40 Days in 2012: 1-5
(A lunchtime Post)
My Bible reading has been miss more than hit. I’ve missed almost two months on a standard one-year reading plan… but I decided to just pick it up starting with February 22nd, work my way through, and then wind back around to the start of the plan next January.
The plan I am using has you read: something from the Old Testament, something from the New, a passage from Psalms and a few verses in Proverbs each day.
Picking up the reading in Leviticus is a rather interesting place to start. Skin diseases were apparently a major problem among the post-Exodus Hebrews. Mildew in the house was also a huge concern. Bodily discharges were looked at with about the same amount of “yuck” as they are today. So, that’s one thing we have in common with the ancient Hebrews.
Aaron’s sons disobeyed God by burning the wrong kind of fire and were struck down dead. To atone for his sons’ actions, Aaron was told to go through an intense series of rituals. This was a case of the Sins of the Son’s being visited on the Father. We also learn about the Day of Atonement ceremonies.
To finish things off, the Hebrews are given a list of sexual no-no’s and told what the punishment for each indiscretion is. A great emphasis is placed on not defiling their bodies with these acts as the Egyptians and Canaanites had.
Taken on its own, this section of reading makes one consider Holiness. It drives home the great divide between the awesome majesty of God and the sinful nature of us. God will not abide sin. He is Righteousness. The punishment for our sins is both an eternal separation from Him in the sense of what comes for us after we leave this earth as well as a temporal separation from the Fellowship we can have with Him while we are here.
But even before He allowed for the time of Christ to be fulfilled, God still sought after His people. Without the blood of Jesus, all of these rules and regulations were necessary to remind people of how undeserving we are of God’s presence and grace.
The New Testament passages find us in Mark during what appears to be the beginning stages of Christ’s ministry. We see many healing miracles as well as the feeding of the 5000 and the lesser talked about feeding of the 4000 miracle. Jesus also walks on water in these passages. So, the Divine nature of Christ is being showcased for us. His specific teachings are not emphasized in these chapters (except for one passage will I will discuss in a bit), but we get a sense of the wonderful (and frustrating for us) timing of God. Jesus is lining up the pieces on the cosmic chess board. To win the victory (over death and sin), he must sacrifice Himself… but there is a path He must follow to reach that eventuality.
Taken on its own, this section deals primarily with Faith (and our lack thereof). Time and again, we are shown and meant to reflect upon the faithlessness which abounds in us. Jesus has been healing up a storm and producing miracles left and right… but the Pharisees in one passage demand to see yet another sign. The disciples saw with their own eyes the way Jesus provided, first for the crowd of 5000+ and again for the crowd of 4000. But they still freaked out when they got on the boat and realized that no one had brought any bread.
What a perfect illustration of how we act every day.
Now, the beautiful thing about the Word of God is that there are things He wants to teach us in individual passages as well as larger pictures of a Grand Narrative, which only become evident when you think about the Bible as a whole.
These two completely unrelated sections complement each other wonderfully. The Leviticus readings deal with the outward results of man’s sinful nature… and what it would take for us to try and achieve holiness through our own actions (here’s a hint… it’s not possible). In Mark, Jesus addresses some of the outward things people were doing to achieve a false sense of purity. He makes it clear that only the inner desires of one’s heart can defile you: “21 For from within, out of a person’s heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, 22 adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, lustful desires, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness. 23 All these vile things come from within; they are what defile you.”
And Jesus is the only possible path to purity.
The Whole of the Divine Story begins, is perfected, and ends in Christ Jesus. The Old Testament shows us how wicked we are and how far we are from God. The New Testament brings us the Good News of Jesus. The Good News, the Word, the Way… every thing is Christ. Solus Christus.
[Total reading for this posting: Leviticus 14-20:21; Mark 6-8:38; Psalm 39-42:11; and Proverbs 10:10-17]