Monday, February 27, 2006

One Year Bible Question

I recieved an email last week that asked for some more information on all the different offerings that are described in Leviticus. One thing to remember is that the offerings described in Leviticus are similar to what we "give" to God in worship. Today we not only give our money, but we also give praise, glory, and honor to God. We also give our time and our talents. The people of Israel saw these offerings as a form of worship.

I found this good summary on the internet. Click here to read the entire summary.

Burnt Offering:
Leviticus 1; 6: 8-13; 8: 18-21; 16: 24
The burnt offering was for unintentional sin.
This was a blanket sacrifice for wrongdoing in general. The price was a male bull, lamb or goat. It had to be a perfect animal, without defect. The poor could offer a pigeon or dove. The penitent would present the animal at the entrance to the tent, which housed the altar and the tabernacle.
After presenting the animal, the sinner would place his two hands on the animal and thus, it was accepted as an offering for sin. Probably this act transferred the sin from the human to the animal, which paid the penalty and was sacrificed. They would kill their own offering and then the priests took over.

The priests bled the animal and cut it up ceremonially. The priests sprinkled the blood on the altar. Some of the internal organs and legs were washed. They then burned it whole on the altar. The aroma was said to be pleasing to God. The fire had to be continually burning and was never extinguished.

Grain Offering:
Leviticus 2; 6: 14-23
Voluntary worship and thanks:
A grain offering is just what it says. The grain had to ground into flour and could be put into loaves or cakes. Olive oil and incense were added to make a pleasing aroma when it burned. Yeast was forbidden for this offering. The cakes had to be salted. The offering was presented to the priests who burned a small portion of it on the altar. The rest was food for them and the Levites.

Fellowship Offering:
Leviticus 3: 7: 11-34
A voluntary act of worship, thanks and fellowship:
This is called a fellowship offering because the sacrifice is eaten communally instead of burned. Any clean animal, male or female could be offered. Bread, both with and without yeast, was also part of the offering. These were presented at the gate of the tent. The priests would sprinkle the blood on the four corners of the altar. The internal organs, the fat on them and the best part of the liver were burned as a food offering. The rest had to be eaten within two days or else it was burned also.

Sin Offering:
Leviticus 4: 1-5: 13; 6: 24-30; 8: 14-17; 16: 3-22
Mandatory for specific sins:
All of these offerings for sins are for unintentional transgressions. If you were guilty of premeditated infraction, these offerings didn’t help you. Your stature in the community determined the kind of sacrifice that you were required to offer.
A young bull was required for the sin of a high priest or for a community sin. Leaders had to present a male goat. The common people could bring a female goat or a lamb. The poor were permitted to offer a dove or pigeon and the very poor could get away with a tenth of an ephah of fine flour.

The bull’s fat was burned inside the camp but the rest was burned outside. Leviticus 5 records the sins for which a sin offering was required. These include unintentionally touching an animal that is ritually unclean, touching something unclean of human origin or making a careless promise.

Guilt Offering: (Repayment Offering)
Leviticus 5:14 – 6:7; 7: 1-6
Mandatory for unintentional sin requiring restitution:
This is a repayment offering for a sin committed against God, like holding back your tithe. A ram or lamb was brought to the tent to be sacrificed. The debt would have to be paid plus an additional twenty percent. These were the offerings outlined in the first seven chapters of Leviticus. God could forgive mistakes but intentional sins were another matter.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The One Year Bible Feb. 22, 2006

As I said last week, please don’t get discouraged when reading tedious sections of Scripture. I know it can be rough reading at times but hang in there. There will be times in the future where the readings will not be very fun (some places in Jeremiah for example). But remember that there is power in God’s word. You may someday be sharing your faith with a person who may know the Old Testament well. This person my not yet trust in Jesus as their Lord but you can find some common ground with them in the words of the Old Testament. There is always a good reason for spending time in the Word and sometimes we don’t see it at the moment.

This week’s readings were both tedious and exciting. The book of Leviticus reads like an instruction manual and the Gospel of Mark is like an action adventure novel. As always there are nuggets of gold in the Psalms and Proverbs.

Where We Have Been

The Old Testament
For the majority of this week our readings have been instructions for Aaron and all the priests to follow. God gave Moses some specific instructions for what was to take place at the tabernacle. These ordinances were then used once the temple was built by Solomon. By reading through the book of Leviticus you begin to see how the Jewish people saw many more commandments than just 9 (see the post on February 8th to understand why I say only 9). In the Jewish mind there were more than 600 laws and ordinances that they needed to keep in order to stay in God’s favor. It should come as no surprise then that the teachings of Jesus were seen as so radical. Remember that Jesus summarized the law into two commands. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:37-40) It is interesting to note that the priests were not only the spiritual leaders, they were also gave dietary guidelines as well as medical advice. They oversaw the total wellbeing of the individual. I think there is something to be learned from this. As a New Testament Christian we are all part of the “Priesthood of all believers”. As such we are called to care for the total wellbeing of all.

The New Testament
The book of Mark is filled with miracles and parables. It is no wonder many point new believers to this Gospel. Mark lays out the evidence that Jesus is the savior of the world and Jesus proves it by his miracles. Jesus also is a good teacher and as all good teachers he uses the power of stories. Stories teach in ways that other words cannot. Stories captivate our imaginations, they take us to places we have never been, they can help us understand complex ideas. Jesus knew the power of story and he used it. In our reading for the 20th we see that “In his public ministry he never taught without using parables” (Mark 4:34a NLT). What better way to teach to a bunch of uneducated people. I think at times we have lost the art of storytelling in our Churches. We do a good job of it in Sunday School but we often forget it with Adults. I feel that we all can benefit from a good story and what better story to start with than the story of Jesus Christ.

Where We Are Going

The Old Testament
The book of Leviticus continues with the rules and regulations of living as a member of God’s chosen people. As we read this list, remember that there is no one on earth who ever did or who ever could live up to all of these regulations except for Jesus Christ himself. For us today this only convinces us more and more that we are in need of a savior. Keep plugging away at the reading and remember the big picture that because of Jesus, you have kept all these requirements “In Christ” and God sees you as “clean”

The New Testament
We will continue with the theme of miracles and parables. We will also see how Mark begins to discuss how Jesus dealt with the Pharisees. Remember that the Pharisees were the ones who were trying to keep all the requirements of the law that we are reading about in the Old Testament. Jesus really lets them have it in Mark 7. The disciples will also get a glimpse of the divinity of Jesus at the transfiguration.

Key Verses:
Mark 2:17
Psalm 36:5-6
Psalm 37:3-4
Mark 3:35
Psalm 37:39-40
Leviticus 11:45
Psalm 39:4-5

Have a great week everyone!! Let me know if you have any questions.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

The One Year Bible Feb. 15, 2006

Thank you all for your understanding and patience this week as I had so much to do. So without further ado here lets get into the study for the week.

Where We Have Been:

The Old Testament:
We are wrapping up the book of Exodus and the readings this past week have focused on God’s instructions to the people regarding the tabernacle. God was very intentional in his direction for the place that would be the earthy representation of Him. I know the details are a bit difficult to read at times but the point is that God had some definite plans and he expected the people to carry it out. Then we get into the whole fiasco of the golden calf. Even though God had given the people guidelines and had delivered them from slavery, some of the people rebelled. Even Aaron got in on the act. When Moses had been gone a long time the people gave up on him. We will continue to see how short the attention span is for the people of Israel as we go through the rest of the Old Testament. They give up so easily and start going their own way. Some see this as a weakness in the Bible. I tend to see it as an example for us. Even when we know what to do we often go our own way. Now God had every right to destroy the people but he had mercy on them and showed them his love. Who says there is no Grace in the Old Testament? He we have a great example of the Gospel message. Now remember there were also consequences for their actions (See Exodus 32:27-28). We will see this same pattern of rebellion, falling away from God, His anger at their actions, God sending a deliverer, and restoration of the people. Look for this as we go further.

We are also getting into a new book. The book of Leviticus can be a tough read especially when we get into all the rules and regulations for the people of Israel. Be patient and remember that this is all part of the old covenant that has been fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Here are the vital stats for the book:

Purpose: A handbook for the priests and Levites outlining their duties in worship, and a guidebook of holy living for the Hebrews.

Author: Moses

Setting: At the foot of Mt. Sinai. God is teaching the Israelites how to live as a holy people.

Key Verse: “Be holy because I, the LORD your God am holy” 19:2

Key People: Moses, Aaron, Eleazar (Aaron’s son)

Key Place: Mt. Sinai

Special Feature: Holiness is mentioned more times (152) than in any other book of the Bible

The New Testament:

We wrapped up Matthew’s Gospel with the story of the passion. I know this is familiar for most Christians, but it is the most important part of the story. Because of this event we now have a restored relationship with God. Try to remember that Jesus went the way of the cross for you. Our sins put him on the cross but his love for us kept him there. One other note: Pastor Kritzer just finished up a sermon series on being a “Great Commission Generation”. I hope many of you were able to hear that series. It came at a good time for our study to remind us of what Matthew 28 is all about.

We are starting the Gospel of Mark and I want to get you some stats for this book right away. I love the book of Mark and I suggest that this is a good book to start reading with a new Christian. Marks favorite word is “immediately”. He uses it often. Mark has been called the action Gospel or the Gospel to the Gentiles. We do know that it was probably the earliest one that was written. Here are the vital stats:

Purpose: To present the person, work, and teachings of Jesus

Author: John Mark. He was not one of the 12 disciples but he accompanied Paul on his first missionary journey (Acts 13:13)

To Whom Written: The Christians in Rome, where he wrote the Gospel

Date Written: Between A.D. 55 & 65

Setting: The Roman empire under Tiberius Caesar. The empire with its common language and excellent transportation and communication system was ripe to hear Jesus’ message, which spread quickly from nation to nation.

Key Verse: “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (10:45)

Key People: Jesus, the 12 disciples, Pilate, the Jewish leaders

Key Places: Capernaum, Nazareth, Caesarea Philippi, Jericho, Bethany, Mount of Olives, Jerusalem, Golgotha

Special Features: Mark was probably the first Gospel written. The other Gospels quote all but 31 verses of Mark. Mark records more miracles that does any other Gosple.

Where We Are Going:

The Old Testament:
Be patient with the rules and regulations of Leviticus. Remember that all Scripture is “God-Breathed” and useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness. This will be some tough reading but you will get through it.

The New Testament:
The Action of Mark will keep you on your toes. Notice how Jesus seems to go from place to place quickly and with purpose. It is a real page turner.

Key Verses:
Psalm 31:23-24
Psalm 32:1-2, 5
Exodus 33:19
Psalm 33:18-19
Matthew 27:54
Matthew 28:18-20

Have a great week everyone!!

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

The One Year Bible Feb. 8, 2006

In our readings for the past week we have seen some of the most significant theological passages in the Bible. I hope you took note of them as you read. We will spend most of our time this week talking about the Law that was given and how it was to be fulfilled in the person and work of Jesus Christ.

Where We Have Been:

The Old Testament:
This weeks readings begin with the most revered event in Jewish history—The Exodus. After the plagues, Pharaoh finally relents and lets the people leave. As the people are leaving, God blesses the people by having the Egyptians give the people of Israel gifts of gold, jewelry and other valuables. These “gifts” will come in handy a bit later in the story. We begin to see what will become a pattern for the people. They start complaining. We will read about their complaints over and over in the upcoming chapters. This pattern continues once they get into the Promised Land as well and eventually explodes into open rebellion from God. God continues to show the people mercy even though he does not have to. He would have every right to get rid of them all but in His love He doesn’t. While they are in the desert God gives the people instructions on how to live, how to worship, how to conduct business etc. This is really a time of learning for the people. God is preparing them to be a Nation. One of the most significant things that God gives them is found in Exodus 20. Here we have what many have called “The 10 Commandments”. In Jewish tradition they were never called “commandments”. They were always referred to as “The 10 Words” or “The 10 Sayings”. They are as follows:

1. I am the LORD your God who brought you out of Egypt.
2. You shall have no other Gods but me.
3. Do not misuse my name.
4. Remember the Sabbath day.
5. Honor your father and mother.
6. Don’t murder.
7. Don’t commit adultery.
8. Don’t steal.
9. Don’t give false testimony.
10. Don’t covet.

Christians disagree about the numbering of the commandments because of a misunderstanding of what “The 10 Words” were all about. Many see the Ten Commandments as a list of laws and rules that the people had to obey. They are seen as only a message of the law. When we look at these from a Jewish point of view we see that all the “words” flow out of a message of the Gospel, “I am the LORD your God who brought you out of Egypt”. Because of what God has done first then we are able to do the other 9 things. It is like saying, “Because God led us out of Egypt, is merciful to us, remembered us and loves us we would never think of having any other gods, or misusing his name etc.” The numbering of the commandments differs between Christians as well. Some make two commandments out of “You shall have no other Gods” and “You shall not make any idols”. In the Lutheran tradition, we have divided “Do not covet” into two commandments. So what is the point of all of this? Are we doing something wrong? Not really. The numbering of the commandments is a side matter. The big idea here is that the commandments are really our response to what God has done for us (this is a very Lutheran way of thinking anyway). Because God loves us our response is to follow his law. Some get it turned around and think that because I follow God’s law then God loves me. This was the thought of the Pharisees in Jesus’ day.

In our readings this past week God gave instructions for the tabernacle and all of the furnishing that will go into it. This was to be a forrunner of the Temple that would be built by Solomon in Jerusalem many years later. It was a visible sign of God’s presence with His people. It was a place for sacrifice and a reminder of God’s law as well as his promises. I hope this picture of the tabernacle helps:

The New Testament
In our readings we see a few encounters that Jesus has with the Pharisees. As Jesus speaks the truth to them he only makes them more upset and fuels the fire to arrest and kill him. One of the more interesting things I have seen in our readings came on February 3rd & 4th. On the 3rd we see Jesus restating the law of Moses. When Jesus is asked what the greatest commandment is he replies “Love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important, Love your neighbor as yourself.” (from Matthew 22:37-39 paraphrased from the NLT). In a few short sentences, Jesus states the entire message of “The 10 words”. To love God with all your heart, soul, and mind is to have no other Gods, to not misuse the name of God, and to worship the LORD alone. To love your neighbor as yourself is to follow all the others. I find it fascinating that the very next day we see “The 10 words” in our Old Testament reading. I think the Spirit had something to do with this. Jesus also teaches quite a bit about signs of the end of the age. His main point is that we must be ready. Don’t worry about when it will happen or how it will happen, just know that it will happen and we must be ready. He makes his point clear with the story of the sheep and the goats.

Where We Are Going:

The Old Testament
We will read some more of the preparation work that God does for the people in getting the ready to be a nation. We will also see the first in a long string of events of rebellion towards God—the infamous Golden Calf. We will also see more prep work done in the building of the tabernacle.

The New Testament
We will be finishing up the book of Matthew with the story of the passion taking center stage. We also will read about the Great Commission of which we have been speaking about in church the past couple of Sundays. Remember that being part of a Great Commission generation is to study God’s word regularly.

Key Verses:
Exodus 13:13-14
Psalm 27:1
Matthew 22:37-39
Matthew 23:11-12
Psalm 27:14
Exodus 20:2
Psalm 28:7
Matthew 24:36
Psalm 30:2-3
Psalm 31
Matthew 25:40

Keep reading everyone. Let me know if you have any questions. Have a great week.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Parish Theme- February

On the Road Again…This month’s Journey in Jesus has a little different perspective. As we study the well-known story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37) we aren’t looking at getting on the road again with Jesus, or even staying on the road with Jesus, rather we’re looking at God’s call on our lives to go “off-roading” with Him, as we love and serve our neighbors.

Some of you may be very comfortable with the idea of hopping into your favorite 4-wheel drive vehicle and enjoying some off-the-beaten-path moments in God’s great and exciting terrain. Most of you, however, probably prefer to stick to your comfortable and predictable driving routes and routines. So it is with God’s call to compassion and really loving our neighbor.

Consider the following good Samaritan opportunities of our current day:

How do you handle the unexpected visitor or “needy” person who pops into your day? How do you handle the peddler standing on the roadside? How do you handle those inconvenient moments in which someone—somewhere is crying out for your help?

Maybe it depends on how our day is going, maybe it depends on what we have “up-ahead” on our schedule, or maybe it depends on what we perceive to be “our job,” but if we’re really honest, we don’t usually answer these “off-roading” opportunities with much enthusiasm. Yet God’s call to love and serve with compassion often demands that we set aside our busy schedules and our “important” tasks in order to “love our neighbors as ourselves.”

This month, let’s be on the lookout for what God would have us learn about the good Samaritan, the priest and the Levite. Let’s be on the lookout for God’s compassionate “off-roading” on our behalf, and finally, let’s be on the lookout for moments when God would have us love others on His behalf. The road may be challenging, pricey and even heartbreaking at times, but it is always filled with God’s grace and God’s promise. For indeed, He is with us always, until the very end of the age. (Matt. 28)

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

The One Year Bible Feb. 1, 2006

Congratulations!! We have finished one month in our journey! I hope you have been uplifted as you have spent time in God’s Word. I pray that this has been a benefit to you. I know that I continue to be amazed at the depth of God’s Word. It seems that I see something new each day. I know that the Spirit will be with you as you continue to read and I pray that these posts will help along the way.

Where We Have Been

The Old Testament
We started the book of Exodus this week and I want to give you some of the vital stats for this book as we begin to read it:

PURPOSE: To record the events of Israel’s deliverance from Egypt and development as a nation.


WHERE WRITTEN: In the desert during Israel’s wanderings, somewhere in the Sinai Peninsula

SETTING: Egypt. God’s people, once favored in the land, are now slaves. God is about to set them free.

KEY PEOPLE: Moses, Miriam, Pharaoh, Pharaoh’s daughter, Jethro, Aaron, Joshua

KEY PLACES: Egypt, Goshen, Nile River, Midian, Red Sea, Sinai Peninsula, Mount Sinai

SPECIAL FEATURES: Exodus relates more miracles than any other Old Testament book and is noted for containing the Ten Commandments

I want to focus on one of the miracles that is recorded in the book of Exodus this week, namely the plagues.

Before the first plague Moses and Aaron have a confrontation with Pharaoh and his magicians. We see here that Pharaoh’s heart became hard and he would not listen to them. By looking at the first nine plagues in groups of three we can see some interesting things.

The Plagues:

1. Blood (7:14-25)
2. Frogs (8:1-15)
3. Gnats (8:16-19)

4. Flies (8:20-32)
5. Animal Disease (9:1-7)
6. Boils (9:8-12)

7. Hail (9:13-35)
8. Locusts (10:1-20)
9. Darkness (10:21-27)

In each series the first and second plagues are announced to Pharaoh in advance. The third is given without previous warning. The series of 3 x 3 leads up to a climax in number 10, the number that is the symbol for completeness. Within the plagues themselves there is a progression, an increase in severity. The last three are especially severe and destructive. The Egyptian magicians vie with Moses in duplicating the first two plagues. At the third they try but no longer succeed in their magic arts. They must confess, “This is the finger of God.” Beginning with the second group of plagues (4,5 & 6) a distinction is made between the Israelites and the Egyptians. The land of Goshen where the Israelites live is spared. The first nine plagues deal with phenomena that have to do with nature. Since the Egyptians worshiped the powers of nature, what more effective way could God display his power over all things, which they looked upon as deities? The tenth plague was the plague of the firstborn. With this plague all the first-born were to be killed. But the angel was to “pass over” the homes of the Israelites.

The Passover presents to us one of the most important Old Testament types of the Savior Jesus Christ. As we look at the directions for preparing the Passover meal, we see step by step how the entire ritual points to Christ, our Passover lamb. The Passover lamb was to be a year-old male. John the Baptist tells of the Messiah who was to be the “Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world. In Corinthians, Paul says, “For Christ, our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed.” God directed that this Passover lamb was to be “without defect.” Peter wrote that we were redeemed “with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. The Passover lamb was to be slaughtered as a sacrifice. Paul reminded his people “Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God”. The writer of the book of Hebrews repeatedly refers to Christ as an “offering” and “sacrifice”. “Do not break any of the bones.” This was direct foreshadowing of Jesus. The Israelites were to “take some of the blood and but it on the sides and tops of the doorframes of the houses.” God said, “When I see the blood I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt.” This points to the teaching that we are redeemed from the power of sin, death and Satan with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. God tells the people that they are to remember the Passover for “generations to come”.

The New Testament
Jesus begins to teach the disciples about his ultimate reason for coming to earth. He was to be killed and rise again (Matthew 17:22-23). This was supposed to be good news but the disciples were all filled with grief. Jesus also has some strong words about forgiveness. Matthew 18 can serve as a guideline on how we are to confront those who have sinned against us. We should try to follow his advice remembering his promise “For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them” (Matthew 18:20 NLT) Chapter 19 contains the famous story of letting the little children come to Jesus. I feel it is vital for children to learn about Jesus and to be able to be blessed by him. The parable of the landowner is difficult for some Christians who struggle with the fact that at the last minute someone can repent and be offered eternal life. It doesn’t seem fair to us. But if we focus on God’s love this makes sense. His desire is for all to be saved. Holy week begins and Jesus fulfills prophecy as he rides into Jerusalem on a donkey. This fulfills prophecy in both Isaiah 62:11 and Zechariah 9:9.

Where We are Going

The Old Testament
The story of what happens in the wilderness and why they have to spend 40 years there will start playing itself out. I want you to keep thinking about how Moses is a “type” of Jesus as you read. Some famous Bible stories are coming up that have great importance in our study. Pay attention to how God handles his people when they misbehave.

The New Testament
The story of the passion of Jesus will be played out as we finish the book of Matthew. Before we get to the narrative story, Jesus has to teach about the reasons he has come. Pay attention to how Jesus deals with the Pharisees in the next couple of days.

Key Verses

Exodus 3:14
Psalm 23
Matthew 19:14-15
Matthew 20:28
Exodus 14:13-14

May God bless you this week. Please let me know if you have any questions. Feel free to use the comments section of this blog for questions or insights you may have.

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