Reading #1 – Leviticus 21
Reading #2 – Psalms 54
Reading #3 – lamentations 5
Reading #4 – Zechariah 7
Reading #5 – Hebrews 11
Leviticus 21 – Rules for the Priests. The Lord G_d established stringent rules for the priests of the OT. One may wonder why He would require such harsh rules for the Priests when they were simply human beings. Yet, when I consider the word “sanctified”, I think about how this thing should have no flaws in it because it is different from other things I possess. If I were preparing a room in my house for guests, I would make sure the room was clean and presentable and that my guests would be comfortable in it; it would not be an extension of my storage space. In the same way, the priest presented the food offerings to G_d and by it must be presentable otherwise, the people would treat the man like an unholy thing or the way they would treat a common man. When it comes to our beliefs, it is just as important for us to treat the relationship with G_d as being “Holy ground”. If we don’t treat the relationship with respect and dignity, the people on the outside won’t treat it “Holy” either and that is why our flag is trodded on without impunity. Today, we face the outcome of not respecting our freedoms and the world is tearing it down piece by piece just like the temple was destroyed in 586 and again in 73AD. I am the LORD, who makes them holy (23).
Psalms 54 – The Lord our Great Protector. Before David became king over in Israel and Judah, he was considered “Enemy Number 1” by king Saul. David knew God in the sense that he trusted implicitly in him and never gave way to acting out of “fear”. Yet, as great as his faith was, there were times when he didn’t know which direction to go or who trust so he relied upon his foundation in the Lord G_d. This was the man who fought the “Lion and the Bear” (1 Samuel 17:34-36). He was also the man who played for Saul to comfort the king when he was in distress. Trusting in G_d does not imply that “we’ll never face trouble or feel like we are being cornered”. When we have done no wrong and our heart does not condemn us, we can stand and sing this Psalm. I will sacrifice a freewill offering to you;I will praise your name, LORD, for it is good. You have delivered me from all my troubles, and my eyes have looked in triumph on my foes (6-7).”
Lamentations 5 – Recapitulation of the calamities. In the last four chapters or four “elegies”, the Prophet Jeremiah was pouring his heart out to G_d expressing remorse, despair, Before the collapse of the nation, it enjoyed great days with music in the streets, elders respected, plenty of bread, freedom to go wherever they felt like, and the freedom that only comes for an autonomous nation. In place of a king, the nation got a “governor” who reported to Babylon. A great multitude of people was taken to Babylon stripped down to nakedness as a means of humiliation; only the poorest of the poor were left in the land to tend to the gardens. Jeremiah tried with every ounce of strength within him to warn this wayward nation about what would happen yet they laughed at him and demanded that he stop spreading such nonsense. After Josia was killed in battle, G_d’s plan for the nation was put in place and so the nation went into exile. This elegy, just like the first four, has implications for the present day. Today, we are seeing just the first fruits of sinfulness and for it, the nation is paying a tremendous price. Our freedoms have been taken for granted as though “we will always have them”. Yet, when the freedoms are taken away, they will never be ours again. After the exile ended and Babylon was crushed and later the Medes and the Persians, the nation remained under the control of a worldly kingdom at least until 1946.
Zechariah 7 – Justice and Mercy Not Fasting. The people of Bethel had sent Sharezer and Regem-Melek, together with their men, to entreat the LORD 3 by asking the priests of the house of the LORD Almighty and the prophets, “Should I mourn and fast in the fifth month, as I have done for so many years (2-3)?” The nation had been in exile for 70 years and had fasted and prayed during the time. Fasting and prayer is something we do as a matter of course, but “Obedience, faithfulness, justice, and mercy” are the part of the foundation on which we stand. If our ways are offensive to G_d the prayers and times of fasting are fruitless times. The Great King David said in Psalms 51, “You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise (Psalms 51:16-17). If honoring G_d were a simple matter of earnest words, it would be easy to be a Christian as every wordsmith would have an “in with G_D”. Yet, it is not our words that bring us close to G_d it is a heart that seeks by its actions to honor him.
Hebrews 11 – Faith in Action. What is it about “faith’ that moves mountains? Faith requires action or take steps toward bringing it about. It is planting season in MN and gardens and plots of ground are being prepared for it. The seeds that we plant are in away, “acts of faith” because we know that we will get some fruit from the seeds although we cannot see the vegetable yet. Over the next few months, we will water this ground and remove weeds all because we want the fruit the work that is put into the harvest is painful, inconvenient, and often frustrating. Yet when we harvest the crop, our toil will seem fruitful. In the same way, when I say, “I have hope for my nation that it will overcome whatever obstacle it faces” and takes steps towards it, the nation will overcome in time. Those who long to meet the person who they will marry will take steps towards marriage by preparing their lives for that person and seek G_d’s face for this person. In the time of Elisha, a woman and her husband built a room for the prophet and then left an open invitation for the Prophet which he gratefully accepted (2 King 4:8-10). This woman idea whether or not the prophet would accept the invitation but made steps towards it by setting the room up. In the same way, when we want G_d to do great things in our life, we need to prepare for that answer as though it were already granted even though it has not occurred yet.