Tuesday, November 24, 2015


"If the anointed Kohen will sin, bringing guilt upon the people..." Lev. 4:3 Tanach (Hebrew/English Old Testament)

What a raw deal! It's understandable to be guilty for one's own deeds, but for some one else's? That's just not fair. The Bible never calls God fair. He is just.

"...and there is no God else beside me: a just God and a Savior; there is none beside me." Isaiah 45:21 (KJV).

"Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; love and faithfulness go before you," Psalm 89:14 (NIV).

The truth that God is always just makes Leviticus 4:3 appear not only unfair but also, unjust. How can God violate His own character and remain God?

Throughout the Bible I find what I term the Law of Divine Opposites. My former pastor and friend, Rocky Thompson calls this Oppositeville. For example, if righteousness and justice form the foundation of God's throne, we know that the enemy's is the exact opposite. In Leviticus God wasn't looking to dump guilt on innocent people, just the opposite.

God provided the legal framework that allowed the sin of one to be transferred to all so that in Oppositeville the converse would be possible.

"He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross," 1 Peter 2:24 (NIV).

Applying the Law of Divine Opposites, God made it possible for the righteousness of the Kohen or High Priest to be imputed to all the people. All He needed was a someone to meet that qualification.

Paul quoted Ecclesiastes 7:20 when he wrote, "As it is written: 'There is no one righteous, not even one.'" Romans 3:10 (NIV). When the writer of Ecclesiastes penned those words there were no righteous people including the High Priest. It was B. C., Before Christ.

High priests descended from Levi. Jesus was from the tribe of Judah but that wasn't a problem for God.

"The Lord has sworn and will not change His mind: 'You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.'" Psalm 110:4 (NIV).

Per the Law of Divine Opposites or Oppositeville, if the guilt of one could be placed on all, then the righteousness of one could remove it and reconcile them to God. Perfectly legal.

"... so that him we might become the righteousness of God" 2 Cor. 5:21. (NIV).

How about you? If you've already been reconciled to God how would you describe your righteousness in Christ? If you've not thought of yourself in this way before, how will your image of yourself change in the face of this truth? When you meditate on this, how can it re-frame your identity? If you've not received God's reconciliation, why not? Do you really want to turn down God's offer for a chance to live in Oppositeville?

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

No Pressure Jesus!

"For this reason He had to be made like His brothers in everyway, in order that He might  become a merciful and faithful High Priest to God, and that He might make atonement for the sins of the people." Heb. 2:17 (NIV).

"If the anointed Kohen will sin, bringing guilt upon the people..." Lev. 4:3 (Tenach - Hebrew/English Old Testament).

Like all Jewish males Jesus was educated in the Law, the prophets and the nuances of His faith, including ceremonial rituals and requirements. He was aware of the impact of  a High Priest's sin not only on himself individually but also on the people as a whole. Guilt from the High Priest's sin was transferred to the Israelites.

Jesus understands temptation. "...tempted in every way, just as we are - yet with out sin." Heb. 4:5. Peter confirmed this, "He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in His mouth." 1 Peter 2:22. John the apostle added, "...and in Him is no sin." 1 John 3:5. Jesus knew that under the Law any dalliance with sin on the part of the High Priest had far reaching consequences...NO PRESSURE JESUS!

The bible doesn't use the word sinless to describe Jesus. Heretical? Not at all. Jesus didn't commit any sin ever, however, "God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God." 1 Cor. 5:21. Given every temptation and plenty of opportunities, Jesus didn't sin in and of His own free will, but He took on all of ours.

As He stood silently across from Pilate who tried to free Him, I wonder if Jesus smiled or chuckled when the mob called for His death.

"All the people answered, 'Let His blood be on us and on our children!'" Matt. 27:25.

Their cry for His blood had ramifications they couldn't foresee. The clamor for His death was turned into a plea for His blood to cover them and their future generations. They made Jesus an offer He couldn't refuse. After His death, "He entered the Most Holy Place once for all by His own blood, having obtained eternal redemption." Heb. 9:12. That redemption wasn't for Him. He didn't need it. We did.

How about you? What would one tiny misstep on Jesus' part have meant for you? What would life without reconciliation with God look like to you? Have you taken advantage of what Jesus did for you? If not, why not? Don't miss out on the greatest offer in your lifetime.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Levitical Nap Interruption

"Speak to the Children of Israel and say to them: When a man among you brings an offering to Hashem: from animals-from the cattle or from the flock you shall bring your offerings." 
Lev. 1:2 Tanach

My leisurely journey through the Tanach brings me to Leviticus...groan. A tough book to slug through, I hope by the end, if I make it, to discover more than a sure fire recipe for a nap. This time I read the introductory remarks and discovered a reason not to snooze.

The initial chapters deal with animal sacrifices - boring. The difference this time was the explanation of korban, a Hebrew word for sacrifice or offering. The English language doesn't properly convey the meaning of korban or korbanos. Sacrifice implies deprivation, something of value given under duress. God finds no joy in this. Offering sounds less negative but still fails to define korban.

The prophet Isaiah wrote, "I (God) have no pleasure in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats...stop bringing meaningless offerings." Isaiah 1:11-13. How did God benefit from sacrifices? Man's largesse doesn't enrich God one iota.

The answer is korban. The word's root meaning is to come and draw near. While offering korban the person was invited to come and draw near to God. Korban was an avenue to obtain greater intimacy with God and to achieve a higher level of spirituality. When the Torah references korban offerings they are linked to the four letter name of God Who is merciful. Person's performing korban did so in an atmosphere of safety, acceptance and an open door to God.

This explanation of korban transformed my concept of sacrifices and offerings. I see these words of Jesus now in a different light.

"But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy not sacrifice. For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.'" 
Matt. 9:13.

It always was and will be about mercy and love.

Rather than hope that people would show up at His house, Jesus hit the streets. He tracked down those without offerings and extended mercy, grace and relationship. It's not only about giving to God, but also about from receiving from Him.

How about you? What types of feelings have you wrestled with when it comes to giving? How does the definition of korban dispel any notions that giving is a means to buy God's good graces? Does the image of a merciful and not an angry God invite you to draw near when you feel the least worthy? How does korban re-define sacrifices and offerings for you?

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

How Big Were Those Oysters?

"Again the Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he want away and sold everything he had and bought it." Matt. 13:45.

The parable's name, The Pearl of Great Price, is misleading. Jesus focused on the merchant, not the pearl. The subject of this two line story was on a quest to locate valuable pearls. This individual was willing to give all in order
acquire his heart's desire. Sound familiar?

Even before creation God was on a mission to redeem man. Jesus is, "the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world." Rev. 13:8. Man's salvation wasn't some knee jerk reaction to Adam's fall; it was the pre-determined solution to a future problem. Like the merchant, Jesus went away. He left Heaven and came to earth to treasure hunt. While here, He too gave everything He had in order to purchase the object of His affection. Because He did, man was redeemed.

Pearls are fascinating. Found in oysters their luminous exterior disguises their less than glorious origins. The oyster's perfect environment is invaded. A foreign object as small as a grain of sand enters and becomes a source of irritation. Unable to expel the unwanted intruder, the oyster sets out to fix the problem.

Over time layer upon layer of the same substance that lines the oyster's shell is secreted, entombing the irritant. What we consider a valuable gem is simply an oyster's response to a pebble in its shoe. (Ok, I know, oysters don't wear shoes, but you get the idea).

Sounds like our story. Satan entered the garden's perfect environment and man's been working to fix the mess made there ever since. Try as hard as we do, all the good things we use to mask the real source of our condition only covers it up and doesn't solve the root issue.

Like the merchant, God views man as highly valuable, so much so that He paid for our redemption with the life of His Son Jesus. Unlike the pearl, we have free will. We can say, "No!" and remain the object of God's affection...and homeless.

How about you? How does the image of the pearl change your idea of how God views and values you? Looking back, how has God, like the merchant diligently searched for you?

The thought just occurred to me. The book of Revelation describes the gates of the New Jerusalem as twelve single pearls. How big do you think those oysters were?