down altogether. Some relationships, old haunts, and old habits need to be utterly forsaken. The ways of the old nature need to come under the ban of the cross.
A house that is found upon inspection as being free from malignancy is to be publicly declared clean in a similar ceremony to that which we observed for the cleansed leper. The priest is to take two birds and cedarwood and a scarlet string and hyssop. One bird is to be slaughtered in an earthen vessel (a picture of Jesus killed in the earthen vessel of His body), its blood mingling with the running water. The live bird is to be dipped together with the scarlet thread and the cedarwood and hyssop, (the redemptive thread linking the act to all creation- from the cedarwood to hyssop). The blood mixed with water is to be sprinkled on the house seven times. The live bird, marked with the stains of the other Substitute’s death, is to be set free outside the city to fly into an open field. What a wonderful picture of both the sinner and his house being pronounced clean through both the death and life of the Substitute Redeemer.
TODAY’S READING FROM THE BOOK OF PSALMS- Psalm 40:1-10.
Psalm 40:6-8 (NASB) 6 Sacrifice and meal offering You have not desired; My ears You have opened; Burnt offering and sin offering You have not required. 7 Then I said, “Behold, I come; In the scroll of the book it is written of me. 8 I delight to do Your will, O my God; Your Law is within my heart.”
We know this is a Messianic Psalm because Psalm 40:6-8 is quoted in Hebrews 10:5-9.
We can read this Psalm and get a sense of how life was sensed in Jesus’ human nature. He identifies with our life experiences and embraces them with a perfect disposition of trust in the goodness of His Father. He knows what it is like to be delivered from the miry pit!
Psalm 40:2-3 2 He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay, And He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm. 3 He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God; Many will see and fear and will trust in the LORD.
May the story of the Psalmist encourage you. He brings you up (v.2a), He causes you to stand (v.2b) and He gives you a new song (v.3).
What new deliverance can you be singing about today?
Whereas verses 6-8 speak of Christ’s faithfulness to His mission to fulfill righteousness on our behalf, verses 9-10 speak of His faithfulness to speak to His church today through the ministry of His Word.
How does He speak to you today, revealing the good news of His grace in the fellowship of the congregation?
TODAY’S PROVERB: Proverbs 10:11-12- Love heals, and that healing can be applied with careful use of words.
Proverbs 10:11-12 11 The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, but violence overwhelms the mouth of the wicked. 12 Hatred stirs up dissension, but love covers over all wrongs.
Today we are praying for AUSTRALIA.
The Book Operation World gives a helpful list of answers and challenges to prayer. (p. 117-120)
Australia is the world’s 6th largest country by total area.
This island continent is the world’s driest, but better watered in the east, southeast, and southwest coastal regions, where most live in highly concentrated urban areas. There are three permanently inhabited dependent territories: Norfolk Island (35 sq. km; 2,037 pop), Christmas Is. (135 sq. km; 1,408 pop), Cocos Is. (14 sq. km; 591 pop).
The Aboriginal people spoke languages that can be classified into about 250 groups. Today the population are 67.9% Anglo-Australian; 16.9% European, migrants form nearly every ethnic group. 6.9% Asian, 2.6% Australian Aborigine.
28% of Australians were born overseas, increasingly from non-Western backgrounds.
A summary of Answers to Prayer:
Australia’s Christians, particularly evangelicals, are facing the challenges of a post-Christian and multicultural nation with faith, dynamism, and considered strategies. Recognizing social change and relative Christian decline, small but growing numbers of ministries and congregations are adapting to become more dynamic in reaching out to the majority population and to become more strategic and missiologically astute in reaching the immigrant minorities, who often come from other faith backgrounds. There is a long way to go, but a transition is becoming visible in Australian Christianity.
Challenges for Prayer
Australia is undergoing many changes, all of which place greater strains and tensions on the nation.
The Church in Australia faces a mighty challenge – to remain relevant. While over two-thirds of Australians identify themselves in some way as Christian, only 10% regularly attend church, and increasing numbers have negative attitudes toward the Church’s perceived intolerance and authoritarianism. Secularism is not so much the dominant ideology as is an individualized, New Age, pick-and-choose spirituality with no accountability. Almost all mainline churches face stagnation or decline, and growth even among evangelicals has slowed. Pray for reformation and revival of the Church, and for this to impact every sphere of society.
PRAYER: O Lord, You know our every need. You remember our frame. You know our limitations. You know we need rest. You know we need time with You. Thank You for this time of communion as we fellowship with Your Word and trust the Holy Spirit to illuminate Your truth to our understanding. As we pursue holiness, we want to be more conscious of the danger of being contaminated by the sin and expressive of the old Adamic nature.
Teach us not to lean on our own understanding and our own resources when You call us to obedience. You are faithful. You are the One who multiplies the fish and loaves and provides for the needs of the multitudes. Help us to cooperate with You as You work Your works today! In Jesus’ Name. Amen.