March 1

Leviticus 24:1-25:46

The LORD spoke to Moses, instructing him to command the children of Israel to bring pure oil of pressed olives to keep the light in the lampstand of the tabernacle burning continually. Although this was a very specific and practical contribution, I’ve also seen it symbolically as the prayers of the people. I like to connect it to Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane (Gethsemane means “olive press”) and it was there where Jesus frequently prayed. I believe that as God’s people faithfully pray, the light keeps shining and the anointing remains on the congregation – the lampstand burns continually.

Then there’s the showbread, symbolizing Jesus the Bread of Life, as well as the 12 Tribes of Israel…always in the presence of God. It’s good to know that although there may be times when God seems silent, He is never, ever absent. We are ALWAYS in His presence!

It’s hard for us to imagine the death penalty for someone who blasphemed the name of God with his lips in a moment of anger, but that’s only because we’ve drifted so far from the reverence God deserves. Today we no longer have this law, but we should have the utmost reverence for God’s holy name. It should break our hearts when we hear people take God’s name in vain. Jesus taught us to pray in:

Matthew 6:9 (NKJV) ”In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name.”

The legislation of Leviticus 24:17-21 are laws of pure justice. Jesus taught us that although it may be practiced and legislated in a society, it’s not to be practiced personally (Matthew 5:38-42).

In Leviticus 25 we have the laws of the Sabbath for the land. God commanded the children of Israel to work the land agriculturally for 6 years, but then to take the 7th year off. This would be good, not only for them to rest, but also for the soil, and even the animals. God promised to provide for the people – if only they trusted Him.

Unfortunately when the children of Israel were given the land they never practiced this commandment to give the land rest (they were greedy and refused to trust God). This was one of the reasons they were taken into captivity, we read in:

2 Chronicles 36:20–21 (NKJV) “And those who escaped from the sword he carried away to Babylon, where they became servants to him and his sons until the rule of the kingdom of Persia, 21 to fulfill the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed her Sabbaths. As long as she lay desolate she kept Sabbath, to fulfill seventy years.

They had been clearly warned (see Leviticus 26:33-35).

God’s commands are to be obeyed; rest and trust are important to Him because He loves us. God help us to be hard workers, yes, but not disobedient workaholics.

Then there’s the year of Jubilee, that was to be celebrated every 50th year. In that year, not only was the land to rest, but any land that had been sold was to be returned to the original owners. 

When the children of Israel were given the land, each tribe inherited property that was to remain in the “family.” If a family experienced financial difficulties they were allowed to sell the land, but just to make sure it didn’t get too far and over time create an economic imbalance in the nation, it was to be returned to the tribe of its original inheritance. (exceptions were made for “city property” – land within walled cities).

Warren Wiersbe, “There was an economic purpose, for God had a concern for the poor and afflicted (vv. 25, 35, 39, 47). Had Israel obeyed the law of the Year of Jubilee, it would have helped to balance the economy, and the rich would have had difficulty exploiting the poor.”

And then there’s slavery. Got Questions answers a common misunderstanding about Biblical slavery:

“The Bible does not specifically condemn the practice of slavery. It gives instructions on how slaves should be treated (Deuteronomy 15:12-15; Ephesians 6:9; Colossians 4:1), but does not outlaw slavery altogether. Many see this as the Bible condoning all forms of slavery. What many fail to understand is that slavery in biblical times was very different from the slavery that was practiced in the past few centuries in many parts of the world. The slavery in the Bible was not based exclusively on race. People were not enslaved because of their nationality or the color of their skin. In Bible times, slavery was based more on economics; it was a matter of social status. People sold themselves as slaves when they could not pay their debts or provide for their families. In New Testament times, sometimes doctors, lawyers, and even politicians were slaves of someone else. Some people actually chose to be slaves so as to have all their needs provided for by their masters.” (see full article)

Mark 10:13-31

As a pastor, I must say…the children melt my heart. After service I have the privilege of praying for people, and often the children will come up – it brings so much joy. I can’t imagine anyone saying there’s no time for them, but that’s what the Apostles said on that day. Jesus rebuked the Apostles and taught them that the Kingdom of God is made up of those who have the faith of a child, and all believers are actually children of God (1 John 3:1).

The Rich Young Ruler came to Jesus knowing he needed more than religion, he knew something was missing in his life and he saw something in Christ that attracted him. But in the end, he went away, choosing riches over righteousness. Part of his problem was he didn’t realize the deity of Christ. When Jesus asked him why he called Him good, Jesus wasn’t denying His own deity, He was declaring it, for Jesus often called Himself good (Matthew 20:15; John 10:11, 14). If the Rich Young Ruler knew that Jesus was God, I have a hunch he would have been willing to follow Him.

In those days the rich were considered blessed by God and, for the most part, in good standing with Him, especially among the Jews. But Jesus teaches us, through His dealing with the Rich Young Ruler that that’s not always the case. As a matter of fact, it’s hard for a rich man to go to heaven. Jesus said in: 

Matthew 6:24 (NKJV) “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”

This should stop me in my tracks when I’m tempted to make some moves to make more money…maybe it would be better to learn to live within my means. Hmmm.

Peter asks the Lord about any rewards they might be entitled to, since they had left all to serve and follow Christ. Jesus promises blessing on earth and rewards in heaven, but He wouldn’t leave out the fact that there’s a cross before the crown.

Warren Wiersbe, “You never lose when you give everything to Jesus. He blesses you in this life and in the life to come.”

Psalm 44:9-26

Have you ever felt like you’re losing the battle, that God doesn’t seem to be working things out the way He should, even though you’ve been doing your best to follow Him?

That’s exactly how the Psalmist felt. He tells God all about it – – but he continues to pray.

Psalm 44:23–26 (NKJV) “Awake! Why do You sleep, O Lord? Arise! Do not cast us off forever. 24 Why do You hide Your face, and forget our affliction and our oppression? 25 For our soul is bowed down to the dust; our body clings to the ground. 26 Arise for our help, and redeem us for Your mercies’ sake.”

Paul the Apostle quoted Psalm 44:22 in Romans 8:36 and revealed the fact that Christians follow Christ in this way, that we are led as sheep to the slaughter, we will suffer, but even in that, we are more than conquerors and nothing can separate us from the love of God…nothing! Let’s trust His purposes and promises even in the pain…and let’s keep praying.

Proverbs 10:20-21

Proverbs 10:20 (NKJV) “The tongue of the righteous is choice silver; the heart of the wicked is worth little.”

So very valuable are the words of truth and wisdom that flow forth from the righteous. Consider the content of our conversation, things like the Gospel where preaching can save a soul, where your words can keep someone out of jail, keep someone in the Word, able to bless others in multiple ways – it’s not just silver, it’s “choice” silver, sterling silver, it’s the best “silver” of all!

Charles Bridges said, “Our words should be choice silver, refined of this world’s dross, shining with heavenly brightness.”

It’s too bad that nowadays the silver-tongued person is connected to the person of eloquence, when in all reality the silver-tongued person is the wise one who speaks God’s truth…from a godly heart.

We see the antithesis in the second half of the passage – “But the heart of the wicked is worth little.” Keep in mind, words flow from the heart (Luke 6:45).

If our heart isn’t right, our words won’t be either.

Proverbs 10:21 (NKJV) The lips of the righteous feed many, but fools die for lack of wisdom.

What a contrast – how some feed others…that they may live. While the fool refuses to be fed or led, they can’t give it out and they won’t even take it in; they don’t offer any contributions to the lives of others…and they themselves die in the process.

Schultens, “They die of famine in the middle of the rich pastures of the Gospel”

Let’s live in right relationship with God, let’s “feed” others, may we live lives of wisdom!

If you have any questions or comments on today’s reading, or you’d like to share something the Lord showed you, feel free to leave a reply below. I’d love to hear from you as we grow forward in 2021.

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