On Display For God

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We start Divine Design at the beginning. Who are we as God’s creation, as women? What was God’s purpose for us?  Well Genesis gives us all the information we need to truly know who we are as men and women of God

Genesis 1:26-27 tells us that God made man in his own image and that he also gave them dominion over the fish of the sea and the birds of the heavens…the lifestock and over all the earth. God gave man dominion over everything. God created man in his own image, in the image of God, he created him!

In the first Chapter of Genesis, God paused before his final and greatest creative act. There was no question in his mind about what he was about to do. He had settled on His plan long before the foundation of the world. It was already in motion.  God had made the galaxies and planets, the sun and the moon had all been formed and aligned. The earth had ripened with life, the ground had sprouted vegetation. The sky, sea and land now teemed with vegetation.

Everything was in place, everything was ready. It all led up to this moment. The moment! The significance of what God was about to do was deeper and more profound than even the angels could fathom. He was about to make man- and to make him male and female

Humans were the only creatures that God created in His Image and after his likeness. This included the ability to think and make moral choices. It means we share his nature. We have personalities, the capacity for creativity, truth, wisdom, love, holiness and justice. We display his image!

So in essence we are on display for God!. Its not about our ability to pretty ourselves up with makeup, be a size 8, dress beautifully or be what others want us to be. God wants us to put him on display, so that everyone who looks at us sees the beauty of HIS IMAGE. That is truly an honor and responsibility to bear the image of God!

So now that you know what God’s ultimate purpose was for us as women…

Do you feel that your womanhood displays God’s glory?

Stephanie,

Additional Reading: Psalm 8:4-6, Colossians 3:10, Ephesians 4:24

 

Day 28: Dare To Seek Another’s Best

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Less of me and more of you  God! We have all prayed this prayer at some point in time. But when God really starts to answer this prayer, it can be trying! Praying for less of me is in essence praying for the stripping of self. The type of stripping that can leave one vulnerable and naked!

A stripping of selfishness seems to hit most in our relationships with other people. God created us for relationship, so it makes sense that he strips us and changes us the most while we are in relationships. It would be easy to follow the way of love, if we lived in a cave by ourself…however the majority of us don’t. We live surrounded by people…people who test our patience daily

People who hurt us, push our buttons…real life…real relationships…real people. We need a real God and the power of his love. We all have people in our lives who don’t like us…some may even hate us. People who feel like we are an enemy…so what are we to do, when we are confronted with those people and their feelings towards us?

Love them…do good to them…bless them. Speak kindly of them and to them. Pray for them. Speak to The Father about them. Give to them, sow seeds of kindness

Today’s Dare: Is there someone in your life who keeps hurting you? What would turning the other cheek look like in that relationship. Today practice speaking kindly and speaking words that will bless others. Pray for those who have hurt you and ask God to bless them. Find something good you can do for someone who hurt you. Imagine the kindness person you know and duplicate that kindness!

Prayer: Lord teach me to live in you in such a way as to lose myself in your love, your way, your life. I desire to follow you, paying attention to your words!

Let the law and love of kindness spring forth today!

Stephanie

 

Day 22: Dare To Practice, Speak and Choose Forgiveness

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Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did  1 John 2:6

Meditate on Psalm 143:3-10, Luke 6:37

Jesus said we are too forgive. Too be honest, it is often hard for me. But God says that if we do not forgive, we will not be forgiven. God was making a very serious point

Forgive in the Greek language is aphiemi , which can be translated as lay aside, forsake,, leave, let alone, omit, yield up, put away

Forgiving does not require forgetting. Just because we abstain from our favorite food for awhile, does not mean that we forget what it taste like. The way it tastes is in our memory, even though we are not currently digesting the food…in the same way an offense will most likely be in our memory, but when we have forgiven or laid it aside, we are not digesting, internalizing or holding tight to the hurt anymore. We are not living in the offense, although we may remember it. We have laid it aside and given it up, because Jesus said this is the way to live.

It takes courage to offer an apology and set things straight on our end. It takes courage to follow Jesus, and forgiveness is an example of courage. It takes courage to let go and trust God!

Today’s Dare: What or who is hanging around in your mind, because you haven’t let it go and turned it over to God. Check your forgiveness, if you need to forgive someone, consider writing a letter or setting up a time to meet with them. Dare to take a step towards forgiveness. Make a decision to quit speaking negatively about the person who hurt you…speak only positively about that person or don’t speak about him or her at all

Prayer: Lord search my heart. Am I holding on to anything or anyone I need to let go of today? I desire truth in the inner parts of me. I want to be obedient and live a life of forgiveness. Show me the practical steps in my own life and situations

Take that step towards forgiving someone today!

Stephanie

Day 16: Dare To Choose Whom You Will Serve and the Direction You Will Take

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Meditate on Romans 8: 28-29, Hebrews 12:1-2, 5-7, 10-13

Sometimes I dare to sing in the midst of my storms! I push myself to be confident enough in Christ’s care and love for me that in midst of trials and tribulations I just start to sing…an old baptist hymn…one from my childhood…one that reminds me that His grace is still sufficient for me!

You see not everything that happens in our life is good, but regardless of what happens, God is still working in it. If we look to him, we will find the strength for the hard times and patience in the daily things and JOY IN ALL THINGS!

Its easy to do right and say we are faith driven, when things are going well. But when someone irks our nerves, our children upset us or our job overwhelms us…do you still find joy in those situations? When bad things happen, everything we believe in is tested. Our surrender to a good God is threatened by the things we cant understand, fix, or control. Yet the nature of surrender is to let go and let God have everything that concerns us. We have to believe at the very core of us, that no matter what we are in God’s hands.

We are halfway through the September Faith Dare and I pray that daily, you have challenged yourself to believe in the bigger picture that God has for you and your life.

The Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness, all of our sufferings, trials, and hardships are working together for our good. All of us have a path, a race and route to get to where God wants us to be. In the moment there maybe pain…but eventually comes the peace

Today’s Dare: Focus your eyes and attention on Jesus and put your trust in him in the midst of pain. Believe that this pain will produce righteousness in your life in practical ways. It is working to make you the person that God wants. Dare to choose the bigger picture. Stay focused on the plan that God has for your life

Prayer: Father, yes I am often weak and emotionally. Change me! Give me the courage to fix my attention on the bigger picture, the greater good and on you Jesus. I want to be conformed to your image. Give me the grace to endure whatever it is that is taking me there!

God is worthy to be praised daily! Have you given him your first fruits this morning?

Stephanie

Day 12: Dare to Believe You are a Great Treasure, of Great Value To God

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Deut 7:6, Psalm 139:14, Isaiah 46:3-4…are the scriptures to study!

We put great value on material things! What we do, what we have, what we accomplish. All of those things are insignificant and shallow. The rich full life that Christ has for us is much more secure than what our world calls riches

God created us, planned for us and ordained our days. He set us apart from birth, carries us through in life and holds us this moment. He will never lay us down, or separate us from his love. He has called us His treasure, his Holy people and the sheep of his pasture. He has called us daughter, friend, bride and beloved! His goodness and love follow us, chase after us and find us again and again. We are not subject to the standards of the world, unless we choose to be. We now live by a different standard, so we must cease comparing ourselves to the standards of the world. We live by a different authority and a higher power!

As long as we continue to search for significance and value in things other than our Creator, we will never be content and always be searching! Although we may find a temporary happiness, scripture teaches us that we come from a place of value and worth! God values those whom He has made! No One can take that value away from us, in spite of what they say or do…no man….no woman!  Sometimes we spend a significant amount of time thinking we are not worthy, we don’t add value to the lives of others and that we ourselves are not significant to God, that is farrrrrrrr from the truth!

The enemy is threatened by us and seeks to destroy us daily, especially when we realize our worth!. When we have full confidence in who we are in God, we become a force to be reckoned with…that is why he brings discouragement across our paths…whether through thoughts of our own or the words of others. Its all for the same purpose …to keep us from accomplishing the greatness God has for us!

God confidence makes us unstoppable! Belive the truth today and not the lies of the enemy!. Your birthdate is the day that greatness was born. Ask God to heal you from any negative messages that have made you feel less than a treasure from God. Your gifts and traits are no mistake. Its time you put them to use and commit yourself to the Kingdom and Gods work!

Say this daily “I am fearfully and wonderfully made. I am Gods!, I am his creation, his treasure. I am his possession!”

And just as you are God’s treasure , so is everyone else! Let someone know how valuable they are in the Kingdom today!

Prayer: Lord help my unbelief! Help me to understand my value in the Kingdom today! Let me walk in the treasure, the beauty of who you have made me to be! Remind me to cast down negative thoughts daily and fill up on the words of you my creator! I’m blessed beyond measure, because I am a daughter of a King! Let me walk in that lineage today!

I love you , my sister, my treasure!

Stephanie

Leviticus 16: The Need For Presentation

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You remember that in the Sermon on the Mount, God said, “I don’t want you to be anxious about what you shall eat or drink or how you are going to be clothed. But,” he says, “the essential thing is: seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness — these necessary things of the spirit,and all these other things will be added unto you…” (Matthew 6:31-33).

A lot of us spend our time and energy thinking about how to get money to provide food and clothing and education and so on, and we have just a little time left over for the essentials. No wonder life goes astray! But  we are called by God to put life back in balance and to give attention to these relationships with one another, to the love and the peace and the joy of our lives, and then these other things will find adequate place without any struggle. They will come not out of any automatic provision, but out of the normal workings of life.

As we have gone through this book together God has taught us, first of all, the need for a substitute. Despite all the  human knowledge we cannot handle life adequately by ourselves. The offerings taught us that. We need a substitute beyond humanity, a divine substitute, one who took our place. And this we find in Jesus Christ. And then, because we don’t understand the mysteries of our existence apart from someone who can explain them and apply them to us, we need a great high priest. That too is met in Christ. Then we need a standard, something to measure life by, to tell us the difference between what will hurt us and what will help us, what will advance us and what will destroy us. We need God’s gracious word to understand what confronts us in life and thus to be able to distinguish between right and wrong and good and evil. That is not easy to do, but God has provided a standard.

In this chapter, we come to what the Jews to this day call Yom Kippur, the great Day of Atonement, the high point of the year in the life of Israel.

You see the ultimate end of God’s work with us is to give us a clear conscience. That is what he is after — a clear conscience — before him and before men. This is what is so beautifully taught us in this passage.

We have seen how God has provided for cleansing from the uprising of leprosy within us. Remember that leprosy is a picture of sin. And we have seen how he has also provided for cleansing from the discharges which come from within. But now he is coming to the delicate matter of how to rid us of that sense of defilement which is on our consciences and which persists even though we know we have been forgiven.

Wow, how many times do we struggle, “I know that God has forgiven me. I know that the Word is true, that he has paid the debt for my sins. And yet I seem to feel so guilty all the time, so haunted, and I feel ashamed to come to God. I feel that I am unworthy.” . This is Satan’s favorite ground of attack upon us. But this is what God is dealing with on the great Day of Atonement. This is the final matter to be settled which would otherwise exclude us from the presence of God.

Notice the provisions that God has made in Chapter 16. Verses 1-2:

The LORD spoke to Moses, after the death of the two sons of Aaron, when they drew near before the LORD and died; and the LORD said to Moses, “Tell Aaron your brother not to come at all times into the holy place within the veil, before the mercy seat which is upon the ark, lest he die; for I will appear in the cloud upon the mercy seat.” (Leviticus 16:1-2 RSV)

No greater privilege was ever given to Aaron the high priest than to be able to come before the very presence of God in the holy of holies as the shining presence of the Shekinah glory of God hung above the mercy seat. And yet God says, “Don’t come at all times. Come only once a year.” That limitation grew out of the fear aroused in the hearts of Aaron and the rest of the priests by the death of Aaron’s two sons. You remember that in an earlier study we had the story of how they had brought “strange fire” before the Lord and thus were suddenly burned up by a flash of flame from the Shekinah glory of God. This had made Aaron and his other two sons afraid. Who wouldn’t have been afraid?

I have often thought that these priests of old, when they realized that they were dealing with a God of righteousness and justice, had to be so careful that they did what he prescribed that they probably made up check lists. And this feeling of fear imparted a sense of inhibition, of uncertainty, in coming before God’s presence.

But even here, under the Law, with its shadows and its types, God gives a special provision by which the whole nation, in the person of the high priest, once a year at least, could come openly and boldly before the very presence of God himself, without any sense of fear. The priest could come once a year confidently into the holy of holies. This is a picture for us of what we are to do continuously in Christ.

Notice what the priest had to do. There are seven steps in the process. The first is found in Verses 3-4:

“But thus shall Aaron come into the holy place: with a young bull for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering. He shall put on the holy linen coat, and shall have the linen breeches on his body, be girded with the linen girdle, and wear the linen turban, these are the holy garments. He shall bathe his body in water, and then put them on.” (Leviticus 16:3-4 RSV)

Step number one was to bathe himself and put on the linen garments. They were these inner garments made of linen, and then on top of them there was a great robe of beauty and glory with the bells around its hem, and over that the ephod, a sort of vest, and finally a breastplate. But all the outer garments were to be laid aside when the priest went in to the holy of holies.

 

As we have already seen, those linen garments were a picture of the personal, private righteousness of the Lord Jesus, the inner righteousness which only God can see, not the public display of his sinlessness but that inner righteousness of his thoughts, his attitudes, his reactions. In all of the life of the Lord upon the earth there was not one moment when that inner righteousness was not perfect. Never once was there a yielding to the pressure upon him to give way to playing with filthy thoughts. He was normal, and he experienced every temptation such as we do, but never once did he give way. This is God’s way of teaching us that as we come before his presence we are to come clothed with the inner righteousness of Jesus Christ, so that our inner life is as acceptable to God as our outer life. Both have been cleansed by the blood of his death on our behalf for our sins — the visible sins that we have committed, and the secret sins of the heart. The ground on which we stand is Jesus’ righteousness, not ours. This is the first step.

After this the priest was to offer the sacrifices, Verses 5-6:

“And he shall take from the congregation of the people of Israel[notice] two male goats for a sin offering, and one ram for a burnt offering.

“And Aaron shall offer the bull as a sin offering for himself, and shall make atonement for himself and for his house.” (Leviticus 16:5-6 RSV)

Here is the provision made for the fact that Aaron was not, like Christ, without sin. He was merely a shadow, a picture of Christ, but was himself a sinful man like we are. And so he had to offer sacrifices for himself which, we are told in Hebrews 7, were not necessary for Christ. Jesus needed no sacrifice for himself.

And then comes the requirement regarding the two goats, Verse 7:

“Then he shall take the two goats, and set them before the LORD at the door of the tent of meeting; and Aaron shall cast lots[almost like flipping a coin] upon the two goats, one lot for the LORD and the other for Azazel.” (Leviticus 16:7-8 RSV)

Azazel is a name which many have been troubled and concerned about. Many scholars have debated its meaning, but the consensus seems to be that this is one of the names for Satan. So one goat was to be chosen for the LORD and the other for Satan.

“And Aaron shall present the goat on which the lot fell for the LORD, and offer it as a sin offering; but the goat on which the lot fell for Azazel shall be presented alive before the LORD to make atonement over it, that it may be sent away into the wilderness to Azazel.” (Leviticus 16:9-10 RSV)

It is important to note in passing that the goat was not named Azazel. The goat was not Satan. There are cults which teach that the goat represents Satan and that therefore Satan is the ultimate sin-bearer. But that is not true. The goat was sent to Satan, and the sins that were placed on it, as we shall see, were placed there to be sent to Satan.

But first we are concerned with the goat for the LORD. This goat marks the stake, that God has in the crucifixion of Jesus. When we consider the death of Jesus we almost always think of it as on our own behalf. That is, we were forgiven there. His life was poured out on our behalf and, quite properly, from that event we count our forgiveness and acceptance before God. But what this is teaching us is that God also had a stake in the death of Jesus, that God was blessed and glorified and magnified in that death.

If your think about it you can see why. You see, forgiveness is not an easy thing for God to display. He can’t do as many people seem to think he can — simply look at our evil and say, “Oh, well, that’s all right. Forget about it. I love you anyway. Just go on.” If that were the way that we are forgiven then God would deny his character as a just God. But God is just and, in a sense, his justice struggles with his love. God’s justice says, “Everyone who deliberately commits transgressions must be set aside from my presence. He cannot come before me.” This book teaches that again and again. God’s justice excludes us from his presence and sends us away. If God were just, and only just, he would wipe out the human race without exception. Not one of us could stand.

But God’s love doesn’t want to do that. Yet how can his love be expressed unless his justice is satisfied? That is what the death of Christ does. When God’s Son hung on the cross God did not spare him a thing! He poured out upon him every bit of his wrath against sin. Every bit of his justice was satisfied in the death of his Son upon the cross. Thus God is vindicated. The whole world can now look at that event and say, “Yes, God is just — even though he loves us.” The death of Jesus freed God to show his love to us. Apart from his death you and I would never have known that he is a God of mercy, of compassion, and of tender, forgiving grace. We would never have seen that he is willing to suffer for us on our behalf, that he had that kind of heart. Thus God himself is magnified, his character is glorified before us, by the death of Jesus. And this is what is portrayed by the goat that was for the LORD. It was on his behalf that this goat was to be sacrificed.

In Verses 11-14 we have the details of Aaron’s sacrifice of the bull for himself:

“Aaron shall present the bull as a sin offering for himself, and shall make atonement for himself and for his house; he shall kill the bull as a sin offering for himself. And he shall take a censer full of coals of fire from the altar before the LORD, and two handfuls of sweet incense beaten small; and he shall bring it within the veil[right into the holy of holies, right before the presence of God] and put the incense on the fire before the LORD, that the cloud of the incense may cover the mercy seat which is upon the testimony, lest he die; and he shall take some of the blood of the bull, and sprinkle it with his finger on the front of the mercy seat, and before the mercy seat he shall sprinkle the blood with his finger seven times”[the number of perfection, completion, absolute satisfaction]. (Leviticus 16:11-14 RSV)

By this God is saying, “The sacrifice of the life of the Lord Jesus on your behalf has rendered you as though you had about you the sweet smell of Jesus Christ himself.” When we come before his presence God smells that sweetness of Christ, and does not smell us. This is the first deodorant used in Scripture! This is the way by which the evil odor of our own failure is eliminated and the sweetness of Jesus Christ is substituted on our behalf. And this is what we are to remember when we come before God in prayer at any time.

Verses 15-19,  simply trace for us how this cleansing is extended to the structure of the tabernacle, to the altar itself, and to the very holy of holies — the inner sanctuary of the spirit. We are that tabernacle in which God dwells. And our whole being, our whole body, soul, and spirit, our whole life, is cleansed in God’s sight by this sacrifice of Jesus on our behalf.

But now, what do you do when you kneel down to pray — or stand up or walk about or whatever you do — and even while you are praying some filthy thought comes across your mind? Or some hostile reaction suggests itself to you? Or even while you are trying to demonstrate love to somebody some welling up of anger or impatience comes in? What do you do with that? Your immediate temptation is to say, “Good night, what’s the use? I’m trying to walk in the Spirit and even in the very process of it I feel defiled?” What do you do with these problems? Well, here is God’s provision, Verses 20-22:

“And when he has made an end of atoning for the holy place and the tent of meeting and the altar, he shall present the live goat; and Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the people of Israel, and all their transgressions, all their sins, and he shall put them upon the head of the goat, and send him away into the wilderness by the hand of a man who is in readiness. The goat shall bear all their iniquities upon him to a solitary land; and he shall let the goat go in the wilderness.” (Leviticus 16:20-22 RSV)

He sends him back to Azazel. This is very significant. You notice that all the iniquities, all the transgressions, all the sins were placed upon the head of this goat.

Both of these goats are a picture of Jesus: In one he is represented as satisfying the heart of God on our behalf and rendering God free to love us without any restraint at all by his justice. God’s justice has been satisfied. He no longer makes demands of that kind upon us. He is free to forgive us at any time and to love us. But the second goat represents Christ as bearing the whole weight and load of our guilt, all that which the Devil tries to use as a basis upon which to ground his accusations against us. All this is to be sent back to him from whence it comes. When our Lord died he went into the wilderness of death like this goat, and returned to Satan all the accusations which he has against any believer at any time.

So what this passage is teaching us is that this is what we are to do with these accusations. In Ephesians 6, Paul calls them “the fiery darts of the wicked one” Ephesians 6:16), i.e., all those little suggestions to us that we really aren’t accepted and loved by God, feelings of shame, unworthiness, our filthy thoughts, and the flashes of fear that come upon us. What are we to do with them? Well, we are simply to put them right on the head of Jesus and say, “Lord, take them back to Satan. They don’t belong to me. They are not my thoughts!

That is the purpose of the great Day of Atonement. It means that we are able to do as the Scriptures exhort us — to stand and present ourselves before the Lord of Glory and, as Paul says in Romans 12, “by the mercies of God, present our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is our spiritual worship…” (Romans 12:1 RSV).

Our spiritual worship “Lord, here I am. I am counting on it. Thank you for it. Let’s go. This is exciting! What are you going to do through me today? What are you going to do this next moment in the relationship I am entering into with this person? How are you going to handle it?” And your mind and heart can be at peace.

In the rest of the chapter you will see how God confirms that he has accepted our presentation. First there is the sacrifice of the burnt offering, which is always the symbol of the total acceptance of a person by God. Then, beginning at Verse 29, he gives us the final conclusion:

“And it shall be a statute to you for ever that in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you shall afflict yourselves, and shall do no work, either the native or the stranger who sojourns among you; for on this day shall atonement be made for you, to cleanse you, from all your sins you shall be clean before the LORD. It is a sabbath of solemn rest to you, and you shall afflict yourselves; it is a statute for ever.” (Leviticus 16:29-31 RSV)

A sabbath is a day of rest. As we have already seen from the Old Testament and the New, the sabbath is a picture of the rest of your spirit when you are counting not on what you have done, but on the work of another on your behalf — even in this realm of all the accusations of a guilty conscience. You are to recognize that God has cleansed your conscience and you are to believe it! You are to accept that fact and return those thoughts to Satan from whence they come, send them back to him, and recognize that God is ready to use you. You can rest on that fact with a full sense of your worth in his sight, knowing that you belong to him and that he loves you fully and has taken care of everything that would exclude you from his presence. That is the fulfillment of the Day of Atonement, the fulfillment of the day of rest.

That is what God is after — to make you whole, ready to work as a whole person, as an instrument of his life in you.

Are you ready? I am!

Stephanie

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Leviticus 15: The Trouble With Nature

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You can’t read the book of Leviticus without seeing how intimately God is concerned with his people. He is deeply concerned about every minor and trivial detail of their lives. He regulates their food, their clothing, their activities, their treatment of diseases. He gives counsel and advice on every matter of life.  No wonder the Lord Jesus said to his disciples, “Even the very hairs of your head are numbered. You are of much more value to God than many sparrows…” (Matthew 10:30-31, Luke 12:7). Everything about us is of great concern to our heavenly Father. So it was with his ancient people and so it is with us today.

In this chapter, we look at the various discharges and see what they meant in terms of the physical lives of God’s people then, we need also to see what they mean to us on the level of our spiritual development now.

The first problem concerns discharges associated with certain diseases:

The LORD said to Moses and Aaron, “Say to the people of Israel, When any man has a discharge from his body, his discharge is unclean. And this is the law of his uncleanness for a discharge. whether his body runs with his discharge, or his body is stopped from discharge, it is uncleanness in him.” (Leviticus 15:1-3 RSV)

As you go through life you unavoidably pick up certain infections which create bodily discharges like diarrhea and runny noses. God is concerned for his people about these. So for these kinds of discharges a very strict quarantine was imposed upon them, Verses 4-12:

“Every bed on which he who has the discharge lies shall be unclean; and everything on which he sits shall be unclean. And any one who touches his bed shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until evening. And whoever sits on anything on which he who has the discharge has sat shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the evening. And whoever touches the body of him who has the discharge shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the evening. And if he who has the discharge spits on one who is clean, then he shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the evening. And any saddle on which he who has the discharge rides shall be unclean. And whoever touches anything that was under him shall be unclean until the evening; and he who carries such a thing shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the evening. Any one whom he that has the discharge touches without having rinsed his hands in water shall wash his clothes and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the evening. And the earthen vessel which he who has the discharge touches shall be broken; and every vessel of wood shall be rinsed in water.” (Leviticus 15:4-12 RSV)

This is the  exact procedure used today in modern hospital to prevent the spread of infectious and contagious diseases. All these practices were imposed upon God’s people by their heavenly Father in order to prevent among them the diseases which were rampant in the ancient world. Remember that God promised them when they came out of Egypt, “If you will walk in my ways, I will put none of these diseases upon you that were in Egypt…” (Exodus 15:26). This is the way he fulfilled that promise. He quarantined them. He taught them how to deal with infections and contagions. And there is no question but that these restrictions and regulations saved the nation Israel from many dangerous plagues which were over taking the pagan populations around them. Perhaps this is one of the major reasons that Israel has been preserved as a nation through all these centuries.

Once a person was cleansed, once these discharges stopped running, then the individual was to offer an offering, as we have seen in many earlier instances, Verses 13-15:

“And when he who has a discharge is cleansed of his discharge, then he shall count for himself seven days for his cleansing, and wash his clothes; and he shall bathe his body in running water, and shall be clean. And on the eighth day he shall take two turtledoves or two young pigeons, and come before the LORD to the door of the tent of meeting, and give them to the priest; and the priest shall offer them, one for a sin offering and the other for a burnt offering; and the priest shall make atonement for him before the LORD for his discharge.” (Leviticus 15:13-15 RSV)

It is evident that the unavoidable diseases, afflictions, and discharges mentioned here are of a much less serious nature than the leprosy with which we have been dealing in previous chapters. You remember that when the leper was cleansed he had to go through a much more rigorous ceremony which included several offerings. But here the very simplest of the offerings is prescribed — two turtledoves or two young pigeons: one for a sin offering, one for a burnt offering — the cheapest, the most available of the offerings. Yet God never once sets aside the requirement for the blood of an innocent substitute to be shed in the place of one who is defiled for any reason whatsoever. By this means he underscores the great fact that human nature needs to be dealt with by blood, by life poured out. It is a deep and complicated problem. It cannot be solved by a mere rearrangement of surface symptoms. God is constantly underscoring that for us in these offerings.

There was a second type of discharge which was concerned with sexuality, Verses 16-18:

“And if a man has an emission of semen, he shall bathe his whole body in water, and be unclean until the evening. And every garment and every skin on which the semen comes shall be washed with water, and be unclean until the evening. If a man lies with a woman and has an emission of semen, both of them shall bathe themselves in water and be unclean until the evening.” (Leviticus 15:16-18 RSV)

Here we are dealing with married sex. It would be a great mistake to judge from this passage that the Bible suggests in any way that sex in marriage is immoral or wrong. This is simply God’s reminder of the pollution of nature, of the fact that the nature of humanity is fallen and that man cannot solve his problems himself. He desperately needs a Savior. And he passes on to his children the same fallen, twisted nature and propensities which he himself is born with.

We who are parents know how this has proved true. When our children were born we looked at them in their innocence and thought we could shelter them.” Yet it never works out that way because, though we can help them in certain ways and give them counsel and guidance, nevertheless they will have to make some of the same mistakes that we made. e. Even though they recognize that what they are going to do is wrong they will still do it. Life is continually confirming this great fundamental fact which the Scriptures set before us — that there is something wrong with nature.

So all that God is doing here when he says that the act of sex results in an uncleanness until evening is simply reminding us that man is a fallen creature and that he must deal with that problem realistically. He can’t avoid it. There is no way that he can eliminate it himself. God must handle it, and God has handled it. There is only one way it can be handled — the redemptive intervention of God — and if it isn’t handled that way there is no escape from the defilement and the destruction of humanity which will follow. So God reminds us that even in the act of sex which results in conception there is a fallen nature involved.

In Verses 19-30 there is a very similar passage dealing with women.  It deals with the normal, natural monthly menstrual flow of women and, in Verses 25 and following, with abnormalities which would be caused by diseases. Again, there is no implication here that there is anything morally wrong about this function. But the symbolic significance is the same and in each case the treatment is exactly the same — washing, being unclean until evening, and the offering of a sacrifice of blood which would cleanse and thus take away the defilement involved.

In reading a chapter like this we can recognize its intense value on the physical level to prevent the contagion of infectious diseases. But it has primary significance on the level of the spiritual. This is why these pictures in the Old Testament are given to us. We are reminded of that in Romans 15 where the Apostle says, “Whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our instruction, that we might learn thereby…” (Romans 15:4 KJV). As you lift this passage to the spiritual level you find very many practical and helpful suggestions.

We don’t have to guess at what the spiritual applications are. In the seventh chapter of Mark. He said, “Hear me, all of you, and understand: There is nothing outside a man which by going into him can defile him…” (Mark 7:14b-15a RSV). Nothing you eat or drink, can defile you, ceremonially and morally. Mark adds this parenthesis in Verse 19: “(Thus he declared all foods clean.)” There are no unclean foods. There may be dangerous food, even poisonous food, but it is not unclean in this moral sense. Then Jesus went on to say, “What comes out of a man is what defiles him…” (Mark 7:20). The truly dangerous discharges are not from the physical life, you see, but from the moral life. “For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, fornication, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a man…” (Mark 7:21-22 RSV).

Here our Lord lifts this from the physical level to the level of the Spirit, on which we are to live. He says that it is these things which defile the human spirit, the tabernacle in which the Spirit of God has taken up residence. You will notice that many of them are unavoidable. There are certain evils that he lists there which are obvious and blatant and which can be avoided even by those without Christ. Murder and adultery and some of the other more open sins can be avoided by many people. But he also lists many which cannot be avoided, which will be found in us from time to time, whether we like it or not, even as Christians. Even in the most devoted and the most spiritual-minded of believers these things are sometimes present. Devious words which leave a wrong impression, thoughtless actions, foolish, prideful ways, hurtful, sharp responses — these come without our thinking sometimes. They come without planning and they represent the fact that the evil, fallen nature  is still there and is so subtle, so close to us,  that it slips out sometimes without us being aware.

What are we to do about them? Are we merely to ignore them? Are we to go on our way and think nothing more of them? No. If we do, we are in trouble. They will add up against us.  God has provided a way, a remedy.  First, a person who is defiled shall bathe. As we have already seen, washing is always a picture of the action of the Word of God. The person’s defiling thought, his statement, his tone of voice, his attitude of heart, he shall take to the Word and see what the Word has to say about it. The washing of the Word is the beginning of cleansing.

And then he shall be “unclean until the evening.” What does this mean? We have seen this phrase all through Leviticus and need to know what it conforms to in our own spiritual experience. There are two degrees of rejection described in the Old Testament. First, the people of Israel could become “unclean.” Or, second, they could be “cut off from their people,” called an abomination before the Lord. These are two degrees:

Uncleanness is what we call being “out of fellowship.” It means to revert somehow for the moment from rest and dependence upon the Spirit of God to a momentary pleasure of the flesh, the old life, the old nature. There is a break in communion with the Spirit of God so that the flow of the life of Christ in the believer is temporarily arrested. Although Christ doesn’t forsake him for one moment, nevertheless, there is, for the moment, no enjoyment of his life. That is to be unclean.

To be cut off from the people corresponds to what in the New Testament is called “apostasy.” It means to come to the point where we are set aside, “delivered unto Satan,” Paul says (1 Timothy 1:20, 1 Corinthians 5:5 KJV), “for the destruction of the flesh.” This is much more serious. It can result  in a complete turning on the faith. But mere uncleanness is much less serious than that, but it is to go on until evening.

This is instructive for us because among the Hebrews the day began at sunset. So the idea is that uncleanness continued until a new beginning, until the sun set and a new day arose. In the  spiritual life, that is the moment when we return to a position of trust in God and we walk again in the Spirit. Thus a new day begins. Whenever we rely upon the Spirit of God it is a new creation, a new beginning, a new day. The Spirit is the Lord of creation and so to be restored to fellowship with him is a new beginning.

This is a picture of what is to happen in our spiritual life when we become aware of having said something harsh or thoughtless or critical or unkind. We are to repent, to change our mind, to stop defending it and making excuses for it. We are to repudiate that old nature and immediately turn to the Lord and say, “Lord, thank you for your forgiving grace, and for your love which now picks me up and restores me to where I was before. Let’s walk on together.” That is a new beginning. Unless you do that you remain unclean. And that is how defilement gradually comes into the spirit of man and defiles the sanctuary in which God dwells. That is when  restless and unhappy. We have all had this experience!.

The third element in the cleansing is the offering of blood. All through this book you find that God’s cleansing agents are always water and blood. In his first letter John says that Jesus came to us by water and by blood( 1 John 5:6). He came to cleanse us in this two-fold way: The blood, of course, speaks of the death of Jesus on our behalf, which frees God to love us without any restraint whatsoever. The blood is what God really sees. . It isn’t easy for God to forgive. He is a just God. He is not only loving but he is also just.

The water, again, represents the Word, and the water is meant for us. It cleanses our conscience. You can say, “Yes, God has forgiven me.” But what many people do is to go on and not forgive themselves. They don’t allow their conscience to be cleansed. But when we read in the Word of God that he has washed away our sins (Acts 22:16) and has forgiven us all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9) — if we believe that Word then our own conscience is clear, and we are cleansed by the Word. How often have you quoted First John 1:9? “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” And you have said to yourself, “If God said that then he must mean it. Therefore there is no reason for me to be beating myself on the back about this sin any longer. God has cleansed me. I am not dirty nor defiled any longer. I am clean.”  That is the effect of the water.

The water and the blood together cleanse the conscience and free us from guilt before the justice of God. All of this, you will notice, is in order to keep us from defilement, Verse 31:

“Thus you shall keep the people of Israel separate from their uncleanness, lest they die in their uncleanness by defiling my tabernacle that is in their midst.” (Leviticus 15:31 RSV)

How careful God is to insure that we walk in a way which will allow him to pour out to us the fullness of his glory, joy, and peace! And if we don’t experience this, it is because we allow defilement  to come in and remain uncleansed. We didn’t intend to do them. We didn’t deliberately commit them. But there they are! And they must be cleansed! We are to deal with them and handle them in this way which God has prescribed. When we do then we have a sense of untroubled peace and joy.

I pray this helps you. Many of us start our lives in joy but after awhile it all seems to grow pale. A lot of times, we have not learned to deal with the discharges of life, the aggravating things that they say and do which are hurtful and injurious to others.

But when we do learn to apply God’s remedy then the sanctuary is cleansed and the Spirit of God is free to release to them all the warmth of the light and life of a loving Savior.

I love Freedom, don’t you?

Stephanie

http://www.simplysoulsisters.com

http://www.virtuousvibes.com