Posts tagged ‘Genesis’

Leviticus? Oye!!

How many of you have set out with the admirable goal of reading the entire Bible? Genesis is good. It has a great bunch of stories in it. Certainly can’t complain about Exodus with all the suspense. Both are not only pretty easy to read, but actually rather enjoyable. But then there is Leviticus. Not much else can derail a Bible-reading plan faster than…*snore*…huh? What was I saying? Oh yah, Leviticus, the book of the law.

Not meaning to pat myself on the back or anything, but I am pleased to say I have now finished reading it for the 2nd time. Don’t be too quick to congratulate me, though. It took me several months to read those 27 chapters. With Paul’s words to Timothy floating in the back of my mind, the reminder that all Scripture is God-breathed and profitable, I asked God many times why Leviticus is even in the Bible.

I have read and re-read, with great fascination, the chapters about the  7 God-assigned feasts of Israel. But I have to admit, my eyes were pretty glassy through the rest of the book. I did find that there were so many commands in chapter 19, that I needed to read that one 2 or 3 times to unpack it all.

Leviticus is the third book of the Old Testament, and written by Moses.  It is the record of the law given by God to the Israelite people after leaving Egypt.  It is not the 10 commandments.  Rather, it is the very extensive list of what sacrifices should be performed for what purpose, and the pretty detailed list of how to go about doing that.  It’s not a book for the squeamish as it talks quite a bit about the particular parts of the sacrificial animals that are to be used, and where to pour the blood, etc.  It contains quite a list of sins and what their punishments should be.  Also an extensive list of what makes a person, or thing, unclean and what to do to be considered clean again.  One can even learn how to deal with mold in a dwelling.  It is a book that was obviously meant as an instruction manual for the Israelites.

Leviticus is for a people who had not yet been redeemed by the Messiah, thus the necessity of the sacrificial system.  So what possible purpose could it have for Christians today?  Why even bother making the effort to try to read it?  And yet, the Apostle Paul did say in 2 Timothy 3:16 and 17 that “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”  We must bear in mind that when Paul wrote these words, there was no New Testament.  The Scripture he is referring to was the Books of the Law (including Leviticus), the Prophets, and the Writings, aka the Old Testament.  With this in mind, I can concede that even today it is important to recognize the behaviors listed in Leviticus as ones that God declares sinful.  Still, there must be something more for Paul to declare that ALL Scripture is profitable.  All means all after all.

As I continued reading through this book, pondering its usefulness, and praying for God to reveal that to me, the answer came while reading an unlikely passage.  In chapter 21, verses 16-24 God declared that no descendant of Aaron (the priestly line) who had a physical defect of any kind could go past the curtain of the Tabernacle to the alter and offer the sacrifices because he would profane God’s holy place.  As the daughter of parents who are both totally blind, and as a teacher for students who are blind and/or have other, sometimes quite severe, disabilities, this passage caused me to stop short.  As I paused to pray, I heard the Holy Spirit speak the answer to my first prayer.  Then I understood, not just why this command about the priests with physical defects, but the purpose of the book as well.

The following is the understanding the Spirit gave to me:  The Bible is not just a collection of stories, books, and letters.  It is, in fact, The Incomplete Works of God.  It is a partial biography, or perhaps autobiography of God.  His memoirs.  A record of His works and interaction with mankind.  Of course it is incomplete because no one can know the mind of God…there is so much more about Him that is not recorded in the Bible, but this is what we have.

Each page, chapter, and book is a gradual revealing of who God is.  And each book, as a whole document, has a theme that reveals something to the reader about the characteristics of God.  Genesis shows us that God is the creator.  He created the world, and everything in it.  He created animals and humans.  He created the family that He would send the Messiah through.

Exodus shows us that God is not only God of the Israelites, but God over everything and everyone.  No matter whether a person believes in Him or not.  No matter that person’s status in this world, peasant or king.  There is no one who does not fall under God’s jurisdiction.

Leviticus points to the complete holiness and righteousness of God.  By detailing what is required of His people in order to be holy in His sight, we see that there is no way humanly possible for any man to stand holy and righteous before Him.  Not only that, we see that God cannot, and will not, tolerate any sin, nor the effects of sin, in His presence.  That is what the whole thing about forbidding a priest with physical defects from carrying out a sacrifice was all about.  It was not because the defect was a result of any particular sin on the part of that person, or his parents.  It was because the defect is a result of sin entering God’s perfect creation and distorting all of it.  It was a physical apparition of sin; a living, breathing example of the curse of sin in the world.  This did not say that God did not, and does not love anyone with a disability, by the way.  We can see that He does by looking how mercifully Yeshua (Jesus) healed the many blind, deaf, and lame in the New Testament.  He was the extension of God’s love and mercy, and became the mediator between God and all men.

I wonder what Numbers will reveal?  I have already started reading, and praying for God to show me more of who He is in this book.  I have also begun to keep a record of these revelations in the front of my Bible.  I want a place I can go at any time to be reminded of all God is whenever I need to.  I can’t wait to finish Numbers and see the whole picture!!

 

The ETERNAL part of God’s Covenant

The progression of God’s covenant with Abraham:
Genesis 12:1-3 – God promises to make a great nation of Abraham and his descendents; to bless Abraham; to make his name great; to make him a blessing; to bless those who bless him and curse those who curse him; and to bless the world through Abraham.
Genesis 12:7 – God promises to give the land of Canaan to Abraham’s descendants.
Genesis 13:24-17 – God officially gives the land of Canaan to Abraham and his descendants and promises to make Abraham’s descendants as numerous as the dust of the earth.
Genesis 15:8-18 – God performs a one-sided covenant ritual with Abraham, making the responsibility to keep the covenant solely God’s.
Genesis 17:1-7 – When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am Almighty God; walk before Me and be blameless. 2 And I will make My covenant between Me and you, and will multiply you exceedingly.” 3 Then Abram fell on his face, and God talked with him, saying: 4 “As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you, and you shall be a father of many nations. 5 No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you a father of many nations. 6 I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you. 7 And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and your descendants after you. 8 Also I give to you and your descendants after you the land in which you are a stranger, all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.”
Note: GOD made HIS covenant with Abraham and his descendants. It was that HE would be their God, and that they would possess Canaan. AND THE COVENANT WAS ETERNAL. God has NOT, and NEVER will, abandon Israel as His chosen people. If He did, He would be breaking the covenant that He made with Israel, that He accepted sole responsibility in keeping; and He would not be faithful and true. To verify that God planned to keep His covenant with Israel (Abraham’s descendants through Isaac and then Jacob, who’s name God changed to Israel) check out Jeremiah 31:35-37 and Jeremiah 33:23-26 where God says the sun, moon, and stars, day and night, would have to cease to exist before He would cast off Israel from being His people.

Christians, we must support Israel. We must pray for Her. We must defend Her. We must aid Her. And we must remember that we are members of Her as believers who have been grafted into Her body – Romans 11:16-24. It is through Israel’s Messiah that we receive salvation and eternal life. It was through the Jews of the early church that the Gospel was brought to us, the Gentiles. Now it is through us that the Gospel must be carried back to Israel, to God’s chosen people, to receive their own Messiah, as God more and more softens their hearts of stone and removes the scales from their eyes so that they may see and accept the truth.

Fitting an Immeasurable God into a Human-sized Box

Two, maybe three times this week someone spoke or wrote words that suggested that God is maybe not as big as we think He is.  It really bothered me.  My God is big.  Huge!  Enormous!!  Immeasurable to my puny little human mind.  Just because I can’t understand how big and powerful He is does not mean I should try to squish Him down into a box that fits my brain.

Recently I visited a Christian book store with a couple of my boys.  I can’t remember the conversation between the clerk and one of my boys, but I do remember him saying that God knows what we are going to do before we even do it.  The clerk said, “Well, I don’t know that He knows what we are going to do, but He is great.”  As we left the store, my son turned to me and said, “But Mom, the Bible tells us that God knows our thoughts before we speak them.”  Yes indeed.  Read the Word.  Psalm 139:4 – Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, You know it altogether.  And Isaiah 46:9-10 – Remember the former things of old, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done….

During my Bible study this week, words were written that indicate that because God is so much greater than we are, then His time table is bigger than ours and thus, while creation on our time table was only 6 days, it was billions of years for God.  My question, who created time?  God did!  I don’t believe we can assign time to God.  As the creator of time, He is outside of it, not restricted by it.  If we believe that the Word of God is inspired by the Holy Spirit (2 Timothy 3:16), then we must believe that the words Moses wrote when writing the book of Genesis are of God.  The Hebrew word that Moses used to describe the creation (Genesis 1:5b) is the word for a 24-hour day.

Also during my Bible study, it was suggested that ‘Then God said, “Let there be light’; and there was light” meant that this light that God created was the spirit of the Messiah, who would later take on human form in Jesus.  A number of scripture passages were quoted which refer to Jesus as the Light of the world.  But something just seemed unsettling to me about this.  Then I reconsidered John 1:1-4 – In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.  All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.  In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.

Compare to the first 5 words of the Bible:  “In the beginning God created….”  First of all, the Word was Jesus, the Messiah, and He was with God and was God…in the beginning.  God did not create the Messiah because He was part of Him.  Do I understand that?  Not with my human mind, but that is why God’s thoughts are higher than my thoughts.

Second, all things were made through Him (Jesus, the Messiah), and without Him nothing was made that was made.  In the beginning God created.  The spirit of the Messiah had to have been with God already before “let there be light” in order for all things to have been created by through Him.

Here’s the deal.  To me, all of these things listed above just seem to diminish my God and my Savior.  If God does not know everything, including the future and what I am going to do before I do it; and if God is limited by the time that He created, and couldn’t create the world in only 6 24-hour days, but needed billions of years to do it instead; and if the spirit of the Messiah was created by God, and not was not God, then He is not a God powerful enough for me.  I want to worship and serve a God is greater than anything I can fathom.  If I can shrink Him, then He is not God, He is just a limited being that can be explained away.  BUT, (and I thank God for that but!) He IS omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent.  And He is worthy of my praise, and the sacrifice of my life in service to Him.  He is worthy to be called the One and only True God.

walking on the narrow path.

walking on the narrow path with Jesus

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