Friday, June 18, 2010

This Week’s Project Ezra - Leviticus 19

Greetings Project Ezra brothers and sisters. This week’s reading is Leviticus chapter 19, and working through this passage was interesting. Due to the way the books of the Bible are divided up for Grant Horner’s Bible reading system, some lists make the task of choosing a chapter more challenging than others. However, my goal is to touch on as many books of the Bible as possible, since I firmly believe God’s gospel is present in all of them, though in some places it is closer to the surface than in others.

Chapter 19 addresses several different aspects of God’s law. Moral law, civil law and ceremonial law are all addressed, but some of the specifics are easier to deal with than others. Staying away from idolatry and dishonest business practices, being kind to the less fortunate and respecting your parents, avoiding the occult and not selling your daughter into slavery are moral norms we are familiar with. Not mixing cloth in your garments or mixing two kinds of seed when planting are not so easy to explain. Some of these laws deal with accepting the perfection of God’s creation, some deal with cultural realities at those times, and some deal with not participating in behavior that would appear to associate people with the pagan practices of the day. I would encourage you to look up some of these details in a good commentary (several of which are available online) so you have a starting point in case these questions come up.

However, there is a common thread, a theme that runs through the chapter, which will help us understand the flow of thought, if not every specific thought. It is this: God is Holy! To call God holy is to say that he is perfect, set apart from and exalted above all of his creation. He is morally perfect and pure, and his laws flow from that perfection and purity. God’s laws are never arbitrary, but are always a reflection of his character. I believe this is the reason that the phrase “I am the Lord your God” is repeated after so many of the statements. We are not to make idols because he is the Lord, and the only one worthy of our praise. We are to help the poor and the needy because he is the Lord our God, who has blessed us and abundantly provided for us. We shall not blaspheme his name because he is the Lord our God and is worthy of our respect and reverence. We are to bring the first fruits of our harvests to him because he is the Lord our God who has given us everything good. We are to use just balances and weights because he is the Lord our God and he is just and righteous, and so on.

Below is an outline that may be helpful in moving through the different aspects of God’s law to his gospel of grace.

The Lord our God is holy
Holy means perfect, set apart from, and exalted above all His creation
God is absolutely morally perfect and pure

God’s laws are not arbitrary declarations, but are expressions of His character, of who He is
His commands are given because “I am the Lord your God”
The phrase is repeated for emphasis, to remind us why His laws are His laws.

Dietary laws were given, at least in part, for our physical health, because God is kind and loving. But all foods are acceptable if they are taken with thanksgiving (1 Timothy 4:4)
Some laws are meant to keep us away from the idolatry, since only God is worthy of our praise and worship, and is a jealous God
We were given civil law because God is just and righteous, a God not of disorder, but of peace. We are no longer part of a theocracy, but these laws are still the ideal, and were the basis for our legal system
Ceremonial laws were given as a foreshadowing of the future means of God’s atonement for sin. God will by no means clear the guilty, and there is no forgiveness without the shedding of blood. This law was fulfilled in Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection.

God’s moral law was given because God is just, holy, and morally pure. His eyes are too pure to look on sin. This law stands today. In the Old Testament God wrote the moral law in stone with his own finger. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus magnified these commandments, showing God sees the thoughts and intents of our hearts, not only our physical actions.

No one can keep God’s moral law. We are all law breakers who are guilty and worthy of punishment for our moral crimes against a holy God. Eternity in hell is the punishment God has ascribed for sin.

God is loving and rich in mercy, so he sent his son to live the perfect life, to perfectly fulfill every aspect of the law, and to die as the perfect sacrifice for our sins. Then he rose on the third day, proving his power over sin and defeating sin and death for ever.

Only Jesus Christ lived the perfect life, only Jesus Christ paid the price for sin so God’s justice could be satisfied, and so only through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ alone can we be justified and seen as righteous in God’s site. Repent and trust in Christ today. Do not presume on his patience. None of us is promised a tomorrow.

I hope this is helpful, and I would love to hear your feedback. God bless you as you go our to herald his gospel, and please pray for your brothers and sisters around the world who are doing the same.

All for HIS glory!!


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