Tag Archives: grace

Isaiah 53

Scripture: from verse 9

…He had done no violence, and there was no deceit in His mouth.

Observation:  This chapter is a very famous prophecy of Yeshua’s death and our redemption – so famous that I didn’t really want to cover it.  But this verse struck me.

I’ve been annoyed lately.  Not about anything especially dramatic, but annoyed.  And it makes it clear how un-docile I am.  There are too many times that I want to slap someone, or shake someone, or yell at them.  I use far too much hyperbole in my thoughts.  No one I know truly resembles Lady Catherine de Bourgh, or the Spanish Inquisition, or any of the other things I am tempted to compare them to.

Hyperbole isn’t always deceitful, of course, but I think it can be when it is used to wound or shock.  And while I may not be acting on my impulses, I can’t deny that they are there.

Thankfully, in God’s eyes I have taken on the identity of Yeshua.  And there was no violence in Him, and no deceit.  He has given me a new spirit, which is free of annoyance and anger and even hyperbole.  I don’t really know how to walk in that yet, but at least I know I’m forgiven.

Application:  Watch your thoughts.  Thank God you’re forgiven.

Prayer:  Yeshua, I praise you because there was no violence and no deceit in you.  I praise you because you were able to love these people, even when they frustrated me.  Thank you for forgiving them and for forgiving me.  Help me to see them like you do.  Amen.

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Colossians 3:21-25

Scripture: verse 24

Remember that as your reward, you will receive the inheritance from the Lord. You are slaving for the Lord, for the Messiah.

Observation:  Paul’s advice to slaves is not to rebel or attempt to gain their freedom.  It is to decide that everything they do is done for the Lord, rather than for their masters.

In Leviticus I noticed that God says that we are His slaves.  He bought us, and we belong to Him.  We cannot be slaves because we already are.

God owns me.  He will not share me or sell me and no one can do anything to me without His permission, because I am His property.  He is my authority and He has my reward.  Other people are kind of irrelevant, really.  They don’t own me and He does.  That His orders line up with their wishes a lot of the time is His problem, not mine.

There’s a lot of danger in that.  If I do something wrong for a human, it’s not a big deal because they’re human too.  But God isn’t human.  He is Other.  He is Holy.

But there’s safety in it as well.  Because God has not chosen to treat me as a slave or a servant.  He has chosen to treat me as a daughter.  My mistakes are covered before I even make them.

And whether I make mistakes or not, I am protected.  He is in charge of making decisions, and I don’t have to rely on my own limited understanding.  Sometimes we make decisions together, but I’m still under His protection.  He protects me and feeds me and gives me exactly what I need to be free.

Application:  Trust God.  Work for Him.

Prayer:  Father, thank you for making me yours.  Thank you for making me your slave and your daughter and your pet project.  Help me to trust in your protection.  Amen.

Leviticus 17

Scripture: from verse 3 and 4

When someone from the community of Israel slaughters an ox, lamb or goat inside or outside the camp without [presenting] it as an offering to Adonai…he has shed blood, and that person is to be cut off from his people.

Observation:  So ANY time you slaughtered an animal – for food, for sale, whatever – you had to bring it to the tent of meeting to do it, and pour out the blood and burn the fat as an offering to the Lord.  (I’m guessing this didn’t apply to animals that were euthanized when they got sick – but I could be wrong.)  If you didn’t, you weren’t part of the community.

From the rest of the chapter, it looks like this was at least in part a way to keep people from offering sacrifices to other deities (“goat-demons,” according to verse 7).  If idolatry is the human baseline state, God had to make them make conscious choice after conscious choice to worship Him instead.

But I think it goes beyond just mandating fidelity.  It’s about allowing God to permeate every decision.  It’s about acknowledging that all our wealth is from God and belongs to God.  It’s about reminding ourselves that all life is precious (“the life of the flesh is in the blood” according to verse 11) and it is only because of sin that death has to happen.  Every mundane meal became a reminder of our spiritual state.

And what about us?  We no longer bring blood sacrifices, but creation is not yet healed.  Our identity has changed, but we still sin.  And God is still the One who provides everything we have.  That’s worth remembering.

Maybe that’s why we say grace before meals: to attach a reminder of our spiritual state to mundane actions.  To remember our Creator as we fill the needs of the body He created.  To make a conscious choice to worship instead of drifting back to the human baseline of apathy.

Application:  Choose to worship.  Remember that what we see is not all there is.  Give credit to the One who deserves it.

Prayer:  Father, thank you for providing everything my family has.  Help us to use it for your glory.  Thank you for bringing me out of darkness and into your glorious light.  Amen.

Leviticus 16:18-34

Scripture: verse 23

Aharon is to go back into the tent of meeting, where he is to remove the linen garments he put on when he entered the Holy Place, and he is to leave them there.

Observation:  The High Priest went into the Holy Place once a year, to make atonement for all of Israel.  He had to wash himself in a holy place and put on holy linen clothing before entering, and when he came out he had to disrobe and leave the clothes in the tent of meeting, before taking another bath and going out to rejoin the people.  (While he was in the Holy Place people were banned from the tent of meeting, so no one saw him wandering around naked.  I imagine one of the women collected the clothes later for washing, but it doesn’t actually say.)

We don’t normally take our clothes off the very instant we can do so.  We normally wait until we get to our bedrooms and can hang them up and put on something else.  If we take our clothes off the minute we walk through the door, it usually means that our clothes are very dirty, very uncomfortable, or both.  We take them off because we can’t wait any longer.

The priest’s clothes weren’t dirty (well, I guess they had some blood on them, from the sacrifices), but they were uncomfortable, because they were holy.  Humans aren’t very good at being holy.  We can sort of manage it for a little while, if we are only interacting with God, but as soon as the world presses in, we lose it.

In Yeshua, we’ve been declared holy.  We’ve been made into something other than what we are.  And it’s not always comfortable.  It’s not always easy.  But it’s still true.

Application:  Be holy, as He is holy.  It’s not actually possible, so we need to rely on the Holy Spirit to guide us and Yeshua’s grace to cover our mistakes.  And we watch for God to fulfill His promises of blessing.

Prayer:  God, thank you for making me holy.  I can’t accomplish much on my own, so thank you for accomplishing it for me.  Amen.

Leviticus 16:1-17

Scripture: verses 1 and 2:

After the death of Aharon’s two sons, when they tried to sacrifice before Adonai and died;  Adonai said to Moshe, “Tell your brother Aharon not to come at just any time into the Holy Place beyond the curtain, in front of the ark-cover which is on the ark, so that he will not die; because I appear in the cloud over the ark-cover…”

Observation:  People are screwed up.  We really are.  Despite the extensive instruction, and despite the thunder and fire and other manifestations of God being God, the new priests figured they knew what they were doing.  So they did things their way, and they died for it.  God isn’t like other gods.  He is Himself, and we shouldn’t assume that we can figure Him our or expect Him to make sense to us.

After those deaths, God created a new set of rules to remind the priests that they didn’t have things figured out either.  God is a different God.  They weren’t allowed to wander in and out of His presence.  They had to follow the rules too.

And what of us?  We are allowed to enter into God’s presence whenever we want to.  We are told to “boldly approach the throne of grace” in Hebrews 4.  Does this mean we have things figured out, that we don’t need to be reminded that God is holy?  Not likely.

We aren’t welcome because we have followed the Law correctly.  We aren’t welcome because we’ve gotten it right.  We’re welcome because we’re family.  Our actions haven’t changed, but our identity has.

That’s why Yeshua died.  The rules didn’t work to make us good.  We can’t serve God the way He wants to be served.  So we’re not asked to.  We couldn’t make it as servants, so we’re invited in as family.

Application:  Boldly approach the throne of grace.  Treat God like family.  Tell Him things, and expect Him to tell you things.

Prayer:  Hi God.  Thank you for welcoming me into your family.  Thank you for listening to whatever I have to say.  This has been a good day so far.  Thank you for making things go well, and help me deal with the things that don’t.  Amen.

Leviticus 14:1-32

Scripture: verses 6 and 7

As for the live bird, [the priest] is to take it with the cedar-wood, scarlet yarn and hyssop and dip them and the living bird in the blood of the bird slaughtered over running water, and sprinkle the person to be purified from the tzara‘at [leprosy] seven times. Next he is to set the live bird free in an open field.

Observation:  The rituals for purifying someone from leprosy have got to be one of the most elaborate sets of rituals in Leviticus – certainly it seems more complicated than consecrating the priests did.  This is the first ritual, done after the priest has examined the person and determined that he is clean again.

We see numerous symbols of purification and preservation here.  Cedar wood was probably used then, as it is now, to keep critters away from clothing.  Isaiah 1 promises that our scarlet-dyed sins will be as white as snow.  Hyssop is a purgative, as mentioned in Psalm 51.  Running water was used for washing, and the live bird was freed after being dipped in sacrificial blood.  (Incidentally, I would not want to try dipping a live, healthy bird into blood.  That seems like something that would go horribly!)

But what gets me is that these things don’t make the person who had leprosy clean.  He still has to spend another seven days outside his tent (though he can be inside the camp) and then offer more sacrifices before he is truly clean.  These things are the promise of being clean.

We aren’t given purgatives and bleach so we can make ourselves perfect.  It doesn’t work that way.  God gave us those things as a picture of what He offers.

Living clean and doing good things and being generous to others and all the good things we do are not things that make us holy.  God gave us those things to be a picture of His grace and His will.  But if we spend all our time looking at the picture, we’ll never accept His offer.  We’ll never be clean.

There’s only one way to be clean: through the sacrifice of the Lamb.  Everything else is just a promise of what’s to come.

Application:  Don’t spend all your time and energy on the picture.  Claim His blood and His gift.  Seek His face.  See the rest for what it is: a set of useful tools and helpful pictures, but not salvation.

Prayer:  Yeshua, thank you for being my Lamb.  Thank you for making me clean when nothing else could.  Help me not to get distracted by things that don’t work.  Amen.

Leviticus 13:1-28

Scripture: from verse 13

If [the priest] sees that the tzara‘at (leprosy) has covered his entire body, he is to pronounce the person with the sores clean — it has all turned white, and he is clean.

Observation:  Leprosy (which appears to be an umbrella term for all malignant skin disease, not just what we know as leprosy today) was a curse from God, a sign of His wrath.  Logically, someone who has had leprosy in the past, while no longer contagious, is still someone to be rejected as having earned God’s wrath.  But this is the Father of Light we’re talking about, and human logic doesn’t measure up.

While the leprosy is expanding and contagious, the person is unclean and can’t be a part of the community.  But if the disease goes into remission, and the sores turn into scars, then he’s allowed back in.  He’s clean.  He may still look terrible, but God has declared him clean again.

Holiness isn’t about outward appearances.  My journey is not your journey.  We are all sinners and we all need to be healed.  So just because one set of sins is more visible or even more hurtful than another doesn’t mean God isn’t at work.  It just means He has his own plan.

We’ve all earned God’s wrath.  None of us are especially pretty inside.  But He’s made us clean, and He’s declared us family.

Application:  Don’t judge others by the sins that are showing.  We’ve all got some.  Don’t judge others by their past mistakes, either, because we’ve all got those too.  The fact that some have larger consequences on Earth doesn’t mean they look any different in Heaven.

Prayer:  Yeshua, thank you for making me clean.  Help me to understand that the others around me are just as clean in you, despite their past mistakes or current habits.  Help me encourage and love others instead of snarking at them.  Amen.

Leviticus 10:12-20

Scripture: verse 16

Then Moshe carefully investigated what had happened to the goat of the sin offering and discovered that it had been burned up. He became angry with El‘azar and Itamar, the remaining sons of Aharon…

Observation:  So we had the sacrifices to consecrate the priests, and then the priests were sent into the tabernacle to hang out with God for a while, and two of them did something stupid and prideful and got killed for their trouble, and Moses dealt with the bodies…and went right back to checking up on the sacrifices.  Which had also been screwed up.  (Most of the goat was supposed to be eaten.)

Which seems kinda hard-nosed, really.  We don’t typically expect people who recently lost a close relative to function normally, especially when the death was sudden and unexpected and traumatic, as this was.  Admittedly Moses had instructed them not to mourn, but after all, they’re only human.  (That was pretty much Aaron’s defense when Moses got angry, actually.  Moses accepted it.)

For that matter, Moses just lost his nephews, though admittedly being raised in Pharaoh’s court probably meant he wasn’t as close to them.

I’m not sure which direction to take this.  I don’t know whether Moses was being too demanding or not.  On the one hand, we are called to be holy and that means not being normal.  On the other hand, we’re only human, and Moses maybe needed to recognize that.

Really I think those are both true.  We are called to be holy, and that’s a standard we cannot reach.  But God loves us, and knows our weaknesses, and that’s why He gave us a way to be holy anyway.  Yeshua is the Way to the Father.  We can’t get there otherwise.

Application:  Strive to be holy – and also cut yourself some slack.  Most of all, rely on Yeshua’s righteousness and not your own.  His is better anyway.

Prayer:  Yeshua, thank you for being the Way for me.  Thank you for lifting me up when I fall down.  Amen.

Leviticus 8:18-36

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.

Leviticus 5:1-13

Scripture: verse 1

If a person who is a witness, sworn to testify, sins by refusing to tell what he has seen or heard about the matter, he must bear the consequences.

Observation: The “consequences” appear to be having to confess and bring a sin offering, though there may be other penalties elsewhere if his lack of witness led to someone being wrongly condemned.

But the point is, God insists on openness. God isn’t willing to let things hide in darkness. Not in our communities, and not in our minds and hearts either. Things that hide will only fester. By bringing things into the open He allows healing and cleansing to begin.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness does not understand it (John 1). Bringing our junk out for inspection is scary. But it’s rarely as bad as we think it was, and once it’s in the light it’s God’s problem and we don’t have to stress and worry about it any more. Once the truth is out, we are free.

Application: Let the truth come out. The consequences of hiding are far worse than the result of openness.

Prayer: Father, thank you for your light. Thank you for revealing truth and washing away my junk and healing me. Help me to be honest and open, so that your truth can prevail. Amen.