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Thursday, February 25, 2016

Hostile Environment

The Creation Era chronicles man’s choice to follow his senses instead of adhering to God’s Word:
  • Adam and Eve choose tasty fruit over walking with God. God comes after the rebellious pair. He covers their nakedness and promises to redeem them.
  • The entire world, save Noah and his family, prefer to live according to their fleshly appetites, marry as they please, and live corrupt lives. They refuse to respond to 100 years of Noah’s sermons of coming judgment and perish in the flood.

The Patriarchal Era captures the lives of four men as they struggle to live by faith in a world blind to its Creator. 
  • God conforms an idolater into a prophet and a man of faith (Abraham). 
  • He provides a wife for a bachelor and gives him twin sons (Isaac). 
  • He wrestles with a schemer and bends his will to His (Jacob). 
  • He sends a savior ahead into Egypt to sustain His budding nation during a world-wide famine (Joseph). 
The Exodus Era details the LORD’s rescue of a stubborn people from slavery and their journey into the wilderness where He meets their every need. He gives them good laws, gracious provision, His glorious presence, and mighty protection as He guides them from Egypt to the Promised Land.
Such a rich heritage with a God who is good, patient, and merciful. And they are hostile toward God? 
God makes to this rebellious people a scandalous promise, “I will put my dwelling place among you,and I will not abhor you. I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be my people” (Leviticus 26:11). His manifest presence is contingent upon their obedience to Him. 
The Lord warns Israel that their continued disobedience and hostility toward Him will provoke Him to respond to them with hostility, “If in spite of these things [sudden terror, wasting diseases, poor harvests due to drought and famine] you do not accept my correction but will continue to be hostile toward me, I myself will be hostile toward you” (Leviticus 26:23-24a). 
The blessings that He promises in Leviticus 26:1-13 communicate His desire to lavish good upon His people. God, by His very nature, isn’t hostile; He is so pure, however, that He cannot tolerate rebellion in His presence. He simply responds to the continued hostility of His people.
Solomon comments on the hostility of man toward God, “The foolishness of a man twists his way, and his heart frets against the Lord” (Proverbs 19:3, NJKV). Rebellion causes people to brood and become hostile toward God instead of coming clean before the Lord. God’s people must guard against a heart of foolish rebellion.

Older Post
"If you follow my decrees and are careful to obey my commands, I will send you rain in its season and the ground will yield its crops and the trees of the field their fruit."  "But if you will not listen to me and carry out all these commands, and if you reject my decrees and abhor my laws and fail to carry out all my commands and so violate my covenant, then I will do this to you . . .." (Leviticus 26:3-4,14-16a)

Congratulations! You've made it through the book of Leviticus. Leviticus reveals the holiness of God. And, because humanity is self-destructive, it reveals the need for boundaries and regulations. It is simple, really. 

“If you follow My decrees, I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be My people. But if you will not listen to Me, I will bring upon you sudden terror.” God clearly describes the blessings of obedience and the consequences of disobedience. 

The temptation to see these regulations merely as a legalistic set of rules misses the point entirely. Leviticus makes believers aware of the awesome holiness of God and the high cost of sin. The writer of Hebrews says that every transgression receives a just penalty (Hebrews 2:2). Because of this just penalty, honest believers see from Leviticus that they would soon go broke buying rams, lambs, and doves to make atonement for sin. 

The great blessing of the Gospel is that acceptance before God is not based upon the continual offering of my sacrifices or my continual attempts at perfect obedience. Rather, it is based entirely upon the finished work of Christ (the once-for-all payment for sin). His righteousness grants me standing before a Holy God and frees me from slavish obedience to the minutia of rule-keeping. In Christ, I enjoy the blessings; apart from Him, the curse would rest on my head (John 3:36). 

While believers may not experience the ultimate of separation from God, those who walk contrary to Christ's clear leading will experience the fruit of disobedience in this life. Those who abide with Him enjoy the blessing of His presence, His peace, and His power on their lives.

Questions for today's Chronological Bible reading:
Leviticus 26:1-27:34
  • What does God promise to those who obey Him?
  • What does He promise to those who will not listen and obey God?
  • What makes a man/woman hostile toward God?
  • How are those who are disobedient described?
  • Why does God not allow the firstborn of animal be offered to the Lord?
  • What does it cost a man to redeem items dedicated to the Lord?
Turning truth into prayer:
Thank the Lord that the curse of sin and its just penalty are borne by Christ so that I may experience His blessing.