OLD TESTAMENT READING: LEVITICUS 20:22-22:20

The children of Israel’s successful occupation of the Promised Land would depend upon their obedience to God’s law (Lev 20:22). The law called them to be distinct from their neighbors.

They were to be a holy nation, reflecting the glory of their God, who is holy.

  • In what ways has the Lord made a distinction between you, as a Christian, and the unbelieving world?

The Lord promised that the children of Israel’s future inheritance would be a land “flowing with milk and honey”. Milk is a picture of nourishment, and honey is a picture of sweetness. Milk flows from the udders of cows and goats and honey from figs. The land God promised them would be good, rich, fertile land that would so abundantly provide for them that it could be said that “blessings would be flowing” among them.

Wizards, mediums, witches, and warlocks are condemned (Lev 20:27). We are never to compromise our allegiance to God.  There is no such thing as a Christian wizard or a Christian witch.

The priests were held to higher standards in matters of mourning the dead, marriage, and family. This parallels the New Testament teaching that holds elders and deacons to a higher standard.

James 3:1 1  Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment.

The Old Testament priests were not to touch a dead body. When Jesus came, He raised dead bodies. The Old Testament priest was to take every precaution to avoid contact with those who were defiled. Jesus would touch the defiled and make them whole!

As Christians, we are a royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:5, 9). Therefore, we are called to be distinct from the world around us. We offer holy, acceptable offerings (Romans 12:1). The Old Testament priest was distinguished with a unique anointing oil and priestly garments. As Christians, we have a special anointing, the Holy Spirit, and we are clothed with the righteousness of Christ and the garments of His praise-worthiness.

In Leviticus 21:16-24, we read that those with bodily defects were not to offer sacrifices. Was God being unfairly discriminating when He said that handicapped people were disqualified from offering sacrifices? We must remember that the offerings and the offeror in the Tabernacle were representatives of the perfect offering and the perfect High Priest to come- the Lord Jesus Christ. Just as God demanded that no defect or blemish be found in the animal offering, the priests were also to be without noticeable defect in order to best fulfill the typology of what was required. Although the handicapped among the Levites could not serve as offerors, they were not treated with disrespect or abandoned. They were fully supported with full protection and food from the sacrifices. They still performed essential services in the Tabernacle.

Regarding marriage, the High Priest had to marry a virgin. He could not marry a widow, a divorcee, or a harlot. Why? Because he was a type of Christ. The High Priest could only marry a virgin because the church is to be presented to Christ as a chaste virgin (2 Corinthians 11:2).

NEW TESTAMENT READING:  MARK 9:1-29

THE TRANSFIGURATION

Jesus had 12 disciples, but there were three who had greater access to Him. We might consider them the inner circle- Peter, James, and John. They were among the first called (Mark 1:16-19) and we find them privileged with unique opportunities to witness important events that the remaining nine missed.  Peter, James, and John would have leadership responsibilities after Jesus’ ascension and would author important parts of the New Testament. It is likely that with this knowledge they had greater depth in their training.

When Jesus took Peter, James, and John to the mountaintop with Him, they were treated with a special preview of the glory that Jesus will have in His second coming. His face and clothing were radiant beyond anything of human description. They also had a privileged viewing of Moses and Elijah conversing with Jesus. We learn from Luke’s account that they are discussing how His appointed sacrifice at Calvary would fulfill what had been spoken in the Law (represented by Moses) and the Prophets (represented by Elijah). How the ministry of Christ superseded the ministry of the Law and the Prophets was underscored by the cloud that overshadowed them and the voice coming out from the cloud saying, “This is my beloved Son, listen to Him” (Mark 9:7).

Jesus was clearly not a reincarnation of Moses or Elijah. He is the One that both the Law and the Prophets spoke of. He surpasses them in authority and power.

JESUS HEALS THE BOY WITH THE UNCLEAN SPIRIT

The disciples were not able to exorcise a boy who was thrown into convulsions and made mute by demons. Jesus implies that their faith was not rightly placed in God with Whom all things are possible. The boy’s father asks Jesus to help him “if he can do anything”. Jesus replies, “All things are possible for one who believes” (Luke 9:23).

 Jesus commands the mute and deaf spirit to come out of him and never enter him again. He later told the disciples. “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.” (9:29). This should encourage us all to maintain a vital prayer life with God that we may never forget that all things are possible with Him!

TODAY’S READING IN THE BOOK OF PSALMS

PSALM 43 

Verse 3 is a continual prayer request: “Send forth Your Light and Your Truth”!

TODAY’S READING IN PROVERBS

Proverbs 10:18 18  He who conceals hatred has lying lips, And he who spreads slander is a fool.

PRAY FOR THE NATIONS- AZERBAIJAN

Azerbaijan is located at the crossroads of Eastern Europe and Western Asia. The country became the first democratic Muslim State in 1918. In 1920 it was incorporated into the Soviet Union and in 1991 the modern republic of Azerbaijan proclaimed its independence on August 30 shortly before the dissolution of the USSR.

89% of the population is Shia Muslim, although the constitution does not declare Islam as the official religion and the major political forces are secularist. 

Azerbaijan remains a politically volatile nation. The conflict with Armenia remains unresolved, with both sides manipulating the suffering of many for their own advantage. Regional tensions – involving Russia and its southern republics, Turkey, Georgia, Iran and with NATO – complicate matters further. Azerbaijani military spending is at an all-time high, and no long-term solution to any problem has been found, with most players being intransigent on key issues. Pray for stability and a genuine will to make peace in and around Azerbaijan.

Pray for the impact of:

  1. a) Christian literature. There is a quickly growing collection of Christian books in Azeri (more than 100, with another 20-30 in progress), the majority of them published unofficially. Pray for this vital and strategic work. There are a couple of Christian bookstores in Baku.
  2. b) Bible translation. The Azeri Bible is available in both North and South Azeri, and the NT in audio format for North Azeri. Translation needs are most keenly felt among the minority Caucasus languages.
  3. c) Christian radio/audio. There is a notable lack of radio programs in Azeri. This is a matter for prayer, both for program development and for stations from which to broadcast. Christian audio programs on cassette/CD are available in 12 languages through GRN. Increasing numbers of worship songs are being written and released in Azeri musical genres and language.

PRAYER: Father, our heart-cry is that You send forth Your light and Your truth. As Your Spirit-quickened Word enlightens our understanding, give us the grace to act accordingly, that our lives would be fruitful and pleasing to You. Thank You for setting us apart in Christ, clothing us in His righteousness and anointing us with Your Holy Spirit that as believer-priests we would be to the praise of Your glory!  In Jesus Name, our Savior and our God. Amen

Pastor David