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Showing posts from April, 2014

A Blessing For You

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I’m not sure if the Irish have cornered the market on blessings, but they certainly have a lot of them. Here are a few:

May the raindrops fall lightly on your brow.
May the soft winds freshen your spirit.
May the sunshine brighten your heart
May the burdens of the day rest lightly upon you.
And may God enfold you in the mantle of His love.

May you have warm words on a cold evening,
a full moon on a dark night,
and the road downhill all the way to your door.

May you have the hindsight to know where you've been
the foresight to know where you're going
and the insight to know when you're going too far.

May God grant you many years to live,
For sure he must be knowing.
The earth has angels all too few.
And heaven is overflowing.


and my personal favourite:

May the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
The rains fall soft upon your fields and,
Until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.


Tucked away in Numbers, a book that…

Tried, Convicted, Condemned

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I was checking out the local paper this morning while waiting for my overnight guests to appear for breakfast. My eye caught an opinion article on the Editorial page. The article, the subject of which is covered in other places like, http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/trinity-western-law-school-rejected-by-ontario-law-society-1.2621211, concerned Ontario and Nova Scotia’s rejection of graduates of the Trinity Western University Law program. The school is on a level with other prestigious schools in Canada but because it has a moral code that students are required to adhere to, the law societies in these two provinces have decided that any graduates from the school will not be allowed to practice law in either of province. Trinity’s law program hasn’t even been officially launched yet, but both provinces have made their prognostications as to the quality of its graduates—a quality that could only be enhanced by graduates who have been exposed to an honour code.

The argument…

Tongue-lashing

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As I've been reading through the Old Testament, there is one thing that stands out among many important principles. God's holiness pervades all the pages of Scripture but never more than it does in the Old Testament. That holiness was offended in Genesis at the fall of Adam and Even, driven to its limits in the flood during Noah’s time, and tested time and time again by a disobedient and the rebellious people. It demanded that no one touch the mountain of God, and established a priesthood, a Tabernacle and a system of sacrifices that were set apart to be as holy as the One Who had established them. God’s people were given commandments to follow and told to be as holy as the God Who was forming them into a nation. That command to be holy carried over into the New Testament, providing the bridge between the Old and the New (i.e. Leviticus 11:45; 1 Peter 1:16).

As I was reading Numbers 3 this morning, I was reminded again that God had set apart His priests to maintain the holines…

Nothing But The Blood

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The rules were clear for the fledgling nation of Israel. God’s people were not to eat the blood of any animal. To do so brought swift and sure punishment (Leviticus 17:10). The blood was sacred because of what it symbolized. “For the life of the creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life” (Leviticus 17:11).

These Old Testament sacrifices foretold of One who would make the ultimate sacrifice; whose blood would atone for our sins once and for all time.

As we come to another Good Friday and Easter we remember that without the shedding of that blood, there would be no forgiveness. We remember “…the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).

As I thought about these verses from Leviticus this morning, an old hymn came to mind.

What can wash away my sins?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
What can make me whole again?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Oh, precious is that …

Whipping Boy

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How appropriate that we should come to Leviticus 16 during Easter week. This chapter describes how the sacrifices for atonement were to be made.

To atone for something is defined as: make amends for, make reparation for, make restitution for, make up for, compensate for, pay for, recompense for, expiate, redress, make good, offset; do penance for.

In the Old Testament an animal sacrifice was required to make atonement for sin. In the New Testament we learn that Christ paid the price that God’s justice demanded because of our sin against Him (1 Peter 3:18).

Leviticus 16 describes what went on inside the Tent of Meeting and around the altar where only the High Priest went and what happened outside of the Tent of Meeting as a visible expression to the people of the payment made to remove the guilt of their rebellion against God. Here we are introduced to the scapegoat.

The story is told of a prince whose father didn’t think it was appropriate for royalty to be punished for wrongdoing so he…

Exceptions to the Rule

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One of the most daunting tasks of reading through the Scriptures and trying to apply them to life is what to do with passages like Leviticus 15. In my Bible, the title of the chapter is “Discharges Causing Uncleanness.” Yippee! The bottom line for the Israelites was that anyone suffering a bodily discharge was unclean for a proscribed period of time and anything touched by that person or discharge was also unclean. At the end of the period of contamination sacrifices had to be made but until then that person was not allowed to coming to the Tent of Meeting. Verse 31 states: “You must keep the Israelites separate from things that make them unclean, so that they will not die in their uncleanness for defiling my dwelling place, which is among them.

Before going back to this statement, I want to pause at a New Testament story that highlights just how terrible the consequences of this particular commandment would have been.

Matthew 9:18-22 tells us about a woman who dared to break that co…

It's All In The Approach

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There appears to be no gap (except a humanly created one) between Leviticus 9 and Leviticus 10. If that is the case, then the actions of Aaron’s sons, Nadab and Abihu, are all the more inexplicable.

The now official priesthood has been solemnly consecrated. Sacrifices have been made and specific instructions given. The glory of the Lord has descended on the Tent of Meeting and the people have responded with joy and worship.

And the two men enter the Tent of Meeting and offer “unauthorized fire” on the altar in direct and willful disobedience to the Lord’s command (Leviticus 10:1). The result was swift and devastating (10:2). They died.

As I read this story my mind went back to the beginning of the church, as we have it recorded in Acts. The foundation of the church was being laid so it was very important that, as the saying goes, they begin as they expected to continue. When Ananias and Sapphira lied to the church leaders about the disposition of their property, the judgment was swift …

When God Comes

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The dedication of the priests had taken place. They made the appropriate sacrifices as commanded by God. It was an amazing moment in the history of a nation-in-formation as Moses and Aaron stepped out of the Tabernacle. Leviticus 9:23, 24 records, “When they came out, they blessed the people; and the glory of the Lord appeared to all the people. Fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed the burnt offering and the fat portion on the altar. And when all the people saw it, they shouted for joy and fell facedown.

Fire.

The writer to the Hebrews, quoting Deuteronomy 4:24, wrote, “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our ‘God is a consuming fire.’

Israel was used to this representation of God among them. The pillar of fire had guided them out of Egypt. Moses had recognized God’s presence as the bush burned but was not consumed. Israel had seen it blazing from the mounta…

The Call to Leadership

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There is a story in the book of Judges that describes the choosing of a spiritual leader. These were dark days for the Israelites. Everyone did whatever they chose to do. Judges 17 recounts the story of a man by the name of Micah apparently stole or “borrowed” money from his mother. When he confessed that he had stolen it, she gave it back to him and told him to make an idol with it. Micah set up a worship centre in his house, made a few more idols and appointed one of his sons as priest. Apparently that wasn’t sufficient because a wandering Levite came to his home, and when Micah realized that he was a Levite, one of tribe chosen by God to look after the things consecrated to the service of the Lord, Micah figured there was not much better than “the real deal.” The Levite was looking for someplace to live and Micah offered him a job.

Live with me and be my father and priest, and I’ll give you ten shekels of silver a year, your clothes and your food…Then Micah installed the Levite, a…

Covered By The Blood

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In 1876, Robert Lowry wrote this well-known hymn:

1. What can wash away my sin?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
What can make me whole again?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Refrain
Oh! precious is the flow
That makes me white as snow;
No other fount I know,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus
.

2. For my pardon, this I see,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
For my cleansing this my plea,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.


3. Nothing can for sin atone,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
Naught of good that I have done,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

4. This is all my hope and peace,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
This is all my righteousness,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

5. Now by this I’ll overcome—
Nothing but the blood of Jesus,
Now by this I’ll reach my home—
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

6. Glory! Glory! This I sing—
Nothing but the blood of Jesus,
All my praise for this I bring—
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

The last two stanzas are unfamiliar to me—cut out of most of our hymnbooks for one reason or another. Bu…

Pass The Salt

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The instructions for burnt offerings were not the only ones that the Israelites needed to keep in mind when they presented themselves before the Lord at the entrance of the Tabernacle. Leviticus 2 details what was necessary if an Israelite came to offer a grain offering to the Lord. One of the important items was never to offer anything with leaven in it. During the celebration of the Passover, unleavened bread was served in remembrance of the speed by which the Israelites had to leave Egypt—there was no time for the bread to rise!

But leaven also came to represent sin, and in the tradition of the Passover celebration, the house would be searched from top to bottom to make sure that there was no leaven in the house. It is said that sometimes people would entrust their leaven to a non-Jewish neighbour and then collect it again after the eight days of commemoration.

But something else comes up in this brief chapter in Leviticus. In verse 13, the author writes: “Season all your grain off…