Thursday, June 19, 2014

Leviticus 19 - The Rules

Please read Leviticus 19 before continuing!

   This chapter is really long so I'm going to do a long post here divided into sections by different rules and a separate post to talk about cool structure. So, for (some of) the rules...

  1. Show great respect for you mother and father: To respect something is to hold that persons worth or excellence in high esteem (to value it). I have amazing parents so for me this is an easy law to obey but I know that many people's experience with their parents makes it quite hard. Due to my lack of experience I can't really give advice but I would assume it would be best to focus on respecting their position of authority (while remembering that God is THE authority) and the good qualities you do see. 
  2. Observe the Sabbath day of rest: Obviously the Sabbath is very important to God. It's the day He set aside for us to spend with Him after all! But the way this directly translates from hebrew is "keep my sabbaths." There are many dictionary definitions for the word 'keep' so I combined them: to retain something belonging to someone else and to maintain it through care and labor so that it stays in a certain condition according to a promise. When I thought about this law in that way, it really increased its importance. It helped me to realize that when I promised to follow God, I promised to keep all He holds dear and has shared with me. This includes the Sabbath, and I need to do a better job cherishing that day. 
  3. Don't worship idols or create them for yourself: Idols are funny things because they seem like they'd be so easy to avoid yet in reality, nearly everyone has them in their life. In Exodus, the Israelites make the golden calf because they don't want to keep worshipping a God they can't clearly see/feel. When I read that story I always think that the Israelites are the world's biggest idiots but in reality, I often do the same thing. When I don't feel super connected in my Bible Study (usually this is the result of skipping for a couple mornings) I half give up on it despite all the times I have felt connected. I start to make idols for myself in books or pintrest by hurrying through my Bible Study to get to other things. Or by putting it off until I've gone to bed and it's "too late." The point of that was just to say that idols are very real and this law is not something to be skimmed over but taken seriously. (For my Tips and Tricks of Identifying and Casting Out Idols post click on the link!)
  4. Offer your peace offerings properly: I think there are several interesting things about this law, the first being that the law specifically says peace offering rather than any of the four others. Leviticus 3 discuses peace offerings and my Study Bible says their purpose is to express gratitude to God and symbolize peace and fellowship with God. This intrigues me so I'm going to venture a guess on why this is. Of the five offerings it is the peace and grain that are given out of love for God rather than necessity after sin. Out of those two, the peace is a longer, more complicated process and more expensive. I think that's why God wanted to highlight it. In the interlinear it says "you shall offer it at your own will to the Lord." I think God wants to make sure that we are sacrificing out of love for Him (our own will) and that we keep the focus on Him and obedience to Him through the whole process. 
  5. Leave a little behind when you harvest: This is my favorite law ever!!! These are God's instructions on helping the poor and hungry and they are so cool! According to God, when you harvested your crops you shouldn't harvest every last one so that the poor could come behind you and take what you missed for their own food. In other words, help those who are poor and hungry, give them what you have but allow them to work for it. I think one of the reasons some people in America have no dignity left is that they are never able to earn anything for themselves, they're just given things by the "better off" people. In this situation, God is insuring that the people blessed by the generosity of the "better off" are people who are willing to work to try and get to the "better off" stage themselves. But there is also such a kindness factor here. When people talk about how unkind/generous/merciful/ect the "God of the OT" is all I can say is, have you even read the OT? Because if so I would think you'd have come across things like this to tell you otherwise.
  6. Do not steal, deceive, or cheat one another: This is pretty self explanatory but before I move on I'm going to say something on the subject of don'ts. Many people say that the Bible (of Christians say that the OT) is just a book of don'ts and these next rule would definitely make it seem that way. However, (as my study Bible reminded me! :)) all we have to do to follow these rules is to love God wholeheartedly and love our neighbor as ourself. Jesus tells us that the entire law is based on these two commandments! (Matthew 22:37-40) This is not a book of don'ts, it's a place to turn to should we ever be confused on what it means to love God and how to display that love.
  7. Do not bring shame on the name of your God by using to swear falsely: Often I have a physical cringe reaction to the exclamation "Jesus Christ!" and, right or wrong, my opinion of that person is immediately lowered a little. And I imagine if I were not a believer and I heard some using God's name to swear I'd probably think less of their "devotion" to God and it would help solidify God as "god" in my mind. This would be especially true if on were to say "I swear by God/the Bible/ect." and to have lied. (aka swore falsely)
  8. Don't defraud (trick) or rob your neighbors: This is fairly self explanatory but there was one thing I wanted to point out. The definition of defraud is "to deprive of a right, money or property by trickery or deceit." I liked this because it reminds us the property and money are not the only things we can steal, we can also steal rights. It also reminds us that if something is rightfully ours than we can take it back since we wouldn't be robbing or tricking them but carrying out justice.
  9. Do not make your hired workers wait until the next day for pay: Pay them once they've done the work. The reason they're working in because they need money to support them self and/or their family. You don't want to be the reason for no dinner.
  10. Do not insult the deaf: It's cowardly and mean to fight with someone who can't defend themselves and in a battle of words, a deaf person can't defend themselves. But besides just in the physical sense, this could be a reference to people without ears to hear. Just like we shouldn't insult real deaf people, if we insult spiritually deaf people they'll remain that way for longer because if they don't like you, they probably won't "want what you have" and won't even try for good hearing.
  11. Do not cause the blind to stumble: This is just like the one above (they're supposed to be in the same sentence...). You shouldn't start of physical fight with someone who is blind because they'll be weaker and you absolutely should never cause someone who doesn't know better to sin. If you've read The Last Battle, we see this so clearly between Puzzle and Shift. If you've read the Bible, Jesus says that whoever causes the little children to sin would have been better off dead (Caroline paraphrase). 
  12. Do not twist legal matters, always judge fairly: Again, this is self explanatory. We judge fairly because these things are not for our own good but for the good of everyone. You'd never want to let a bad person go because they could continue hurting others in "peace". You'd never want to convict an innocent person because of the predicament it puts them and their family in and simply because of the injustice of it. 
  13. Do not spread slanderous gossip: Slanderous gossip is anything that degrades someone else that is said behind that same someone else's back. Don't do it. That's mean and shows a lack of love and faithfulness and honesty towards that person and God, seeing as He's asked you not to and loves that person more than He loves Himself.
  14. Do not stand idly while your neighbors life is threatened: Come on people, we need to protect each other before ourselves! If others get out of danger because we've put ourself in dangers way in order for that to happen, we know that we're behaving like Jesus.
  15. Do not nurse hatred in you heart for any of your relatives. Confront people directly so you will not be held guilty for their sins: When we privately hate someone for doing something we are hurting ourselves by letting evil fester inside us. Hate for a person is abominable because it means we have no love for them. If we love them than we will push aside any awkwardness or fear and confront them directly so that they will understand what they're doing wrong and be given a chance to mend their ways.
  16. Don't seek revenge or bear a grudge against a fellow Israelite but love you neighbor as yourself: This is the final law about treating your neighbors and it not only encompasses all the ones before it but connects the words of Jesus to the words of God since they are the same person after all.
  17. You must obey all my decrees-this seems pretty unnecessary but I often find myself trying to twist things so that I don't have to obey all God's decrees so I think God is reminding the people not to do that. 

We have many laws to go yet but will stop there because I feel that it properly concludes this already enormously long post.

Friday, May 30, 2014


   I just discovered a cool blog written by some guys that talks about modesty as a virtue rather than just an external set of rules. Their writing really opened my eyes and broadened my perspective in regards to the subject so I thought I'd share the link: Enjoy!

   Also, here's a collection of verses about modesty that highlight it both as an internal virtue and how that virtue is displayed externally. 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Tips and Tricks for Identifying and Casting Out Idols

   Once upon a time there was a girl named Caroline. She had a shelf full of idols in her mind and on her schedule but she had no clue that they were there. She didn't want them but she couldn't get rid of them. You see, she didn't want them so badly that she convinced herself that she was a great Christian and her idols were non-existent. I doing so, she unconsciously placed another idol on her shelf, herself and her reputation. She also built a neat little wall to protect her idols. Obviously, this was her fault but the sad thing is, she didn't even realize she was doing it. Do this sound like you too? 
    I carried on in the manner I described above pretty much from when I was a little bitty elementary schooler (I can't say exactly when but honestly it may of started in like kindergarten!) up to eighth grade. I heard countless lessons on idols over that time and often reevaluated my life, made plans to stop the idol problem and then didn't carry out those plans do to my laziness and the fact that I subconsciously thought I was to good of a Christian to have a idol problem. The very fact that I thought my goodness was preventing the problem should have been a major red flag that something was wrong but because my biggest idol was my own goodness, I turned a blind eye on that flag and all others. Due to my perpetual red flag ignoring problem, I decided to make a little quiz to help make red flags glaring and impossible to miss for myself and others. If you take the quiz below, answer honestly or you're wasting you time. Sometimes honesty is hard when you know the right answer and badly want the right answer to be true for you so I would suggest a prayer beforehand too.

1. What do you spend you most time doing? (work, school, ect)

    When you're doing this activity, you probably day dream a little. What do you day dream about?

(RED FLAG #1! If God is not part of your daydreams and/or they don't glorify Him, you a probably idolizing whatever it is that you're daydreaming about.)

2. Why do you do this activity so much? (If you're think, "what a stupid question, I go to work to make money Dumbo!" or "skipping school is against the law!" Please understand that you need to create more questions out of answers until you're specific. EX: Why do I want money? To care for my family. Why do I want to care for my family? Because I love them. Why do I love them? Because they're my family. And when you reach a clear stopping or circling point, you're done).

(RED FLAG #2: If you end up with anything other than God, you're idolizing something. This may sound ridiculous because even in my example I didn't end up with God but (hypocritical statement coming up although I do strive for and pray about this) we should love others because God made them and loves them, that type of love is much stronger anyway. So yeah, you could be idolizing anything from your family (putting there wellbeing and wants before what you know God wants from you) to the ability to provide for you family to college education.)

3. When you wake up in the morning, what are your first couple of thoughts? (or when you go to sleep)

(RED FLAG #3: I they don't revolve around Jesus, it's time for an idol check! Also, (just I hint from the experienced) if you wake up stressed or worried about something, you could be idolizing yourself and your personal ability to handle things since you're clearly refraining from trusting God. This one is super hard to recognize and get rid of and requires some major prayer and Bible time because the more you know God, the more you trust Him.)

In your free time, what do you gravitate towards and why? 

(RED FLAG #4: If what pulls you is completely apart from God, that's extremely problematic!)

   So there's my little "quiz." Hopefully you'll find it helpful in the identification process. Now, time for the tips and tricks for casting out idols! I'm no expert in this area as I'm not completely rid of idols myself but I figured I can share how I've dealt with them in the past. 
    Daydreams are the best method of recognizing idols for me. My daydreams range from preventing shootings by bringing the shooter to God at the last minute to being kidnapped and successfully fighting my way out with my incredible (and non existent) karate skills or being saved unexpectedly by a dashing warrior poet. Clearly there's a wide range but the just of it all is that in my daydreams I'm a perfect follower of Jesus and a brave young hero who surprises others with my awesomeness. This reveals that I idolize my strength and faithfulness. The problem is that my daydreams exploit these two qualities into something much greater than they actually are. It also shows that the way others see me is really important to me. Although my daydreams about bringing others to Jesus may seem fine, a major component of those dreams is being seen as someone who is clearly connected to God. I shouldn't want to be seen as connected to God, I should want to be connected to God. Lately I've been trying to listen to the Bible and focus on God so that those idolized desires slowly fade.

   And now, dear brothers and sisters one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.
                                    Philippians 4:8

   Talk is cheap, like daydreams and other useless activities. Fear God instead.
                                    Ecclesiastes 5:7

   I once read something on daydreams where the author said that she often dreamed of her ministry and creating a big mega church and bringing lots of people to God and she didn't think that was wrong because it revolved around God. I disagree. Her dream revolved around her ministry and her being the creator of a huge church and her being the reason for other people's salvation. What we should dream about instead is the day when every knee bows and every tongue confesses that Jesus is king. About the day when He returns and conquers all evil for one last final time. We should meditate (focus our thoughts) on bible verses and ponder their meaning. We should recall what God has been teaching us lately. We must take control of our thoughts and make sure that even in our daydreams, God is in the forefront and we are in the background.
   For red flag #2 and #3 the only option I know of is prayer so I'm just going to leave it at that but #4 has some cool options. In my free time I love to read. Like I just made a summer reading list and counted the books on it only to discover there's over 50! (so it will be my reading list for a while!) I also have a slightly strange obsession with animated disney movies. A couple months ago, I started to feel weird about running to these things during times I could be spending with God but I didn't just want to ditch these things that I liked to do so much. Why would God give me a passion for reading if he wanted me to completely ditch books? It was then that I started seeing the connections. When I read/watch movies with God He shows me the connections between what I see in these secular works and Him and I can write about them and learn from them. I'm sure that there are things in you life you love to do that you could turn into Jesus praising experiences too if you pray about them and make the effort! But there are also things that just won't work. In my life that is regularly watching TV. A couple months ago, I watched a lot of TV shows and enjoyed doing so but was also taught what it means to have a "guilty pleasure" because the whole time I watched I felt guilty. Watching shows meant I'd go to bed later and be more tired in my quiet time the next morning. It meant I was often living a lie by taking "TV breaks" while I was supposed to be doing my homework. I meant I was more likely to neglect certain responsibilities and it filled my mind with nonsense instead of God. Others may not have this problem but for me it was clear that TV shows were not good in my life and it was necessary to spend my time in other ways. I no longer watch shows because I recognized that they could have a legitimate hold over me if I let them and that was not godly. If you feel like you are stretching to find ways to focus am activity on God, it may be one you want to end.
   Anyway, hope you learned something from my super long and rambling post that you can and will implement in your life! :)

Friday, May 16, 2014

Leviticus 18

   I just read Leviticus 18 which is all about sexual immorality which, for the most part, is fairly self explainable and little bit gross. There were some neat verses hidden within the laws though, starting with verses 1-5.
   Then the Lord said to Moses, "Give the following instructions to the people of Israel. I am the Lord you God. So do not act like the people in Egypt, where you used to live, or like the people of Canaan, where I am taking you. You must not imitate their way of life. You must obey all my regulations and be careful to obey my decrees, for I am the Lord your God. If you obey my decree and my regulations, you will find life through them. I am the Lord.      Leviticus 18:1-5

   I love how God immediately identifies what will get them in trouble (acting like the people around them) and warns them against it. I love how He gives them instructions on avoiding corruption through observation and imitation of the other peoples simply by saying "obey all my regulations and be careful to obey my decrees" because He has already given specifics in regards to all evil practices, they are well prepared by Him if they choose to listen and obey. But my favorite part is verse 5 because it is the words of God paralleling so perfectly with the words of Jesus! 

   If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.
                                           Matthew 16:25

   "Why ask me about what is good?" Jesus replied, "There is only one who is good. But to answer you question-if you want to receive eternal life, keep the commandments. 
                                           Matthew 19:17

   Echo anyone?! I love it when they do this because it reminds me that they are indeed one and the same no matter what others my say about the wrathful OT God versus the merciful NT Jesus. Clearly they have not read the Bible through, which is necessary in connection making! ;)
   Anyway, after the list of rules we come across 24-30:
   Do not defile yourselves in any of these ways, for the people I am driving out before you have defiled themselves in all these ways. Because the entire land has become defiled, I am punishing the people who live there. I will cause the land to vomit them out. You must obey  all my decrees and reulations. You must not commit any of these detestable sins. This applies both to native-born Israelites and to the foreigners living among you. All these detestable activities are practiced by the people of the land where I am taking you, and this is how the land has become defiled. So do not defile the land and give it a reason to vomit you out, as it will vomit out the people who live there now. Whoever commits any of these detestable sins will be cut off from the community of Israel. So obey my instructions, and do not defile yourselves by committing any of these detestable practices that were committed by the people who lived in the land before you. I am the Lord you God. Leviticus 18:24-30

    There are four things I really like about this passage so I'm going to list them below.

  1. the metaphor: I personally love analogies and metaphors and connections and word pictures. They help me to wrap my mind around certain concepts and to remember them. God is the master with that kind of stuff (parables! symbols! OT-NT links!) and this is a great example of it. He's explaining how when we defile ourselves, bad things come of it by saying that abominable practices create a poison that makes what is taking care of us sick. The only way for it to get better is to vomit, which has disastrous results for the defiled people.
  2. foreigners abstinence: Even if a foreigner does not believe in God, as long as s/he is in the community of Israel, s/he will abstain from defiling practices and abominations. I love this because I often find myself laughing a crude jokes or turning a blind eye when someone who's not a Christian cusses or gossips (aka sins) in my presence because I don't want to seem judgmental. Unfortunately, this strategy can actually be very harmful because it makes us get used to what ever they're doing and, after time, begin to view it as not quite so big of a deal as we used to think it was. However, the way we see it does not change what it is and sin is evil, period.  God is reminding the Israelites that it's never a good idea to allow those around you to sin without blinking an eye because, as much as we (or at least I) would like to deny it, it will slowly desensitize our conscience until we end up doing it ourselves or do other things that no longer seem bad in the light of what people do regularly around us.
  3. "Do not defile yourselves in any of these ways": When God asks us not to do something, it is for our good. God didn't ask us to obey Him because He's the boss. He asks us to obey Him because He's just and doesn't want to have to punish us or drive us out of the good land He's placed us in but will if that's what it takes. Besides that fact that when one's eyes are opened to the fact that they've defiled themselves, that releases a flood of emotions that aren't overly pleasant. 
  4. I am the Lord your God: I love that He ends with this statement. A final reminder of why other peoples do detestable things and many don't seem to be punished. A reminder that the God of the universe loves us enough to rule over us personally forever.
   I'm going to end with an exert directly from my study Bible (shockingly enough this is the only Bible notes I used it this whole post!! :O). 
   Several detestable activities are listed here: (1) having sexual relations with close relatives, (2) committing adultery, (3) offering children as sacrifices, (4) having homosexual relations, and (5) having sexual relations with animals. These practices were common in pagan religions and cultures, and i is easy to see why God dealt harshly with those who began to follow them. Such practices lead to disease, deformity, and death. They disrupt family life and society and reveal a low regard for the value of oneself and of others. Society today takes some of these practices lightly, even trying to make them acceptable. But they are still sins in God's eyes. If you consider them acceptable, you are not living by God's standards. (emphasis added)

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Do you agape me?

Please read John 21:15-19 before continuing!

   I have always been intrigued by Jesus' and Peter's conversation at the beach but now I'm even more so. A few post back I wrote about how there are different words for see and how that impacts the story of the tomb but this post is going to be about the different words for love and how that impacts this conversation. 
   Two greek words for love are philo and agapas. Philo means to love in a friendly way, to be very fond of. Agapas means to love unconditionally, the way that God loves us. After listening to my wonderful Bible study leaders lesson and reading THIS translation I created what I think is an accurate (though slightly exaggerated because they're speaking their feelings aloud in my convo which the weren't doing on the beach) representation of what was going on.

Peter and Jesus: John 21:15-19

Peter, son of John, do you love me more than you love you friends and family, more than all who are here?*
Lord, you know that I'm extremely fond of you. I love you as one loves a best friend.
Feed my lambs.
Simon, son of John, do you love me unconditionally? Do you love me the way God loves you?
Yes Lord! You know that I love you greatly as friend!
Shepard/tend my sheep.
Simon, son of John, are you very fond of me? Do you love me as one loves a dear friend?
Master, you know all things, you know I love you as a dear friend! I want to love you unconditionally as you have loved me and it brings me great sorrow that I can't.
Feed my sheep.
Truly, Truly** I say to you, when you were young you dressed yourself and walked wherever you wanted to whenever you wanted but when you are old, you shall stretch out your hands and another shall be dressing you and carrying you where you do not want to go. Follow me.

   This conversation amazes me even more in this new light. Jesus is drawing to Peter's attention where he is in His faith walk. Then, even though Peter is not where Jesus would like him to be quite yet, he gives him his job and asks him again. The same answer is given. The third time however, Jesus meets him where he is and asks Peter to give him the love that he is capable of giving. Peter's reply is essentially saying, "Master, you have the love I can give right now! It's making me sad that I can't give you more!"*** Jesus response is one of assurance and promise. Maybe explaining Peter's horrendous death doesn't seem like a great way to make him feel better to you but I bet it pleased Peter immensely to know that one day he would be willing to sacrifice everything for Jesus. That one day he would love him unconditionally. That one day his love for his Lord would change from philo to agapas.

*Some people think that when Jesus says "do you love me more than these" he's saying do you love me more than the other disciples love me but I don't agree with that because Jesus would never ask Peter to be the judge of something he can't see (hearts). I think he meant "Do you love me more than anything or anyone else?" The people there would have included his closest friends and family (his brother Andrew was also a disciple). 
** The greek word he says is Amen Amen which would mean truly truly. It thought this was cool because when we say Amen at the end of a prayer we are confirming that all we've told God is true.
***I can definitely relate to this one! This story gives me a lot of hope and encourages me!
This is agape love!

Leviticus 16

   I have recently discovered the incredible benefits of waking up early, using an exhaustive concordance (I use THIS one but hope to get a paper version soon), of only reading a little at a time because you want to study it*, and of reading the same verse in different translations.** Because of this, this will be a long post so I'm splitting it into thought sections. The section titles will be bigger so you know where the splits are. This will be on Leviticus 16 (as you may have gathered from the post title!:)) and I would recommend reading the whole thing first.

Leviticus 16:1-2

   Every word of the Bible has been made available to us for a purpose, although I'm not always sure exactly what the purpose of all the words is. "After" would seem to be one of those meaningless words. I mean, obviously God gave Moses the message for Aaron AFTER the death of his sons. That was six chapters ago! But after looking at it a little bit I decided that the only reason the word was in there was to emphasize the fact that it was after. And I think that these words reveal a compassionate, tender, understanding side of God. Obviously it was necessary that Aaron know how to avoid death so the warning served a clear purpose, but why wasn't he just told that with the rules? Well, if your two sons just died doing their job (albeit not well), how would you feel about continuing that job? Probably a little scared that you too would mess up or get lazy. I think that God's clear instructions to Aaron about how not to die, served to comfort as well as inform. After Aaron knew exactly how to avoid the fate of his two sons, I would be willing to bet that his scared fear vanished only to by replaced by awe fear. And how much better is it be to face God with you knees bowed instead of knocking!

Fun Facts:

  •  According to THIS interlinear translation, mercy seat is translated directly from Hebrew as "propitiatory shelter". It is derived from the word propitiate. THIS is the link to the definition and if you click on conciliate it gets even cooler!
  • I think it's kinda cool how God is covering the thing that represents His mercy/atonement/"propitiativeness." It seems a little symbolic, like the area of our lives where He is most often relating with us is mercy and forgiveness. (since he is relating to the people most closely in the most holy place)

Leviticus 16:4

   I love how God talks to Moses about Aaron's priestly garb and says, "These are sacred garments, so he must bathe himself in water before he puts them on." Whenever they OT talks about the sacred clothes that they wore when interacting with God, I'm always reminded of Ephesians 6:10-18 where it talks about the armor of God. I've always connected the OT and NT by thinking that the same things are done in both except that they are done physically in the OT and spiritually in the NT (not every time of course but generally speaking). I feel like this is a extension of that connection. Because Aaron's garments were sacred, he must cleanse himself before putting them on. The same is true for us. When we let the armor of God fall away from us, we sin. But it's not like we can successfully slap it back on as soon as we notice it's gone. We must first cleanse ourselves through confession, repentance, and forgiveness before we are in a position to wear something so holy and full of God.

Leviticus 16:7-10; 15-22

   For some reason I was really struck by the two goats, especially the second one. I love that the people's sins are confessed verbally before they can be sent away. I love the way that the scapegoat is driven into the wilderness where it can't find its way back. I love the way that there is a man chosen to drive away his sin and I think that in this post cross era, God has chosen all of us to be that man everyday. We don't have to wait a year to confess our sin and let God help us drive it far away, we can do it everyday. A lot of times, we'll have to go a little into the unknown (wilderness) ourselves when driving it away but because we are following God's command, we will not get lost! 

Fun Facts:
  • Jesus took on the role of both goats
  • The first goat is to make peace with God for the ways they have wronged Him (appease) and the second was to prove to the people that God has forgiven them and their sin is far away (at least the sin on that goat! :))
  • Lots of times people will do activities where they "drop their sins" into a lake and have them float away with a balloon. I'm sure that someone has taken credit for these cool ideas but really, the original version of this was God's goats!
  • In the hebrew translation, the wilderness is called the land of severance. I thought this was cool because it emphasizes that the sin has really been take away from them. That it is completely apart from who they are (although it wasn't permanently severed until JC)

Leviticus 16:13

   In verse 13 some translations use "testimony" in the place of "Arc of Covenant." I looked it up and the original translation says "testimony" but both are used. I think that the two different names are so cool! Both names for the same object present the said object as proof for God's promise that He is real and on their side! And that's exactly what it is, proof of the Promise!  

Leviticus 16:29

   When I was reading this verse I found it really interesting how to "deny yourself" was the equivalent of fasting and not working. In the interlinear bible I discovered that the direct translation says "humble your souls." Humility is the mark of a Christian (check THIS out for confirmations!) so it's only natural that, as Christians, we'd want to "humble our souls" since that is the part of us that we should take the most care of. Now, the Jews in the OT humbled their souls through fasting and refraining from any type of work but those two things aren't always the best idea in today's time. In the OT (and much of the NT as well) fasting was a form of worship and a way to deny oneself in order to put God first. In today's time it would be all to easy to fast with the focus on ourselves by keeping something like weight loss goals or self righteousness in the back of our mind. If we ever fast for external reasons, our souls shall not be humbled but inflated and that's all we'll ever get (Mathew 5:16-18). Doing no work in today's time must be fully understood as well. It doesn't just mean not doing office work, it includes cooking and dishes and laundry and email and everything in between and the point is to dedicate the day to God so it is pointless to fast and do no work if you spend the day on pinterest and playing boardgames. Honestly I'm not so sure if I could do either one successfully right now and until I know that my heart's in the right place and I won't be skiving off on any of my responsibilities. However, even if those aren't the most practical ways to humble our souls and deny ourselves, there are ways we could serve, times we could spend praying, and money we could give to God's people that may do the job in a way more suitable to our lives and where we are in our walk. 
Seeing as fasting was the equivalent of denying oneself, what you could do to deny yourself for God's sake is what will work to humble your soul. Of course I'm mainly speaking for myself so anyone of y'all reading this may be in a place where fasting and not working would be perfectly suitable and practical. If this is your case, go for it! 

*I used to excuse myself from spending "too much time" Bibleing because I "didn't want to forget all the stuff I was learning." Now, God is teaching me that He'll strengthen my memory but I shouldn't read to much at once or I'll be late for school if I actually study! :)
**You are probably already aware of this but if you need a certain translation you can use Bible Gateway's translation bar thingy.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Serious Skin Diseases

   I was just reading through Leviticus 13:1-46 and was amazed by the instructions God gave the people for their own good. First, He is aware that no real medical advancements have been made so He tells the priests and people exactly what to do look for to tell if a skin condition goes deeper than the skin (they look for hair in the affected area). He also gives the people many opportunities for healing checks so that they aren't unclean for too long if their disease is just a temporary ailment. Everything makes a lot of sense health wise and shows how God cares for His people but Leviticus 13:45-46 always makes me cringe. It seems a little unnecessary for the people to have to tear their clothes, leave their hair uncombed, cover their mouth and yell "unclean", and live in an isolated place outside the camp. But when you really think about it, it's not.
   The part that's the hardest for me to grasp is living out side of the camp, especially since leprosy (now called Hansen's disease) is not very contagious.* It can only be caught through respiratory droplets (someone breathing on you) of an infected person. And now it makes sense. If you have this disease it would foolish to stay in camp, even if you were confined to your home. In Biblical times, many families all slept together and married couples certainly did. If you had the disease, there was a huge chance that you'd breath on someone while y'all were sleeping and then you'd both have it!
   The clothes and hair and yelling fulfill the need for a visible, audible sign so that no one unwittingly come close enough to catch the disease. And, just incase, God has them cover their mouths as they yell (could this be to catch any sneaky respiratory droplets?). So, point is, when you take a closer look a Biblical rules and passages that seem ridiculous, you discover that they actually make perfect sense and Leviticus 13 is no exception! :) 

*My study Bible also said that leprosy could have simply been the name used for all the skin diseases since they couldn't differentiate between them yet and Hansen's Disease was the most common one or something like that. In this case, it is likely that many types of "leprosy" were contagious. But for now, lets leprosy is referring to Hansen's Disease.