Monday, February 28, 2011

The One Year Bible- February 28th

Congrats on two months of reading the Bible! This is a big accomplishment and you should be proud. We are in a tough stretch right now with our readings from Leviticus but hang in there. I hope you have settled into a routine and that spending time in the Word is becoming a habit. Before we get into the meat of the study I want to touch on one of the Psalms we read this week. Psalm 40 has had a special place in my heart for a long time. It wasn’t that it spoke to me in a time of trouble; it wasn’t that I heard a great sermon about it; it wasn’t even the fact that it was written by David. The reason this Psalm is one of my favorite is because the rock band U2 has a song called “40” that uses the same words. If you are not familiar with U2 you might have heard of their lead singer who goes by the name Bono. When they started out as young musicians in Ireland in the late 70’s, their music was influenced by their faith. You can still hear the message of faith in many of their songs today. The best way to share this song with you is for you to hear it. Thanks to good old YouTube here is the video:

Seth’s Thoughts

The Old Testament

I want to spend some time talking about one of the most important days in the life of the Jewish people. The Day of Atonement, or Yom Kippur, is the holiest of days in the worship life of God’s chosen people. This was the day that the high priest would enter the Holy of Holies (the inner part) in the Temple and offer a sacrifice for the forgiveness of the people. We read about its regulations this week. Let me put it into some easier terms for you. God had set up a system of blood sacrifice that was to be done for the forgiveness of sins. Originally it was to be the one who committed the offence, but God in his mercy and grace said that he would take a substitute in the place of the person (most of the time this means a lamb or bull without anything wrong with it). The people were to come to the temple at least once a year to make a blood sacrifice for the atonement of their own sins, and then once a year a special sacrifice was to be made for all the people. On Yom Kippur, all the people were to fast and the High Priest was then to enter behind the curtain in the presence of the Ark and the other sacred objects including the mercy seat, which was the covering of the ark. This is where the blood was to be poured to cover the sins. This whole event is ripe with symbolism and New Testament parallels. A few interesting things about the actual event: the High Priest was the one who represented all the people. His sacrifice was sufficient for everyone in Israel. He was the only one allowed to enter the presence of God and as soon as he went in he had to make a sacrifice for himself first. Jewish tradition says that the High Priest would tie a rope around his midsection and another priest would hold the other end. The High Priest would also have bells tied to his robes. In the event that he did something wrong, or he angered God and was struck down, the other priests could pull him out without endangering themselves by going into the Holy of Holies. This act of sacrifice could only be done at the temple and was the only way of forgiveness. Let’s bring the forward to Jesus. When Jesus died on the cross the curtain in the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. This was a physical symbol that the Day of Atonement was no longer necessary. Jesus, who called himself a temple, became the High Priest and offered a sacrifice for the forgiveness of all people for all time. The New Testament speaks of this as the fulfillment of the Old Testament requirements. Paul, in Ephesians speaks of Jesus dividing the barrier of hostility, a possible image of the temple. The book of Hebrews speaks of Jesus being the High Priest and that this sacrifice meets the requirements of the Law and that at the Temple (Jesus) atonement has been made. Theologians call this Vicarious Atonement, meaning that we are now at one with God because Jesus was our substitute sacrifice.

One last thing, we have seen a lot of blood in Leviticus and we have talked about this before but to a Jew blood = life. In fact the Hebrew word for blood can also mean life. That makes some neat comparisons to Jesus. We have life because of the blood (life) of Jesus. We drink his blood in communion and that gives us life. Once again, we see that understanding the Old Testament really brings the things in the New Testament to life (no pun intended). Here is a picture and map of the temple that may help you get a visual of its structure:

The New Testament

In our readings in Mark we see more miracles and stories of Jesus. In Mark 7, Jesus makes reference to some of the washings we have been reading about in Leviticus. Jesus makes some people angry when he says it’s not all about keeping the laws and traditions. In fact, there is much more to it. We need to not only be clean on the outside, we must be cleaned on the inside as well. It is not what comes from inside that makes us unclean, but what comes out of our heart. Just a small aside here; the heart was seen by a Jew as the center of not only the emotions but also the entire soul, including the intellect. When Jesus says these things come from our heart, he is saying that our entire being is full of wickedness. This is something we all need to hear. We are all sinful and unclean. There is not one who does good. And we all fall short of the glory of God. We are in need of a Savior. Jesus has some words for the disciples about being a servant. The disciples were fighting about who was the greatest and once again Jesus turns conventional wisdom on its ear. He tells them that they must be a servant of everyone else. They must put the needs of others before their own. This was a radical way of thinking. We sometimes forget how radical Jesus’ words were.

Bits and Pieces

We will finish up the book of Leviticus this week and start with the book of Numbers. The book of Numbers continues the story of the people from Mt. Sinai on to the Promised Land. Here are the vital stats for Numbers:

Purpose: To describe how the LORD preserves Israel despite the obstacles from Sinai to Canaan

Author: Moses

To Whom Written: The People of Israel

Date Written: 1450-1410 B.C.

Setting: The vast desert of the Sinai region, as well as the lands just south and east of Canaan

Key Verses: “Not one of the men who saw my glory and the miraculous signs I performed in Egypt and in the desert but who disobeyed me and tested me ten times—not one of them will ever see the land I promised on oath to their forefathers. No one who has treated me with contempt will ever see it.” Numbers 14:22-23

Law Themes: Duties; uncleanness; punishment for complaining; rebellion; cursing.

Gospel Themes: Redemption, “I am the LORD your God”; consecration; purification; atonement; blessing.

Numbers records the story of Israel’s unbelief and should serve as a dramatic lesson for all God’s people. God loves us and wants the very best for us. He can and should be trusted. Numbers also gives a clear portrayal of God’s patience. Again and again he withholds judgment and preserves the people. But his patience must not be taken for granted. His judgment will come. One of the recurring themes in Numbers is that of complaining. It is complaining that gets the people into trouble. Complaining and grumbling become very destructive for the people. Many of them even wanted to go back to Egypt. They had already forgotten that in Egypt they were slaves!!

Have a great week and let me know if you have any questions!!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Bethany Bullet - February 23, 2011

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” - Matthew 7:3

*click on the youtube Link:

Cast the First Stone

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This clip records an account found in the 8th chapter of John’s Gospel. We do not know about this woman’s family or her history; in fact all we know is her immorality. Yet she has much to teach us about hypocrisy. She is caught in the act of adultery. I’m not going to review the Bullet about the Golden Rule and lust again, but let me set the stage…

This woman lived in the day and age where there were no magazines sold in brown paper wrap, when the most intimate and personal of events were not merely a click away, there wasn’t a pony express so obviously (900) numbers had not been invented either. My point…there had to be another person with her.

What does the text say? She was caught IN THE ACT. They didn’t deduce that she had, they didn’t determine she might, they didn’t discover what was – they caught her while doing. So what’s my point? Why is it that she is the only one being dragged out before Jesus? Where is the ‘he’ who she was with? Why is only one threatened with the noose while apparently another is set loose? Could it be that the one that shared these men’s gender was excused? Could it be that he was an acquaintance while she was a stranger? Could it be that they simply would not be willing to hold themselves to their own standard? So, they let the man go, but they were more than happy to make sure the standard stood and dragged her to the Lord? I don’t know, but I do know that behind this scene is a group who has judged, convicted, and are ready to condemn. They also figured they could get “two for the price of one” so a trap is set for Jesus. This is hypocrisy at its highest.

You heard what Jesus said, “You without sin throw the first stone.” Now just imagine if Jesus said:

  • “You who recognize that this is sin cast the first stone.” This woman would have needed the miracle of resurrection rather than restoration, right?
  • “You who think they are less guilty than this woman throw the first stone.” She would have needed Jesus to turn stones into bread mid-flight to save her, right?

But that isn’t what Jesus said. Hear His words again, “You who recognize sin in her and can find none in yourself, cast the first stone!” Jesus could have, He could have picked up a stone and thrown it at her. He was (and is) without sin. Instead, He allowed them to drop their stones, one by one, and walk away until no one was left. Only one stone remained. The one He let be rolled in front of the tomb where He laid lifeless. Jesus sacrificed on a cross in order to forgive the sin of the woman dragged before Him, to forgive those who dragged her to Him, and to forgive us for dragging our heels in ceasing hypocrisy.

When Jesus calls us to address the “planks in our eyes”, He is not saying that the church is impotent and Christians must be silent in regard to identifying sin as sin, or calling sinners to repentance. Jesus, Himself, says to that woman, “Neither do I condemn you, now go and sin no more.”

It is one thing to hold on to something with veracity, it is another to pass a verdict. It is one thing to have a conviction; it is another to convict the person. It is one thing to be repulsed by sin (and we should be) it is another to claim that we are superior (when we’re not) or that someone else, because of their sin is beyond God’s grace (for no one is).

Think back to that woman dragged before Jesus and those whose hands were holding stones. Can you relate to the mob? Think again…Ever cast an allegation? Ever thrown aspersions? Ever hurled accusations? This portion of the Golden Rule doesn’t mean we can’t call the world to repentance and proclaim what is godly and good. It simply means we can’t act or speak as if the sins of others are greater than our own, because they are not. Whether lying in the dirt, sitting on the pew, or reading from a screen we all need to be found in the same place: at the feet of Jesus and receive from Him that which we all desperately need and are all equally unworthy of - His forgiveness.

The Cross is the most glorious example of doing unto others; God does, in Christ, unto Himself so that we are not done in. As those who would keep the Golden Rule we can begin by not throwing stones at others but throwing ourselves before the Stone the builders rejected (Jesus Christ) and then even when identifying sin find ourselves leading others to the stone rolled away (Christ’s resurrection), that rather than binding them in our judgment we might see them set free through Christ’s forgiveness.

“For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” - John 3:17

-Pastor Kevin Kritzer

Monday, February 21, 2011

The One Year Bible- February 21st

It seems like every year we get busier and busier. Life seems to add things to our plates on a daily basis. This past week I have been busy planning Bible study, writing sermons, getting ready for the next Thrivent Builds project, prepping for summer camp, looking at Lenten plans, as well as gearing up for Mission Alaska and a summer young adult servant event. Right now time seems to be at a premium. To put it mildly, I am busy. The one constant this week has been my daily readings. I have managed to read every day and it has been a source of strength and a blessing for me. When you have days, or, weeks, or months like this I hope you will lean on the strength that you will find in God’s Word. On to the study...

Seth’s Thoughts

The Old Testament

Not much to talk about from a theological perspective on this week’s readings from the Old Testament. The big thing is the rules and regulations regarding offerings and health. Last week I gave you some info on the different kinds of offerings. Please refer back to that if you need to as we continue to read. The other thing about this week is the copious use of blood. I think we have talked about this before, but remember that this was a different time and culture. In our day, blood is seen as bad and possibly containing diseases. For the people of Israel the spilling of blood gave them life. This all points to Jesus and we have talked about that time and again. I got an email a few years ago at this time from someone who was reading The One Year Bible and I want to share the question and the answer with you:

Good Morning Seth,

In Leviticus 11:1-12:8 today the Bible states the following:

"And the pig, though it has a split hoof completely divided, does not chew the cud; it is unclean for you." What does it mean when God says it is unclean? Is it His law that we not eat pig or does it just make us unclean? This was interesting this morning as I did not know that God has commanded us to eat or not eat certain foods.

Any insight you could offer would be greatly appreciated.


My Reply:

I just finished that reading myself. The thing you need to remember about all these laws and regulations is that they are for the people of Israel in the wilderness as God is forming them to be his people. All these laws were not written for us in the US in the 21st Century. The reason that God placed some dietary restrictions on the people was two-fold. First of all many of the animals that were considered unclean had problems with parasites and other things that could make the people sick if they were not cooked or handled properly. God needed the people to be healthy. Secondly, many of these animals were used by the pagan people they would encounter in the Promised Land in their worship of false Gods. God did not want them to associate with them so he set them apart.

Fast forward to today...some people still follow these dietary laws but they are no longer required. The ceremonial law was fulfilled in Jesus and we now have freedom. This does not mean that we can abuse our freedom, but we are not bound to all of the requirements of the Old Testament Law. If it were so we would have many more things to do every day (like ceremonial washing, staying outside of the city until sunset if we are unclean, men not shaving beards, etc.) Rest assured that eating pork, or lobster, or a cheeseburger (all would be unclean in the OT) is OK. I hope this helps.


You may have had the same question and I hope this helps you as well. Please feel free to email me your questions or better yet make a comment on the blog, I will answer it and others can benefit from the discussion. You can always comment as “anonymous” if you would like.

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 “He did not speak to them without a parable.” (Mark 4:34a ESV). 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.

I also want to address one historical point today. In the reading for Feb. 22nd we are introduced to King Herod. We have not seen that name since Matthew’s Gospel. What you need to know is that the Herod in Mark 6 is not the same one as in Matthew 2. A bit of history here; in Matthew 2 we are talking about Herod the Great who was the king of Judea, Galilee and other areas at the time of Jesus’ birth. He was the one who ordered all the baby boys killed to try to take care of the new king that was born. When he dies his kingdom is split between his three sons, Herod Philip II, Archelaus, and Herod Antipas. Herod Antipas was the ruler of Galilee and is the one who puts John the Baptist to death and is mentioned in Mark 6 (And Matthew 14). This is also the same Herod we will see in Luke 23 when Pilate sends Jesus to see him just before the crucifixion. We will see two more Herods. In Acts 12:1-24 we will see Herod Agrippa I who is a grandson of Herod the Great. Herod Agrippa I is the one responsible for killing the apostle James, who put Peter into prison and was killed by an angel. In Acts 25 and 26 we will see Herod Agrippa II who is the son of Herod Agrippa I. This is the Herod who Paul has a trial with before he is sent to Rome. If you didn’t follow all of that don’t worry. Just remember that we are talking about one royal family with the same name.

Have a great week!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Bethany Bullet - February 15, 2011

*click on link:
Ollie & Harriet - Appearances
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When I was younger, I desperately wanted to wear glasses. Everyone in my family wore glasses. Both of my parents, my older sister, and even my younger brother - they all wore glasses. I felt like I didn’t fit in. I was the oddball. I used to try to make my vision blurry in hopes that one day I could wear glasses. Perhaps it worked or perhaps time caught up with me, but it wasn’t until I was in my 20’s that I started wearing glasses.

Vision is an important thing. It helps us make sense of the world. Some take it for granted and some have learned to go through life without it. At times our vision gets us into trouble.

It starts innocently enough. A mirror in the bathroom that is meant to assist us can begin to hinder. The time spent in front of the mirror can lengthen. Primping and preening, we start fretting over our appearance. How do we look? What will others see? And more damaging; what will others think?

Don’t get me wrong, I am not suggesting we go home and smash all our mirrors as we cry out with writer of the book of Ecclesiastes “Vanity of Vanities!” (Ecclesiastes 1:2 KJV) But I think that our society has become preoccupied with appearances. We want to make a good impression on others. We change our behavior to impress. Spend a little time in Junior High and you can’t help but see the effects.

The mirror of society reflects in our eyes and casts a vision. Our perceptions on how others view us begin to dictate our actions. You heard Ollie at the beginning of worship, wanting to impress, doing things out of character, and to what end? So that people will think highly of him. Sound familiar?

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus takes his audience, and us to task for keeping up appearances. “Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before others, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 6:1) Harsh words from a righteous judge. Now the acts that Jesus is talking about are indeed righteous, they are things that should be done, are good and right, but at times there is something sinister lying just underneath the surface of our actions.
  • What was the motivation for doing the righteous acts?
  • What are our ulterior motives?
  • We are good at lurking in the grey areas aren’t we?

We can always rationalize our actions, couch them in positive language and feigned sincerity. But strip away the veil and we have to admit that most of the time we live for an audience of one. We desire to be seen in a positive light. We will do anything to protect our reputation. Even if we don’t like to live in the limelight we desperately desire to be thought of highly. We enjoy…in fact, we relish a positive appearance, and we would melt with embarrassment if anybody found out the truth.

The Greeks had a character that we know all too well.
Narcissus flowed with eternal beauty. Those who saw his face fell instantly in love. With the beauty of a lily and yet the thorns of a rose all love was unrequited every heart ripped apart. Narcissus rejected them all. Justice was brought upon him. For once he felt the pain of a broken heart. The river was his downfall it held the reflection of his face. So full of beauty Narcissus could not turn away. He fell deeply in love with his reflection. And this is where he remains to this very day, lost within himself.

Narcissus not only puts himself at the center of the universe but more importantly expects the rest of the universe to follow suit. There is a bit of Narcissus in all of us. We are all a bit lost within ourselves.

  • What has taken your gaze?
  • What are you staring at that has your attention? Where are your eyes fixed?
  • What thoughts and actions have your attention enraptured?
  • Is your vision clear or in need of adjustment?

Perhaps it is the work persona. The person you try to be when you punch the clock. Are you engaged in behavior at work that is not true to who you are? What do people see when they look at you?

Maybe it is who you appear to be on Friday night, the appearance of a person who gives in to the pleasures of the world.

Or is it the person you try to be when you come to God’s house. You know the expectations of God, you have heard the words of Jesus and you make a feeble attempt to appear that you have it all together. You put on your Sunday best; you shake hands with a smile, but inside you are dying.

Or perhaps you think you have it all together. You are a pretty good person and God knows it. You show up every week, sit in the same pew, and talk to the same people, but nothing ever changes. You are satisfied with the status quo and delighted that everyone here has it all together, that there aren’t any of those troublemakers in this place.

But Jesus knows the truth. He knows that we are filled with anger, lust, jealousy, bitterness, and unclean thoughts. He knows that we are content in our sin and bold in our judging of others. No matter how good we think we are the truth is that we are all spiritually blind and we hope nobody finds out that we can’t see. We keep up appearances in the hope that everything is going to be OK. But it’s not OK. We have a serious problem. Jesus spoke to those in his day who had this same issue, “Woe to you…You blind guides! You, hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean…Woe to you… You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.” (Matthew 23:24-28) Narcissus the Pharisee is alive and well in God’s house.

You see, the goal is not to be seen, but to see. Without help, we are all wondering aimlessly without direction, groping around in the dark.

Jesus desires not that we been seen by others but that we see Him. We have a Savior who comes to us to give us sight and to correct our vision. It was John the Baptist’s disciples who were wondering about Jesus and when they asked Jesus if he was the Messiah he replied, “The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor.” (Matthew 11:5)

“Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now am found, was blind, but now I see.”

  • What has taken your gaze?
  • Where are your eyes fixed?

Jesus has taken your gaze to the cross and he fixes your eyes on what He has done.

So we can confess with Psalmist, “My eyes are fixed on you, O Sovereign LORD; in you I take refuge.” (Psalm 141:8)

We find hope in the words of Paul, “We fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:18)

And we can with confidence cry out with the writer of Hebrews, “We fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2).

For Jesus has given us sight. His appearance on earth was for a purpose, to bring us into the light. We no longer gaze at the things of this world, we are no longer captivated and enraptured with our own appearance, but we gaze at the appearance of a Savior who corrects our vision, who gives us his sight, who sees us as a dearly loved child of God and brings us peace.

What has taken your gaze? Jesus has!
-Pastor Seth Moorman

Monday, February 14, 2011

The One Year Bible- February 14th

As we started the book of Mark, a verse jumped out at me, “News about him [Jesus] spread quickly over the whole region of Galilee” (Mark 1:28 NIV). Just think of the power of Jesus. Mark tells us “At once” everyone around knew about him. It reminds me of living in the Internet age. We can get information “at once” as soon as events happen. It is amazing how fast news travels. But what has happened to the good news about Jesus? Why is his fame not being spread everywhere? Well one reason is because the Devil doesn’t want it to. Satan is waging war against the good news of Jesus Christ and at times he seems to be winning. Satan is not happy that you are reading the Bible this year and he will work on your soft spots to get you behind and tempt you to give up. Don’t let his tricks get you down. You have the most powerful weapon in the fight, the Word of God. Remember that the battle belongs to the Lord and even though we may loose a few skirmishes here and there the ultimate victory is the Lord’s. Keep up the good work and fight the hard fight as you pick up the sword of the Spirit daily. On to the study...

Seth’s Thoughts

The Old Testament

The end of Exodus is just a foretaste of what is to come in the book of Leviticus. We will be taking a break from the narrative story for a while and read about many of the nuts and bolts of religious life of the people of Israel. We usually do not read these sections of scripture in Church so they may be brand new for you. Exodus ends with the building of the tabernacle and all the furnishings. This place (and later the temple) is the physical representation of Yahweh on earth. It is quite literally, God’s house. The building of this structure is important for many reasons. First of all, it gave the people something tangible in their relationship with God. Secondly, it was a place where God could interact with his people bringing mercy and forgiveness. Third, it sets up the life and ministry of Jesus. Jesus referred to himself as a temple that would be destroyed and build again in three days. Jesus himself came down to be a physical representation of Yahweh on earth. In John 1:14 we read, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” The word we translate at “made his dwelling” literally means that Jesus “tabernacled” among us. When Jesus came to earth he becomes another tabernacle, this one wrapped in flesh and poised to be the ultimate sacrifice for the forgiveness of the sins of the world. Now the tabernacle had its own purpose in the days of the Israelites, and the temple as well for that matter, but they both point to a greater tabernacle and temple in the person of Jesus Christ.

One other thing I want to do this week is give you an introduction on the many different offerings that are mentioned in Exodus and especially in Leviticus.

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.

The New Testament

At the beginning of last week we saw the familiar words of institution as Jesus gives his disciples communion for the first time. Remember that meals were very important for the Jews and the connection that this new meal of remembrance first occurred during Passover is by no means a coincidence. Remember that Matthew is writing to a Jewish audience and this new covenant made in blood would ring a bell with all his readers. This would cut to the heart of any Jew, hearing about this because blood equals life. It is not in our culture to think of that. In fact when people outside of the Christian faith hear about being washed in the blood of the lamb, they get turned off from Christianity. I guess my point here is we need to watch how we word some things. To a Jewish audience, Matthew does the culturally relevant thing; when we share the message of Jesus we need to be careful not to offend or even gross out someone when talking about blood.

I want to say a few words about the Great commission this week and I hope not to loose you when I start talking about Greek grammar. First of all every time we translate the Bible from its original languages we loose something. The phrase “Lost in translation” is really true. At times when we translate into English we then, without thinking place certain rules and meaning based on sentence structure and word order. Unfortunately many people, myself included, have misinterpreted portions of scripture because of our cultural bias toward English. In reading the Great Commission in English it seems to be that Jesus is giving us a command (called an imperative) in the word “go”, but in the Greek this word is an adverbial participle, not an imperative. What is an adverbial participle? The action described by an adverbial participle is primarily directed toward the verb. This kind of participle is usually translated with an adverbial phrase. “While studying for his Greek final...” or “While going through the world...”. So we see in Matthew 28 an interesting grammatical sentence that if translated properly is very poor English. A very literal interpretation would be, “As you are going, disciple all the nations, by baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things...” The only imperative in the Great Commission is to disciple others—literally to make them learners. How do we do it? Well, Jesus tells us, we are to baptize and teach. Again these words are not imperatives but the natural flow of what will occur by discipling others. Don’t even get me started on the NIVs use of the word “obey”. What a poor translation that is. We are to observe the things of Jesus through his word and actions and they serve as a guide. They are descriptive on how we are to live not prescriptive. I could go on about this one but we don’t have time here.

One quick thing about the book of Mark. I hope you have seen the extensive use of the word “immediately” (or similar phrases such as “at once”, they are usually the same word in the Greek). This is a book of action. It hits the ground running and never stops. It is a good book to read as we slug through Leviticus. It will give us some balance to our readings for the next couple of weeks.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Bethany Bullet - February 8, 2011

Click here to view clip:
GEICO commercial – Honest Abe

The Golden Rule giver Jesus Christ, in His Sermon on the Mount calls us to be honest. “Let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes’ and your ‘No’ be ‘No’, anything else is from the evil one.” -Matthew 5:37

Of course this shouldn’t come as a surprise. From the outset hasn’t the LORD called for honesty to be a hallmark in the relationship He has with His creatures? Think about the events in the garden.

(Click here to Read: Genesis 2 and Genesis 3)

In all honesty we can’t claim to know everything that happened in the garden. However, Scripture tells us what we need to know. What we do know is that, Satan came to the couple in the form of a snake and he spoke to Eve in the form of a question, “Did God really say?” I suppose we don’t honestly know if the “serpent” said the conversation or not. Yet, he knew the nature of God, that God is truthful and not deceptive. The serpent was equally aware that the fruit couldn’t make the couple like the LORD as they were already as much like Him as they would ever be: Holy, Righteous, and Pure. That same serpent honestly knew the role of creation, for he too is a creature of the Creator. The role of creation is to obey, to serve, and to receive.

But he was seeking to be a creator himself, so he sets out to create doubt (dishonesty does that) by offering false testimony, “You’ll be like God.” This is where dishonesty began. The couple picked it up quickly. Count the ways in which Adam & Eve had to be dishonest with themselves, each other, and God to take this fruit. First, they had to deny that they knew what God wanted (their obedience by not eating the fruit from the tree in the center of the garden). Then they had to deny that they knew who God was their Creator. (Creator is an intimate picture – an intimate relationship, God had breathed life into the clay and Adam’s eyes opened. God had molded Eve’s frame and animation took place. They knew God. They had to be dishonest with what they knew: that He was, is, and always shall be UNEQUALED by any, THE ONLY one outside of creation who exist in and of Himself.) To commit the first sin they had to be dishonest about God, dishonest to God, dishonest with God, and be dishonest with each other and with themselves.

When confronted with their sin and their nakedness, we find them hiding in the bushes; those who keep secrets from God keep their distance from Him too. One act of dishonesty leads to further dishonesty. Before you know it they are making up other lies to cover up their earlier falsehood. “The woman, who You gave me - she did it.” “The serpent that You created - he tricked me.” Dishonesty had its day; everyday dishonesty stirs, to rise up in the sons and daughters of Adam & Eve who are at the very same time the children of God.
  • In honesty, Adam & Eve eventually confess
  • In honesty, Adam & Eve accept the consequence of their actions (they move outside the garden)
  • In honesty, they trust the promise of God, “He will crush your head (serpent) and you will strike his heel.”

What proof is there that Adam & Eve trust God as one who will forgive - even the sin of being dishonest to and about Him? Adam names his wife Eve - life. Then, the couple mistakenly believes their first child to be the Messiah, “Behold I have begotten a man the LORD.” Gen 4:1.

From Adam & Eve we learn the truth that the only way to survive in a world of deception is by trusting the One who will never deceive us! And only as we embrace His honest view of us: forgiven sinner and redeemed child of God, can we begin to return honesty into the world by being honest ourselves.

-Pastor Kevin Kritzer

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