An Amazing Gift (Leviticus 26-27)

Monday, August 29

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By Rebecca Dauksas

I have a family member with a birthday coming up next week. I have already bought and wrapped the gifts.  Of course, the purpose of giving a gift allows us to tell that person that they are special, that they are loved, appreciated, remembered,…

God is definitely a Giver.  After all He showed us His love by giving us His only begotten Son. He gives us so much including life. He offers us so many gifts in the present and in the life to come.

In Leviticus 26 God offered the people His blessings for their obedience.  If they obeyed Him, He would have provided what they needed. He would have given them prosperity and peace. He would have given them victory even when others attacked them.  They would also have received the ultimate gift of His presence. He said to them, “I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be my people.” Leviticus 26:12

Just as blessings and rewards motivate us to do what is right, consequences also motivate us to avoid wrong. God presents a very graphic description of the consequences of rejecting Him to His people. Sadly, this description reads like a history book for the Israelites. Thankfully, God granted the Israelites the gifts of grace and forgiveness after the punishments of their disobedience.  But hold on a minute, we have another gift from God.  He gives us the gift of the text we are studying because we can learn from their example.  We do not want to follow in their footsteps. Yes, the Israelites were taken back and used by God, but many individuals as we have been discovering are missing out on the blessings in the meantime.  They are missing the blessings because they are rejecting the One that wants to bless them.  In this chapter we see so clearly, what happens as a result of rejecting God. And even though we can receive forgiveness for our sin, it is so much better to choose God in the first place. Choosing God results in His blessings!  Sure there will still be all the hardships we go through in this fallen world, but we can lean into our God.  We can rely on His Promise that He will be with us and be our God. That is an amazing gift!

 

 

 

 

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In the Lord’s Presence (Leviticus 24-25)

Sunday, August 28 – Start of Week 6

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By Rebecca Dauksas

What a contrast we have going on in the Hebrew camp in Leviticus chapter 24!

God is explaining what is required to honor Him through priestly worship.  We visualize the tent of meeting and the priest in charge of the oil lamps. We can imagine the light radiating as Aaron tends the lamps on this golden lampstand continually throughout the night.

This huge, extraordinary lampstand with its seven lamps would light up the table of pure gold. I imagine the showbread and the smell of the incense placed beside the two stacks of bread. Each Sabbath the bread was set out on behalf of the Israelites, as a lasting covenant. Aaron and his sons would eat it in the sanctuary because it was a most holy part of their share of the food offerings presented to the Lord. I imagine the awesome communion with God in this very special place.

 

Yet outside a fight broke out in the camp. An Israelite was fighting with a son of an Israelite mother and an Egyptian father. The son of the Israelite woman blasphemed the Name with a curse. The just punishment for blasphemy of the Name of God was the death penalty.  This man chose to insult God and he suffered the consequences.

The Hebrews had a choice, just like we do. They could chose obedience or disobedience, right or wrong, to go God’s way or their way.  God was giving instructions (even including holidays of joyous festivals) and showing His presence to everyone in the camp.  One man chooses to insult Him, but others choose to learn of Him. We are also choosing to learn of Him as we move through the scriptures.  We can look to God, spend time with Him, learn His requirements for our lives and make our relationship with Him our top priority.  We can throw ourselves into God’s work and be followers of Christ. His promise for us doing this is His Love and Blessing!

 

Priestly Purity – and Then – it’s Time to Celebrate (Leviticus 21-23)

Saturday, August 27

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Priestly purity is the topic of the first two chapters today.  As priests of the Most High their job was to represent God to the people as well as representing the people before God.  It wasn’t a job to be taken lightly.  It wasn’t enough to just belong to the right tribe (of Levi – thus the name of the book – Leviticus).  It wasn’t enough to be part of Aaron’s family within that tribe. It wasn’t even enough to follow all the laws given to the Israelites.   For, besides following all the rules for the Israelites, the priests also were committed to following a higher standard with additional rules for themselves, who they can marry, and how they will serve.  As we all know: with great power comes great responsibility.

And then (1,000 plus years later) there was Jesus.  He became the high priest and his believers became the royal priesthood – representing God to the world.  And still today: with great power comes great responsibility.   How are you handling the power?  Who will you represent God to today?   What will you do and say to be His agent in the world?  How will you hold yourself up to a higher standard than those around you?   What responsibilities are you ready to take on for the Almighty?

But, just when this representing is starting to sound like a lot of work . . . we hit the Time to Celebrate Chapter – #23.  As it turns out, God has designed his children (and representatives) to work BEST with regularly built in days to rest (Sabbaths come once a week) as well as special holidays to celebrate blessings and harvests, to remember God’s faithfulness throughout history, to offer sacrifices to God, to take a break from work, and to feast!  Some of these holidays were a week long!   One of the week long celebrations God created seems to look a whole lot like a camping trip to me – which is one of my family’s favorite ways to relax and remember God’s goodness in His beautiful outdoors.  The Festival of Tabernacles was a week spent in “temporary shelters” to remember how God took the Israelites out of Egypt and into the wilderness and provided for them on their way to the Promised Land.  God had this holiday planned even before they reached the Promised Land and their permanent homes.  I think it is neat that even back then there was benefit  and Godly gain from “getting away from it all”.  How can you “work in” some of these important aspects of holidays and festivals – to celebrate God’s goodness and faithfulness while taking a break from your regular work, while offering sacrifices and feasting?   I like the vacation plan for God’s representatives!  And then, with recharged batteries and a heart full of wonder and thankfulness to a Great Big God who supplies all the needs of every generation of believers past, present and future – let’s get to work again.  We have an Awesome God to represent!

Thank you for reading this week as we have worked through most of Leviticus together!  I pray you receive His blessings as you continue to dig in and seek His wisdom and way.  God’s Word is Great – because He Is!
Marcia Railton

Who Do You Follow? (Leviticus 18-20)

Friday, August 26

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Today’s reading (and perhaps all of Leviticus) are well summed up by the first 5 verses of Chapter 18.  “The Lord said to Moses, ‘Speak to the Israelites and say to them, “I am the Lord your God.  You must not do as they do in Egypt, where you used to live, and you must not do as they do in the land of Canaan, where I am bringing you.  Do not follow their practices.  You must obey my laws and be careful to follow my decrees.  I am the Lord your God.  Keep my decrees and laws, for the man who obeys them will live by them.  I am the Lord.”

Did you notice that in these 5 verses one phrase is repeated three times.  In fact, it will be repeated about 22 times in Chapters 18 and 19, and will be scattered throughout the rest of Leviticus.  “I am the Lord – your God.”  Did God really think the Israelites needed that many reminders about who is God?

Might it be that we today need just as many reminders?  Do I get caught up following the practices of others, rather than the laws of God?  Too often do I merely go along with what my neighbors, classmates, co-workers, countrymen, social media friends around me are doing, rather than being careful to follow the Lord’s commands?  Do I question the Lord’s laws, choices and actions?  Do I think I have a better way?  Do I forget that it is the Lord who is God?  How would you fill in the blank:  “You must not do as they do in ________.  Do not follow their practices.  You must obey my laws and be careful to follow my decrees.”  God warned the Israelites that they must not do what they did in Egypt (where they had come from) and they must not do what they do in Canaan (where they were going).  Rather, they were to be a separate, called-out people devoted to him.  Where and when do you need to be extra cautious and aware of the influences around you that are pulling you in directions away from God’s leading?

The lists of laws with “I am the Lord your God” interspersed regularly reminded me of a parent answering a child’s questions about why they need to follow their parent’s rules.  “Because I said so, and I am your parent.”  So true, so true.  God doesn’t even wait for his children to start asking the questions.  Right along with the rules comes the explanation, over and over again.  We would be wise to remember – “He is the Lord our God.”   And he knows best.

Who Will You Follow Today?  What will it look like?
Marcia Railton

Gross – and Great – in 3 Chapters (Leviticus 15-17)

Thursday, August 25
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When my kids go off to school, I have a home daycare and preschoolers invade the house.  Recently I was babysitting four preschoolers – three of whom were potty-training at the same time.  So, I do have some experience with bodily discharges (the topic of Chapter 15).   I found myself saying all sorts of things I never imagined I would need to say about not touching this or that or sitting here or there.  It was for very good reason that we removed the bathroom rug for several months.   And, there was no limit to the amount of times I made them wash their cute little hands – hands which didn’t even look dirty to them.  As naïve children, my preschoolers failed to see the dangers of unclean habits and the reasons and ways for cleaning themselves.   The Israelites had similar issues.  And, might we, too – at least when it comes to spiritual cleanliness?

Perhaps it is said best in Leviticus 15:31: “You must keep the Israelites separate from things that make them unclean, so they will not die in their uncleanness for defiling my dwelling place, which is among them.”  Our God is STILL a holy, CLEAN God who dwells among us and requires us to be clean to come into His presence.  Strive for purity (In your thoughts, words, attitudes, motives and actions).  When you “mess yourself” – realize the danger and harm of your sin.  Instead of making excuses – take the needed steps for cleansing.  Jesus Christ offers the best spiritual sanitizer possible.

Chapter 16 gives detailed directions for the yearly Day of Atonement – when “atonement (reconciliation) is to be made once a year for all the sins of the Israelites.” (16:34).  This will be the sacred time when the High Priest enters the Most Holy Place, and in addition to sin offerings and burnt offerings (which were also done regularly throughout the year) – a scapegoat will be released into the desert.  Wikipedia defines scapegoating as, “the practice of singling out any party for unmerited negative treatment or blame”.  Sure sounds just like what would be awaiting the Son of God so many years later.

In Chapter 17 – where the eating of blood is forbidden – we see yet another foreshadowing of Jesus’ purpose (atonement) and means to the end (death).  Verse 11 says, “For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the alter; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life.”

We are dirty, sinful people – just as God’s people have been all through history.  Realize the danger of your unclean habits (sins).  Be sanitized.  Thank God He has made a way for us to be purified and reconciled to Him.   Thank you, Jesus, for being the scapegoat and the perfect sacrifice so we can come before The Almighty!

Marcia Railton

More Hats for the Priests (Leviticus 12-14)

Wednesday, August 24

Not Another One!

 

Great job hanging in there – after today we are more than half way done with Leviticus.  It hasn’t been too painful, has it?

Leviticus 12 is a short chapter dealing with purification after childbirth.  I wonder if this was a step towards creating “maternity leave” for mothers who had just given birth.

We see a few more job descriptions added for our busy priests in Leviticus 13 & 14.  First, the priest adds the hats of dermatologist and health inspector.  Anyone with a skin irregularity (swelling, rash, spot, sore, raw flesh, boil, burn, itch) was required to be inspected by the priest.  At first it seemed odd that the only ailments listed were skin related.  However, with the absence of internal medicine (no heart surgeons in the ancient days), I suppose that makes a lot of sense.  And, as webMD says, “Your skin can be a window to your underlying health.”  Since they didn’t have google to consult, what a relief that the priest could answer any question about that irritating itch or red rash you or your family member or neighbor developed.  If it was found to be an infectious disease (or needed time to tell), the patient was sent to live in isolation – for the sake of the health of the whole community.  As I was typing this  . . . my husband actually asked me about a small bump on his finger.  So, straight to the good book I went.  I don’t think he will have to live in isolation just yet . . . but we will keep an eye on it for sure!

The priest also acted as clothing and housing inspector.  He would examine mildew and test it to determine if it could be washed away or if it was more of a destructive mildew.  If it was a destructive mildew growing on a piece of clothing or leather or walls of a home – the item would be destroyed.

Some thoughts to ponder for today . . .
Is there a connection between physical health and spiritual health?
Do you find it easier to discuss your physical health or your spiritual health?  Where do you feel more fit right now?  What needs some adjustments?
What roles/hats do we expect a pastor to perform/wear for us today?

 
Back with more Leviticus tomorrow,
Marcia Railton

Do what the Lord requires! (Leviticus 8-11)

Tuesday, August 23

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We begin our day’s reading with 2 chapters which provide a detailed depiction of the ordination ceremony for Aaron and his sons.  They were chosen by God to act as the priests for the people.  It was a huge honor and responsibility.  Their ordination and the start of their ministry was an 8 day affair with Moses giving directions from God, and Aaron and his sons carefully following each of the instructions.

In 8:35 Moses tells Aaron and sons, “You must stay at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting day and night for seven days and do what the Lord requires, so you will not die”  (perhaps a bit of foreshadowing there?).   And in 9:6, “Then Moses said, ‘This is what the Lord has commanded you to do, so that the glory of the Lord may appear to you.”  Both of these verses give different reasons for obeying God’s instructions – so you will not die, and so God’s glory may appear to you.

In Chapter 10 two of Aaron’s sons, the newly appointed priests (Nadab and Abihu) receive the penalty of death by fire from the Lord for offering,  “unauthorized fire before the Lord, contrary to his command.” (10:1)   Perhaps their pride had already led them astray (“Hey, look at us, God made us priests, we are HOT stuff”).  Perhaps they were mixing clean and unclean,  holy and common (trying to call holy something that wasn’t).  Or perhaps they just thought they had a better way of doing things . . . but . . . they didn’t.  God is God and we are not.  And perhaps it was this very idea that God was teaching his children when Aaron and remaining sons were told to not mourn but to carry on with their priestly duties while the rest of Israel did the mourning.

I know it all seems harsh to us, but it also reminds me of a teacher at the start of a new school year.  The teacher sets the rules (and knows why they are good rules, even when the students sometimes don’t).  The wise teacher will enforce the rules with the set consequences early on in the school year.  If the students see the teacher means business, order and learning are much more likely to occur throughout the rest of the year.  God had given the rules and set the consequences and clearly stated the reasons to obey.  Nadab and Abihu were either intentionally pushing the limits (deliberate sin), or blisslessly ignorant (unintentional sin), or just thought they had a better way.  Whatever the case, they (and the Israelites) saw that God means business.

Following the death, the Lord speaks to Aaron and says, “You MUST distinguish between the holy and the common, between the unclean and the clean, and you MUST teach the Israelites all the decrees the Lord has given them.” (10:10).  Thankfully, our merciful God does not always strike with fire . . . but we know he is right when he does, he can, he has and he most definitely will again.

 
What has God been commanding you to do lately?  How are you doing in following his directions?  What reasons do you have for obeying God?   Any excuses for disobeying – or doing it your own way?   Are you perhaps missing out on seeing his glory because you are not being fully obedient? Any unholy things in your life that you are keeping around when they ought to be tossed?   Are there any areas of your life where you have tried to tell God you have a “better way”?   Any danger areas that need to be resolved – NOW?

– Marcia Railton