Spiritual Rants: February 24 “Extreme Ickiness” Readings to read through the Bible in a year: Leviticus 15:1-16:28 Mark 7:1-23 Psalm 40:11-17 Proverbs 10:13-1

Old Testament: Leviticus 15:1-16:28

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Intro:  

Wrongful sex can sometimes result in disease.

Offerings to God for those were made, His wrath to appease.

One goat was slayed on the Day of Atonement, God to please.

Another goat was shooed away to take sins where no one sees.

Leviticus 15:1-16:28

Leviticus 15:1-33  Extreme Ickiness

This is probably the most disgusting chapter in the entire Bible.  And that’s saying something.

This chapter represents the inner filth of your basic human being.  You know the homo sapiens, the  pithecanthropus erectus.  Us.  Dirty us.

I know it’s not generally accepted in this day to talk smack about man but let’s get real.  David kind of summed things up when he said, “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me” (Ps. 51:5).  We live basically in a fishbowl of filth and mire.  I’m sorry, were you using this blog for your morning quiet time?

It’s probably best that we don’t think about this sin stuff too much.  But let’s face it, are wars decreasing?  Marriage on the rise?  The rep on marriage is so bad everyone’s living together to “try it out” because they figure they can beat the failure rate that way.  You think that little baby is so cute?  He (or she) thinks they’re the center of the universe.  You’ll find out about the time they turn two.  And how are people treating you on the highways these days?  People trampling over people on Black Friday for deals (now on Thanksgiving itself)?  I was standing in line at the local Barnes and Noble recently.  There was only one cashier.  She wanted to stop and help me find something.  I could feel the laser beams of all the people on my back knowing they would have to wait a bit longer.  I pleaded with the cashier, “NO!  Please don’t help me!”  She did anyway.  We both have burn marks to show for it.

We live in an eminently sinful world filled with selfish people.  And is it getting worse?  Don’t get me started . . .  whoops . . .  too late.

Back to this chapter.  It’s about the most icky sex stuff.  Probably another reason the Bible is not allowed in some public libraries.  It can get gross.  But that’s because it can be really, realistic.  (Is that redundant?  “Really, realistic?”)

Verses 2-15 are about a male discharge.  It could refer to gonorrhea (BKC).   Some have even speculated that it could be diarrhea (again, BKC). Whatever the disease, it could be communicated through contact with a bed (vv. 4-5), a chair (v. 6), the person himself  (v. 7),  spittle (v. 8), a saddle (v. 9), and anything under him.  It is more contagious but not as harmful as the skin disease of the previous chapter.  Though there is washing of everything associated with the “uncleanness,” the man is not quarantined.  Therefore, the uncleanness must have to do more with ceremonial uncleanliness than disease.

Verses 16-17 are about an male emission.  Verse 18 is about “doing it.”  19-24 is about female monthlies.  And 25 – 30 are about an abnormal female discharge.  Hey, I’m not happy about it but it’s all in there.

The purpose of this section is 1) to show the sinfulness of mankind (and womankind)  2)  to show the importance of holiness to God in the area of social interaction  3)  to guard the health of the Israelites and the propagation of the race.

Have you noticed that we euphemistically call venereal diseases “social diseases”?  That is because they are spread by “social” contact.  When God’s rules are followed, they are not spread.  I guess it always helps to check the “owner’s manual.”  It should be noted that God does not consider sex dirty.  “Unclean” in this passage has to do with ceremonial uncleanliness or lack thereof.  This chapter is not indicating that sex is bad.  Don’t believe me?  Read Song of Solomon sometime.  Or think, Adam and Eve must have carried on in the garden and everything there was good.  No, it was sin that tainted everything.  They didn’t even know they were naked before the snake messed up everything.  After that, they were infatuated with fashion.  And didn’t have much taste either.  Fig leaves?  Really . . .

On with the commentary.  In v. 2 the word for “flesh” actually means genitalia and can refer to that that belongs to men or women.  (That was not easy for me to write but I grew up a long time ago.)  Why is the emission considered unclean (v. 16-18)?  Perhaps because the “boys” didn’t reach home.  Verses 19-24 are the corresponding passage for females, having to do with their “monthlies.”  Why would the woman be considered unclean?  Perhaps, because the discharge also did not attain to its purpose.

This is God’s object lesson on the sinfulness of man.  We don’t even hear about this in church hardly anymore but it’s true.  And, to God, Who is 100% pure, sin is totally 100% disgusting.  We don’t have a clue how repulsive sin is to God.  As humans, we have dealt with it by ignoring it or joking about it.  But it is not a joking matter.  The smallest sin is enough to separate us from God (“But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, And your sins have hidden [His] face from you so that He does not hear.” Isa. 59:2).

Verses 25 – 30 concern the woman who has an abnormal flow of blood.  We’ve seen a woman like that in Scripture who was healed by Jesus (Matt. 9:20-22Mark 5:25-34Luke 8:43-48)

Verses 31 – 33 are a reiteration that the laws were to make sure no one comes into God’s presence who has not been purified.  God is light and in Him is no darkness at all (1John 1: 5).  He can’t have anything to do with sin.  That is the lesson in this chapter which leads naturally to the next chapter on God’s remedy for sin.

Leviticus 16:1-28  Extreme Cleanliness

This may be one of the most wonderful chapters in the Bible.  Especially, in contrast to the last one!

The subject is the Day of Atonement aka Yom Kippur (cf. Acts 27: 9Exod. 30:10Lev. 23:26-3225:9Num. 29:7-11).  This chapter contains the fullest explanation of the Day.

When I was a young boy, I was interested in the Civil War so my mother got me a subscription to Civil War Times, Illustrated.  There was an article in the very first issue about Gen. James Longstreet.  The question was raised as to whether he was the “scapegoat” of the battle of Gettysburg.  In other words, the author wondered if he was unduly saddled with the blame of losing the Battle of Gettysburg.  One of the main features of the Day of Atonement was the transference of the sin of Israel to a goat who was then forced out of the camp to wander anonymously forever  (thus, an “escape” goat).  This is a picture of our sins being transferred to Christ and then disappearing.  Ps. 103:12 states thaodt our sins are “removed as far as the east is from the west” (an infinities distance, by the way).  The book of Hebrews indicates that God actually forgets our sins! (Heb.10:17  “AND THEIR SINS AND THEIR LAWLESS DEEDS I WILL REMEMBER NO MORE” quoting Jer. 31:34).

The Day of Atonement only occurred once a year.  It was the most sacred day of the Jewish calendar.  The High Priest entered the Most Holy Place of the Tabernacle to make an atonement sacrifice of a goat on that day.  There was no limitation on the sins atoned for on that day.  All were covered for the entire nation.

The High Priest may have only entered the Holy of Holies once a year but he entered that area twice in one day.  The first time was to atone for himself and his family.  A bull was offered for that purpose.  The High Priest “dressed down” for this ceremony wearing only shirt, shorts, sash and turban unlike the elaborate apparel described in Exod. 39. This was to emphasize his representation of mankind.  While in the Holy of Holies, the Priest was exposed to the Shekinah glory of Yahweh in the cloud over the Mercy seat (Exod. 25:10-22).

The first time the High Priest entered the Most Holy Place he brought burning coals to burn incense to create a cloud to obscure the Mercy Seat, the top of the ark (v. 12, 13).  To see the glory of God could have killed him.  He entered a second time to sprinkle the slain bull’s blood on the Mercy Seat (v. 14).  The third time the Priest entered the Holy of Holies was to bring the blood of the slain goat (v. 15).  This was to purify the people, the Priest, the tabernacle, the Tent of Meeting and the altar (v. 20, 16). Its blood was sprinkled on the altar of incense as well as smeared on the horns of the altar (v. 17).

As mentioned, the other goat was set free after hands were laid on it to symbolize the transfer of sin to the goat (v. 20-22).  Thus, we receive our term “scapegoat.”  A scapegoat in our culture is someone who assumes the blame for something who didn’t deserve the blame (so General Longstreet at Gettysburg).

The Priest then cleaned up and put his elaborate clothes back on.  The ceremony was to be a national holiday on the tenth day of the seventh month every year.

In contrast, Jesus is our High Priest and is a far better priest than those in the Old Testament.  Here is the description of Him in the Old Testament.  “For it was fitting for us to have such a high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens; who does not need daily, like those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the [sins] of the people, because this He did once for all when He offered up Himself” (Heb. 7:2627).  In Heb. 9:12-14 the Scripture says, ” . . . and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.  For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”

Let us not forget that this was all to restore the relationship between God and man.  It in itself did nothing but looked forward to the sacrifice of Christ which actually provided a restoration of relationship.  It was like a credit card that paid off when Christ paid the price.  The Israelites acted out their faith through the sacrificial system.  But just as our faith in Christ saves us today, their faith in Yahweh was expressed through their sincere commitment to the Old Testament sacrificial system.

Summary:  

God gave the low-down on “social diseases” and ceremonial cleaning for bodily flows.  The idea behind the scapegoat is explained and the goat sacrificed on the Day of Atonement.

New Testament:   Mark 7:1-23

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Intro:

Religious leaders tried to catch Jesus in a faux pas.

He explained the difference between real love and some of their dumb laws.

They were agitated about what they can’t eat and what they can.

He was more interested in what proceeded from the heart of man.

Mark 7:1-23

Mark 7:1-13  Tradition!

We saw this story already in Matthew (Matt. 15:1-20).  In Matthew the point was more to skewer the Jewish religious leaders.  In Mark, which was written for Gentiles primarily, the purpose is not only to show the bankruptcy of certain traditions but to broach the subject of acceptance of all foods (cf. v. 19 here; Acts 10:9ff,; Rom. 14:20).

If you’ve seen the musical Fiddler on the Roof, you will remember the song, “Tradition.”  Well, the religious leaders sent some of their henchmen to try to trip up Jesus and the disciples.  When I was in seminary, I was asked to teach a seminar at a large denominational church on Sunday mornings.  After a few Sundays, some of the pastoral staff came to ask me questions.  I had no idea what they were talking about which seemed to work out well.  They left seemingly as confused as I was.  I know a little of how the disciples felt here.

My definition of legalism is to give authority to a practice that is outside the Scripture.   That is not to say all rituals outside Scripture are bad but to legalize the participation of anything outside Scripture  is a sin.  To accuse someone of sin who does not participate in an action or ritual that is outside Scripture is a sin.  This is exactly what is happening in this passage.

The henchmen think they have trapped Jesus in a sin for not participating in a tradition.  The tradition is the washing of hands before eating.  This was supposedly handed down by Moses outside Scripture.  It was not for health reasons but was purely ceremonial.  The disciples and Jesus were violating this tradition.  So the henchmen called them on it.

You don’t want to mess with Mother Nature, you shouldn’t tug on Superman’s cape and it’s usually not good to try to catch Jesus in a sin.  He quoted Isaiah (29:13) to the henchmen to the effect that they were offering God lip service but they really didn’t have “heart knowledge.”  The henchmen should have been reading my blog on Leviticus.  Maybe they would’ve  better understood the point of the Old Testament ceremonies.  That would’ve probably hit them hard enough but then he illustrated.  He brought up the Jewish tradition of offering their wealth to the Temple and exempted it from being given to their parents.  It was a legalistic loophole that allowed them to have their “cake and eat it, too” by keeping their wealth and feeling spiritual about it.  It was actually a violation of the Fifth Commandment to honor their parents.  They were violating the Word of God in favor of their tradition which better suited them.

Mark 7:13-23   The Pooping Moose

I guess if you’ve read this far, you’re not easily revulsed.  So I guess it’s OK to recount my story of the Pooping Moose.  On a trip through Minnesota I had to stop at the Minneapolis airport.  I tried to find something for my teenage daughter as a souvenir of my trip and entered one of the airport gift shops.  I asked the lady at the counter for a recommendation and told her I didn’t have much money.  She recommended the Minnesota Pooping Moose.  It was a small rubber moose that you could squeeze and some brown plastic would temporarily exit the moose’s bowels.  If you relieved the pressure the “poop” retracted.   It was the perfect gift for any teenager.  This gets us to the next stop of our excursion.

Jesus followed up his exposition on tradition with a teaching about food.  He said food does not affect anyone spiritually.  It comes into a man from the outside and then exits again (v. 19).  He said more dangerous was what comes out of a man’s heart.  Things like “evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries,  . . . coveting [and] wickedness,  . .   deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride [and] foolishness.”  The religious leaders were missing the point.  Jesus always liked to get to the essence of things.  The external did not have much significance to Him.  By the way, that ugly list above is just what is symbolized in all of the disgusting bodily descriptions in Leviticus 15 above.  Those were the things for which the High Priest was providing atonement.   Ultimately, it is what Jesus died for.  Man is like a pooping moose but the real poop was what issued from a dirty spirit.

If you have not yet accepted Jesus to cover your sins and cleanse your spirit, now would be a good time (2Cor. 6:2, “‘In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.  I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.’”).  We have  1) to admit we have sin (Rom. 3: 23),  2) understand that Jesus died in our place (the same as the Old Testament sacrifices we have been studying in the Old Testament) and 3)  personally trust that Jesus died for you (2Cor. 5:21, “He made Him who knew no sin [to be] sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him”).  Don’t wait.  Today is the day of salvation!

Summary:

The religious leaders tried to catch Jesus in a ceremonial law violation.  He explained to them the difference between outward obedience and inner love for God.  He then explained to them the difference between being defiled externally by ceremonially unclean food and being defiled internally by an evil heart.

Psalm 40:11-17    A Lament Psalm by David

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Psalm 40:11-17    Waiting For Godot, Part 2

The first part of Psalm 40 was a thanksgiving song of David expressing his trust in the Lord.  Today we’re are looking at the second half of the psalm which is a lament.  That’s like two-two two psalms in one!  Sorry, I’m old and it made me think of the old Certs Breathe Mint ad.  Now back to reality.  Psalm 40 is two kinds of psalm in one.  The first part David was expressing his thanks and trust of God despite his severe suffering.  His solution?  Wait on God.  I guess the modern way to put that is, “Wait for God.”  “Wait on God” is more King Jamish, I suppose.  It makes it sound more like a “thing.”  Which it is.  So I like it.  And it’s a bit more memorable that way.

Then you might be wondering about the title, Waiting For Godot.  Waiting For Godot was a play I saw on a field trip in about the eighth grade.  It was originally written in French and the author denies that Godot stands for God but then he hedged a little bit because it stands for God.  It is an atheistic play and existentialistic, if you’re into those things.  I loved it as a kid.  Nothing ever happens.  But the characters in the play keep waiting.  I liked it because it was stupid.  When it’s over, you think, “Where was Godot?  Why didn’t he come?”  Technically, it was absurd.  Seriously, there is something called the theater of the absurd and it was absurd.  So I was right.  It’s stupid.  But if you don’t believe in God, then I guess it’s the berries (see Mind A Change?).

The point is that if you are a believer already, it’s a good thing to wait for God.  If you’re not a believer, you don’t have to wait.  God is at your door knocking (cf. Rev. 3:20).

We saw in the first half of the psalm that David was already trusting God to act.  It begins with David’s declaration, “I waited patiently for the LORD; And He inclined to me and heard my cry” (Ps. 40:1).   He is expressing trust from the beginning.

But now he is asking God to show some compassion for him (v. 11a).  Do you remember what hesed is?  It’s translated by lovingkindness generally in the NASB.  It is Yahweh’s binding, covenantal love.  God is bound to David by covenant.  He is bound to us as well today after we trust him.  It is what preserved David and will preserve us, too.

David was surrounded by different sorts of evils and sins (v. 12a, b).  They were more numerous than the hairs on his head (v. 12c).  I wonder how many hairs David had (Jesus knew how many, cf. Luke 12:7).  I have less every day though I am using product that is supposed to grow more . . .  but I digress . . .

David is having heart failure (v. 12c).  That is bad.  Has your heart every failed you?  Time, definitely, to turn to God with whatever heart you have left.  He will reward you and perhaps even restore your heart.  I flunked my last cardio treadmill but then the symptoms went away.  My docs think that part of my heart was restored.  God can do that!  We must guard our hearts, literally and figurative (cf.  Prov. 4: 23, “Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life”).

David pled that God would deliver him and fast (v. 13).  He actually asked that his enemies be thwarted and humiliated (v. 14)!  What happened to turning the other cheek (cf. Matt. 5:39; Luke 6:29)?

Psalm 70:1-5 is virtually the same as Psalm 40:13-17.  Psalm 70:1-5 is virtually the same as Psalm 40:13-17.  God repeats things in Scripture that are important.  God repeats things in Scripture that are really important.  It is good to look for things that repeat when you are studying the Bible.

So why is this section of Psalm 40 repeated in Psalm 70?  Because it’s important and because we’re not that smart so we need God to remind us.  So what’s so important?  In fact, isn’t it contrary to these verses, “Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles Or the LORD will see it and be displeased, and turn His anger away from him” (Prov. 24:17-18)?  I have to remember those verses all the time.  Vengeance is His says the Lord (cf. Deut. 32:35; Rom. 12:19 ; Heb. 10:30).

The key is verse 16c, “The Lord be magnified!”  David could pray for vengeance on his enemies because they were God’s enemies.  David was being attacked because he was God’s agent.  In that case, you or I can pray that God does His thing with those kinds of people.

Then we can give thanks as David did in the first half of this psalm (vv. 1-10).  He is our “help” and “deliverer” (v. 17c).  When we are representing God we can ask God to make haste to answer our prayer (v. 17d).  In the meantime, we “wait” for God by putting Him first in our priorities (v. 1).

Word.

Proverbs 10:13-14   Simpatico With The Word

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It might be hard in this day and age, but if you can find an older person who has cultivated some wisdom, you should hang with him a bit if you can (v. 3).

In contrast, those who oppose God and His principles should be beaten with a stick (v. 3b).  That’s not going to happen much in these days of “tolerance.”  By the way, “tolerance,” in our culture, is another term for rebellion against God’s rules.  Think about it.

Back to wise men.  They look for applied knowledge, aka, wisdom.  They accumulate it and collate it (v. 4a).  The book of Proverbs is the wisdom Solomon had collected.

Remember “fools” in Proverbs are unbelievers.  They spew foolishness.  Their words lead to destruction (v. 14b).

And yet, who will measure the presidential candidates by Scripture this election year?  Beware anyone who touts being a believer.  A true believer doesn’t have to wear his beliefs on his sleeves.  But he does have to act them out (cf. Matt. 7:16-17).  Look for a candidate that will enact laws that are simpatico with the Word.

Choose Life: Scripture:  Mark 7:8   NASB    “Legally Banned?”

“Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men.”  Mark 7: 8

Legalism is a term that gets thrown around a lot.  At one point in my ministry I finally decided I needed Biblical definition of the term legalism.  The definition I arrived at was that legalism was anything we set up as a commandment of God that is not in the Bible.

Here is a partial list of things that fit that definition:

1) listening to various types of music

2)  hair styles

3)  styles of dressing

4)  entertainment like movies and TV

5)  expensive jewelry, cars, houses

6)  giving exactly ten per cent (see my blogs A Tithy Over TithingThe Meaning of LifeHappy Reapers, and What’s In Your Wallet?)

7)  rules on smoking, drinking, and dancing

You can go on and create your own list.  Now here is a caveat on my list above.  Anything that I have listed has to conform to Biblical mandates.  For example, you can listen to almost any kind of music you want but you still have to be careful that it doesn’t violate Biblical commands against speaking immorally (cf. eph. 5: 3).  So you since you can’t talk immorally, you also can’t sing immorally!  If you have a hairstyle that represents a lifestyle that God would disapprove of, they you shouldn’t represent yourself as supporting that kind of lifestyle (cf. the prohibition on looking like a prostitute.  So you can wear your hair like Justin Bieber or Donald Trump if you like.  I don’t particularly want to see it but that’s up to you.

Another caveat would be that you don’t want to do anything where you would offend anybody (cf. 1Cor. 10: 23-24).  If you’re attending a church that normally dresses up and wears suits, you don’t have to flaunt your freedom by wearing cut-offs.  Especially, if it’s February in Canada.  The opposite is also true.  You don’t want to chastise others that may have liquor at a wedding, farmers in churches that grow tobacco, people with nose rings, etc.  Their lifestyle is between them and God.  They will have to stand before the Lord with whatever conclusions they’ve come to on these issues.  Paul’s admonition still holds true, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men” (Rom. 12:18).

Jesus was chastising the Pharisees for making rules go beyond what God has written in His Word.  By the time of Christ the Pharisees had developed a system of 613 laws, 365 negative commands and 248 positive laws.  It was all contrary to grace.  And Christ came to show us grace and truth (cf. Jn. 1: 14d).

Jesus said it’d be better for anyone burdening a believer to have a millstone hung around his head and thrown into the sea (cf. Mt. 18: 6).  the Mafia calls that fitting someone for cement overshoes.  Churches, by the way, are notorious for burdening poor new believers with rules and commands that are extra-biblical (check out the book Toxic Faith by Stephen Arteburn).  Check yourself out and make sure you’re not carrying a burden you weren’t meant to bear.

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

Fun Application:  Make a list of things that you are doing that are burdening you but you have doubts that they are violations of Scriptures.  After writing your list, use a concordance or Bible software to see if there are really prohibitions against your actions or lifestyle.

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:   The Most Disgusting Chapter In The Bible

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