Friday, February 26, 2010

February 26

OT: Lev. 19:1-20:21

Well, what an interesting assortment of laws we have here. Reading through the hodge-podge makes me wonder again about the origin of these laws. Are these all laws from Sinai, or did God give these laws to Moses over time? Did God give them in this exact order, or have they been written down in a different order? So far, the laws in Leviticus have seemed haphazardly organized and somewhat redundant. Since God is a God of order, I'm not sure what to make of that.

I loved a lot of the laws today. Many were echoes of the Ten Commandments (19:2-4, 11-12, 16, 30, 20:10). Many were about mercy and generosity, such as the laws about gleaning the fields and treating the aliens well. Many were about justice, like the ones about not holding back wages or showing favoritism. My favorite ones, though, were found in 19: 17-18, which said, "Do not hate your brother in your heart. Rebuke your neighbor frankly so you will not share in his guilt. Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord." I love these words because they show how you can love truth and love others at the same time. The Israelites were told to rebuke their neighbor frankly when he did wrong; otherwise, they would share in his guilt. That reminds me of the verse that says, "Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves" (Rom. 14:22b). Both Israelites and Christians are instructed to stand up against injustice and immorality. At the same time, though, we are to love our neighbors, both in our hearts and in our actions. It is an interesting balance.

It's funny how so many of the laws today made beautiful sense, and then we also had an assortment of "stand-out" laws, which seem to exist for the main purpose of setting Israel apart and making them stand out. The Israelites couldn't wear clothing made with two types of material or sow a field with two types of seed. They couldn't eat from fruit trees for the first three years, and they couldn't trim the edges of the beard. Weird stuff.

I also thought it was odd how a lot of the rules from yesterday were repeated, but this time with consequences attached. That was kind of redundant to me. I wonder if the consequences were a later development b/c the rules themselves were not enough of a deterrent.

NT: Mark 8:11-38

I love little details that make Jesus seem so human. Like, how he "sighed deeply" at the Pharisees' demand for a sign (12). Love it.

In both Matthew and Mark, you have the feeding of the 4,000, the Pharisees' demand for a sign, the goofy bread discussion where the disciples don't get it, Peter's confession of Christ and rebuke of Jesus, and Jesus' radical pronouncements about dying to self and losing one's life. But Mark has one major difference from Matthew, which is the two-step healing of the blind man (Luke, in case you were wondering, has Peter's confession after the feeding of the 5,000, and there aren't a lot of other similarities in that section). So...what's up with Mark's miracle? Was Jesus having an off-day? Did it take Him two tries to heal the man? I don't have any good answers of my own, but I do remember a sermon I heard, or maybe it was in a college class, that Jesus' healing of the blind man was supposed to be a metaphor for the disciples' vision. Remember, they just looked like fools in the "yeast of the Pharisees" discussion, and Jesus seemed frustrated with their lack of comprehension. Even though they had Jesus with them and thus were not totally blind, their "vision" was so poor that people looked like trees. Very blurry and incomplete. However, Jesus would soon bring them full sight, and we get a small glimpse of that in Peter's confession of Christ.

Psalm 42:1-11

Verse 1 is incredibly popular, and rightly so, for it paints a beautiful image. However, I always forget how melancholy the rest of the psalm is. David isn't thirsting for God in this "holy" way; he isn't being "Mr. Righteous" here. No, he is desperate. He is down in the pit, and he is so incredibly in need of God's comfort and presence and intervention. I generally think of this verse in pleasant terms, but David is not describing a pleasant emotion here. He is engaged in spiritual warfare, and, by all appearances, he is losing.

Proverbs 10:17

Since I've been thinking of tweaks I need to make to disciplining my kids, these verses seem relevant to me. I like how the verses highlight the way that heeding (or not heeding) discipline sets a powerful example for those around you. When you heed discipline, you show others the way to life. That's cool.

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