More Than the Rules
I am feeling bittersweet this morning as I am sharing a devotional from the last 2 chapters of Leviticus. Goodness- this has been such a great learning experience, and I have only shared some of what God has been teaching me through this book.
In chapter 26, we read about God's promised blessing for the Israelites if they keep his commandments (26:1-13). Then the rest of the chapter is devoted to God's instruction for them if they do not obey him (26:14-46). God reminds the Israelites how he delivered them from slavery and because of his love for them, he promises to provide so many blessings for them. The passage seems almost "to good to be true"- yet, isn't that the way God is to some people? "Too good to be true"? And, even in our own lives we recognize God has given us so many promises if we believe in his Son (he will save us; he will give us power; he will give us everything we need to live a godly life; he will be our Comfort; he will provide for our needs; he will encourage, strengthen, and establish us; the list could go on and on!). Yet, because of our stark similarities to the Israelites, we do not listen to God's commandments. We spurn his Spirit's work in our lives. We walk contrary to his character which he desires us to display. And then, we wonder why God has to punish us. We wonder why our relationship with him and others is strained. We complain that living for him is so hard. We easily follow other more glittery, exciting things. We readily seek satisfaction in things which do not satisfy.
Here God has spent an entire book sharing with Moses (and now us) his intentions for his people. He intends for people to love him. To serve him. To obey him. And in that relationship, he promises to bless, provide, dwell with, protect, satisfy, and so much more. BUT. God also knew because the people's hearts were sinful and evil, that they would be prone to leave the God who loves them. And in that disobedience, God warns of punishment. He warns they will not be satisfied with other things. He warns of stringent discipline for their continued disobedience. Yet, in God's foreknowledge of all these things, he promises he will forgive his people's sin when they confess (vs 40-42). And, so it is with us. God promises those who confess their sin to God will be faithfully and wonderfully forgiven by him (I John 1:9). What sins are you dealing with right now? Are you confessing them? Obeying God's commands? Or, are you easily swayed to follow other gods? Come to God in repentance; he promises to faithfully forgive you. Don't wait. Don't let the relationship become more strained and calloused. Don't let the discipline get harsher and harsher. He is the Lord- and he promises to remember his covenant to you.
This chapter ends with the statement that "these are the statutes and rules and laws that the LORD made..." but, there's one more chapter.
In chapter 27, God gives Moses instructions about vows. Essentially, if someone felt led to vow (dedicate) something to the Lord (land, person, animal), they could do so for a certain monetary amount, paid to the priest after having determined its value. God even gave instructions that if a person was too poor to pay a certain valuation, the priest could assess the value based on what the individual could afford. (Isn't our God so gracious? He doesn't expect or demand us to give above and beyond our means. As we give, he sees our hearts and honors that gift- even if it may be, by human assessment, a small amount). Our giving to God is a spiritual issue. We see Jesus emphasizing this in the Gospels- i.e. the poor woman giving at the temple, the boy with the loaves and fish, the woman who washed his feet. God loves when we give to him out of hearts that love him and desire to obey him. This idea permeates the whole of this book (and the whole of Scripture!) If we love God, we will keep his commandments. We will serve him. We will give to him and to his service. How well do you give to God? Do you give because of love? Or obligation? What do you give? In verse 26-33, God gives instructions that those items devoted to the Lord (different from dedicated things) could not be bought back; these things had already been devoted to God and no amount of it could be bought back. It was considered holy. So in today's terms, these things could be paralleled to our children, our marriages, our service as believers. These things cannot be bought or sold with money. They are already God's! Is this how you view these things in your life? As devoted to the LORD? As holy? Wow... this concept makes me totally rethink a lot of things- how I treat my children, train them, instruct them; how I treat my marriage, my husband, how we use our marriage as an example to others; and then, our service to God himself..... how are you serving him? Do you recognize the price you were bought with (redeemed)? The blood of Jesus paid that price for you! We were so incredibly poor- there was no way we could bring any sort of acceptable devotion to God, but Jesus- our faithful high priest- paid that redeeming price for us! Oh, my! Does this not give you goosebumps? And, is it not sobering to you to think that your life, now, as a devoted sacrifice to God, cannot be bought or redeemed or satisfied by anything other than Jesus? What things are you trying to add to your salvation to "make God happy"? To make others "happy"? What things, people, possessions are you addicted to or spending more time and attention on than him? Have you forgotten, dear one, that you are not your own? Or, do you recognize your life is holy now to him and it is your responsibility to live as such in devotion to him?
Matthew Henry writes this: "Let us not think because we are not tied to the ceremonial rites and oblations, that a little care, time, and expense will serve with which to honor God. Having boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, let us draw near with a true heart, and in full assurance of faith, worshiping God with the more cheerfulness and humble confidence, still saying, "Blessed be God for Jesus Christ!"
Praise God for this book of rules, laws, and instructions which has shown us (clearly!) our grave inability to be holy as he is holy. Praise God for his willingness to forgive all those who come to him in repentance. Praise God for Jesus! Praise God that we no longer are bound to rules and regulations, but instead are bound by the cords of love to God, who, in his gracious omniscience provided the end of the Law with the promise of RIGHTEOUSNESS for ALL who will believe! He is more than a Rule Maker- He is the LORD! Worship him. Praise him. Obey him. Love him. Repent before him. Serve him. He is more than worthy. He is the LORD!
Songs for Meditation: