Lev 25:53-26:9 9/28/2017
The covenant promise to the Israelites if they are faithful is that things will go well.
Sometimes it doesn’t sound possible. Freedom to sleep well, to look at the future and laugh with joy. No anxiety.
We take so much for granted. In a world filled with anxious thoughts and desperate acts, we can still have peace in the anticipation of the goodness of God.
Believing that God is and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. Believing that this is the nature of the one, true, God. Treating the Creator like the person He is.
You can chose this today. Start right now.
Lev 25:40-52 9/27/2017
Redemption is reserved as a right for every Israelite who becomes a slave.
Second chances and starting over as a community; The temptation is to think of second chances as a deeply personal affair. I screwed things up… I went broke… I went to prison… I somehow failed and then I was given a second chance.
The right of redemption has this element – especially for those in between the years of jubilee. But God’s way of second chances focuses on the community.
Jubilee renewal means returning – deconsolidating – the aggregated wealth of landowners.
It’s a radical idea.
The vibrancy of a community that systematically provides for the least to have opportunity unlocks the genius of every individual.
Lev 25:29-39 9/26/2017
The Law of Moses requires the Israelites to take care of relatives who have fallen into poverty.
The temptation is to convince myself that the misfortune of others isn’t my responsibility.
Why should I care?
It’s not that you might find yourself in similar circumstances someday in the future. Your goodness towards others is not a hedge against your own misfortune.
It’s the intrinsic. God has given each with purpose – a meaning to be fulfilled.
Will you agree with God? Will you value what He values?
That’s why you should care.
Lev 25:16-28 9/25/2017
God promises to make the sixth year harvest so plentiful that it will provide the food and seed for the sabbath year and the next year after.
Work and rest exist in a cycle in the same way as waking and sleeping. The earth needs rest. We need rest from the earth.
In most forms of labor today, this idea is completely lost. Perhaps the lone exception are the academics at universities who continue to enjoy the occasional sabbatical year. A year off from teaching so that they may conduct research or write or somehow make a significant contribution to their academic field of knowledge.
What would you do if you took a year off from your career? Would the world be a better place in some small way? Would you be wiser for the experience?
The sudden emergence of leisure gives the surest revealing of what’s really important to us. What we do with our time when nothing is required of us, that’s when our values are most evident.
Let your leisure speak volumes about your passion.
Lev 25:4-15 9/23/2017
A sabbath rest for the fields every seven years. A restoration of property in every fiftieth year.
Jubilee means restoration and liberty. For all those who have lost what was always intended to be their possession.
What have you lost or, through negligence, given away that can’t be redeemed?
The irony of the prodigal is that it felt like freedom when he became a slave – at least until his course was irreversible. But at the time of his liberation from his father’s rule, he felt more free than at any time in his life. Only later did he realize the depth of his enslavement.
Not everyone has to learn this way. There is no requirement to sin. But most of us do. Most of us eventually come to see ourselves as the prodigal.
And when we do, the grace of God suddenly becomes effective. We stand up and return to the One whom we abandoned for the sake of pleasure, or power, or control.
And He receives us and restores us.
Lev 24:12-25:3 9/22/2017
Capital punishment for the man who blasphemes the Lord’s name.
To call by name is to have power over the named. To presume to know God by His name, this is one thing. To take the Lord’s name in vain – to curse invoking the name and the power of the Lord, this is another.
The universe is all connected. The ripples of my actions cannot be eliminated because they never really stop being.
Our natural desire is to control everything, including God. I may never say it; but too often what I really want is to recreate the universe around my wants. I want to be the one who curses and who blesses.
Perhaps I’m not the type who attempts to command God like a man commands his dog. But then again, maybe that’s just who I am.
The way of givenness is a way out of this self-destruction. That we could find God in humility and then act in accord with His purpose in power. That’s what we were all made for.
Your unique possibility is wrapped in the simple willingness to respond.
“I delight to do your will O Lord”.
Lev 23:44-24:11 9/21/2017
The Israelites are to burn the lamps and place show-bread in the tent of meeting.
Bringing stuff back to God – in the form of offerings and sacrifices.
By now, we know that He doesn’t really need our stuff. He has let us know through the prophets that He doesn’t need earthly food for sustenance and that, before anyone else can make a claim of ownership, He owns everything anyway. He made everything.
The demand to return a portion back to God is for the benefit of the Israelites – the children of Israel – individually and collectively.
It is said, “that you can’t take anything with you when you die.” It’s not really true. You take your soul which will be given a new, resurrected body. That is our faith.
Your soul is with you now, and you will take your soul with you. So the good of the stuff of this world lies in its potential to help fashion a soul that you will live with for eternity.
Own this. You can’t transfer this responsibility.
Make the commitment to work with God. Fashion a soul worthy of the life you have been given – worthy of your salvation.
Lev 23:33-43 09/20/2017
The final ingathering – a weeklong harvest festival. The Israelites were told: “You shall make merry before the Lord”.
The holiness of God is rightly a cause for great reverence. He dwells in unapproachable light. His holiness is overwhelming. He is rightly to be feared.
But God is also the sort of person who rejoices with us and even because of us.
When He sees you, when He thinks of you, when He encounters you – it brings Him joy. In your harvest time, in your successes, in your happiness – He is celebrating with you and because of you.
You have the power to make the universe a better place. He can’t wait to celebrate your victory.
“The LORD, your God, is in your midst, a mighty savior, Who will rejoice over you with gladness, and renew you in his love, Who will sing joyfully because of you.” Zeph 3:17
Lev 23:21-32 09/19/2017
The seventh month things begin anew.
The beginning of the sacred cycle. The curiosity of a cyclical year. We celebrate again. Another year has passed. We’ve grown. We’ve succeeded. We’ve failed. We’ve blessed. We’ve sinned.
What does this mean?
Judah said to Jacob “Hakir na.” “You decide.”
A new day. A new year. A new forgiveness. A new possibility for you and for me.
In this moment in time, make the decision to live fully in the possibility of your life.
Lev 23:11-20 09/18/2017
The Israelites were directed to offer a portion of the first fruits as a memorial sacrifice.
Gratitude is a sense of thanks for the good that has been done. In this way, I recognize the fundamental contingent fact: The good I enjoy may not have been done. The good could have been absent; could have been withheld.
I am owed nothing.
And if I can dwell in this moment in thought, then everything is miraculous. I live in the miracle.
“But blessed are your eyes because they see…” Matt 13:16