Sometimes I wonder if I’m on a self-destructive path. I’m 25 years old with a Master’s degree, living with two roommates in a city I’m not in love with, working two jobs (because I can’t choose just one), rock climbing, and drinking more coffee than normal. My grandmother likes to ask me when I’m going to move back “home” and my parents regularly dance around the question of, “When are you going to get a normal job?” Society tells me that every choice I have made was wrong.
Yet, despite my concerns about money, the challenges of sharing a space with two people, and the occasional jitteriness from one-too-many cups of coffee, I feel fully satisfied. Here’s the thing: as Christians, we’re not going to make the choices that society wants us to make. So, in order to define our success and satisfaction, we cannot use society as a gauge. Look at Leviticus 26: 3-5 and 26 for perspective…
If you follow my decrees and are careful to obey my commands, I will send you rain in its season, and the ground will yield its crops and the trees their fruit. Your threshing will continue until grape harvest and the grape harvest will continue until planting, and you will eat all the food you want and live in safety in your land…but later…When I cut off your supply of bread, ten women will be able to bake your bread in one oven, and they will dole out the bread by weight. You will eat, but you will not be satisfied.
If you’re feeling dissatisfied in your life, what are you missing? Think about your relationship with God as you do about your relationship with food. There are different food groups—if you’re missing one of those, your body isn’t going to be satisfied. There are many aspects to your relationship with God—if you’re missing one of those, your spirit isn’t going to be satisfied.
What’s missing from your relationship with God?
How can you be inspired by the men in Mark 2:1-12? Are you prepared to “tear the roof” off of a place in order to get closer to God…despite society’s disappointment in your actions?
“The Lord said to Moses, ‘Command the Israelites to bring you clear oil of pressed olives for the light so that the lamps may be kept burning continually.'”
A revelation I had in my Scripture time is the parallel between the temple before the Gift of the Holy Spirit and us (the temples of the presence of Christ). When I read the portion of the Bible emphasizing the temple, I notice how much attention The Lord gives to every detail of His dwelling pace. How much more concern He must have for us – the temples created in His Image.
Coming into Leviticus 24, we see more instructions for temple maintenance, but there is something about references to light that carry so much power. Notice how there is a command to burn continually supplied by oil. Today, we have the Holy Spirit as our source of oil – fueling our power to live as lights.
How do you “refresh” spiritually to avoid burnout?
I AM THE LORD.
In Leviticus 22 and 23, God tells Moses this phrase eleven times. In a lengthy and occasionally dull book like Leviticus, it’s easy to just read without paying much attention. It’s difficult for us today to understand the detailed cultural laws that the Lord commanded to the Israelites. I mean, how is it relevant for me to know what to do if you eat a sacred offering by mistake (Leviticus 22:14) or that it was required to live in booths for seven days (Leviticus 23:42) during the Feast of Tabernacles?
At the end of every long command God reminds Moses, “I am the Lord your God”. All of these instructions are not for God’s benefit, but for the Israelites’ benefit! God commanded them to give their very best – to “not bring anything with a defect, because it will not be accepted on your behalf” (Lev. 22:20). For hundreds of years, God instructed His people to provide sinless sacrifices, so that later on in the New Testament God could give His sinless sacrifice on their behalf – His Son, Jesus.
In the beginning of Mark, we see another servant of the Lord who wants to do what God asks of him, John the Baptist. Living as lowly as one could imagine, John gave his life to remind God’s people, “I am the Lord your God” and that their sacred offerings would soon be pointless.
Let us praise God for the gift of Jesus! We don’t have to memorize sacrificial rituals or worry about our atonement because we have a skin disease (Lev. 22:4-8). Thank Him for the Cross and praise Him for His death! Rejoice with John in John 1:29, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”
What is God teaching you through today’s readings?
Holy. Set apart. Above reproach. As believers, these are the characteristics we are called to. In Leviticus 20, the Lord is talking to Moses about laws to help prepare his heart for the Promised Land. The Lord commanded the people not to live according to the way of the nations they would enter and if they obey, overflowing blessings would come.
Like Moses, God has plans for us. But, in order to prepare our hearts and minds for the things to come, our mind has to be pure and set on Him alone.
Recently, I had the opportunity to hear from the pastor of a local orphanage in Myanmar while on a mission trip. He spoke about how setting his heart on Jesus alone has affected him, his family, and the orphans he serves. Being a believer in Myanmar, which is 80 percent Buddhist, was a call not to live according to the customs of the nations. Twenty years later he is seeing the overflowing blessings and faithfulness God poured out onto him and the orphanage.
What does being a set apart young woman look like for you?
When you examine your heart, how can you begin to live a set apart lifestyle at work, school, and at home?
Yesterday we read about the events leading up to Jesus’s death, and the hope that we have with Jesus as our “middleman,” the high priest who sympathizes with our weakness.
Today we read about God’s plea to the Israelites to be holy and then about Jesus’s crucifixion and burial. The idea of holiness is that we, as children of God, are called to be set apart from the world. Yet holiness is also a call to be in a close relationship with God. The long list of requirements for the Israelites were put in place so that they may be complete and whole in God, able to live to the fullest. And Jesus came that we might have life. As such, looking different from the world means looking like Jesus.
As we have been exploring, the dichotomy between the Old Testament and the New Testament is the beauty of the Gospel. God gave the Israelites the rules in Leviticus so that they might be holy as He was. The place where God’s presence resided, the Holy of Holies, was separated by curtain. Only the chief priest was allowed to enter, and he could only enter once a year to present an offering. The purpose was to separate the Holy God from sinful man.
“Jesus shouted again with a loud voice and gave up His spirit. Suddenly, the curtain of the sanctuary was split in two from top to bottom; the earth quaked and the rocks were split.” -Matthew 27:50-51
Yet, when Jesus took His last breath on the cross, the curtain split in half. The significance was that sinful man could now be in the presence of God; in fact, the presence of God would now come and take its place among men! Through a relationship with Jesus, man could now become holy – set apart. When the curtain split, all of the physical strivings to be holy could now cease. God was now saying, you are holy because I am holy, and you are Mine.
What does the torn curtain mean for you today?
How can your life be more set apart (look less like the world and more like Jesus)?
Some of the most radical things Jesus did in his ministry involved healing lepers. Yesterday, we talked about how lepers were outcasts from the moment they developed the disease. Yet Jesus, the son of God, stooped down and touched these people who probably hadn’t had any physical human contact in years. Can you imagine how loved you would feel if that were you? A holy God reaching out to look into your eyes and touch you even though you were filthy?
That’s what Jesus does for us. I love that this chapter in Leviticus on a leper’s cleansing, lines up with part of the Passion. Matthew 26 is characterized by much sorrow. Jesus is betrayed, arrested, denied, beaten, and abandoned on His way to fulfilling the mission of the cross. He felt all of these things in our place. He suffered these things to make us clean. He walked through the unimaginable to rescue us from our filth.
Before we knew Jesus, we were like these lepers. Outcasts. Unclean. Diseased. But Jesus came to our level and reached out His hand to gently lift our heads when no one else would. Our sin is no match to the cross, and our disease disappears in His cleansing blood.
What does it mean to you that Jesus reached out to you in your mess?
How can you intentionally reflect today on all Jesus has done for you?
Can you imagine being a leper in Israel? You had to live alone, away from your friends and family, only with other lepers. You had to call out “unclean!” to announce yourself. You had to stay six feet away from other people, but 150 feet away if the wind was blowing. Lepers were filthy outcasts to the rest of the Israelites.
The problem of this disease was not just important in times of the Old Testament, but it was present during Jesus’s ministry as well. If the Bible talks about something so much, it must be noteworthy, so why should we care about leprosy? One reason is that it symbolizes the destructiveness of sin.
Leprosy completely takes over the body, making one unclean in all aspects. Sin is the same way. Before we were saved, we were completely unclean—dead in our transgressions and separated from God. Once we were saved, we were made completely clean and new. But unfortunately that doesn’t mean we never face the possibility of sin’s disease again! Sin puts up walls between us and God and, if left unchecked, can infiltrate every area of our lives. We must be vigilant in fighting it, knowing that it is Christ who gives us victory, cleanses us, and heals us from all of our diseases.
What are some practical ways you stay away from sins that have a tendency to trip you up?
How do you rely on Christ’s victory to help you overcome sin?