Tag Archives: Bible Christianity

“Infanticide and Five Other Capital Punishment Sins” (Leviticus 20-21)

Daily reading assignment – Leviticus 19-21

* This is the second of two devotionals for today’s Scripture reading.

The LORD’s command for His people to be a holy people continues in Leviticus 20 listing six sins that were punishable by death.

The first sin demanding capital punishment was the sacrifice of children to a pagan god identified as Molech (20:2).

Scottish born minister of the 19th century, Andrew Bonar, writes in A Commentary on the Book of Leviticus, “Molech was worshipped by revolting cruelties, the cries of the sufferers being drowned in loud noise. An image of red-hot glowing brass was the form in which he was adored, and his arms received the children offered to him, forthwith consuming them by their red-hot touch. The child was put (“εἰς τὸ χάσμα πλῆρες τυρός”) “into a gaping hole, full of fire,” says a historian. Everything was savage and demoniacal; fiendish tyranny and hellish hate.”

Five additional sins demanding capital punishment were:

1) Consulting with witches (20:6)

2) Cursing and abusing one’s parents (20:9)

3) Committing adultery (20:10)

4) Committing incest (20:11-12, 14, 17, 19-21)

5) Sodomy (20:13)

5) Bestiality (20:15-16)

Leviticus 21 gives us additional guidelines God required of the High Priest and others who served in the priesthood.  The paramount demand for all priests was for them to be holy (21:6), consecrated (21:8), and without physical blemish before the LORD (21:16-23).

I close being reminded you might be surprised by the horror of parents sacrificing their children to Molech (20:2-5) in ancient times.  

I suggest, however, that abortion in our day is no less barbaric! 

Over sixty million children have been aborted since the United States Supreme Court upheld abortion in the 1973 case, Roe vs. Wade. Abortion procedures have the same end as sacrificing sons and daughters to Molech…terminating a child’s life.

The barbarity of abortion defies vindication. In many cases a powerful vacuum suctions the infant from its mother’s womb limb by limb.  In other instances, a doctor uses forceps to pull the baby from the birth canal piece by piece. In addition, there are others who advocate leaving the infant to die after birth.

Surely a silent scream is heard in heaven when a mother sacrifices her baby.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

CONGREGATIONAL SINGING, if not dead, is dying. 

Dear Heart of a Shepherd Follower,

Across America are churches that were once bastions of Bible preaching, but have become mere shadows of their past. Churches where great songs and hymns of the Christian faith once resonated, are host to congregations mumbling their way through “7-11 choruses” (seven word choruses repeated eleven times).

Usually led by a “Vocal Team” and backed by a band pounding out a deafening beat, CONGREGATIONAL SINGING, if not dead, is dying. How did we get here?

I am writing to commend to you an excellent article on Hymnody authored by Dr. Theodore Martens.

Dr. Martens is a man whom I respect for his love of the LORD and his many years of faithful ministry.  He is a scholar of the Scriptures and a great communicator. A retired Pastor, College Professor, Seminary Teacher, and Writer; Dr. Martens is a member of Hillsdale Baptist Church, a regular teacher in Hillsdale’s Wednesday night Bible Institute, and my revered friend.

On the subject of song, hymn, music, and context, Dr Marten’s writes in his article:

“A song brings one back to the context, the days it was first heard, learned, loved, memorized, and FELT.”

“One cannot divorce the lyrics & musical score from the context in which it was first and foremost heard, repeated, learned, and felt without losing the richness which that “song” / “hymn” carries to its listeners and/or singers..Lyrics and “music” cannot be unhinged from each other and accomplish the same ends.”

Rhetoric & Homiletics: All Communication Is Contextual

With the heart of a shepherd,

Pastor Travis D. Smith

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

A Lesson in Holiness and Biblical Morality (Leviticus 18)

Daily reading assignment – Leviticus 16-18

* This is the second of two devotionals from today’s scripture reading.

Morality and the sanctity of marriage is the subject of Leviticus 18 and one I deem should be a frequent subject of teaching in the 21st century church.

Commanding the people to not follow the immorality they had observed in Egypt and be found in Canaan, the LORD commanded His people, “4 Ye shall do my judgments, and keep mine ordinances, to walk therein: I am the LORD your God. 5 Ye shall therefore keep my statutes, and my judgments: which if a man do, he shall live in them: I am the LORD” (Leviticus 18:4-5).

Several moral issues are addressed including the prohibition of incest (18:6-19), adultery (18:20; Exodus 20:14), homosexuality (18:22), and bestiality (18:23).  Israel was not to follow the sins of Egypt or the immoral conduct of the heathen (Leviticus 18:3; 24-29).

The wicked, immoral practices of our day are nothing new.

Incest, unmarried couples co-habiting, even a presidential candidate quoting scripture while boasting his homosexual marriage are indicative of a nation that has lost its moral conscience.

Who Sets Your Moral Compass?

There was a time the church through obedience to God’s Word set the moral standards for the world and God’s Commandments were evidenced in the lifestyles of His people. However, in today’s world, it is troubling to see the average Christian home lacks biblical moorings in moral judgments.

The LORD will not bless our homes, churches, and institutions until we return to Him, and His Word becomes our guide and standard (18:30).  

Psalm 119:9-11 9Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word. 10 With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments. 11 Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.

In the words of Dwight L. Moody, “The Bible will keep you from sin, or sin will keep you from the Bible.”

Copyright 2019 – Travis D. Smith

Christ died For You, but is He Your Savior? (Leviticus 16-17)

Daily reading assignment – Leviticus 16-18

* This is the first of two devotionals for today’s scripture reading.

The opening verse of Leviticus 16 remind us of a tragedy that occurred in Leviticus 10 when Nadab and Abihu, the two eldest sons of Aaron, “offered strange [foreign] fire before the LORD, which He commanded [charged] them not” and were slain for their sin (Leviticus 16:1).

The high priest (16:2), representing Israel before the LORD, was only to enter the “holy place within the veil before the mercy seat” once a year on “the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month” (16:29).

This Day of Atonement, known as “Yom Kippur” or the “Sabbath of Sabbaths”, is the most holy day on the Jewish calendar. This was the day the high priest offered sacrifices for his sins, his household, and for the sins of the nation.

Several spiritual truths are found in Leviticus 16. The first is a reminder the high priest and his household were sinners themselves and in need of blood atonement (16:3-14).  The high priest dared not take lightly the “holy place” beyond the veil where the Mercy Seat representing the throne of God was located. Before he ministered as a representative of the nation, the high priest was instructed to offer sacrifices for himself and his household.

After ceremonially washing and girding himself in the holy garments of the high priest (16:4), Aaron chose two goats and a ram he would later offer for the sins of the nation (16:5).  The first sacrifice on the Day of Atonement was a young bull the high priest offered as a sin offering for himself and his household (16:6, 11-14).

Two goats were chosen for the Day of Atonement; one would be sacrificed for the sins of the nation and the other serve as a scapegoat (16:5).  After casting lots to determine the goat the LORD would have sacrificed as a sin offeringfor the nation (16:7-10), its blood was sprinkled on the mercy seat (16:15) and a young bull was next sacrificed on the altar before all the congregation (16:18-19).

 

The “live goat” that was spared was the scapegoat (16:5, 20-21). With the congregation looking on, the high priest placed his hands on the head of the scapegoat and confessed the sins of the nation.  Symbolically bearing the sins of the nation, the scapegoat was then led out of the encampment and set free in the wilderness (16:22). The blood and remains of the goat, ram, and bull that was sacrificed were then removed from the camp and burned in the wilderness (16:27).

Guidelines for sacrifices continues in Leviticus 17. The prohibition of slaying animals for sacrifice any other place than the tabernacle suggests the possibility the people might have been tempted to offer blood sacrifices to false gods (17:3-7) and the punishment for idolatry was excommunication (17:4, 9).

Eating blood was forbidden (17:10) with the explanation “the life of the flesh is in the blood” (17:11a), “for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul” (17:11b).

The LORD had chosen blood as the means of expiation (i.e. atonement) for man’s sin. The LORD warned Adam his sin would be punishable by death and so it follows the shedding of blood is a representation of death.

Modern science has proved what the LORD revealed to Israel thousands of years ago… “the life of the flesh is in the blood” (17:11a).  I marvel at what our blood reveals about us. Our very life and being is in our blood. Our genetic profile, ancestry and health are all contained in our blood!

Why do we not offer sacrifices for our sins today?

We no longer follow the pattern of blood sacrifices for sins because Jesus Christ’s death on the cross was the sum of all sacrifices ever offered (Hebrews 9:24-28 ).  The author of Hebrews writes,

Hebrews 9:27-28 – “27  And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: 28  So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.”

Will you believe and trust Jesus Christ as your Savior, the substitutionary sacrifice for your sin?

1 John 5:13  13 These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God. 

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

A Reflection on Leprosy and the Curse of Sin (Leviticus 11-13)

Daily reading assignment – Leviticus 11-13

Leviticus 11 might prove challenging in our non-agrarian day; however, the dietary regulations listed are insightful into the LORD’S loving care of His people, that they may better avoid sickness and disease. Like a shepherd guiding his sheep from harmful plants that were not to be ingested, the LORD instructed His people regarding beasts that were clean and others He deemed unclean and forbidden to be eaten (11:1-3). Examples of forbidden meats are the camel (11:4), “the coney…the hare” (11:5-6) and “the swine” (11:7).

Fish with fins and scales were considered clean and fit to eat (11:9); however, there were water creatures forbidden that include crabs, shrimp, and eels (11:10-12).

Fowl were fit for consumption; however, carrion (flesh-eating) birds were forbidden. Leviticus 11:13-19 lists eagles, vultures, hawks, ravens, owls, storks, and bats among forbidden birds.

Some insects were considered clean (11:21-22); however, those described as “fowls that creep”, meaning flies, wasps, bees, and certain locusts were not to be consumed (11:20).

Leviticus 12 instructs women regarding ceremonial purification following childbirth (12:1-8).

The ancient scourge of leprosy is the subject of Leviticus 13-14.  Known today as Hansen’s Disease; leprosy is a bacterial, infectious disease.  Treatable, even curable in the 21st century; leprosy was a dreaded disease in ancient times, inevitably leading to its victim’s separation from family and society, and consignment to leper colonies.

The LORD communicated specific instructions to address leprosy in Israel including diagnosing the disease and the exclusion of lepers from the tribes of Israel (Leviticus 13:1-59).  Lepers were required to cry out, “Unclean, unclean” (13:45), as a caution to all who approached. Without a cure, a leper’s only hope was for divine intervention, a miraculous healing, that must be verified by examination and followed with sacrificial offerings (Leviticus 14).

Permit me an observation in closing:

We are sinners and our souls bear the blight of spiritual leprosy…sin.

There was no cure for leprosy in ancient times apart from the priest’s intervention, and there is no cure for the leprosy of one’s soul apart from placing one’s faith in Jesus Christ as Savior. In the words of the prophet Isaiah,

Isaiah 53:4-5 – “Surely he [the Messiah, Jesus Christ] hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. 5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.”

I invite you to confess the leprosy of your sinful soul and turn to Christ.  Accept Him as your Savior, and be healed.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

What Many Call Worship is “Strange Fire” (Leviticus 8-10)

Daily reading assignment – Leviticus 8-10

The Levitical priesthood was established in Exodus 8. Remembering Moses and Aaron were of the tribe of Levi, the priestly tribe; the LORD commanded Moses to anoint Aaron and his sons to serve as His priests before the congregation (8:1-3).

The process of ordination was explained, beginning with the ceremonial washing of Aaron and his sons with water (8:6). Aaron, serving as the high priest, was distinguished by his robes (8:7) and his breastplate (referred to as “the breastplate of judgment” in Exodus 28:30) upon which twelve precious stones were mounted, each engraved with the name of a tribe of Israel (Leviticus 8:8; Exodus 28:21).

Housed in a pocket behind the breastplate was “Urim and the Thummim” (8:8), believed to be some form of dice the high priest cast in matters of judgment, asking the LORD to answer as difficult decisions were made for the nation (such as going to war – 1 Samuel 23:2). Urim and Thummim provided a special means for the high priest to offer counsel and the nation to know God’s will specifically.

A word of caution to any tempted to adopt some manner of the same in making decisions (either tossing dice or “putting out a fleece” – Judges 6:36-40).

God has given believers a means of determining His will and making good judgments…His Word!

King David wrote, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Psalm 119:105). Peter declared, “We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed…” (2 Peter 1:19).  (I fear many believers have so neglected the study and teaching of God’s Word, they lack discernment to make righteous decisions in weighty matters).

Chosen by God and arrayed in priestly robes, nevertheless, Aaron and his sons were sinners and themselves in need of blood atonement. With the congregation looking on, the LORD commanded Aaron and his sons to lay their hands on a bullock that was sacrificed as their sin offering (8:14-17).

Seven days Aaron and his sons remained at the tabernacle while Moses offered sacrifices as their consecration to the LORD as priests (8:31-36).  On the eighth day, Aaron and his sons began ministering and offering sacrifices on behalf of themselves and the nation (Leviticus 9:1-24).

Displaying His glory and accepting the sacrifices in the sight of all the people, “there came a fire out from before the LORD, and consumed upon the altar the burnt offering and the fat: which when all the people saw, they shouted, and fell on their faces” (9:23-24).

One would hope the display of God’s favor might encourage the people to maintain a perpetual spirit of humility and obedience before the LORD; however, such was not the case.

Tragedy soon fell on the tribes of Israel when “Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange [foreign] fire before the LORD, which He commanded [charged] them not” (Leviticus 10:1).

Given the infancy of the priestly office and the privilege of the priesthood; the sin of pride may have moved the sons of Aaron to disobey the LORD and exalt themselves before the people. Whatever the motive, the LORD was swift to judge and “there went out fire from the LORD, and devoured them, and they died before the LORD” (10:2).

Aaron, no doubt devastated by the sinful actions of his sons and their deaths, “held his peace” (10:3).The bodies of Nadab and Abihu were removed from the camp (10:4-5) and Aaron, Eleazar and Ithamar, Aaron’s surviving sons, were warned to make no public display of their sorrow and to remain at the “door of the tabernacle” (10:6-7).

What “strange fire” might be present in your church under the pretense of worship?

Entertaining the masses has become the aim of worship leaders as hallowed, sacred hymns of faith are displaced by beat-driven music emulating society’s contemporary music.

What many call worship is “strange fire.”  What must the LORD see when your “worship” leaders and music teams move an audience to cavort about under the pretense of worship?

God commands His people to be holy, because He is holy (Leviticus 11:45; 1 Peter 1:15-16) and we are to be imitators of Christ and not imitators of the world (1 Peter 1:14; Romans 12:2).

If what you call worship looks, acts, and sounds like the world…it is not holy!

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Sinning against another is a sin against God! (Leviticus 5-7)

Daily reading assignment – Leviticus 5-7

Today’s study in the book of Leviticus continues its exposition and explanation of the sacrifices required for sin; each reminding us sin is an offense against the LORD and “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).

Various sins are identified in Leviticus 5 and the prerequisite sacrifice for each sin. Leviticus 5:1 speaks to the sin of failing to speak truth and thus concealing the sin and crime of another (perhaps in a judicial sense where one is called to testify as a witness).  Similar to our own court system where one is asked to swear to “tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.”

Cleanliness is urged and contact with the carcass of a dead beast was forbidden under the Law. Unlike ancient Israel, today we understand the health risks of being defiled (infected) by a dead animal and why the LORD forbade it (5:2-3).

Inconsiderate, thoughtless words and conversation is also condemned and sacrifices were required of all who swore and spoke with haste (5:4-13).

The Trespass Offerings is the subject of Leviticus 5:14-6:7. You will notice a principle of “restitution plus one-fifth.” Why?

Saying “I’m sorry” is not enough in God’s perfect justice system.

The first sin demanding a trespass offering plus “one-fifth” is spiritual misappropriation: A sinner taking that which another dedicated to the Lord.

For instance: A priest might fall prey to embezzling…taking for himself what another had offered as a sacrifice.  Such a sin demanded not only restitution, but also giving one-fifth more above what was taken (5:14-16).

Other sins demanding sacrifice and restitution were lying and dishonesty (6:1-2), finding another’s property, but concealing the fact (6:3), and violently cheating one of his property.  All sins committed with foreknowledge required not only sacrifice, but also restitution above what was pilfered (6:4). Similar to an assessment of loss and damages in the American Judicial System.

Laws concerning burnt offerings are expressed in Leviticus 6:8-13.  Reminding us the believer is to be ever in a spirit of prayer, we read: “The fire shall ever be burning upon the altar; it shall never go out” (6:13)

Leviticus 7 – The “trespass offering” and the “peace offering”

The “peace offering” served as a sacrifice of thanksgiving for God’s grace and provision (Leviticus 7:11-21).  The sacrifice of oxen or cattle is prescribed accompanied by offerings of “unleavened cakes…unleavened wafers…and cakes mingled with oil, of fine flour, fired” (Leviticus 7:12).  The portions of the “peace offering” not consumed by the fire were given to the priests for their consumption.

Remembering the blood was a testament to the punishment of sin, the “fat of the beast” and “blood” portions of the offerings were not to be eaten (Leviticus 7:22-27). Blood was not to be consumed because it was the means and object of atonement (Leviticus 17:11; Hebrews 9:22).

Consuming the “fat of the beast” or the “blood” necessitated a sinner “be cut off from his people” (7:25, 27); a punishment that could extend so far as death.

What have we learned?

Sinning against someone requires not only sincere confession, but “restitution plus” may be necessary to make them whole and restore fellowship.

Have you sinned against someone and not sought forgiveness?  Without confession and restitution for the harm you have caused, your broken fellowship may follow you to your grave.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith