Spiritual Rants: February 23 “Cleanliness Is Next To . . .” Readings to read through the Bible in a year: Leviticus 14:1-57 Mark 6:30-56 Psalm 40:1-10 Proverbs 10:11-12

Old Testament:  Leviticus 14:1-57

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Intro:

Again we study leprosy, symbolic of sin.

It shows us what state we’re in.

If a person was healed by a priest he had to be seen.

After offering a couple birds all was then considered again clean.

Leviticus 14:1-57

Leviticus 14: 1- 32  Cleanliness Is Next To . . .

The same as the subject of the last chapter, this chapter is traditionally taken to be about leprosy.  It is possible, however, that the word used throughout the chapter, tsaraath, could refer to many types of skin disease including or not including leprosy.  It could refer to many diseases that cause discoloration or flaking in humans caused by contact with mold or mildew.  Whatever it is, it is symbolic of sin in us.  The disease does not mean necessarily that God is punishing the person, however, if a person is cured, through the means of that day or supernaturally, he or she must be reviewed by a priest and pronounced worthy to re-enter the fellowship of the camp.  It must be determined that the person is not a threat to spread the contagion to others.  This chapter is not a recipe for cleansing a person that has a skin disease.  Rather, it is about the pronouncement of the priest regarding a person who has already been cured.

Notice the priest had to go to the person.  The person is quarantined outside the camp.  The person cannot come to the priest, the priest must go to the person.  This is like Christianity.  We do not go to God “for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3: 23).  Christ must come to us.  This is the difference between Christianity and all religion.  In fact, Christianity is not technically a religion.  A religion is defined as man seeking God and doing what he can to get God’s attention.  In Christianity, God seeks man.  Mankind already has God’s attention.  But we must respond through faith in Christ.

The unclean person must bring two live clean birds (v. 4) as well as a scarlet string and hyssop.  One bird is slain over running water.  The other bird must be dipped into the blood of the first bird along with the cedar wood and the scarlet string and hyssop. The afflicted person must be sprinkled seven times with blood, the live bird being then set free.  After washing and shaving all hair, they were allowed to go back into the camp.

Is it possible that the first bird represents the death of Christ and the second bird the resurrection (cf. 1Cor. 15: 34)?  Yes, it is.  Is it possible that the scarlet represents the blood of Christ (same as the scarlet thread that Rahab put out to save herself in Josh. 2: 21)?  Yes.  Again, the fountain represents the cleansing waters of Christ (cf. Jn. 4: 14).  The person puts on clean clothes.  As Christians, we are to put away our old, dirty selves and put on Christ (Rom. 13:14, “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to [its] lusts”).  (J. Vernon McGee believes that the hyssop may represent our faith – cleanse me with hyssop – Ps. 51: 7 – and the wood may represents Christ in His humanity, you can decide).

We do not seem to take sinning very seriously in our day and age.  Perhaps, if we had to act out what Christ has done as they did in Moses’ times, we would take sin more seriously.

The next paragraph (vv. 10 – 20) contains the normal sacrifices (the sin offering, the burnt offering, and the grain offering)  indicating that the person could now be a normal part of the fellowship.   The last paragraph (vv. 21 – 32) is the normal offering for a poor person.  Do you think if the person’s been outside the camp for a while, he or she might be poor?  God makes provision for the poor.

All humans are sinners.  Some are saved sinners.  Some can come back into the camp of fellowship.  The apostle John said, “if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin” 1Jn. 1: 7).

Leviticus 14:33-57   Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval

If a house was contaminated with mold, mildew, or fungus, it was to be examined by a priest.  If it seemed to be contaminated, the priest would examine it.  If the marks on the walls were greenish or reddish, the  priest would quarantine the house for seven days.  If the ickiness had spread after seven days, the house would have to be refurbished, the bad bricks ripped out, scraped and replaced.  The plaster would be also be replaced.   If that doesn’t do the trick, the house would be torn down and the refuse taken outside to the city dump.

If the signs of the contamination are gone, an offering would be made for the house similar to what is offered for a cleansed person.

Summary:  

Leprosy is symbolic of sin.  If a person was healed, he had to be examined by a priest.  They, then, had to offer a couple birds.  Any home contaminated with mold, mildew, or fungus also had to be examined by a priest.  If the contamination could be eliminated, an offering would also be made for the house.

New Testament:   Mark 6:30-56

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Intro:

Jesus fed the 5K.

Then He went out to pray.

The disciples were struggling in a boat.

Many wanted to be healed just by touching His coat.

Mark 6:30-56

After the murder of John the Baptist and the threats of the religious leaders (accusing Him of being demon-possessed), Jesus’ focus moved away from the crowds toward teaching the disciples.  He was readying them for His departure which was about a year off.

Mark 6:30-44  Leftovers Again (Mark’s Account)?

The disciples came back from their excursion and debriefed.  Jesus told them to chill and they went off to wind down away from all the crowds.  There were so many people crowding them, they couldn’t even catch a snack.  So they tried to get into a boat and get away on the lake.

The crowds caught on and rushed on foot to meet them when they came back ashore.  Jesus felt for them and started teaching them (1Pet. 5:24, “shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to [the will of] God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness . . . And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory”).  His disciples thought Jesus should break things up and send them out for fish and chips in the towns.  Jesus’ solution was to tell the disciples to feed them.  They did some quick math and figured it was going to take about eight months’ wages of a common man to pay for all the victuals (v. 37).  Jesus told them to take inventory of what they had.  Turned out it was five loaves and two fishes.  He told them to sit in groups of fifty and a hundred.  He gave thanks for the food and starting distributing it all to the disciples who then distributed it to the people (hey, like what pastors are supposed to do!).  Everyone ended up with full bellies and they had twelve baskets left over of the fish and the bread!  Five thousand male chauvinists ate the food but probably they let the women eat, too, so roughly ten thousand could have been fed that day including women and children (see BKC notes on Mat. 14: 15-21).

Mark 6:45- 53  Ghost Of Christmas Past?

“Immediately” (Mark is moving again!), Jesus made the Guys get in a boat and go ahead of Him to Bethsaida (aka Fishers or Capt D’s or most literally, “house of fishing”).  He, Himself, went off to pray.  Can you believe even Jesus had to pray before doing any ministry?  Well, maybe He didn’t have to but He chose to.  He is our Great High Priest Who ever lives to intercede for us!  (Heb. 7:25, “Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them”).

At evening, the Guys were in the boat in the middle of the lake.  Jesus could see them stressing out, trying to control the boat against the winds.  It was around 3:00 or later in the morning.  Jesus walked out to them . . . uh . . . on the water! and tried to sneak past them.  But they saw Him but didn’t know it was He.  They thought it was Jacob Marley or somebody.  They “cried out.”  Don’t judge.  You would have “cried out,” too.  “Immediately,” He told them to chill that it was He.  He got in the boat and, of course, the wind stopped.  They like didn’t get it about the loaves and miracles and stuff.  So they were “utterly astonished.”  You would have been astonished, too.  Their hearts were “hardened” meaning they just didn’t get it that Jesus was God.  They should have just trusted Him.  So how are you doing on that when times get tough?  They would later come around.

Mark 6:54-56  Sensitive Pallets

After they had crossed over the the lake to Gennaesaret, they got out of the boat and were greeted by another crowd of people.  They brought sick people to Him on pallets.  Wherever He went the crowds brought sick people and laid them all around hoping they could just touch the hem of his garment (another hymn there) so they could be healed.  All of them who did touch his clothes were healed.

Summary:

Jesus fed five thousand men but perhaps ten thousand altogether.  Jesus got away to pray but sent the disciples on to Bethsaida.  Jesus could see the disciples struggling in a boat so He walked out on water to them.  After they had crossed over to town He healed many sick who were brought to Him on pallets.  They were hoping to just touch the hem of his robe.

Psalm 40:1-10     A Thanksgiving Psalm by David

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Psalm 40:1-10    Waiting For Godot, Part 1

The first part of Psalm 40 is a thanksgiving song of David expressing his trust in the Lord.  Tomorrow we’ll look at the second half of the psalm which is a lament.  How’s that for throwing a wrench in the works?  

We’ve seen the Psalmist before as an example of one who waits for the Lord so he can follow him (v. 1).  How else could we be exercising faith if we don’t wait for the Lord to lead us?  Moving ahead of Him is not exercising faith.  It is acting in our power and flesh.

When we put our full trust in God, he lifts us out of the pits of life (v. 2a).  He puts us on solid ground (v. 2b).  We won’t be walking on eggshells or thin ice or any other sayings like that.

David wrote songs so God could have actually given him a new song to sing or He may have just given David a new, clean start (v. 3a).  Others will see the change in David and give glory to God (v. 3b, c).  Aren’t you encouraged when someone else is on fire for the Lord?

Trusting the Lord is the only way to live!  Leaning on others is truly like walking on thin ice and you could break some eggs along the way, too (v. 4b).  David could talk about the Lord all day long (v. 5).  He pretty much did considering he wrote at least half of the 150 psalms in the book of Psalms.

Even in the age of animal sacrifices, David knew that what God really wanted was a relationship with him (vv. 6-8).

Verses 6-8 are quoted in the New Testament in Hebrew 10:5-9.  Some believe the entire psalm is Messianic, speaking of Christ.  Certainly, first of all the psalm is about David and his suffering.  But the birth of Christ is reflected in verse 7, Christ’s sinlessness in verse 8, and His death in verse 6.  From the viewpoint of Hebrews 10, the sacrifice mentioned in verse 6 is Christ’s body.  Christ willing gave Himself on our behalf (cf. Rom. 5:8; 1 Pet. 3:18).

David had ears that were open to the Lord (v. 6b).  Are you listening to God every moment of every day (cf. 1 Thess. 5:17)?

Jesus was written about in the book of the law in Isa. 61:1-2 (v. 7, cf. Luke 4:17-21).  Jesus delighted to do God’s will (v. 8).  Do you?  The abundant life is found in trying through the power of the Holy Spirit to do all that the Lord desires (cf. John 10:10; 14:21).

David was not afraid to proclaim the Lord to others (vv. 9-10).  I think the main reason we are afraid to witness to Jesus is because we are afraid they will see our sin and think we are hypocrites.  We think everything is about us.  It’s not.  It’s about him.  Someone has said that evangelism is two beggars sharing bread.  In fact, the entire Christian life is beggars sharing the Lord.

The definition of evangelism is sharing the gospel in the power of the Spirit and leaving the results to God.  If you think about it, that is a good definition of how we should live our Christian lives.  We should do whatever we do (fill in the blank) in the power of the Spirit and leave the results to God.

Proverbs 10:11-12   The Straw That Stirs The Drink

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Here we go again.  The wicked are violent (v. 11b).  They stir things up (v. 11b).  Don’t think they aren’t in churches.  They are.  That’s why there are church fights  They are usually started by people who aren’t saved or people who act like they aren’t saved.  They are wicked (v. 11b, 12a).

Contrariwise, the righteous try to heal things up again (v. 11a).  Life flows from them (v. 11a).  Their love covers up the dissension (v. 12, cf. 1 Pet. 4:8).

Saved people are supposed to stir things up, too.  Hebrews 10:24-25 (RSV ESV) is the most explicit verse on why we should go to church every week.  It says, ” . . .  let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”

Reggie Jackson once famously said that he was the straw that stirred the drink, meaning he stirred things up on his team, the New York Yankees.  His teammates hated him for it.  You may be hated for stirring up things in church, too.  Just make sure you are stirring things up for the Lord and not the devil!

Choose Life: Scripture:  Mark 6:31   NASB    “The Prayer Room”

“And He 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.)”  Mark 6: 31

When I was going to seminary, I found out there was a “prayer room” on campus.  It was tucked away in an administration building.  It was a beautiful room, medium-sized and homey.  In the middle of the room was a round settee.  It was perfect for kneeling but I always used one of the comfortable overstuffed recliners that filled the corners of the room.

There was a great feel in the room like somehow it was the most holy place on campus.  It seemed to be where God dwelled.  It was a great place to get away from all the intellectual energy on the block.  When I sank into one of those soft couches, I could relax comfortably and it was just me and God . . .  alone, the two of us.  I could sink into another world and just speak and listen to God.

One of the pastors of our sending church had told me to stop and smell the roses before I left for school.  This was my way to do that.  As Vance Hafner said, “come apart so that you don’t come apart,” probably referring to this verse in the King James, “Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while.”  (Later in this chapter, verse 46, Jesus took His own advice, “After bidding them farewell, He left for the mountain to pray.”  Even the Son of God had to rest His mortal body.)

Do you have a place where you can get away and pray?  I’m not talking about a “summer house” or anything like that.  If I’m truly resting, I’m also praying.  I don’t know about you.  You don’t have to be rich to rest with the Lord.  Are you “coming apart” with Him so that you won’t “come apart”?

If you are, you will find that you are choosing life (Dt. 30: 19)!

Fun Application:  Think about what place in your house or somewhere else that is the best place for you to get away and be with God.  Can you trust God to help you find one?

The purpose of the “Choose Life” is to pick a positive help out of the One Year Bible (OYB) reading plan for the day. There is always something positive in the Word of God to cheer us and give us strength. For more on today’s reading, check out my One Year Bible blog:   Leftovers Again?

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