Spiritual Rants: February 26 “Wholly Holy Wholly” Readings to read through the Bible in a year: Leviticus 19:1-20:21 Mark 8:11-38 Psalm 42:1-11 Proverbs 10:17

Old Testament:  Leviticus 19:1-20:21

Read this passage /on BibleGateway.com

Intro:

God expects His people to be holy like He is holy.

They were also to take care of the poor and the lowly.

Not like the surrounding nations, they were to be distinctively Jews.

They weren’t even allowed to have tattoos.

Leviticus 19:1-20:21

Leviticus 19:1-8  Wholly Holy Wholly

Verse 2 is key verse in Leviticus and in all Scripture.  Peter quotes it in the first chapter of his epistle (v. 16).  “You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy.”  This is certainly not emphasized today.

The commandments are reiterated to honor parents, keep Saturday as a day of rest and to avoid idols.  God is trying to mold them into His people exclusively and set them apart from the surrounding pagan culture.  It also indicates that holiness begins in the home.  The break down of the home in our age illustrates what happens when holiness is not emphasized at home.  These verses also emphasize the connection between a relationship with God and ethics.  When God is viewed as distant or disconnected, as portrayed in secularism, we should not be surprised at the results.  The recent emphasis on evolution (inter-species) and teaching against Creation has had a noticeable effect on society.

Leviticus 19:9-18  Laying Down The Laws

We hear a lot of talk about the government taking care of the poor and social programs these days.  God had a great idea that kept capitalists from being too greedy and the poor from being too lazy.  The farmers were to harvest their vineyards but leave the corners and the fruit that had fallen.  The poor could “glean” them by picking them for themselves.

Lying was not allowed.  False dealing in business was prohibited.  The rich were not to take advantage of the poor.  Most of these things we take for granted but our society has been built upon much of what we read in Leviticus and chapters like this one.

Leviticus 19:19   Don’t Get Mixed Up!

Here’s an interesting one (v. 19):  do not “breed two kinds of  . . . cattle,  . . .  sow  . . . with two kinds of seed, wear a garment  . . .  of two kinds of material mixed together”  (v. 19).  This foreshadows the command in 2Cor. 6:14, “Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness?”  We are not to confuse what God has shown to be distinct.   Israelites were forbidden to marry outside Judaism and with good reason.  The results of intermarriage can be seen as we move through the Old Testament.

It is instructive to note here that salvation is by faith alone in Christ.  We are not to mix faith and works.  So this small part of v. 19 would also teach us to keep the parts of our theology distinct.  To mix works at all with faith is corrupt Christianity to the point that it is no longer salvation.   Some in our age would like people to “prove” that they have accepted Christ by faith through their works.  This is heresy and, at worst, can keep people from Christ.  Is there a worse sin?  The Pharisees were accused of such by weighting men down with legalism (Matt. 23:4,  “They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are unwilling to move them with [so much as] a finger; Luke 11:46, “But He said, “Woe to you lawyers as well! For you weigh men down with burdens hard to bear, while you yourselves will not even touch the burdens with one of your fingers”).  Salvation is clearly distinguished in Scripture from showing our appreciation to God through our works.  To mix the two is to insult Jesus.  Do not accept false substitutes!  Salvation is by faith alone in Christ plus nothing!

Leviticus 19:20-37  Slavery and Tattoos

Isn’t slavery a sin?  Why is it mentioned in v. 20?  This should not be taken as a prescription.  It is a description and accommodation to man’s hardened heart (cf. Mat. 19: 7).  The man was to bring a guilt offering.  The woman was not punished.  Though the punishment is normally death (20: 10), it is not in this case.

We know now that it is best not to pick the fruit from a tree for the first three years.  The result will be healthier fruit.  God knew.  He established a law that trees were to be pruned the first three years (v. 23).  the fourth year the fruit went to the Lord, then people could eat the fruit the fifth year.

Again, there is a prohibition on eating blood (v. 26).  Life is sacred to God and all blood foreshadows the sacrifice of Christ.

Of course, divination and soothsaying, mediums and spiritists are prohibited (v. 26,  31).  The surrounding cultures indulged but were in communication with demons in demon worship.

No tattoos or cuts or other markings of the surrounding cultures were allowed (v. 26).  The prohibition was so there would be a clear distinction between the Israelites and those around them who worshipped false gods.  Are tattoos allowed today?  If they do not violate the command to honor our bodies as a temple of the Lord.

Daughters were not allowed to be profaned by use as harlots (v. 29).  Sheesch.  Does this really need to be spelled out?

There was to be respect for age (v. 32).  Experience and maturity used to mean something.  No seriously.  I like the King James on this verse from Solomon, Prov. 16:31, ” The hoary head is a crown of glory, if it be found in the way of righteousness.”  “Hoary” means white.

Strangers were to be treated with respect (v. 33, 34).  They themselves had been strangers in Egypt not long before.

Cheating of all kinds was outré (v. 35 – 37).

Leviticus 20:1-20   Just So You Get The Point

In case the Israelites didn’t get the point about mixing in with the pagan cultures, various prohibitions were given as law.

Don’t sacrifice your kids (children) in fire to pagan gods like Molech (v. 1 – 5).  No matter how bratty they are.  The father was to be stoned for that.  With real stones.

God was trying to set the Israelites apart (“I am the Lord who sanctifies you” v. 6).  So, obviously, no mediums or spiritists as already mentioned (19: 26, 31).

The home was central to a moral culture.  Authority must be respected.  Death was the penalty for the ultimate disrespect of parents, cursing (v. 9).  So there, Dr. Spock.

Adultery certainly can scramble and disrupt a home.  Death was the penalty.  (There’d be nothing to watch on TV these days!)

God holds marriage sacred and is very serious about the propagation of the race.  Thus, anything that disrupts the family or violates the purpose of marriage to populate the world with godly progeny is frowned on, to say the least.

Death was the penalty for adultery, incest, relations between any close relatives, bestiality, and homosexuality.  It was a serious matter.  Israel was a theocracy (government led by God Himself).  We do not live in a theocracy and we live in a different, New dispensation so we do not enact the death penalty for such things today.  That doesn’t make them acceptable, of course.

Noah was seen naked by his son, Ham, who was the father of the Canaanites (Gen. 9: 22).  He was cursed (Gen. 9: 25) and his descendants became the pagans driven out of the land by the Israelites.

Leviticus 20:21   An Exception to the Rule

There is an exception to the law in v. 21, just so you know.  It’s found in Dt. 25: 5 -6.  In the book of Ruth, we see the law enacted of the “kinsman-redeemer” (as mentioned, it’s found in Deut 25: 5-6).  If a woman’s husband died, the husband’s nearest brother was to marry her and perpetuate his brother’s line and name.  This becomes important in understanding the book of Ruth and the genealogy of Jesus Christ (cf. Ruth’s husband, Boaz in Matt. 1:5 and Lk. 3:32).  Note:  No one seems to know what it means to have the punishment of being “childless.”  Did it mean God would not allow them to have children?  No one seems to know.

Summary:

God expects His people to be holy like He is.  He expects them to take care of the poor.  Slavery was allowed but it was not like antebellum slavery in the US.  Tattoos were not allowed because God didn’t want His people to look or act like pagan peoples.  Other laws were given to the Jews so that they wouldn’t be like the surrounding nations but also because God wanted His people to reflect His character.  The “kinsman-redeemer” rule is an exception to the law of intermarriage of close relatives.

New Testament:   Mark 8:11-38

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Intro:

The religious leaders again asked Jesus for some proof for their mind.

Jesus healed a man in two steps that was blind.

Peter a famous profession of faith was confessing.

Then he turned right around, did the work of Satan, and lost a blessing.

Mark 8:11-38

Mark 8:11-25  Signs, Signs, Everywhere Signs

The religious leaders asked for a sign again.  Jesus’ response:  “heavy sigh.”

The disciples were on a boat with Jesus but only had one loaf of bread.  Jesus took the opportunity to warn them about the “leaven” of the Pharisees and King Herod.  The disciples thought He was talking about bread.  Jesus asked them to recount how much bread they had as leftovers when He had multiplied the loaves and fishes.  They still didn’t get it.  They needed to beware the false teaching of the religious leaders which was like leaven.  Leaven, by the way, is what makes bread taste good. Beware of teaching that makes you feel good but makes you sick if you eat it regularly and then eventually kills you.

Jesus spit on His hands and then laid them on a blind man.  The blind man could see men walking around that looked like trees.  He was like the boys at that point.  They weren’t getting what Jesus was doing.  The blind man didn’t have his sight completely restored yet.   Jesus repeated the process but put his hands on the man’s eyes.  The man could see 20/20 after that or maybe better.  Jesus told him to avoid the village and go home.  BY THE WAY, Jesus chose the two step process to teach the disciples . . .  if they got it.  The lesson is that Jesus uses different methods with different people.  This man had his sight partially restored and then fully restored.  Sometimes Jesus works immediately, sometimes He works gradually.  In helping others, we need to meet them where they are.

Mark 8:27-38  Satan in Simon?

This account comes right at the halfway mark of Mark.  It is the center of Mark’s teaching.  The question is being asked, “Who is Jesus?”  And, “What does it mean to follow Him?”

Jesus asked the disciples what the word was down on the street.  Who did people say He was?  The answer came back: John the Baptist, Elijah, one of the prophets.  He asked what they thought.  Peter went straight to the head of the class, “You are the Christ.”

Jesus followed up by plainly telling the boys that he would be abused and rejected by highest level religious leaders.  Peter didn’t like hearing that kind of talk and let Jesus know it.  Jesus called him Satan and told him he was thinking like a man and not the way God thinks.  Talk about moving quickly from head of the class to the dunce section!

Jesus clarified what He meant to Peter.  Instead of looking to gain the world, His followers would lose their lives to save their lives.  In other words, they would lose worldly things in order to gain spiritual things.  If anyone was ashamed of Jesus, Jesus would be ashamed of that man when He returns at the Second Coming with His angels.

Summary:

The religious leaders wanted a sign that Jesus was really the Messiah.  Jesus wouldn’t give them a sign.  Jesus healed a blind man in a two-step process.

Peter made a profession of faith in Christ.  Immediately afterward he did an “about-face” and started telling Jesus what to do.  For that, Jesus designated him Satan since he was doing Satan’s work for him.

Psalm 42:1-11   A Lament Psalm by The Sons Of Korah

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Psalm 42:1-11 Deery Me!

I read this psalm for a public speaking course in college.  I had been saved for perhaps a year.  The professor was surprised that I read Scripture in somewhat of a normal way and not in what he termed a religious way.  I wonder what kind of church he had been attending.  He said I did a really good job.  But I still only got a “B,” as I recall.  He probably wasn’t prejudiced.

I love this psalm.  It’s a lament.  You don’t get tired of those either, do you?

It begins with what many recognize as the second cycle of psalms.  One difference between Psalm 42 and the preceding is that it is written by the sons of Korah, not David.  The sons were spared in their Dad’s rebellion against Moses (cf. Num. 26:9-11, specifically verse 11).  The sons are also mentioned in the superscriptions to Psalms 44-49, 84, and 87-88.

The psalmists may have been in exile when they wrote this.  It could be the thoughts and words of David when he was fleeing Absalom.  It may represent the longing of the Jews in the Seven Year tribulation (cf. A Most Remarkable ProphecyGoing Up?, and All Shook Up).

No matter, it represents the longing of a true believer for God (vv. 1-2).  A true believer cannot get enough of God.  Of course, someone may be genuinely saved and be fleeing God (see book of Jonah, e.g.).  That type of believer is a miserable person.

You may feel estranged from God sometime and, of course, who approaches you?  Some unbeliever to taunt you (v. 3).  They ask why your God isn’t helping you (cf. Matt. 27:40-44).

Ugh.  The psalmist recalls praising the Lord in the sanctuary (v. 4).  Good times.  Good times.  No unbelievers taunting him there.

Shrinks today will often recommend “self-talk.”  It is actually a good way to pull yourself out of despair.  The psalmist uses it here (v. 5).  He asks himself why he is so depressed.  Then he encourages himself, “Hope in God.”  He knows he will at some point praise God again (v. 5c).  My own Idiot Rule is helpful here.  Read about it, The Idiot Rule.

The psalmist reminds himself of his past with God (v. 6).  God had allowed him to pass through deep waters (cf. Isa. 43:2; also Jonah passed through deep waters, Jon. 2:3).

The verses God gave me right before my six heart bypasses were, “You who have shown me many troubles and distresses will revive me again, and will bring me up again from the depths of the earth.  May You increase my greatness And turn to comfort me” (Ps. 71:20-21).  My daughter put it on my favorite mug to remind me of them.

The writer pleads with Yahweh to give him something to sing when he can’t sleep at night (v. 8b).  Some of the worst torture is being sleepless in the middle of the night.  I usually begin reciting Scripture in my head.   I also start praying.  It’s probably also a good time to sing hymns (note:  a hymns are songs of praise and doctrine sung by scores of believers in eras past, usually bound together in books that were kept on the back of pews, that is, long wooden benches).

God is called a rock once again in Psalms in verse 9 (used about 30 times in Psalms to refer to God).  God is as stable as a rock, as opposed to like thin ice or quicksand (cf. Matt. 7:24-27).  The psalmist knows that stability in life comes only from trusting wholeheartedly in the Lord.

He continues to be taunted in verse 10 as unbelievers ask him why God doesn’t help him.  He uses self-talk again to encourage himself (v. 11).

He asks himself why he is bent into a pretzel (v. 11a, b).

The answer comes back as an exhortation, “Hope in God.”  He knows he will once again praise God (v. 11c).

Are you in despair today?  Can you talk yourself out of it based on what you know about God?  You may have to give some time for your emotions to catch up with what you know about God.  Check out Mind A Change?

Proverbs 10:17   Going Off

Read this passage on BibleGateway.com

So how smart are you?  Proverbs 17:10 says, “A rebuke goes deeper into one who has understanding than a hundred blows into a fool.”  How many times to you have to be hit on the head to learn?  A wise person usually only has to be knocked in the head once . . . OK, or maybe twice . . .  or three times.  But that’s it.   But not a hundred times!

Remember a disciple is a learner (v. 17a).  Learners are humble.  If you are not humble, you cannot learn (cf. Matt. 10:24; Luke 6:40).

If you are dumb, you won’t heed correction (cf. the purpose of the Bible, 2 Tim. 3:16).  You will go off the path.  Or you may just go off.

Choose Life: Scripture:  Leviticus 19: 11  NASB    “Mindmax”

“‘You shall not steal, nor deal falsely, nor lie to one another.”  Leviticus 19:11

I recommend to anyone even a little bit serious about the Lord to get the Topical Memory System printed by the Navigators.  It is a kit of sixty of the most important Bible verses.  There is a booklet that walks you through the best ways to memorize Scripture along with cards with the verses pre-printed for you.  You can put them on your dashboard, on the mirror in your bathroom, in your purse, in your pocket or wherever you want.  They even have a review site and the audio in MP3’s for free (cf. http://www.discipleshiplibrary.com/tms.php, I had to pay for an audio of cassette of mine “back in the day”).

All of that to say this.  Leviticus 19: 11 is one of the Navigators’ sixty verses.  It’s a good one.  It doesn’t say anything you don’t already know.  Believers, or anyone else for that matter, are not to steal stuff, cheat people, or lie.  Duh!  It doesn’t hurt to memorize this verse and meditate on it.  If you’re ever tempted to lie, cheat, or steal this verse will stop you in your tracks.  And remember what Jesus taught us in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7).  Sinning isn’t just putting on a show externally, it has to do with what’s in our hearts internally.  So anger can be as bad as murder and lust as bad as adultery (cf. Matt. 5:22-23; 27-28).  That means if you’d like to steal, cheat, or lie and don’t act it out, it is as bad as doing it.

Any particular Scripture promises or verses you’ve been wanting to commit to memory?  Today would be a good day to start.

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

Fun Application:  Here is a hint that will really help you when you start memorizing Scripture.  Start memorizing and reviewing just before you go to bed at night.  It will sink in your brain overnight and usually be there for you in the morning.  For some reason, the Scriptures “take” better if you sleep on them.  One caution though, you might have bad dreams.  No, I’m not kidding.  The good thoughts from Heaven can drive out some of the junk that’s in your brain overnight resulting in some icky dreams.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

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:   Laying Down The Laws

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