Leviticus for Today

LeviticusThis past weekend at Eastbrook, my message was essentially a theological interpretation of the book of Leviticus for Christians today. I found a number of resources helpful in this, but particularly enjoyed the insights of Gordon Wenham in his masterful commentary on Leviticus. In a section of his introduction to the book entitled “Leviticus and the Christian” he writes this helpful interpretive understanding for our reading of Leviticus:

It seems fair to say that the NT not only accepts the moral law of the OT, but reiterates the basic theology of the covenant of which the law forms a part. If the NT stresses much more strongly the grace of God, this is because Christ’s incarnation and death displayed God’s mercy more strikingly than even the exodus in Egypt.

Besides moral laws such as ‘you shall love your neighbor as yourself’ (19:18) Leviticus contains a number of laws that are sometimes described as civil legislation, e.g., laws about farming (e.g., 19:9-10, 19, 23-25) and rules fixing the death penalty for certain offenses (e.g., 20:9-16). This type of law is quoted less frequently in the NT than the simple moral imperatives, but when quoted it is treated as equally authoritative (e.g., 1 Cor 9:9 quoting Deut. 25:4 and Mark 7:10 citing Lev. 20:9).  The arbitrariness of the distinction between moral and civil law is reinforced by the arrangement of material in Leviticus. Love of neighbor immediately precedes a prohibition on mixed breeding; the holiness motto comes just before the law on executing unruly children (19:18-19; 20:7-9). Instead of distinguishing between moral and civil laws, it would be better to say that some injunctions are broad and generally applicable to most societies, while others are more specific and directed at the particular social problems of ancient Israel. In this commentary the following position is assumed: the principles underlying the OT are valid and authoritative for the Christian, but the particular applications found in the OT may not be. The moral principles are the same today, but insofar as our situation often differs from the OT setting, the application of the principles in our society may well be different, too (34-35).

In relation to our topic of these past weekends about “God in Blank Spaces” or “God of the Displaced Ones,” Wenham writes this:

Though this law is inapplicable literally in modern societies, the principles underlying it should still challenge Christian men [sic] to devise the most effective means that can help the poor of our age. It is not the task of the commentator to say which means should be adopted, e.g., food subsidies or welfare benefits, but simply to emphasize that Christian politicians and voters have a duty to support good schemes to help the needy.

The Sent Son

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This weekend at Eastbrook Church, as we continued the “Crossroads” series, I preached a message entitled “The Sent Son.” This message builds upon the previous weeks of the series (see “Lord of the Sabbath” and “The New Temple“) by exploring Jesus’ parable in Luke 20:1-19. This parable is sometimes known as the parable of the wicked tenants and at other times as the parable of the noble land owner. Either way, the parable’s central focus is really the sent son as a radical change of the prophetic metaphor found in Isaiah 5:1-7.

You can follow the entire series at our web-site, through the Eastbrook app, or through our audio podcast.

Also, join in with the daily devotional and reading plan for this series here.

 

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The New Temple

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This weekend at Eastbrook Church I continued the series, “Crossroads,” which corresponds with our Lenten journey to the Cross.  This second message is entitled “The New Temple” and looks at Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem and the cleansing of the Temple in Luke 19:28-48.

This is a pivotal message that explores how Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem disrupts the Temple-centric worship of the people of Israel by foretelling the deconstruction of the Jerusalem Temple and the reconstruction of God’s new Temple not built by hands. You’ll have to watch it or listen to it to see what is going on.

You can follow the entire series at our web-site, through the Eastbrook app, or through our audio podcast.

Also, join in with the daily devotional and reading plan for this series here.

 

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The Sacrifice of Thanksgiving

Thankful bannerEvery year in the US, we mark out a day to celebrate what we have been given. Thanksgiving Day, in my opinion, is actually one of the most amazing moments in our culture. At a national level, we set aside time from work and normal routines to simply celebrate and enjoy God’s goodness. Of course, like all things, Thanksgiving can be trivialized by commercialism, but it is still a fascinating moment in our country’s history and experience.

The wonder of our life with God is that each day spent following Jesus propels us into thanksgiving. We have been talking about that over the last few weeks here at Eastbrook Church in our series, “Thankful.” The abundance we have received from God through Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection is beyond words. Throughout the Scripture, we encounter many sacrifices offered in worship of God. In Psalm 50, however, we encounter a different kind of sacrifice:

I have no complaint about your sacrifices
or the burnt offerings you constantly offer.
But I do not need the bulls from your barns
or the goats from your pens.
For all the animals of the forest are Mine,
and I own the cattle on a thousand hills. (Psalm 50:8-10, NLT)Read More »

Beginning to Live – ||40days|| completion

Jesus died but that was not the end. The apparent end was the beginning of new life. This day we celebrate the wonder of the resurrection.

Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again.

This weekend at Eastbrook Church I gave a message entitled “Beginning to Live” about how the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus opens a new way to live our lives. It is a way of purpose, freedom, and joy.

Sacrificial Offering (Life in Leviticus 1)

There are certain books of the Bible that people tend to avoid. Somewhere near the top of that list for many is the Old Testament book of Leviticus. For those who are participating in Through the Bible 2011, we have run full speed into Leviticus this past week. This week and next, I will write two posts on the important life-giving concepts found in Leviticus that are important for us today.

Sacrifice and Offering in Leviticus

The first seven chapters of Leviticus deal largely with different forms of sacrifice and offerings for the people of Israel.Read More »

Self-giving Love

Every Sunday morning before church, I have been reading through chapters from the book Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross. Each week, I am struck by the different facets of Jesus’ sacrifice and how that reflects the tremendous love of God. I have also been thinking about how my life should reflect Jesus’ pattern of self-giving love.

Jesus’ death on the cross is, at one level, an amazing illustration of His words that no one has greater love than to lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13). The cross was transformed from the most brutal image of death to the most shocking illustration of the love of God.

To what lengths will God go to show His love?

Beyond what we can imagine.

How much will He give?

All.

And after taking up the humble task of washing his disciples’ feet, Jesus says to these His first followers, “I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, servants are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them” (John 13:15-16).

Jesus gave.

He gave completely.

His giving was an act of divine love.

We too should give.

We should give completely.

Our giving should be an act of divine love.

“Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them” (John 13:17).