Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Bethany Bullet - February 29, 2012

Mark 1:9-15

Jesus had joined Jerusalem at the Jordan River; He, Himself had gone under the surface and risen as one baptized by John. Without any transition, without any interspersed action, and without any additional information we find that Jesus went from the water to the wilderness. He was just at the place most associated with lavish liquid (the Jordan) and all of a sudden He goes to the place most associated with an absence of ‘agua’.

From Baptisms wet grace to a barren wilderness place, our Lord has gone.

Of course, it isn’t just liquid He lacks - He is without company, let alone a cohort or better yet some chums. At this point in the Gospel narrative, John the Baptist’s ministry has been public, he’s been baptizing by the hundreds (perhaps thousands); however, Jesus has yet to gather His first follower, let alone the entire dozen (disciples). Jesus’ public ministry has yet to begin. Of course disciples are not all He is deprived of - Jesus goes without for 40 days…

V 40 days without human connection and touch,

V 40 days without someone to share a meal with,

V And 40 days without a meal itself!

Have you found yourself going without?

  • Maybe it’s a meal you’re lacking or someone to dine with.
  • Perhaps you’ve found yourself in the desert of depleted wellness and the wilderness of an empty wallet.
  • Maybe you’ve found yourself with the arid atmosphere of limited physical contact or the emotional lack of anyone who you know will be there to catch you should you fall.
  • Perhaps your body, your company, or your family has been ravaged by worry about the future, warring spouses, and weakened zeal.

The desert east of the Jordan is not the only wilderness our Lord journeys to in Lent!

In the Lent of daily life, Jesus enters the barren place in which He finds His children (the one you find yourself in) and our Lord comes as refuge for the ravaged.

-Pastor Kevin Kritzer

Monday, February 27, 2012

The One Year Bible- February 27th

Congratulations on almost 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!!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Bethany Bullet - February 21, 2012

Author John Bishop tells the following story:

Martin Luther’s copy of the New Testament in German was being printed and the printer’s daughter learned of God’s love. The church of the day was not one in which the story of God’s love was proclaimed but rather the wrath of God, His anger, and pending punishment was what was heralded. The standard emotional connection to this God was fear, and such was the young girl’s feeling. One day she found pieces of Scripture that was being printed on the floor. One of these scraps read, “For God so loved the world that He gave…”

That was it.

The rest of the verse had not yet been printed. While we all know it and can quote it - she didn’t and couldn’t. It had never been shared in her language. Still, what she heard was enough to move her. The thought that God would give something for her moved her from fear to joy.

Her mother noticed the change of attitude. When asked the cause of this transformation she produced the crumpled piece of paper with the partial verse from her pocket. The mother read it and asked, “What did He give?” The child was perplexed for a moment and then answered, “I do not know, but if He loved us well enough to give us something, we should not be afraid of Him.” Not a sweet treat, nor a song, nor a stem but His Son…He gave Himself up for us. Beloved since God so loves us let us love one another. For through such the Love Story is heard and adored; for His Story is a Love Story and it is our story. Amen.

-Pastor Kevin Kritzer

The One Year Bible January 20th (Posted on the 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 studied, writing sermons, getting ready for the next Thrivent Builds project, prepping for summer camp, getting ready for Ash Wednesday, 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 tak 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.

Pastor Seth

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 14, 2012

Bethany Bullet - February 14, 2012

For the past three weeks I have been sick. First it was a stomach bug, and then it was a cold, now I am on the mend from a sinus infection. I have used my Netti pot and sucked on cough drops; I have hugged the toilet bowl and cherished a soft tissue roll. Perhaps I should be calling out “Unclean! Unclean!” as I walk from place to place.

If this were Bible times I would probably not be able to enter society. From the book of Leviticus the 13th chapter, “The person with such an infectious disease must wear torn clothes, let his hair be unkempt, cover the lower part of his face and cry out, ‘Unclean! Unclean!’ As long as he has the infection he remains unclean. He must live alone; he must live outside the camp.” (Leviticus 13:45-46) I’m not sure if ragged pajamas count as torn clothes or if my lack of showering constitutes unkempt hair but there were many moments I was alone, sleeping on the couch, living in isolation. But Leviticus is not talking about a cold or the flu, but about skin ailments.

Today, before us we have two texts that deal with just such a disease.

In our Old Testament Lesson a man named Naaman seeks out the prophet Elisha hoping for a cure. He travels from the country of Aram and his encounter with Elisha does not go as expected. The prescription? “Go wash yourself in the Jordan.” In the end, Naaman was healed, “…his flesh was restored and became clean like that of a young boy.” (2 Kings 5:14b)

In our Gospel lesson we encounter another leper who falls on his knees and cries out to Jesus, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.” (Mark 1:40) Mark tells us that Jesus was “filled with compassion” (Mark 1:41). This was not just a moment of pity, but Mark describes the idea that Jesus was deeply moved with an abiding affection that came from the depths of his being, with a strong desire to remove the man’s suffering.

In that moment, Jesus does something socially and spiritually risky - He reached out His hand and touched the man.

We don’t know how long this man had been afflicted with his disease. Perhaps he had been cut off from society for quite a while. In his condition he had not had physical contact with another human being.

The book of Leviticus tells us a little bit about the condition the man finds himself in. He suffered from leprosy. Now this is more of a general term as it is used in Scripture. It does not necessarily equate with the condition known today as Hansen’s Disease. It described any ailment of the skin making the person unclean.

In Leviticus chapter 13, leprosy is described as something that is deeper than the skin (v. 3), that spreads (v.v.5-8), that defiles the one who is afflicted (v. 44), that isolates (v.v. 45-46), and renders things fit only for the fire (v.v.47-59).

This is a devastating condition carrying a social stigma of fear and disgust. The one affected could not participate in worship, was isolated from their family and most likely experienced the psychological trauma and pain of separation and loss.

But we have been gathered in God’s house, not to talk about a skin disease, but something far worse; a disease that has many of the same devastating consequences of leprosy.

· It is a disease that is deeper than the skin.

· It spreads and invades all areas.

· It defiles all who are infected.

· It isolates the victim.

· And it renders things fit for the fire.

What is the name of this dreaded disease? SIN!

We are the ones who should be shouting out “Unclean! Unclean!”

Let’s get back to our Gospel lesson and that risky moment, the moment when Jesus stretched out His hand and made contact with a leper. “‘I am willing,’ [Jesus] said, ‘Be Clean!’ Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cured.” (Mark 1:41b-42) In an instant, by one word (well, two in English) the man is healed.

This must have been an amazing moment for the man. In that moment Jesus touched the untouchable and cured the un-curable. But at what cost? Jesus, by making physical contact with an unclean man, became unclean Himself; well at least according to Old Testament Law. Jesus took upon Himself the affliction that the man bore.

Hear the words of Paul from 2nd Corinthians, chapter 5, “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)

On the cross, Jesus took our sin upon Himself as Isaiah foretold:

Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. (Isaiah 53:4-5)

On the cross, in one word (well, three in English) Jesus said “It is Finished,” and with that He cured the incurable and completely destroyed the disease of sin its devastating consequences. And by His resurrection three days later, He has given us new life in Him.

· It is a relationship that is more than skin deep.

· His Spirit makes contact with us and permeates all areas of our life.

· He cleanses all who have been infected.

· He incorporates us into His family.

· And renders us fit for a future, forever in heaven.

But let’s get back to our text, “Jesus sent him away at once with a strong warning: ‘See that you don’t tell this to anyone.’” (Mark 1:43-44a)

But did the man listen? Listen to the text, “Instead he went out and began to talk freely, spreading the news.” (Mark 1:45a)

This man, having been freed from the prison of disease, can’t stop talking about Jesus. The Leper paid more attention to what Jesus did than to what Jesus said.

What lesson can we learn from this today? Well perhaps it is a simple as this. Often people pay more attention to what you do than what you say.

As we wrap up the season of Epiphany, a season where we are reminded that God manifested Himself in the person of Jesus Christ and He continues to manifest Himself in the actions of His people. We too have been called to action.

The world sees Jesus in the actions of believers. Quite often, people come to know Jesus not in our words, but through our actions. And perhaps I can take it a step further; people don’t care what you know till they know that you care.

We live in a time where “Do as I say, not as I do” has become the norm. But living on the mark is about action. We are not called to sanitize Jesus, but to publicize Him. Ministry is messy. People have problems, but we can risk our reputation to live on the mark.

· Jesus told the man to be quiet, yet he told everybody.

· Jesus has told us to tell everybody—yet we keep quiet.

Living on the mark means that people notice what you do, so live so that people can see Jesus.

This week, think about how God might use you to reveal Himself to the world. Is it in the actions done for a neighbor or co-worker; is it being bold and praying out loud at the restaurant? Perhaps you can start wearing that cross again, or put one on your car, (or go on tour with your classmates to give glory to God in song). Whatever it is, we have the amazing privilege to living manifestations of God in the world and care for others.

At the home for the dying, which the Missionaries of Charity have in Calcutta, there was a man who had cancer, his body half-consumed by the sickness. Everyone had abandoned him as a hopeless case. Mother Teresa came near him to wash him tenderly. She encountered, at first, only the sick man’s disdain. “How can you stand my body’s stench?” he asked. Then, quite calmly the dying man said to her, “You’re not from here. The people here don’t behave the way you do.” Several minutes went by. And then the terminally ill man murmured a typical Indian expression: “Glory to you, woman.” “No,” replied Mother Teresa. “Glory to Christ who eases our suffering.” Then they smiled at each other. The sick man’s suffering seemed to stop. He died two days later.

Mother Theresa became a manifestation of Christ for the dying man and her words speak loudly today, “Let us touch the dying, the poor, the lonely and the unwanted according to the graces we have received and let us not be ashamed or slow to do it.”

At the touch and by the word of Jesus, leprosy was gone, sin was destroyed and the grace of the God was manifest to the world. We all live on the mark, because of what Christ has done for us. We no longer cry out “Unclean! Unclean!” but we publicize the truth that Jesus has proclaimed us to “Be Clean,” this is something to tell everybody. Grant this Lord unto us all.

-Pastor Seth Moorman

Monday, February 13, 2012

The One Year Bible- February 13th

This week we will start the book of Mark and right at the beginning of this Gospel there is a verse that jumps 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. As you read look for 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.

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