Reading #1 – Leviticus 1
Reading #2 – Psalms 73
Reading #3 – Proverbs 11
Reading #4 – Micah 1
Reading #5 – 2 Corinthians 12
Leviticus 1 – Law of Burnt Offerings. When you read about the law of burnt offerings, it should make you almost sick to the stomach and severely disgusted. The thing is, sin is just as disgusting because it destroys the person from the inside out until the only plausible choice is to destroy it. The laying on of hands symbolically transfers the guilt to the sacrifice (4). The animals being brought for the sacrifice were the prized male animals, the ones the owner raised from birth and were perfect and would have brought a continual stream of income (3). The animals being brought to the altar for sacrifice were treated with respect throughout the process.
Psalms 73 – The Wicked and the Righteous Contrasted. In a perfect world, we would by nature and without hesitation draw close to G_d and we would experience a “perfect life” (1). Unfortunately, we have an enemy or “opposition” because life on the other side of the tracks makes G_d’s word seem “trivial”. This, unfortunately, creates conflict in the writer’s heart (3,11-14). In the G_d’s Kingdom, there is the “law of end results” in which the two groups face opposite outcomes. When we choose to follow G_d’s laws for our life, people are watching us so if or when we surrender to the world’s pressure to jump on the bandwagon, our ire will create conflict in the hearts of those who trusted us (15). If we try to rationalize the two paths while standing one foot in the Kingdom of G_d and one foot in the world, we will never understand why we need to refuse the earthly offerings. When we stand upon the rock of our Lord and Savior, the path we need to take will be made known (16-20). The problem is, even standing on the rock does not mean the path we need to take will be “easy” nor does it mean that the wicked will cease to exist “physically” but in our hearts, the pressure will hold no sway over our hearts (25-28).
Proverbs 11 – Contrast the Wicked and Righteous. To have a false balance or, “an over-inflated view of our opinion” creates problems for the individual holding the opinion and for those who stand in the balance (1). The illustration of the “false balance” comes from the marketplace where the people buying produce would cheat those people who were selling products by using unequal weights. To walk in harmony with G_d, we must exercise moral courage in the face of the pressure to conform to the path of this world. This does not mean “I am better than you” rather it means “I will march to the beat of a different drummer no matter the cost and no matter the outcome (2-5, Mike Krier).
Micah 1 – Destruction of Israel and Judah. This is a startling revelation and prophecy to Jacob about their future. The term “apostasy” is the abandonment of a religious or political belief that can be good or bad depending on which end of the spectrum the person is standing. In this case, Jacob or “fallen mankind” has abandoned G_d’s laws and has led to both kingdoms (North and South) becoming corrupt (5-6). IF you will notice, the Prophet is sent in the days of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah when the seed is first sown (1). The purpose for this, I believe, is to nip the problem while it is just a seed and not full-blown corruption. Because the two kingdoms abandoned the Lord G_d by disobeying His rules and precepts, all of the good that He had planned for the nation would now result in trouble coming to the kingdoms (7-8). For something to be incurable, there would be no pathway for restoration and we will find out that the Northern Kingdom would disappear or become assimilated into the pagan kingdoms and never be resurrected (9). The utterance was permanent as far as Israel was concerned because nothing that they would do, even if it were to pander to G_d, would stave off the coming destruction (13-15).
2 Corinthians 13 – Paul’s Advice “Examine Yourselves”. One of the hardest areas of our walk with the Lord is to examine ourselves that is, “our heart’s motives” which is something nobody else can do for us. The church at Corinth, like the church at Laodicea, was struggling spiritually due to troublemakers within the ranks. The last thing Paul wanted to do was remove people from the ranks because they refused to submit to his leadership (2). Some espoused the notion that Paul was hiding behind the letters and was not courageous enough to do anything about the sinful practices that were occurring. The thing is Paul knew who he was in Christ Jesus and would do whatever it took for the Church to overcome the influence of the few even if it meant removing people from the church until they repented (4-5). Paul had great aspirations for this church and knew it had everything it needed to be a mighty witness amid the self-destructive behaviors going on in the community. For this vision to be fulfilled, the church had to grow in grace and learn to rejoice in all things so that the mess the Devil sought to do in the church would be defeated (11).