Leviticus 24:1-25:46; Mark 10:13-31; Psalm 44:9-26; Proverbs 10:20-21
Are these words hard to read: "If anyone takes the life of a human being, he must be put to death...whatever he has done must be done to him: fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth" (Lev. 24:17-20)? How about this passage - "Anyone who blasphemes the name of the LORD must be put to death. The entire assembly must stone him" (Lev. 24:16)? In fact, we read about this very scenario happening to a man in the Israelite community just verses before. Is our God a cruel and exacting God?
Maybe the New Testament will be a little easier to stomach today. Hummm...let's see..."Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me" (Mk. 10:21). Maybe the Psalms or Proverbs, then? "You gave us up to be devoured like sheep..." (Ps. 44:11). Wow, there are a lot hard truths in all these passages. It is truth, as unpleasant as it may seem. As much as it may rub us the wrong way or we may even disagree with it, it is truth all the same. 1 Timothy 3:16 reminds us "all Scripture is breathed out by God and is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness." Lord, how are these passages profitable for teaching, or training in righteousness? Show us your word, Lord. Show us your ways.
Maybe the key to hard passages like these is similar to what we see in Leviticus 25:18-19. It says, "Follow my decrees and be careful to obey my laws, and you will live safely in the land. Then the land will yield its fruit, and you will eat your fill and live there in safety." These verses seem to say that obeying God carefully, in everything, invites blessing and fruitfulness into our lives. Does that mean we only obey the easy laws? Or the ones that make sense of who we understand God to be, or understand ourselves to be? No. We don't see well with our own eyes. We don't always see the whole picture. We don't always understand or even agree with God's ways. But this is truth - If we go God's way, it will go well with us. If I convince myself that my way is better, or makes more sense, or applies better to today's world and culture, and follow my own "laws," it will not go well with me. I will be like the rich man who walks away sad and gives up treasures in heaven, all for his love of his own earthly treasure. He wants eternal life, but not how Jesus defines it. Are we the same at times? We want the blessings of God, but on our terms, not his. If it's too hard, we may walk away as well.
Lord Jesus, help me to see the beauty of your Word and your truth and your laws. Help me to follow all your commands. The narrow gate and road are hard to travel. I take comfort in your words to the disciples in Mark 10:27 - "With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God." What an amazing promise - ALL things are possible with God! I will follow you, Jesus.
- Mary Matthias
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