Aaron Summers

Posts Tagged ‘Book of Leviticus’

Zits, Mildew, and Other Disgusting Stuff

In Church, Cleansing, Commitment, holiness, Leviticus, Trust on February 25, 2011 at 5:38 pm

Over the years, I have been witness, and party, to many disgusting things.  I don’t remember much during my childhood that was too bad, but I have been told I was something like monkey when it came to throwing certain things!  However, adolescence is so difficult on all of us, right?  The hormones and chemicals start flowing and create havoc on a soon-to-be-dating teenager.  You remember, don’t you?  The painful little demons that popped up Friday morning and had white heads just before you left for the game or date?  Maybe it doesn’t matter to kids as much these days, but it was HORRIBLE back in the day.  So when I read in Leviticus on the passages about skin diseases, which are not all leprosy, some sound a lot like zits.

9 “Anyone who develops a serious skin disease must go to the priest for an examination. 10 If the priest finds a white swelling on the skin, and some hair on the spot has turned white, and there is an open sore in the affected area, 11 it is a chronic skin disease, and the priest must pronounce the person ceremonially unclean. In such cases the person need not be quarantined, for it is obvious that the skin is defiled by the disease.

18 “If anyone has a boil on the skin that has started to heal, 19 but a white swelling or a reddish white spot develops in its place, that person must go to the priest to be examined.

Leviticus 13

Can zits make me unclean in the sight of God?  It sure did with the girls!

I was walking through a house that had been involved in Katrina and  discovered mildew.  I don’t know what kind it was and it doesn’t really matter.  It was a frustrating moment for the owners who were required to change several walls of sheet rock.  It had spread so quickly in the humid air.  All of the sheet rock had to be cut out and removed.  Were these people now unable to live in the house?  If anyone goes in they are unclean  until the next day?

44 the priest must return and inspect the house again. If he finds that the mildew has spread, the walls are clearly contaminated with a serious mildew, and the house is defiled. 45 It must be torn down, and all its stones, timbers, and plaster must be carried out of town to the place designated as ceremonially unclean. 46 Those who enter the house during the period of quarantine will be ceremonially unclean until evening, 47 and all who sleep or eat in the house must wash their clothing.

Leviticus 14

Sometimes scripture is difficult to understand in our times.  What does this mean for me today?  At first blush the rules God instituted at this point seem ridiculous.  However, God was doing this for more than just “because I said so”.  because of the lack of cleansers, the people’s health was in danger.  If they were contaminated, making them ceremonially unclean actually kept the diseases from spreading.  When the nursery at your church posts signs during these months telling you to keep children at home if they have had a temperature with 24 hours is for everyone’s benefit.  Sure, it is inconvenient but necessary.

So what can we learn from these strange passages of scripture?  When we look back from our New Testament mentalities we often cannot decide on any reasons.  Jesus came to fulfill the law and the prophets.  If that is the case, then aren’t all these passages useless to us on this side of the cross?  I believe God has inspired all of the Word as valuable to us.  So, here are three principles:

  1. We must yield to the sovereignty of God.  God says it.  We do it.
  2. We must be willing to be different when God demands it.
  3. We must remain alert to what is sinful.

God is holy.  God is also practical.  Following God’s rules for our lives is critical to  spiritual and physical health.  While we may have overcome zits, mildew, and other disgusting stuff with our knowledge and technology, there are more items to deal with today.  Follow these three lessons to maintain a healthy life.

Parenting Without A Net

In Family, Leviticus, Parenting on February 24, 2011 at 7:06 am

We thought we were ready.  We had read the books and watched the videos.  We had our parents with whom we talked.  We saw others and knew what we wanted and did not want. We had a vision of how things were going to be.

Then our firstborn came along and everything changed.  Screams in the night have turned into questions that would turn heads of state.  Sleep is overrated.  Answers are not forthcoming.  In fact, one might actually lead to the other.  The books covered very little.  Extended family only can help so much.  Sooner or later we all are parenting without a net.

Like the trapeze artist who swings and flies through the air in death-defying ways, parenting is both thrilling and dangerous.  One wrong move and everything blows up.  One bad decision and they might be scarred for life, both physically and emotionally.  Meanwhile, the child you think needs protection actually is more resilient than you believe.  Yet, we deeply want a net that isn’t there.  Or is it?

As the Israelites were hanging out by Mt. Sinai, God is giving instructions to Moses concerning behavior and consequences.  Every choice has a result.  Follow along in Leviticus 26. With good decisions come positive responses:

3 “If you follow my decrees and are careful to obey my commands,4 I will send you the seasonal rains.

6 “I will give you peace in the land, and you will be able to sleep with no cause for fear.

9 “I will look favorably upon you, making you fertile and multiplying your people. And I will fulfill my covenant with you.

With poor and rebellious decisions come negative responses:

14 “However, if you do not listen to me or obey all these commands, 15 and if you break my covenant by rejecting my decrees, treating my regulations with contempt, and refusing to obey my commands, 16 I will punish you.

Basically, God has taken the children of Israel into His family and will raise them as His own.  He is parenting them.  What can we learn?

We must be clear. God was extremely clear on the issues of obedience and rebellion.  Throughout the message He gives via Moses, God is detailed in the rules of behavior. Much of the last half of Leviticus spells out the expectations God has for his people.  How often are we clear with our families?  Do we spell out the expectations?  Do we go over the house rules regularly so that we are clear?  Clarity is one important factor in parenting without a net.

We must be consistent. As one continues to read through the Bible, God is consistent in his responses.  If the Israelites acted properly God would respond positively as He said he would.  If the Israelites acted in rebellion, God punished them.  He did not do this with  malice, but mercy.  He gave them chances, but there was an end.  So often in families today there is no consistency.  Either the parents don’t agree, or change the rules mid-game.  Parenting without a net requires consistency.  We must do what we say we will do, whether positive or negative.   There is no respect without consistency.

We must be complete. The remainder of the Old Testament reveals to us that God was complete.  He always followed through.  What He said, He did.  If we promise ice cream, ice cream needs to be purchased.  If we promise a spanking, we had better use that paddle.  God knew the need for humanity to see consistency in its authority figures.  Do we complete what we start or fizzle out when it gets hard?  We must finish strong.  I have personally seen so many that threaten with a wispy whip.  There is no follow-up.  God followed through with what He said.  Nation after nation was used to discipline Israel.

When the books fail and advice falters we parent without a net.  In these moments we must remember three things.  be clear.  Be consistent. Be complete.

Your Winning Lottery Numbers

In Church, Commitment, Leviticus, Money, tithe on February 22, 2011 at 7:26 am

Our state, while not the last, is one of the latest to enter the Lottery gaming system to “support” education.  I have been asked over the years whether or not I would receive the tithe from a lottery winner if it was presented.  What do you think?

 

 

We have been on a journey through scripture and we find ourselves at the base of Mt. Sinai.  Moses has received the basic law on the tablets.  God watched as the tabernacle was constructed.  He came and filled it with His presence.  One day Moses was passing by…

18 “Give Aaron and his sons and all the Israelites these instructions, which apply both to native Israelites and to the foreigners living among you. “If you present a gift as a burnt offering to the Lord, whether it is to fulfill a vow or is a voluntary offering, 19 it will be accepted only if your offering is a male animal with no defects. It may be a bull, a ram, or a male goat. 20 Do not present an animal with defects, because the Lord will not accept it on your behalf.

Leviticus 22:18-20

God begins to instruct Moses on what Aaron is to accept or not accept concerning the offerings for sacrifice.  In a culture where cattle was the wealth system we begin to appreciate the giving of an unblemished animal for sacrifice.  Aaron receives explicit instructions that anything less than unblemished and pure was not worthy as an offering.  If the bull had a limp it was not acceptable.  If the bull was not sound in his stride it was not acceptable.  If the bull was not square in his stance it was not acceptable.  If the bull was weak in his front end it was not acceptable.  If the bull is without proper muscle and power it was not acceptable.  If the bull was not  complete in growth, leanness and muscularity it was not acceptable.  God demanded a PERFECT bull if it was going to be a substitute for my sins.  Anything short of this was not considered worthy as an offering to God.  Cattle was a part of the wealth system of the time and culture.  In short, bulls were money.  With this in mind, any “money” that was not pure and undefiled was not accepted as an offering to God.

Let’s return to our original question. Would lottery winnings be considered unworthy as an offering to the Lord?  It would seem that according to Leviticus these winnings would be unworthy.  Does Jesus make any adjustments?  Does the New Testament make any reference as to what can be offered to God?  When Jesus died he completed the requirements “once-for-all” in the sight of God.  The sacrificial system was finished.  Faith in the person and activity of Jesus was now established.

Do you believe that these winnings are acquired in an unworthy manner?  If so, does this make the tithe from these winnings unworthy?  Some would say, “The Devil has had it long enough.”  Another argument would be that if good can be done with this it should be.  If it can further the Kingdom, then it should be used.  What do you think?  Our answer presents a few problems.  If we believe that the offering, in this scenario, is unworthy then it should not be receive d.  To refuse such offerings requires a deeper faith that God will provide for the needs.  Your capital campaign fundraising committee suddenly has restrictions on acceptable income.  In these moments our knees knock and our faith wavers.  Consider the math.  The 8 million dollar lottery winner will pay half to gaming taxes leaving 4 million.  Let us reduce this by half again for capital gains and other issues.  The winner still has 2 million.  The offering from this is $200,000.  Who of us could not use this “wisely” and with “Kingdom intentions”?

If we receive this offering then we must view Christ’s death on the cross as closing the sacrificial system.  If Jesus is the once-for-all sacrifice then he has provided for every person’s need for atonement and relation potential with God.  In this way, Leviticus becomes educational as to the reason for Christ’s death rather than a model for what we are to do today.  Therefore, receive that $200,000 and finish that remodel or new construction in name of Jesus.

Swimming Upstream

In behavior, holiness, Leviticus on February 21, 2011 at 7:41 am

The salmon life cycle is quite interesting.  According to Fish Ex salmon have quite a life ahead of them.  Spanning several years these fish will leave home, adjust to saltwater, readjust the fresh water, and swim upstream to their natal areas.  All of this because they are wired to swim back to where they started and lay their eggs.  As they do they will quit eating and live off the fat they have stored.  Once the eggs are laid, the fish will die in about 2 weeks.

The concept of swimming upstream is well used for any analogy regarding going in the opposite direction.  I have seen shirts that picture this phrase in fun and unique ways.  Usually the “go against the flow” phrase is used because it is a little more edgy.

A more traditional approach is found Leviticus.  As the Israelites were at Mt. Sinai, God established several boundaries concerning holiness.  He wanted them to take precautionary measures before they would enter Canaan.  We know how the story ends.  The people take on the religious personality of those they were to conquer.  What I find interesting is that God hints at this with the command He gave.

22 “You must keep all my decrees and regulations by putting them into practice; otherwise the land to which I am bringing you as your new home will vomit you out. 23 Do not live according to the customs of the people I am driving out before you. It is because they do these shameful things that I detest them. 24 But I have promised you, ‘You will possess their land because I will give it to you as your possession—a land flowing with milk and honey.’ I am the Lord your God, who has set you apart from all other people.

Leviticus 20:22-24

God wanted them to swim upstream to holiness.  The land they were going to enter was filled with horrible practices as God viewed the people.  God told the people to not live according to the customs of the people.  The Apostle Paul told the church at Rome something very similar.

2 Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

Romans 12:2

Swimming upstream is not just for salmon.  God is calling us as His followers to swim upstream in our culture.  The consistency of God is amazing sometimes.  Whether the Israelites, Romans, or us today, God wants us to follow His direction instead of the direction of our culture.  How hard this is!  All of our education, entertainment, and desires go against God.  How much easier would it be to simply float down the river?  Going upstream is arduous and exhausting.  However, if the salmon do not do this the next generation will never come to life.  God wants us to flow upstream toward holiness because if we do not we will never birth the next generation.

Christianity is only one generation from extinction.  Swim upstream.

Oh, the Blood

In Church, Cleansing, Jesus, Leviticus on February 15, 2011 at 9:34 pm

blood, human, splatter, drops

Image via Wikipedia

Blood.  Red, oozy, life that courses through our bodies bringing with it the needs of a living being.  Blood bothers us today. As I have been reading through Leviticus I am brought up close to a massive amount of blood that was being prescribed for an ongoing relationship with a Holy God!

But the blood bothers us in our sanitized and civilized communities and culture.  I have taken several trips around the world to deliver the good news of Jesus Christ.  The trips have not bothered me, or the team, the way recent trips have.  As we prepared for travel to Africa we were reminded of the HIV issue.  We were going into a country for dental and evangelism work.  This region is known for high rates of HIV/AIDS.  We began discussing our operations and precautions.  Blood-born diseases are life-threatening.  While it is true that the life is in the blood, so also is death and disease.  This fear has changed how every sporting event is conducted.  No longer does a player remain in play if blood is noticed.  Everyone stops and the player exits the field of play until the blood is handled.  This fear has changed the sidelines as well.  Everyone who works on an injured player is double and triple gloved to prevent any transference and contamination.

As we begin to read through Leviticus, all we see is death and blood.  The bull’s throat is cut and the blood spills everywhere.  Then Moses sprinkles blood on the altar and spreads it on the horns.  Blood is placed on the right ear, right thumb, and right big toe of Aaron during his priestly ordination and preparation.  Three animals killed in a matter of moments.  Blood is everywhere on the ground, the altar, and people closest.  We shy away from Leviticus not only because of the blood and our resolve is fading off the new year, but also because we don’t get it.

Romans, Chapter 3

21 But now God has shown us a way to be made right with him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses[i] and the prophets long ago. 22 We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.

23 For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.

The burnt offering was made in order to rid oneself of sin and be fully submissive to God.  Because of the sin of the person, something had to receive the punishment in the place of the person.  So an animal, without blemish was brought to the altar for sacrifice.  This animal was fantastic!  They did not bring the sick and lame that we would leave back in the barn.  They would take the one that just won grand champion and sacrifice it.  The blood that was shed from that perfect animal was there to cover the sin of the person.  The cutting of the throat and bleeding to death was painful.  This punishment was given to the animal instead of the person.

Romans, Chapter 3

24 Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. 25For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, 26 for he was looking ahead and including them in what he would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate his righteousness, for he himself is fair and just, and he declares sinners to be right in his sight when they believe in Jesus.

The blood covered the sin.  The punishment was given to a substitute.  This is the picture of Jesus Christ.  Leviticus comes alive when you keep Jesus in your mind as you read it.  Holy God could not relate with sinful man apart from the removal of sin.  The sacrifices gave mankind a way to remain in the presence of, and under the protection of, God.  After humanity became so entirely wicked and the sacrifices were meaningless, they no longer affected the mercy of God.  At that time, He sent Jesus Christ, who knew no sin, to become sin IN OUR PLACE!  Jesus is the priest and the sacrifice.

Oh, the blood of Jesus that washes away sin.

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