Take my life and let it be consecrated, Lord, to Thee….

2 03 2011

DAY SIXTY-ONE : Leviticus 7 v. 11 – 8 v. 36; Mark 11 v. 1 – 25; Psalm 28 v. 1 – 9

LEVITICUS 7
Fellowship Offering – the final instructions are about a fellowship (or peace) offering, which was either offered for thanksgiving, or for the making of a vow or voluntary offering – all to do with a person’s relationship with God and commitment to Him. Along with an animal sacrifice, unleavened breads, wafers and cakes are to be offered. There are slightly different instructions depending upon the type of Fellowship Offering which is being conducted.

Four times in Leviticus 7 we read of people needing to be “cut off from the people” if they do the wrong thing relating to clean and unclean, holy and unholy activity – drastic action taken against those who threaten the holiness of the whole community.
I was somehow reminded of Jesus’ harsh words to Peter, who challenged Jesus when He was wanting to wash Peter’s feet, “unless you let me wash you, you have no part with me.”
To be part of the Jesus community, we must allow Jesus to wash us, to cleanse us, to make us holy, as He is holy.

Fat and Blood Forbidden – to eat the fat, which is always God’s, offered as a burnt offering, is to rob God of what is rightfully His; to eat blood, which represents life, is to misuse what God has created; doing either would effectively cut you off from the community.

Interesting to me to note that Jesus invites His followers to eat bread and drink wine, to represent eating the body and drinking the blood of the Lamb, the ultimate sacrifice….His body, and His blood, alone, can make us clean.

The Priests’ Share – of all that is part of the Fellowship Offering, the breast and the right thigh are ‘waved’ before God and given as a portion to the priests.
v. 37, 38 bring a summary of all the offerings outlined in the previous chapters
burnt offering, grain offering, sin offering, guilt offering, ordination offering, fellowship offering – a lot to take on board, there!

LEVITICUS 8
Ordination – okay, chapter eight is a high point, where Aaron and his sons are ordained as priests. Ordination is a very special occasion, but I did find myself thanking God that my ordination did not involve the slaughter and sprinkling of the blood of a bull and two rams (sin offering, burnt offering and ordination offering) ! There’s a lot of blood in this ceremony.

I did reminisce about a week-long retreat I went on before ordination, which was a precious time of walking closely with Jesus and others towards a point of deep commitment and blessing, and noticed that the ordination of Aaron and his sons lasted seven days. Maybe sometimes our celebrations are too fleeting, they come and go too quickly and we don’t allow time to let it all sink in.

The newly consecrated priests are given their holy garments (tunic, robe, ephod, breastpiece, turban, and gold plate).
Moses anoints Aaron with oil as a symbol of ordination before the animals are sacrificed and then eaten.

Moses places the blood of the ram for ordination on the right earlobe, right thumb and right big toe of Aaron and sons – maybe to symbolise how, as priests, they are to ‘hear’ and bring God’s word, they are to have ‘clean hands’ and be involved in the cleansing of others, and they are to ‘stand before’ or ‘walk with’ the Lord. This imagery, for me, was also about the whole body surrendered – head, hands, feet – to the will of God.
“take my ears and let them be filled with messages from Thee….
  take my hands and let them move at the impulse of Thy love….
  take my feet and let them be swift and beautiful for Thee….”

MARK 11
Entering Jerusalem – sending the disciples to find the colt, and the conversation with those standing by, just as Jesus instructed certainly give the impression that all this seems pre-planned. Jesus is in control of His destiny, everything about to happen is as planned.
The humble entry into Jerusalem is in stark contrast to expectations of many who wanted a Messiah. It’s been a long day, so after all the Hosannas and excitement, they head back to Bethany, and leave things to the next day.

(Giandomenico Tiepolo’s painting of Christ cleansing the temple spoke to me, also, of the holiness of the tabernacle as proclaimed throughout Leviticus)

Clearing the Temple – so, next day, arriving at the temple, Jesus (who may have mulled this over all night long), Jesus turns over the tables of the money-changers and merchants (who are lining their own pockets with the exchange rate for holy money / holy sacrifices). Jesus’ cry that His Father’s house should be a house of prayer for all nations is a heart cry which still echoes over the temple area of Jerusalem, which is a place where Jews, Christians (of many denominations) and Muslims have space to worship and pray.
Jesus’ actions stir the chief priests and teachers to seek a way to kill Him.

Withered Fig Tree –
the next day, retracing their steps from Bethany to Jerusalem, they pass a fig-tree which, the day before, Jesus had cursed (for its lack of bearing fruit); today, the fig-tree is withered. This appears to me to link with the cleansing of the temple – Jesus hates the hypocrisy of those who may ‘say the right thing’, yet bear no fruit.
It becomes a teaching point for the disciples about the power of words of faith – to move mountains, to receive what we ask for in prayer, to enable God’s forgiveness to flow to and through us.

PSALM
“I lift up my hands towards Your Most Holy Place….
  The Lord is my strength and my shield;
 my heart trusts in him, and I am helped.
 My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to Him in song….”

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