Bible reading for April 8 -- Leviticus 11-12; Psalms 13-14.
"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." This is the law about beast and bird and every living creature that moves through the waters and every creature that swarms on the ground, to make a distinction between the unclean and the clean and between the living creature that may be eaten and the living creature that may not be eaten." (Leviticus 11:45-47)
The God who divides. The word for "make a distinction" (badal, v. 47), first appears in the creation account (Gen 1:4) where God separates light from darkness. Later he separates (same word) the people of Israel for himself and his purposes (Lev 20:24). The tabernacle veil divides the holy place from the most holy place. Isaiah tells us that sin separates [badal] us from God (Isa 59:2). This is a biblical theme: our God is a God who makes distinctions, who separates people and things for himself, and who guides his people to separate themselves from sin and uncleanness. They are to live differently. This is related to discernment, that is, in our thinking to be able to separate good from bad.
Now this may be misapplied by some people to justify kinds of discrimination or exclusion which are unjust. But the Bible is clear that our God is not a God who embraces everything or who makes no distinctions in value. Even the decision to follow Christ will inevitably bring about divisions (Matt 10:34-36). As Christians we are called to be separate from the world in its evil practices (2 Cor 6:14-18; 1 Pet 1:14-16; cf Ps 1). In our thinking and judgments we are to be aware of the distinctions that God makes about good and evil. We are to be "...those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil" (Heb 5:14).
Ritual and dietary purity. These two chapters, it should be noted, are about Jewish ritual purity which were part of the Mosaic Covenant. These practices were not moral absolutes in themselves. All of the dietary and cleansing rituals had one (or perhaps both) of these two purposes: a) pedagogical, that is, a teaching aid that reinforced Israel's separated identity every time they ate, sowed seed, prepared food, made clothes, etc. And b) the health benefits of those practices for that time and age. The NT is clear that this part of the Mosaic law is not binding upon a Christian (Mark 7:18-23; Acts 10:15; 15:20; Rom 14; 1 Tim 4:3-4). But the principle of being separated and holy to the Lord is.
Are you and I growing in discernment? Is our lifestyle -- its thoughts, values, morals, enjoyments, priorities -- different from those who do not know and trust God?
"Consider and answer me, O LORD my God; light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death..." (Psalm 13:3)
Psalm 13 is a wonderful example and outline of how we can call upon the Lord in our sorrow. We express to him how it is that we feel (v. 1-2). We pray and ask for his intervention (v. 3-4). [I love that phrase: "light up my eyes"!] And we conclude by affirming our trust in his unfailing love (v. 5-6). That is also a good time to recount to the Lord and to yourself of the many bountiful ways God has already dealt with you (v. 6).
In Psalm 14 David describes the heart of those who reject God and attack God's people: "Have they no knowledge, all the evildoers who eat up my people as they eat bread and do not call upon the LORD?" (14:4). This psalm is cited by the Apostle Paul in describing our -- our, as in all of us -- sinful human hearts apart from God (Rom 3:11-12). But King David sees and feels the horror of this played out against the humble and the poor of his kingdom.
The Psalms are meant to be felt and prayed, as well as studied and understood. John Calvin described the Psalms this way: "'An Anatomy of all the Parts of the Soul;’ for there is not an emotion of which any one can be conscious that is not here represented as in a mirror. Or rather, the Holy Spirit has here drawn to the life all the griefs, sorrows, fears, doubts, hopes, cares, perplexities, in short, all the distracting emotions with which the minds of men are wont to be agitated.” (Commentary on the Book of Psalms)
Image credit: photo above by Fredrik Öhlander 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.