Spiritual Rants: March 1 “Why Not Take ‘Awl’ Of Me?” Readings to read through the Bible in a year: Leviticus 24:1-25:46 Mark 10:13-31 Psalm 44:9-26 Proverbs 10:20-21

Old Testament: Leviticus 24:1-25:46

Intro:  

A boy who cursed was executed with speed.

Every fiftieth year both people and land were freed.

God was always protecting the poor.

A slave could commit to his master by having his ear punctured against a door.

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Leviticus 24:1-16  Ultimate Curse for Cursing

We hear cursing all the time in all places.  Ever wonder why they choose to use the name of Jesus or Hell as curse words?  Using those words lightly diminishes the meaning.  If we say Hell enough then maybe it’s not so important and nothing to be feared.  Well, in ole Israelite culture, since God was in charge, He made sure certain words weren’t taken lightly. For example, one day an Israelite lady’s son, who was half Egyptian, fought with a full-blooded Israelite.  The boy yelled out the Lord’s name in vain.  It was a violation of the third commandment not to take the name of the Lord in vain.  The case went to Moses since it involved an alien.  The verdict came back:  guilty!  The punishment?  Stoning (with real stones).  The lady’s son was brought outside the camp and those who heard him were to lay their hands on him.  This transferred the sin of hearing such a thing back on the man.  He was then stoned to death (with real stones).

Can you imagine what would happen around water-coolers all around the country if this was the law in the U.S.?  There would be a lot less work getting done in this country and lots of piles of rocks.

Leviticus 24:17-23  Ai Yi Yi

If someone took someone’s life, that person’s life would be taken.  Same for an animal (the other animal’s life not the man’s).  If someone hurt his neighbor, the penalty was the same harm to the abuser.  This is where we get the phrase, “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.”  The legal phrase is lex talionis, an equal compensation for each crime.   This would empty our prisons . . .  but fill up the cemeteries?

Leviticus 25:1-22  Go Ahead And Take the Year Off

The land was to be rested every seventh year.  You could harvest for six years but the seventh year the land had to be rested.  After seven of the seven year cycles there was to be a Year Of Jubilee.    It was the fiftieth year.  Everyone was to return to their own families and their own land.  Any land sold due to poverty had to be returned to its original owner.  Anyone who sold himself into slavery was set free (doesn’t this sound like our salvation?).  This year was to be taken into consideration in buying and selling.  They weren’t to cheat each other by taking advantage of that year.  God would provide three years’ worth of crops in the sixth year preceding Jubilee so that they’d have enough until the crops came in again the year after the Jubilee.  What a deal!

Leviticus 25:23-34  Jewish Pawn Stars

To help the poor, there were laws of “redemption” in place.  There was regulation on selling houses or land and being able to purchase them back.  God likes helping the poor.  There could be no usury (exorbitant interest rates –  take that cc companies!).

Leviticus 25:35-55  Why Not Take “Awl” Of Me?

Slaves could be owned but only from amongst those outside Israel.  It was also allowed to those who fell into deep poverty as Israelites.  Don’t confuse Old Testament slavery with pre-Civil War slavery.  It was not the same.  It was more like indentured servitude in Revolutionary War times.  Slaves could be teachers, lawyers, nannies, etc.  And, it seems it’d be better to be a slave in Israelite culture than a pagan in pagan culture.  There was a lot better chance of being treated well and even an opportunity to go to Heaven!  There was even an opportunity to give yourself to a family for life despite the law of being freed after six years (Ex. 21: 2).  It did involve having an awl drilled through your ear to make your commitment (Ex. 21:56, “But if the slave plainly says, ‘I love my master, my wife and my children; I will not go out as a free man,’ then his master shall bring him to God, then he shall bring him to the door or the doorpost. And his master shall pierce his ear with an awl; and he shall serve him permanently”).

It symbolized giving “awl” of yourself to that family.  1 Timothy 1:10 prohibits slavery in the New Testament.  The word (andrapodistes) can be translated “kidnappers” or “slave-traders.”  In Deuteronomy 15:11-12, if a slave did insist on leaving, he was to be given what he needed to live on.  Does that sound like early-American slavery?  So stop the nonsense!   Christians have freed slaves!  Slavery is not as portrayed by critics but was very humane.  (Who has not had a job in America that has not felt like a slave?  Jewish slaves were treated better!)  Critics should quit talking trash about Christians and slavery!

By the way, the term “bond-servant” is often used of disciples in the New Testament.  Paul used it often to refer to himself (Romans 1: 1 NASB, Greek is doulos and is often translated, “slave”).  It is used to show the total commitment of a person to Jesus Christ.  Even slavery in the Old Testament is used as a “type” to symbolize our relationship with Jesus.

Summary:  

A guy was killed for cursing.  God decreed punishment equal to the crimes committed.  Every fiftieth year was to be a special year when everyone’s debt was forgiven and land sold due to poverty would be returned to its owner.  It was also a year of rest from all work.

God put rules in place to protect the poor.  A slave could commit to his owner for life by having his or her ear pierced.

New Testament:  Mark 10:13-31

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Intro:  

From Heaven, anyone like a child would not be barred.

For a rich person, the way would be much more hard.

Peter said the disciples had given up all for Him and began to fear.

Jesus said it wouldn’t be in vain in Heaven or down here.

Jesus taught the disciples that they had to become like children to be saved.  Jesus told a rich kid whose stuff was keeping him from coming to God.  He told him, in his case, that he’d have to give up his riches to get to Heaven.  Peter reminded Jesus that the boys had given up everything for Him.  Jesus told him not to worry, that he’d be rewarded in both this life and the next.

Mark 10:13-16  Don’t Act So Mature!

Parents were bringing their children to Jesus to be blessed.  Who wouldn’t?  The “boys” rebuked them.  In short, “SMH”  (shaking my head).  Jesus was shaking His head, too.  He told the guys to let the kids come to him.  Jesus said that everyone had to be like a child to get into Heaven.  Why?  Children are trusting, accepting, open.  Then Jesus took the kids in His arms and blessed them, laying His hands on them.

Mark 10:17-31  The Punky Rich Kid From The ‘Burbs

We covered this dude in Matthew (19: 16 – 26).  He was rich.  He had an iPad, iPod (classic and new style), iPhone (latest OS) and whatever else rich kids have.  He didn’t work on a paper route or work in a grocery store.  But he was really nice.  Really nice.  His hair was combed nice, nice clothes, car was clean.  He was smart.  He approached Jesus with a question about the meaning of life.  What did someone have to do to get to Heaven?  Good question.  The ultimate question for this lifetime.  Jesus told him to make sure he had the second half of the Ten Commandments down to treat others right.  The young guy said he had done these since he was a toddler.  Jesus (quoting Steven Jobs) said, “One more thing . . . .”  He told the kid to sell all he had and then to follow Him.

The young guy was totally like bummed.  He couldn’t do it.  He had too many electronics.  Walked away with head down.

The “twelve guys” were now totally bummed.  Sheesh.  “Who can make it in then?,” they thought.  Jesus  said it’d be tough for a rich person to make it to Heaven.  He said it’d be easier to drive a Humvee through Tin Pan Alley, for Melissa McCarthy with a doughnut to squeeze through the turnstiles in the New York subways, or a triple-humped dromedary to force its way through the aisles of the Marrakesh Express (hey, you try coming up with an analogy of a camel and an eye of a needle!).  Jesus said with Yahweh, though, they’d be able to pull it off.

Peter, whose name in American Indian is “I stick my foot in my mouth,” whined, “we gave up everything for you!”  Jesus said, “Chill.  You’ll receive friendship from lots of people that will be like family to you.  I admit, you will get reviled and persecuted but you’ll get a pretty good place in Heaven.  Things will be reversed there:  first, last and last, first.  Dig?

Note:  Matthew, who is distinctly Jewish, adds that the twelve guys will get a special place on twelve thrones in the Millennium (Rev. 21: 12- 14).

Summary:  

Jesus taught the disciples that they had to become like children to be saved.  Jesus told a rich kid whose stuff was keeping him from coming to God.  He told him, in his case, that he’d have to give up his riches to get to Heaven.  Peter reminded Jesus that the boys had given up everything for Him.  Jesus told not to worry, that he’d be rewarded in both this life and the next.

Psalm 44:9-26   A Lament Psalm by The Sons Of Korah

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Psalm 44:9-26   Who Is On The Lord’s Side, Part 2?

We finish Psalm 44 today.  The mood seems to change abruptly from yesterday’s reading.  Now the nation is really whining.  And with good cause.  They were representing God and God seems to have left them behind.  Now they had even lost a battle.  The Apostle Paul used verses 11 and 22 to make his point that Christians will have to suffer even though their destination is Heaven (cf. Rom. 8:.

Why do Christians suffer?  The book of Job gives us insight (see Babble, Babble, Toil, and TroubleBema Me Up, Scotty and Getting Served Up).  Believers are in the middle of a civil war in Heaven.  Satan keeps asking God for proof that people can love Him for Who He is rather than what He gives.  Job was proof that someone would love God for what He is rather than what He gives.  We are tempted from time to time to show the devil that there are human beings who will stay true to God no matter what.  The rest of the psalm illustrates that the Jews were being tested to see if they would stay faithful to God even if He allowed them to be defeated in battle.

Israel had been rejected and brought down by their enemies (v. 9).  They were not accustomed to defeat.  They had been plundered and had to retreat (v. 10).  They were like a lamb dinner for their adversaries, with mint jelly (v. 11).  They had been scattered amongst the nations (v. 11b).  Though they had not done anything wrong (vv. 17-18), they incurred a curse for disobedience (cf. Deut. 4:27).  Those who minister the gospel will suffer and it will appear they are being punished though they are not (cf. 1 Pet. 2:20).

Yahweh had given His people up for nothing in exchange (v. 12).  They are disrespected by all (v. 13, 15-16). Other nations are actually laughing at them (v. 14).

What the Israelites didn’t understand is that they hadn’t sinned (vv. 17-19).  They hadn’t done anything to deserve punishment (vv. 20-21).   The Apostle says that despite their unjust sufferings, believers are victors (cf. Rom. 8:37) and they cannot be separated from God’s love (cf. Rom. 8:38-39).

It may seem like God is asleep sometimes while we are suffering but He is not (v. 23, cf. Ps. 121:4).  The psalmists often ask why God is doing what He does (v. 24).  He does not always answer though we can be assured He cares for us (cf. 1 Pet. 5:7).  I have sometimes felt like I want to fall off my couch and sink into the earth.  If I could just sink low enough, I’d feel better.  The psalmist apparently felt the same way (v. 25).

The psalm ends with a call for God to rescue the Israelites (v. 26).  The psalmist asks God to remember his binding, covenantal hesed aka “lovingkindness.”

Can you trust that God has bound Himself to you in His love?  There is a corny Christian song that is popular these days that says we can trust God’s heart when we can’t trust His hand.  It may be corny, but it’s true.In the spiritual battle that rages in the heavens, whose side are you on?  Are you on the Lord’s side? 

Proverbs 10:20-21    Croaking Lips

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Remember that Hebrew poetry is not a matter of rhymes but parallelism.  That’s why it’s printed in two lines generally in your Bibles.

In verse 20, the words of a believer, aka, a believer, is contrasted to the motivations of an unbeliever, aka, the wicked.  The words of a believer usually result in something of worth like silver.  The motivations of a wicked person result in like . . .  nothing.  Like a dandelion in spring that degenerate in the morning to fluffy blowballs (hey, I didn’t name them) that disperse in the wind.

Another contrast is found in the next verse, 21.  When the righteous believer speaks, good results, even to the feeding of other spiritually and physically (v. 21).

Fools, aka, unbelievers in Proverbs, croak because they are so dumb (v. 21).  They don’t understand anything or how things work, that is, the way God set up the world.

Choose Life: Scripture:  Leviticus 25:2-4    NASB    “Relax  . . .  Or Else”

““Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘When you come into the land which I shall give you, then the land shall have a sabbath to the LORD. ‘Six years you shall sow your field, and six years you shall prune your vineyard and gather in its crop, 4but during the seventh year the land shall have a sabbath rest, a sabbath to the LORD; you shall not sow your field nor prune your vineyard.”  Leviticus 25:2-4

I’m not aware of a lot of books written about ecology from a Christian point of view.   (Francis Schaeffer wrote Pollution and the Death of Man and I’m sure there are others.)  Here in Leviticus, it is clear that God is concerned about the land.  In Romans 8, Paul says that “For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God.  For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now” (Rom. 8: 19 – 22).  In other words, the earth, animal, and plant kingdom all suffered due to the Fall and are all anxious for the new world that Christ will bring (cf. Rev. 21: 1).

God cares so much about the earth that he punished Israel for not taking care of the earth as they should.  The earth was supposed to be rested every seven years.  It has been shown scientifically that this is the best policy for the earth and for agriculture.  This seventh year of rest would allow farmers to perform other duties and to get some rest themselves.  But due to greed and a corrupt legal system, the land was robbed of its rest.  But God protected the land.  He paid the land back the seventy years it had been robbed over 490 years of Israel’s history (cf. 2Chr. 36:21).  Israel was sent into exile into Babylon for seventy years and the land got its rest.

God does not mess around when it comes to rest.  He expects his people to rest and trust Him.   There is no need to be greedy or covetous.

How are you doing in this regard?  Are you making sure you are taking breaks, getting vacations, and your full amount of rest every night?

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

Fun Application:  The normal amount of rest is eight hours a night.  Also, it’s generally best to get to bed by 10 P.M. every night to maximize your amount of “deep sleep.”  Are you eating right, exercising and taking care of your body?  We are to be good stewards of everything God has given us.  That includes taking care of ourselves. If you’re a farmer are you resting the land?  (Check out my blogs, The Rest Of The StoryRest Up).  Take a personal inventory and see if you are trusting God and resting your body, your family, your employees and your land.

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:  Take ‘Awl Of Me

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