Leviticus – Defining the Relationship

Standard

I am in my 8th week of reading through the Bible in a year. Right now, I’m somewhere in the jungles of Leviticus. Hacking my way through the sacrificial system (lots of blood and heavenly BBQ). Contemplating how my relationship with my pastor might change if I had to go to him for bumps and rashes (see Chapter 13). Okay, I’m not thinking too much on my pastor being bi-vocational dermatologist.

Photo by Alexandra K on Unsplash

In the thick of all the details regarding discharges, the Day of Atonement, and forbidden sexual practices, one can see that God is a God of detail. Conditioning and preparing His people to be set apart for Him, different than the people who were then occupying the Promised Land. These rules and boundaries were not only there to set His people apart but to also protect their very beings.

  • Drinking blood? Don’t do that.
  • Sacrifice your kids to an idol? Don’t do that.
  • Sleep with your mom or sisters? Just don’t.

Even more, God was teaching His people how to interact with Him. Christian vernacular would call this a DTR (define the relationship) moment. God was calling His people to participate in a relationship with Him. A relationship that would require:

  • Dedication – To following His rules/law.
  • Honor – Honoring God with the first fruits of their crops, animals, essentially their labor.
  • Sacrifice – Both literal animal sacrifices and the daily sacrifice of living set apart/holy.

God wanted His people to be dedicated solely to Him. Not looking at the surrounding culture, how they worshiped their gods, but looking to Him alone.

Reading through Leviticus, I’m reminded of the sacrifice of Jesus dying on the cross. How his death made a way for us to be with God forever. I am thankful that I do not have to visit my pastor to have a skin rash examined; I am thankful for not having to worry about how my food is cooked—rare steak can be amazing!—. I praise God for being a God of detail. Revealing Himself to the Israelites… revealing a glimpse of Himself to us.

Yielding My Heart

Standard

Last night, I taught a Bible study on the Book of Joshua, chapter 24.  A chunk of Joshua 24 is about the Israelites recommitting themselves/ renewing their covenant to follow God. Towards the end of the chapter, right after the people have agreed to the covenant, Joshua exhorts the people to:

23 “Now then,” said Joshua, “throw away the foreign gods that are among you and yield your hearts to the Lord, the God of Israel.” (NIV)

This got me thinking about the “foreign gods” that I allow into my own life. One of my daily routines, when I wake up, is to check:

  • My email
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • WordPress (for blog stats)
  • and the weather

I do all of these things before ever engaging in a conversation with my wife, let alone spending time with God. In a way, I have let social media become a god. So, today I didn’t go through my morning routine. Instead, I read my Bible for a bit (had trouble focusing) and then prayed for awhile. My time of prayer was awesome! I’ve been learning not to beat around the bush but to tell God exactly what I am thinking (even though He already knows).  In an act as simple as putting down social media as the first thing I engage in, in the morning, I have “yielded my heart to the Lord”.

What foreign gods do you need to throw away? What is keeping you from yielding your heart to the Lord?

Sincerity

Standard

16 The people answered, “We’d never forsake God! Never! We’d never leave God to worship other gods.

17-18 “God is our God! He brought up our ancestors from Egypt and from slave conditions. He did all those great signs while we watched. He has kept his eye on us all along the roads we’ve traveled and among the nations we’ve passed through. Just for us he drove out all the nations, Amorites and all, who lived in the land.

“Count us in: We too are going to worship God. He’s our God.”

19-20 Then Joshua told the people: “You can’t do it; you’re not able to worship God. He is a holy God. He is a jealous God. He won’t put up with your fooling around and sinning. When you leave God and take up the worship of foreign gods, he’ll turn right around and come down on you hard. He’ll put an end to you—and after all the good he has done for you!”

21 But the people told Joshua: “No! No! We worship God!”

22 And so Joshua addressed the people: “You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen God for yourselves—to worship him.”

And they said, “We are witnesses.”

23 Joshua said, “Now get rid of all the foreign gods you have with you. Say an unqualified Yes to God, the God of Israel.”

24 The people answered Joshua, “We will worship God. What he says, we’ll do.”

Joshua 24:16-24 (The Message)

I read this passage last week during a devotional time in the morning. I was struck by the sincerity of the Israelites. However, as history would show, the Israelites continually would stumble and walk away from God. Thankfully God is a God that judges the heart; thankfully, He pursues us even when we don’t want to be pursued. In reading about the Old Testament struggles of the Israelites, I often feel myself wanting to scream at them, “how can you walk away from God when he just did ________?” I mean, these people experienced firsthand being led out of slavery in Egypt. I repeat, slavery! As much as I want to scream, I know that I am no better.

Looking back, I can see what God has done in my life. I can see how he led me across the United States in order to meet my wife. I have experienced rich blessings from God and yet I forget about those things while bogged down with everyday life. Issues at work, trouble with those around me, these things consume me and leave me wondering where God is in all of it. The thing is is that I fail, like the Israelites, to remember what God has done in my life. My heart is truly sincere in wanting to know God and follow him; my flesh, on the other hand, is indeed weak.