Apr 8, 2022

(Leviticus 11-12, Psalm 13-14; Optional Romans 4:11-25, Proverbs 17:25-28)

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LEVITICUS 11-12 – A lengthy super-helpful quote from Nancy Guthrie’s 10-week Bible study Lamb of God: Seeing Jesus in Exodus, Numbers, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy:

[“Leviticus 11–15 records purity laws defining what is clean and unclean. Clean does not equal sinless, and unclean does not equal sinful. For example, if someone had died and you were preparing the corpse for burial, that would make you unclean. It wasn’t wrong or sinful to touch the person’s body, but it did make you ceremonially unclean. You would need to take certain measures to remedy your ceremonial uncleanness. Similarly, other things that we regard as good and right, such as sexual intercourse in marriage, menstruation, and childbirth, all made you unclean, but that did not mean that they were sin. …

The purity laws can’t be explained in terms of general wisdom for hygiene, sanitation, and gastronomic health. They focus attention on God’s act of separating clean Israel from the unclean nations. They also serve to demonstrate the effects of sin on our bodies and the environment we live in. To make sense of Leviticus 11–15, we have to have firm in our minds the events of Genesis 3, which tell us how humanity and all of creation went from being perfectly good to thoroughly broken, from clean to unclean. We also need to remember that along with the curse God pronounced that day in the garden came the promise of redemption and renewal—the seed of the woman would one day crush the head of the Serpent. That happened when Christ rose from the grave, conquering sin, death, and the Devil. And the day is coming when we will live in bodies and an environment that will be perfectly restored and even better than it once was in the garden. What is now imperfect and unclean will become perfectly clean. So, as we read the purification laws in Leviticus, rather than seeing them as random or even ridiculous, we can see that God is helping us to get a picture of the impact sin has had on us and the world we live in and his intentions to make all things new (Rev. 21:5).”]

How much of this applies to believers today, now that Jesus has come??   I’m going to quote my earlier thoughts…   Mark 7:1-23 is my GO-TO SCRIPTURE for understanding two clear truths: 1) Jesus DID fulfill many OT laws about external things, so the food laws, cleanliness codes, sacrificial regulations, etc ARE fulfilled in Christ.  AND… 2) HUGE areas of the moral law from the OT are here clearly affirmed by Jesus, including “sexual immorality,” meaning that He affirms the OT sexual laws. He didn’t need to DEFINE “sexual immorality,” because He is depending on and affirming the OT definitions. Those OT definitions of sexual immorality are clearly summed up in one NT verse: “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.” (Heb 13:4, ESV – and remember that the only definition of marriage the Bible EVER recognizes is between a biological man and woman). So the clear, unified teaching of Scripture is that God made male and female (Gen 1:26-27). The ONLY sexuality to be righteously expressed is between a man and woman in the covenant of marriage (Gen 2:18-25, Heb 13:4).

A bit more about the food laws from the OT (this is mostly a quote from my earlier thoughts on the Matt 15:10-20 parallel)…  Some Christians will feel they still need to honor some of these as part of how they glorify God (see Rom 14), but others can rightly live in the freedom Jesus began setting out here (see Mk 7:14-19). Sections like this (and the parallel in Matt 15) and Acts 10-11 prepared the early Jewish believers who had grown up with such clear OT laws about clean foods (and other cleanliness rules) for the teaching that these laws are fulfilled in Jesus. Now that Jesus has come, ALL foods can be received with thanksgiving (1 Tim 4:3-5, Col 2:13-23). HOWEVER, if you have convictions that there are certain foods you’re to avoid to glorify God, you SHOULD avoid those foods for now (Rom 14:14). As you continue to study God’s Word, He may change your thinking in this (Rom 14:5-12). A KEY POINT in this whole section (and in Rom 14, which points out that believers can have differing convictions in areas where NT believers aren’t under clear commands): Make sure you’re not just APPEARING to honor God, but that your HEART is actually with Him (Mark 7:6-7).

Lev 12:1-5 – Why different times of unclean-ness for a male baby and a female baby?  All kinds of ideas, but God doesn’t say, so ultimately we trust His good, wise commands. See the Nancy Guthrie quote from Lev 11 and remember that unclean does NOT automatically equal sin. One possibility that struck me (and it IS only an idea) is that in a time that often under-valued females (not applying Gen 1:27 that male and female are EQUALLY in God’s image), this would give moms EXTRA time to recover from childbirth and bond with and treasure their little girl. Two things are clear: 1) There ARE clear differences between male and female (our recent times have gone obstinately unclear about what the Bible makes VERY clear).  2) After either male OR female babies were born, God ensured that the mom had some needed rest, recuperation, and bonding time with their new baby.

PSALM 13-14 – Psalm 13 – A psalm for when the enemy SEEMS to be winning, and the believer FEELS forgotten by God.

Ps 13:1-2 – The believer’s agonized CRY to God: “How long?” This is the raw pouring out of what the situation FEELS like.

Ps 13:3-4 – The believer’s PRAYER REQUEST to God. Notice that, though he FEELS forgotten by God, he KNOWS THE TRUTH – God hears the prayer of His people. So the psalmist (even when he FEELS abandoned) still turns to God.

Ps 13:5-6 – The believer’s CHOICE to praise God. Bible study tip: In almost all these psalms that BEGIN with a broken heart you can see a clear turning point when the psalmist turns from pouring out their FEELINGS, dwells on the TRUTH about God, and CHOOSES to trust / praise / rejoice in Him. To emphasize that here, I’ve circled the word “But” that starts Ps 13:5 (the CONTRAST / turning point), and underlined words that emphasize the psalmist’s choice: “…have trusted…shall rejoice…will sing…”

Psalm 14 – A psalm about the depravity of people, and the only hope is for Yahweh (“the LORD”) to save.

Ps 14:1-4 – Quoted in Rom 3:9-12. The key point of Rom 1-3 is that ALL of us are depraved, and the only hope is for God to save us through Jesus. Too many in our world think that people are basically good and think that our main problem is something outside of us, victimizing us. Sadly, because this is a post-Gen 3, fallen world we DO victimize one another. But Ps 14:2-3 (and a recurring theme through the Bible) says that our MAIN problem is OURSELVES.

Ps 14:1 – Key to understanding the “fool” (a key word through Proverbs). “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’” He may not say that out LOUD – he may not CALL himself an atheist, but he ACTS like one. He ACTS like he won’t have to stand before God at the judgment someday. Rom 1-3 (and Ps 14:2-3) makes clear that ALL of us come into this world living like this.

Ps 14:5-6 – The END of the story is that the unrepentant will one day be in great fear / terror / dread, because they will realize that the righteous that they’ve oppressed have the living Almighty God as their refuge / shelter! Next to Ps 14:6 I’ve written a capital “S!” (because of the focus on the Sovereignty of God) with the note “GOD WINS!”

Ps 14:7 – Wonderful prayer for God’s people (including Gentiles who are grafted into the line of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob / Israel by faith in Jesus – see Gal 3:14, 26-29) when we feel our overwhelming minority among the unrepentant majority who love to oppress God’s people.

Optional Rom 4:11-25 – God counted Abraham’s faith as righteousness BEFORE God gave the law about circumcision (Rom 4:1-12), and there’s ONE WAY (no matter your ethnicity or background – see Rom 4:16-17) to be counted righteous before a perfectly holy God – faith in Jesus (v 23-25)!

Rom 4:17 – “God…who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist.” Oh, such wonderful hope for those who see the spiritual death and no interest in spiritual life in their loved ones! The same God who said “Let there be…” in Genesis and SPOKE all that is into being. The same God in the flesh who commanded Lazarus to come out of the tomb in Jn 11. That same God speaks into OUR hearts “Let there be light / life…” and THAT is the ultimate explanation why any of us become believers. And why we must never despair no matter how hopeless a person APPEARS.

Optional Proverbs 17:25-28 – Pr 17:27-28 – Two among many verses in Proverbs about the importance of our TALK (or rather, as so often in Proverbs) our LACK of talk. Compare James 1:19 – God gave us TWO ears and ONE mouth for a good reason!