Day 48: Fuel for Your Soul (Leviticus 24-25; Mark 1:23-45)

“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?

Day 45: And the Curtain was Torn (Leviticus 18-19, Matthew 27:32-66)

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.

Day 45

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)?

Day 44: Beauty In the Burning (Leviticus 15-17, Matthew 27:1-31)

Leviticus is one of the hardest books of the Bible to read, or at least it is for me (confession!), because who truly enjoys reading about the consequences of sin and a lot of dead animals? However, amongst the blood, death, fire, and burnt offerings- there is beauty in Leviticus, especially when read alongside the New Testament. The beauty comes in the realization that we now have Jesus. When we understand the context of the Old Testament with the revelation in the New Testament, we understand the weight of our sin and the hope that we have in Jesus.

“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” -Hebrews 4:14-16

When you read about the chief priests in Leviticus who served as the “middle men” between God and His people, let your heart rest on Jesus. He came as the ultimate middleman between you and Heaven (refer to Hebrews 4:14-16 above). Today we read about the events leading up to His crucifixion: He was betrayed, stood defenseless, was humiliated, rejected, and felt immense pain.

Have you been there? Certainly not to the extent that Jesus was, but we have all experienced those feelings in some form. Jesus gets it. He is not some separate chief priest who is high and lofty, but He knows your humanness and your pain. With that knowledge, we can have confidence in sharing our sorrows with Him and petitioning before His throne.

Theologian Tim Keller summarizes the crossroads between the Old Testament and the New Testament beautifully. “The gospel is this: We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope.”

Day 44

When we read Leviticus, we realize how sinful we are before a perfect God. And when we read Matthew, we realize how loved we are that Jesus would die a horrific death to stand in our place.

Ask God to reveal to you what challenging situation or sin you are currently facing in your life. In light of the fact that Jesus was fully human and yet the all-powerful God, how does this change the way you approach your situation or sin?

Day 43: Clean (Leviticus 14, Matthew 26:55-75)

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?

Day 42: Unclean (Leviticus 13, Matthew 26:20-54)

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?

Day 41: A Poured Out Life (Leviticus 10-12 and Matthew 26:1-19)

When I read older books of the Bible, like Leviticus, I like to shake my heads at the crimes of the Israelites. How they could not believe in God? Why didn’t they do the sin offering the way God specifically instructed them? I mean how hard can it be, right? Well, we too can be like the Israelites even in today’s age. We hardly take the time to stop and listen to God after we rattle off our prayer requests. How can we be so prideful to think we are walking with God better than the Israelites were?

Then we turn our attention to the book of Matthew and read of the woman who literally laid down her entire life’s savings at the feet of Jesus. Have you ever thought about the stories in the New Testament where God asks people to give up all they own to follow Him? Would you be able to do that right now? I definitely don’t think I would be able to.

Let us work this year on being poured out for God like never before. Not giving Him the tiny parts of our lives, but giving Him our all. We are all sinners and undeserving of God’s grace, but the amazing thing is He still wants to use us, even when we mess up, like the Israelites.

Take some time today to ask Him to help you give all that you are to Him. Just because you may have failed in the past or fell out of touch with God, it is never too late to start an intimate relationship with Him.

What can you do in your devotional time differently to ensure you’re hearing God’s voice this year?

Day 40: The Least of These (Leviticus 7-9, Matthew 25:31-46)

Day 40

First, we read Leviticus 8 describing the detailed ordination of Aaron and his sons, the men who God chose to serve Him in His holy place. They were elaborately cleansed and clothed so that they might be pure enough to enter into the presence of God and serve Him. And then we read Jesus’s words in Matthew calling “the least of these”—the sick, imprisoned, naked, and thirsty—His brothers and sisters. Wait, what?

The contrast between the qualifications necessary to be in the presence of a holy God in the Old Testament and the position of those who draw near to God in the New Testament is stark. Because of Jesus, the pathway to God was opened and the stance needed to reach Him changed. Instead of requiring a priest to act as an intermediary, God asks that we come to Him with a humbled heart.

As Jesus tells this parable, He challenges us to overlook the physical condition and to help those who are in vulnerable positions. Yet, He also offers comfort. Because as we look at those He chooses to identify with, we realize that they are the forgotten, the rejected, and the impoverished. And He says: I am with you.

Today, embrace the gift that Jesus has given us—the gift to be loved and held by Him. Challenge yourself to see all people as equally able to receive that gift.

What does it mean to position your heart in a place of humility and vulnerability?

How would your life look differently if you saw Jesus in the faces of the people around you?