February 5, 2015

Leviticus - One of the stubbornly enduring habits of the human race is to insist on domesticating God...We try to reduce God to a size that conveniently fits our plans and ambitions and tastes.  But our Scriptures are even more stubborn in telling us that we can’t do it.  God cannot be fit into our plans, we must fit into his.  We can’t use God...

Holy is the word that sets God apart and above our attempts to enlist him in our wish-fulfillment...Holy means that God is alive on God’s terms, alive in a way that exceeds our experience and imagination.  Holy refers to life - burning with an intense purity that transforms everything it touches into itself.  Because the core of all life is God, and God is a holy God, we require much teaching and a long training for living in response to God as he is, and not as we want him to be.  

The book of Leviticus is a narrative pause in the story of our ancestors...it is a kind of extended time-out of instruction, a detailed and meticulous preparation for living “holy” in a culture that doesn’t have the faintest idea what holy is rather than the “give us what we want when we want it on our own terms” mentality...

This holy God is actually present with us and virtually every detail of our lives is affected by the presence of this holy God; nothing in us, our relationships, or our environment is left out...God provides a way to bring everything in and about us into his holy presence....

As Paul states:
"God helping you, Take your everyday life...and place it before God as an offering.  Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for Him.  Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking.  Instead, fix your attention on God.  You’ll be changed from the inside out.  Readily recognize what he wants from you and quickly respond to it.  Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you (Romans 12:1-2).

Hebrew - It seems odd to have to say so, but too much religion is a bad thing.  We can’t get too much of God, can’t get too much of faith and obedience, can’t get too much of love and worship.  But religion - the well intentioned efforts we make to “get it all together” for God - can very well get in the way of what God is doing for us.  

The main and central action is everywhere and always what God has done, is doing, and will do for us.  Jesus is the revelation of that action.  Our main and central task is to live in responsive obedience to God’s action revealed in Jesus.  

Our part in the action is the act of faith.  But more often than not we become impatiently self-important along the way and decide to improve matters with our two cents worth...but instead of improving on the purity and simplicity of Jesus, we dilute the purity, clutter the simplicity.  We become fussily religious, or anxiously religious.  We get in the way.  

That’s when its time to read and pray our way through the letter to the Hebrews again, written to “too religious” Christians....In our time it is more likely to be Jesus-and-politics, or Jesus-and-education, or even Jesus-and-Buddha.  

This letter deletes the hyphens, the add-ons.  The focus becomes clear and sharp again; God’s action in Jesus.  And we are free once more for the act of faith, the one human action in which we don’t get in the way but on the Way.


Leviticus 1-3 - God called Moses and spoke to him - “When anyone presents an offering to God, present an animal from either the herd of the flock.  

If the offering is a Whole-Burnt-Offering from the herd, present a male without a defect...that it may be accepted by God.  Lay your hand on the head of the offering so that it may be accepted on your behalf to make atonement for you... 

If a bird is presented to God for the Whole-Burnt-Offering it can be either a dove or a pigeon. 

“When you present a Grain-Offering to God, use fine flour. Pour oil on it, put incense on it, and bring it to Aaron’s sons, the priests. One of them will take a handful of the fine flour and oil, with all the incense, and burn it on the Altar for a memorial: a Fire-Gift, a pleasing fragrance to God. The rest of the Grain-Offering is for Aaron and his sons—a most holy part of the Fire-Gifts to God…..

When you present a Grain-Offering of oven-baked loaves, use fine flour, mixed with oil but no yeast…..If you bring a Grain-Offering cooked on a griddle, use fine flour mixed with oil but without yeast. Crumble it and pour oil on it…If you bring a Grain-Offering deep-fried in a pan, make it of fine flour with oil.  

All the Grain-Offerings that you present to God must be made without yeast; you must never burn any yeast or honey as a Fire-Gift to God…. Season every presentation of your Grain-Offering with salt.

If your offering is a Peace-Offering and you present an animal from the herd, either male or female, it must be an animal without any defect. Lay your hand on the head of your offering and slaughter it at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting.  If your Peace-Offering to God comes from the flock, bring a male or female without defect. If you offer a lamb, offer it to God. Lay your hand on the head of your offering and slaughter it at the Tent of Meeting.  If the offering is a goat, bring it into the presence of God, lay your hand on its head, and slaughter it in front of the Tent of Meeting. 

All the fat belongs to God. This is the fixed rule down through the generations, wherever you happen to live: Don’t eat the fat; don’t eat the blood. None of it.”

 

Hebrews 1 - Going through a long line of prophets, God has been addressing our ancestors in different ways for centuries.  Recently, he spoke to us directly through his Son.  

By his Son, God created the world in the beginning, and it will all belong to the Son in the end.  This Son perfectly mirrors God, and is stamped with God’s nature.  He holds everything together by what he says --powerful words!  

After he finished the sacrifice for sins, the Son took his honored place high in the heavens right alongside God, far higher than any angel in rank and rule...

But God says to the Son, “you’re God, and on the throne for good, your rule makes everything right....

and again to the Son, You, Master, started it all, laid earth’s foundations then crafted the stars in the sky.  Earth and sky wear out, but not you...Isn’t it obvious that all angels are sent to help out with those lined up to receive salvation?”