Delighting in the Law of the Lord

Psalm 1

For most people, these next two weeks are the most difficult to continue doing your Bible reading plan. These next two weeks deal with the book of Leviticus, which is chock-full of descriptions of sacrifices and offerings that seemingly no longer apply to us today, and many people wind up either skipping it or quitting their Bible reading plan altogether. However, my goal this week in these devotions is to hopefully build your appreciation for this crucial book in the story of Israel’s history and what it can possibly mean for us. This is one of my favorite books in the Bible, possibly because I’m either just weird or like to research things that other people don’t. I do want to give a brief shout-out to Professor Bob Jones at ABC for developing my appreciation for this book; if you want to get excited about the Old Testament, go speak with him and you will never be the same again.

Before we dive into this difficult book, I want to tap into Psalm 1 for this week. The psalmist states that there are two different kinds of people: those who are wicked and sinful, and those who delight in and meditate on the law (Torah) of YHWH. God doesn’t judge people by race, gender, or nationality, but on their devotion to Him and His laws. The psalmist states that God protects those who love His laws and causes them to prosper; however, those who reject His commands are already condemned and are on their way to destruction. Which group of people do you want to be a part of?

What the psalmist is referring to as “the law of YHWH” are the commands found in the first five books of the Bible, otherwise known as the Torah, or Books of Moses. I want you to notice that one of the books that is included there is Leviticus; we are supposed to delight in and meditate on Leviticus! Unfortunately, this book has a bad reputation in our culture today, as it speaks out specifically against all types of sins that people love to enjoy. However, it is a powerful testimony of the love, patience, and mercy of God in the midst of our struggles, and a clear reminder of the ways that we are supposed to live.

My hope and prayer is that you will be as excited about Leviticus as the psalmist was and as I am. There is so much information found in there that is still relevant to us; it just needs to be carefully dug out and discussed. Let’s look forward to this book and try to find God’s voice in it!

-Talon Paul

Links to today’s Bible reading – Exodus 39-40 and Psalm 1-3

The Veil Torn

Mark 15

            God never does anything by accident, and what we read in Mark 15 is no exception. To me, one of the most incredible events surrounding the crucifixion of Jesus is the temple veil being torn. This is what Mark 15:37-39 says about the event, “And Jesus uttered a loud cry, and breathed His last. And the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. When the centurion, who was standing right in front of Him, saw the way He breathed His last, he said, ‘Truly this man was the Son of God!’”

            There is a great significance in the veil being torn. To understand how important this is, we first need to understand the temple layout. Moving from outside the temple in, the first thing upon entering is the outer court. This is where the altar was kept for offering sacrifices. After walking into the temple, is the holy place. This is where the showbread, incense altar and lamp stands would be. Only priests were allowed in this part of the temple. The next and most precious part of the temple is called the holy of holies. This was the innermost part of the temple and it was cut off from the rest of the temple by a giant veil. The veil would have been thirty feet long and thirty feet high. Talk about a big piece of cloth. The holy of holies was cut off from the rest of the temple because it was the place God dwelled. Only the high priest, once a year, was allowed to go into the holy of holies. This veil was the literal barrier keeping God separate from the tainted and sinful world. So when Jesus dies, why is this veil torn?

            The simple answer is this, when Jesus died he removed the barrier between God and man. God no longer needed to be separate from His people because Jesus covered that sin and washed it away. This means that those who put their faith in Jesus could now have access to the father like never before seen in history.  Look at what 1 Timothy 2:5 has to say, “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus”. We no longer have to bring sacrifices to the temple because Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice that paid for sin once and for all. We no longer need a high priest to enter the holy of holies for us because Jesus is now our high priest serving as a mediator between us and God. Thereby, giving us full access to the father. We no longer have to gaze from outside the temple wondering what it is like to be in the presence of God because now, through the death and resurrection of Jesus, we are being made into a spiritual temple where God resides in us. The church, which is us, is now where God dwells. Do you see now the significance of the veil being torn? It is a representation of one the biggest shifts in history. The veil being torn is a mile marker of a new age, the church age, where God is no longer is hidden in the holy of holies, but has poured His Spirit out upon the church.

            We now have the great pleasure of living a life of freedom and access because of what Jesus did that day. When the veil was torn, everything changed. The next time you’re in trouble, hurting or wanting to rejoice, remember that you have access to the Father. There is no veil separating you from God.

-Josiah Cain

Links to today’s Bible reading – Exodus 35-36 and Mark 15

God Doesn’t Change

Mark 12

            One of the things I love about God most, is His consistency. He doesn’t change based on His mood or a novel whim. He is consistent because He is utterly and entirely good, loving, and holy. He already knows what the best is and what the future holds, so why would there be a need to change? This unchanging consistency is something that we can see in the words of scripture. For example, Mark 12:28-31 says, “One of the scribes came and heard them arguing, and recognizing that He had answered them well, asked Him, ‘What commandment is the foremost of all?’ Jesus answered, ‘The foremost is, Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” How does this show God’s consistency?

            God knew all the way back in the time of Moses what the most important things to Him are. It’s not like He discovered sometime between the time of Moses and the time of Jesus that He wanted people to love Him with everything they had and for people to love each other. These were foundational truths from the beginning because God was loving from the beginning. The proof that God doesn’t change is right here in Jesus’ words. If things had changed or if God wanted something new to be known, Jesus would have spoken it right then, but he didn’t. Jesus quoted what was already written.

            The truths concerning God’s nature and His desires were given to us from the beginning of scripture and repeated over and over again through the rest of the Bible. I think God used this method on purpose, because sometimes, it takes awhile for an idea to sink into our brains. God’s message doesn’t change, just the way it is delivered. The big take away from all of this is that God is trustworthy and reliable. When God promises something, we know He will follow through. When God says something, we know that He isn’t going to change His mind later down the road. This means our salvation, our hope for the future kingdom and the love that we’ve received are sure to stay that way. Let that thought live in your heart, encouraging you and lifting you up day by day.

-Josiah Cain

Links to today’s Bible reading – Exodus 29-30 and Mark 12