Scripture: from verses four and five:
To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths and…hold fast my covenant…I will give them an everlasting name that shall not be cut off.
Observation: God is speaking to people who may feel that they are outside of God’s blessing: eunuchs and foreigners and outcasts. God says that their circumstances will not block His blessing. If they choose to follow Him, God will gather them close, and bring them into His unity. The eunuchs should not describe themselves as “dry trees,” even though that is exactly what they are, because God is not stopped by their physical limitations.
There is no human limitation that can stop God’s blessing. He can give an everlasting legacy to a eunuch. He can give us righteousness, no matter what our past decisions have been. He can make us whole, no matter how hurt we are. He can give us health, no matter our genetics or condition or age.
Application: Speak the truth: that God has made you righteous and whole and strong. Don’t describe yourself as a dry tree.
Prayer: Yeshua, I praise you because there is nothing that limits you. There is nothing that the powers of this world can do to stop you from blessing me. Thank you for restoring me. Help me to see your truth. Amen.
Scripture: from verse 10
My covenant of peace shall not be removed
Observation: The phrase “covenant of peace” is only used a few other times in the Bible. In Numbers 25, God gave His covenant of peace to a priest named Phineas, in recognition of His dedication to preserving the righteousness of God’s people. (Admittedly that dedication took the rather unusual form of killing two people while they were having sex, but that’s a discussion for another day.) Phineas’ family would have a perpetual priesthood, because of the covenant of peace. Israel is promised a covenant of peace in Ezekiel (chapters 34 and 37), which means that God will protect them in their land and they will live securely. They will have peace with God, peace with the surrounding nations, and peace with their environment – even the wild animals will be kept back from them.
The Hebrew word for peace is shalom, and it encompasses much more than simple peace. It includes health and wholeness and safety and friendship and restoration. God has entered a covenant to give us those things, and His promise will not be shaken.
God recently gave me a new piece of shalom – He healed an old hurt I only recently realized existed. The effects have been fascinating. It might not appear dramatic, but I can tell that I’m more whole and better integrated than I was. Yesterday I picked up a dozen things without feeling stressed or worried or compelled to keep working. Today I made a phone call to customer service without worrying that I would say the wrong thing. It wasn’t momentous, either – I can just do it now. God wove the torn neural patterns back together.
Application: Ask God to fix what isn’t whole
Prayer: Lord, I praise you because you can see the whole of creation and you know how it is supposed to fit together. I praise you because you can integrate all things seamlessly into your plan. Thank you for giving us shalom. Help me to come to you for help when I need it. Amen.
Scripture: verses 5 and 6
On that day, Adonai–Tzva’ot [Lord of Hosts]
will be a glorious crown, a brilliant diadem
for the remnant of his people.
He will also be a spirit of justice
for whoever sits as a judge,
and a source of strength for those
repelling enemy attacks at the gate.
Observation: God is beauty and glory and wealth for the people who have turned to Him after lots of war and hardship and desolation. They have no dignity left, so He is their dignity for them. At the same time, He is also Justice and Wisdom for those who are making hard decisions, and Strength for those who are fighting a hard fight.
In other words, when we turn to Him, He is exactly what we need.
He is rest when we are tired and wisdom when we are confused and direction when we are lost and beauty and interest when we are bored. We tend to assume that God is good at fixing a certain set of problems, but that for some things we’re on our own. But just because God is propping up the entire universe doesn’t mean He can’t also take the time to help me figure out how to teach my daughters to share their toys. (Not that I’ve succeeded in that one, but I think we’re getting better. At least a bit.)
Praying about everything isn’t a cop-out. It isn’t a way of dodging the real issue or hiding my head in the sand. (Well, I suppose it might be, if I’m also avoiding doing what I know I’m supposed to do.) It’s the best and most reliable course of action. For everything.
Application: What haven’t you asked Him about yet?
Prayer: Yeshua, I praise you because you are everything to everyone. Your identity is not limited to one set of attributes or problems. Thank you for providing for all of my needs. Help me to see where I haven’t asked for help yet, and to turn to you. Amen.
Scripture: verse 17
None of [Aharon’s] descendants who has a defect may approach to offer the bread of his God.
Observation: Men of the priestly families who had congenital deformities or major health problems weren’t allowed in the sanctuary. They were still allowed to eat the things set aside for priests to eat, but they didn’t participate in formal worship.
This wasn’t fair. It still isn’t fair. Today God would get hit with all sorts of lawsuits for discriminatory practices.
But the fact is, God discriminates against all humans. For being sinful. For having lied or gossiped or been prideful or resentful. None of us measure up.
The point of the formal worship laid out here is not to make humans good. Its point is to remind humans that God is holy and they are not. It’s there to remind us that we can’t be good.
But Yeshua didn’t come for humans that were good. Like a doctor, He comes for those who need Him (Mark 2). The tired and the hungry and the poor and the sick. The sinners. He came for us.
Application: Stop worrying about whether you measure up. You don’t. But He does.
Prayer: Yeshua, thank you for coming for me. Thank you for covering me with your righteousness. Help me to trust you too make all things new. Amen.
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.