LEVITICUS 24:1-25:46 | MARK 10:13-31 | PSALM 44:9-26 | PROVERBS 10:20-21
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The instructions continue. There is oil and bread to be set before the Lord in the Tabernacle, a symbol of a lasting covenant; then, there are rules on observing a Sabbath year in the sowing and harvesting of crops; and still furthermore, there is a rule for a Jubilee year every fifty years where the clock would be reset on the Day of Atonement.
But most severe of all these rules was the one concerning blasphemy. Blasphemy is the act of taking the name of the Lord in vain. And what do you think the punishment/atonement for that might be? There was no atonement available because there was only one way to address such a grievous offense: death by stoning. That was it, and there were no two ways about it. And if that sends a chill up your spine, that was what it was meant to do.
This was a harsh Law. The concept of forgiveness was somewhat limited here; there was atonement available for certain types of offenses, and yet the overarching philosophy was ‘an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth’. You had to mind your eye and your tooth, or you may lose one or the other, or worse still, both.
Several thousand years later, a man by the name of Jesus arrives on the scene to dismantle many of the precepts of this very Law, nay, to replace it with a new one. A new Law that gives no thought to the “eye for an eye” principle and instead embraces the sinner, picks her up and asks her where her accusers are. What? There are none? Because there is no one without guile who may cast that first stone?
This was a new Law that commanded you to love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and soul, and to love your neighbor as yourself. This was a Law that stated that the first would be last and the last would be first. What kind of Law was this? And who was this man proposing these outrageous things?
And what’s more, this very Jesus who proposes this new Law, doesn’t promise that it will be easy—if anything, he says there might be persecution for those that believe in him and follow him, but, he also says, there will be the gift of eternal life.
His words are: 29 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel 30 will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life.
We turn next to our reading of the Psalms, and find David petitioning the Lord God for help. He says:
23 Awake, Lord! Why do you sleep?
Rouse yourself! Do not reject us forever.
24 Why do you hide your face
and forget our misery and oppression?
25 We are brought down to the dust;
our bodies cling to the ground.
26 Rise up and help us;
rescue us because of your unfailing love.
Finally, a few verses from the Book of Proverbs authored by Solomon, wise king of Israel who speaks to the power of the tongue:
20 The tongue of the righteous is choice silver,
but the heart of the wicked is of little value.
21 The lips of the righteous nourish many,
but fools die for lack of sense.
May God bless the reading and reflection of His Word. Amen.