There’s a lot to look forward to this week! Finishing Leviticus and starting Numbers, getting into some of Marks parables, and some beautiful psalms that are relatable and noteworthy, and, of course, more wisdom and folly.
There are still a few significant laws to read through in Leviticus, but don’t be deterred! Think of God’s law like bumpers on a bowling lane. The laws keep you in the area that’s good for you and benefits the overall goal. For instance, this week, there’s a law teaching a certain way to reap your harvest. It may seem irrelevant to us, or could be construed as bossy or restrictive, but it actually was designed as an ancient way of feeding the poor. You just got bumped back in the lane.
In Mark, this week, we get to start delving into parables – Jesus’ somewhat cryptic stories that, when understood, help explain the nature and kingdom of God. We also continue through a number of miracle stories. One, in particular, depicts the disciples not being able to heal because of their lack of faith. Jesus steps in and completes the healing. Isn’t it comforting that in this story, as well as others like Peter walking on the water, when our faith falls short, Jesus steps in and fills the gap? I wonder what faith gaps of mine he’s filling?
Finally, be encouraged! After this week, we will have completed 4 books of the Bible. That may sound small considering there are 66 total, but a lot of them are very short and you’ve already learned a huge chunk of the history of how we got where we are today. You’re doing great!!
Now that we’re a week into Mark, you’ve probably noticed that some stories are repeated in multiple gospels while others are only in one. The reason something is or isn’t included in a gospel is based on whether the writer felt it was significant in explaining to people the identity and importance of Jesus.
- 9 – What it meant to be “cut off from your people” is uncertain. Some thoughts are that it entailed the death penalty, or a curse to die young and childless, or to be excommunicated from your people.
- 4-5 – The reason we should follow God’s laws is simple – because he is the Lord our God.
- 26-30 – The Syrophenician woman was a gentile. While Jesus’ statement sounds harsh, Jesus makes it very clear he came first for the Jews. Note that he still heals the woman’s daughter.
- Both Matthew and Mark record two large feeding stories, one of 4,000 and one of 5,000, which makes it more likely that it was not simply one event they were trying to emphasize.
- 4 – Was David’s sin not considering the poor? This makes sense considering the first few verses.
We’ve posted this one before, but come on, we could all understand holiness a little better, couldn’t we? In fact, understanding holiness keeps us safe, keeps us within God’s will, and keeps us clean. That’s all good news!
This is a wineskin. When new wine was placed in a wineskin, it would continue to ferment and create gases. These gases, in an old wineskin, which had already been stretched to its limit, would rupture it. Like new wine in an old wineskin, Jesus’ mission and ministry could not be contained by the constraints of the old law. The parameters needed to be adjusted.
- Even unintentional sins were taken seriously and punished.
- Atonement for unintentional sins or unintentional uncleanness is significant because holiness and sin cannot come into contact. The atonement for these sins was simply to protect the sinner.
- 17 – Jesus came for sinners and the broken.
- 21-22 – New cloth and wineskins represent the new law through Jesus. The old law has been fulfilled through Christ.
- 23-28 – The religious leaders were concerned with the law and Jesus was more concerned with the intention behind the law.
- 1-6 – Key verses for hope for healing
- 5-6 – The expanse of God is hard to fathom.
- Plus, enjoy another classic youth group worship song. It’s based on this Psalm.
Vs. 2 – Intriguing considering our cultural priorities
We all know the old song, “I fought the law and the law won.” And it’s true, both in ancient times and today, we fight the law, but we shouldn’t! Of course, it’s the wrong thing to do, but even more than that, the law is for our good, so we should want to follow it!
No, we do not condone breaking the law. As we begin Leviticus, we will discover that there were a lot of laws for the Israelites, 613 to be exact. We will also discover that they broke the laws a lot. It’s important to understand that the laws were not meant to be fun-ruiners. Instead, laws are meant to protect and prosper people.
- We obviously don’t sacrifice like this for our sins anymore. Instead of ignoring this because it’s not relevant, it might be helpful for us to think about how much more seriously we’d take sin if we always had to sacrifice something valuable for it.
- For other ways Leviticus is relevant to our lives, check out this week’s sermon.
- 34 – Begin to notice the frequency with which Jesus commands people and spirits alike not to tell of what he’s done or reveal his identity.
- 35 – Jesus frequently secludes himself and prays.
Yes, we’ve been waiting for over 2,000 years and, who knows, we may still be waiting for a while. Many people have tried to find clues and solve equations to figure out when Jesus is coming back, but the truth is, God said no one knows. We are instructed, however, to always be ready, which means to remain faithful in all circumstances.
- This section of reading is a variety of rules for living in society.
- 22-24 – Throughout Scripture, widows and orphans get special protection.
- 29-30 – Often we give from what we have left over after we’ve spent as much as we want. We are to give from our first and best.
- 1-7 – Many people try to predict the end of the world based on various Scriptures and what they perceive to be the fulfillment, but Scripture says no one knows the timing.
- 27 – We don’t need to believe folks like David Koresh who come and say they are the Messiah. Scripture says we’ll all know when Jesus is back.
- Sin and temptation are attractive, constantly available, and trying to draw us in at all costs.
It is a common theme in Scripture for people to make promises to God and then completely abandon them. The Israelites do it over and over as they commit to living faithfully and then worship other gods. Today’s culprit is Pharaoh. Note in the next few days just how many times he promises to release the Israelites.
- 23 – what originally cause the Egyptians to be “not God’s people”?
- So often we disobey God’s laws and commands and yet we’re surprised and even think it’s unfair of God when we experience consequences
- 15 – Sometimes God hardens Pharaoh’s heart and sometimes Pharaoh hardens his own
- 8 & 28 & 28- How often have we bargained with God, and like Pharaoh, not held up our end of the agreement?
- 14 – childlike faith is praised several times in Scripture
- 16-22 – selling possessions could be interchanged with anything we hold to more tightly than God. What would you hate for Jesus to fill in that blank with?
- 30 – A countercultural thought. We, like ancient Israelites, try to get to the top. God calls us to humble ourselves instead.
- A musical version of this Psalm:
- Warning not to let others be in control of your life. Throughout Scripture, trusting others above God is a prominent sin of people