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!
The latter half of Micah includes passages about judgement, God’s frustration with the people of Israel, and a prophetic utterance about the future king of Israel coming from a tiny blip-of-a-town, Bethlehem. Among these three chapters, we will look at Micah 6.6-8. Despite a common misconception that the Old Testament is concerned solely about external obedience to Torah (the Jewish law) and that it says nothing about the heart issue, our passage speaks directly about the heart.
Starting in verse six Micah asks a rhetorical question, ‘What should I bring to God”? Should it be burnt offerings? How about yearling calves? What about a thousand rams! The answer is none of these. We can find a similar message in Hosea 6.6. Micah tells the Israelites plainly “He [God] has told you, O man, what is good” (Micah 6.8). What is good in the sight of God are not sacrifices and mere external obedience but exacting justice, loving kindness, and walking or obeying God humbly, all of which are impossible to do without a transformation of the heart. The remedy to the corrupted leadership in Israel we looked at yesterday is found in here in verse eight. Israelites, return to God with all your heart-fully devoted to him, upholding justice, loving kindness, and obeying God, this is good in the sight of Yahweh!
You and I can read this passage and think ‘silly Israelites of course God doesn’t want your sacrifices, he wants your heart’! However, just because we’re removed from the historical context, doesn’t mean we don’t struggle with the same problems. For example, some of you reading this may keep up with the ‘look’ of a Christian, yet have let your heart linger far from him. You attend church, youth group, and camps. You instagram your Bible readings and caption verses on your selfies. These are not wrong or bad, however, if this is the extent of your Christian faith, God is longing for something much deeper and significant. He wants your heart. Have you surrendered in your heart completely to the will of God and what he desires for you? In the words of Micah, do you uphold justice? Do you love kindness and see people as God sees them? And lastly, do you humbly obey and walk with God? We all can return to God in some area of our lives and give our heart back to him.