WEEK 9, 2018 – Getting to know God through His Word, the Bible

DAY ONE – Leviticus 11-14

Hygiene and healthcare: preventing infectious diseases and properly treating them in the event a plague should develop. Yahweh Creator God knows all the human weaknesses of fallen mankind. Just so, He prescribed proper eating habits and foods that were healthful rather than harmful. Among all the animals and creatures some could be safely eaten, while others were considered ‘unclean’ and should be abstained from at all times. Dead things were to be avoided studiously; and should one come into physical contact he was to wash with clean water and socially absent himself temporarily.  Should infection break out, whether on one’s person or in one’s physical surroundings, there were proper procedures to be followed to appeal to God for healing and to demonstrate that one had truly been cleansed and healed. These all contained religious rites and offerings to God. The priests were the judges of what was infectious or benign. In all of this Yahweh God indicated that the spiritual and physical are interminably intertwined and cannot be separated, leading us to conclude that He is the author of health and healing; and that we will always need Him for our life in this world. We were never intended to live our life apart from God, or to separate from Him if we wish to enjoy His blessings in this sphere.

DAY TWO – Leviticus 15-18

These are some of the most powerful and important chapters of the entire worship book, for they deal with the strongest passions of mankind. The sexual impulse, at least for men, adds strength and fortitude to the whole person when channeled properly. When the boundaries of sexual propriety are breached, no greater potential for destruction to the race exists. When one accepts and permits impropriety, the results cannot forever be hidden or evaded. When an entire social culture embraces and permits sexual perversion, damage and mischief of the most extreme kind threatens future generations. The pleasure of sex is a poor substitute for the power of love–a committed love that honors God and His creation.

No doubt this is why God’s Necessary Plan, as I sometimes call it, was so fraught with detailed instructions and the strictest prohibitions. In order for His plan to work, His people had to be reminded again and again the price of blood, the place of blood and its relationship to the revealing of our Lord’s mercy upon mankind. Blood sacrifice, accompanied and regulated as it was by laws and ordinances, provided access to God and covering for sin until the problem could be ultimately resolved.  We should always be grateful for a love that draws us to such a wonderful God. For it was in love that He created us, and it is in love that He teaches us how to live.

DAY THREE – Leviticus 19-22

‘Holiness’ has a different sound to it. When God says, “You shall be holy, for I am holy,” it raises all kinds of questions in our minds. The word simply means ‘set apart,’ something that is distinguishable from something else and has special purpose attached to it. These chapters go on to describe various laws and commandments which set Israel apart from the other nations. They dealt with community living–social and sexual relationships within and without marriage; spiritual boundaries which exclude all familiar spirits and practices outside of Yahweh; the land and its produce, especially how to honor the Creator with it; and other sundry areas of normal daily living. Once again, all of this appears as external and physical instructions which distinguish Israel from all the other nations. Yahweh specifically says that He destroyed the Egyptian religion with its gods and intends to plunder the Canaanites and destroy them by giving their land to Israel, so they are to remain ‘holy’ to Him to validate the Creator’s great power and purpose.

Since the days of Christ Jesus–His death and resurrection–holiness is measured and demonstrated by the Presence of the Holy Spirit in our life, whose influence and power within provide a constant spiritual growth and reformation that demonstrate the Kingdom of God–His rule and purposes. We may sometimes indeed look and seem different to the rest of mankind by our practices and lifestyle, but it is not to make us better than they; rather it is to shine a light on our Creator and bring Him into focus for the rest of the world. The primary witness of holiness will be faith, hope and love, these three described by Paul, for they testify of great inner workings accomplished by Holy Spirit in our life. Frequently in these chapters a reminder is given: “I am Yahweh;” sometimes is added, “who brought you out of Egypt.” Thus we always remember that all of this was initiated by God Himself; we are responders to His mercy and grace and the great work that He does in our behalf day by day. Given the severity and polarity of our social milieu, our world needs a clear picture of God, and true holiness comes closer to revealing His true nature and character than a world full of sermons and rules!

DAY FOUR – Leviticus 23-25 

Festivals, Assemblies & Convocations–specific and prescribed ways of honoring and obeying Yahweh God in Israel.  The Lord Himself called Israel to a lifestyle that punctuated their years with gatherings intended to keep them mindful of God’s place among them. The weekly reminder was called a Sabbath–literally a day of rest, no ordinary work schedules. Then there was the Passover Day, the annual ritual observing Israel’s redemption and deliverance from Egypt, followed by the Festival of Unleavened Bread. There was an annual Day of Atonement, special harvest celebrations of recognition and thanksgiving, and a Festival of Booths, reminder of their traveling days from Egypt to Canaan. Every one of these had special meanings, special instructions and sacrifices/offerings associated with them to test the patience, obedience and devotion to Yahweh among His people. The real test?  NOT WORKING! When people are engaged in enterprise of any kind from which they can begin to profit, not working, whether for a day, or a week, or whatever, disciplines their desire to improve their fortune. God promised special blessings to those who obeyed Him, but it nevertheless required them to trust Him to do what He said. Whenever we think we can do better than God at improving our lot, we will be tempted to violate both spiritual and common sense. And when we do, we will push the envelope of personal autonomy until we are no longer capable of following His leading in our life. At that point we are in crisis, whether or not we realize it. Israel often was awakened by the Lord’s strong hand to their destructive, wandering lifestyle that took them away from God’s care and provision. In those times they turned to other ‘gods’ to improve their lot through pagan appeasements, none of which worked.

Worship is a condition of the heart in which we delight in the Lord and desire to allow His work and oversight in our life. Delight…and Desire–this is MORE than just receiving His blessings! Therefore Leviticus is a book of WORSHIP. Let us never deceive ourselves into thinking that just because we ‘believe’ in God or have ‘received’ Jesus, that God’s blessings are automatic, or that He owes us anything. As children learn to take their place in a loving family and become responsible, participating members, so our place in God’s family is regularly tested by the discipline of our desires and proclivities. (pro·cliv·i·ty  — A natural propensity or inclination; a predisposition)

DAY FIVE – Leviticus 26-27, Numbers 1-2

With the Theocracy established by Yahweh in Israel, promised blessings encouraged them to live within God’s Creative Plan for them. It would come the closest to ‘heaven on earth’ that can be realized among a people. On the other hand, should Israel despise God’s rule among them and deface their culture, religion or land, Yahweh would stand against them to the degree that they rejected His rule. The evils they would face were common to other nations surrounding them, evils they could escape with the Lord’s mighty Presence and Protection around them. It was clear the Israelis had a choice–their power of choice would determine God’s Creative Plan, or Necessary Plan for dealing with all the nations of the earth. Our power of choice is not diminished by either ignorance or rebellion. We have responsibility to avail ourselves of the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ and to learn His ways on earth. His rule among us is by the Word and Spirit; and we exercise choice within those options. How BLESSED is the man who chooses the Lord as His God! How unfortunate are those who exclude themselves from the Lord’s grace and mercy as revealed and offered through the Lord Jesus.

With the law, commandments and religion in place, it was time to organize the new nation of Israel under a discernible government in which the Tent of Meeting remained center in the community. Three tribes were assigned by numbered census to each of the compass points around the Tent. The Levites, who were not numbered, camped around the perimeter of the Tent as a buffer between the common and the holy. So now the nation was ready to begin their journey, the cloud/fire of God’s Presence there to guide them toward the promise.

I continue to be amazed at the BIG PICTURE that emerges when we read through the entire Bible. This is not a race–more like a marathon! And it works best when you are running alongside a friend or partner. So settle into a pace you can sustain and let’s continue our journey.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s