(Leviticus 4, Psalm 1-2; Optional Romans 1:1-17, Proverbs 16:25-29)
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LEVITICUS 4 – A whole chapter (and a half – continued tomorrow) on sin offerings for UNINTENTIONAL sins, that an Israelite realized later WAS sin. Careful instructions on how to sacrifice and what to do with the blood and the animal remains. Note the gracious repeating chorus – see v 20, 26, 31, 35 – atonement and forgiveness. Needed (and a way graciously provided, though there’s always COST reminding us of the seriousness of sin) even for UNINTENTIONAL sin!
PSALM 1, 2 – Reprinting my notes from earlier when I read these in the “Optional Psalm” section…
Psalm 1 – The TWO PATHS theme will be huge in Psalms. Only one path leads to eternal happiness and blessing – that’s the God and His Word path. The other path leads to judgment and perishing – what 2 Thess 1:9 calls “eternal destruction,” and what Jesus called “unquenchable / eternal fire” (Mark 9:45-48, Matt 25:41).
Remember that when Psalm 1:1-3 promises blessing and success for the person who delights in God’s teaching, GOD picks both the venue and the timing. Joseph in Gen 37-50 DOES do well – after God gives him dreams of how well he’ll do, Joseph DOES become the best slave, and he DOES become the best wrongfully incarcerated prisoner. And then in God’s timing in ONE AFTERNOON (after 13 YEARS of waiting), Joseph goes from wrongfully imprisoned to second in command of Egypt.
The END of the story for all believers is WONDERFUL, though we may not see it for years. The END of the story (“judgment,” “perish”) for those that are NOT God’s is HORRIBLE, though they may seem to do well for a while.
Psalm 2 – A “Messianic Psalm,” because although it refers somewhat to David’s merely human kingly line, much of this can ONLY be fulfilled in Messiah Jesus. Acts 4:23-31 shows how the early church in a time of persecution used this Psalm to encourage themselves in the Lord and His sovereign control over all that happens. The sad, evil things that Herod in Matt 2 might have seemed to “get away with” WILL someday be held to full account (eternally in hell). Jesus is God’s Anointed (see Ps 2:2 – Messiah / Christ both mean “Anointed”) King, who will one day break His enemies with a rod of iron.
Ps 2:11-12 – “Rejoice / celebrate with trembling” – what we should aim for and pray for in times of gathered worship and in the rest of life. May we all heed the advice of these two verses, and avoid perishing (see notes from Psalm 1). And instead, those who joyfully (with trembling) receive God’s Son as King receive this: “Blessed are all who take refuge (OR ‘put their trust’) in Him.”
Optional Rom 1:1-17 – Don’t miss v 4 about how the resurrection clearly proclaims that Jesus is all He claimed to be! Remember that the resurrection is THE SIGN that Jesus said to look into. Many that started out trying to disprove Christianity have correctly focused on the resurrection and then been brought to faith in Jesus.
Rom 1:7 – Two beautiful, inspired descriptions of Christians: 1) loved by God 2) saints / holy – set apart as belonging to God and not characterized by sin. Sadly we DO still sin (that’s Rom 6-7), but that doesn’t CHARACTERIZE a believer. Not sinless perfection but a radically new direction – now our DEEPEST desire is to turn away from sin and TO God. When we DON’T act like this, we get very convicted by God’s Holy Spirit because that’s not who we are anymore. This description (“saint”) is NOT just for a few super-godly Christians, but ALL who are saved.
Rom 1:16 – NOT ASHAMED of the gospel (literally “good news”). Note it’s the SAME gospel for Jews and Gentiles. This was a HUGE cultural divide, but the same God and the same good news available to ALL people – what UNITY for believers! All through Romans you’ll sense big cultural differences simmering, but God keeps pointing back to this UNITY for all those that come to God the Father through Jesus.
Optional Proverbs 16:25-29 – Pr 16:25 is one of MANY that tells why we can’t follow our heart! Pr 16:26 – Compare 2 Thess 3:10 – someone unwilling (different from someone truly unable) to work should not eat. God intended hunger to drive hard work. Also note the laws on gleaning (Lev 19:9-10, 23:22; Deut 24:19-21) – there was provision made so that those who were hungry could survive, but they had to work to satisfy their hunger (Ruth is a beautiful illustration of this – note how she gleaned to provide for herself and her mother-in-law).