Today’s Bible reading: Leviticus 16:29-18:30; Mark 7:24-8:10; Psalm 41:1-13; Proverbs 10:15-16
Chapter 16 of Leviticus concludes with some final instructions regarding the annual Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur). On that day the people were to fast and deny themselves. It was to be a somber day spent realizing their sinful nature and looking forward to the day the Messiah would arrive. Fasting was, and still is, a way to create a self-awareness of sin.
In Leviticus 17 God reminds the people that there is only one place that their sacrifices will be honored — in the Tabernacle (and later at the permanent Temple). This runs contrary to our society today where people claim they can create their own path to God. These same people (and I used to be one of them) will say that it is closed-minded to say that Jesus is the only way to heaven. Actually, it has nothing to do with closed-mindedness or open-mindedness. It has to do with love. The fact is that God could have kept heaven closed to every one of us sinners. He didn’t need to create a way to heaven. But He did. He did it because He loves us. He loves us more than I could ever express in writing. So He created a way for you to be with Him forever. The issue isn’t that there’s only “one way” to God. The issue is that there is even a way at all. God’s way is the only way. That is not God being closed-minded. That is God being “you-minded”.
The second part of Leviticus 17 gives prohibition against drinking blood. As this passage states, the life of a body is in the blood. A creature had to give up its life (i.e. spill its blood) so that the Israelites could have their sins forgiven. To drink blood was to profane the atonement made on a person’s behalf. God is teaching the Israelites to respect life as well as to respect the sacrifice the animal made for that person. This all pointed forward to Christ spilling His blood and giving His life so that those who believe in Him can have eternal life.
Those who belong to God, which includes all born-again believers living today, are not to act like the world does, as God tells Israel in Leviticus 18. We are living in the world, but we are not to be like the world. This applies to all facets of our life including sexual practices which are covered in this chapter.
God forbid these practices for many reasons. They lead to sexually transmitted diseases. They lead to unwanted pregnancy. They lead to birth defects. They put a strain on an existing relationship. They create a bond between the two people involved. They affect existing children and families. The prominent view in our culture, which promotes casual “whenever we want it” sex is self-absorbed. The consequences don’t matter as long as we satisfy our immediate needs. But God’s view is wiser. God invented sex. He knows how it should best be handled. His rules are for our benefit, not to prevent us from having fun.
Leviticus 18:21 mentions Molech who was an ancient pagan god to which parents sacrificed children, often the unwanted children of adulterous and incestual relationships. The children were burned alive on a statue of Molech. Abortion is simply the modern-day equivalent performed with a vacuum instead of fire.
The next couple of verses prohibit homosexuality. I am no psychiatrist of physiologist. I have no idea if gay people are born that way or not. But does it matter? People are born selfish (ever have to remind a little kid not to share?)… does that mean we should condone selfishness? Being “born that way” doesn’t justify anything. Sadly Satan has gotten into the mind of many gay people and has convinced them that either the Bible is wrong (because it prohibits homosexuality) or that the Bible has been rewritten to include prohibiting homosexuality or that there simply is no God. The long-term result of this will be gay people going to hell not because they were gay but because they didn’t believe the truth. The truth is God loves everyone despite our many-faceted brokenness.
Its very interesting and thought-provoking to read Leviticus 18:27. The people in the land God was giving to the Israelites were performing all these practices. So God was kicking them out of the land. They had lived there for a long time but God’s patience had run out. How does that apply to the United States where these practices are not only rampant, but promoted and celebrated? I fear that we will suffer the same fate as the Canaanites in the not too distant future.
Jesus uses a rather odd method to bring hearing to a deaf man in Mark 7 today. I don’t know exactly why Jesus did it this way. The only thing I can think of is, since the man was deaf, Jesus didn’t use a spoken word. Instead He used gestures. Maybe so this deaf man would understand what Jesus was doing?
Jesus feeds another massive crowd today in Mark 8:1-10. This is a different feeding that the one we previously read about. And that is sad because you would think that the disciples would have had a different response to Jesus in verse 4. Why didn’t they say something like “Hey, You fed this many people before. Do it again”. But it seems they had forgotten. This isn’t so hard to understand. I have been following Christ for over 20 years and I can tell you that I need to be reminded every day of how great and wonderful and powerful God is. When faced with a problem it is easier to see the obstacles rather than the solution.
Psalm 41 informs us that God will bless those who look after others who are in need (verses 1 – 3) and will punish those who take advantage of those who are weaker (verses 4 – 10). The golden rule applies here. Treat others the way you want to be treated.
Proverbs 10:15-16 reminds us that by living righteously we will have life. But what we “earn” by living in sin is death. Of course while on this earth we will all struggle with sin. We will never be perfect this side of heaven. What God is talking about here is not perfection or lack of it. What He is talking about is the disdain we have for sin. If we hate sin, even though we know it is present in us, we will try to do the right things (with God’s help). But if we do not hate sin, or if we love it, we will live a life apart from God on earth. God will “reward” that with a life apart from Him in eternity. That’s not what anyone should want.
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