Concluding Leviticus…Introducing Luke

15 03 2011

DAY SEVENTY-TWO : Leviticus 26 v. 14 – 27 v. 34; Luke 1 v. 1 – 25; Proverbs 7 v. 1 – 5

LEVITICUS
Punishing disobedience – Just as obedience is rewarded, so there are consequences for disobedience.
~ sudden terror will come
~ disease and fever will spread
~ land will be raided, harvests stolen
~ your enemies will defeat you
If God’s people still don’t listen, seven times the punishment will fall on them. The land will harden, making harvests impossible.
If God’s people still won’t listen, seven times the afflictions will hit them hard. Animals will grow wild and attack.
If God’s people still refuse to obey, seven times the severity of attack will reign down. Sword and plague, and defeat. Food (bread) will be lacking.
If God’s people still block their ears, seven times the agony will result. Cannibalism, bodies heaped high, cities devastated; God’s people scattered and attacked on all sides.
Then the land will enjoy the rest (sabbath) previously denied it.
Those who survive will experience great fear of their enemies, suffer attack and be defeated. 
BUT
if they confess their sins, whilst exiled in the land of their enemies, then ‘their uncircumcised hearts will be humbled’, and God will remember they are His covenant people; they won’t be forgotten.

God is a covenant God – “I will be their God and they will be my people” – first and foremost. He will not go back on His word. He is faithful and just.

Redeeming – Wow, the final chapter in this great book seems a little strange – all about ‘redeeming’ (buying back) people, property, animals which have been ‘dedicated to the Lord’. Though it seems strange, maybe it’s simply underlining the whole point of the book – ‘redemption’ – that God has saved and spared His people, rescued them from slavery, and sets up rituals to act as permanent reminders, and sacrifices to train His people towards holiness.

I LOVED celebrating “Jubilee” and exploring its meaning at LMC (Leyland Methodist Church) on Sunday – chains broken, slaves set free – and here again land is surrendered and people set free in the Year of Jubilee
“When the field is released in the Jubilee, it will become holy, like a field devoted to the Lord.”

‘Devoted offerings’ are in a different category – these are unredeemable, permanently the Lord’s.
There’s a reminder, too, that the tithe is the Lord’s, and is therefore ‘holy’.

I wonder if you’ve seen one of these – it’s called a ‘wordle’. Another blogger (Pastor Smith, North Carolina) inputted the text of Leviticus and it mapped out the most frequently occuring words – the size of the word indicates its frequency in the book. Interesting to note in looking for key themes….LORD, OFFERING, PRIEST…..
(have a go youreself at www.wordle.net)

That’s it!
The book of Leviticus finished.
And I found this comment on the last chapter really helpful:
“As the last chapter in the book it indicates that the purpose of the whole Levitical system is redemption. God’s laws are not given as a means of people becoming legalistically righteous, but as an expression of a redeemed condition…”

Looking forward to starting Numbers tomorrow!!

LUKE  
Introduction – Luke’s intentions are spelt out in a few short verses at the beginning of his gospel.
~ many people are putting together the eye-witness accounts ‘of the things that have been fulfilled among us’
~ Luke has carefully investigated everything, and wants to write his own account (he describes his account as orderly)
~ most excellent Theophilus is to be the recipient (a person of high standing, to whom the book of Acts is also dedicated).
~ ‘so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught’.

It is believed that the writer of this gospel is the gentile physician, Luke, who accompanied Paul on his missionary journeys. ‘He is the only Gentile author in the New Testament.”

 

John the Baptist – the fulfilment of all God’s promises is heralded by the birth narratives of both John and Jesus (angels and the lot), but it is John who comes first, the forerunner.
Herod the Great was king of all Palestine from 37 to 4BC.
Zechariah was a member of the “Division of Abijah”, one of the 24 groups of priests who took turns to minister in the temple at Jerusalem. He and his wife, Elizabeth are ‘righteous before God, blameless’.
Zechariah takes his turn to tend to the incense burning, and while alone before God, there, Angel Gabriel appeared with the news of their forthcoming child:
~ he will be called John
~ many will rejoice at his coming
~ he will be great (and tee-total)
~ he will be filled with the Holy Spirit (launching the era when God will pour out His Spirit on all flesh) from birth
~ he will turn many children of Israel back to God
~ he will go before Him (the Messiah), turning fathers’ hearts back to their children, and the disobedient back to wisdom
(as prophesied in Malachi (last book of the OT), when God reveals that an Elijah figure will prepare the way for the Messiah).

I guess Zechariah needs some convincing, can’t quite believe that at such an old age, he and Elizabeth will bear a son.
As a sign, and a sort of punishment for Zechariah’s lack of trust, he becomes mute for months (blessing for Elizabeth??).
Zechariah has been a long time in the temple, and the worshippers are waiting for him to bless them – they are impressed that he has been in there so long, and when he comes out and can’t speak (wot, no blessing?), they assume he’s had some profound experience. Clearly, he has !!

Elizabeth becomes pregnant, and hides herself away until it would be obvious to all what’s happening….

What a special couple, about to bear a very special son!


PROVERBS – Sister Wisdom !

“Keep my commands and you will live;
guard my teachings as the apple of your eye.
Bind them on your fingers;
write them on the tablet of your heart.
Say to wisdom, “You are my sister.”

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