Christianity 201

June 30, 2016

Leviticus Lessons

Overview of the book as found at Bible Charts:

Chart of Leviticus


Today we’re paying a return visit to Susan Barnes, whose writing we included here two years ago. In addition to book reviews, she’s currently blogging some devotional thoughts on the book of Leviticus. Today you get a two-for-one special, as we look at restitution and sacrifice. Click the titles to read the individual devotions, or for more click this link, and look for the articles headed “Devotional Thought.”

Devotional Thought : Leviticus 6:4-5

 … they must return what they have stolen or taken by extortion, or what was entrusted to them, or the lost property they found, or whatever it was they swore falsely about. They must make restitution in full, add a fifth of the value to it and give it all to the owner on the day they present their guilt offering. Leviticus 6:4-5

A common theme in the Old Testament is restitution which varies according to the offense and the attitude of the offender. In the situation described here, restitution is made in full plus a fifth when they ‘realize their guilt’ (v. 4). They have voluntarily realized the error of their ways and sort to make amends.

Elsewhere when someone is caught with stolen goods in their possession they are to pay back double (Exodus 22:4 & 9) and if they are unable to give back the stolen property because they’ve disposed of it, they are to pay back four or fivefold (Exodus 22:1). These directives were known and taken seriously as we can see in Zacchaeus’ response to Jesus (Luke 19:8).

It’s remarkable that after restitution has been made the victim is better off than if the item hadn’t been taken. The forgiven person is better off than before they sinned. This is a Biblical principle and even God restores people double for their misfortune. This restitution represents stolen property being found in another’s possession. Not that God steals from us but sometimes he removes his protection and the devil has an opportunity. This is seen most clearly in Job 1 & 2 and in his restoration in 42:12 (also Isaiah 61:7, Zechariah 9:12). God accepts responsible for evil being in the world, even though it was caused by Adam’s disobedience.

We always receive more than we lose.

Devotional Thought : Leviticus 9:24

 Fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed the burnt offering and the fat portions on the altar. And when all the people saw it, they shouted for joy and fell facedown. Leviticus 9:24

Wenham in Constable’s Commentary writes: “This chapter brings out very clearly the purpose and character of Old Testament worship. All the pomp and ceremony served one end: the appearance of the glory of God.” It’s also interesting to note that this is the first time in the Bible a word for joy is used.

The purpose of worship is to draw near to God. Then he will draw near to us (James 4:8) and we will experience his presence. Sometimes this will be almost tangible but most times we will simply know we are in his presence because of his promise (Matthew 18:20).

We might view worship as a duty or a sacrifice and while there is sacrifice involved, God’s intention is to bless. David writes in Psalm 16:11 “you will fill me with joy in your presence”. God wants us to draw near to him so we can receive his joy.

The sacrificial system in Old Testament times was quite elaborate and costly as they sacrificed animals which could otherwise have been eaten. Yet they remind us of God’s costly sacrifice – his own Son. As we focus on God surrendering his Son for us, anything we forego is minor in comparison. Any sense of duty we feel dissolves, as our response becomes one of gratitude.

Perhaps we are reluctant to draw near to God? May be we are challenged by his holiness and our lack of it. God’s presence can be like a refining fire to us (Malachi 3:3). Yet his intention is to purify us so we can experience his joy.

Has God put a scripture passage on your heart you’d like to share with a larger audience? Consider trying devotional writing. See the guidelines in the right margin here, and also check out the page marked ‘submissions.’ If you don’t have your own website or blog, also tell us a bit about yourself. If you wish, first send us a one paragraph summary of what you’re proposing to write.

October 15, 2012

Sabbatical Rest

A sabbatical isn’t simply ‘time off.’ Not any more than fasting is ‘not eating.’ Fasting is abstaining from food for the purpose of focusing spiritually; and a sabbatical is abstaining from work for much the same purpose.

This year a lot of people I know in ministry of taking sabbatical breaks of varying lengths. But I never thought of Christian musicians honoring this principle until I landed today at the blog of Jimmy Needham, where this appeared under the title Resting In The Lord: My August Sabbatical.

“The LORD spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai, saying, “Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, When you come into the land that I give you, the land shall keep a Sabbath to the LORD. For six years you shall sow your field, and for six years you shall prune your vineyard and gather in its fruits, but in the seventh year there shall be a Sabbath of solemn rest for the land, a Sabbath to the LORD. You shall not sow your field or prune your vineyard. You shall not reap what grows of itself in your harvest, or gather the grapes of your undressed vine. It shall be a year of solemn rest for the land.”
(Leviticus 25:1-5)

In August of 2005, I released my very first independent CD, “For Freedom”. This was the album that got the attention of Inpop Records only three month after it’s release, which ultimately led to my first ever record contract in February ’06. I was 19 when that first album dropped. Still in college with plans to be a history teacher. I’m writing today as a twenty six year old. In a week I will be a father of two. Six years of marriage to my best friend next month. And, this August will also mark seven years since “For Freedom” was released and my career began. So much has happened in these seven years, and I’m grateful for it all.

There is an often undervalued command of Scripture that we find in Leviticus 25. It is a passage on rest. Specifically, God commands that every seven years the people are to cease tilling the ground, gathering it’s fruits, sowing and reaping. “There shall be a Sabbath of solemn rest for the land” (Lev. 25:5). The command served dual purposes. First and most practically, it allowed the ground a year of “recovery time” for it to replenish the nutrients that the soil had lost over the past six years. This rest actually made the soil even better than before so that the next six years could be fruitful and profitable.

The second purpose was not for the soil but for the people: “But in the seventh year there shall be a Sabbath…to the LORD.” Every business owner knows, work equals provision. You put your hours of labor every day and yield a return that will provide for you and your employees as well as grow your company. Time off means regression, no production, no provision. This is a terrifying thing. Maybe that’s why so many Americans are work-a-holics. The Lord knows this about mankind, and He knows that what is best for man is not to rest in their own efforts, but to rest in Him. He is their provider and their ceasing from work is a tangible way for them to affirm that.

I wanted you to know all that so that I can inform you of something. This August, in honor of my seven years of laboring in the studio and on stage, and in keeping with the essence of the levitical command, I have decided to take a Sabbath rest. Not for a year, but for a month. From August 5th until September 5th I intend to one thing, rest. My goal is to take thirty days to press into the Lord and to invest in my family and friends. I am hoping this will yield two results: First, that just like the fallow soil replenishing its nutrients, my heart will grow a renewed fondness and desire for Jesus, that He would expand my appetite for Him and then satisfy that appetite. I’ve been going virtually non-stop for seven years and there is no question that on some level, my relationship with Him has suffered because of that. I look forward to hours of uninterrupted God-time to pray, read and enjoy being in His presence.

The second outcome I am aiming for is to remind my heart that it is the Lord and not my labors which provide for me and my family. Despite misconceptions about my financial situation as a recording artist, if I’m not on the road, I’m not making money. Thirty days of no income is no fun, but I believe and am trusting that God will provide in the interim.

The Lord says to the people, “The Sabbath of the land shall provide for you” (v. 6). It’s a funny statement. It’s like saying, “not providing will provide for you.” Our provision is not by works, but by God’s grace as we rest from our works! This beautiful passage is a shadow, an arrow of the future grace that was to be poured out on people when Jesus came to earth. “For it is by grace you have been saved through faith. And that, not of yourselves, it is a gift of God. Not by works so that no man may boast.” (Eph. 2:8-9). My God “provides for His beloved even in their sleep” (Psalm 127:2)!

…continue reading here

September 27, 2012

Reading Leviticus With Jesus

Joe Amaral is one of Canada’s leading experts on understanding the New Testament in the context of the Old Testament. Originally self-published, his book Understanding Jesus was published by FaithWords, who have just released What Would Jesus Read, a daily devotional.  To learn more about Joe’s books and videos, visit First Century Foundations.

Our post here is actually two consecutive devotionals from the book.

Leviticus 9:22 Then Aaron lifted his hands toward the people and blessed them. And having sacrificed the sin offering, the burnt offering and the fellowship offering, he stepped down.

This passage is about the beginning of the priests’ ministry and their responsibilities.  You have to remember that at this point in time, the people themselves were not able to approach God.  They couldn’t even come into the tent.  The priest did everything for the people when it came to their spiritual lives.

The priests sacrificed the animals on the people’s behalf and would make atonement for their souls.  There were many daily rituals and rites that could only be performed by the priests.  But they were also responsible for blessing the people.  They would speak God’s Word and blessing over them.  It’s a pattern that needs to be carried out today by believers.

We are all priests.  We all have the responsibility to be a blessing and to bless those around us, both in word and in deed.  As people of faith we need to be a light in a dark world.  People are verbally beaten down on a daily basis.  Be like Aaron: speak a blessing over and into people.  Live like a priest today.

Leviticus 9:23 Moses and Aaron then went into the tent of meeting. When they came out, they blessed the people; and the glory of the Lord appeared to all the people.

Everybody loves to read about the glory of the Lord appearing to people.  Not just in ancient times, but still to this day.  How do we get to see His glory?  Is it when we whip ourselves into a spiritual frenzy during worship?  Is it when we pray for hours at a time?

It’s not that God can’t or won’t move during these times.  However, we seldom think of the context in which God moved in this particular passage.  It’s no secret, yet very few catch it.  Here it is… are you ready for it?  The priests had just finished performing the sacrifices as God required; then they emerged and blessed the people.  After that, that’s when the text says the glory of the Lord appeared to the people.  Did you catch it?  The priests obeyed God’s commands… and He appeared to them.

That’s the not-so-secret to seeing God’s glory.  He has called us to live a life of obedience.  When we walk in His ways, it brings glory to His name.  And in turn, He shows us His glory.  Obey Him today and release His power and glory in your life.

Joe Amaral