Monday, September 28, 2009

Leviticus Chapters 25-27

The Year of Jubilee - This is so incredible and progressive that it could only have been instituted by God. God put the year of Jubilee in place so that none of His people could ever be caught in a perpetual cycle of poverty and servitude. Every 50 years, people who were deeply in debt or serving out of poverty, were given a chance to break free of that start be reunited wit their land and their tribes. It is such a beautiful and merciful concept. Thin about this in contrast to credit card companies who set monthly payments at a level that does not even cover interest, so the people in debt can rarely break out of the cycle of debt. You can see the heart of God coming through in these can see that God wants His people to care more about healthy community that fat bank accounts. We could learn a lot as a country from these concepts. The year of Jubilee was also a reminder to the Israelite people that the land was God's anyway...nobody was allowed controlling ownership of God's land...nobody was given unfair advantage.

25:36 - God was calling His people to take care of one another. If a brother was in trouble financially and could not feed his family, other Israelites were supposed to step in beside him and offer hope and help. They would help each other get back on their feet and not charge interest to the help given. Why no interest? Because interest is about making a profit, not helping a brother get back on his feet. God wouldn't allow interest, because it would create a system of slavery where one Israelite basically owned another Israelite through crippling debt. That's not a picture of God's heart. God steps in and helps people who don't deserve it...knowing they will never be able to pay Him back!

26:13 - I love this phrase! God is referring o the Egyptian captivity and how He saved the Israelites through the Exodus, but it speaks to my journey with God as well. Picture the crippling weight of sin weighing on our lives, forcing us to shamble bent backed and broken through this life...ashamed of our failure...twisted and sinful. Then God breaks the yoke of sin and death and we are given the chance to stand proud as men and women made righteous by God. We can walk tall!

26:23 - Hard times and discipline come from God to bring us back to Him - it is all about love. I don't like punishing my kids, but I love them, so I want them to learn how to live as godly men and women. God allows punishment to drive us back to Him, because He loves us so deeply.

26:30 - Such intense language! How many people int he history of man have sacrificed their lives for meaningless junk! And where do they end up...dead in a coffin, as useless as the dead bodies of the idols they worshipped in life. That is heartbreaking!

27:2 - A super intense vow to God sometimes involved giving a child or family member into the service of the temple (Like the story of Hannah and Samuel - we'll get to that in a few months). But let me ask you something, if all the Israelites started making these intense vows to God, what would the priests be able to do with all theses new workers? There wouldn't be enough work to go around, so God institutes a system of values for workers that could be paid instead of literally giving the person to the service of the temple. That's what all those values listed are all about.

It does beg the question though, what is the value of a human life? How can God put prices on people? A.) Well, He is not really putting prices on their lives as much as He is putting a price on their ability to do hard labor - that is why the men are worth more (Although, on mission trips, I have routinely seen young ladies outwork young men!). B.) What is the value of human life? Numbers 35:51 says that no one can pay ransom for the freedom of a person who has murdered, which means that human life is absolutely priceless to God. A murderer cannot walk free because they have taken life and there is nothing that can repay that. C.) Psalm 49:7-9 says that no one can ransom a life...there is no payment that could ever be enough to compensate for the life of a human being. That's how God feels about human life...He looks at it as priceless. In fact, He was willing to die Himself to save us if you can recall!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Leviticus Chapters 22-24

22:22 - As I read through all these very specific calls to perfection in what the Israelites are called to bring before God, I wonder how this applies to me today. Although I know perfection is out of my reach and I am desperately in need of the salvation God has offered me...I believe we can find a way to apply the heart of these verses to our lives. God is perfection...God is holy...God is good...God is worthy of honor, so though I am unable to offer Him perfection I am pushed by my want to worship Him to offer Him my very best in every area of life. As a minister of God's Word part of my holy worship of God is making sure that I make sacrifices of time and energy and creativity to honor God with unblemished ministry. If I cut corners and slack off, I am offering blemished sacrifices to my awesome God. What does offering your best to God look like?

23:3 - The Sabbath is a reminder that God is a creator God that made the universe and rested in the goodness of is creation. It is a reminder that God is holding everything together, so we can take a day off. It is a reminder to connect with God and grow in our trust of Him as we solemnly rest.

23:5 - The passover is a reminder of the salvation that came to the Israelites when they were in Egypt. Th blood of the lamb caused death to pass over them and the blood of Jesus Christ offers us the same life-sparing mercy.

23:10 - The feast of first fruits is a reminder of God's provision. What do we do as modern Christians to remind ourselves of God's incredible provision?

Feast of Weeks - Another reminder of the grace and gifts of God after the harvest. A time of celebration and joy brought on by the sustainer nature of God.

23:24 - The Feast of Trumpets. This begins what it called the ten days of awe before the day of atonement. The trumpets are blown and they serve as an ancient tornado siren,calling the people to remember their sins and repent. At the end of the ten days, they go before God and atone for those sins. Repentance and confession...yet another healthy, God-ordained practice that has almost no place in the Christian world today.

23:28 - Day of Atonement - a reminder of God's holiness and their own imperfection, bringing about an understanding of our desperate need for salvation.

23:43 - Feast of booths - A reminder that even though they dwelt in tents in the wilderness for many years with no real home, Gd was protecting them and would be faithful to bring them to the land He had promised.

24:16 - Wow, that is intense! This is a very bold reminder of the holiness of God's name. This also gives us a little insight into the anger of the Pharisees in the NT when Jesus begins to make references to his heavenly origins. They took the name of God seriously and Jesus began to basically say that he was God and from God. (I also found it interesting that the "eye for eye tooth for tooth" passage came in the middle of this story about the boy who blasphemed the name of God. Yahweh in Hebrew is made of completely of Hebrew breath sounds...God's very name is the breath of life. Maybe when you take the name of God in vain it is a crime against life itself and demands life in return - "eye for eye"?)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Leviticus Chapters 19-21

19:2 - We are created in the image of God. If we are God's people, the only way we can be what we were truly made to be is if we are living reflections of God's holiness. Sin is our failure to reflect the holiness of God. But in honor of our love for God's perfection and His love for us, we do everything we can to be as much like Him as possible.

19:10 - It is important for us to highlight verses like this. Many times people look at the image of God in the OT and think He is harsh and heartless, but that is absolutely not the case. Yes, He holds his people, the Israelites, to a standard of holiness because of their covenant relationship with Him...but He consistently shows His heart for the poor and oppressed by commanding His people to think about those less fortunate than themselves. There are a lot of Christians that have a hard time with this today!

19:18 - Comment as to what you think it looks like to love someone like you love yourself.

19:28 - I laugh when people try to use this verse to show that tattoos are vile and sinful, because generally the people who use it in such ways have well groomed sideburns and and shapely beards (If they have them). You can't pick and choose pieces of bible verses to apply as you will. The heart of this passage is that Israelites were cutting their hair and getting tattoos to follow pagan cultic practices for "protection" and worship of false gods. Most of the people I know with tattoos, have tattoos that advertise their love for God.

19:34 - You should always remember the grace of God before you determine your status towards strangers, aliens and the poor. Hoe pitiful, broken, poor, lost and in a shambles were you (soul-wise) before God got a hold of you? Be gracious - show love - honor God with your life.

20:13 and 18 (NC-17 Warning: Seriously, this is going to be a bit graphic, I will try my best to tone it down, but it is an issue that needs to be addressed). There are some that look at these to verses and try to use 18 as an excuse participate in 13. Christians generally do not have a problem with or address the issue of a husband having sex with his with during her time of the month. If they don't believe that command is culturally relevant, does that mean the command against homosexuality is also irrelevant? No that's not what it means. First of all, look at the punishments for the two sins. Yes, being cut of from your people is bad, but it is not as bad as instant death for the "abomination" committed. 13 carries a heavier price. Secondly, in the NT the removal of ritual uncleanness as takes away the mandate for verse 18, making it a moot point. But throughout the NT homosexuality is condones as a practice that goes against God honoring sexuality. Finally, one of the reasons that laws like verse 18 were put in place go beyond just Leviticus 20:18 the Hebrew word used to describe the menstruating woman actually comes across in English as "faint." Part of the reason God put this law into place was to offer women some rights and protection, so their husbands could not force them to have relations during their period (See, God is very forward thinking!)

20:24 - Here we see that the covenant is confirmed again - God is faithful to follow through on what He has promised...never forget that.

21:17ff - Again, this sounds really brutal and harsh on the part of God! People with uncontrollable birth defects are automatically rejected from priestly duties! Let me ask you many professional NBA players do you know that have any performance undermining physical deformities? None! To perform the duties of an NBA player, they have to be highly skilled and in peak physical condition. The duties of the High Priest were the ultimate job in the Jewish world...they had standards that had to be met. The High priest needed to be a human mirror of the holiness and perfection of God. It's not about's about the requirements of the job. We even see that people from the priestly family who have birth defects are still welcome to eat the holy sacraments and take part in worship of God like all other Israelites, which again is very different from the typical treatment of special needs people in the ancient world.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Leviticus Chapters 16-18

The Day of Atonement - known today in the Jewish world as Yom Kippur. (16:29) The tenth day of the seventh month of the year. While the priests were following the guidelines described in this chapter to cleanse the temple of any residual sin or uncleanness from the Israelites, the people of Israel would fast and rest in God to further bring purity to their community. They worked as a single body to purify themselves so that God would remain with them. Imagine what the body of Christ could do in our world if we unified in such a singular vision, to offer ourselves a pure sacrifices before God!

16:10 - Who is this Azazel dude? Well, we are not really given any background information on who Azazel is, but we can figure some things out from the text. We know that it is a person because the goat is being sent to him. We know that it is an enemy of God because it is out in the wilderness, where demons roam and God is sending the sins of the Israelites out to Azazel. You don't send the equivalent of a dump truck load of toxic waste to your friends! God is basically sending the sins of the Jews back to where they came from - to the father of lies - to the betrayer of man - Satan. That is the best bet on understanding what Azazel refers to - Satan or other demonic powers.

17:5-7 - The Israelites not always bringing their "A" game were apparently making sacrifices out in the wilderness to these goat demons. It seems that they believed male goats represented some sort of deity and were just making sure that the goat god was happy too. Some of the leftover polytheism is still running around in their hearts and God intends to snuff it out. It is a testament to God's mercy that He does not strike all these people down immediately for making sacrifices to false gods, but it also indicate that the Jews didn't really understand what they were doing. God makes it clear for them. You are not to offer sacrifices to anything but me - EVER! This may seem like ancient problems that don't apply to us, but we should all be careful that we are not offering gifts God has given us to the false gods of this world. I would say it is a pretty common occurrence int he lives of many Christians - offering sacrifices to the world as opposed to God...sacrificing time, money, talents, etc.

18:3 - Interesting that the author brings up the sins of the country of Canaan, because of their origins. The people of Canaan were descendants of Noah's son Ham who is described in Genesis as the father of Canaan. And Ham was cursed because he mocked his father's nakedness after the flood. Throughout this chapter the focus is improper use of sexual relationships. While Ham didn't physically do anything to his father, he dishonored God and his dad emotionally and verbally. Improper sexuality starts way before physical can violate sexuality as God intended in your mind and with you eyes and through your words too.

"Uncover nakedness" - The ESV says over and over "you shall not uncover the nakedness of _________." This sounds really weird, but it is an exact translation of what was originally written in the Hebrew. To uncover nakedness in the Hebrew world implied having sexual relationships with someone. So basically it is saying not to have any form of sexual contact or experience with the people listed (It's a broader term than just "sex.")

18:21ff - It seems strange that child sacrifice would be thrown in with this list of sexual sins, but it does make sense if you think of it like this. Just as you are not supposed to offer your children up to the fires of Molech (Child sacrifice was semi-common in the area surrounding the Israelites), you do not offer up your "seed" to vile sexual practices that go against God. As we saw a couple of days ago, God considers male discharge to be a sign of life and He equates it with child sacrifice. Makes you take sex a little more seriously, huh?

18:27 - This is something we have to understand. These laws are not just for the Israelites alone. God holds the people that came before them accountable to the sexual sins they committed. This gives us some idea as to why God can bring judgement upon the people that the Israelites conquer...they have already profaned themselves before God and made their country vile and unclean in His eyes. God as a holy and just Lord has the right to bring judgement upon people who reject Him.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Leviticus Chapter 13-15

Wow, that was a lot of reading about horrible skin diseases and discharge was it not? I haven't heard too many sermon series on stuff like that (actually, I heard zero!). Remember, when we are going through some of the tougher sections of the OT that seem like they have no practical application, get over yourself and open up to what God can tell you. Ask, "Why this is in the scripture...why this is important to God...what it tells us about His nature?"

Chapters 13 and 14 - It is easy to look at these chapters and simply say, God just told the people these things to keep them healthy and make sure diseases did not spread. While this is true, I also think it is a bit of a cop out on our part...I think there is something deeper going on. When the word leprosy is used, it is not referring simply to leprosy as we know it fact, most of the descriptions given do not coincide with traditional symptoms of leprosy. The word translated as leprosy was a term used to describe many different skin diseases, and that is what we see described for us. I think the emphasis on these chapters is not the health of the Israelite people, but the holiness of God. God dwells int he camp of the Israelite people and because they have a covenant system based on ritual and sacrifice...the unclean cannot be allowed int he presence of God. Yes, the people are spared from spreading disease when the quarantine and wash like God instructs, but that is just an added side bonus. God is showing the Israelites what it means to be the holy people of God...God is showing them the perfection that His presence requires. Never forget that we serve an awesome and holy God...we must offer ourselves to cleansed int he blood of Jesus Christ - as righteous. We must not offer ourselves out of selfishness and sinful motivation, but out of worship and the forgiveness we receive through His sacrifice.

Chapter 15 - Again we deal with some of the issues we came across earlier in can something that is natural and meant for the creation of life make a person unclean? Also again, if the Israelites followed God's laws of cleanliness, they will cut down on diseases and infections and live much more healthy lifestyles...but I think here is still something deeper going on. These laws of the unclean nature of male and female sexually related emissions (Something you don't figure into your youth ministry lesson planning very often!) speak to a huge difference between God and man. When God creates, life comes into existence without death. God created us in His image, so before Adam and Eve sinned...I believe humans could create life side by side with God that involved no death (Death did not exist before sin). When sin came into the world, death came along with it. Now all sexual emissions are reminders of our mortality and how far we are from God. Blood represents life and when menstruation comes, blood is lost - representing a death of sorts. The same goes for male emissions. Even the eggs lost in menstrual cycles represent death of sorts. And the children that come from a union of man and woman are born into death - they will die, that is the legacy we have left our children (Depressing, huh?). God is again showing us how different He is when compared to us. He is life and life comes from Him...we brought death into a world He created for life. The uncleanness that comes from these emissions is a reminder of the death that we have brought and the desperate need we have for God's forgiveness and cleansing.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Leviticus Chapters 10-12

10:1 - Wow, that sounds really harsh. The bible does not give us any clear understanding of the motivation Nadab and Abihu had for bringing strange fire in the tabernacle, but I think we can discern that it was sinful. They were bringing unauthorized fire (Maybe pagan ritualistic fire from peoples around the Israelites) into the presence of God almost immediately after He told them specifically what the ceremonies were supposed to be like. It follows a disturbing pattern in the lives of human kind starting with Adam and Eve and working it's way to you and me...even after it is clear to us what God wants - we often still reject Him and go our own way. Just as God showed He approved of their good sacrifice by burning it up with fire...He showed how disappointed He was in their selfish twisting of ceremony by burning the two sons of Aaron with fire.

10:11 - Now this is interesting and works in perfectly with the first passage I talked about. Did you understand what happened? Aaron and his other sons did not eat the holiest meat of the sin offering like they were supposed to! Why didn't they die when they messed up the ceremony like Nadab and Abihu? Well, Aaron explains himself - he did not think it was proper for he and his sons to eat the holiest meat offering because of the sin of his older sons...he did not think his family was worthy at that moment. He contemplated what God would want and acted to honor God, not himself. It's all about the heart! Nadab and Abihu had some sort of unknown selfish motivation for what they did and they paid for it. Aaron's only motivation was honoring God and God allowed him to break with tradition without consequences. Something for us to remember...its not about the ritual its about the heart!

Chapter 11 - The writer of Leviticus is not explicit as to why God makes certain animals clean and certain animals unclean? What is the motivation? Why is it so important? Well, there are lots of crazy theories out there, but I will offer one that I think makes pretty good sense. The food laws that God gives the Israelites really force them to think about the reverence of life and the importance of being holy (set apart). God reduces the number of animals the Israelites have to choose from - they cannot just run around the world killing everything in sight, because life is sacred. The animals that can be killed are abundant and tame enough to kill in humane ways - again highlighting God's heart for life. God will not allow the consumption of blood which shows that he cares for the health of the Israelites and the worth of blood. God sets all these rules because He wants the Israelites to understand that He only allows them to kill out of a concession of His grace. Death was never meant to have a place in creation! Man is not free to kill whatever they want whenever they want - they are allowed to kill animals because of the grace of God. Chapter 11 seems t0 offer commentary on how much God wants to protect life.

12:2 - A lot of questions come up when you read through the shortest chapter in Leviticus. Why does a woman who gives birth become unclean? Is pregnancy not a beautiful, God ordained for of creation? Yes it is, and in Genesis, God even tells men and women to be fruitful and multiply - pregnancy is a good thing! So what is up with the uncleaness? Again, we see the importance God places on blood. Through the birth process, the women comes in contact with blood and she becomes ritually unclean. It does not mean that she cannot come in contact with other people - it means that she is ceremonially unclean for tabernacle activities for a short time. It's about the sanctity of blood not giving birth.

12:5 - Why is the time for purification double for girls? Is God sexist? (Grossness alert - be ready) I believe that it is because baby girls when they are newborn also have some bloody discharged for a few days. The mother and the child both bleed and come in contact with the blood, so the time of purification is double. Not oppressive sexist, but logical reasoning.

12:6 - Why does the woman have to offer a sin offering? Is it sinful to have kids? No! She does not offer a sin offering because she did something morally wrong, she offers the offering because of the ritual uncleanness. The offering is for the sin of being unclean, which is not her fault...she did not do something wrong, she just became unclean - which is sometimes unavoidable as seen in other parts of the bible.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Leviticus Chapters 7 - 9

7:20 - This is a great reminder for us about the seriousness of taking part in rituals with God. We take part in a ritual every week during church services called communion. It is a time of is a time of communing with God and become one with the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Communion should not be taken lightly and it should not be taken with a distracted, unprepared heart. We destroy the power of communion if we allow it to become just some bread and juice we take during worship service...we are dining with God and burning into our hearts His awesome love and mercy...we are offering ourselves as living sacrifices...come to the table prepared.

8:6 - I find it interested that the first thing Moses does to ceremonially prepare Aaron and his sons for priesthood is a ritual washing. The first thing that Jesus did before he began his ministry as the ultimate high priest, was get baptized in the Jordan river. When followers of Christ are baptized, they become a part of the priesthood of all believers. This verse shows our priestly heritage.

8:23 - I know it sounds freaky, but by placing blood on the ears, thumbs and toes of Aaron and his sons, Moses is connecting them forever to the sacrificial altar. He is ordaining them into ministry...they are one with the altar. Just as Jesus offered his blood for our sins and we washed clean by his blood, connecting us forever to the cross and his sacrifice. We are one with the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. We are God's agents of truth in the world...our sins were crucified on that cross with Jesus and we can live victoriously in his resurrection. That is incredible stuff!

9:24 - The Lord is pleased with the sacrifice that Aaron and his sons offer and He shows them He finds it acceptable, by literally consuming the offering with holy fire. I want to offer myself fully to God and I want to be consumed and cleansed by His holy fire. I want to offer my life as a pleasing sacrifice to God.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Leviticus Chapters 4-6

4:3 - Jesus is the exact opposite of this high priest. The human high priest is sinful and relies on the death of a creature to pay for his sins. Jesus is sinless and offers himself as the sacrifice for others' sins. Jesus is the ultimate high priest.

4:22 - Own up to your sinful actions, especially if you are in a position of leadership. Admit when you are wrong, confess your sins and do whatever it takes to make things right. These are traits that have to be present in humble servant leadership. If more church leaders lived like this, there would be a lot less failed ministries.

4:35 - "And the priests shall make atonement for him for the sin which he has committed, and he shall be forgiven." It doesn't get any more Jesus-y than that!

5:1 - It is sinful to stand aside and allow evil to take place without doing anything to prevent it. As followers of God, we should feel guilt when we take an ambivalent stance towards evil around us.

5:4 - Shocking! It is a sin to gossip, say cruel things about people and tear others down? Yep. You worship God with that mouth!

"Realizes his guilt" - Did you see phrase used all over this passage? A huge part of repentance (turning away from your sin and towards God) is understanding that what you did was wrong. If there is no understanding of the evil that dwells within you, there will be no true turning towards Christ.

6:25 - We become one with the sacrifice of Jesus Christ...we are crucified with him...we come in contact with his offering and we become holy ourselves. Through his death and the death of our sinful human nature, we are made righteous.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Leviticus Chapters 1-3

Leviticus - Throughout this book as the author describes sacrifices, you will see the word unblemished frequently. It is important to understand that the Israelite people were offering God their best...honoring Him by give Him offerings that were as perfect as humanly possible. That's a great challenge for us to always offer the very best to God from our lives, and a picture of the perfect sacrifice Jesus had to be to pay the price for the sins of all of humanity.

Leviticus 1:4 - They place their hand on the head of the animal, and that animal becomes a vessel for their sin. A vessel that will be broken open and bled as a sacrifice for their inability to live godly lives. When Jesus was dying on the cross, he became the vessel to take on all the sins that humankind had ever and will ever commit. His body was broken and his blood was poured out to pay the price for us.

2:10 - The grain offering was a bloodless sacrifice to God. Sacrifice does not have to involve death and blood. The word sacrifice actually means "to make holy." The bloodless grain offering was given from the heart to honor God and it also helped to take care of the priests. The new testament calls us to offer ourselves as "living sacrifices" which is another type of bloodless sacrifice. We offer our lives in the honor of God and helping to take care of others.

3:17 - It is interesting to think that the Israelites kept the rule about not eating the fat all the time. It was just about going to the tabernacle...they always cut the fat away knowing that it was God's alone. So every meal they ate became a form of worship as they cut away the fat and honor God. It would be beautiful for all of us to live out the everyday, mundane parts of life as acts of worship. What can we cut away to offer to God? What simple things can we do to make every task a form of worship?

Friday, September 4, 2009

Exodus Chapters 37-40

I know this is a lot of repeated stuff about the tabernacle, but look hard for nuggets of awesomeness...they're there.

38:8 - What does it mean by the women who ministered at the tent of the tabernacle offering up bronze mirrors? Well, this is cool! In ancient times, highly polished bronze was often used by women as a mirror. In the Egyptian culture, which the Israelites just got out of, it was customary for women to bring their mirrors with them to worship at the temple. The Israelite women were coming to worship at the tabernacle with their mirrors as they had always done. Yet, when their hearts cried out to offer themselves fully to God, they parted with the mirrors. Extremely expensive, coveted, useful mirrors. In essence, they were leaving behind the rituals of the Egyptian religions and following God alone...they were cutting that part of their past away. They were also offering God their vanity, saying that it was more important to honor Him fully than to make sure they look their best. They have finally put God above self and that is a sign of true worship. Is there anything from your past that needs to be let go so that you can fully enter into the presence of God? Do you allow pride and vanity to keep you away from the true worship that God is calling you towards? See - nuggets of awesomeness!

40:34 - We are the tabernacles now! You and I! The glory of the Lord dwells within our hearts! The holy of holies is inside of us - live like it!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Exodus Chapters 34-36

34:6ff - The Lord is speaking about the Lord...kinda gives you that impression of plurality like Genesis (Let US make man in OUR image)...for me this is yet another representation of the trinitarian nature of God. Father, Son and Spirit in perfect community and they can speak not of arrogance about themselves, but out of fact. God is simply stating who He is. God saying He is merciful and gracious is like me saying, "I am a husband and father" - it is what it is.

34:12ff- This is a challenge and warning for God-followers. If you have made a covenant with God, you better not be running off to offer yourself to the world. Be very careful that you do not allow your culture or your country to take God's place as what you follow. God treats pagan culture so harshly in the OT because they have already been "whoring" themselves to false gods (That's how my ESV says it)...and God wants to be sure the Israelites do not start selling themselves to fake idols (Look at what happens to them every time they allow that stuff in their culture through the OT!).

34:28 - Here we see some more Christ-like imagery in the life of Moses. Moses was a messianic type figure for the people of Israel. God used Moses to save His people and bring them out of slavery. Here we see Moses fasting for 40 days and 40 nights in the desert with no food and water (Sound familiar?). He is a messianic figure, but he still could not truly save the people...Moses is not the perfect Messiah...we see his flaws throughout the Exodus story. He is just one more part of the puzzle that tells humanity, "We cannot save ourselves!"

34:35 - Here we see one of Moses' flaws. I believe that he veils his face after coming out of the tent, because he does not want the people to see the glory start to fade. He struggles with pride and we will see as we continue on, that his pride will keep him out of the Promised Land. Are there things you hide from people because you don't want them to know you are imperfect? Why? God glory shines through our imperfection. God's strength is evident in the face of our weaknesses.

35:29 - Again and again in this chapter we see that God only wants gifts and service from those who have their heart in it. God does not need our robotic, heartless obedience...God wants us to willingly offer ourselves. God wants what we have to offer when we are moved by the power of His love and mercy.

36:6 - How cool would it be if this was a problem in churches today? Imagine it - David Garison has to get up as church and tell people to stop giving because we have more than enough! That would be cool! The Israelite people finally have connected with God and are finally starting to understand what He has done for them and they offer everything to him. That's how I want to live!!!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Exodus Chapters 31-33

31:3 - Worship goes beyond just singing. Bezalel is filled with the Spirit of God and worships God through his creativity...through his job. We can honor God anywhere if we are filled with His Spirit and living to honor Him.

31:12ff - God is serious about the Sabbath isn't He? People will die if they do not keep the Sabbath! So what is the big deal - why is it so important? It is s symbol of what God has done for all of mankind through reminds us of who we are and where we come from. It is a time to find your rest fully in God...not just to be lazy, but to rest in God. To allow God to fill you. It is a show of trust in God, because you do not have to work constantly to stay know God will take care of you and you place your trust in Him. If you understand these things, then all the other commands will fall into place - you will love God and people.

32:2 - A Christian leader and any Christian for that matter, cannot give in to the crowd or the culture if they are calling us to sin. We must stand firm and not back down like Aaron did.

32:4 - Man! Talk about twisted! They are attributing the good in their life to idols they just crafted out of gold, "Look these things brought us out of Egypt." They just spit in God's face! And don't get to cocky modern day Christians, because we like to do the same thing. When life is horrible we are all about God, yet when life is good, we start attributing the success to ourselves and the good things in our lives. Don't forget how unfathomably disrespectful that is to God.

32:10 - Okay, what is going on here? Did Moses seriously just win a debate with God? Well, let's think about what we know about God. We know He is perfect. We know He is just. We know He is working all events in the universe whether good or bad into His will. So what do you think? A: I think He might be testing Moses (We know God like to do this - see: Abraham). Maybe God wants to see what kind of leader He has in Moses? Is Moses going to go, sounds good God - now everyone of your people will come from me alone? Or is he going to cry out for the people? Maybe it is a test. B: We know that God is a just God and He has just been absolutely rejected by His people. He has every right to destroy them and start over - it would be just. Maybe God allows the cries of His people to impact His decision even when the thing He was going to do is right and just (Which it always is). We know that prayer is powerful and prayer makes a difference, so maybe God allowed Moses to have a say and held off His judgement.

32:24 - Come on Aaron! Integrity is not real high on his list of good qualities. He won't even own up to what he did. Did you see what he says, "Uh, I just threw the gold in and a calf popped out!" That sounds like something my 4 year old would make up - come on!

32:20 and 27 - Okay this is some freaky stuff...let me offer a possibility. Moses grinds up the idol and makes the people drink it. The Israelites had another ritual about drinking stuff that might give us a clue about what is going on. If a woman was accused of adultery, she would be made to drink water and dust from the tabernacle...after drinking it they would know if she was guilty or innocent. Maybe when the people drank the dust, the Levites could tell if they were guilty of rebelling against God or innocent and they went through the camp killing those who were wrong...they were God's instrument of justice.

33:5 - They strip off all their jewelry because they are in mourning. They are mourning the sin the committed against God. They have stripped off their ornaments and they have stripped off their pride and they are naked and ashamed before God. This is what repentance looks remove all the garbage and all the walls and excuses and you offer yourself to the mercy of God.

33:10 - They worshipped when the cloud was in front of the tent, because they knew they were in the presence of God. We have the opportunity to worship every minute of every day...never forget that.

33:16 - All the other nations carry around powerless idols of stone and metal. The Israelites move with the presence and power of God. Hmmm, which one is better?

33:18 - The more Moses in with God and learns about God...the more and more he wants. He cannot get enough of the goodness of God. That's a great picture of the faith keep moving closer and closer to God and as you do, you want more and more.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Exodus Chapter 28-30

28:3 - Creativity and artistry are gifts from God. I think they are part of our reflection of the image of God. Think about the creativity and artistry God used to shape the universe. No matter how incredible the human artist becomes in their craft...they offer only an imperfect two-dimensional knock-off of what God has formed to perfection.

28:30 - Urim and Thummim - what? Thanks for all the explanation Exodus writer! Scholars think that part of the reason that the writer gives such a lame explanation of what these things are, is that he probably never saw them. These were for the priests and the priests alone, and he may have never gotten a glimpse of what the Urim and Thummim were. They must have been relatively small and flat if they fit comfortably in the breastplate the priest wore, so it is possible they were special pieces of wood or bone. It has become popular among biblical scholars to translate Urim and Thummim as "cursed" and "faultless," which would make sense because they are generally used to tell whether someone is guilty or the person cursed or faultless. Luckily for us we know a few things: none of us are faultless...God knows absolutely everything we have done and is a righteous judge...God loved us so much He paid the price for our sins forgoing the judgement we were due.

30:10 - Sin offerings were done once a year. So what happened when they were leaving the tabernacle after making the sin offering and they had a jealous thought or lusted? Well, they were toast...instantly they became unclean. This shows the flaws of the system where humans have to try to cleanse themselves through sacrifices and doesn't work. God wanted the people to fully understand that they could not save themselves, so that they would be ready to offer themselves completely to His grace and mercy which were offered through the cross.

30:32 - I am always trying to get my hands on some biblically accurate anointing oil, because that would be cool. Well, after reading this passage, I am done with that search! Scary!