Monday, February 6, 2012
Welcome to Day 37 of our Life Journal!
Before you comment or read what I have posted, please read the following passages for yourself and complete your own S.O.A.P. exercise… How does this work?
S.O.A.P = Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer
Leviticus 1, 2 and 3 outline very specific instructions as to how the burnt offerings were to be made.
Wondering about these verses from Leviticus 3:16-17, “All the fat is the LORD’s. 17 ‘This is a lasting ordinance for the generations to come, wherever you live: You must not eat any fat or any blood.” and these verses from Acts 10, “About noon the following day as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray. He became hungry and wanted something to eat, and while the meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance. 11 He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners. 12 It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles and birds. 13 Then a voice told him,“Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.” 14 “Surely not, Lord!” Peter replied. “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.” 15 The voice spoke to him a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.”
Interesting to compare… no wonder Peter reacted so strongly, “Surely not, Lord!”
Even though the vision related to the Gospel and the Gentiles, God very clearly told him that all foods were now “clean.” Yet in Leviticus it says, “All the fat is the Lord’s.” and “You must not eat any fat or any blood.” That remained in effect for 1,3o0 years from Moses to Jesus… maybe even to this very moment when Peter saw this vision?
I have often wrestled about things like this… how to reconcile the Old and the New Testaments. Jesus said, ““Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” Matthew 5:17
I know lots of people who struggle with issues like this about food or tithing… Jesus addressed most issues like this very clearly… as in Matthew 23:23, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.”
What that means to me is if I tithe, but am not merciful or faithful, it somehow diminishes my tithe… But I’m also lacking if I am merciful and faithful and not giving. Jesus clearly said both are important.
Not to get off on a tangent, but this is how my mind works… the New Testament, if we take Jesus statement in Matthew 23 (as he is rebuking the religious leaders, keeping it in context) talks more about GENEROSITY than tithing (tithe means “tenth part.”). 2 Corinthians 9:10-12 speaks to this; “Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. 11 You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. 12 This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God.”
I love Paul’s synopsis of the Law and the Prophets leading up to Jesus! He captured the essence of the Old Testament and related it very simply and clearly to the New Testament… (just like I was thinking about above…) Since those days, we have all been doing that! I think there will be more of this to come…
Funny, the “whole city” turned out the next week to hear Paul and Barnabas… but then the leaders stirred up trouble and ran them out of town… “And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.” v 52.
I wonder if God considers me to be a generous person?
Am I filled with joy when I am “run out of the city?” for what I believe? Do I remain merciful and faithful?
Lord, help me to be a generous person… one who is merciful and faithful in all things. Give me insight and wisdom as I read your word.
P.S. Just for the record, I was not trying to do a teaching or make a point about tithing… it’s just how I work things out in my own head. But hopefully those looking on will benefit from my musings, as similar questions are asked. : )