Archive for : February, 2018

2/18/2018 Leviticus Chapters 16-18

Often as I read I have to go back to basics.  Like — in Leviticus Chapter 16 what is the meaning of the word atonement?  The dictionary definition is:

  • reparation for a wrong or injury. “she wanted to make atonement for her husband’s behavior.
  • (in religious contexts) reparation or expiation for sin.  An annual ceremony of confession and atonement for sin”
  • Christian Theology
    the reconciliation of God and humankind through Jesus Christ.
    noun: Atonement; noun: the Atonement

    This definition certainly helps me understand Leviticus Chapter 16.  Through the ceremony Aaron was to not only making amends for the wrong his family had committed (reparation) but also for the sins of the Israelites.  The ceremony was to be repeated each year.

This annual ceremony is no longer needed as we have been graced with a sacrifice that lasts for an eternity.  Reading from 1 John 2:2:

He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.

2/17/2018 — Leviticus Chapters 14-15

As I read through these chapters on cleansing from “skin diseases” I was reminded of a New Testament passage, Matthew 8:3-4 — Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately he was cleansed of his leprosy. Then Jesus said to him, “See that you don’t tell anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.

Jesus wanted the healed man to be obedient to the Law of Moses.

This, then reminded me of another reason we need to remain in God’s entire word.  Remember that in Matt 5:17-18 Christ stated:  Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.”

Due to God grace we are no longer under the Law of Moses.  But to better understand Christ’s mission should we not at least be familiar with the the fundamentals of the Law?

2/16/2018 Leviticus Chapters 11-13

As we read from Chapter 11 until roughly Chapter 15 we will see commandments on how the Nation was to remain “clean” by avoiding the eating or touching of certain animals & performing acts of purification.  Now, I had thought that these commandments were established as “sanitary/dietary” hygiene restrictions to keep the people healthy.

But my rationale was shown to be incorrect by several New Testament teachings, including the very words of Jesus from Mark 7:18-19 18 “Are you so dull?” he asked. “Don’t you see that nothing that enters a person from the outside can defile them? 19 For it doesn’t go into their heart but into their stomach, and then out of the body.” (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods clean.)

So, how could food be unsanitary in the Old Testament and then suddenly be OK to eat in the New Testament?

In his commentary James Coffman clarifies the rationale for me when he writes: This definitely ties the whole “clean and unclean” meat question with God’s necessity, for a long period of time, to separate Jews from Gentiles. This undoubtedly means, therefore, that the thing which made one animal clean and another unclean to the Jews was the simple fact that God commanded one to be eaten and the other not to be eaten

As Job learned in answer to his many questions — you may not fully understand all things yet but trust that  “I am God and you are not.”

 

 

2/15/2018 Leviticus Chapters 8-10

Several thoughts entered my mind as I read through these chapters.  First, in Chapter 8 we realize the fulfillment of the instructions given Moses in Exodus 28:3-5 on the details of the clothing that would be used to ordain Aaron.  Moses remained obedient to the Lord’s instructions.

Secondly, In Chapter 9:23  “Moses and Aaron then went into the tent of meeting. When they came out, they blessed the people; and the glory of the Lord appeared to all the people.”  We see the Lord’s approval at the obedience of Aaron, his sons, and the people in providing the offerings for atonement.  The cloud signifying the Lord’s presence was replaced by the very glory of the Lord, Himself.

Lastly, in Leviticus 10:1-2 we see the impact of the non-obedience of Nadab and Abihu.  Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu took their censers, put fire in them and added incense; and they offered unauthorized fire before the Lord, contrary to his command. So fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord.

Our message:  Obedience and non-obedience to the Lord both have consequences.

2/14/2018 Leviticus Chapters 5-7

An element I see in these verses is that the Lord cares for His people, regardless of income.  Take a look at Chapter 5:6-11.  The initial “sin offering” is stated as being a lamb or goat.  However if they cannot afford a lamb the offering can be two doves or pigeons.  If they cannot afford the dove or pigeon the offering can then be the finest flour.

 

2/13/2018 — Leviticus Chapters 1-4

As we prepare to enter the inspired Word of God as written by Moses and recorded in the book of Leviticus, a couple of quick notes:

“The book of Leviticus was the first book studied by a Jewish child; yet is often among the last books of the Bible to be studied by a Christian.” (F. Duane Lindsey)

Chuck Swindoll also writes:  The overall message of Leviticus is sanctification. The book communicates that receiving God’s forgiveness and acceptance should be followed by holy living and spiritual growth. Now that Israel had been redeemed by God, they were to be purified into a people worthy of their God.  In Leviticus we learn that God loves to be approached, but we must do so on His terms.

I share these thoughts because I, personally, have found reading Leviticus to be challenging.  But as Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 “All scripture is breathed out by God …)  And it is our responsibility to read all scripture!

So, what do I see in these first four chapters? — that all offerings brought to the Lord by the Nation were to be “without defect and the finest.    The analogy to us is evident: all that we bring to the Lord — whether it be our service to a fellow believer, our monetary contributions, our support during a worship service must be the very best we can provide.

 

 

2/12/2018 — Exodus Chapters 39-40

What pops-out to me in these verses is the reality that for two Chapters the Israelites did something we have not seen them do very often:

Chapter 39:32  So all the work on the tabernacle, the tent of meeting, was completed. The Israelites did everything just as the Lord commanded Moses.

Chapter 39:42-43   The Israelites had done all the work just as the Lord had commanded Moses. 43 Moses inspected the work and saw that they had done it just as the Lord had commanded. So Moses blessed them.

Chapter 40:16  Moses did everything just as the Lord commanded him

And we see the results of this obedience in Chapter 40:34 “…the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle”  and Chapter 40:49 “So the cloud of the Lord was over the tabernacle by day, and fire was in the cloud by night, in the sight of all the Israelites during all their travels.

I reflect on our promise in Matthew 28:20  “…and surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

 

2/11/2018 — Exodus Chapters 36-38

The description of the building of the tabernacle and all of the implements for worshiping the Lord is quite detailed, as are the talents and skills of the people leading the project.  Reading back in other chapters we see that the contributions of the people were “free will” offerings i.e., everyone who is willing and whose heart moved them” gave.

So, how much did they give? Chapter 38:24-25 tells us that the gold was “29 talents and 730 shekels” and that the silver was “100 talents and 1, 755 shekels.”  Using our measurements this is roughly 1 ton (2000 pounds, or 32,000 ounces) of gold and  3.75 tons (7,500 pounds or  120,000 ounces) of silver.

So, if we ever thought that the tabernacle and its contents were just a “big tent” in today’s dollars this relates to 42 million 720 thousand dollars of gold and 2 million 12 thousand dollars of silver.  And this does not include the cost of the wood and fabric and the number of “person-hours” needed for the construction.

I reflect … the Israelites gave freely and constructed this magnificent structure for the dwelling of the Lord

— and yet, today through the New Covenant and His grace he “lives within my heart.”

2/10/2018 — Exodus Chapters 33-35

Like so many of our readings these chapters contain an abundance of significant material — God’s relationship with Moses; God’s glory; Moses’s wisdom; the return of the Ten Commandments.  But as I read Chapter 33 the verse that captured me this time is Exodus 33:14:  The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”

Two aspects of this verse are incredible to me.  First, the commentator Harry Orlinsky noted that one aspect of this statement is, “My Divine Presence (the [shekinah Glory] will go, namely, I will not send again any angel; I Myself will go.

The second aspect — “I will give thee rest ...” Coffman states “The true “rest” promised here was not the sabbath day, nor even their entry into Canaan, but “that God’s face would lead men to that rest in which unhindered communion and wholeness will become a reality.”

Finally, does this promise sound familiar?  How about the promise of Jesus for believers in Matthew 11:28:  “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

2/9/2018 – Exodus Chapters 30-32

Oh, what differences we see in these chapters — from continued instructions on how the nation of Israel was to worship the Lord (Chapter 30), to the conferring of special gifts to perform this work on Bezalel and Oholiab (Chapter 31) to the utter contempt shown the Lord by the Nation (Chapter 32.) And less we forget Aaron, the one who stood in the presence of God with Moses and was chosen as their priest, neglected his leadership role and, was, instead, lead by the people to participate in this travesty.

Sure Moses had been “away on the mountain” since Chapter 20 but it was only for 40 days and 40 nights (from January 1, 2018 until today)  I can fully relates to the Lord’s initial reaction in Exodus 32: 9-10 (& I would have wanted to do the same:)

“I have seen these people,” the Lord said to Moses, “and they are a stiff-necked people. 10 Now leave me alone so that my anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them. Then I will make you into a great nation.”

Note that the Lord was still going to fulfill His promise to Abraham, Jacob, and Moses to create a “great nation.”  But even more importantly stand in awe of the grace of the Lord following Moses’s plea:

Genesis 32:14: Then the Lord relented and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened.

Moses interceded for the Nation of Israel.  Under the new covenant we are certainly blessed to also have an intercessor who will speak in our behalf before the Lord.

Hebrews 7:25 — “Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.”

 

 

 

2/8/2018 Exodus Chapters 28-29

From an earthly perspective I see a great difference between the topics described in these chapters.  In Chapter 28 we see the making of things of beauty — the priestly garments:  the ephod, the breastpiece, the robe of the ephod, the turban, the tunic, and the linen undergarments.

Then we move into Chapter 29.  We see scenes that are filled with images that to us may appear horrifying:

10 “Bring the bull to the front of the tent of meeting, and Aaron and his sons shall lay their hands on its head. 11 Slaughter it in the Lord’s presence at the entrance to the tent of meeting. 12 Take some of the bull’s blood and put it on the horns of the altar with your finger, and pour out the rest of it at the base of the altar.

15 “Take one of the rams, and Aaron and his sons shall lay their hands on its head. 16 Slaughter it and take the blood and splash it against the sides of the altar.

“Take the other ram, and Aaron and his sons shall lay their hands on its head. 20 Slaughter it, take some of its blood and put it on the lobes of the right ears of Aaron and his sons, on the thumbs of their right hands, and on the big toes of their right feet. Then splash blood against the sides of the altar. 21 And take some blood from the altar and some of the anointing oil and sprinkle it on Aaron and his garments and on his sons and their garments. Then he and his sons and their garments will be consecrated.

I think we need to reflect on the parallels — blood was needed to consecrate (make holy, dedicate to a higher purpose) the priests.

And the blood of the perfect sacrifice, the only Son of God, is needed to make us “holy” and able to stand for eternity in the presence of the Lord.

2/7/2018 Exodus Chapters 25-27

What strikes me as I read these passages describing the tabernacle that will house the Ark of the Covenant is the level of detail that the Lord provided.   While we can read the words of these details artists can help us envision the final results of these instructions.

The following are artist renditions that show the magnificence of the Ark of the Covenant and the size of the tabernacle.  Just envision — each time the Nation Moved all of these had to moved with them.

https://i.pinimg.com/736x/1d/36/39/1d3639499b542a83da512521a1b4a559--create-infographics-the-tabernacle.jpg

2/6/2018 Exodus Chapters 22-24

In Chapter 22 we begin to see the Lord’s detailed instructions for His people.  We will see these instruction embedded in the rest of the chapters of Exodus & continue into Leviticus.

But in addition to the instructions we see the Lord continue to unfold His Story for His people.  In Chapter 23:20-26 we see the Lord sending His angel to “guard you along the way and to bring you to the place I have prepared.”

So, as we read my recommendation is to read all of the details of the Lord’s instructions but to never get so involved into the minutia that we miss the greater theme — the Lord will always care for His people.

2/5/2018 — Exodus Chapters 19-21

In this passage a detail is recorded that I have not really focused on — Exodus 19:24:

24 The Lord replied, “Go down and bring Aaron up with you. But the priests and the people must not force their way through to come up to the Lord, or he will break out against them.

So, not only Moses but also Aaron was physically present when the Lord gave His people His commandments.  How awe inspiring it must have been to stand in the presence of the Lord.  … And, yet, we know that in just a few chapters we will see Aaron, the one who stood in the very presence of God, turn his back on his allegiance to the Lord and, instead follow the people in creating a false idol for worship.

I can almost see Peter in this verse — and his forsaking the Lord three times in response to “pressure” from “the people.”

And I can see and feel the presence of God’s grace in continuing to love us, as believers, when we do the same …

2/4/2018 – Exodus Chapters 16-18

The passages contain an episode that I have often used in teaching leadership skills in the business world.  Exodus 18:17-23 states:

17 Moses’ father-in-law replied, “What you are doing is not good. 18 You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone. 19 Listen now to me and I will give you some advice, and may God be with you. You must be the people’s representative before God and bring their disputes to him. 20 Teach them his decrees and instructions, and show them the way they are to live and how they are to behave. 21 But select capable men from all the people—men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain—and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. 22 Have them serve as judges for the people at all times, but have them bring every difficult case to you; the simple cases they can decide themselves. That will make your load lighter, because they will share it with you. 23 If you do this and God so commands, you will be able to stand the strain, and all these people will go home satisfied.”

Mose’s issue here is universal to us all — he was plain ol’ becoming overworked, taking all of the responsibility for the nation’s following God’s will.  He was failing to instruct the people in what was expected of them by God and then failing to delegate the details of judging the people when needs arose.   In v. 18 Jethro wisely highlighted that when this occurs all parties (Moses and the people) suffer.  So, Moses took the advice of Jethro, teaching and instruction the people and delegating the details after ensuring he had identified “capable men.”   Maintaining responsibility while delegating details is one of the prime traits of a good leader.

Now, another questions entered my mind — Jethro was a pagan priest, most likely worshiping gods called Baal-Peor and Asherah.   So, what do you think since Moses took counsel from a non-believer can we do the same?

My thought — this is certainly acceptable, as longs as we are diligent about weighing this advice vs. God’s will and plans for our lives. After all, as we continue our reading we will see God use pagan nations and pagan rulers to implement his Plan for His people.

02/03/2018 — Exodus 13-15

Following the crossing of the Red Sea and the salvation of the Israelites from the Egyptians we read the “song of Moses” in Chapter 15.  Verses 2 and 11 are two of my favorite verses as they speak to the power of the Lord that He can use to protect us:

“The Lord is my strength and my defense;
    he has become my salvation.
He is my God, and I will praise him,
    my father’s God, and I will exalt him.

11 Who among the gods
    is like you, Lord?
Who is like you—
    majestic in holiness,
awesome in glory,
    working wonders?

 

 

 

 

02/02/18 – Exodus Chapters 10-12

What a magnificent set of chapters on God’s continued Story but most of all His grace.  In these chapters two thoughts emerge.

(1)  In Chapter 12 we see God’s grace for the Israelites unfold at Passover.  (2) But we also see that the Nation had to take actions to receive this grace.  In no way does not mean the grace is “earned;” however the Nation did need to obey.

The same applies to us under the “New Covenant.”  God’s grace is given & not earned but we do need to obey.

02/01/18 Exodus Chapters 7-9

Not unusually for me as I read these chapters a question arose.  In Chapter 7:11 and other passages we see the Egyptian “wise men and sorcerers” apparently mimic several of the miracles performed by Moses — the rods into snakes; the Nile into blood; and the frogs invading the land.  How was this done?

Commentators are pretty well aligned in stating that the sorcerers were empowered by Satan & that Satan had the earthly power to perform these events.  Timothy 3:8 even references these men:

 Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so also these teachers oppose the truth. They are men of depraved minds, who, as far as the faith is concerned, are rejected. But they will not get very far because, as in the case of those men, their folly will be clear to everyone.

Paul reminds us in v.9 that while these men did have power it was limited and that the real truth would be made clear.

A message to me is that Satan existed then, exists today and has power.  We must stay in the Word and always seek the truth and the Truth will be made evident.