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.