This year a goal has been set to read the entirety of God's word and there is a host of women joining in on the journey. Failure is always an option as we are each imperfect people but it is never a reason to give up! Whether each day is done without fail, catch ups are needed, or some have to stop for a variety of reasons, each word read, no matter how many, will lead us to grow in wisdom, grace, and fellowship with both us and our creator.
It took less than a day of reading to get a deeper understanding of why one can study the bible for a lifetime and still glean new things. In truth a lifetime is not enough. As Saint Augustine said, "The bible is shallow enough for a child not to drown, yet deep enough for an elephant to swim. Each verse opens up a new thought, a new question, a new understanding of what God has done and sometimes a confusion of why He is doing it. In moments of questions research is good but there are times where I need to submit to His authority remembering what A.W. Tozer said in his book Pursuit of God, "God will not hold us responsible to understand the mysteries of election, predestination, and the divine sovereignty. The best and safest way to deal with these truths is to raise our eyes to God and in deepest reverence say, "O Lord, Thou knowest." Those things belong to the deep and mysterious Profound of God's omniscience. Prying into them may make theologians, but it will never make saints."
Part of me is glad we are almost through Leviticus, but then Numbers comes next so I don't know how excited I should be getting about moving on. All of the bible is God breathed so I know this words carry just as much weight and purpose as the praises in Psalms and the encouragement and instruction of Paul's letters, but man, sometimes it's a struggle. I think the hardest part is coming to terms with why God needed to explicitly say all of these things. Instructions to not do all of this was because people were doing all of this. I know I said that last week, but it holds true again.
Two things struck me this week and saddened my heart while making me rejoice that they were no longer true. Near the end of chapter 21 The Lord tells Moses to tell Aaron that none of his descendants with a physical defect may come before him. Anyone in Aaron's line who should be able to be a priest and come into the holy place can not if they are physically disfigured. He can still eat the holy food, but he is not to desecrate the holy places by going near the curtain or approaching the altar.
I've done a little research and I truly don't completely understand the reasoning behind this. There was mention of the need to not place a stumbling block between the Israelites and God since the Priest was supposed to be a direct line to God a physical disfigurement could have been a distraction. Other's talked about medical care. Then there is also the knowledge that God needs a holy sacrifice, unblemished, perfect. And he loved us so much that he wanted us to be able to draw near to him which is why he sacrificed His son.
I know this requirement is no longer true and the the gospel of grace allows all of us, in all our defects, to come before his throne, but the sad part is thinking of how many people have used this passage to attack another, to put down another, to destroy another, to tell another they are not worthy of God's love. God let us see your words and the intended Truth they are to bring!
The second section that brought much thought and then rejoicing was in Chapter 24. For generations it was an eye for an eye, a life for a life. Retaliation. There must be punishment for action and that punishment was to do whatever had been done. Jesus immediately made this disappear. Turn the other cheek he said.
I never understood how completely foreign that concept was at the time. After generations and generations of being able to retaliate, Jesus told them instead to forgive, there was no longer a need to even the score, because he was going to pay the ultimate price to do so for eternity. It's a completely beautiful change, brought on by the Grace of God, but oh man, that could not have been an easy eternal shift for everyone. Some would embrace that, knowing that they had just been pardoned so much, but others, who couldn't see their own wrong doings would become angry because the Justice they so wanted to dish out was not longer their 'right.' I have been on both sides of that line, it's a hard one, but a needed one to process through.
*NO one who waits for you will be disgraced
*Make your ways known to me, teach me your paths, guide me in your truth and teach me for YOU are the God of my salvation.
*I wait for YOU all day long
*You are my light and my salvation
*Seek his face
*I am CERTAIN I will see the Lord's goodness in the land of the living.
*Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart be courageous. Wait for the Lord.
*My heart trusts in Him and I am helped
*The Lord is the strength of His people
*Save, Bless, Shepherd, Carry
*You make me stand like a strong mountain
*Into your hand I entrust my spirit; you have redeemed me.
*You have set my feet in a spacious place
Him not David, Him not me, Him not us. Over and over again in the Psalms David praises allowed reminding himself that it is all God. He is the only Hope. He is the one who has done, is doing, and will do.
We wait for the Lord he is our help and shield. For our hearts rejoice in him because we trust in his holy name. May your faithful love rest on us, Lord, for we put our hope in you.
God is a mystery. We can know him but we will never understand why he does what he does sometimes. His ways are bigger, His thoughts are higher, His timing is perfect. This is often frustrating but more often a comfort. I don't have to figure it all out. I just have to rest and know that (3:14) everything God does will last forever, there is no adding to it or taking from it. God works so that people will be in awe of him.
1 Timothy 5-6
I want a Paul who writes to me such encouragement and advice. Chapter 6 is a big hearty, you can do this! God is with you! No matter what others do hold strong to what you know to be true! He is the only thing worth setting your Hope on.
2 Timothy 1-4
Do we know if Timothy ever made it to see Paul before he was martyred? I hope so. I hope they were able to embrace a last time and that words were able to be spoken in person instead of just through a letter, but I am so very thankful for this letter.
The word of God is not bound. That is what Paul wrote, what God breathed. It's not bound. It reigns free flowing and is profitable for all. We must use it wisely, for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training. This can be done without love and cause tremendous damage or it can be done through the love of Christ and cause eternal joy. 4:2 says to do it with "great patience and teaching" which is another way to say without anger and frustration to prove someone is wrong.
God speaks through our patience and gentleness, that is how we help others draw near to God.