Be holy, because I, the Lord your God, am holy….

10 03 2011

DAY SIXTY-EIGHT : Leviticus 19 v. 1 – 20 v. 27; Mark 14 v. 43 – 72; Proverbs 6 v. 30 – 35

Various Laws – God desires lives of holiness for His people, to reflect His own holiness; Leviticus 19 is a restating of many commands, including honouring parents, observing sabbath, not worshipping idols, rules about sacrifices, leaving the edges of the field at harvest-time to provide for the poor, not stealing or lying or defrauding; paying people what they’re due, protecting the deaf and blind, acting justly, not slandering others, not putting lives in danger, not hating, not seeking revenge; no bestiality, no mixing of crops in fields (or materials in clothes), not sleeping with unredeemed slave-girls promised to another man*; protecting newly planted trees (letting them grow for three years, offering the fruit of the fourth year to the Lord, and then benefitting from the harvest in the fifth year); no eating meat with blood in it; no divination / sorcery; leaving sideburns and beard edges unclipped (!!), no tattoos, no prostitution, no mediums or spiritists; respect for the elderly, care for the ‘alien’ / incomer, honesty in business;

the thing is, I guess, that all these are still just a snapshot of what ‘holiness’ in living will look like – purity in relationships, in business, in devotion to God, in stewardship of resources – whole-life discipleship!

My study bible makes the point, “In the OT and the NT, holiness means the life of godliness, especially as manifested in social holiness. It originates from God (v2), and emerges in our relationship with parents (v3) and children (v29). It affects the way we worship (v 4 – 8, 30, 31), and treat the poor, the stranger, a neighbour, women, animals, the soil and the aged. Just as these are all mingled together, so Peter exhorts Christians, “be holy in all your conduct” (1 Peter 1 v. 15).
Finally, it’s in Leviticus 19 we get the command “Love your neighbour as yourself” (v18). This is quoted nine times in the NT, and is the second part of Jesus’ great commandments, summarizing all the law.

Various Punishments –
oh dear…the death penalty for those who don’t align themselves wholly with the one true God (many of the practices outlined in this chapter (20) are seen as Canaanite practices, and so the whole emphasis is on the purity of God’s people, not letting foreign practices infiltrate the holy community).
The death penalty for :
~ those who sacrifice their children
~ those who curse their parents
~ those who commit adultery
~ those who sleep with their mother / stepmother / daughter-in-law
homosexual activity, marrying two women (mother and daughter), bestiality, incest – are all condemned with the death penalty 
~ those who practice as mediums or spiritists

People are ‘cut off’ from the community if they have sex during a woman’s period; sleeping with a sister or an aunt, or marrying a sister-in-law will lead to childlessness;

God ‘sets His face against’ those who
~ sacrifice to idols
~ turn to mediums
“I am the Lord, who makes you holy”

this is another occasion where it’s good to be living under the ‘new covenant’ – the punishments in these verses are fatally harsh, and though abhorrent to our sensitivities, only serve to illustrate how seriously God  sees holiness and the purging of sin.
Jesus, Himself, heralding the ‘new covenant’ uses the metaphorical language of cutting off the hand which causes you to sin. Jesus is no less ruthless in His teaching on sin and purity, but maybe His emphasis is much more on the personal responsibility each of us must take.
Each of us is to look at ruthlessly eliminating the stains of sin from our lives, acknowledging at the same time that it is God, Himself, who makes us holy. Surely that is at the heart of our LENTEN pilgrimage, following Jesus’ forty days and nights in the wilderness, battling temptation and seeking God’s perfect will, our complete holiness, Christian perfection.

Jesus’ arrest – I don’t know why, but I was reminded of the groups of pro and anti-Ghaddafi fighters in Libya at present, when I read of the chief priests and teachers of the law sending a ‘mob’ our for Jesus (crowd armed with swords and clubs). I guess they were expecting a fight, strong resistance. Jesus goes quietly, willingly. (Oh, that Ghaddafi would go quietly, willingly !!).
The kiss of betrayal is the powerful and poignant mid-point of the passage – the sting of betrayal is truly agonising when it comes from one closest to us – pain in both the giving and receiving of that kiss !
Just as Jesus had predicted, they all fled. He is alone.
People have wondered, down the ages, if the addition of v.51 /52 is a pointer to the author of the gospel. Is this, in fact, Mark, who gives his name to the gospel ? I like that idea. That the young man flees, naked, adds to the sense of the vulnerability, the complete exposure, at times, of those who follow Christ.

Before the Sanhedrin – Peter does follow at a distance, putting himself in a vulnerable position; what fear there must have been in the atmosphere of that night. There are testimonies which don’t add up, a lack of evidence to convict Jesus, His own silence until asked, “Are you the Christ?” to which Jesus responds, “I am!”. It is the high priest who asks the question, and the high priest who condemns Him. Jesus is spat upon (ultimate insult), and beaten, and handed over to the guards.
The agony begins….

Peter disowns Jesus – Peter’s own battle is with his courage and fear. Cornered three times, Peter denies any involvement with ‘this man’, whom he has proclaimed a few short chapters before as the Messiah, the Christ. Peter is heartbroken, devastated, destroyed as he hears the cock crow. The agony continues….

 A thief pays dearly, when caught, many times over, though his motives may be out of desparation.
An adulterer can never pay back enough, it seems, and there is no justifiable motive for the resulting pain (emotional, psychological, spiritual, physical, social). 




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