Monthly Archives: February 2020

Not Equal (Leviticus 7)

I find it so interesting, and reassuring, that each tribe brought exactly the same offering to the altar, no matter the size of the clan, or its wealth. All had equal share in the altar, all were required exactly the same. It speaks to me of our own equal footing before God in regard to our sin debt, and His grace equally available to all.

But there was something not equal in this chapter, too, and I have overlooked it until today. God told Moses to give carts and oxen to each Levite clan, “as each man’s work requires.” For those families in charge of the lighter loads, Moses assigned two carts and four oxen. For those with the heavier burdens, Moses gave four carts and eight oxen. The holy things didn’t require a cart or oxen at all. Those things were to be carried on the shoulders of the Kohathites.

I have a friend whose husband died yesterday. Janie’s load is heavy right now. And I know God will supply exactly what she needs to carry on with a broken heart, and a burden too great to carry on her own.

The thing is, she has lovingly cared for her husband these past 20+ months since his debilitating stroke. She has spent every day talking to him, even though he could not answer her. She has read to him, or just sat with him day after day after day, assuring him of her love with kisses and by holding his hand or stroking his cheek. It has been a difficult time.

Many people may think, “I don’t think I could do that. I’m not strong enough.” And they are right to think that. When our life is about carrying a lighter load, God doesn’t give us four carts and eight oxen. If our circumstances require us to do what we need to do while carrying our burden on our shoulders, He will not give us the strength of two oxen.

But let me assure you, that for those of us who know Jesus as our Savior, those of us who have a relationship with God Himself, we can count on all the oxen and carts we need when we need them. Not before. But exactly at the right time.

I’m praying for my friend today. She loves God, and Jesus is her Savior. I pray that she will recognize the strength that is hers through her relationship with God. I couldn’t do what she’s done, and what she is going to have to do in the days and weeks ahead. My burdens don’t require four carts and eight oxen right now. But Janie’s does. And I pray that she will find rest in the assurance of God’s strength, His love, and His Presence in her life.

I believe God gives His children what we need when we need it, that when we are at a place in life when we are crushed by pain, we find that Jesus provides exactly what we need to walk through it. One day my friend won’t need four carts and eight oxen. But she does today. And I trust that God is going to provide exactly what she needs.

 

Uninterrupted (Leviticus5-6)

I’m not sure what prompted men to make a Nazarite vow. It was most likely to honor God, or as a testimony about their devotion to God. Whatever the reason, it was a serious thing to do, a commitment God took very seriously.

If you made the Nazarite vow, you had to do it God’s way – no exceptions. Not even if something unexpected happened to that person. If for any reason he was exposed to uncleanliness, the vow was voided, and he had to start over again. Making the Nazarite vow could not be interrupted.

The vow required complete obedience. And that has me thinking about my vow to God as His child. My vow to follow Him and serve Him requires complete obedience. It’s not a vow that I can honor on Sunday, and ignore on Thursday, if I want to please God. It’s not a vow that I can put on when it’s convenient.

Now the man whose vow had been interrupted had to start over. I don’t lose my salvation every time I sin. But – and this is what God is saying to me today – I cannot let sin in my life go unaddressed. Not ever. When I sin, I need to confess that sin and allow God to forgive me. In a sense, I guess it’s like starting over, with a clean heart and a determination not to repeat that sin.

God tells us to be holy as He is holy. I am praying that each of us will vow to be everything He wants us to be, that we will follow His rules, and with His help be a man or woman totally dedicated to Him…

uninterrupted.

 

Broken Promises (Leviticus 26-27)

Most of us have reneged on a promise or broken a vow at some time in our lives. We get caught up in the moment and make a rash declaration we are unable to fulfill. These days, when a promise is not kept we often hear the words, “My bad,” as though that negates the promise. We expect everyone to just move past it.

But what if the promise is made to God? In a desperate attempt to bargain with God, we might pray “If You… then I will…,” or “If You… I promise I will never…” Oh we absolutely mean it at the time we say those words. But life happens, and so often our promise is forgotten.

Does God forget? What does God do with those promises and vows we break? Leviticus suggests there is a price to pay if we can’t fulfill the promises we make to God.

Now I know we live after the cross, that we are under grace, that God forgives our sin when we ask Him. I know there is nothing we can “do” to earn God’s favor, or to make up for something we did or did not do. But does that make breaking a promise to God a moot point?

Leviticus has me considering the broken promises I’ve made to God. When I recognize them as sin and confess them to God, I know He forgives. But I wonder if that act of forgiveness changes me. Does the fact that my God extends grace to me make me more aware of my choices, does it encourage me to choose my words and my actions so as not to repeat the sin of breaking my promises to Him in the future? Do my broken promises to God break my heart?

The Jews were to buy back the vow they could not keep, plus add a fifth of the value to the purchase price. It reminds me if – when – I break a vow, God expects me to do better next time. With His help, I can.

May I be aware that my words are heard by God, that when I make a promise to Him He does not take it lightly, and may I keep the promises I make to Him because He loves me and keeps His promises to me.

It’s the least I can do. And personally, I don’t want to be satisfied with doing the least I can, in response to His marvelous grace.

Once and For All (Leviticus 16-18)

When I read about all the different kinds of sin sacrifices, and all the different regulations for each, I can’t help but think of Jesus.

When Aaron lays hands on an animal and then slits its throat, I see Jesus’ blood dripping down His face, drops of blood from His hands and feet dripping down the cross to the ground below. When Aaron sprinkles blood on the altar or touches an ear or thumb with blood, I know Jesus’ blood was applied to me.

I think it’s important for us to read the Old Testament account of the sacrificial system which God provided for dealing with sin. When we read all the regulations, all the intricate details, we can better understand what Jesus’ death did.

Because it is nothing short of amazing to know that Jesus fulfilled every regulation, every detail perfectly…

once and for all!

Good Grief (Leviticus: 8-10)

Grief is such a personal experience, isn’t it? Two people in the same home can’t even go through the process in exactly the same way. Psychologists tell us there are healthy ways to grieve, and there are unhealthy ways. But they will also tell you that, even though there seems to be a common progression, ¬†grief is different for every individual, including the period of time a person takes to grieve.

So, is there an acceptable duration of grief? Should a person grieve for a day? A week? A year? A lifetime?

Two of Aaron’s sons died violently on the same day. Yes, they’d sinned. Yes, they’d disobeyed God. Yes, they deserved to die. But these were Aaron’s baby boys.

If you’ve lost anyone suddenly like that you probably relate to Aaron. He had things to do, responsibilities, duties to perform, and Aaron went ahead and did them. But I imagine he was on auto-pilot that day. I imagine his arms felt heavy and his feet were like lead. I imagine he had to force himself to breathe. At least that’s how I felt on June 24, 2012. But Aaron had things that needed to be done, and he did what he had to do.

He just couldn’t force himself to eat. I wonder how long before Aaron could even look at food, how long before he got his appetite back. We don’t know. We just know that the day his sons died, the food sat before him untouched.

And that made Moses really mad. But Moses did something I think is important for us to consider. Moses went to Aaron and listened to him. Moses was angry until he stopped to understand Aaron was grieving. Moses may have misjudged the depth of Aaron’s grief because Aaron was able to get through his duties that day. I mean, Aaron looked like he was handling things. Why wouldn’t he eat? When Moses took the time to talk to his brother, he realized that behind the stoic front, there was a hurting man inside.

Maybe that’s what we should do when someone is grieving. Instead of going to them with answers, we should understand that they won’t grieve the same way we think we would in the same situation. They may be paralyzed by grief a day longer than makes us comfortable. But their grief isn’t about you or me.

Moses listened to Aaron’s heart, and it appears that he understood that Aaron’s grief was real, and deep, and personal. At that point, Moses stopped trying to force his own agenda on his hurting brother.

When someone in our lives is grieving, let’s determine to just listen, to try to understand or at least accept their pain as their pain. Let’s support them and love them, and pray that in God’s timing they will be able to dance again, to laugh and feel real joy again. And let’s pray that some day, they will be blessed by the memories of the one they have lost.

And if you are grieving, grieve. If you are hurting, hurt. But I pray you won’t go through this alone. Find someone willing to let you grieve, someone who will listen to you rant if you need to rant, or cry if you need to cry, or be silent if even the effort of speaking is too great. Grief is a natural thing when we lose someone. Don’t deny yourself those feelings. (I’m talking to you men, too, you know).

But let me encourage you to get out there again when you are able. I think for most of us there is an element of sadness, or grief that stays with us when we experience a loss like that. But eventually that grief doesn’t have to paralyze us. Eventually we find ourselves laughing at silliness again, rejoicing in good times (and there will be good times). We wake up one morning with joy in our hearts, believe it or not. And we get our appetites back, we actually smell the aroma of baking bread, and taste the pizza once again.

Most importantly, let me encourage to you pray. This grief is very personal, and we have a very personal God. I believe He weeps when we weep, that He gives His strength when we have none of our own, and that His joy is available in every and all circumstances.

Psalm 34:18 “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

 

Call It What It Is (Leviticus5)

Sometimes we can rationalize our sin. We call it a mistake, or an accident, a momentary weakness, or lack of will-power. We might feel better about our transgressions – but God is not looking at our sin for anything other than what it is:

Sin.

That truth occurred to me this morning as I read what God said to the people who could not afford to bring an animal sacrifice. He told them they could bring a handful of fine flour and give it to the priest. BUT… they were to bring the flour without adding oil or incense to it. Just the flour.

They were not to try to dress it up, or to make it smell better. They were to offer the flour in its natural form. It was their sin offering – not a mistake offering.

Let’s stop trying to camouflage our sin. Because unless we confess our SIN, I’m not sure God forgives us. I don’t read anywhere that Jesus died for my momentary weakness or for your lack of will-power.

Jesus died for sin. We need to confess our sin. Let’s call it what it is.

The Presence (Exodus 39-40)

The book of Exodus ends with a description of the Presence of the Lord. Moses and the people had done everything God told them to do to make a beautiful dwelling place, fit for the King of Kings. And when it was done, God showed Himself to the people in all His power and glory.

May we do everything God has told us to do to build His Church, the place where He dwells on earth today. And may his Church, you and I, be fit for the Presence of the King of Kings in all His power and glory.