Saturday, March 15, 2014

Leviticus 20

Today's reading in our daily plan is Leviticus 20. Take a moment to pray, asking God to speak to you from this passage. Then read, using the following notes and questions to help you get everything out of the passage.

SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
  • After chapters and chapters of prohibitions, God now lays out punishments for breaking his laws, and they are extremely severe -- the offender must lose his or her life.
    • In a recent post, we saw that the penalty for any and all sin is losing our right to live. This is the way it's always been. Think of it this way: Parents give their son a B.B. gun, but tell him that if he doesn't use it in the way they prescribe he forfeits his right to own it. Seems fair, right? Well, God gives us the gift of life, and tells us that if we don't use it the way he prescribes we forfeit our right to continue with it. The consequence for sin is death. The (perhaps) shocking part about Leviticus 20 isn't that people would die for their sin (that has always and will always be the case) but that they must die immediately for their sin.
    • However, there has been a very significant change since the time of Leviticus. Back then, the penalty for sin was that you had to die. Today the penalty for sin is that you have to die, OR you can choose for Jesus to die for you. Jesus went to the cross as our substitute, and so we don't necessarily have to lose our lives because of our sin. Jesus can die for us, and through his losing his life, we actually gain our lives.
    • This explains the scene we find in John 8:1-11. Some of the religious leaders catch a woman in the act of adultery and bring her to Jesus, seeking his approval of their stoning her (according to Leviticus 20:10). Jesus tells them that only have the right to stone her if she is sinless. They are all (as we are all) guilty of various sins and, realizing this, they all drop their stones and walk away. But Jesus IS sinless, and so he has the right to carry out the punishment of Leviticus 20:10, but he doesn't. Why? Because instead of demanding her life for her sin, Jesus sacrificed his own life for her sin.

SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
  • Perhaps one of the reasons God lays out what seems to be such severe punishment for people's sins is so that we would understand the severity of our sin, and so that Jesus' sacrifice for us would be more meaningful for us.
  • Though we no longer exact the punishments of Leviticus 20 (because of what Jesus did), it is still  just as important that we keep the moral laws God sets for his people (honor your parents, do not commit adultery, etc.).
  • In verse 23 God tells his people that they must not live the way everyone else lives. The other nations may accept certain behaviors, but that doesn't mean God's people can lower the standards and live like that as well.

NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
  • In what areas of life do you find yourself lowering the standards and thinking sin is ok because "everyone else is doing it"? Gossip? Sex before marriage? Getting drunk? Spending all your money on yourself? Holding on to bitterness against someone who has wronged you?
  • How thankful are you that you don't have to die for your sins because Jesus died for you?!? Tell him!