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Posts Tagged ‘Leviticus’

bible-4

Leviticus 25:47 – 27:13

Notable Verse 26:44 Yet for all that, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not spurn them, neither will I abhor them so as to destroy them utterly and break my covenant with them, for I am the Lord their God.

God has just spent since 26:14 telling the Israelites how he would punish them, with each set of punishments for disobedience worse than the preceding one. It is a hard chapter to read because as someone who has read the book before, I know how the story turns out and how much the Israelites lost: the Ark, their kingdom, their tribes, their land and ultimately silence. For 400 years God says nothing (and we expect God to answer our prayers by next week or it is somehow proof He doesn’t exit.

Suddenly, like the first crack of fireworks on July 4th, God is back and in a major way. He has kept the covenant, He has not destroyed them. He is giving the final chapter, the one everyone has been waiting for, like the last Harry Potter book, only more so, a messiah. You can’t help but stand, bow, or kneel, maybe even throw yourself on the ground at that kind of a display of power and memory. Praise be to God who keeps His covenants.

Mark 10:32 – 52

Notable Verse: 37 And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.”

Usually, whenever we hear these verses read in a sermon, we hear about what jerks James and John were. They asked for something quite special behind the backs of the other disciples. They assumed their position of being in the inner-inner circle, along with Peter, would allow them special status. That somehow they believed that the kingdom would be political not internal and spiritual and all of that is true. What I noticed today though was not the stupidity but the strength.

Here are a small group of semi-unemployed fisherman, tax collectors, zealots, and other misfits and outcasts. They have banded together to follow a man that can do miracles, tests well in the mutant demographic, but not among either the Romans or the hard-core religious guys but has no ambitions of anything seemingly greater other than saying follow me, stop sinning, repent, but nothing like “Let’s kick some Roman backside.” Yet, for all of this, James and John see something powerful. Somehow they really believe that Jesus has the power, this carpenter’s son with this team of freaks and healed freaks is somehow going to storm the gates of Jerusalem, maybe even Rome itself. They simply wanted in on what was sure to be a good thing. Now that is faith!

I don’t know if my faith is strong enough to imagine Jesus breaking down barriers to my petty problems much less the gates of Hell and these guys are convinced that he can at least raise the dead, calm storms, heal people and can destroy Rome just by commanding it. Rather than laugh at them or point out their flaws, let’s drink a toast to the original “Yes, we can” guys.

Psalms 45:1-17

Notable Verse Psa 45:8  All your robes are fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia; from palaces adorned with ivory the music of the strings makes you glad.

As I read this I was thinking about the smell of fresh laundry coming out of the dryer with one of those fabric softener sheets thrown in beforehand or clothes coming in fresh from the line.

Apparently,

Myrrh, along with aloe was used in the burial of Jesus. Myrrh is mentioned as a primary ingredient in the holy anointing oil God commanded Moses to make. It cost 5 times more than frankincense and can even cover up the smell of dead bodies (I wonder if CSI ever did a Christmas episode about that).  

Aloe smells like cut greens, one person smelled a bit like onions. I don’t know. I have used it on burns but I never got around to sniffing it. It is mentioned in the Bible 5 times: There are five references to aloe in the Bible: John 19:39-40, Numbers 24:6, Psalms 45:8, Proverbs 7:17, and Song of Solomon 4:14.

John tells us it was used when Jesus was buried, the rest (excluding Numbers) emphasize its fragrant properties with songs even mentioning it as a bed perfumer. It makes me wonder if aloe was the Fabreeze of its time.

Cassia – Cassia has a pungent cinnamon-like aroma and bittersweet taste that are relatively one-dimensional. When you nibble the bark, its sweetness quickly turns hot and it has a rougher, more astringent edge than its Ceylon cousin.

After doing a little reading, I get the feeling the palace smelled like an Indian restaurant.

Proverbs 10:22

The blessing of the LORD brings wealth, and he adds no trouble to it.” (Some translations use sorrow)

Of course the first question that comes to mind when reading this is what does wealth mean? I have been to the Philippines where I have seen Christians on the street, people who can’t afford a dime or 100 won to take a tricycle to church. If wealth is money either God is a liar or there is more to the story.

 

Regarding sorrow, why do Christians suffer sorrow? Why do Christians suffer sorrow? Who knows? Sin or the result of sin may be an option, for some it is simply life “the rain falling on the just and unjust alike.” Perhaps For Christians sorrow is only a chapter in a larger book, rather than the whole story. We have a confidence and hope that the rest of the world doesn’t know.

Given the context of the passage it may simply mean that the believer does not experience pain from the wealth like people going to jail in Korea for taking bribes or the collapse of Wall Street. Again, this passage is more than money, but the book of Proverbs is not to be seen as a guaranteed promise as much as observations on how the world works or should work. I wish I had more than one day to really dig into this but trying to finish the Bible in a year doesn’t give as much room as I would like to explore.

Anyone have ideas on how to fully explain this verse?

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bible-4

Leviticus 22:17 – 23:44

Notable Verse 23:44 “So Moses announced to the Israelites the appointed feasts of the LORD.”

Don’t you just love feasting? The tables groaning under the weight of all the dishes set on it. Smells and sights that both please and tempt you. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. But you know, no one ever has a feast just because it was Tuesday, fests are used to remember special events: being thankful, the birth of Christ, a birthday.

This passage is all about feasting. How sad it seems that the feasts of the Old Testament, especially the Passover Seder are remembered today only in thimbles and bread crumbs in what can only be jokingly referred to as the “Lord’s Supper.” Supper? Karen Carpenter would have walked away hungry. When we remove the feasts, we not only remove the joy found within them, we also remove the reason why we celebrated them.

What ceremonies do you celebrate? How do you celebrate them?

 

Mark 9:10 – 10:12

Notable Verse – 9:48 “where ‘their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.’

Jesus is quoting Isaiah 66:24

People have certain notions about Jesus; the biggest one is that Jesus is nice. He’s a good guy who would talk about Hell. As we can see in this passage, that isn’t the case. Jesus talked about Hell a lot and this passage is one of them.

Hell is never easy to talk about, and most of us would hate bringing it up. Hell, though, is as real as gravity or the sky being blue. Somehow we have gotten the idea that somehow mentioning Hell is somehow using scare tactics and unfair to those we are evangelizing.

Why is it bad to scare people? If a building is on fire, do we refuse to tell people in order to avoid a panic? To be honest, we don’t mention Hell, not because we don’t want to scare people, but because we don’t want to believe it is true. We are deceiving ourselves and dangerously ignoring the plight of people on their way to Hell.

I am confronting myself way too much. I am going to stop now.

 

Psalms 44:1 – 8

Notable Verse 1 “We have heard with our ears, O God; our fathers have told us what you did in their days, in days long ago.”

Goes well with the feast, doesn’t it.? Do you remember who first shared the Gospel with you? Do you remember the stories in your life, or in the lives of your family and friends that not only tell about God, but practically scream it.

As I look back on my life and where I have come in the 22 years since I became a Christian, it is hard to believe how little I remember of God’s goodness and faithfulness. I imagine it is because I don’t tell people about it. I am usually too busy complaining to realize that God has done in my days long ago.

Who can you tell this week about what God has done?

Proverbs 10:19

Notable Phrase – “When words are many, sin is not absent….”

As a blogger, this is a hard phrase to read. It is also hard because I am a talker. I can’t tell you how many times my mouth has gotten me into trouble. Really, I can’t. It has been that often. Perhaps it is best I stop talking now.

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bible-4

Leviticus 20:22 – 22:16

Notable Verse 22:9 “The priests are to keep my requirements so that they do not become guilty and die for treating them with contempt. I am the LORD, who makes them holy.”

What strikes me as interesting in this passage is how different the church has become. These days pastors go out of their way to say “See, I’m really no different than you. Don’t be afraid of me. I am nothing special.” There is a truth to that, especially in light of Peter calling the church a nation of priests. But this passage screams “Pastors, you are called to be different.”

I am not a pastor, I am a teacher and an occasional lay-preacher. This passage is not merely a reminder, it is a Marine drill sargent screaming in my ear. “You don’t get to be like everyone else, even everyone in the church. Grow up!” It is a challenge that I am going to have to seriously consider if I am going to continue preaching on a regular basis.

Mark 9:1-24

Notable Verse v.24 “…I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”

I think every honest Christian has had, if they are honest, encountered this struggle. In fact it is probably a daily or weekly cry.

How do I deal with the creation / evolution debate? I am pro-life but an unemployed woman with 14 kids and no way to support them, yikes! Why do I have an illness that will last until I die, don’t you care God? How can I really trust you God when the economy and moral ethics of my country, heck in my wallet and heart are being flushed down the toilet? How do I know I am eternally saved in the middle of all my sin? At least those are the questions that keep me thinking during the day if not up all night.

It is comforting to know that God rewards this unbelieving belief as much as he rewards a concrete no-doubt-about-it faith.

http://www.stonesoupmusic.org/SoupArt/Mark9_24ljm2.jpg

 

Psalm 43:1-5

 Notable Verse v.4 Then will I go to the altar of God, to God, my joy and my delight.  I will praise you with the harp, O God, my God.

If you read this Psalm, you will see that this is a 4-act play.

Act 1 – a cry for help. David is crying out to God “Hey! Help me! Where are you? I need you. Are you there? (verses 1-2)

Act 2 – Do something! It is interesting that David isn’t asking for a mighty army. He is asking for light, truth and guidance. Not the usual response from us in the midst of a battle. (verse 3)

Act 3 – The climax, after the battle I am going to thank you. I am confident in your actions. (Verse 4)

Act 4 – The Finale, David seems to be saying “Oh yeah, that’s right. You are God, I am not. If you are listening to me, remember that lesson as well. Thanks for watching this play. I am going to go pray now.” (Verse 5)

Proverbs 10:18

Notable Verse: He who conceals his hatred has lying lips,  and whoever spreads slander is a fool.

Nothing really to say here, but wouldn’t it make a great fortune cookie slip.

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bible-4 

Leviticus 19:1 – 20:21

Notable Verses: Chapter 19!

Chapter 19 is a retelling of the Ten Commandments and adds a few more. What is most interesting in this passage is verse 3. After the reminder to “be holy, as I am holy” God starts this new list of commandments with respecting your parents and keeping the Sabbath, almost as if He started in the middle. This would challenge the idea that there is something necessarily magical about the order of the commandments. It is true there are two different foci in the Commandments: obedience in our relationship to God and our relationship to man. But in the actual reciting of the commandments, it isn’t the learning the Exodus 20 order that matters, what matters is that we do it.

God provides his own commentary of the Commandments, further describing what he means with more concrete examples. In an almost funny anti-climatic moment God simply says in 19a. “Keep my decrees” What else was to be expected?

Mark 8:11 – 38

Notable Verses 27-33

Charles Dickens’s book “A Tale of Two Cities” begins “It was the best of times; it was the worst of times…” You cannot help but be reminded of this phrase reading about Peter’s declaration “You are the Christ” and within a few verses being told “Get behind me Satan” which would at best mean Peter was acting like Satan.

Yet in the middle of these verses we are, if we are honest, living the same life. Oh, we aren’t trying to keep Jesus from dying on the cross. But if we are honest, we welcome him into our hearts, our prayer gatherings, our worship times and moments later act as if Jesus really didn’t matter. During worse times, we deny him all together.

Psalm 42:1 – 11

Notable Verse v.1

“As the deer pants for the streams of water, so my soul pants for you O God.”

What campfire would be complete without singing this verse? Can we imagine a church service that didn’t make it a “top 40 hit” in the church? But let’s consider one word here in this verse, “pant.”

Panting is an action resulting from hunger, exhaustion. It isn’t a midnight craving of a midnight snack and discovering there are no potato chips in the house. It is the feeling one gets looking at an almost bare cupboard and knowing payday isn’t quite here yet. It is the feeling of a couple kept many miles apart (I know a little something about this) and longing to be together if only for just a few more minutes. It is the cry of Hannah at the Temple begging God for a child. That is panting. Do we really pant after God? Do we crave God like a drug addict, rummaging through the house trying to find enough money for another hit or do we have a mere craving for God? Is He really what we seek or the only the vehicle in getting what we really seek (healing, blessing, money, jobs etc…)? I hope I never sing this verse casually again.

 

Proverbs 10:17

Notable Verse guess!

What is interesting about this verse is the second half, “…but whoever ignores correction leads others astray.”

How often have we heard about the right to privacy? Victimless crimes? “In the privacy of their own bedrooms?” People, and I imagine Americans in particular, are trained to believe that as long as the actions are mine alone, the consequences of the action are also mine alone. The Bible doesn’t give us this luxury. When we ignore correction, sin, disobey, put in whatever word you would like here, we are dragging other people down. Some of Jesus’ strongest curses were leveled at those who led others down wrong paths. Here’s a suggestion, take one sin, make it a sin in your mind that you consider private and “minor”, and make a list of who and how it leads others away from the right way.  As I consider one “trivial” sin in my own life, I realize, it speaks to hundreds of people without my ever giving it a second glance. This is a truly horrifying verse.

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Marked Up Bible

Marked Up Bible

Leviticus 16:29 – 18:30

Notable Verse 18:25 “Even the land was defiled; so I punished it for its sin, and the land vomited out its inhabitants.”

It is always strange to see how graphic the Bible can be. Vomit just isn’t a word that you expect to find in the Bible. However, considering the topics covered in this passage with almost every conceivable combination of sexual perversity addressed, we really can’t be surprised that the word vomit is used. Most of us, if we are remotely sane wouldn’t consider the combinations mentioned in these passages.

What I find interesting in this verse is that it is not God who drives the people out of the land, at least not directly, it is the land itself. I am not going to go so far as to blame droughts, fires, floods, economic crises, terrorism and the like on sexual perversity, but at the same time I can’t help but wonder what the “pornification” of our nations are doing to us as a people.

Living overseas I see the media vomit that is coming from my birth country (as a side note, forgive me for not saying home country or homeland, at this point I don’t know what that means.) God must be disgusted at what is shown, screamed and sung. At some point there must be day of reckoning for all of this. Right now we vomit filth, sooner or later, God will vomit us.

Mark 7:24 – 8:10

Notable Verse 7:28 “Yes Lord,” she replied “but even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.”

This is an incredibly difficult passage to read. I imagine the “Emerging News for Modern Man Bible” would translate the previous verse “Look, you *&*!(&*, you don’t get any. This isn’t for you. It’s for God’s people. Something you obviously you ain’t.”

Ok, I’m sure Jesus wouldn’t swear but you get the feeling he isn’t exactly saying words that tickle the woman’s ears either. As a foreigner living in Korea, I can understand the woman. I do not “belong” here. I am “waegukin”, a foreigner. Children point and even occasionally yell it to and at me. My normal reaction is to use the most patronizing voice I can find, the kind you talk to dogs and zoo animals with, point and say in Korean “Korean, Korean” as if I had spotted a rare species of bird.

 But here the reaction here is amazingly different. Yes Lord. The woman accepts her outcast status. She doesn’t ask for it to change, she doesn’t seek justice, an apology. She simply agrees with the statement and continues to ask for mercy.

It is a hard verse to read, especially for an American whose mindset is first to think “What are my rights?” and “What makes you think you / them so special? Aren’t we all equal?”

Psalm 41:1 – 13

Notable Verse v.1 “Blessed is he who has regard to the weak; the Lord delivers him in times of troubles.”

You have heard of the welfare mentality, the idea that some people get used to living off the government’s handouts. What is almost never discussed is the flip-side of that coin. People get used to not having to be responsible for their neighbors because “after all, isn’t that the government’s job?” This verse is a clear reminder to personally consider the needs of the weak.

The second idea that hit me when I read this verse is how I behave as a teacher. Do I simply demand skills from students without considering how weak they are, or simply yell at them for being lazy and not studying? Am I mindful of their weaknesses or simply their failings?

Finally, there is a promise that comes from considering the weak. God will deliver those people in their times of trouble. What is interesting is that it isn’t a promise equal blessing. What I mean is that the verse doesn’t say “if you feed the hungry, you won’t go hungry.” The promise is much more open.

Perhaps there is a practical reality, if you become someone who is known for caring about the weak, people will be more responsive to you in your times of weakness, no matter what the reason. The opposite side seems to be understood, if you don’t care, you won’t be cared for.

Proverbs 10:15 – 16

Notable Verse v. 16 “The wages of the righteous bring them life, but the income of the wicked brings them punishment.”

One of the most misquoted verses in the Bible is “money is the root of all evil.” Of course the real verse is “the love of money is the root of all evil.” Perhaps this is what the verse is all about. It isn’t the money that makes the difference is the person using it. It is hard to imagine some pagan or Scientologist or radical atheist actor getting millions and thinking of all that money bringing about a punishment. I am not really sure why it brings them punishment, but it is something to consider. Does your credit card bill reflect the righteousness that only comes from Christ or does it reflect something different? Where has the money you spent taken you? It is a question that at times I don’t know if I want to answer.

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Marked Up Bible

Marked Up Bible

 Leviticus 15:1 – 16:28

 Notable Verse 16:22 “The goal will carry on itself all their sins to a solitary place; and the man shall release it in the desert.”

The first part of today’s passage is about dealing with body fluids and ceremonial purity, I really don’t want to read about it much less write about it.

The scapegoat is an interesting concept. A man confesses his sins to God while holding on to the goat and then taking the goat out into the desert, in a sense taking the sins with it.

How strange it seems, but after spending the last few chapters reading about blood and placing animal blood on ears, thumbs and toes, it seems rather harmless. But under the seemingly peaceful solution to dealing with sin, there is still blood. Only this time it isn’t ours. A goat unwatched will be easy pickings for a number of wild animals.

The idea of something / someone taking out sins sound familiar?

There is something special about the desert. It is interesting that while the desert was a place for the goat to go to take the sins of the people. Jesus went into the desert to face the father of all sin. Need to look through the idea of the desert more but I imagine the desert has a special place in the plans of God.

Mark 7:1 -23

 Notable Verses vs 6-7 “…These people honor me with their lips, but their hears are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by God.”

This passage is all about purity, doctrinal purity and life purity. There is nothing wrong with purity, quite the opposite. But there is a difference between what we call consider pure and what God calls pure.

We love to make up rules. I have been told over the years “Christians don’t dance, drink, watch movies, go to theaters, smoke, play cards” and the list going on and on.

I am not challenging the righteousness of these people but they are holding to the rules taught by men, not God. I don’t believe the Bible addresses any of these issues and there is something inside me that resents being told what I can and or can’t do so I can please church’s around the world.

Psalm 40: 11 – 17

 Notable Verse 17 “Yet I am poor and needy; may the Lord think of me. You are help and my deliverer; O my God, do not delay.”

There really is not anything to say. It is a simple cry for help. The only thing that stands out to me is the realization that it God is my help and deliver, not medications, alcohol, coffee, spending money, etc…. How many ways have you tried to fix your problems without relying on God?

Proverbs 10:13 – 14

Notable Verse – 14  “Wise men store up knowledge, but the mouth of the fool invites ruin.”

It is said that “it is better to be silent and let people people think you a fool than speak and let people know it.” How true it is. Wise men store up knowledge, it seems to me that this is active. Reading, listening to good music and sermons, seeking wise counsel etc…. the act of storing seems that there is a planting, watering and harvesting long before there is storage.

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Leviticus 14:1 – 57

Notable Verse(s): 40

I don’t know about you, but every year I seem to get a problem with mildew in the summer here in Korea. Thanks to the marvelous inventions of bleach and other cleansers, I can deal with the bathroom; the bedding ends up going out the door. I never really looked that closely at the walls in my bathroom, I’ll let the scientists do it, but it is a rather scary thought to think of telling the college president “I’m sorry, but I had to knock down the wall of my apartment and take the rubble to some distant dump.” Thank goodness for mildew removers. On the other hand, do removers only deal with the immediate problem and not deal with the underlying problem? Is there some health principle that I am missing here? While I contemplate that, let me just be glad bleach is cheap and plentiful.

Mark 6:30 – 56

Notable Verse: v. 37 “…You give them something to eat…”

I know I would have acted the same way as the Apostles did. Verse 31 tells us that the Apostles were so busy ministering to the crowds, learning lessons from Jesus, getting and giving reports, that they didn’t have time to eat. How many days have we had like that? Korea is the land of “balli,balli (quickly, quickly). There always seems too much to do, and never enough time to do it. That is exactly how the disciples were living.

Now imagine it was Wednesday. You have just finished work, barely making it home as the remnants of dinner cool on plate that has been sitting out for you. The phone rings. A member of the church calls and asks you to come over. It is an emergency and you need to come now. You leave your uneaten plate of food on the table and rush out the door to deal with the emergency. At the members house, you see Pastor Nick who says “you must be tired and hungry let’s get out of here and go talk and eat, I know a nice café.” You both leave, but notice that people are following you. As you enter the café, it is packed and there is nowhere to sit or even stand, and there is a huge crowd around you at this point. You ask Pastor Nick “what are we going to do? And he says “You give them something to eat.” Would you laugh or complain? My guess is that you wouldn’t be looking for miracle as much as wondering if there was an ATM in walking distance.

The disciples didn’t have an ATM, they were tired and hungry and haven’t been able to buy food along the journey, and Jesus was expecting the impossible. But isn’t that where Jesus is most easily found, in the impossible. While the rest of the story is an amazing miracle, verse 37 shows the reality of the need and and sets the stage for the beauty to be seen.

Psalm 40:1-10

Notable Verse: v. 2 “He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.”

There are certain words in English that will make your skin crawl, words that sound unpleasant, partially because they meaning is unpleasant and because the world itself sounds “icky. Slimy is one of them. I had to look up mire in a dictionary to find its exact meaning which is:

1.

a tract or area of wet, swampy ground; bog; marsh.

 

2.

ground of this kind, as wet, slimy soil of some depth or deep mud.

Again, ick!

Yet how often do we find our lives in midst of mud and mire. Maybe not real mud, but life is messy and will not only trap you but suck you down lower and lower like quicksand until being able to breathe is only a distant memory. What a wonderful promise, “He will set my feet on a rock and give me a firm place to stand.”

It is interesting to note, there is no indication of a place to move about, simply stand. He never said “Well, I got you out of this mess, but watch your feet next time, see ya’. “ There is a quiet assurance that He will pull us out of the muck and mire, but there is a quiet command that we don’t move until He tells us to.

Proverbs 10:11 -12

Notable Verse: v.12 “Hatred stirs up dissension, but love covers all wrongs.”

How often do we come home and complain?. Complaining about the boss, the co-workers and at work complain about life at home is an international pastime.. There is something instinctively looking for the wrong in the world, not only looking for the wrong but making sure everyone around you knows it and is just as worked up about it as you are. This verse hits us where we live, and where we want to live.

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