Saturday, March 29, 2014

Leviticus 24

Today's reading in our daily plan is Leviticus 24. 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?)
  • The bread (verse 5 and following) was often called the "bread of the Presence" (see Exodus 25:30). It was meant to signify that God always sustained his people. The bread was eaten by the priests who served God.
  • In verses 10-23, we see someone who curses the name of God given the death penalty. If you've been reading in Leviticus, we saw in chapter 10 that two sons of Aaron the priest offered worship to God in the wrong way and for the wrong reasons and, for so doing, die. We discussed in some detail, in the post on that chapter, that the penalty for sin is always God revoking the person's right to live. The only question is when that happens. What's unusual in the story in Leviticus 10, and in this chapter with the blasphemer, is that the person dies immediately for their sin. (We also discussed in that chapter that Jesus takes away the punishment of death for our sin by taking that punishment for us, if we put our faith in him.) In that post we also looked at one possibility for why the loss of life is demanding immediately in situations like this.
  • The "eye for eye, tooth for tooth" is not literal, but communicates the principle that the punishment should fit the crime.

SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
  • In this chapter we find the "eye for eye, tooth for tooth" principle of punishment fitting the crime. Remember that in Leviticus God is helping the Israelites set up their nation and and how they were to conduct themselves as a nation. Years later religious leaders of the Jews called the Pharisees came along. Some of the more strict Pharisees (such as those who belonged to "the school of Shammai") took this principle as a justification for private vengeance. In Matthew 5:38-42, Jesus made it blatantly clear that "eye for eye, tooth for tooth"is not something that individuals are to practice. Instead, Jesus says, we are to "not resist an evil person" and if "anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also." So the government of a nation needs to give punishment that fits the crime, but an individual is to practice forgiveness and grace.

NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
  • Where, or with whom, are you most tempted to give an eye-for-eye, tooth-for-tooth retribution and punishment? How could you go to God for help and strength to offer forgiveness and grace to a person who has hurt you?