Today, some couple thousand plus years ago, a man who was falsely accused, beaten beyond recognition, and then hung on a cross to die lay buried in a borrowed tomb. Those who loved Him mourned. Those who hated Him celebrated. Those who didn’t know Him went home and back to life as usual. Death’s sting and life’s apathy continued on. However, this was no ordinary man laying buried in that borrowed tomb.
Today, in 2021, I look back not on a man buried in a tomb, but on a Risen Savior. I look back on a Man who is alive and eternal. I look back on the Son of Man and the Son of God who is interceding before the throne of our Most High Creator God, on my behalf, and all who call upon His name for salvation,
This morning because of the God-Man who was willing to endure the cross for the joy set before Him I am able to sit before my Creator and meet with Him right here in my home office. I am able to come before His throne and worship Him without fear of not doing it right or not being good enough. I am able to go boldly and confidently to His throne because this Man, my Jesus, made the way and He goes with me.
Sometimes I come and I have nothing to say. I just come and sit and open His Word and I seek His face. I come just to be still and let Him settle my mind and give me hope and strength for whatever the unknown day might bring. I come just to be in His presence and I wait for Him to speak. Jesus made this possible.
Jesus made the way for me to be able to come to my Father who art in Heaven in all the hallowedness of His name. Jesus even made it possible for me to be filled with His Spirit, who has all the words to use so I don’t have to know what to say. I just get to come. I get to just show up and be there. No performance, no conversation necessary, just presence in the Presence.
This morning I came to my place to sit with my God and I turned to Psalm 43 to read and as I did my Jesus took me back to His cross. He took me back that day when all hell truly did break loose, but He won anyway. I hadn’t expected to see the cross in Psalm 43 this morning, but He opened my heart to see Him there and He brought me to worship.
Psalm 43:1 – 2 begins with, “Vindicate me, O God, and plead my case against an ungodly nation; O deliver me from the deceitful and unjust man! For You are the God of my strength; why have You rejected me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?”
I read these two verses and I saw the garden of Gethsemane. I saw the night that Jesus endured as He was betrayed, beaten, and mocked. I see Him on the cross as He cried out to His Father, “Why have You forsaken Me?” It’s amazing how, even though the entire time Jesus knew why He had come to this earth, but there in the reality of the pain and hurt, He had forgotten and He just felt so very alone.
Let this teach us to not question the faith of those who are in the midst of deep pain and sorrow, but instead just weep with them. Let this teach us that it is okay to feel forgotten and alone. It’s okay to cry out to a God that sometimes feels so very far away and silent. It’s okay to recognize that sometimes humanity sucks.
Then we come to Psalm 43:3-4 and read, “O send out Your light and Your truth, let them lead me; let them bring me to Your holy hill and to Your dwelling places. Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy; and upon the lyre I shall praise You, O God, my God.“
Once again Jesus took me to His cross. He grabbed my heart and hand and said, “Come.” His Word is His light. His Word is His truth. If we follow His light and truth it will bring us to His cross. This cross that once was a place of deep pain and sorrow now a holy hill of salvation. It now stands as a doorway to His dwelling. It now is the path to the Father’s house. The cross makes the way to the altar as His death tore the veil in two and brought the dividing wall crumbling down to the ground.
On the way to the cross as I face all the reality of sin and wickedness, not just in this world, but in my own heart, I come to the cross. I come to His cross and if I let His light and His truth lead me on to that cross and I am willing to face the terror of it, if I am willing to face that He was on that cross not because of a Roman leader or Pharisee, but because of me, I will always find myself in praise before the altar of God. The terror of facing the truth becomes my exceeding joy as I experience the grace and mercy of God through the finished work of His Son.
Coming to that holy hill, whether I come crying out because of the oppression and wickedness of others or because of my own failings and sin, the end result remains the same as waves of mercy and oceans of grace are poured out from the throne of a God who is Love. What I have learned is that when I am led to the cross, I then am turned to that borrowed tomb. To me, the tomb recognizes the seemingly silence and inactivity of a God that I thought would never not be there in the way I wanted Him to be. The tomb represents all the doubt in the moment of pain and confusion, the silence of God and the momentary victory of evil. But we can’t stay at that cross or that borrowed tomb. Both are empty. He is not there. He has risen, just as He said.
So we come to Psalm 43: 5 and read, “Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why are you disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God.”
Here we come to the reminder that the cross and the tomb are empty. Here in this final verse of Psalm 43 is where we get up, knock the dust off, and lift our eyes. Here is where we take another step forward in faith. Here is where we remember that Jesus said, “In this world you will have tribulation, but take courage, I have overcome the world.” And He proved it. He defeated death and the grave. Here is where we can know that it doesn’t matter how much humanity sucks, Jesus has us. Whatever it is, it’s not the end. The end is yet to come. In the end Jesus always wins.
So this morning I came with nothing to say. I opened up His Word, His light and His truth and He led back to His holy hill. He led me to the cross, to the borrowed tomb, but He didn’t leave me there. He led me to His resurrection. He left me at HOPE. He always does. He is our hope and our help. He is our God.
I didn’t want to open this, https://mailchi.mp/rzim/2021-report-rzim?e=2f5e7a883d, because I was already pretty sure of what it would say: allegations confirmed. Some ask, what is the point of bringing all this out since Ravi is dead and cannot defend himself? When the real question is, how can we allow one man to hold so much untouchable power that these women had to wait until his death to finally be heard or to even feel safe enough to speak?
These allegations needed to be investigated and the results needed to be shared because though Ravi is dead, his victims are not. They needed to be heard because Ravi is not the only man to use “Christian fame” as his cover to deceive and abuse. That “fame” doesn’t have to be world renowned, it’s enough to keep women and children silent and shamed when it is the “fame” found in a one room church in the smallest town.
As my husband has spoken with our daughters concerning these matters of “grooming” by men his words to them have always been, “I will always believe YOU.” I am thankful my girls have been raised by a man who has not dismissed them when someone has made them feel uncomfortable. He has taught them to speak up and speak out no matter who it is and assures them that he has their backs always.
For me the bottom line remains that Ravi was able to live this double life because others in leadership wanted his admiration, respect, and approval more than they wanted that of the Lord. They feared Ravi’s disapproval and disappointment more than they feared the Lord. They were more enamored with him than they were with Jesus. They cared more about their own name and the name of their organization than they did about the name of Jesus. Those who saw red flags dismissed them and excused them not for the sake of the gospel, but for themselves.
This is both devastating and not surprising to me and that in itself is just plain sad. Since 2012 my eyes have been opened to so much and it hurts. However, I prefer to hurt and see than to be painless and deceived. I am simply just not as naive as I used to be and I have learned to recognize the signs and verbiage of redirection, dismissal, and placating quite quickly.
It doesn’t take me long anymore to recognize those in leadership that had rather allow abuse to continue in their church than have to actually deal with it. They just choose to sit back and hope that the issue will move on to another church and simply breathe a sigh of blessed relief when it does. They seem to convince themselves that God has removed the problem for them so now they can just act as though nothing ever happened. The abusers move on to abuse again and the victims are expected to forgive and forget.
When does it stop?
Even now as I read the comments and responses to the investigation report I see excuses, so many excuses. I see so many dismissals of the gravity of Ravi’s actions. Not only has he hurt the witness of the Church and the name of Christ, but he has broken the heart of his family. His wife and his children and his grandchildren have had their world’s shattered. This didn’t have to be so public. If someone would have held him accountable when he first started to walk in deception, if someone would have pushed passed the anger and threats, if someone would have just believed the women. If the women could have had the security that they would have been believed.
I was so excited to hear him speak at Passion with my two youngest daughters. I had looked forward to an opportunity to sit under his teaching in person for years. When I did, I noticed that something was off. He was not teaching from time in the Word and personal conviction, but was only repeating pieces of messages that he had shared many times before. I told my girls after he spoke that he must not be feeling well, because he seemed very distracted and disconnected. It was not long after Passion that the news came of his cancer. Having experienced the pain of cancer in my loved ones up close and personal, I thought this was my answer for what I was seeing at Passion. It never occurred to me that the reality was what we are reading now.
I heard him speak once in person from a stage and I had red flags. How did the people working with him and traveling with him not see these?
It is not fun coming before leadership and asking for answers. It is hard. It is hard because more times than not you will be dismissed, placated, and bombarded with excuses and justifications and sometimes even personally attacked, but come forward anyway. Speak up anyway. At least then you can walk away knowing you did something, you tried, you made your voice heard. I promise you that chances are very high that you are not alone and you are not the only one who sees, but somebody has to have the courage to say enough is enough. Someone has to refuse to not act like everything is okay.
And if you need someone to go with you. I’m here. I’ll go. I’ll stand with you.
As I prayed about what study I should begin 2021 with, the Lord placed the book of Galatians on my heart. Monday through Friday I will post study helps on my Proven Path IG (https://www.instagram.com/proven.path/) and FB (https://www.facebook.com/ProvenPath) if you would like to follow along. Then on Sundays I will post a video follow up from the week’s study and just share a little bit of what God taught me.
I am currently walking through the book of 1 John. My opportunity to write is slim in this season of my life… but I am recording video lessons. I will be adding them here in this post as I record them for anyone who would like to study along with me.
“So it shall be when he becomes guilty in one of these, that he shall confess that in which he has sinned.”
Some of my favorite gleanings from the Word of God is the clear picture of the unchanging character of mankind. What we struggle with today is that which we struggled with yesterday. The result of sin and the way it manifests itself in us has not changed at its root. This is why the Scriptures never lose their relevance. In this chapter we see the sin of withholding information, the sin of touching something unclean, the sin of speaking thoughtlessly, and the sin of mishandling the Lord’s holy things. The guilt offerings covered in Leviticus chapter five also required more than just the blood of the animal sacrifice. These offerings required a verbal confession as well as restitution to be made to the one the offense was against.
Leviticus chapter five begins with the sin of someone not testifying as a witness when they had testimony concerning a case. The Lord points out to us that this is a matter of guilt even if we didn’t realize we had testimony concerning a case until after the trial began or even years after it ended. The moment we realize we have testimony concerning a situation we are guilty of not speaking out and our guilt remains until we make what we know known. In the Jewish Study Bible, Baruch J. Schwartz shares in the commentary that the guilt offerings in Leviticus chapter five “aim to counter the notion that duties weaken with time and eventually cease to exist.” He goes on to say that, “the opposite is the case: severity of negligence whether physical impurity or of moral or legal obligation, intensifies the longer it lasts.”
We live in the day of the NDA, the non disclosure agreement. According to nondisclosureagreement.com, “Non-disclosure agreements are legal contracts that prohibit someone from sharing information deemed confidential. The confidential information is defined in the agreement which includes, but not limited to, proprietary information, trade secrets, and any other details which may include personal information or events.” We can sign all the legal agreements we want here on this earth, but it will not hold in heaven. If we have testimony that is truth that alters the judgment concerning a case of any kind we are obligated to the One who judges all to speak up and speak out. We are accountable and there is no time limitation on accountability to our Everlasting Father the Eternal God.
We live in a day when people swear thoughtlessly with their lips and speak thoughtlessly with promises they never intended to keep. This sin is intensified because today that thoughtless speech is typed out and posted on a world wide web that literally travels the globe. Once that click is made to share that careless and thoughtless word, there is no way for the one who spoke it to take it back. Whether it was a promise to do good or a threat to do evil we can’t erase it today, even if we realized we were the ignorant ones when we spoke it. In this day of social media, when we become aware of new facts and discover our wrong, we can’t fix it with a simple apology. We can try, but we cannot trace and erase how far thoughtless speech spreads.
Moving on to touching that which is unclean, we as Christians could brush right on past this one as we are not bound by these particular laws concerning carcasses, or we can take Leviticus 5:2 and see it from a relevant perspective. A carcass is a dead thing. In Ephesians 2:1-2 we read, “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.” In Hebrews 6:1-2 we read, “Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of instruction about washings and laying on of hands, and the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment.” In Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary he writes concerning Leviticus 5:2 and says, “Though his touching the unclean thing only made him ceremonially defiled, yet neglecting to wash himself according to the law, was either carelessness or contempt, and contracted moral guilt. As soon as God, by his Spirit, convinces our consciences of any sin or duty, we must follow the conviction, as not ashamed to own our former mistake.”
In 1 Peter 1:14 we are encouraged, “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance.” Our God makes concessions for the fact that we are flesh. He gives us room to fail out of our ignorance, but our ignorance is not an excuse to remain in that failure once the truth has been made known to us. Sometimes we just do not realize that we have been hanging around dead things. Sometimes we don’t recognize our dead works for what they are, but once we do He gives grace to forgive us our sin and He also gives grace that we might repent and take action to make restitution for the damage our ignorance caused us and those around us.
Our God even gives us grace when it is His holy things that we have damaged. In Leviticus 5:15-16 we read, “If a person acts unfaithfully and sins unintentionally against the Lord’s holy things, then he shall bring his guilt offering to the Lord: a ram without defect from the flock, according to your valuation in silver by shekels, in terms of the shekel of the sanctuary, for a guilt offering. He shall make restitution for that which he has sinned against the holy thing, and shall add to it a fifth part of it and give it to the priest. The priest shall then make atonement for him with the ram of the guilt offering, and it will be forgiven him.” The phrase “holy things” in this verse is the Hebrew word qodesh and it means apartness or sacredness. The Strong’s Concordance adds that it is a consecrated thing, dedicated thing, hallowed thing, holiness, most holy day, portion, thing, saint.
In 1 Peter 1:15-16 the scriptures go on to say, “but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.’” Then in 2 Peter 2:9-10 we read, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” The holy things of the Lord are not just pieces of furniture and utensils and altars and incense that are found in the temple, they are also the people of God.
We do not have to intentionally hurt someone to be guilty of hurting them. We do not have to intentionally act unfaithfully to be guilty of doing so. Our lack of intent does not make the sin, nor the hurt it possibly caused, any less. Leviticus 5:17 reminds us that the guilt is there even if we are unaware of our sin. Therefore the moment we become aware we have a choice, we can humble ourselves, repent, and follow through with confession and restitution or we can allow our pride to keep us in our guilt. In our guilt we remain unforgiven and separated from the Lord, our sin unatoned for, and as a result the consequences of our actions continue to ripple through our life affecting not just us, but everything and everyone around us.
In Matthew 5:22-24 Jesus taught, “But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell. Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.” The Lord has made it so easy for us to make it right. In James 5:16 we read, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed.” Then in 1 John 1:9 we are told, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” There is no reason, no excuse, to walk around guilty before the Lord and guilty before one another when our God has made the way for us to be forgiven and reconciled.
It is so hard sometimes to admit that we have hurt someone by our silence. It’s hard sometimes to admit that we have sinned against someone by our words, especially if it was unintentional. It is hard sometimes to admit that we have been hanging around and messing around and wasting time with dead things. It is hard sometimes to admit that we are guilty of mishandling Your holy things. It’s hard, but if we are ever to be who You have called us to be we must be willing to admit it, confess it, and carry out the action needed to address it and make restitution for it. Oh Father, might we be bold and courageous enough to face ourselves so that we can face You. My Jesus, I know that I have been guilty and I know that as I grow and mature in You that You are going to open my eyes to more and more of my actions and words that have sinned against you against others so that I, as well as those affected by my words and actions, can be set free and forgiven. Give me the strength and the confidence to see the truth You reveal to me and the heart to follow through in the power of Your Spirit.
My Jesus, I love you and it’s in Your name I pray,
Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth. (Genesis 1:26-28)
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. (John 1:1-4)
The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things; and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His children.’ (Acts 17:24-28)
I read a twitter post earlier this morning that said, “racism isn’t worse today, it’s just finally being recorded.”
In the movie Hidden Figures there is a scene that displays where I feel that many, if not most, white Americans, if they will admit it, may find themselves.
I think many really believe we are not racist or prejudiced. I think that many believe that because we agree that slavery was wrong and incredibly unjust and we have a great respect for Dr Martin Luther King Jr and we cringe when we watch movies like “Mississippi Burning” and “A Time To Kill” that we are truly not racist. Yet, how many of us have never had a person of color in our home or been in the home of a person of color or built any type of friendship or relationship with anyone outside of our own race, nor have encouraged our children to do so.
When our youngest was six years old we were watching “The Help” at my Mother-in-Law’s on New Years Day and I recorded this conversation in a blog post:
Her first question came.
“Momma why can’t she go to the bathroom?”
So the explanation of the civil rights movement began and as I spoke my child’s beautiful innocent eyes looked at me with utter befuddled confusion. The fact that someone could be treated so horrible simply because of the color of her skin was completely foreign and insane to her. Proof that racism is taught, not natural.
Her next question came.
“But why Momma?”
My only answer.
“Foolish ignorance and human self-righteousness”
Racism is not just taught by our words, it is more so taught by our actions and often by our silence. I am white. My family is white. Yet, I grew up in and out of homes of black families that I considered family. They impacted my life and I loved them and I felt loved by them. I loved the color of their skin. I was jealous of it. Shoot, I still am! I always thought black is beautiful, I had to come to learn that so is this light skinned, freckled faced, red head.
To say that racism is not real is to lie to ourselves. So many of us live with this deep ingrained fear that has been planted as a seed inside of us and we don’t think it is there, until we find ourselves in a situation that causes it to sprout and reveal its presence. Then, boom, there it is. We didn’t think we were racist, until our child wanted to date that child of a different race. We didn’t think we were racist until we find ourselves lost and in that neighborhood after dark. The problem is, I believe, too often most of us justify it, excuse it, and brush it away when it shows up and so that seed sprout of fear remains and continues to dig its roots in us and it bears fruit subconsciously in ways that passes on from generation to generation. There has to be a generation that chooses to not justify, excuse, or brush away but instead chooses to face it, deal with it, and pull it out by its root.
Will this generation be the one?
My favorite part about serving on staff with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes is that we are multi cultural, non denominational, and it doesn’t matter if you are male or female, you get to have a voice in the service of the Lord. However, in order for us to do this we have to be purposeful. We have to intentionally and purposely pursue this unity and truth because the reality is seen on our school campuses. If we are not intentional our campus ministries divide. We can walk in a school huddle and will see the black students on one side, the hispanic students on another side, and the white students on another. We have to be intentional to start the campus ministry time with a game that forces the kids to get up, mix up, and communicate with one another. Once this happens the entire atmosphere of the room changes, and it’s a good thing.
If we want to see our world change we have to be intentional and purposeful and church it SHOULD start with us. We have to choose to get out of our bubble. Please get out of your bubble. I understand we are in quarantine right now and social distancing is a thing, but make plans now that when we can meet again to open your doors. That person that’s not your color, that’s not your race, that you are just acquaintances, or co-workers, or teammates with, invite them over. Get to know them. Get to know them so that one day you can have real and open conversations together about seeds of fear in your heart that you didn’t even realize they were there until they were.
I may not be able to change the world, but I can change me. I can change my family. I can work on the hearts of my kids and those in my area of influence. I may not have a voice that carries around the globe becoming viral on social media, but I do have a voice that can carry around my dining room table. I do have a voice that can be heard in my Sunday School room. I do have a voice that can be heard in my church. I do have a voice that can be heard in my classroom, at my lunchroom table, in the bleachers of my gym. I will be accountable to the God who gave it to me as to how and if I use it.
“For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Jesus, Matthew 12:37)
I began this post with Scripture. I began this way because I believe all the answers we need for life are right there in black and white. The Word of God, rightly used, will unite. The Word of God, rightly used, will teach us to love. The Word of God, rightly used, will conform us into the image of Christ and make us one… if we will let it.
In one of our FCA Coaches Events we had a counselor come and share about anxiety and how our coaches could help their athletes who struggled with it. The counselor shared the importance of not dismissing the emotions and feelings that the athletes were experiencing, but instead to acknowledge them. It is in the acknowledging not the dismissing that the one experiencing is able to be moved and settled and the reality of the situation is able to be changed. Validation of feelings allows us to be freed from them. If we are ever to change what we see going on in our nation concerning race, we have to be willing to validate the feelings of one another not dismiss or worse, belittle them. We have to be willing to listen. We have to be willing to hear. And for the love of God we HAVE to be willing to speak.
“Now if the whole congregation of Israel commits error and the matter escapes the notice of the assembly, and they commit any of the things which the Lord has commanded not to be done, and they become guilty;”
We usually want to point our fingers at others and disassociate ourselves from those we believe are committing acts of sin. In the United States we divide ourselves up in the us and them categories whether it be in politics or religion or lack thereof. We pick sides and we want only our perceived guilty side to take the blame and rarely does anyone in authority step up and choose to take responsibility for the choices of those living under their authority.
In 2020, here in the US, we have the Baby Boomers versus the Millennials with the Generation Z coming up quickly behind them. We have the Baby Boomers being blamed for criticizing and demeaning the Millennials for all that is going wrong in the world while the Millennials point the fingers back to the Boomers. What we don’t often see is the Baby Boomers, who are now the “elders” of our families, churches, and even our nation taking responsibility for what is deemed wrong in our homes, in our churches, and in our nation.
In the days of the nation of Israel’s birth when the Lord was giving these instructions for the sin offerings for the people we see that the elders were to take responsibility and action for the sin of the congregation. When it was discovered that the assembly was not walking in accordance with the command of the Lord the elders were not to stand up and point fingers at the people. They were, instead, to take the sin of the congregation upon themselves and bring it before the Lord.
It was the responsibility of the elders to teach the congregation. It was the responsibility of the elders to be the guides and the coaches and the examples to the generations that followed them. If error was found in the congregation it was not automatically assumed that it was rebelliousness of the youth but it was deemed as something unknown now becoming known and it was dealt with according to the law of God.
The sin offering for the unintentional sin of the congregation once again would be the largest and most costly offering, a bull. The blood of the bull would also be taken and placed on the horns of the altar before the Lord which was in the tent of meeting. The blood of this offering would also be sprinkled before the Lord in front of the veil. This offering was as serious as the offering of the priest for it was just as far reaching. The elders took responsibility for the entire congregation’s sin and therefore in their forgiveness the entire congregation was forgiven. This is the grace and mercy of our God at work.
It is possible for an entire nation to be led astray and into wrong thinking and wrong actions by having the wrong perspective due to the lack of instruction of a few. Elders assuming something should be known and therefore not purposely teaching it snowballs into a generation being completely ignorant of those particular things. This ignorance leads to error and sometimes it takes a while for that error to become known.
It is also possible for us to be living and teaching error, but be unaware that we are doing so because we cannot see it within ourselves. However, when the fruit of our lives and teaching begins to be manifested through the lives of those who live around us and learn from us, then we can finally see through them that there is error coming from us. The mercy and grace of our God makes a way for us to address this error without it leading to blaming and choosing sides and wrongful prosecutions. The elders simply acknowledge it, own it, bring it before the Lord, and it is forgiven and we change and move on in our forgiveness and knowledge.
When our children were young there were many times and many things that I would see them say and do that I would react to and wonder why in the world they were behaving that way or saying something that way. Then I would hear it or recognize it afterward coming from myself. I had never recognized it in myself before. I had never seen it as erroneous or unkind or even annoying when it came from myself, but when I watched it lived out in them it was different. In those moments I had a choice to make. I could continue to blame and discipline them or I could take personal responsibility. I have learned that taking personal responsibility as “the elder” has never failed to change them as well as me.
In 1 Peter 5:1-5 we read, “Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed, shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
Could it be in the days of the giving of Leviticus that the younger could easily submit to the elder because they knew the elder was taking responsibility for them before God. The elder could in return be humble to the younger because they recognized that the younger simply lived out what they themselves had modeled before them. There was to be no finger pointing or blaming among the people. They were all to know and understand that we all are in need of the mercy and grace of the Lord our God. Here in Leviticus 4:13-21 all pride was laid aside and the elders humbled themselves before the Lord taking responsibility for the sin of the congregation and in this act of obedient faith the entire nation would find forgiveness.
Your grace and mercy is from everlasting to everlasting. As I study through the book of Leviticus I don’t see legalism, I see provision for forgiveness. I see a God who loved us in spite of ourselves and knew how we would fail Him again and again, but made a way for us to have a relationship with Him anyway. I see a Holy God who takes responsibility for His people. I see a Creator who does not point fingers or cast blame, but instead takes the sin of others upon Himself. Jesus, thank You for being the example that we can follow. You look past our ignorance and offer us forgiveness in our repentance. You do not hold our lack of knowledge against us, but meet us where we are and lead us to Yourself. May we in our forgiveness and knowledge of Your truth do likewise for others and lead them to You.
My Jesus, I love You and it is in Your name I pray,
This is a video series of a message that the Lord put on my heart to share with the students, athletes, and coaches that the Lord allowed me to minister too at the beginning of the 2019-2020 school year. These videos cover just a little about God’s Big Love, Big Power, and Big Purpose.
“Every grain offering of yours, moreover, you shall season with salt, so that the salt of the covenant of your God shall not be lacking from your grain offering; with all your offerings you shall offer salt”
The fact that the Lord requires that every grain offering be seasoned with salt is such an interesting concept. It’s one of those verses in Scripture that makes you stop and wonder what in the world is the big deal about salt? The term “covenant of salt” is only used three times in Scripture. We see it here in Leviticus 2:13, then in Numbers 18:19, and finally in 2 Chronicles 13:5. As I pondered the importance of salt and it’s references in Scripture I opened my search to just the word “salt” instead of covenant of salt. I discovered the word “salt” is used forty-one times in the NASB translation of the Bible, and at least fourteen of those occurrences were in reference to a location, the Salt Sea. Therefore, I looked into the Salt Sea.
The Salt Sea is also known as the Dead Sea. This sea was given as a boundary to the land that the Lord promised to Abraham and his descendants and to this very day it remains a west border of the nation of Israel. What I found very interesting about the Salt Sea was that it is currently 430.5 meters (1,410 feet) below sea level. It is the lowest elevation of land on earth. It is actually not a sea at all, but is a lake with the Jordan River its only tributary.
As I pondered these facts the words of Jesus in Matthew 5:13 came to my mind, “You are the salt of the earth.” We often take this verse and its use of salt to say that we, as believers, are to be the purifiers of the earth, but what if we were to take this verse and its use of salt and see it from another perspective. What if we considered the fact that the salt that Jesus most likely would have been referring to would have been coming from the Salt Sea, the lowest point on earth. What if instead of us seeing salt as its purifying agent we saw it for its lowliness? What if we connected this lowliness with humility?
What if the salt of the covenant was to remain humble before our God. To remember that we are low and all that we are and all that we have comes from one source, our Creator, our YHWH, our God. What if every time the Lord refers to salt in the Word we also choose to connect it as a reminder to be humble before Him. Every offering was to be seasoned with salt. Every offering was to be brought before the Lord with humility. “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8)
The physical properties of salt do act as a purifier and as a means to preserve from corruption. The Encyclopedia Britannica also states that “Covenants were ordinarily made over a sacrificial meal, in which salt was a necessary element. The preservative qualities of salt made it a peculiarly fitting symbol of an enduring compact, sealing it with an obligation to fidelity. The word salt thus acquired connotations of high esteem and honour in ancient and modern languages” (https://www.britannica.com/science/salt). Salt was used as a symbol and as a necessity. It is both spiritual and practical. Would not our willing habitual readiness to remain humble before our God keep us from corruption and lead us to maintain the integrity of our lives? Humility is both spiritual and practical.
Let’s consider the words of Jesus in Matthew 5:13 again, “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men.” We are the humble of the earth, but if the humble become full of pride, how can they be made humble again? They are no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men. As believers, we are not to walk around all high and mighty, but we are to remain humble and low so that we can be used by God to lift others up, just as He lifted us up.
Colossians 4:6 teaches us, “Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.” 1 Peter 5:4-7 teaches, “and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.” Let every offering be seasoned with salt. Let every offering be seasoned with humility.
We need not ever forget that we can bow low before our God and lay all things at His feet knowing that our supply for every need flows from Him. This was, after all, the whole point of the gift offerings. They were an opportunity to bring any and every need and all praise and thanks before the Lord. For these offerings to mean anything they have to come in humility. Humility is an attitude of our heart and the Lord sees our hearts. As the Salt Sea is the lowest elevation on earth, we who have been born again, redeemed by the precious blood of Christ, should be the most humbled people on earth, for we know what we have been forgiven and the holiness of the One who has forgiven us.
It is so easy to find ourselves puffing up with pride, even as we appear to be bringing an offering to You. Our lips and actions can claim to honor You while our heart remains far from you. My Jesus, help me to never forget that You are my God. In Isaiah 66:2 You declare, “For My hand made all these things, thus all these things came into being, but to this one I will look, to him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word.” Lord, I know that Your hand has made all things and I do desire to be someone on which You can look. Lord, I so tremble at Your word. May the truth of Your word teach me to be humble and contrite of spirit so that I will not choose my own way, but will walk in Yours.
My Jesus I love you and it is in Your name I pray,