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Tag Archives: Leviticus

Grace Holds Me Now

The byproduct of original sin, Adam and Eve’s decision to eat forbidden fruit, led to separation from God. When the only rule, do not eat of the tree of knowledge, in the Garden of Eden was broken, earth’s first family was banished, expelled from this tropical paradise. Subsequently, a works oriented system using a series of sacrifices was set up to atone for current and past sins. The Old Testament book of Leviticus introduces these offerings with detailed instructions on when and how this should be done.

Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man [who places his faith in wealth and status] to enter the kingdom of God.” 25 When the disciples heard this, they were completely astonished and bewildered, saying, “Then who can be saved [from the wrath of God]?” – Matthew 19:24-25

During the first century, a rich young ruler lived his life in according to the 10 commandments, Exodus 20:1-17. Despite his zealous application of these principles, something in this man’s heart didn’t seem right. Thus, this ruler seeks out godly counsel from Jesus, hoping to find comfort that he was on the right track. After a series of questions, Jesus asks this wealthy man to go and sell all of his possessions, then give the proceeds to the poor. While the rich young ruler lived a moral life, at some point he began to trust his own wealth instead of God. This request was just too hard to do, walking away from Jesus in tears.

But Jesus looked at them and said, “With people [as far as it depends on them] it is impossible, but with God all things are possible,” Matthew 19:26.

Jesus hints at the concept of grace in the passage above. Grace refers to God’s riches at Christ’s expense. This unmerited favor of God toward man is made possible through Jesus’ life as the perfect lamb of God. Jesus’ life, death and resurrection made what was formerly impossible possible. Thus, individuals no longer need to live by the standards of the Old Testament. Rather, anyone who publicly believes in their heart and professes with their mouth that Jesus is Lord will be saved, Romans 10:9-10. Therefore, you don’t have to walk away disappointed like the rich young ruler. Faith in Jesus provides assurance that grace holds you now.

by Jay Mankus

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A Living Sacrifice

In the context of the Bible, the offering up of a sacrifice is regarded as a divine institution.  The book of Leviticus serves as a handbook for sacrifices.  Essentially, God reveals to Moses the necessary steps to atone for any act of disobedience, error in judgment or mistake that is deemed a transgression against God.  These laws have been passed down from generation to generation so that Jewish believers are able to draw near to God.  When the promised Messiah, Jesus, arrives on the scene in the first century, the tradition of taking animals to the temple to be sacrificed was about to become extinct.  Following his life, death and resurrection, Jesus became the first living sacrifice compared to a perfect lamb of God.

“I say to you, whoever declares openly and confesses Me before men [speaking freely of Me as his Lord], the Son of Man also will declare openly and confess him [as one of His own] before the angels of God. But he who denies Me before men will be denied in the presence of the angels of God, Luke 12:8-9.

The apostle Paul refers to this concept in a letter to the church at Rome.  Instead of dying on a cross, Paul urges first century followers of Christ to present their bodies as a living sacrifice.  The Amplified Version of the Bible provides some clues to what exactly this means.  In quotations, Paul uses the expression “all of yourself.”  This includes your heart, mind and soul.  If you want to do a brief self-evaluation, what actions, behavior and words are setting you apart from the world?  Do people see the love of Jesus within you or have you succumb to peer pressure by conforming to the world?  This is give an overview, a blueprint to start your life long journey as a servant of Christ.

Therefore I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies [dedicating all of yourselves, set apart] as a living sacrifice, holy and well-pleasing to God, which is your rational (logical, intelligent) act of worship. And do not be conformed to this world [any longer with its superficial values and customs], but be transformed and progressively changed [as you mature spiritually] by the renewing of your mind [focusing on godly values and ethical attitudes], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His plan and purpose for you], Romans 12:1-2.

Before He was betrayed by Judas during Passover, Jesus identifies an important trait for those who want to become a living sacrifice.  According to Jesus, you must be proud of your relationship with God.  While you still have to walk the walk as a light for Christ, Jesus expects believers to openly declare their faith.  This may be difficult for the shy or timid, but there are ways to share your faith naturally.  Some may do this through diets, fasting and random acts of kindness.  Others will find creative means via social media to express what they believe.  The key to becoming a living sacrifice is making Jesus your Savior and Lord.  May this blog inspire you to emulate this biblical practice.

by Jay Mankus

Comic Relief from the Bible

If you asked a millennial, most would attribute the saying Captain Obvious to modern advertising and or screen writers.  This phrase has taken on a life of it’s own in my household.  When sarcasm is present, the punch line “thank you Captain Obvious” suggests someone is shallow or merely stating the obvious.  After reading the Bible earlier this week, the origin of this expression can be attributed to Jesus.

But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is ‘devoted to God,’ they are not to ‘honor their father or mother’ with it. Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition, Matthew 15:5-6.

One day, the Pharisees attempted to spiritually police Jesus and his disciples.  The context of the passage above spawned from religious leaders strict adherence to Old Testament law.  Taking Leviticus literally, these Jews believed not washing your hands before you eat made you unclean.  After listening to their complaints, Jesus responds by highlighting the flaw in their accusation, throwing their own words back at these religious zealots.

Then the disciples came to him and asked, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this?” – Matthew 15:12

A few minutes later, the disciples play the role of Captain Obvious.  Looking serious and sincere, the disciples felt the back lash from the Pharisees, hoping Jesus would smooth over this situation.  While the specific outspoken disciple is not mentioned, I’m assuming Peter stood up to Jesus, saying something like, “Jesus, do you know that you hurt the Pharisees’ feelings?”  While Jesus never sinned, I believe he came close to some sort of sarcastic reply, “thank you Captain’s obvious!”

One of his disciples, whom Jesus loved, was reclining at table close to Jesus, John 13:23.

One of the problems with modern comedy is that people try so hard to be funny, that they end up not being funny at all.  Meanwhile, other professionals believe if you don’t curse or focus on politically correct issues, you won’t be make it in Hollywood.  Yet, in my experiences the most humorous individuals are naturally witty in normal every day settings.  When most people visualize Jesus, they see him as a healer, speaker or teacher.  However, in the passage above, Jesus was a normal human being who enjoyed hanging out, reclining and shooting the breeze with friends.  In these settings, comic relief is found.  Perhaps, it’s time to drop your phone, turn off the television and engage family members to crack a smile, have a good laugh or reflect upon what you have in common.  Have fun with others today.

by Jay Mankus

 

A Spiritual Cleansing

Everyone has some sort of daily routine.  When you get up, shower and grab something to eat or drink is often choreographed.  Some do this without thinking, a natural state to prepare one’s self for the weekly grind called life.  Occasionally, you will come across a human interest story, something unique yet interesting.  Today’s blog was inspired by an Old Testament custom.

His sons used to hold feasts in their homes on their birthdays, and they would invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them, Job 1:4.

Following the birthday of his ten children or one of his grandchildren, Job began to observe a special time of prayer.  Pleading on behalf of his children, Job offered up a sacrifice for each of his family members according to the book of Leviticus.  This time of intercession involved publicly confessing potential sins one of his children may have committed in word, thought or deed.  Before closing with a customary Amen, this act served as a spiritual cleansing to honor, please and revere God.

When a period of feasting had run its course, Job would make arrangements for them to be purified. Early in the morning he would sacrifice a burnt offering for each of them, thinking, “Perhaps my children have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.” This was Job’s regular custom, Job 1:5.

Despite what you may think of the trials Job endured, this spiritual act of worship is something that should be reenacted today.  Everyone has their flaws, some greater than others.  Nonetheless, what if mothers and fathers began to take time out of their busy schedules to beg for God’s grace and mercy?  If applied in the form of a prayer, walking through the rooms of each family member, God would transform individuals one home at a time.  Join me in this quest to revive souls through a regular spiritual cleansing.

by Jay Mankus

 

No Longer Impure

One of the by products of forgiving but not forgetting leaves behind a wake of tarnished reputations.  For those doing the judging, a divide is created separating the right from the wrong.  This mindset develops false assumptions, resulting in a belief that you and your ways are far superior than others.

“Surely not, Lord!” Peter replied. “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean,” Acts 10:14.

Prior to his encounter with Cornelius, Peter believed that Gentiles were impure, based upon their consumption of unclean animals detailed within Leviticus.  While praying on a roof, Peter fell into a trace like state.  During this time, a vision from God was revealed to Peter to put an end his stereotypes of all Gentiles.  Through a series of events, Peter came to the conclusion that what you eat no longer makes you impure.

The voice spoke to him a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean,” Acts 10:15.

Today, there are too many individuals who have become conceded, filled with a “I’m better than you attitude.”  Subsequently, spirits of arrogance motivate those who are in positions of power or wealth.  Thus, its essential for the aloof to have a Peter like experience.  Although this won’t happen all at once, may the Lord help those blinded by pride to become enlightened by the the reality Gentiles are no longer impure.

by Jay Mankus

 

Clean or Unclean: The Debate Continues

Attracted to junk food growing up, I regularly heard the expression, “you are what you eat.”  Whether it was an adult or a concerned friend, the taste of sweets were too delightful to pass up.  Thus, I tended to run on sugar highs before crashing, void of any protein inside my stomach.  By modern standards I would be labeled as unclean, indulging in non-nutritional foods.

Nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them. Rather, it is what comes out of a person that defiles them, Mark 7:15.

The book of Leviticus is dedicated to defining for readers the difference between wholesome and unwholesome food.  As vegetarian diets continue to attract people seeking to change their eating habits, those that don’t adhere may experience cultural peer pressure to stop eating meat.  If this trend continues, individuals will follow in the footsteps of the Pharisees, making the same mistake they made by prejudging others.  What you eat does not define who you are.

A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of, Luke 6:45.

According to Jesus, the heart is the organ which dictates your spiritual classification.   Solomon goes one step farther, referring to the heart as a well spring to life, Proverbs 4:23.  Meanwhile, the apostle Paul adds the mind into this principle, urging Christians to set your heart and mind on things above, Colossians 3:1-4.  Finally, Jesus ties this discussion together by revealing the relationship between the eyes and heart, Matthew 6:21-23.  Therefore, don’t judge others based upon their appetite.  Rather, clean and unclean is determined based upon the treasures of your heart.  May you choose life over pleasure as the debate over clean and unclean continues today.

by Jay Mankus

 

Before God’s Presence Appears

Most Americans have become spoiled, expecting a response at the snap of their fingers.  Subsequently, when people go out to eat, go to a show or make a significant purchase, they want perfection.  When disappointed by a product or service, heads will roll and reputations will be harmed if these individuals don’t get their way.  If this is how a growing number of citizens are responding, its no wonder God is waiting to appear until faith and actions coexist.

The book of Leviticus consists of a conversation God had with Moses while on Mount Sinai in Exodus.  As I recently read through Leviticus, a pattern forms throughout the first 8 chapters, “God said to Moses.”  Following these instructions, Aaron and his sons did everything the Lord told Moses.  However, it wasn’t until Leviticus 9:4 before God’s presence appears before Israel.  Thus, this passage suggests God is waiting for his children to carefully follow the Bible’s commands prior to being accompanied by blessings, Deuteronomy 28:2.

While some may say, “what are you waiting for,” others are trying to twist the Bible to conform to their own beliefs.  As for me, a lack of results makes the obvious seem clear once again, “be doers of the word, not just hearers,” Matthew 7:24-27.  Once I realign my priorities to Matthew 6:33, God promises to provide for my daily needs.  Therefore, if you are hungry and thirsty to experience God’s presence, listen to words of Jesus like Aaron followed Moses.

Let us know when you’ve encountered God’s presence.

by Jay Mankus

 

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