What we are reading this week (beginning Friday, July 1, 2021):
• Leviticus 2-8
• Jeremiah 26-32
• Acts 3-9
• Psalms 92-98
Notes on Leviticus
In the chapters this week, we will read about the grain offering (twice: chapters two and six), the fellowship offering (twice: chapters three and seven), the sin offering (twice: chapters four and six), the guilt offering, and the burnt offering. In addition to animal sacrifices, there are the grain offerings (chapter two), which include salting, oiling, cooking, using the finest flour, etc. Like the animals, some are burned up, some are giving to the priests as food (2.9-10).
These are instructions for the Levites (hence “Leviticus”) in the Temple worship. Notice the difference between the various sacrifices: animals (or food) that are required, how they are presented, what is done with them (eating vs destroying). Can you find symbolism unique to each one in regard to its purpose?
I noticed that thoughtless oaths could be repented of and rescinded (5.4). This would have been a more appropriate path for Jephthah (Judges 11). However, as we saw last year, the times of the Judges were a spiritual free-for-all, and most probably couldn’t even find a copy of the law or anyone who could give them the details.
In addition to restitution, an additional 20% must be added on when paying back for a sin that involved taking property or money. See 6.5. The burnt offering was an atonement sacrifice (see 1.4). In 6.13, we find that the fire on the altar of the burnt offering must never go out. There is significance in this command: our atonement is ongoing, for we battle against sin every moment of our lives, and the atonement is working for us and against sin 24/7.
The fellowship offering, we first read about in chapter three and now see more details here in chapter seven, was a voluntary offering brought to the Temple, and the meat of the offering was shared by the priest and the worshiper.
I remember when I was ordained what a solemn and wonderful event it was. In a church. In a suit. Clean and neat. But when Aaron and his sons were ordained, it was messy beyond belief. Animals were being slaughtered—at the church (tabernacle)!—and blood was everywhere. They even had to smudge it on the newly minted priests’ bodies! See 8.23-24.
Notes on Jeremiah
All of the prophets and priests said that Jeremiah was worthy of death because of his “negativity”. However, his prophecies kept coming true, and the false prophets were the ones who kept ending up dying. See 26.11, 27.14-15, 28.1-5, 17; 32.3, 37.19.
It is hard to imagine why anyone would confront Jeremiah as an alternative prophet with a message at odds with his. Much as there were harsh prophecies against Judah in general, the prophecies against false prophets were far worse. When Hananiah gave it his best shot, he lasted no more than two months before God struck him down dead (see 28.1 and 17) One of the best-loved prophecies of the entire Bible comes out of chapter 29. This was given shortly after the Jews had been exiled to Babylon. They would be stationed there for 70 years. But not all would be lost. The Lord told them to marry, have sons and daughters, increase in number, and seek the peace and prosperity of their captors. If the Babylonians would prosper, God said, you will, too (see 1-7). . After the seventy years, there would be restoration. And here are those promises that we all love to hear: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (11-13). The people had been in total rebellion, yet God offered them great hope for their future, and for the future of their children and grandchildren. A few chapters later, in 32, the king was arguing with Jeremiah, accusing him of stifling all hope for himself and the people. However, God used another word picture with practical value attached. Jeremiah, via the Lord’s instruction, bought a field from his uncle, and then placed the deed in a long-term storage unit, with the premise that yes, indeed, a time would come when he would return (as they all would) and “houses, fields, and vineyards will again be bought in this land” (15). I love this verse: “The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying: ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with lovingkindness’ ” (31.3). There are strong allusions in the Book of Jeremiah to the coming salvation per the Messiah, the new covenant. In 31.33-34 we find these words: “This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the Lord. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the Lord. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”
Notes on Acts
We see the Spirit-filled church lunge into ministry in chapter three. Peter and John heal a man “lame from birth” in front of the Temple in the sight of a large crowd. This will bring great interest, from both seekers of God and those who will oppose the church. Being called before the spiritual authorities to be scrutinized and threatened only gave them another platform to proclaim the gospel. They tell their persecutors, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (4.12).
There is nothing wrong with study, learning, and trying to excel. But it is always important to see that Peter and John made an impact on their persecutors because they had courage, though unschooled and ordinary. The difference was that they had been with Jesus! See 4.13.
It’s interesting to compare the disobedience and result of Ananias and Sapphira in chapter 5 with the sons of Aaron in Leviticus 9 (in next week’s reading). In both cases death was the result, not for adultery or stealing or philandering… but for defiling worship.
Much is made about the home churches of the young New Testament church. This was a vital part of their structure, which boosted their discipleship and ministry in so many ways. However, they also had the large church meeting as well. See 5.12. The seven men chosen in chapter 6 are often cited as the first deacons. However, is no mention that they had been appointed specifically as deacons. “And Saul approved of their killing him” (8.1) There are, of course, other references to Paul’s violence against the church pre-salvation. There must have been enormous pain in his heart for the rest of his life whenever he reflected back on what he had done to the brothers and sisters in the church. This, of course, drove his passion. But it’s hard to think that he ever could completely escape the ache in his heart for what he had done (see 1 Corinthians 15.9). Ananias spoke freely with God, and heard clearly from him; yet felt he needed to remind God of Saul’s reputation as though the Lord may have forgotten or overlooked this small detail (9.13). Ananias was not a church leader. There is no indication that he was in any position of leadership or influence in the church. The lesson is that God may use anyone in an extraordinary capacity.
Notes on Psalms
Psalm 93 is a great psalm to memorize in its entirety. It’s not long.
Psalm 96 is a wonderful song of praise. There are a number of such praise songs in this part of Psalms.
There are references to other “gods” in the Old Testament that seem to refer to something between us and deity (God Himself). In 97.7, we find this command: “Worship him, all you gods!”