Hi Friends, this post is from my 365 tab (the tab at the top of the page where I keep record of my trying to read through the Bible). The 365 comes from my friend Bethi's blog in which she writes about her daily journey to read the Bible in a year. I started again at the beginning of last year and made it through Leviticus...I'm pressing on!!!
Here is my latest update-
January 5th, 2012
Alright, so my December update is a little late in coming...there are good reasons I promise you... like that I'm reading Leviticus. Yes, that's right, Leviticus...at Christmastime...in the middle of a cold bleak Buffalo winter. It's not exactly easy reading...though God is very, VERY present and powerful in the book.
I almost said it's not exactly "inspirational" reading...but then I stopped myself...Lisa, the entire Bible is GOD inspired, God breathed...which means that it is all, in some way inspirational...
Alright...so "inspirational" has a lot of meanings...Leviticus is a hard book. It's a rule book. It's like reading the state driving laws in all of their vastness and details and tediousness. I won't lie, I kind of just wanted a big picture summary and then I'd move on, but I trudged through.
I trudged through because I thought well, if it is in the Bible and the Bible is the inspired word of God, it is important, somehow in the big picture.
Our pastor did a WONDERFUL sermon series on Leviticus this past summer. He's a REALLY smart guy. You can actually listen to his sermon series by clicking here....the book of Leviticus was never so interesting as when I was listening to his sermons. What I learned from his series and from my reading is that Leviticus is all about God trying to make his people a people who were distinct from those who were not.
In some ways that is still our challenge today: Differentiating ourselves, our reactions, our relationships, the way we live our lives from the way the world does?
That said, left to my own devices, like sitting in my tattered, soft corduroy chair at 7 a.m. or 11 p.m. and trying to read Leviticus on my own...well...let's just say it would have been nice to have either God or Pastor Jerry sitting next to me to help me out...
I did find a really great tool in the process though!!! While I was trudging through the details of Leviticus wishing I could set up a coffee meeting with someone straight from heaven, or my pastor, I was forced to ask "What tools do I have at my disposal to help me out with this."
Something came to mind that my pastor's wife has said a while back in our MOPS group..."Matthew Henry Commentary". Matthew Henry was a really smart and dedicated guy. He was a Presbyterian minister who took it upon himself to work on an exhaustive verse by verse study of the entire Bible. Wow!
If you are a mom of young kids you will probably not read the Matthew Henry Commentary word for word, so don't put that pressure on yourself. That said, when I have read a tricky chapter, or a passage in the Bible that has left my eyebrows raised and my mind confused I google Matthew Henry Commentary to see what he has to say. If I can only skim a couple of sentences from his take on the passage I usually feel a little bit more enlightened...and often saying, "Oh yeah, now why didn't I get that!"
Like after I finished Leviticus last night and felt a bit dumbfounded...
I looked up Leviticus 25-27 in the Matthew Henry Commentary...Here is what he had to say about the Sabbath:
"The law of Moses laid a great deal of stress upon the Sabbath, the sanctification of which was the earliest and most divine of all institutions designed for keeping up with the knowledge and worship of God."
He goes on to explain that the Sabbath year (the Israelites were ordered to work the land for six years and on the seventh year let it rest) was supposed to teach God's people about what life would have been like in paradise, where we were meant to enjoy the land not toil on it, to teach the people how to rest, to teach the people to be charitable (the land was to be left alone and the poor could take what they needed from it) and to remove them from their distraction of work so that they could have more time to worship God.
I didn't get that when I read Lev. 25, but I'm glad Mr. Henry did!
So, I made it to the end of Leviticus. Whew. Numbers is next and I'm not sure that is going to be any easier.
That said, I'm certainly grateful for Christ's birth and death which releases us from the burden of such heavy law. I'll leave you with Matthew Henry's thoughts on that...
"Let us not therefore think that because we are not tied to ceremonial cleansings, feasts and oblations, that a little care, time and expense will serve to honor God. No, but rather have our hearts more enlarged with free-will offerings to his praise, more inflamed with the holy love and joy, and more engaged in seriousness of thought and sincerity of intention."
Boy, if that is not a good thought to set before my mind in this New Year.
P.S. For what its worth I also found a great website called Bible Study Tools(www.biblestudytools.com) among the resources on this website is the Matthew Henry Commentary (among others). Check it out!