Leviticus 4-6

Greetings!  This reading is Leviticus 4-6

This section has a consistent and sobering theme: Sinning unintentionally does not relieve us from guilt before God.  Examples:

Leviticus 4:13 “‘If the whole Israelite community sins unintentionally and does what is forbidden in any of the Lord’s commands, even though the community is unaware of the matter, they are guilty.

Leviticus 4:22 “‘When a leader sins unintentionally and does what is forbidden in any of the commands of the Lord his God, he is guilty.

Leviticus 4:27 “‘If a member of the community sins unintentionally and does what is forbidden in any of the Lord’s commands, he is guilty.

There are plenty of sins I do remember (too many to count); It is scary to think of how many sins I didn’t realize I committed.  Sometimes when I replay past events I realize that what I thought was acceptable really wasn’t.  Thanks be to God that Jesus paid the price for all my sins!

It also includes “sins of omission,” such as not speaking up when hearing a public charge to testify about something.

Taking an oath in vain was a sin:

Leviticus 5:4 “‘Or if a person thoughtlessly takes an oath to do anything, whether good or evil—in any matter one might carelessly swear about—even though he is unaware of it, in any case when he learns of it he will be guilty.

Confession was an important part of the process.  God didn’t just want the sacrifices, He wanted them to see their sins as He did.

Leviticus 5:5 “‘When anyone is guilty in any of these ways, he must confess in what way he has sinned

If an Israelite deceived his neighbor he was required to give back what was taken plus a fifth of the value, along with a guilt offering. 

Reflect on what stood out to you in this reading and share your comments and questions if you like.

Weekly roundup

Coming soon to  a school district near you: Schools ‘Callous’ Toward Parental Concerns Over Transgenderism.  This school is teaching 3rd graders about transgenders and transvestites.  Believe it or not, there are even worse things being done in other parts of the country.  You get this – and more! – when sexual preferences become civil rights.   

In case you haven’t seen it, check out Charlie Brown goes on Jihad.

Some good tips on giving.

Why doesn’t the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi build his peace center in Baghdad or Saudi Arabia or Darfur instead of in the middle of the U.S.?

For those of you in Houston, KSBJ (89.3 FM – contemporary Christian music radio station) is back on the air at full power (their antenna had been damaged by lightning)

Pray for the persecuted church (video) – Hat tip: Ms. Green

Penguin shoes.  Seriously.

Zeal

Being zealous for your faith is often portrayed as a negative.  But what does the Bible have to say about zeal? 

One of the most clear and instructive passages is from Paul in his letter to the Galatians.   Note that he says that being zealous is fine, but the purpose must be good and we should be consistently zealous, and not just for show.

Galatians 4:17-18 Those people are zealous to win you over, but for no good. What they want is to alienate you from us, so that you may be zealous for them. It is fine to be zealous, provided the purpose is good, and to be so always and not just when I am with you.

Jesus was zealous (this was quoted in John 2:17 when Jesus cleared the temple).

Psalm 69:9 for zeal for your house consumes me, and the insults of those who insult you fall on me.

We are supposed to be zealous.

Romans 12:11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.

Proverbs 23:17 Do not let your heart envy sinners, but always be zealous for the fear of the Lord.

Zeal must be based on knowledge.

Romans 10:2 For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge.

Proverbs 19:2 It is not good to have zeal without knowledge, nor to be hasty and miss the way.

Other thoughts on zeal:

2 Corinthians 8:22 In addition, we are sending with them our brother who has often proved to us in many ways that he is zealous, and now even more so because of his great confidence in you.

Isaiah 37:32 For out of Jerusalem will come a remnant, and out of Mount Zion a band of survivors. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.

Note what Elijah said to God.  Interestingly, this was repeated word for word in verse 19:14.

1 Kings 19:10 He replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”

Have a zealous day for the Lord!

Leviticus 1-3

Greetings!  This reading is Leviticus 1-3.

Notice how often God speaks in Leviticus (and other parts of the Bible). It says, “The Lord said to Moses . . .” many times.  There are over two thousand such passages in the Bible.  It is all God’s Word, of course, but I find it interesting just how many times this type of passage occurs. 

All the animals sacrificed had to be without defects.  This points to the fact that we need to give God our first and our best, not what is left over.  It also points to the perfect sacrifice of Christ almost 1,500 years later.

Think about the incredible amount of blood, gore and mess they went through as they sacrificed hundreds of thousands of animals over the centuries. 

There were three types of offerings:

  • Burnt offerings were for sins in general

  • Grain offerings were to honor God and to emphasize that all we have belongs to him

  • Fellowship offerings done out of gratitude for the peace and fellowship they had with God

Reflect on what stood out to you in this reading and share your comments and questions if you like.

The Supreme Court & Partial Birth Abortion

Hopefully the Supreme Court will make the right decision and uphold the ban on Partial Birth Abortions (aka infanticide), though Planned Parenthood is working mightily to prevent that (your tax dollars at work!).

The challenge to the law will be argued by Priscilla Smith of the New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights and by Eve Gartner of Planned Parenthood Federation of America.”This case is about whether the Roberts court will follow settled law and protect women’s health from harmful restrictions. If they don’t, women’s health is at risk,” Smith said.

“The government is arguing that politicians, not doctors and their patients, should have the final say in private medical decisions,” Gartner said. “Lawmakers should stop playing politics with women’s health and lives.”

PP and other pro-abortion groups are being disingenuous about the “woman’s health” issue.  Once people learn what this procedure really does they’ll realize what a sick joke it is to say it improves the health of anyone. 

The baby is 90% out of the womb when it is killed as part of this three day procedure.  How does killing her then improve the mother’s health?  Why not let her be delivered?  Oh, right, because then the baby would be alive.

More here.

Dalmatian Theology (or possibly Leopard Theology)

dalmatian-puppy.jpg

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Do you think the original writings of the Bible turned out as God wanted them to, or do you think you can pick and choose which parts God really inspired?  They don’t refer to it as such, but many Christians teach a message of Leopard Theology, where the Bible is only inspired in spots and they are inspired to spot the spots.

Leopard on tree stump

Note: I used to call it Dalmatian Theology, but changed it to make it more universal.  I thought about using it as an illustration while preaching during a mission trip in Kenya.  I didn’t end up using it, but I realized that they may not have known about the Dalmatian breed.  But everyone knows what leopards are, and they are more dangerous — just like this false set of beliefs is.

Saying the Bible isn’t fully inspired by God may seem like a humble premise, but it actually makes several strong and unfounded claims.

It implies that God couldn’t or wouldn’t deliver His word to us in a reliable way, and that despite God’s alleged failings flawed humans are able to discern which parts were inspired and which parts were not.  Are we to believe that humans are to correct for God’s alleged errors?

Why is this a serious problem?  It is hard enough to follow the teachings of the Bible without having “Christians” pick and choose what they want to believe in.  Worse yet, they ignore some parts of scripture so they can teach that the opposite is not only acceptable but desirable.  Some may do it accidentally but others are just blatant false teachers.  They have made up their own God and their own religion.

If someone claims the Bible is only partially inspired, ask a few questions:

  • How did they come to this conclusion?
  • Do they think their favorite verses are inspired?  If so,  how do they know?  How about John 3:16?  How about “love your neighbor?”  Whenever “Judge not, lest ye be judged” is quoted, I never hear the liberal theologians insist that Jesus didn’t really say that.
  • If the Bible is only partly inspired, how can they be sure that their preferred verses aren’t the ones that are uninspired and the ones they don’t like are the “real” verses?
  • Why is it that God couldn’t inspire the original writings of forty writers, but He can inspire billions of people to properly determine which parts are right and which aren’t?
  • If He couldn’t get Paul, Luke, Matthew, John, etc.  to record his word accurately, how can He get you to do it?
  • Why should I trust your “inspiration” over those who penned the Bible, or over my “inspiration?”

Here’s one I made up: Advanced Leopard Theology.  It is just like Leopard theology, except God is also changing spots and adding/removing spots, and, oddly enough, He is only telling theological liberals and progressives.   They use phrases such as “God is still speaking,” but they don’t mean He still speaks through his Word (that would be a true statement).  They think He is still revealing new truths to the church and changing doctrines taught in the Bible.  They may also say things like, “The Holy Spirit is moving in a new direction.”  Indeed.

Here’s an example: A Methodist pastor named Laurie Hays Coffman did a pro-gay theology piece that made the argument that she wants to “unfurl our corporate sails to catch today’s winds as the Spirit blows afresh.”  She said she was challenged by the vision God gave to Peter in Acts 10-11 where God makes it clear that the Gospel is for the Gentiles, too, and that the Israelites’ ceremonial dietary laws are no longer in force.  Her reasoning is that in the same way that God overturned those laws that He is now overturning the prohibitions against homosexual behavior.  The problem is her poor Biblical analysis.  There are at least nine things wrong with this view:

  1. The person with the revelation was Peter, one of Jesus’ inner circle and a key leader in the early church.  It wasn’t made to you, me or someone like Ms. Coffman.  That doesn’t mean God couldn’t reveal something important like this to us, just that it is highly unlikely.
  2. The visions were clear and emphatic.  Peter was given the vision three times.
  3. Peter was inclined to reject the meaning of the vision, whereas these Advanced Leopard Theologians have views on human sexuality that are virtually indistinguishable from the prevailing culture and they are glad to accept this “new revelation.”
  4. There was external validation for Peter from the Roman centurion.
  5. This lesson showed up in the Bible, not outside it.  I’m not saying miracles don’t happen outside the Bible.  It is just that things appear in the Bible for a reason.  God communicating that the ceremonial laws had been fulfilled was one of those “big deals.”
  6. This vision overturned a ceremonial law, not a moral law.  There are zero examples in the Bible of God reversing his moral laws.  In fact, the more Jesus talked the stricter the laws seemed to get, because He emphasized the spirit of the law and not just the letter (i.e., lust was akin to committing adultery, anger was akin to murder, etc.).  The dietary laws never applied to Gentiles.
  7. The “God has changed his mind view” is primarily being “revealed” to theologically liberal Christians in the U.S. . . . the very ones who often deny the authority of his Word to begin with!  So we can’t trust the accurate transmission of the original writings but we can trust their new revelations?  I’m skeptical.
  8. If God is revealing a change, why is it necessarily more liberal?  Why couldn’t God make his laws more stringent?
  9. The Bible gives strong warnings not to add or take away from its teachings.

But the orthodox can fall prey to this in a more subtle way by claiming full inspiration but conveniently ignoring passages we don’t like.  Consider this passage on church leadership, where some exaggerate “not given to drunkenness” to mean no alcohol whatsoever but ignore the “must manage his own family well . . .” part.

1 Timothy 3:2-4 Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect.

Another example is correctly teaching about the sin of homosexual behavior while neglecting to give proper emphasis to Biblical admonitions against divorce, adultery and fornication.  We need to teach all of scripture with balance.  Grandstanding on sins that aren’t temptations to us and soft-pedaling those that are is not an attractive or Christian thing to do.

There are plenty of reasons and resources to defend the accuracy and integrity of all of the original scriptures.  We don’t need to get sloppy and just follow the parts we like.

I’ll close with some friendly advice: Don’t mess with God’s Word.

Deuteronomy 4:2 Do not add to what I command you and do not subtract from it, but keep the commands of the Lord your God that I give you.

Proverbs 30:5-6 Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Do not add to his words, or he will rebuke you and prove you a liar.

Revelation 22:18-19 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book. And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.

Also see Men wrote the Bible so it must have mistakes and How many translations did your Bible go through?

Leviticus overview

Greetings!  This starts our study of Leviticus

I know some of you are thinking, “What?! Leviticus?!  Isn’t that the book people get bogged down in when they try to read the Bible from front to back?”  Yes, some parts of the book may appear to be outdated, dry and repetitive, but remember that it is in the Bible for a reason.  There are some interesting things in the book and it helps us to better understand what Jesus means and how the sacrificial system pointed to him.  I just went through Leviticus with my teenaged daughters, so if they can do it, so can you. 

We’ll do something a little different and read about three chapters at a time.  I’ll just post the links instead of pasting the text in the blog posts.  Or you can just read along in your Bible. 

Who wrote this and when was it written?  Moses wrote this in approximately 1445 BC, shortly after the Israelites made their exodus from Egypt after 400 years of slavery and just after the tabernacle was completed. 

Who was it written to?  Priests and the Israelites

Where was it written: near Mount Sinai, where the 10 Commandments were received.

Why was it written?  As a guide to priests to conduct worship (chapters 1-17) and a guide to holy living for the Hebrews (chapters 18-27).  Leviticus trivia: The word holiness is mentioned 152 times, the most of any book of the Bible.

Many of the laws in Leviticus are considered ceremonial laws, which means they only applied to the Israelites.  Jesus fulfilled those laws by his life, death and resurrection, so they don’t apply to Christians today.  Leviticus does contain some moral laws that apply to us all.  More on that later.

Themes of Leviticus:

  • Sin is very, very serious and requires payment to God
  • The nature of God
  • The distinictive rules given to the Israelites to set them apart from other peoples
  • Five kinds of offerings are covered, in two main categories – praise/thanks to God and atonement for sins

Have you read Leviticus before?  What are your impressions of it? 

Reflect on what stood out to you in this reading and share your comments and questions if you like.

Movin’ ‘em to the right

Note: This is not a political post at all.  Really.  When I say right I literally mean to the right in the chart below, not to the political right.  We will now resume our daily post. 

This isn’t a continuum of behavior from bad to good, though there may be some correlation there.  It is purely a representation of how we move closer to God.  Some move at a steady pace, some quickly, some slowly and some never make the move or move to the left.  The idea is that non-believers may gradually learn more about God as seeds are planted and He works in their lives.  At some point the critical jump across the chasm is made and they put their trust in Jesus.  But it isn’t over then.  Discipleship – learning and growing – is a huge part of the Christian life. 

  right.jpg

I use this illustration when teaching evangelism to emphasize that as Christians we should always be working to move people to the right, in big ways or small.  Sharing the Gospel.  Treating people with love and kindness.  Giving.  Supporting missionaries.  Encouraging others.  Teaching.  Challenging.  Planting seeds.  Acting with integrity at work (and everywhere else).  Being the kind of spouses, parents and children the Bible calls us to be. 

Everyone is somewhere on this continuum, so our challenge is to help keep them (and ourselves) moving.  Ultimately, God is in control.  But He has asked us to be a part of his great plan.  How obedient will I be today?

Psalm 9

Greetings!

Trivia facts: Psalms 9 and 10 may have been combined at one point, as they were in the Septuagint, a Greek version of the Old Testament.  Each stanza begins with a successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet.

Try reading this Psalm out loud.  When I did it I was forced to slow down and notice more things.  It is easy to breeze through verse 1, but think about how hard that is: Do I really praise God with all my heart?  Do I tell of all his wonders? 

Verse 15 seems timely.  Parts of our society are digging their own pits.  I often remind my girls that the first thing to do when you realize you have dug yourself a hole is to stop digging.  If we will just stop digging we can turn back to the ways of God.

A recurring theme in the Psalms and the Bible is that God is our refuge and strength and that we can turn to him in times of trouble (and in good times).  We can trust the He will be the perfect judge, even though we don’t always understand his timing.

A psalm of David.

 1 I will praise you, O LORD, with all my heart;
       I will tell of all your wonders.

 2 I will be glad and rejoice in you;
       I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.

 3 My enemies turn back;
       they stumble and perish before you.

 4 For you have upheld my right and my cause;
       you have sat on your throne, judging righteously.

 5 You have rebuked the nations and destroyed the wicked;
       you have blotted out their name for ever and ever.

 6 Endless ruin has overtaken the enemy,
       you have uprooted their cities;
       even the memory of them has perished.

 7 The LORD reigns forever;
       he has established his throne for judgment.

 8 He will judge the world in righteousness;
       he will govern the peoples with justice.

 9 The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed,
       a stronghold in times of trouble.

 10 Those who know your name will trust in you,
       for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you.

 11 Sing praises to the LORD, enthroned in Zion;
       proclaim among the nations what he has done.

 12 For he who avenges blood remembers;
       he does not ignore the cry of the afflicted.

 13 O LORD, see how my enemies persecute me!
       Have mercy and lift me up from the gates of death,

 14 that I may declare your praises
       in the gates of the Daughter of Zion
       and there rejoice in your salvation.

 15 The nations have fallen into the pit they have dug;
       their feet are caught in the net they have hidden.

 16 The LORD is known by his justice;
       the wicked are ensnared by the work of their hands.
       Higgaion [possibly a musical notation].  Selah

 17 The wicked return to the grave, 
       all the nations that forget God.

 18 But the needy will not always be forgotten,
       nor the hope of the afflicted ever perish.

 19 Arise, O LORD, let not man triumph;
       let the nations be judged in your presence.

 20 Strike them with terror, O LORD;
       let the nations know they are but men.
       Selah

 Reflect on what stood out to you in this reading and share your comments and questions if you like.

Book recommendation – The Question of God

The Question of God: C.S. Lewis and Sigmund Freud Debate God, Love, Sex, and the Meaning of Life by Armand M. Nicholi Jr. was a terrific book about two men with some ironic similarities in their upbringing but who arrived at radically different worldviews.  Based on what I have read elsewhere about both men, I thought Nicholi did a balanced and fair job in presenting their lives and views.  PBS did a decent special about the book, except for the people they brought in to comment on it. 

From Amazon:

For the past 25 years, Armand M. Nicholi has taught a similar course at Harvard, where he compares Freud’s atheist-based reasoning against the atheist-turned-believer C.S. Lewis. Both men were considered brilliant, highly educated thinkers who profoundly influenced 20th-century thought. And both men presented compelling arguments for and against the existence of God.  

Psalm 8

Greetings! 

There are many interesting things in this short Psalm.  It starts and ends with praise for the Lord’s name. 

The first line, “O Lord, our Lord” uses two versions of God’s name, his personal name “Yahweh” and “the sovereign or master.” 

David is amazed that God would let us have an honored role as to be responsible for his creation.  We should ask God for wisdom and discernment to carry out this role wisely.

A psalm of David.

 1 O LORD, our Lord,
       how majestic is your name in all the earth!
       You have set your glory
       above the heavens.

 2 From the lips of children and infants
       you have ordained praise 
       because of your enemies,
       to silence the foe and the avenger.

 3 When I consider your heavens,
       the work of your fingers,
       the moon and the stars,
       which you have set in place,

 4 what is man that you are mindful of him,
       the son of man that you care for him?

 5 You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings 
       and crowned him with glory and honor.

 6 You made him ruler over the works of your hands;
       you put everything under his feet:

 7 all flocks and herds,
       and the beasts of the field,

 8 the birds of the air,
       and the fish of the sea,
       all that swim the paths of the seas.

 9 O LORD, our Lord,
       how majestic is your name in all the earth!

Reflect on what stood out to you in this reading and share your comments and questions if you like.

Weekly roundup

Throw-Away Babies – What do some hospitals do with babies that are aborted but still alive?

British Psychologists: Abortions Cause Women Mental Health Problems – Don’t expect to hear about this in the mainstream media.

Free: Chapter one of The Design of Life textbook about Intelligent Design.  Note to Darwinists: Please post any comments at the Uncommon Descent website, not here.  I already know that you think it is evil, wrong, un-Christian, anti-science, etc. to even discuss ID.

Some good tips / guidelines for personal accountability (I think these were written to pastors, but they can be used by anyone) – 5 Moral Fences and Standards for staff moral integrity

Please pray for these and other persecuted Christians around the world (this is part of a weekly email I get from Voice of the Martyrs.)

IRAN Three Desperate Situations Need Our Prayers – VOM Sources/persecution.com
Please pray for these situations in Iran: (1) Two sisters were summoned and given a last warning not to evangelize. They believe God has called them and feel led to stay in their city and continue evangelizing. (2) A young Kurdish man was arrested on October 28, and since a phone call he made on the 30th, no one has heard from him. (3) A 19-year-old believer serving in the army was arrested for evangelizing and tortured for two days. They released him after he signed a written confession that he would no longer evangelize. He is emotionally distraught. Pray these believers would stand firm and know God’s strength. Mark 13:13

IRAQ Assyrian Christian Boy Beheaded – Assyrian International News Agency (AINA)
The AINA has reported that a 14-year-old Assyrian boy, Ayad Tariq, was beheaded by Muslim militants in Baqouba, Iraq, on October 21. Ayad was beginning his shift of maintaining an electrical generator when a group of disguised Muslim militants approached him and asked to see his identification. When the Muslims saw his identification and noted he was a “Christian,” they (called him) a “dirty Christian sinner!” They then threw him to the ground, held down his arms and legs, shouting “Allah Akbar!” (God is great), and beheaded him. Pray God will comfort Ayad’s family and friends, giving them the supernatural gift of peace that comes from forgiving our enemies. Matthew 18:21, 22

Euphorbia Candelabra

This is a Euphorbia Candelabra tree from Kenya.  It is a magnificent looking tree that appears to have little cactuses as limbs.  They can grow to 30-40′ tall.  It is highly toxic – just a drop of sap will cause a blister on your skin.  If you get it in your eye it will blind you.  Even breathing the fumes can burn!  Let’s just say you don’t want to crash into one of these guys. 

But they are beautiful to look at. 

candelabra.jpg

Psalm 7

Greetings!  I thought we’d do Psalms this week then tackle Leviticus (Yes, Leviticus!).  Here’s  an overview of Psalms.

This is a Psalm of King David, who wrote it when he was being pursued by King Saul’s men (King Saul initially liked David but later became insanely jealous and tried to kill him).  David is confident in his innocence in this matter and asks for God’s judgment against his enemies. 

The Bible Knowledge Commentary pointed out that verse 2 is the first of many instances in the Psalms where the author cries out for God to rescue him. 

God notices every injustice and asks us to let him take vengeance (Romans 12:19 Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord).  Note that He does give governments authority to punish (Romans 13 and other places).  We can trust him as our shield and give him thanks for all He has done, is doing and will do for us.

1 O Lord my God, I take refuge in you; save and deliver me from all who pursue me,

2 or they will tear me like a lion and rip me to pieces with no one to rescue me.

3 O Lord my God, if I have done this and there is guilt on my hands—

4 if I have done evil to him who is at peace with me or without cause have robbed my foe—

5 then let my enemy pursue and overtake me; let him trample my life to the ground

and make me sleep in the dust. Selah

6 Arise, O Lord, in your anger; rise up against the rage of my enemies.

Awake, my God; decree justice.

7 Let the assembled peoples gather around you.  Rule over them from on high;

8 let the Lord judge the peoples.  Judge me, O Lord, according to my righteousness,

according to my integrity, O Most High.

9 O righteous God, who searches minds and hearts, bring to an end the violence of the wicked and make the righteous secure.

10 My shield is God Most High, who saves the upright in heart.

11 God is a righteous judge, a God who expresses his wrath every day.

12 If he does not relent, he will sharpen his sword;  he will bend and string his bow.

13 He has prepared his deadly weapons; he makes ready his flaming arrows.

14 He who is pregnant with evil and conceives trouble gives birth to disillusionment.

15 He who digs a hole and scoops it out falls into the pit he has made.

16 The trouble he causes recoils on himself; his violence comes down on his own head.

17 I will give thanks to the Lord because of his righteousness and will sing praise to the name of the Lord Most High.

Reflect on what stood out to you in this reading and share your comments and questions if you like.