Scripture: verse 8
He said, “They are indeed my people,
children who are not disloyal.”
So he became their Savior.
Observation: I don’t know where God got the idea that Israel wouldn’t be disloyal. Israel ignored Him and rebelled against Him over and over again. But the passage isn’t about Israel’s loyalty. The passage is about the abundance of God’s steadfast love, which is apparently undeterred by all the idiocy that Israel has already gotten up to.
God is our Savior. He sets us free and defends us. He gives us a new identity and a new safety, and keeps re-giving them as often as we mess up. He loves us, just like I will always love my children, no matter how many times they cut their own hair or spread yogurt all over the table or leave plastic bricks on the floor to be stepped on. They are mine. I am His.
Application: Trust in His love. Lord knows we can’t trust ourselves.
Prayer: Yeshua, I praise you because you became my Savior when I wasn’t interested. I praise you because your love is bigger than ever mistake and every wrong decision I make. Thank you for defending me. Help me to trust you. Amen.
Scripture: verse 40
If a man’s hair has fallen from his scalp, he is bald; but he is clean.
Observation: We’re still in the skin disease section, detailing what infections and changes do and don’t render people unclean. And in the middle of it comes the case of hair falling out, which renders one bald, but still clean.
And it’s refreshing in the middle of endless discussion of sickness and contagion and God’s wrath to have a reminder that we’re still human. Not every misfortune is a manifestation of God’s wrath or a big problem. Sometimes we’re just still human and still living in a fallen world, in bodies that don’t quite work the way God originally intended.
We all have stuff happen that’s embarrassing or awkward or irritating. It’s nice to know that it doesn’t make God feel that way. He loves us anyway.
Application: Relax. God doesn’t see our failings the way we do. He’s beyond time, after all, so it’s not like getting old (or sick, or depressed, or whatever) changes anything from His perspective.
Prayer: Father, thank you for loving me even in my most human moment. Help me to see myself the way you do. Amen.
Scripture: verse 33 and 34
You are not to go out from the entrance to the tent of meeting for seven days, until the days of your consecration are over; since Adonai will be consecrating you for seven days. He ordered done what has been done today, in order to make atonement for you.
Observation: This is part of the instructions Moses gave Aaron and his sons after the sacrifices were made to consecrate them as priests. They had been washed and dressed and anointed and sprinkled in the blood of the sacrifice, but they weren’t done – they had to spend a week in God’s presence, letting Him do His work.
What strikes me here is that Aaron and his sons weren’t especially holy or qualified to be priests. They needed atonement like everyone else. They needed to let God purify them, like everyone else. God doesn’t choose us because we are special or perfect or better. He chooses us because He loves us – and that is a fact about Him, not a fact about us.
God’s grace is not a fact about me. It didn’t start with me, I didn’t make it happen, and I can’t make it stop. His grace is about Him. I’m just in the right place at the right time. And He was the one who put me here.
God put you where you are, too. He placed you there to receive His grace. It has nothing to do with what you have or haven’t done. It has everything to do with the fact that He made you and He loves you.
We are safe and loved because of Him. There is no deserving or earning. There is only His love and our decision to accept it or ignore it.
Application: Accept His love and His grace. Let Him work on you. Don’t worry about whether you are good enough; none of us are. He is Good enough for all of us.
Prayer: God, thank you for being my goodness. Thank you for placing me where I am to receive your grace. Thank you for taking all the steps I am unable to take for myself. Amen.
Scripture: verse 8
The priest who offers someone’s burnt offering will possess the hide of the burnt offering which he has offered.
Observation: This is, of course, partly a matter of practicality: the burnt offerings get skinned and the hide has to go somewhere, so it goes to the priest who did the skinning.
When Adam and Eve sinned, they realized they were naked. And though God had to withdraw much of His protection and blessing from them, He did give them clothes made from animal skins. He was still their father, and He was still willing and wanting to cover them.
God is giving the priest a source of income by giving them the hides of these animals, but He’s also giving them a chance to participate in His work. He’s giving them the ability to cover and shelter those who have no covering or shelter.
Which leads us on to Yeshua, of course, who is both priest and sacrifice. And who loves us enough to give up His own skin to cover us.
We don’t have to be alone anymore.
Application: Accept His covering. Accept His love. The sacrifice part already happened, after all, so it seems kinda silly not to take it. (Well, it already happened in our timeline. Yeshua probably doesn’t see time the same way we do.) And pass it on, when you can.
Prayer: Yeshua, thank you for being my covering. Thank you for keeping me safe and warm and sheltered. Help me to share your love with others. Amen.
Scripture: verse 12
He is to bring [the bull] outside the camp to a clean place, where the ashes are emptied out. There he is to burn it on wood with fire; there, where the ashes are emptied out, it is to be burned up.
Observation: This passage concerns the sacrifice made for accidental or inadvertent sin. The sinner brings a bull, which is slaughtered. The blood (symbolic of the debt owed for the sin) gets poured out on the alter. The fat gets burned on the alter, as it did for a peace offering. The rest of the bull is taken outside the camp and burned there.
I can’t say I’m really certain why this happened. It kinda sounds like accidental sins need an offering that’s less “sacrifice-y” than the normal kind, which makes sense.
But it seems to me that this part gave the sinner some time away to think about things, while he stood and watched it burn. It gave him a chance to know that he is sinful, that even his best efforts won’t make him holy. To know he needs grace.
Today is Yom Kippur (why am I posting on Yom Kippur? Long story.) and it’s a day for recognizing that we don’t have it all figured out. None of us deserve happiness. None of us have earned peace. In the natural way of things we’d all be outcasts. Thankfully, things aren’t left to nature.
We don’t belong here. We’re welcome anyway.
Application: Acknowledge that you aren’t perfect. None of us are.
Prayer: Father, thank you for seeing me in the darkness and making a way for me to come into the light. Help me to remember and enjoy the light in all its brilliancy. Amen.
Scripture: verse 4
When you bring a grain offering which has been baked in the oven, it is to consist of either unleavened cakes made of fine flour mixed with olive oil or matzah (unleavened bread) spread with olive oil.
Observation: Maybe I’m just hungry, but this sounds…nice. Good bread and olive oil is such a wonderful food, soothing and stimulating at the same time. The comfort of the bread and the rich oil with just a hint of sharp flavor, along with maybe a little salt and herbs…delicious. It makes me happy just to think about.
Which is good, because grain offerings are about things that make us happy. There’s no blood involved, so this isn’t about atoning for sin. It’s an offering of worship, of gratitude, of trust. It’s about recognizing that God made the flour and the oil, and He’ll make more for me tomorrow. It’s about thanking Him for creating food, for making it delicious and soothing and enriching. He could have made up absorb nutrients from the air, but he gave us tongues and taste buds and all sorts of wonderful smells and flavors.
It’s probably also about communing with God. Yeshua later promises to come in and eat with us (Revelation 3:20). He wants the intimacy of sharing a meal. When God spoke these words, people had to worship at the Temple in Jerusalem, but now we are not confined to a given location, but must “worship in spirit and in truth” (John 4:23).
God gives us good things. He made food for us to enjoy. He wants us to enjoy them with Him.
Application: Invite God to join you in your pleasures. A good book, a long walk, a nice meal and a glass of wine – He longs to share these things with us.
Prayer: Father, thank you for providing things that make me happy. Thank you for caring how my day goes and how my food tastes and what the weather is like. I praise you for all these things are fearfully and wonderfully made. Thank you for making them for me. Amen.