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Sunday, February 17, 2008

Leviticus 4-5:19; Mark 2:13-3:6; Psalm 36:1-12; Proverbs 10:1-2 (New Living Translation)

Old Testament

1. Procedures for sin offering. Sins of the priest, community, individuals. Inadvertant (unkown at the time of the sin)and intentional sins.

2. Procedures for guilt oferings- defiling sacred property of God, breaking God's commandments.

- The lesson here is that sins have to be paid for to be forgiven. We learned back in the story of Adam and Eve that blood and sacrifice were part of getting them back on track with God. Remember, they clothed themselves with fig leaves. When God showed up He clothed them with animal fur...where do you think He got it?

3. However, the real lesson here, especially for us Gentiles, is the need for a blood sacrifice to redeem us, and restore our relationship to God. And, as we will see in the new testament, in case you don't already know...that was Jesus! But we will come to this again later.

4. Yesterday the text alluded to the "salt of the covenent." Salt was mentioned again in church this morning, and I thought everyone may not understand the significance of salt.

- The role of salt in the Bible is relevant to understanding Hebrew society during the Old Testament and New Testament periods. Salt is a necessity of life and was a mineral that was used since ancient times in many cultures as a seasoning, a preservative, a disinfectant, a component of ceremonial offerings, and as a unit of exchange. The Bible contains numerous references to salt. Depending on where and how it is mentioned it is probably being used metaphorically (instead of another term or phrase.) It has been used to signify permanence, loyalty, durability, fidelity, usefulness, value, and purification.

- Old Testament: The Hebrew people harvested salt by pouring sea water into pits and letting the water evaporate until only salt was left. They used the mineral for seasoning and as a preservative. In addition, salt was used to disinfect wounds. Salt also had a significant place in Hebrew worship. Salt was included in the Levitical offerings. In Leviticus 2:13, God commanded that "every oblation of thy meat offering shalt thou season with salt; neither shalt thou suffer the salt of the covenant of thy God to be lacking from thy meat offering: with all thine offerings thou shalt offer salt."

- This is the Old Testament section, but the Salt and Light metaphors in the Sermon on the Mount include a direct reference to salt: "You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned? It is no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot." (Matthew 5:13). Similarly, in Mark 9:49-50, Jesus says that "Everyone will be salted with fire. Salt is good, but if salt becomes insipid, with what will you restore its flavor? Keep salt in yourselves and you will have peace with one another." What is Jesus trying to say to us here? Perhaps Jesus is simply saying that everybody has inherent value. Keep God’s gift of inherent worth inside yourself (cherish God's gift) and you will have peace with one another.

- Jesus calls his disciples (and, perhaps, the crowds listening to the Sermon on the Mount), "the salt of the earth." He may be simply be referring to their role in purifying the world.

- In Roman times, salt was an important item of trade and was even used as money. Roman soldiers received part of their pay in salt. "Salt of the Earth" may, in this context, refer to the listeners' value.

- Enough about salt!

New Testament

5. Jesus calls Levi (Matthew), the tax collector. Jesus has dinner with tax collectors and known sinners. The annoys the Pharisees...Jesus points out to them that it is not well people who need a doctor, but the sick. Wow!

- What's wrong with tax collectors (in the bible)?. Tax collectors are mentioned many times in the Bible. They are generally described as being greedy, and taking more money than they are entitled to.

6. Then we have questions regarding fasting. Jesus' answer to this is that the disciples should not be fasting, but filling themslves while He is with them. They should be loading up on the knowlege (and words) that Jesus can give them. Not piously sitting in a corner waiting for someone or something to come along and enlightenment. The Enlightenment is standing right here in front of them!

7. Then we have the new cloth/old cloth and new wineskin/old wineskin examples. What I think Jesus is trying to say is, how can you take your new, open and enlightened mind and stuff it into an old way of thinking. These are ideas the scribes and Pharisees should have been teaching the people all along. Not just how to make all their appropriate sacrifices, and how to cross all the "t"s and dot all the "i"s to get into the kingdom of God...but how to treat, and especially love others. Not to put themselves first, as the Pharisees did, but to be humble, put others first. Not to fast for show, but to fast for God!

8. More about the law. He uses King David and the holy bread in the temple as a counter argument.

9. Jesus heals on the Sabbath. What was He thinking? He was thinking that we are here to do good always, even on the Sabbath; and to good to all people, even if they aren't members of our church.

10. The Pharisees have had enough. They get with supporters of Herod and plot to kill Jesus. Herod??? They must be desperate. Also remember that the Jews were subject to Roman rule. They could try Jesus all they wanted, but without the input from the Romans, they couldn't kill Him.

- Which Herod? Herod Antipas (20 BC-c. AD 40), tetrarch of Galilee and Peraea, who ordered John the Baptist's death and mocked Jesus.

11. Anyone trying to follow along, who hasn't done this before is probably thinking...this sounds like the last book we did, Matthew.

- These two books are part of what's called the synoptic gospels. This word is from Greek, "syn" (together) and "opsis" (seeing). The synoptic gospels are the first three gospels found in the New Testament- Matthew, Mark, and Luke. These gospels often recount the same stories about Jesus, generally follow the same sequence and use similar wording. These three books are contrasted with the gospel of John. The phrase was coined specifically to deal with analyzing and understanding the similarities and differences between the first three gospels.


12. "Sin whispers to the wicked, deep within their hearts." What is it God is after? Our hearts.

13. "How precious is your unfailing love, O God! All humanity finds shelter
in the shadow of your wings." All humanity.....


14. "Tainted wealth has no lasting value, but right living can save your life." Save you from eternal separation...

Note- back at the beginning of today's reading there was a lot about sacrifice and blood. I tried to say along the way that this is a prelude to the perfect sacrifice that Christ made for us. Christ' sacrifice was required to cover our sins. Covering sin, as it turned was bloody, tedious, cumbersome and oppressive work.

- The crucifixion and death of Christ changed that! Remember what happened at the cross. Remember the sacrifice to end all sacrifices. The sacrifice to cover our sins. Christ came and shed His blood and became a sacrifice. This is why we wade through all that stuff at the beginning. That's why we need to know about sacrifices, and what they're for, and what they mean.

- This is the story of God and His relationship with people. And He sent His Son to restore that relationship!

See you next post...

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