I am using One Year Bible Online for my daily Bible study. For today, One Year Bible Online links here. I have found that by writing this daily blog of what I see when I read these scriptures, I get more out of them. I hope that by posting these ruminations others may get some benefit as well. If you have any thoughts or comments regarding these verses or what I have written about them, please post them. I hope that the Spirit is moving in others through these posts as the Spirit has definitely been convicting me.
Today’s passage begins by giving instructions for the oil which was to be used in the lamps in the Tabernacle that were to burn continuously before the Lord and for the bread which was to be placed on the table in the Tabernacle. This is followed by a story of a man who blasphemed the Name of the Lord during a fight. This story is the impetus for God to give Moses instruction on punishments for various crimes.
Moses next laid out the idea of the Sabbath Year. Every seventh year, they were to leave their land fallow. They are not to plant crops or harvest what grows “volunteer”, although they are allowed to pick and eat what grows. In addition, Moses gave them, as an instruction from God, the Jubilee Year. The year after every seventh Sabbath Year (that is every fifty years) they were to celebrate a year of Jubilee. The Year of Jubilee was to be like a Sabbath Year, except that in the Year of Jubilee in addition to allowing the land to lie fallow ownership of the land would revert to its ancestral owners. As a result of this practice, Moses instructed them that the value of the land would go down the closer they got to the Year of Jubilee since what they were really purchasing was a number of harvests. God assured the people that if they kept His commands regarding the Sabbath Year and the Year of Jubilee on the sixth year their harvests would be so large that they would still be eating from those harvests when the crops were harvested in the ninth year of the cycle. The land was never to be sold on a permanent basis because the land actually belonged to God. The people of Israel were tenant farmers working for God.
The passage goes on to tell them that the ancestral owners of a piece of land who has been forced to sell land because of poverty must be allowed to buy it back at any time if they can raise the money. The land is to revert to them in any case in the Year of Jubilee. In addition, God told them to care for those among them who become impoverished. If one of the people of Israel was forced by poverty to sell themselves into slavery, they are to be released in the Year of Jubilee.
There is a lot of things in this passage to be looked at, but I think the biggest take away for me from this passage is that we are to treat what we own as if it is on loan from God, because it is. We have the things we have because God has loaned them to us and we will be held accountable for how we use them. The passage also talks about caring for our neighbors who fall into poverty and not taking advantage of their misfortune. It promises that if we treat our neighbors and the land with respect, God will bless us bountifully.
Mark tells us the story of parents bringing their children to Jesus for Him to bless. Jesus’ disciples thought that dealing with children was a waste of the great man’s time and rebuked the parents for attempting to do so. Jesus did not agree with His disciples to the point of being indignant with them. Jesus went on to tell them that they should not hinder the children coming to Him, that the Kingdom of Heaven belonged to those who were childlike in their acceptance of it. Today I want to highlight three things. The first is something that is often mentioned with this passage. We should strive to approach God with a childlike faith. The second is something that is brought up less often. We should work at bringing children into the presence of Jesus so that they can experience His blessing. The third is something I am not sure I have ever heard talked about. We are not to act as gate-keepers for Jesus. It is not our job to decide who may or may not come to Him. We should never do anything that discourages others from coming to Jesus. In what ways do I cause others to think that they are not worthy (or to think that I think they are not worthy) to come before Jesus? What other ways might my actions discourage others from approaching Jesus?
Next is the story of the rich young man who came to Jesus to learn what he needed to do to inherit eternal life. First Jesus told him that he should obey the commandments. The young man replied that he has kept those commandments since his childhood. At that point, Jesus told him to sell all that he has, give the proceeds to the poor and come follow Jesus. The young man turned away saddened because he was unwilling to give up his wealth. Jesus turned to His disciples and told them that it was easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. His disciples ask Him if that is the case, who can be saved? To which Jesus replied that for man it is impossible, but not for God. All things are possible for God.
Today what struck me about this passage is its connection to today’s Leviticus passage. The Leviticus passage talks about us being tenant farmers on God’s land. Jesus told the young man to sell his possessions and give to the poor. The two passages come together to emphasize that we are to treat what we have as belonging to God to be used for His purposes. How often do we reserve our wealth from serving God’s purpose because we would have to give up some pleasure that we would rather have? If we want to inherit eternal life we need to recognize that it and everything else is only available as a gift from God and we need to be willing to sacrifice all that He has given us in order to serve His will.
After giving acknowledging that God had been responsible for giving them victory over their enemies when they first settled the Land of Canaan, the psalmist expresses that God has now delivered them into the hands of their enemies. The psalmist says that this has happened despite the fact that they have continued to serve God. He tells us that even those who serve the Lord will face difficult times, times when it seems that God has abandoned them to their enemies. Yet even in this circumstance the psalmist expresses faith in God’s unfailing love, confidence that God will restore them. No matter how difficult the circumstances which we face, we can rely on God’s unfailing love. In His time He will deliver us and redeem us from our tribulations.
Those that are righteous speak words that are valuable to those who hear them, while the wicked offer nothing of value, not even their love. The godly offer words of encouragement and wisdom to all, while fools die because they do not listen.