Has your family ever thought you were crazy? Have they ever accused you of being a fanatic or turning away from your family traditions?
Also, what do sacrificed birds, blood, water, and other rituals have to do with our relationship with God? What do they picture for us?
Greater than Family Ties & Traditions
Ever Been Accused of Being a Fanatic?
Has your family ever thought you were crazy? Have they ever accused you of being a fanatic? Is so, you’re in good company! Look at verse 21, speaking of Jesus:
“But when His own people heard about this, they went out to lay hold of Him, for they said, ‘He is out of His mind'” (v. 21).
This passage ends with a truth we need to remember when our family criticizes our fanaticism or the fact that God has led us to another church or into a deeper walk with Him.
“Then His brothers and His mother came, and standing outside they sent to Him, calling Him. And a multitude was sitting around Him; and they said to Him, ‘Look, Your mother and Your brothers are outside seeking You.’ But He answered them, saying, ‘Who is My mother, or My brothers?’ And He looked around in a circle at those who sat about Him, and said, ‘Here are My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of God is My brother and My sister and mother'” (vv. 31-35).
It wasn’t that Jesus no longer cared about His family. In fact, as He hung on the cross He was making provision for His mother’s care (Jn. 19.26-27). But He understood that God’s call on His life was a higher calling than family traditions or even family ties.
Just a Thought
Isn’t it interesting that it’s acceptable to be a fanatic for a sports team, a college, a political candidate, or a cause? You might even get your fifteen minutes of fame on some jumbo-tron, be interviewed on Watters World (Is anyone else amazed at what people will say?), or be given the day off from school. But if we’re “fanatical for Jesus” we’re thought to be weird and often told by friends and family that we should tone it down!
Well, more about leprosy! What on earth does this all mean to you and me today?
When we read the Old Testament we need to remember that the events, God’s dealings with His people, and the ceremonial laws were often types and shadows of things to come. Many of which were fulfilled during Christ’s life here on earth, as well as, His death, burial, and resurrection.
Verses 4-9 talk about the ceremonial cleansing of a leper after he had been healed. Bear with me as you read this. You’ll be tempted like me to just scan it because it seems so far removed from our New Testament understanding.
4 then the priest shall command to take for him who is to be cleansed two living and clean birds, cedar wood, scarlet, and hyssop. 5 And the priest shall command that one of the birds be killed in an earthen vessel over running water. 6 As for the living bird, he shall take it, the cedar wood and the scarlet and the hyssop, and dip them and the living bird in the blood of the bird that was killed over the running water. 7 And he shall sprinkle it seven times on him who is to be cleansed from the leprosy, and shall pronounce him clean, and shall let the living bird loose in the open field. 8 He who is to be cleansed shall wash his clothes, shave off all his hair, and wash himself in water, that he may be clean. After that he shall come into the camp, and shall stay outside his tent seven days. 9 But on the seventh day he shall shave all the hair off his head and his beard and his eyebrows—all his hair he shall shave off. He shall wash his clothes and wash his body in water, and he shall be clean.
Matthew Henry in his Commentary on the Whole Bible said the mixture of blood and water had its fulfillment in Christ’s death when blood and water came out of his pierced side. The slain bird represented Christ dying for our sins, and the living bird His resurrection. Dipping the living bird in the blood of the slain bird illustrates the fact that without His death He could not have risen for our justification for sins.
The living bird was let loose just as the leper was no longer restricted from contact with people. He was free to go where he pleased.
We have not only been forgiven of our sins but have been freed from the power of sin in our lives. We’re free to live a life that’s pleasing to God.
The former leper shaved off his hair, his beard, and his eyebrows. He was to do all that he could to thoroughly clean himself from any remaining defilement from the disease. As believers, no longer under judgment, we are to do all that we can to live a life free from sin and pleasing to God.
Cleansing from our sin, represented by the leprosy, required a lot of effort! It cost a lot of time and trouble and sacrifice! And it cost Christ a great deal when He became that sacrifice for our leprous sins!
But true discipleship has a cost, too. There are times when we’ll be persecuted for righteousness (Jn. 15.20), times when we need to withdraw from relationships that pull us back into old lifestyles (1 Cor. 15.33), and times when we need to obey God in spite of our feelings to the contrary. It means fleeing temptation (2 Tim. 2.2), loving our enemies (Matt. 5.43-44), and overcoming evil with good (Rom. 12.21).
Come to think of it, maybe these hard to understand passages have a lot to say to us today.
Vindicate Me, O Lord
More types and shadows, this psalm and many of the prophetic psalms written by David speak both of his own life and serve as a picture of Christ. In David’s case, he couldn’t claim to be without sin, but he trusted God to not only examine him and reveal his sin, but also, to cleanse him when he repented. He understood the grace and forgiveness of God.
We, too, when we have a genuine desire to walk in integrity, when we are quick to repent and accept God’s forgiveness, can say with David …
“Vindicate me, O LORD, for I have walked in my integrity. I have also trusted in the LORD; I shall not slip” (v. 1).
The Memory of the Righteous
This passage speaks of God’s judgment of good and evil in this life and the kind of legacy we leave when we are gone. Let’s pray that we leave a godly legacy to our children and grandchildren. Even if you came to the Lord late in your life and your children are grown, you can still be a godly influence on them no matter how old they are. Be transparent about your mistakes (that doesn’t mean every detail!) and share with them God’s love and forgiveness.
Many people are hesitant to share their testimonies with others, especially their own children, sometimes out of shame and other times out of fear. Each of us has a unique testimony and we should “always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you” (1 Pet. 3.15).
Have you struggled with leaving something behind? Do you wish your family understood what God is doing in your life? Trust God to work it out in His time.
Have you ever shared your testimony? If not, sit down and write it out or think it through so that you’ll be “ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you.” If you’re not sure how to begin, it should have three parts: your life before Christ, how you came to know Him, and what your life is like now.
And finally … what is God saying to you through today’s readings? What do you need to do or change? And what is your plan to do so? Share your comments with us.
In the coming days, we’ll talk about friendship, the condition of our hearts, and the secret things of the Lord. We’ll also look at the questions, “Why does the bible talk so much about blood?” and “Can demons be religious?”
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Do you feel discouraged, even defeated, in your battle against habitual sin? Are you dismayed or surprised by the situations that bring out your fear, anger, or distress? Elyse Fitzpatrick delves into the heart of the problem: deep down, we’re all idol-worshippers who put our loves, desires, and expectations in God’s placeand then suffer the consequences of our misplaced affections. Yet God loves his people and can use even our messy lives and struggles for his glory. Fitzpatrick shows us how to better search and know our hearts, long for our gracious Savior, and resist and crush our false gods. Includes questions for further thought. Revised edition.
The Bible is the Word of life. As such, studying the Bible is crucial to the life and growth of every believer. In this revised work, John MacArthur examines various Scripture passages in the Old and New Testament to answer both the “why” and the “how” questions of Bible study.
How to Study the Bible can be used alongside or apart from the audio series available from Grace to You in either a personal or group study.
Corresponds with the audio message series available from Grace to You
Sin is disfiguring and highly contagious. Paul warned that we can catch it from others and that it’s better to be thrown into the sea with a weight around our necks than to be a carrier spreading it to others.
Have you exposed yourself to some contagious sins? Are you guilty of spreading some sin to others? Continue reading →
In recent years, the news has brought us reports of Christians around the world who are being beheaded and burned alive. Others have been imprisoned merely for preaching the Gospel or not being a Muslim. And make no mistake, just because it’s not in the headlines doesn’t mean it isn’t happening every day.
In times past, Christians have been burned at the stake, sawed in two, and crucified. They have been shot, fed to lions, and forced to choose between their faith and their freedom. Many were gassed along with the Jews for harboring their Jewish neighbors.
The Bible teaches that in the last days, evil, including every kind of persecution will continue to grow.
Even as we watch acts of terrorism on the evening news in Europe, the Middle East, and here at home, we often feel somewhat insulated. Most of us, probably, can’t imagine beheadings or people being burned alive here. But what if we were faced with the choice to stand up or betray Christ in the face of intense persecution?
And is there another kind of invasion going on? One that appears benign, but may be just as insidious? Continue reading →
God has always taken sin seriously, both in the Old Testament and the New. As God led Moses to begin the system of temple worship, two of Aaron’s sons attempted to carry out their new priestly duties with wrong, perhaps prideful, attitudes and were killed instantly. The text says they “offered profane fire before the Lord.” In the book of Acts, Ananias and Sapphira lied to Peter about their offering and dropped dead. In 1 Corinthians 11, Paul said some believers had died prematurely because they failed to take seriously Christ’s sacrifice. Jesus Himself called us hypocrites when we fail to examine our own lives instead of pointing out the wrongs in everyone else’s. Continue reading →
When do we need the Gospel? Is it a one-time thing? Does it have anything to do with our ongoing walk with God? Could focusing on it help us love God more? A better question might be, “How often do I sin and fall short of God’s standard?” For me, that’s every day and I’ve come to understand that’s how often I need to preach the gospel to myself. And as we learn to focus on it and preach it to ourselves, the result is transformative. Continue reading →
Hypocrites! Jesus rebuked the religious leaders with that accusation. Hypocrisy isn’t as obvious as it might seem. These leaders certainly didn’t see themselves that way. Even if our intentions are good, could we be guilty of hypocrisy, too? And what about our parenting? Is the goal to have well-behaved children and, if so, could we be in danger of raising little hypocrites? How does understanding the deeper issues help us avoid this dangerous trap and help us point our children to a genuine relationship with Christ? Continue reading →
How are you at defending the faith and what you say you believe? Do you ever pretend you’re not a believer because it’s inconvenient or embarrassing? Have you ever said my faith is a “personal thing” when you had an opportunity to “give a reason for the hope that is in you” (1 Pet. 3.15)? Do you ever hold back when it would mean taking a stand or speaking up? I don’t want to believe I would even deny being a Christian, but I know there have been times when I have kept quiet when I should have shared my faith and times when I was too busy with my own agenda to see an open door. How about you? Continue reading →
Are you offering your best to God? Or does He get the leftovers? What do you offer in the way of worship? Do you ever feel like you have little to offer Him?
And what about how we live? Do we live worthy of the sacrifice Christ made for us? I’ve included a clip from the movie Saving Private Ryan that always serves to remind me of that question. Continue reading →
What is biblical love? Is it what greeting card writers or Hollywood movie producers want us to believe? Is it some irresistible attraction? Is it something we fall into and out of? Are we just victims of Cupid’s arrows?
The Bible offers us a very practical picture of love as God intended it. How would you rate yourself on God’s scale? Continue reading →
“Mirror, mirror …” How many times a day do you look in the mirror? What do you think about more often: how you look to others or how you look to God? Do you spend more time looking at yourself, your life, your world or are you looking intently at God and His Word? Continue reading →