Bible reading for Mar 30 -- Leviticus 1; John 20
"And the priest shall burn it on the altar, on the wood that is on the fire. It is a burnt offering, a food offering with a pleasing aroma to the LORD." (Leviticus 1:17)
It is common for people who decide to read the entire Bible to begin in Genesis, make it successfully through Exodus, and then collapse and die in the book of Leviticus. Many do not make it beyond that point! Leviticus is as inspired as every other portion of the Bible (2 Tim 3:16) but it may not be as immediately relevant to a modern reader. In fact it may seem very strange -- it's a book about sacrifices and offerings. Following the giving of the Law and the building of the Tabernacle in Exodus this is the instruction manual for the Israelite priests (descendants of Aaron) on the sacrificial offerings in worship. There are a lot of details, and blood. These sacrifices would take place during the millennium and a half of Israel's history that the Tabernacle, and later the Temple in Jerusalem, existed.
In reading Leviticus, do not get lost in the details! Main themes: God is holy and people are not. The process of making us right with God is costly: the best is given, blood is shed, and precious life is lost or burnt up on the altar. In this stage of God's revelation to mankind, such sacrifices existed to point ahead to something else (read Hebrews 9 and 10). Deep down inside people know that they have failed God their Creator, that they have broken his good law, and that they owe him even their lives for their guilt. Those sacrifices were temporary substitutes. They covered sin but did not take it away (John 1:29).
Another theme is that God's people are to be distinct and separate from the idolatrous nations: "For I am the LORD who brought you up out of the land of Egypt to be your God. You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy" (Lev 11:45). In Leviticus there will be dietary laws, laws regarding seed sowing and clothing, ceremonies for cleansing, and laws for sexual purity. There will also be sacrifices, for example, of grain and wine, which were offerings given as thanksgiving to God and were to be shared joyfully with others in celebration of healing, forgiveness, cleansing, or answered prayer.
Don't get lost! Stay with your reading plan!
"Then he said to Thomas, 'Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.' Thomas answered him, 'My Lord and my God!'" (John 20:27-28)
I love reading the resurrection accounts of Jesus! And the stories given in the Gospel of John are especially winsome to me. The folded face cloth (20:7; see "A Small Detail"). The two angels seated where they were (see my comments on March 16 and 26). Mary thinking Jesus was the gardener, but then she hears her name spoken..."Mary"! It was the same beloved voice she had heard so many times before! These are such beautiful stories.
The Apostle Thomas seemed to be a bit of a pessimistic person (Jn 11:16). Like the other disciples he was confused as to what the relationship was between Jesus, the Father, and the way to the Father's house, or heaven (14:5). So, after the first reports of Jesus being risen, Thomas said, "Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe" (20:25). When Christ appears -- and it was no matter to him that the doors were locked -- he does not chide Thomas but invites him, "Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe" (20:27). Thomas did believe, and his response was immediate. It all came together. His words, "My Lord and my God!" show that he suddenly realized that he was looking at, and touching, the embodiment of God in human nature (Jn 1:14, 18; 8:58; 14:9). And it is amazing that for all of eternity in the new heavens and new earth, we will forever be able to see and touch those beautiful wounds of our Lord...
"Crown Him the Lord of Love:
Behold His hands and side;
Rich wounds yet visible above
In beauty glorified"
--Matthew Bridges (1800-1894)
"Crown Him with Many Crowns"
Image credit: photo above by Jordan Wozniak on Unsplash.
We are following the Robert Murray M'Cheyne (RMM) two-year reading schedule, as arranged by D. A. Carson.
Scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.