Reading #1 – Leviticus 11
Reading #2 – Psalms 44
Reading #3 – Proverbs 26
Reading #4 – Zephaniah 2
Reading #5 – Hebrews 1
Leviticus 11 – The Clean and the Unclean animals. There is a part about scripture that I believe gets lost in translation and that is, God never does anything, says anything, or gives anything without solid reasoning behind it (Proverbs 8:22-31). When it comes to the directions for the Levitical priesthood, it may sound a whole lot like God is putting these men up on a pedestal when that was not the intention. It wasn’t because the priests were too holy to eat pigs, whales, sharks, many species of birds, and insects and nor was the nation at large as we’ll find annotated in multiple areas of scripture; if that were the case, these animals most likely would not have been included on Noah’s voyage. God is as much concerned about our diet because, when we ingest unclean meats, we can get ill. In the time of the Aaronic priesthood, they had no good way to prepare meats as they had no way of making sure the animal was fully cooked or not. And when any of the beasts which are to you for food dieth, he who is coming against its carcase is unclean till the evening; 40 and he who is eating of its carcase doth wash his garments, and hath been unclean till the evening; and he who is lifting up its carcase doth wash his garments, and hath been unclean till the evening (39-40). So the animals found dead on the side of the road were off limits, why? In the same way even for us today, eating dead animals found in the forest or on the street could potentially make us ill. Today, we have modern devices to help us know when meat is fully cooked but we still do not eat a carnivorous bird like a hawk, kyte, or an eagle because they eat everything live or dead. In John Schultz’s commentary, he references a rhym written by Clyve Staples Lewis, “It is a funny thing, as funny as can be, whatbMiss B eats, turns into Miss B.” We become what we eat.”
Psalms 44 – For, not by their sword Possessed they the land, And their arm gave not salvation to them, But Thy right hand, and Thine arm, And the light of Thy countenance, Because Thou hadst accepted them (3). It is an irony of life that when the roads are good and the wind at our backs, we fall so miserably short of God’s best for our life. When the wind does not blow us along and the camp falls into disrepair, our enemy will prompt us to blame God for failing to keep us safe (Proverbs 19:3). Why on earth do we see times of utter failure? Has God failed us when we needed him the most? No, because God never fails in all of his promises (Joshua 21:45). So why is the writer outling the present condition of nation as being in such a sad state? The answer lies in the pathways that the nation had brought themselves. Prior to 586 and the “exile”, the nation was bent on destruction and the Devil was leading the charge. We did not have the victories in our life simply because we are the “best man for the hour” rather, because our the Captain of the Lord’s Host is leading us and we are simply progenitors of his grace. All the day my confusion [is] before me, And the shame of my face hath covered me. 16 Because of the voice of a reproacher and reviler, Because of an enemy and a self-avenger. 17 All this met us, and we did not forget Thee, Nor have we dealt falsely in Thy covenant. 18 We turn not backward our heart, Nor turn aside doth our step from Thy path (15-18 YLT).
Proverbs 26 – 1 As snow in summer, and as rain in harvest, So honour [is] not comely for a fool. 2 As a bird by wandering, as a swallow by flying, So reviling without cause doth not come. 3 A whip is for a horse, a bridle for an ass, And a rod for the back of fools (1-3 YLT). When we look at pictures where we are supposed to see what is “different”, the two side-by-side pictures look almost identical except for some nuances. In the same way when we consider a “situation” we see somethings that really do not belong. In the lesson of 1-3, it is the picture of summer with 6’ of snow all around, or the bird wandering away and then ends up getting captured, or the fool who has no place in being honored. Each of these are pictures of “what doesn’t belong here”. As an avid motorcyclist, I look forward to summer and motorcycle riding; when it gets too cold, the bike has to sit and that just doesn’t make sense to me. In the same way when you see good men and women being badly treated, while fools are given all of the press, it raises a concern that soon echoes through a community. When a foolish person or better yet, “morally depraved” is placed as an honored guest at community event, people will think that the leadership has lost its mind or that they are now endorsing sinful behavior and bringing ruin on a community; it may not be the message the leadership is trying to project, but that’s what’s coming through loud and clear.
Zephaniah 2 – 1 Bend yourselves, yea, bend ye, O nation not desired, 2 Before the bringing forth of a statute, As chaff hath the day passed on, While yet not come in upon you doth the heat of the anger of Jehovah, While yet not come in upon you doth a day of the anger of Jehovah, 3 Seek Jehovah, all ye humble of the land, Who His judgment have done, Seek ye righteousness, seek humility, It may be ye are hidden in a day of the anger of Jehovah (1-3 YLT). The nation was about to be destroyed and in this brief moment were given one last chance; which, they ridiculed the prophet. Zephaniah was trying to hold up a mirror before the nation and they would have none of it (1 Corinthians 13:12). Zephaniah had done his job in warning the people and they chose to not listen to him. If I warn the wicked, saying, ‘You are under the penalty of death,’ but you fail to deliver the warning, they will die in their sins. And I will hold you responsible for their deaths. 19 If you warn them and they refuse to repent and keep on sinning, they will die in their sins. But you will have saved yourself because you obeyed me (Ezekial 3:18-19 NLT). And crouched in her midst have droves, Every beast of the nation, Both pelican and hedge-hog in her knobs lodge, A voice doth sing at the window, `Destruction [is] at the threshold, For the cedar-work is exposed.’ 15 This [is] the exulting city that is dwelling confidently, That is saying in her heart, `I [am], and beside me there is none,’ How hath she been for a desolation, A crouching-place for beasts, Every one passing by her doth hiss, He doth shake his hand (14-15 YLT).
Hebrews 1 – A New Day has Dawned – The book of Hebrews does not state specifically who wrote the book but it was to the “Diaspora” who were the remnant of spiritual Israel that had long since faded into history. The nation had been taught about Jehovah God, all that he had done in and through them. Specifically, though, was the word about how God was presently working through them and that was through His son Jesus. In the first century, the church, just like Israel itself, was on the verge of collapse. In 70 Christian Era (CE) Jerusalem was overrun by Rome leading to the decimation of the temple built during the 2nd Temple period (538 BC – 70 CE). The temple defined the nation and it gave it the “one place” for which they could congregate. So what now? I think the whole reasoning behind the book of Hebrews was to answer the question, “Where do we go from here”. “Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever; a scepter of justice will be the scepter of your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy (8-9 NIV).” So the temple that is spoken of in the NT is not the same physical temple that would be destroyed, it was the temple of the heart which could not be destroyed by human hands.