What does it look like for us to give of ourselves or sacrifice something? I believe, in order for it to be a sacrifice, we actually have to feel it. It has to be something we care about or worked hard for. This is why a Lenten fast from cookies for someone who doesn’t really like cookies, is not that helpful. In today’s 1 Chronicles reading, David seems to understand this when Ornan tries to sacrifice for David’s sins.
1 Chronicles 19:1-21:30:
16-19 – The Syrians and Ammonites were both known as strong armies. The Syrians did not like having been defeated by Israel, but David defeats them again when they come back for more.
1 – Presumably, this is the same time when David sleeps with Bathsheba. That story begins in the same way explaining that spring time was when nations fought and David did not go with them as he should have.
1 – Though there were times God asked the Israelites to number themselves, he had not asked David to do so. David is most likely doing this out of a lack of trust and wanting to be able to gauge who he could defeat in war and who he could not.
11-17 – David has a choice of consequences and his choice caused his people to suffer. Once it became reality, he tried to make it stop.
22-27 – If Ornan had given his property for David’s sacrifice, David would actually be sacrificing nothing. This is why he won’t accept Ornan’s gift.
25-29 – We might compare the way they were counting their circumcision as holiness to when people simply come to church these days and count that as holiness or salvation. What we look like or appear to be is not the same as having Christ as our salvation.
1-4 – Being a Jew/Israelite, was special to God. They were chosen and set apart. This passage explains that just because there were some Jews that were unfaithful to their covenant with God does not make God unfaithful or mean that the covenant was not meaningful.
5-8 – Paul asks this rhetorically. If our sin gives God more chance to be holy, shouldn’t we sin more. No! We’re still called to avoid sin.
David chooses to take refuge in the Lord instead of following the advice of others to flee from his enemies because they are clearly ready to attack.
4-7 – David contrasts the righteousness of God with the sinfulness of the wicked.
David insists on paying Araunah for his property though Araunah offers it up freely. David knew he needed to actually make a personal sacrifice in order to feel the weight of his sin. If he simply sacrificed Araunah’s property, he wouldn’t feel it. We often do not feel the weight of our sin unless we actually feel the consequences. This is why consequences are often ultimately beneficial.
2 Samuel 23:24-24:25:
1-9 – Though it seems that God instructs David to number the people, he must have done it differently than the Lord instructed him because ultimately the act is sinful.
14-17 – David offers the people up for his sin until he sees the destruction and then he tries to turn it back towards him.
21-25 – Though Araunah kindly offered to give David all he needed for the sacrifice. David knew he needed to have some skin in the game for his sacrifice to count.
1-10 – Note that when Jesus was alive, the disciples often had trouble healing people because of their lack of faith. Here, the disciples’ faith is strong enough to heal because their faith has been strengthened by the fulfillment of Jesus’ words and the presence of the Holy Spirit.
16 – It wasn’t necessarily the faith of the lame man that caused him to be healed. It isn’t made clear if he had faith, but the disciples had faith enough for him.
2 – A servant would look to a master to instruct and provide for them. God mercifully instructs us and gives us what we need.
22 – Good sense is life giving because it assures we make decisions that will prosper us. Folly, on the other hand, comes when we listen to unwise counsel.
There are a lot of different types of sacrifices and offerings mentioned throughout the Old Testament. Take a few minutes to learn the differences and various purposes of each. It should clear up some questions.
Have you ever heard someone say, “money can’t buy happiness” and then someone responds, “but it can buy me a lot of stuff that makes me happy”? It’s a fair point…kind of. And honestly the story of the rich young ruler in Luke isn’t really about money. It’s about where God ranks in the things we love. As we cling desperately to God, everything else should be held with a loose grip.
This is somewhat difficult to understand because we’re not familiar with the landscape of ancient Israel. Check out the Joshua 15 map to give you a better idea of where all these landmarks are and what land belonged to what tribe.
Though this passage may have seemed a little dry, it is a reminder of what excellent records the Israelites kept of their history, inheritance, possessions, and families.
18-25 – The deepest issue is not that of wealth, but of how wealth tends to have control over us. The rich young ruler loved God but loved his stuff more and was sad to have to let it go. When we allow our wealth to take hold of us, it is impossible to serve God first.
27 – We sometimes interpret this to mean that because of God, we are able to do anything, but we forget that is actually God’s power and strength at work. He can do all things.
28-30 – An encouragement to all those who have sacrificed for the gospel.
31 – The journey to Jerusalem first mentioned in chapter 9 is still in progress.
42-43 – Like the blind man, when we act in faith, God works, and others are drawn to God through his work. Acting in faith brings great results.
11-12 – This is a lovely image of God teaching us his ways for our benefit so that we might in return follow those ways. God doesn’t give us unreasonable requests, he gives us what we need to do what he asks us to do.
9 – A reminder that evil does not win out. It can be frustrating when evil seems to get the upper hand, but in the end, Jesus wins.
Families are a funny thing. In today’s Luke reading we find a different lineage for Jesus. Don’t worry though! This is Mary’s lineage even though it ends with Joseph. It was common for people to call themselves the “father” of a son-in-law. Now, go on and go take a family picture you’ll regret in 5-10 years.
Most of us tend to read through the explanations of offerings simply to get through that section. Today, try reading it as if you were an Israelite who actually needed to know the details in order to follow God’s law.
Burnt offerings are often followed with a description that it has a “pleasing aroma to the Lord.” Since we no longer offer burnt offerings, what do you think we offer that presents God with a pleasing aroma?
Considering the quantities of the feast that starts in vs. 12, the Israelites must have had massive herds.
Note that in Matthew we already read a lineage for Joseph and it was different than this list. Most theologians believe that this is actually Mary’s lineage since most of the birth narrative and beginning of the book focus on her.
Interesting that David, multiple times, says my soul waits for “God alone”. Too often, when under pressure, we’re not willing to wait for God but put our trust in anything and everything else.
Note that it may not be much comfort to us that good wins out in this verse. Though the wicked’s wages are deceptive, they still earn wages.
Did you know that the same person who wrote Luke also wrote Acts, the first book after the gospels? There are all kinds of fun tidbits to learn about Scripture that are great conversation starters at cocktail parties…well…maybe. Anyway, enjoy the beginning of Luke! It’s a great one!!
1-19 – Here we see something sacrificed being used later to cleanse and restore an unclean tent.
3 – The Israelites always seem to recall events that they once complained about as better than their current circumstances. It most commonly is tied to lack of provisions or fear of danger.
6-13 – The older Israelite generation had already been forbidden from the Promised Land. Now, because he did not obey the Lord completely, Moses and Aaron are also forbidden. Moses was told to strike the rock once but he struck it twice. He also tried to take credit for what the Lord would do by providing water. He said, “Shall we bring water” when it was only the Lord’s work.
28-29 – Even though the Israelites complained and rebelled a lot, clearly they loved Aaron.
1-4 – The writer of Luke is an intelligent, orderly person intent to write a logical, organized version of the story of Christ’s life. He also addresses his letter to Theophilus.
9 – Only one priest entered the holy of holies at a time. An extensive cleansing ritual occurred before the priest entered.
17 – John the Baptist was often considered the second coming of Elijah.
We all fall short and choose sin at times. David did too. In today’s psalm, David has been confronted with his sin by Nathan. David is truly and fully repentant and cries out to God for forgiveness. Star this psalm for the times when you need to repent and ask for forgiveness. We’ll all need it at some point.
1-3 – You can imagine that God would grow tired and frustrated of hearing complaints from the people he was continually caring for and protecting.
The Israelites continue to think they have better ideas than the Lord. They continue to doubt his provision for them.
3-9 – This story is also found in Matthew. One significant addition to Mark’s version is in Jesus’ response to the naysayers. He says, “whenever you want, you can do good for them.” It seems to suggest that they denounce this woman for not tending to the poor and yet they don’t either.
Note that this is a Psalm written by David in response to Nathan rebuking him when he committed adultery with Bathsheba and then sent her husband to the front lines of battle to cover up his sins.
This is a Psalm to read and pray when you are ready to fully repent of a sin you’ve committed.
Note that David recognizes that God is not looking for a sacrifice or offering, but true brokenness and repentance from the sinner.
Numbers 6:24-26 is a beautiful blessing Aaron told the priests to pray over the Israelites. It is a great one for us to pray over those whom we love.
1-21 – Nazirites, by taking a vow into the priesthood were set apart with specific regulations. They couldn’t drink alcohol, cut their hair, or be near a dead person. Levites were priests who were born into it. Nazirites were priests who chose to be.
24-26 – This is often used as a blessing or benediction at the end of church gatherings. Many youth groups use it.
38-40 – Jesus puts the scribes’ desire to be in places of honor and noticed for their holy actions in contrast with what he has instructed his followers to do – humble themselves and let the last be first.
41-44 – It’s not the amount but the sacrifice that God values.
11 – An example of how God provides exactly what we need.
At the end of today’s Leviticus reading, Moses reprimands Aaron’s remaining sons, the priests, for offering sacrifices incorrectly. Aaron is also concerned because, as a priest, he is to eat the sin offerings. If they were not offered correctly, they would not have been ritually clean, thus, he would not have been either. If he had then entered God’s presence, he would have died. Not because God is mean, but because he is holy. Holiness and uncleanness cannot mix.
1-2 – We’ve read in previous readings this year that the Lord does not desire sacrifice but mercy. Clearly God desires for us to follow his instructions exactly.
16-20 – Moses does his best to assure that the priests follow God’s instructions perfectly.
30-32 – The mustard seed does not form the largest tree, but it does grow extremely quickly and in wild fashion.
39-41 – Jesus, through his actions and words is consistently having to remind the disciples of his power and ability.
12-13 – Interesting that Jesus allows a demonic spirit to influence his decision.