17 Moses

17.5 Moses 17, Day 5

Holy Heart not Holey Heart

God has tremendous blessings in store for all of His children.  Bounties of harvest so great that farmers would need to move the old crops out to make room for the new ones coming in.  They would not need to build larger store houses, because there was so much security in God’s promise they didn’t need to worry about storing up more.  God promised them peace and safety, from war, from wild animals, from enemies.  God promised might and victory.  Unprecedented might and victory, where 5 people could defeat 100.

Even more so God offered to dwell among His people.

But, that isn’t where this chapter starts.  This chapter starts with specific commands.  No idols, no graven images, observe the sabbaths, have reverence for the sanctuary.  How do these things go together?

This isn’t quite equivalent, but try this as an explanation:  You have been invited to the top artisan ice cream shop in the world.  You are given free access to every flavor, every topping ever accompaniment you can imagine.  But it is BYOB – Bring Your Own Bowl.  How would you feel if you showed up and your bowl was dirty, broken, cracked, with holes.

In this case, though, the bowl is your heart.

God wants you to enjoy the bounty He has in mind.  God has carefully prepared for you the things your heart craves.  He really doesn’t want you to show up with a bowl that is broken and full of holes.  If you don’t get the message from the promise of the blessing, then He will provide other forms of discipline.  If the carrot doesn’t work, then maybe the whip will.  God does not want to punish you, no more than a loving parent wants to punish a child, but if that is what it takes to get you to show up with a clean and ready bowl – that is up to you.

Leviticus 26:40-45 confirms this.  Repent.  Get your heart back in line, and God freely hands you the golden ticket to His ice cream shop.

What is the state of your bowl (your heart)?  Have you asked God to “create in me a clean heart”?  Have you asked God to help mend your broken heart?  Have you repented and showed the chips and holes to the one who can fix them. ?  Do you have a Holy Heart, or are you showing up with a Heart full of Holes?

 

My Answers:

10.
a.
1. do not make idols or bow down to carved stone, 2.observe the sabbaths and have reverence for sanctuary

b.
3-5: send rain in its season, ground will yield crops, trees fruit,… you’ll eat all the food you want and live in safety
6-8 peace and safety, remove wild animals, no wars at home, defeat military enemies (5 chase 100) 11-13 God dwell with them, safety and freedom – He would be their king

c.
14-17: Illness, famine and defeat
18-20: Drought and bad harvest
21-22: Multiplied afflictions and destructive wild animals
23-26: Diseases and destruction by enemies

11.
a.
If repent and approach with a humble heart, God will remember His covenant

b.
That the holy of holies is open, Jesus is my high priest and He is redeeming me daily, despite my sin

12.
a.
2. a person (child or otherwise), 9. an animal, 14.a house, 16. family land, 22. purchased land/fields

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17 Moses

17.4 Moses 17, Day 4

Being poor is a situation not a station

The first time the word poor shows up in the NIV version of the bible is in Exodus 23.  This is the chapter where Moses is giving instruction to the Hebrews that he received from God, and the chapter where he says, in verse 11, “but during the seventh year let the land lie unplowed and unused. Then the poor among your people may get food from it.”  In other words, the same dialogue we are studying today in Leviticus.

Even in the promised land, the land flowing with milk and honey, there would be poor people.  These people would likely be believers in God.  Some of them were clearly from the ranks of Hebrews.  There was no indication that they were poor because these people were being punished, nor that they were inferior.  They were just poor.

As we read these chapter of Leviticus, it is easy to fall into a “prosperity gospel” mindset.  God, the creator of everything, has unimaginable abundance and a love to pour that out upon His people in grace and great bounty.  And, all of that is actually true. But, there will still be people who are economically poor.

However, the other thing we see from this is that being poor, at least as used here, is not a station, it is not a position in society or a caste, it is just a situation.  During someone’s life, there may be times when they are economically wealthy and other times where they are economically poor.  Again, they have not “earned” either situation and both situations can bring us closer to God.  We can be on the right path of faith and still experience highs and lows, both spiritually and economically.  God can use these times to teach us and help us grow.

On one hand, this is refreshing and encouraging.  On the other, it can really challenge us, too.  For example: understanding poverty in this way draws us to approach helping the poor in a different way.  We are called to give and help the poor in what they need rather than in what we have in abundance.  Stop and read that last sentence again.

This is not “drive-by charity”.  This is a lot more challenging, it means interacting with and getting to know people who are experiencing a time of poverty.  This means not only giving stuff, but giving of ourselves so that we can give the message of a relationship with God.  It is a lot, lot, lot messier.  It is a whole lot easier to just load up a basket of food or clothes and drop them off at some collection center.  We can still do those things, they are good, just not sufficient.  Mostly because they provide a hand-out, but not a hand-up.  If these are the only approaches to charity and the poor that we take, then we need to ask “are we giving to help others or because it makes us feel better about ourselves?”

The fact is, drive-by charity is not how God approaches me or you.  God listens.  God knows us.  God shows compassion.  God gives us what we need.  Sometimes what we need and what He provides is an easy road.  Sometimes, however, it means being bent over picking up the left-overs of the field.  Both are compassionate, because, in both situations, God knows us well enough to know this is where we need to be to have the opportunity to become spiritually rich.  God is compassionate enough to allow us to be economically poor at times if it will help us to become eternally spiritually wealthy.  He is also compassionate enough to allow us to be economically wealthy to test our commitment to our faith walk.  “it is far easier for…”

When you are thinking this week about how God’s treatment of you can influence your treatment of others, think first about God’s patience and how many times He has heard you repent the same thing and how many times He has held your hand and been with you even when you were not paying attention to the fact that He was there.  Food, money, shelter, clothing, are all things we should give, but the greater gift we can give is the present of actually being present.  Through this relationship, others can see a true relationship with God.  Even in these chapters in Leviticus, God isn’t just discussing providing for the people, He is talking about dwelling among them.

 

My Answers:

8.
Do not treat outsiders better than your own, help them, provide for them without interest, Do not withold food for profit.

9.
a.
38. I am the Lord, 42 the Israelites are my servants…, fear your God 55. they belong to God as servants, He brought them out of Egypt.  “I am the LORD your God.”

b.
Today – safety, shelter, food, fellowship, a ministry, love, family, care for family, provision, a church, the bible, a relationship with Him

c.
My help to others should reflect God’s love.  I belong to Him.  They belong to Him.

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17 Moses

17.3 Moses 17, Day 3

Mine

If you have spent time around toddlers, then you have seen mankind at its most natural state.  They can be loving and caring and adorable, but they can also be, well, let’s say – challenging.  No parent teaches their child to go and snatch something from an innocent sibling or playmate and scream the word, “mine”, to them.

But that is what toddlers do.  That is what you and I did.  It is what children did decades and millennia ago.  It is who we are.

But it isn’t mine.  No matter how you play the game of life, as John Ortberg wrote, “when the game is over, it all goes back in the box.”

We live every day with this concept of scarcity.  There is only so much of (insert item here) so I need to get mine.  If things keep going like they are going, we are going to run out.  For me to have more means someone will have less and I would rather be on the more side than the less side of that equation.

But that is a lie.  Historically, it doesn’t even prove out.  Each time we form decision on a scarcity mindset, something changes and our strategies no longer work.  A famous example of this was the London Crisis of 1894.  At that time there were enough people living in the city of London that a lot of transportation was required.  The transportation of that day was horse, either individually or in carriages, wagons, etc.  The problem wasn’t the horses themselves, per se, but what need to go into the horses and what came out of them.  There was tremendous concern over enough land to grow feed as the city swelled into the countryside and whether that land could sustain both human and horse needs.  There was concern over the growing piles of horse manure in the streets and the impact and costs it imposed.  But, as we know, this entire problem simply went away with the advent of the motor-car.

The God who created everything out of nothing does not have a scarcity mindset and, if our focus is on the right things, we won’t either.  If you start thinking about scarcity instead of abundance, remind yourself about love.  Remind yourself about freedom, liberty, happiness, peace, joy, goodwill, praise, faith, hope, beauty, grace.  Remind yourself about God.

Should I be focused on these things?  Can society or a nation?  It might be worth doing a search and seeing what is engraved on the Liberty Bell.  It might ring true for today’s scriptures.

My Answers:

5.
a.
7×7=49, +1= 50th is another sabbath year.  proclaim liberty throughout the land.  All purchased farm land returned, all go home

b.
Freedom – freedom from slavery.  Honoring of a covenant.  The gifts of inheritance belong to the family of the King

6.
a.
to identify fairness in pricing of the selling of land since it would be returned in the Jubilee year – basically you are buying the output of the land, not the land itself

b.
Follow my decrees and obey my laws – safety, crop yield, blessings of abundance

c.
A sabbath year of rest for the land, yes – it has benefits for the land.  A period of forgiveness of debts and return of property would not work as well because it would inhibit development, also our land was not a covenant land

7.
a.
to be the kinsman redeemer.  Abraham rescued Lot.  Boaz with Naomi and Ruth

b.
We have incurred debts we cannot pay and have become impoverished to sin.  Jesus came as our kinsman and redeemed us by paying our sin and bringing us into His household as His family.

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17 Moses

17.2 Moses 17, Day 2

Heart Space: Storing Up or Overflowing?

Let’s think about our heart as a storage area in our house.  It may be your basement, attic, garage, spare bedroom, what ever works for you.  Each day, all year long, year after year, we accumulate things.  We accumulate debts, not just the monetary debts, but other obligations and guilts.  We accumulate work and tasks, long to-do lists that never get done.  We accumulate all kinds of stuff, as well as the excess luggage to lug our stuff around.

What if every so often, let’s say every 7 years, you stopped accumulating and cleared things out instead?  What if you got out of debt?  What if you forgave yourself of the guilt and burdens you carried around?  What if you gave yourself permission to re-evaluate, re-assess and, basically, clean house?

What would God be able to put in all that space in your heart that all of a sudden was free?  What if you retreated and asked and allowed God to take the lead in your life and in your heart?

In our modern culture to retreat is synonymous with failure.  We must drive forward.  We can’t pull back.  There is so much to do.  But that isn’t what the bible says.

Retreating doesn’t mean forfeiting, it means pulling back into a better position of strength.  In our day to day service to God, even with the best intentions to do good kingdom work, we can get ourselves out in front of where God wants us to be.

We look at the poor and we look at the land or resources we have and think, we’ve got to keep planting.  We think, it is up to us to feed the poor, to provide for others, they need me, God needs me.  But what they really need is God and we need to trust in His provision for ourselves and for others.  It is in the years of retreat, the years of peace, the years of rest, that God’s abundance shines.  The poor didn’t go away during the Sabbath year in the promised land, but they also did not go hungry.  Not only did they receive physical food, but they also witnessed the power of the Lord, not other men.

Who could you bless by allowing them to see your life at peace and rest and trust in God rather than a life scared by the same striving and busyness that looks just like everyone else?  Maybe it is time to go on a retreat, to clean out your heart and your life and ask and allow God to fill it with peace and rest and joy that overflows as a tremendous bounty.

My Answers:

3.
a.
When they entered the promised land

b.
sow and prune for 6 years and harvest, but in 7th year the land is to have a year of sabbath rest, do not harvest, do not tend, but all can eat directly from the fields

c.
At this time they were being provided for daily (manna), so it was not unreasonable that God could provide.  They were probably also looking forward to owning their own land and amazed at the bounty it would provide

4.
a.
It is a year of freedom – freedom from debt, from servitude.  Leading up to it should be years of generosity.  There will be no poor because the Lord will provide abundance.  Abundance not scarcity.

b.
Trusting in God’s abundance, not worrying about scarcity.  The ability to start over – clean slate.  All debts are forgiven, just as God forgives our debts

c.
Opening house to be a place of joy and gathering for family, friends, visitors to church, missionaries

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16 Moses

16.5 Moses 16, Day 5

New Year

I am very, very far from being a Jewish scholar, but I am very excited by some of the things I’ve been learning about the study regarding the festivals outlined in Leviticus 23.  I’m particularly excited to refer back to this when we study Revelation.

For example, this week we’ve been studying a lot about the holiday Yom Kippur.  But from what I’ve been studying it is appropriate to really start with the Feast of Trumpets.  The feast of trumpets is the 1st day of the 7th month of the Jewish Calendar, Tishri.  This fall day marked the end of the harvest season and a beginning of the fall feast days.  The high priest would sound a trumpet to call all in from the time of harvest.  It would begin a preparation time called “Ten Days of Repentance” or the “Days of Awe.”  This is what led up to the day of Yom Kippur on the 10th day of the 7th month.

Now, here are some really interesting facts from a Christian perceptive.  Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year is on the Feast of Trumpets.  Why is the new year celebrated on the 7th month?  It wasn’t always.  Originally, it was on the 1st day of the 1st month but after the temple was destroyed (after Jesus’ death and resurrection), the Jews changed New Years.  And what day do they pick?  The day the trumpet sounds to market the end of the harvest period and the beginning of the “days of awe” leading up to atonement day.

With what you’ve been learning read ahead to Revelation 7 and 8.  Look at the ones wearing white robes.  Look at the censer filled with coals from the altar in heaven and incense.  Look at the trumpets being sounded. In Rev 11 we see the temple of the Lord opened and the Ark of the Covenant present.

A day will come when the time of harvest will end and the days of repentance and the days of awe will follow leading to a day of atonement.  How amazing is it that God’s chosen people, the Israelites, have adjusted their calendar to mark that day as the new beginning.

My Answers:

11.
a.
once a year on Yom Kippur (10th day of the 7th month)

b.
Sacred – a day to deny yourselves and to present offerings, a day of sabbath rest

12.
a.
He is able to save completely (not repeating over and over again).  He is holy, blameless, pure, set apart, exalted.  He did not enter by means of blood of goats and calves but by his own blood – Eternal redemption

b.
By sharing the gospel with others.  By honoring his sacrifice through sacrificial love and giving.

c.
Lord, thank you for freeing us for all eternity from the penalty of our sin.  Thank you for being the sacrifice we could never be.  Thank you for loving the world so much that you gave your life so that we who believe in you might be saved. Thank you for coming again.

 

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16 Moses

16.4 Moses 16, Day 4

How much sin will be allowed into heaven?

How much sin will be allowed into heaven?  Depending where you are on your faith journey, that may seem like a very strange question, but, stop for a moment and actually think about it.

Clearly, the answer from the bible is zero.  Sin cannot abide in God’s presence.  There is no level of acceptable sin that can be with God.

But, look at that question again from the perspective of someone who does not know what the bible says.  The most common perception is that a loving god will just overlook sin.  Or maybe God grades on a curve and as long as I’m scoring above the 50% ranking, I should have a golden ticket for heaven.

To those who have read the bible, those ways of thinking may seem ridiculous, but these ideas are all too common, not only among the bible illiterate “christians”, but it is actually taught by many of the world religions.  Many world religions are religions of “good works”.  Only through having a balance of good works that tilts in your favor can one hope that god or the universe or whatever will judge the works sufficient.

Because of that balance quotien, every other religion is based on uncertainty.  It is based on hope, but concern, because of not knowing who can ever be sure of being good enough.  It is also based on a really weird understanding of a heaven where some levels of sin will be allowed.  What happens to that sin in heaven? Do people continue sinning?

But, Christianity stands alone.

1. Christians recognize that absolutely no sin will be allowed into heaven.  Zero.  Not only that, but Christians believe that we inherit sin from the generations that came before us, so even if we somehow avoid sin (good luck with that), we still are tainted by sin.  It also means that sin is sin, whether saying a bad word or being a mass-murderer, both are sin.  It doesn’t mean we are ridiculous to say there is no difference between the two, but both are sin.  That is a pass-fail grading system where passing equals perfection.  In essence, this eliminates any and every one from earning entrance to heaven.

2. Christians believe that every one has the opportunity to enter heaven regardless of their sin.  Not by any acts they perform or any denial or avoidance they adhere to, but because Jesus paid the price.  The covering of Jesus’ sacrificial offering, by taking all the sins of the world onto His head and carrying them away to the grave, then defeating even death to rise again, is a gift offered to all mankind.  The requirement is not works or acts, it is acceptance of this gift of grace.  We also believe that this is the only way.  Jesus is the only path – No one comes to the Father but through Him.

In these ways, Christianity is absolutely exclusive and absolutely inclusive.  But, when faced with the question of how much sin will be accepted into heaven, it is also the only religion that makes any sense.  It is also the one that absolutely removes all doubt.  If you accept Jesus, regardless of what you have done, you’re covered completely.

So who are you counting on to be the covering of your sins?  Is it yourself or is it Jesus?

 

My Answers:

9.
a.
2 goats, lots drawn, 1 sacrificed blood used for purification and atonement, the other sins of the people were laid upon and it was taken out of the camp into the wilderness

b.
Jesus offered his life (blood) as a sin offering, a payment for our sins.  He carried the sins of all mankind on his body, outside of the city to calvary where he bore them on the cross.  Through his death, sacrifice and his atoning act of carrying away our sins, we are set free.

10.
a.
take off the linen garments and leave them there, bathe himself and put on his regular garments, come out & burnt offering

b.
to make atonement for himself and for the people.  Because God said.  Because even though the sins of the people had been removed, sin still continued within the people and the camp and a final atonement was still needed

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16 Moses

16.3 Moses 16, Day 3

Sin Splatters, Sin Sticks and Sin Stinks

How often have you heard, “if it doesn’t hurt someone else then I should be able to do whatever I want.”?  It is masqueraded as independence or self-freedom.  It is simplified to the idea that people should mind their own business.  Everyone can just do their own thing.

We think this thinking is so progressive and so modern.  But it is ancient.  Judges 17:6 says of the people thousands of years ago, “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”

But the idea that the things I do don’t hurt other people is a lie.  Sin splatters and sticks.  Like someone dropping and breaking a glass full of orange juice, it splatters on to those around them.  An innocent by-stander gets covered in the sticky mess.  It’s splatters are almost impossible to clean up.  Days later you find a sticky mess that was missed.  But to make matters all the worse, sin isn’t a glass of orange juice, it is a glass of the strongest stench, most repugnant smelling, most infectious pathogen you can think of.  Try carrying around a vile of Ebola and make the argument, as long as I’m not hurting anyone else I should be able to carry this vile of virus with me and juggle it.  We know better.

Children are scared for generations.  Marriages and lives are destroyed.  Shame and poverty and abuse and excess and all the other wrongs of the world all stem from sin.  It’s stench permeates not only our lives, but the very land we live on, the walls, the clothes, everything around us.

But, it does not permeate God.  In God’s presence, sin and everything it has infected is burned away.  It cannot be tolerated and it cannot be allowed.  This is what happened to Nadab and Abihu.  This is the warning God gives over and over again to Moses and Aaron in regard to how to approach the inner sanctum, the presence of God – “lest they die”.

While Jesus paid the price of our sin, sin still continues in this world.  Someday, Jesus will return to cast sin and its master into a lake of fire, but until that day we still live with sin and its consequences.  When He returns we will rise with Him to live forever in His presence.  Christ’s covering will save us from the impact of our sin.

If you have accepted Jesus’ gift of salvation, the payment of your sin, past, present and future, has been made in full.  But you still should do all you can to avoid sin.  Not only for improvement of your own life and honor to the one who saves you, but even more so, for the protection of its impact on those around you and the place your live.

 

My Answers:

6.
1. God said to, 2. In this way he will make atonement for the Most Holy Place because of the uncleanness and rebellion of the Israelites, whatever their sins have been

7.
Sin is like a skunk – it’s stench  permeates into everything it is around.  But scripture locks up (cages) the stench of sin.  Scripture is not about sin, it is about the good news of the promise/gift of redemption through faith in Jesus Christ

8.
a.
thoughts, words, deeds, not only by what they have done, but also by what they have left undone.  They do what is right in their own eyes and ignore and reject any teaching that is contrary.  They desperately want and fight for others to accept the sin they are doing as being normal and right

b.
It permeates in pictures, video, music, dress, language.  It is in shifting and perverted societal norms, in the abuse of power the neglect of the poor and widows and orphans.  There is no part of daily life that is left untouched

c.
bath it in prayer, repent of my sins and pray for those around me.  Seek first and only God and ask for the power of the Holy Spirit every day to direct my life and my thoughts

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