Tag Archives: Sanctification

An Introduction to Leviticus and Lessons in Worship (Leviticus 1-3)

Daily reading assignment – Leviticus 1-3

Our “Chronological Read-thru the Bible” scripture reading plan brings us today to the Book of Leviticus, the third book of the Pentateuch of which Moses is believed to be the author under the divine inspiration of the Holy Ghost (2 Peter 1:20-21).

As its name implies, the Book of Leviticus gave guidance to the Levites in their duties as priests in Israel.  Unlike Exodus, which was a historical record, Leviticus is a practical book devoted to worship, offering of sacrifices, festivals, and matters of the Law.

The closing chapters of Exodus gave detailed instructions concerning the construction of the Tabernacle and its implements for sacrifices and worship, Leviticus states the laws that were to be followed in worship. This included sacrificial offerings (Leviticus 1-7), the consecration and ministry of the Aaronic priesthood (Leviticus 8-10), and the law of God concerning animals deemed to be clean and unclean (Leviticus 11-15).  Leviticus 17-25 remind us the holiness of God demanded the same of His people who approached Him to worship and offer sacrifices.

A note of caution: Do not follow the example of many 21st century believers and dismiss some books of the Old Testament as irrelevant, having little to no application to your life. While we recognize the Old Testament sacrifices were pre-figures of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, we are nevertheless given insight into the person and character of God and His dealings with His people.

Carnality would be eradicated from our homes, churches, and Christian institutions if believers took to heart the spiritual lessons expressed in the commandments, laws, and ordinances (Leviticus 26).

A practical devotional commentary from Leviticus 1-4 will follow.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Loosey-goosey, Half-hearted Worship is Unacceptable! (Exodus 39-40)

Daily reading assignment – Exodus 39-40

The stunning colors of the “holy garments” worn by the high priest as well as the breastplate embedded with twelve precious jewels are defined (39:1-2).  Each jewel was engraved with the name of one of the Twelve Tribes of Israel (39:8-14). The bindings of the breastplate and other articles of clothing (39:15-31) are given in detail.

The high priest wore a turban bearing a plate of gold engraved with the words, “Holiness to the LORD” (39:30-31).

In Exodus 40, the LORD directed Moses to oversee the assembly of the Tabernacle and its implements,  and dedicate the garments to be worn by the high priest and his sons.  Having insured all was done “as the LORD had commanded” (39:43), “a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle” (40:34)!

As we close our study of Exodus, consider the phrase, “as the LORD commanded Moses.” That phrase is found fifteen times in the Book of Exodus; seven of those times in Exodus 39, and six in Exodus 40.  Is it important to do “as the LORD commands”?

Absolutely! It was important that Moses obey the LORD in everything, and this was especially true in the preparations for the people to worship the LORD.

Worshipping the LORD was not to be treated in some loosey-goosey, half-hearted manner. 

Our God is holy, and our lives and worship should reflect His character!

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 – “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? 20  For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.”

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Who Is On the LORD’S Side? (Exodus 30-32)

Scripture Reading Assignment – Exodus 30-32

Let’s begin today’s devotional commentary with a spiritual truth found in Exodus 30 and then see it identified in practice.

Lesson: That which is holy is never to be treated as common! (30:35-38)

Continuing our study of Exodus, we find Moses on Mount Sinai communing with the LORD who instructs His servant regarding the preparations for daily worship (Exodus 30:1-10), sacrificial offerings (30:11-16), and the anointing oil and spices exclusive for use in the tabernacle and never to be duplicated for any other use (30:17-37).

In Exodus 31 the LORD chose skilled artisans and laborers to construct the furniture and various utensils to be used in the tabernacle (31:1-11). Think about it: Even what some call “blue collar workers”, were chosen and called by the LORD to serve Him!

Moses was to remind Israel to set aside one day, the Sabbath, to rest and worship Him (31:12-17). Finally, the LORD gave him two tablets, tables of stone, on which He inscribed His covenant with Israel (31:18).

Exodus 32 – Rebellion in the Camp

Moses ascended Mount Sinai in Exodus 24 and had been apart from the people for forty days and nights (Exodus 24:18).

In Moses’ absence, the hearts of the people had turned away from the LORD, His commandments, and covenant with Israel.  The people rebelled and turning to the ways of Egypt, demanded Aaron cast a golden calf for them to worship (Exodus 32:1-6).

Angered by the breach of His covenant, the LORD vowed to judge the nation in His wrath (Exodus 32:7-10).  Moses, however, interceded for the people, reminding the LORD of His covenant promises and testimony among the heathen nations (Exodus 32:11-14).

Descending the mount with the tablets of stone inscribed by the LORD, Moses encountered Joshua who feared the noise below was that of war (32:15-17).  The sight of the golden calf, the frenzy and wickedness of idol worship, and the nakedness of the people so incensed Moses “he cast the tables out of his hands, and brake them beneath the mount” (32:19).

Confronting his brother Aaron, Moses took up the LORD’s righteous cause and demanded he account for the wickedness of the people. Aaron foolishly defended his failure to face the idolatrous demands of the people and withstand them (32:20-24).  Turning from Aaron, Moses challenged the “sons of Levi,” the priestly tribe, “Who is on the LORD’S side?” (32:26).

Moses charged the faithful, “Put every man his sword by his side…and slay every man his brother…and every man his neighbor…and there fell of the people that day about three thousand men” (32:27-28). Moses then ascended the mount and interceded for Israel (32:30-35).

Permit me to close with an observation: We recognize Aaron’s gross failure as a spiritual leader.  He failed the LORD out of a desire to please and appease the people…and three thousand souls perished.

I wonder how many attend churches whose worship is led by men more concerned with what the people want than they are with what the LORD demands…a Holy People.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

What Does God Require? – Honesty, Integrity, Fairness, Truth, and Holiness (Exodus 22-24)

Daily reading assignment: Exodus 22-24

The agricultural nature of ancient societies meant one’s livestock were an essential part of a man’s livelihood and the well-being of his family (21:33-36). The negligent injury or theft of oxen or sheep was a serious crime requiring compensation (22:1-4), as was damage to a man’s crops (22:5-6).

God’s law requires honesty and integrity.

Personal responsibility and liability were important issues among God’s people and fair compensation for losses, whether by theft or neglect, was mandated (22:7-15).

As an illustration, consider a farmer who borrows another man’s ox to work his field; however, while in his care the ox is injured or dies.  Under such a circumstance, the borrower was debtor to the lender and under obligation to “make it good” (22:14). In other words, repay or replace.  The exception is when the owner of the ox is plowing a man’s field “for his hire” (22:15).

Borrow or rent another’s property or goods, you were under obligation to make whole any damages or loss suffered by the lender. 

Other moral and societal issues addressed in Exodus 22 include rape (22:16-17), witchcraft (22:18), bestiality (22:19), and idolatry (22:20).  In the matter of borrowing and lending, the LORD demanded fairness. Charging excessive interest was condemned knowing it imposed an unnecessary hardship on the poor (22:25-27).

Exodus 23 – God’s Law Concerning Slander and False Witnesses

Acknowledging God is Just, it follows He demands His people be fair (23:1-2), good neighbors (23:3-5), and just in matters of law making no occasion for lies and distortions of the truth (23:6-8).

In a culture that is given to the drive for success at all costs, the thought of a Sabbath Day of rest, let alone a Sabbath Year dedicated to the LORD, is foreign (23:10-12).  For Israel, the Sabbaths, feasts, and offerings of the first and the best fruits of one’s labor to the LORD were a constant reminder that all a man had was an exercise of God’s grace and loving benevolence (23:13-19).  Exodus 23 concludes with God’s promise to protect and bless Israel as they journey through the wilderness (23:20-33).

Exodus 24 – Moses Enters Into the Presence of the LORD

Concluding today’s devotional commentary, you and I are privy to a glorious moment as Moses, his immediate leadership, and seventy elders are invited by the LORD to draw near to the mountain (24:1-4). After reviewing God’s covenant with Israel, the people pledged to obey the Lord’s law and commandments, sealing their vows with the blood of sacrifices (24:5-8).

As the “glory of the LORD” shrouded Mount Sinai, Moses was invited to ascend the mount and “come near the LORD” (24:2) where he received the law and commandments he was to teach the people (24:9-15).  Moses was alone on the mount for six days and on the seventh day we read, The LORD “called unto Moses out of the midst of the cloud” (24:16). Forty days and nights would pass before Moses descended the mount (24:18).

What was Israel doing in Moses’ absence while the “glory of the LORD” appeared to be a “devouring fire” on the mount?

We will take up that question in Exodus 32.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Timeless Commandments (Exodus 19-21)

Daily reading assignment: Exodus 19-21

Three months after their exodus out of Egypt, Moses and the children of Israel arrive at Mount Sinai (Exodus 19) where the LORD directs His servant to instruct the people to hear His Word and keep His covenant.  Confirming His covenant with the people, the LORD promised Israel would be “a peculiar treasure…above all people” (19:5-6).

Calling “for the elders of the people”, Moses rehearsed all the LORD had commanded him (19:7) and the people affirmed they would keep the LORD’s covenant (19:8).  In preparation for establishing His covenant with Israel, the LORD directed Moses to “sanctify” the people and command they wash their clothes (19:9-15).

On the third day, the LORD made Himself known to the people by “thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud” (19:16).  Then the LORD “descended upon it [the mount] in fire: and the smoke ascended” (19:18) and the “trumpet sounded long, and waxed louder and louder” (19:19).  Witnessing the power and majesty of the LORD, “all the people that was in the camp trembled” (19:16b).

Then the LORD introduced Himself saying, “I am the LORD [Jehovah; Eternal, Self-Existent God] thy God [Elohim], which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage”(Exodus 20:2).

The LORD stated Ten Commandments as part of His covenant and Israel was commanded to hear, heed and obey them (20:1-17).

Exodus 20:3-17 – “3  Thou shalt have no other gods before me. 4  Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image7  Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain8  Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy… 12  Honour thy father and thy mother13  Thou shalt not kill. 14  Thou shalt not commit adultery. 15  Thou shalt not steal. 16  Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour. 17  Thou shalt not covet…”

Exodus 20:22-26 instructs the people regarding worship and the LORD’s intolerance of idols among His people (20:22-23).   The construction and sanctity of altars for sacrifices is addressed (Exodus 20:24-25) as is a principle for modesty: “Neither shalt thou go up by steps unto mine altar, that thy nakedness be not discovered thereon” (Exodus 20:26).

In our day when “anything goes” and the church calls it worship, it might surprise some the extent to which God regarded not only the construction of places of worship (i.e. altars), but also the dress of those who led the people (i.e. priests).  Contrary to the casual brashness of the majority of 21st century American churches, those who led Israel in worshipping the LORD were to conduct themselves in a manner befitting the holiness of God and never allow for any “nakedness” that would be a distraction for those who worship the LORD (Exodus 20:26).

Moving beyond the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17) we find specific applications of God’s judgment and the bases of democratic law and order in Exodus 21:1-23:19. Principles for masters (employers), indentured servants (employees), and the sanctity of human life are stated (Exodus 21:1-17). [Exodus 21:12-17 draws a distinction between murder (21:14-16), a violation of the sixth commandment (20:13), and manslaughter (taking a human life without intent).]

Finally, in the event of accidental injuries or death, personal liability is addressed and explained: Should a beast cause injury or death and the owner prove negligent, the beast would be put to death and its owner possibly forfeit his own life should gross negligence be proved (21:18-32).

Believer, our God is Just, Holy, and Merciful!

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

A Lesson in LAW and GRACE (Genesis 22-24)

Daily reading assignment: Genesis 22-24

Genesis 22 puts the faith of Abraham to the test as God proves his faith by commanding him to sacrifice Isaac, the son of God’s covenant promise.  Isaac’s question, “Where is the Lamb?” (22:7) is answered 2,000 years later when John the Baptist says concerning Jesus, “Behold the Lamb” (John 1:29, 36).

Reminding us God’s people are sojourners in this world of sin, we read, “Sarah was an hundred and seven and twenty years old: these were the years of the life of Sarah. 2  And Sarah died in Kirjatharba; the same is Hebron in the land of Canaan: and Abraham came to mourn for Sarah, and to weep for her” (Genesis 23:1-2).

I close this historical crossroads in Abraham’s life inviting you to consider spiritual lessons concerning Law and Grace illustrated in the births of Ishmael and Isaac (Galatians 4:21-31). 

Ishmael, born a slave of a slave woman, was the fruit of Abraham’s effort to have a son and heir apart from God (Galatians 4:22a, 23a).   Isaac, born a free man of a free woman, was the son of promise whose birth was miraculous and the work of God (Galatians 4:22b, 23b).

The mothers, Hagar and Sarah, represent two covenants: Hagar, the LAW, the covenant between God and man (Galatians 4:24-25) reminding us the impossibility of man fulfilling the demands of the Law (Romans 3:19-20).  Sarah, represents God’s covenant of GRACE, His provision and unmerited favor (Galatians 4:26-27) extended to man.

Ishmael’s birth is a tragic reminder of man attempting in his own efforts to do and fulfill what only God can do.  Isaac’s birth, fulfilling God’s covenant promise to Abraham and Sarah, is a portrait of GRACE, God doing what only He could do.

My friend, that is why salvation is not by works that merit God’s favor, but is an act of God’s grace alone.

Ephesians 2:8-9 – “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.”

My theme for Genesis 24 is “Here Comes the Bride”.   Following the death of his beloved Sarah (23:1-2), Abraham was burdened that Isaac, his son and heir of God’s covenant promises, should have a fitting wife.

Fearing Isaac might be tempted to take a wife of the heathen tribes that dwelled in Canaan, Abraham determined to send his “eldest servant”  (24:2-4) to his kindred residing in “Ur of the Chaldees” (11:27-31).  Reflecting the faith of his master, Abraham’s servant prayed for the LORD to make His will clear in choosing the young woman who would become Isaac’s wife  (24:12-14).

God heard and answered the servant’s prayer even as he was praying (24:15-26).  In a prayer of praise that should comfort all who call upon and desire the will of the LORD, the servant prayed, I being in the way, the LORD led me to the house of my master’s brethren” (24:27).

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

The Trouble with Settling for Second Best (Genesis 19-21)

Daily reading assignment: Genesis 19-21

Genesis 19 opens with two angels arriving at the gates of the city of Sodom.  Appearing in the physical form of men, the angels entered Sodom and were greeted by Lot whom they found sitting “in the gate” (the place where city leaders transacted business and made judgments in disputes).  Realizing the men were not citizens of Sodom, Lot urged them to find refuge for the night in his home (19:2-3).

As the darkness of night settled on the city, the wickedness and depravity of Sodom emerged when the Sodomites (i.e. homosexuals) of the city encircled Lot’s home demanding he turn his visitors out into the street to be sexually assaulted (19:4-6).  Describing their lusts as wicked (19:7), Lot pled with the men of Sodom, offering to sacrifice his own daughters to their lusts (19:8-9) to protect his guests.

Striking the wicked men of Sodom with blindness, the angels saved Lot  from their violent attack (19:10-11). Displaying God’s grace, the angels urged Lot to flee the city with his family, warning him the LORD would destroy the city for its wickedness (19:12-13).  Sadly, Lot’s married sons and daughters refused his plea to flee the city (19:14).  Warned to not look back, only Lot, his wife, and two daughters fled the city (19:15-23).  Adding to his sorrow, Lot’s wife looked back and “became a pillar of salt” as God rained fire and brimstone upon Sodom and Gomorrah (19:24-29).

One would hope Lot’s drifting from the LORD would end with the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah; however, he became drunk with wine and his daughters committed incest with him (19:30-36).  The eldest daughter conceiving a son she named Moab, the father of the Moabites (19:37).  The youngest daughter conceiving a son she named Ammon, the father of the Ammonites.  Both nations, the Moabites and Ammonites, would become a curse and perpetual trouble for the nation of Israel.

With the ash and salt from God’s judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah settling on the land, Abraham makes a fateful decision to journey from the land God had promised and traveled south to Gerar and the land ruled by the heathen king Abimelech (20:1-2).

Although ninety years old, Sarah is described as a beautiful, desirable woman and Abraham foolishly demanded she again conceal her identity and say she was his sister (20:2).  Once again putting at risk God’s covenant promise that Sarah would bear him a son, the LORD intervened and warned Abimelech in a dream (20:3) that should he would be a dead man should he violate Sarah (20:3-8).  Rising early, Abimelech confronted Abraham and sent him and his household out of his kingdom (20:9-13).

Continuing our study of the life of Abraham, we come to the conception and birth of Isaac, the long-awaited son fulfilling God’s covenant promise, “I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee” (Genesis 12:2).  Abraham had received and believed God’s promise of a son when he was seventy-five years old (Genesis 12:4); however, 25 years passed before he saw that promise fulfilled (21:5).

Hagar, the Egyptian mother of Ishmael, greeted the celebration of Isaac’s birth with jealousy and animosity, knowing her son would not be Abraham’s heir (21:9).  In spite of her having initiated the faithless act of Abraham having a son with her handmaid, Sarah demanded that Hagar and her son be dismissed from their home (21:10).

We have seen in our study of the life of Abraham how he often allowed circumstances and doubt to shadow his confidence in God’s promises. In spite of his faithlessness, God renewed his promise that Sarah would bear him a son in her old age, she being 90 and he nearly 100 years old (17:15-19).

Understanding the weight of his transgressions was also borne by his family, Abraham was comforted by God’s promise to bless Ishmael (21:12-13) though he and his mother must be driven from his home (21:14-21).

A tragic reminder as I close today’s devotion is God’s promise that the effects of a father’s sins will fall “upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate” Him (Exodus 20:5).

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith