Wednesday, February 23, 2011

That Which is Unclean

Up until now I have really enjoyed my reading through the Old Testament.  So many details that I have not noticed before have come to life.  It has been a wonderful time.

But I must admit, I am finding Leviticus to be a bit difficult to get through.

The details still surprise me.  But the details are so..detailed! 

Details about sacrifices, sin offerings, peace offerings, burnt offerings. 
I find it overwhelming.

Then I read this:
Moses and Aaron went into the tent of meeting. When they came out and blessed the people, the glory of the LORD appeared to all the people. Then fire came out from before the LORD and consumed the burnt offering and the portions of fat on the altar; and when all the people saw it, they shouted and fell on their faces. Lev. 9:22-23

Moses and Aaron did as the Lord had commanded.  They offered the sacrifices, just as they were instructed; to make themselves clean.  Clean so they might enjoy the presence of God.  When they were done, the Lord made himself known. 

The Israelites sure did get it.  They shouted, and fell right on their faces!  When is the last time you were so overcome with the presence of God that you actually fell on your face?

Pretty impressive stuff.

God was basically saying, "Follow my directions, and I will make myself known to you."

Not missing a beat, Aaron's sons decided to join in on the fun.

Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took their respective firepans, and after putting fire in them, placed incense on it and offered strange fire before the LORD, which He had not commanded them. And fire came out from the presence of the LORD and consumed them, and they died before the LORD.
Then Moses said to Aaron, "It is what the LORD spoke, saying,
         'By those who come near Me I will be treated as holy,
         And before all the people I will be honored.'"
         So Aaron, therefore, kept silent.

Moses said to Aaron, "Why are you so surprised?  This IS what God said!
Gotta love Moses.  For someone who was so timid in the beginning, he knew just what to say, didn't he?
God was letting the Israelites know, as clear as He could be,
If you do not follow instructions, you will not live.

God even instructed Aaron and his family how they were to react to his sons' death...

Moses called also to Mishael and Elzaphan, the sons of Aaron's uncle Uzziel, and said to them, "Come forward, carry your relatives away from the front of the sanctuary to the outside of the camp." So they came forward and carried them still in their tunics to the outside of the camp, as Moses had said. Then Moses said to Aaron and to his sons Eleazar and Ithamar, Do not uncover your heads nor tear your clothes, so that you will not die and that He will not become wrathful against all the congregation. But your kinsmen, the whole house of Israel, shall bewail the burning which the LORD has brought about. You shall not even go out from the doorway of the tent of meeting, or you will die; for the LORD'S anointing oil is upon you." So they did according to the word of Moses.
Lev. 10:4-7

God was serious.  He needed Moses and Aaron to demonstrate how serious HE was.  They needed to follow His instructions, completely, in order for the Israelites to understand that they needed to thoroughly follow those instructions, as well.

Details, details details.  Chapter after chapter of...details.

Here is another detail I found to be a bit much:

 Speak to the sons of Israel, saying,  These are the creatures which you may eat from all the animals that are on the earth. Whatever divides a hoof, thus making split hoofs, and chews the cud, among the animals, that you may eat. Nevertheless, you are not to eat of these, among those which chew the cud, or among those which divide the hoof: the camel, for though it chews cud, it does not divide the hoof, it is unclean to you. Likewise, the shaphan, for though it chews cud, it does not divide the hoof, it is unclean to you; the rabbit also, for though it chews cud, it does not divide the hoof, it is unclean to you; and the pig, for though it divides the hoof, thus making a split hoof, it does not chew cud, it is unclean to you. You shall not eat of their flesh nor touch their carcasses; they are unclean to you.
 These you may eat, whatever is in the water: all that have fins and scales, those in the water, in the seas or in the rivers, you may eat. But whatever is in the seas and in the rivers that does not have fins and scales among all the teeming life of the water, and among all the living creatures that are in the water, they are detestable things to you, and they shall be abhorrent to you; you may not eat of their flesh, and their carcasses you shall detest. Whatever in the water does not have fins and scales is abhorrent to you.  Lev. 11: 2-13
My eyes started to glaze over after "Whatever divides a hoof, thus making split hoofs..."
I cannot help but wonder if the Israelites started daydreaming during this part.  Or maybe, after all that manna, they were a bit put out?   Did they eat camel back then?  I can imagine a rabbit, but a camel?  Was that something they indulged in before, or was it something they would not even DREAM of eating?  Were they rolling their eyes and groaning, like my twelve year old does when she is told no, or did all of this make sense to them? 
Is God concerned today about our eating habits?  If we were to adopt Levitical dietary restrictions today, would our health would dramatically improve?  Is His concern for shaphan (rock badger) well founded?  Will eating them clog up our arteries?
I keep thinking about a phrase I find myself saying to my kids quite a bit,  "We do not make these rules in order to torture you or make your life miserable.  We keep these rules because we love you, and want you to be healthy and safe." 
Is this what God was thinking?  Was He trying to keep his people healthy and safe?
It all seems to revolve around holiness.  He wanted to be sure the Israelites knew what was clean, and unclean.  He insisted on cleanliness, because He wanted to have a relationship with them. 
He wanted to maintain His presence.
And if they ventured into uncleanliness, there were rules about how to deal with it.  
What did Moses say after the death of Aaron's sons?

"It is what the LORD spoke, saying,
         'By those who come near Me I will be treated as holy,
         And before all the people I will be honored.'"

Maybe Leviticus is not so pointless and overwhelming as I thought.

It's all in the details....

We should follow God's instructions. 
We should treat Him as holy. 
We should honor him before all the people. 

And if we do...
We will experience His presence. 

Promises from Psalm 37: 3-6

Trust in the LORD and do good;
 Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.

 Delight yourself in the LORD;
 And He will give you the desires of your heart. 
 Commit your way to the LORD,
 Trust also in Him, and He will do it.

He will bring forth your righteousness as the light
 And your judgment as the noonday

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

He is all about the details...

This week we read all about the Temple.
It's funny, Mackenzie was studying the temple for her Biblical Studies class at the same time.
I love how God does that, don't you?
Teaching you the same stories, the same lessons, in different places of your life,
but all at the same time!

Jeff and the girls built a model of the temple.
It was an extra credit project for Biblical Studies class.
The details involved were overwhelming.
God was very specific in His instructions.
God was very intentional in who he asked to craft all of the different parts of the tabernacle.
He purposefully gifted certain people to carry out these plans.
Moses was very careful when he shared God's plan and made sure each detail was carried out perfectly.

God cares about every detail of our life, doesn't He?

 The eastern gate of the Tabernacle.
The Alter of Burnt Offering stood in the center.
The Stands to prepare the sacrifice were to the right.
The laver (bowl) was used by the Priest to wish his hands and feet.
The interior structure was the Holy place, and the Holy of Holies.

The Holy Place contained the Alter of Incense, which was lit twice a day.
It also contained the Table of Showbread which held the
12 cakes representing the twelve tribes.
The Gold Lampstand with seven bulbs also stood in the Holy Place.
A curtain was drawn between the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies.
The Holy of Holies contained the Ark of the Covenant and the Atonement Cover.
Within the Ark was the Gold Jar of Manna, Aaron's staff, and the Testimony Tablets.

There were four layers involved in the roof of the tabernacle.
The first layer was a seraph patterned cloth.
Then a white cloth, a red ram's skin, and the exterior was actually sea cow skin.
The NASB used the word porpoise to describe it.

The Israelites were very involved in the process of gathering materials.
They did so willingly, sacrificially.

and everyone who was willing and whose heart moved them came and brought an offering to the LORD for the work on the tent of meeting, for all its service, and for the sacred garments. All who were willing, men and women alike, came and brought gold jewelry of all kinds: brooches, earrings, rings and ornaments. They all presented their gold as a wave offering to the LORD. Everyone who had blue, purple or scarlet yarn or fine linen, or goat hair, ram skins dyed red or the other durable leather brought them. Those presenting an offering of silver or bronze brought it as an offering to the LORD, and everyone who had acacia wood for any part of the work brought it. Every skilled woman spun with her hands and brought what she had spun—blue, purple or scarlet yarn or fine linen. And all the women who were willing and had the skill spun the goat hair. The leaders brought onyx stones and other gems to be mounted on the ephod and breastpiece. They also brought spices and olive oil for the light and for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense. All the Israelite men and women who were willing brought to the LORD freewill offerings for all the work the LORD through Moses had commanded them to do.

The Israelites were not guilted into giving their possessions. 
They gave willingly.  Sacrificially.

All of this makes me think about the church today, and how we build and maintain our houses of worship.

Is He involved in the details?
Do we give willingly, sacrificially,


Oh so long ago, God took the time to explain all the details.
Moses took the time to carry them out, and write them down.
The Israelites took the time to listen carefully and provide what was needed.
God is in the details, isn't He?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Don't Mess with Strangers...

So we have read all about what the Hebrews have experienced under the rule of Pharaoh.  And we have journeyed with them, wandered about in the wilderness, and found them in battle with Amalek.  They set down in the shadow of Mt. Sinai, and we learn The Ten Commandments...

Have you spent much time thinking about all the laws that come after the Ten Commandments?

There are laws about slaves, laws about oxen, laws about goring, laws about sorcery.

All kinds of laws.

This is the paragraph that took my breath away.

He who sacrifices to any god, other than to the Lord alone, shall be utterly destroyed.  And you shall not wrong a stranger or oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.  You shall not afflict any widow or orphan.  If you afflict him at all, and if he does cry out to Me, I will surely hear his cry; and my anger will be kindled, and I will kill you with the sword; and your wives shall become widows and your children fatherless.
Ex. 22:22-24

Check this comes up again...a few verses later...

And you shall not oppress a stranger, since you yoursleves know the feelings of a stranger, for you also were strangers in the land of Egypt.
Ex. 23:9

Don't mess with strangers, for you were once a stranger.

Todays reading in Matthew:

 But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats;
 and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left.
 Then the King will say to those on His right, 'Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
 'For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.'
 Then the righteous will answer Him, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? 'And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? 'When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?'
 The King will answer and say to them, 'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.'
Matt. 25:31-40.

The rest of that passage goes on to discuss the goats, and those who did not care for the stranger in need.

All through the ages, God tells us to care for the stranger..

"for you were strangers in the land of Egypt."

He wanted the Hebrews to remember.  He allowed them to struggle through perhaps so that they would...remember.

Perhaps that is why we struggle through, too.  Perhaps we need the struggle, so we... remember?

Don't mess with strangers.  Love them, care for them the way He has always, always loved you. 

Friday, February 4, 2011

Scripture Memory Check In: Colossians 1:2-6

We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all Gods people-the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven and about which you have already heard in the true message of the gospel that has come to you. In the same way, the gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world-just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and truly understood Gods grace.  Colossians 1:2-6.

I have to say, memorizing these verses has been so uplifting.  Oh..if only I could be like the Colossians.  They had a grip on the TRUE meaning of the gospel, and they were living it out.
Oh..I want to live it out, too.  Don't you?

What really jumped out at me was the phrase...your faith in Christ Jesus and the love you have for all Gods people- the faith and love that SPRING from the HOPE stored up for you in HEAVEN...

Oh...Oh....I want to have that kind of faith.  Faith that springs from the hope stored up for HEAVEN.

I started thinking about the word spring.  That word is full of life, isn't it?

A spring could be a metal device that stores up energy....or contains energy, or absorbs energy...right?  Like the spring you might put on a tire, or a bicycle seat, to keep it from being too bouncy.  The spring absorbs the energy the tire is experiencing, so you might not experience it, too.  Gee, isn't that just like our hope in heaven?  Our hope in heaven gives us peace, doesn't it?  When we look at our worries in the light of heaven, our worries kind of get put in their place, don't they?  That is what our hope does for us.  It absorbs all that bad energy, the lies and deception that pull us away from Christ, and replaces it with the truth!  Our hope in the gospel smooths out the bumps in the road!

There is another kind of spring.  A spring may feed a body of water.  The source of a lake may come from the depths of the earth.  Spring fed lakes have the cleanest, clearest water, and are filled with life.  Fishermen prefer to do their fishing on spring fed lakes.  Our faith springs from hope.  Our faith gets it energy from the hope of heaven.  The SOURCE of our faith is our hope.  Our faith comes from the depths of our hope.  Our hope FEEDS our faith.  To sustain our faith, we must always go back to the hope of heaven.

And of course, we cannot forget the season of spring, which is by far my favorite season.  Spring is the season of new life.  The air is full of energy, and all around us nature awakes from its winter nap.  It is the season of second chances.  Everything wonderful that ever happened to me, happened in the spring.  I met my faith friends in the spring, and they led me to Christ.  I met my hubby in the spring, and I met every single one of my daughters in the spring. 

Spring is when we celebrate Easter.  We celebrate our new life in Christ.  We celebrate the hope we have in HIM, because HE made the ultimate sacrifice on our behalf.  He died in order to redeem us from our sins, and rose again three days later in order to give us a new life in HIM.  This, by the way, is the true message of the gospel.  There is no other.  Only through Christ may you experience God's grace.  Only through Christ may you experience the hope of heaven.

Faith, love and hope are all mentioned in the Colossians passage.  The three are intertwined, aren't they?  You cannot have one without the other, can you?  The faith that leads us to believe in the gospel, compels us to love those around us.  Our hope in heaven gives us the patience and ability to continue to love those around us.  There cannot be hope in heaven without faith in the gospel, and there cannot be enduring love without hope in eternity!

It is only the faith and love that spring from the hope in heaven that will give you the ability to bear fruit.  It is impossible to bear fruit any other way.  Only hope in the true message of the gospel will feed you, and feed those around you.  You've got to feed on the right food...the life giving waters of the gospel, or you will not grow.

Our prayer is that we all may....

   ... be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water...
                           which yields its fruit in its season
                                                     and its leaf does not wither... Psalm 1:3

Just a note:  I have linked to John Piper's sermon on Joy Purchased.  If you are interested in hearing more about the gospel, and what Christ has done for you on your behalf, please take a peek.,
Please feel free to e-mail me at

Thursday, February 3, 2011


Oh..what a rich week it has been.  All about Moses and his adventures.  Mac and I have been chatting quite a bit about the events leading up to the Exodus this week.  She was assigned a paper for her Biblical Studies class.  This paper was to compare the adventures of Moses and how he was a picture of Jesus Christ in the Old Testament.  I thought it would be fun to have Mac be a guest on our blog!

Moses and Jesus

Moses and Jesus lived in totally different times. Moses lived in Egypt in 1491 B.C. and Jesus lived in Jerusalem in 4 B.C. Two of the ways Moses reflects Jesus is Moses displayed God’s power to show His people that the Lord had sent him and ultimately saved God’s people.

After fleeing to Median, Moses became a shepard. God commanded Moses to go back to Egypt and tell Pharaoh to let God’s people go. God gave Moses three signs: leprosy, the serpent staff, and the Nile River turned to blood. Moses journeyed back to Egypt to carry out God’s commands. When he arrived there and told Pharaoh of God’s commands, Pharaoh hardened his heart and said no. After suffering through the ten plagues, Pharaoh relents and frees God’s people. Moses had carried out God’s plan and delivered His people from slavery. Jesus was sent by God to save us from the slavery of sin. He came to the world and performed miracles to show that His father, the Lord, sent Him. John 3:16 says “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that whoever believes in Me will not perish, but have everlasting life.” He was crucified on the cross for the sins that we have committed. What conquered death and freed us from the slavery of sin was the fact that Jesus rose from the dead. Matthew 28:6 says, “He is not here; He has risen, just as He said He would.”

Something new that I have learned is that Moses was a picture of Christ. He performed miracles to prove he was from God, just as Christ did. He led His people out of slavery just as Jesus Christ did for us, and for all of those who believed in Him.

I love it when God lines up events so we are learning the same lesson through different circumstances and means.  Mac was scheduled to be studying Moses at the same time that we were reading through these chapters in Exodus!

I am still taking this all in.  Moses and his struggles point to so many lessons in everyday life.  What have you been learning?