Category: Leviticus


Day 53 Read it

Day 53 Leviticus 26-27

Day 52 Leviticus 24-25

Hokey Pokey

Day 51 Leviticus 22-23

  It’s so fun to be doing this study with such a random group of people.. tied together through bonds made in different circumstances.. some from my distant childhood church, others I’ve never met but feel such close ties to because we’ve adopted children from the same orphanage and have prayed with one another through our separate journeys.  Some I don’t know at all before we started this, they are friends of friends of friends… Some I know quite well, my brother, my mother, and my mother in law.  This rag-tag group of people  is tied together simply by the desire to  read the bible in a year.  About once a week I look over the groups names and faces, all 116 of you (that blows me away) and I pray for you and thank God we can have this connection. I need them, without them, left to try this on my own, this study would have long since been forgotten, but because I offered to post the links daily, I know they need me and so I have been able to stay on task… the fruits of this labor greatly outweighs any burden.  This is because reading at the same time as others spawns the most amazing conversations.  Fellowship, ahh.  We were ment to talk and discover this together were we not?

   One of the most eye-opening conversations this week was with my Mother-in-law.  She worried she was being sacrilegious because as she slowly made her way through some description of an atonement ceremony she thought to herself: you rub the blood on the earlobe, the big toe, you do the hokey pokey and you turn yourself around, that’s what it’s all about.  I burst out laughing… but some thing clicked in my brain: What is all this about?  Stumbling across Psalm 119 yesterday really opened my eyes.  I don’t think when these instructions were being given the Israelites felt burdend by them.. like the author of the Psalm they delighted in the law… WHY?  because it drew them closer to God.  The heart of the matter is the HEART. It’s  the genuine desire to want to be near Him.  God is pure and he offered a path to purity to the Israelites through deliberate devotion to the law.  How do I then justify all  the labeling of unclean, death, and banishment.  Wow that’s tough for me to determine, but I think Israel was in the business of being God’s chosen people in mind, body,  heart and soul. You were either in or you were out. Without your heart being in it, the difficulty you met trying to follow these laws would be insurmountable.. but if you genuinely desired that closeness to God, my mind is beginning to understand SOME of what this is all about.

    Most importantly how does all this apply to me today?  In 1 Peter 2:4-5 it says” As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him— 5 you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”  So even though actual sacrifices are not taking place because of Christ’s sacrifice no sacrifice for sin is left, we still need to offer spiritual sacrifice in life as Christians.  Beth Moore puts it this way:  “God delights in the spiritual sacrifices of our praise (Heb. 13:15), our “temples” (Romans 12:1) and our faith (Philippians 2:17)”  It’s still about the heart!! With what attitude do we come to God, praise, thankfulness and comfort? Do we come to God as the single most important source of wisdom and comfort?  Our failures in life are usually a sign that we forgot to give God our whole heart… and like the sacrifices offered in the tabernacle we need to offer our spiritual sacrifices daily, again and again, rejoicing in the opportunity to be able to do so.  Am I offering Him praise in all of life’s circumstances?  Am I being a good temple of God?  Do I replace my anxiety with faith in Him?  The answers to those questions is and always has been what it’s all about… perhaps not the hokey pokey though.

Day 50 (wow!)

Day 50 Leviticus 19-21

Oh Leviticus.. you have offered NO help. Today of all days I needed words of encouragement and you had few. I’m going to skip on over to a few Psalms and dwell there a little while..

update.. I dialed in Psalms 119, and started reading and had to grin… The author was praising God for God’s law… too funny.    Ok, ok, perhaps I need to think more about how to “delight in God’s law” a bit more.  It was interesting how much the author really did appreciate The law, food for thought for sure.

Levitical Chit Chat

Day 49 Leviticus 16-18

I felt a lot of  trepidation when I started reading Leviticus.. but I have to say the conversations this book has spawned has been pretty cool.  One day off of the group page (we couldn’t comment on the group for some reason that day)  My brother, a childhood friend and i really got into a great talk over what we were struggling with while reading this particular book of the bible.   They said I could repost our conversations here, after I asked because I just really grooved off of what all we were almost casually chit chatting about:

My little bro, “Haven’t gotten there yet but I remember Aaron’s sons get killed because they messed up something with incense? It’s been a few years. Last time I read this book I thought God might be an alien who crash-landed in the middle-east and start…ed making up rules to keep his “subjects” busy…yes, lay your hands upon the head of the and for some reason the fat around the entrails is important. The tabernacle must have lots of fancy stuff…LOTS of fancy stuff. Entrails and fancy stuff is important. If you mess up and get purple drapes instead of Chartreuse, God will kill you. ok I’ll stop, but expect a few more rants until we hit Joshua.”

Me: “It’s a bit of a struggle for me too… I have to think after years of slavery they must have needed something like this. There is a rhyme and a reason and I’m trying my best to unearth some of it, but the problem is it’s so old I don’t think many people know for sure the why to much of this… that doesn’t mean there can’t be application and significance to us today.
Nadab and Abihu used “unauthorized’ coals to light the fire under the altar of incense… they were only allowed to uses the coals from the other altar.. the altar of sacrifice. There is only two fires burning in the tabernacle (I think) So where and why they got these other coals I have no idea… I almost think it was intentional. “God can’t be THAT specific, Moses is making half this stuff up… Lets test this.. Er oops.” FLAMES of DEATH.
I don’t think of it as God being mean, more like God’s perfect presence equals death to imperfect humans without an intercessor. The sacrifice and the priests (Aaron and his sons) were Israel’s intercessor… and it was clearly a dangerous job… the details were for the protection of the priests. To us today all the ritual could be perceived as useless clutter between us a God but to them back then it was their only means to God. Jesus ripped that vail in two. through Leviticus I’m finding the need for jesus’ death becoming clearer and clearer. however we’ve got a long way to go.. It’s the Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy ugg.. We can do this!!”

 
Little Bro: ” I’ll be there for the duration, but it reminds me that the old testament is called “old” for a reason. We are so distant from this type of worship that it makes no sense, and God comes across as a pissed-off regulator of cultural norms/trad…itions, instead of the existential being I was taught about. As an universalist, this isn’t a huge deal, but for anyone who believes the bible is the unequivocal TRUTH, it might sting a bit. This is a history of a culture, warts and all. I will try to stay politely silent until we get to the history portions. JOB is my favorite so far.”
 
Childhood buddy, ” I have to say, I appreciate both of your insights because I tend to lean toward K’s take. Sheesh. Harsh stuff. But I appreciated your/Beth’s analysis, E. Those were dangerous jobs – but I just don’t understand why the rules had to be so intense and (at least in 21st century eyes) bizarre. I have a hard time even understanding, much less keeping all these rules and directions straight! If I was Aaron’s son, I could totally imagine accidentally breaking a rule (not trying to test one) – if you know what I mean. What do they say about kids? Try giving them a three-part assignment (Go to the closet, get two shoes and put them on the table.) and their ability to follow that “layered” assignment shows a certain level of maturity. These are MULTI-layered assignments and, truly, I don’t know how well I’d perform… (p.s. wouldn’t the altar stink after all that blood is splattered on it over and over??)”
 
Little bro: ”  Tell me if this is right or not: Example of reform. Jesus flipping-out and turning over tables because they were selling pigeons at a holy site. They had turned a true sacrifice ritual into a corner-store bargain and shat all over the purpose of the ritual itself, so he was pissed off (I guess). I also thought if someone would actually recreate the tabernacle it would be extremely expensive…have you seen/heard of anyone recreating it? Seems like the specs are pretty specific, but there’s lots of gold and silver/bronze involved. My guesstimate is 5 million bucks. Good luck, tabernacle-people, wherever you are.”
 
Me: ”  I’ve seen pictures of recreations but the lamp stand alone consists of enough gold the modern-day cost would be in the billions. Egypt was certainly plundered!! I keep thinking about how the tabernacle just made the Israelites a walking target. that much gold in one spot would be really tempting.. and the Israelites had even more .. a few days ago when they were offering the supplies for the tabernacle they had to be told to stop.
my issues with rituals is eventually the ritual looses its spiritual aspect or the ritual itself becomes worshiped or like KJ pointed out it becomes corrupted. Look at me second guess God.. I’ve got one more, why did it take another 1500 years for Christ? Why no Christ in the desert? I know there is value in the answer to that question, that’s the only reason i ask it.”
 
   Then a few days later…
Childhood buddy, “I just keep thinking about what you said the other day, E, about “Why didn’t Jesus come during this time?” when people were in this position of making such ceremonious offerings/sacrifices/repentance for things they’ve done that go all the way down to physical ills. I think people were asked to give up things personal to themselves (doves, lambs, etc.) to make their sin hit home and when God saw that wasn’t cuttin’ it (wasn’t convincing people that he was the way, the truth and the life and they needed to let go of their sinfulness) He provided the ultimate sacrifice. Brilliant really. I for one am much more aware and appreciative of the sacrifices OTHERS make on my behalf than I am when I make a minor sacrifice for my own wellbeing.”

rash

Day 48 Leviticus 14-15

The irony didn’t hit me till just now but I actually read todays verses on my phone while sitting in the examination room of the allergists… he had this strange plastic arm he kept waving around that had all these different kinds of rashes on it and all I could think was UNCLEAN, UNCLEAN!

Clean and Unclean

Day 47 Leviticus 11-13

I had a great muslim friend a couple of years ago.. I know what’s clean and unclean to her is a bit different but Man Oh Man did she take that seriously..  Dogs were a huge issue, she was so worried for me because my home housed a dog.  Once the dog got out while we were out front and my friend ran into the street right in front of a car to get away from my dog.  Another time she made food for me made from Kosher lamb.. talked and talked about how bad eating blood was for me and wanted to know if my lamb was the best meat I’d ever tasted.  Her Can’ts in life seemed so many to me.  I’m thinking the same thing as I read this.  Shrimp taste good, pork chops are yummy… better than grasshoppers.  Verse 11:44 God says “…be holy because I am holy…” My NIV study bible goes on to say “Israel was to be totally consecrated to God. Her holiness was to be expressed in every aspect of her life, to the extent that all of life had a certain ceremonial quality to it.”  Well that’s a pleasant way of putting it.  I’m doing X,Y and Z to be closer to God because he told me to.  Enough said right?  Almost… I think being a Christian and living in Christ is what’s tripping me up.  It’s not about what I do to get to God it’s about what He did that allows me access.  My Holiness IS still a factor but no longer the requirement.

Unauthorized Fire

Day 46 Leviticus 8-10 

What’s up with the unauthorized fire that zapped Nadab and Abihu?! Once again this corresponded well with my Beth Moore study on the tabernacle.. she said, “the only coals that could be used to keep the altar of incense perpetually burning were those taken firm the altar of sacrifice… Now we can see the perfect line between the two altars in the tabernacle of testimony: the only coals that could heat the incense to make it a fragrant offering were those on which the blood of sacrifice had been spilled… Fragrant offering was possible only on the basis of sacrafice…we never have the right to simply chat with God. No matter how spiritual we become we will never have the right to lift even the most pious prayers to God.  Only Christ has that right.  He must intercede with our every word before the throne of grace.  Only after we have met Him at the altar of sacrifice are we eligible for petition, praise, and worship at the altar of incense.”  leave it to Beth to make sense of what makes me go ” Uh…What?!”

Here is what I really zeroed in on… What is unauthorized fire today?  An attempt to worship God through any other means than through Jesus.  This just breathed life into what I commonly add to the end of prayers;  In Christ’s name I pray.  Am I going to be consumed by fire by God for messing this up?  No but Beth put it well when she said, “it can indeed cause the momentary death of communication with the Almighty.”  When I feel as though I can’t hear God, it might be a good indicator to relook how I am approaching Him…  Lord, I thank you for your Son.  As I struggle through this book I am reminded of how much I needed Him and continue to need Him.  Again I am humbled and confused by your Holy perfection.  I have been trying to create You in my image and struggle with the disparity between what I think You should be and what You really are.  You are loving and sufficient, but also perfect and holy… not as a means to separate Yourself from us, for you Sent your Son to bridge that gap, but You are perfect and holy because that is who You are.  Help me to wrap my brain around that.

Candy Wrappers

Day 45 Leviticus 5-7

When you mention reading the bible in a year it’s Leviticus that everyone says might trip you up or stop you in your tracks.  Knowing this I’ve been doing a lot of additional research into the meaning and purpose of the book in an attempt to help alleviate this general feeling of “Er.. WHAT?!”   It really hasn’t helped much… I tried to read about the rituals described in todays verses over a bowl of breakfast cereal and found that eating  breakfast and Leviticus don’t mix well.  What is up with all this bloodshed of unblemished perfect goats and sheep?!  This sweet little Christian girl is having issues with the ritualistic gore.  My God asked for THIS?!  Killing an animal for meat is one thing, killing and burning the entire animal  seems so foreign, wrong almost.  Heaven help the county fair blue ribbon lamb back then.. she won’t even get to be lamb chops (suddenly I have this image of Rhonda and Vicky’s county fair lambs with pink painted hooves).  There is so much ritual between man and God… when today all I have to do is call out his name and he’s THERE.  Am I being sacrilegious  questioning all this?  Is this proof of my lack of knowledge as a Christian?  No It just highlights how much of my relationship with my Creator I’ve taken for granted. 

    Leviticus for me is an opportunity to take stock of what I truly have in Christ.  The laws God sets up with Moses have many purposes but one overshadows them all.. It clearly highlights the desperate need for a Messiah.  The word that every commentator mentions in juxtaposition to Leviticus is holiness.  It is God’s ultimate holiness and our lack of it that separates us.  The shedding of the blood closed that gap so that man and God could have that relationship. Ritual sacrifice was acknowledging that we missed the mark when it came to holiness.  Yes the goats, the lambs and the birds were innocent… More so was Jesus.  Daily the Israelites saw the sacrifices die for their sins.  Once did Christ die for mine.  .  . and I was not there to witness it.   How does that get processed in my brain differently?

   I remember reading in a cheesy magazine that to help limit the amount of candy you eat you should buy smaller packaged pieces of candy.  As you eat the candy leave the wrappers out to remind you of what you’ve eaten.. at the moment I have a small empty M&M  package and a small empty Nerds candy box I stole from my boys’ Valentine’s booty.  If I eat any more I’ll get REALLY sick and so the wrappers sit by the computer to remind me of what I’ve already consumed.  The trash can is two feet to my right. and here the wrappers sit.  What the heck does this have to do with ritual animal sacrifice and Jesus?!  Ok, so hear me out.   perhaps the Israelites were lucky in a way because they had a better understanding of just how big the gulf was between them and God.  The sacrifices served as a daily reminder of that, while I who live in daily communion with God tend to take the ultimate sacrifice of Crist for granted. My sin tends to take a backseat, and my gratitude for such sin’s forgiveness is a bit wimpy as a Christian.  Is there room in my heart for the harsh and strange things described in Leviticus?  As I read each and every detail of what it took to be atoned for our sins, I think of Christ and his atonement for my sins.  it’s not a guilt thing.. more of an appreciation thing. 

  Leviticus is hard work for me to read, all the more room for me to be moved and changed by it.   Thank you Lord for your ultimate sacrifice.  Your Holiness is incomprehensible to me…I think there is value in being reminded of that.  Your Love is the ultimate and most perfect love.

Day 44 Leviticus 1-4

Since I called attention to Hebrews 8 and 9 while digesting the concept of the tabernacle my friend Laura  told me about  this youtube video… It’s profound to hear this while reading Leviticus.. Ryan Ferguson has a new fan today.