Bible reading for April 6 -- Leviticus 9; Psalm 10.
"And fire came out from before the LORD and consumed the burnt offering and the pieces of fat on the altar, and when all the people saw it, they shouted and fell on their faces." (Leviticus 9:24)
Good news, bad news (Lev 9 & 10). As is the case throughout biblical history a high point is followed by a low point, or vice versa. Aaron and his sons are anointed priests and begin service in the tabernacle (Lev 9). God's glory comes and fills the tabernacle and consumes the sacrifices. It's a high point and great beginning! But soon (not necessarily immediately after that day) two of Aaron's sons attempt to bring incense and worship in a different manner (Lev 10). They are consumed by God's fire of judgment where they stood. It was a tragic day. A very big lesson was, "You are to distinguish between the holy and the common, and between the unclean and the clean..." (Lev 10:10) There is a right way to approach God, and there are other ways, which are not ways to life: "There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death" (Prov 14:12).
"Why, O LORD, do you stand afar off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?" (Psalm 10:1)
When I look at news from around the world and read about the persecution of Christians (usually not covered in the main U.S. media outlets), I resonate with this question, "why, O Lord..." Believers are cruelly treated in so many places. Children kidnapped in Nigeria. Church worship services shot up by thugs. Christian families in North Korean prisons for years and years. Why does it happen with such severity? Why does it go on for so long? Where is the vindication of God's justice?
The silence of God grieves David. He describes the violence and brutality of people who terrorize others and yet think God will never hold them accountable (10:2-13). Psalm 10 is one of the OT passages Paul cites in describing fallen human nature (10:7 => Rom 3:14). Note, describing all humans to some degree. I confess that at one time I felt malice toward God's people and toward those I thought simpler and weaker than me. I may not have acted out in violence, but the same proud, hateful disease infected my own heart. And yet, in God's mysterious timing I was shown mercy and grace, rather than judgment. I became a believer in the things I once scorned (1 Tim 1:13).
At the end of the psalm, David says of God, "But you do see..." (10:14). The Lord does see, and he hears, and helps, and strengthens the afflicted, and will take action on behalf of the oppressed (10:14-18). And so we pray with David: "Arise, O LORD; O God, lift up your hand; forget not the afflicted" (10:12). I pray that God in his mercy would turn the hearts of persecutors to the Lord, to repentance. And if not, I pray the Lord would destroy them. But we await God's timing and judgment. We believe that there is coming a time when "...man who is of the earth may strike terror no more" (10:18).
Amen, come, Lord Jesus!
Image credit: photo by Ricardo Gomez Angel 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.
The NET Bible is a free online resource of Bible.org.