Tag Archives: obedience not sacrifice

Isaiah 55:1-5

Scripture: from verse 3

…listen well, that your soul may live.

Observation:  This passage is an open invitation from God: whatever our needs, we should come to God and be satisfied.  He offers us food and drink “without money and without cost.” He asks only that we come and receive.

I’m trying to learn to be quiet and listen to God more.  We’re so quick to rely on our own understanding, and I never seem to remember to ask God for His plan before coming up with my own.  It causes a ridiculous amount of unneeded stress.  I need to listen, because when I listen, I find rest for my soul.

Application:  Listen well.

Prayer:  Lord, I thank you for your offer of goodness.  Thank you for sharing answers as fast as I remember to ask for them.  Please help me to come to you before my soul gets tired.  Amen.

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Isaiah 51:1-11

Scripture: from verse 2

[Abraham] was but one when I called him…

Observation:  The passage says that if we are seeking the Lord, we should look to Abraham, who was only one person when God called him, but God called him and blessed him and multiplied him to create a kingdom of priests and a holy nation (1 Peter 2:9).

Genesis 15 says that Abraham believed God, and God counted it as righteousness.  This is quoted in Galatians 3 and Romans 4, so it’s pretty important.  That word “believed” is aman, which is the root of “amen.”  It means to support, to confirm, to trust in, to be established.

So if we are seeking God, we are to look at Abraham’s example.  And Abraham’s example is one of very simple faith: if God told him to do something, he did it.  If God made him a promise, he believed it.

Application:  What has God told you?  What promises should you be believing?

Prayer:  God, I praise you because you are the Faithful One, who never fails and never changes.  I praise you because your word is good.  Help me to believe in it the way you want me to.  Amen.

Leviticus 21:1-12

Scripture: verse 12

He may not leave the sanctuary then or profane the sanctuary of his God, because the consecration of the anointing oil of his God is on him; I am Adonai.

Observation:  The High Priest was not allowed to go into mourning for anyone, not even his own parents.  He wasn’t even allowed to attend the funeral.  (Regular priests were only allowed to mourn immediate family.)  For him to do so would dishonor God.

Yeshua later told His followers that they needed to love Him more than their parents and family in order to be His followers (Luke 14).  When He said it, that was literally true – following Yeshua meant traveling around the country with Him – but even today that is the level of commitment He asks of us.

This is harsh.  It’s not easy, and it seems inhuman.  Which isn’t exactly surprising, since God is holy and different and other.

But there’s another time when we leave our parents: marriage.  Genesis 2:24 says that a man leaves his father and mother to be united to his wife, so that they can be one flesh.  And it’s true that if a married person puts their parents before their spouse, the marriage falls apart.

Like marriage, following Yeshua demands a complete shift in priorities and perspective.  It involves leaning new ways of living and new routines and new values.  It isn’t easy.  But like marriage, it’s worth it.

Application:  Don’t be surprised when God’s priorities are different from yours.  Ask Him to help you understand instead of rejecting His ideas entirely.

Prayer:  Yeshua, thank you for loving me enough to claim me.  Help me to learn to live with you and walk closely with you.  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 15:16-33

Scripture: verse 18

If a man goes to bed with a woman and has sexual relations, both are to bathe themselves in water; they will be unclean until evening.

Observation:  Having sex with your spouse renders you unclean until evening.  Presumably the following evening, but I’m not sure.  It’s possible that couples who have sex just before sundown didn’t have to be unclean for very long.

I have to admit that this mystifies me.  Couples who only have sex a few times a month won’t be unduly bothered by it, but most couples (today, at least) have sex at least once a week.  High-drive couples and newlyweds and such would just never get to be clean.  Which would make sense if God were anti-sex, but He isn’t.

On the other hand, there’s a rule about newlyweds: they aren’t supposed to be given heavy responsibilities.  A new husband was free for one year, to make his wife happy (Deut 24:5).

So we have two sides here: ceremony, and intimacy.  And intimacy detracts from ceremony.  Intimacy with other people is also likely to result in uncleanness, for that matter, since it was the people who were closest to sick and mourning people who would be most likely to be made unclean.

And intimacy trumps ceremony.  Someone who was unclean couldn’t participate in Temple worship, but we also know that God wanted His people to love each other more than He wanted them to perform the ceremonies (Isaiah 58.)

And then in Luke 10, we have the story of Miriam and Marta.  Marta bustled around doing the work of preparing for a feast.  Miriam chose to sit at Yeshua’s feet and gaze into His face, and Yeshua said that she had chosen the one thing that is essential.

We are relational creatures.  We need intimacy far more than we need ceremony.

Application:  Prioritize intimacy above duty.  Intimacy with God, with family, with friends, is more important than most of the other stuff we “should” be doing.

Prayer:  Father, thank you for creating us to be intimate with each other.  Help me to see the opportunities you are giving me to know others and be known.  Amen.