Every year as I approach the book of Leviticus in the Old Testament while doing my daily Bible study, I am less than enthusiastic. I try, but usually fail, to see any relevance for New Testament Christians in all the rules and regulations. This year I was prepared to once again get bored and bogged down by the priestly duties, including checking out the colors of people’s skin and hair for possible victims of leprosy. So many details to determine if the spots were clean or unclean—7 days quarantines, washings of clothes and body, sacrificing animals, shaving and burning of hair and clothes, cedar wood, scarlet, hyssop, running water, etc, etc.
About that time, as I read a footnote, I had my epiphany. “ Traditionally leprosy; the Hebrew word was used for various diseases afflicting the skin…” Did that also mean skin CANCER? Suddenly these chapters became very relevant! If I had lived back then, instead of the nitrogen freezes, the surgery, and the Fluorouracil cream which all helped me, I would’ve surely listened to and heeded God’s instructions given through the priests. I would have been grateful like the commander Naaman in 2 Kings 5 to hear the Prophet Elisha’s message from God for his cure. He only had to dip 7 times in the muddy Jordan river.
God inspires scriptures that one might read many times and not think they apply to oneself until… This is true whether it applies to one’s health, ( Deu 24: 8) one’s conduct, ( Deu 4:9) one’s pride, ( 1 Cor 10: 12) or one’s salvation. ( Heb 2; 10) (Heb 3: 12)
An attitude can be a feeling, tendency or an orientation of the mind or a position of the body appropriate to or expressive of an emotion. As a teacher of adolescents for 35 years, I could almost always guess their attitude by their body language without hearing a word spoken. A smile could be a positive clue, but just as often a stare or the rolling of eyes would indicate a negative attitude. Nowadays when someone describes a person as having “ an attitude” it usually infers that the person is spoiling for an argument. However, a New Testament Christian should always display an attitude of gratitude.
That starts with an adjustment of the mind. ( Eph 4:23) We need to be made new in the attitude of our minds and to put on the new self created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. ( Eph 4: 23-24) Our new attitude should be the same as Christ Jesus. ( Php 2: 5) We are to “arm ourselves with his attitude…as a result we do not live the rest of our earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God. ( I Pet 4: 1-2) The word of God…judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” ( Heb 4: 12) Since everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account… ( Heb 4:13) we cannot hide thanklessness, ingratitude, ungratefulness, or lack of appreciation or masquerade as an angel of light as Satan does.
Contrast that attitude with that of Christ Jesus who “ made himself nothing” “he humbled Himself” and “ became obedient to death—even death on a cross.” ( Php 2: 5-8) Surely an attitude of ingratitude is one of the worst insults to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. However, because we live in a sinful world with many temptations, nearly all of us will sin this sin through selfishness and forgetfulness. God will forgive even this if we humble ourselves, pray and adjust our attitude.
It seems as if every product these days must be new and improved to be acceptable to the consumer. Is it possible for a product or a person to be completely new? New Coke must retain the essence or formula of the old product or we may be creating Pepsi.
When the Apostle Paul speaks about a new self and old self, a new and old attitude, a new and old creation, ( Eph 4: 22-24) he refers to the former way of life versus the new way. When John talks about a new commandment he means a Christ-like love rather than a self-love. ( Jo 13: 34) Nicodemus, a teacher and Pharisee, had to learn the meaning of a new life from Jesus. ( Jo 3: 3)
Christ Jesus will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body ( Phil 3: 21) ( 1 Jo 3:2) Paul explains this further by comparing our natural body and our spiritual body to the changing of a seed to a full-grown plant. ( I Cor 15: 35-38) What we will become appears to be very different from who we are, our soul, which will still maintain the image with which God created us. ( Gen 1: 26-27)
When the Old Testament was replaced by the New Testament, ( 2 Cor 3:6) ( Lk 12:20) ( Gal 4:24) ( Heb 9: 15) both still contained the moral teachings that God expects as well as his mercy, love and grace. The Old Testament was not discarded for lack of usefulness, rather it served as a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ until all was fulfilled. ( Gal 3: 24-25)
Therefore old is not always bad nor new always good. A very interesting and wise proverb says, “ Don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater.” ( Google it?)
When Jesus said in John 17 that “they may be one as we are,” he was talking about the Apostles who would speak the message with one voice so that no divisions nor misunderstandings would arise. (v11) He desired that they have the same unity as that of the Godhead. (Jo 17: 24) ( Acts 5: 29-32) ( Acts 7: 55) ( Rom 15:30) ( I Cor 2:10-12) He knew that the apostles would not be of this world ( Jo 17:14) and would need protection ( v 11) the Word ( v14) truth ( v17) and sanctification ( v 19) to achieve this unity.
He further states that this oneness was to be for those who would believe the Apostle’s message. That meant believers down through the centuries and extending to us today. (v20) Jesus desires that we also have the unity that the Godhead has. (v21) Those who trust and obey his commands ( Acts 2:38) become part of His body the church which He established. ( Mt 16:16-18) ( Eph 1:22) ( Col 1:18) ( Acts 2: 42)
So, what happened? Does this unity still exist today? It can and it should, but it does seem that there is more division than unity. Some claim that Jesus empowered a one man rule of His church starting with Peter and then passed it on to another man by vote. However, Peter himself denied this idea to Cornelius. ( Acts 10: 25-26) Paul opposed Peter to his face. ( Gal 2:11) Peter had a wife. ( Mk 1:30) ( Lk 4:38) So then, perhaps Paul was chosen to be Christ’s Vicar on earth since Peter held him in such high esteem? ( Pe 3:15) Paul himself also rejects this idea. ( I Cor 1:10-13) ( I Cor 3: 4-9)
Jesus, through the Holy Spirit, commanded each congregation to appoint elders ( pastors, overseers, shepherds) to direct the affairs of His church. ( I Tim 5: 19) ( Titus 1:5) ( Heb 13: 17) The Shepherds are to “feed the flock” by loving example, not by lording it over them. ( I Pe 5:2) What builds unity? Appreciation, fellowship, worship, prayers, study and following the “one another verses in the New Testament. ( Rom 12:10) ( Rom 13:8) ( Eph 4: 32) ( I Cor 12: 25) ( Gal 5: 13) ( I Thes 4:18) These and many others will unite us whereas immaturity ( Heb 5:11-14) lukewarmness ( Rev 3: 14-17) pride ( 3 Jo 9-10) selfishness and rebellion ( I Cor 11: 17-22) and others will tear down unity. We are one only in Christ Jesus. ( Rom 8:1) ( Rom 6: 3-5)
Can you imagine rubbing shoulders with the creator of the universe? ( Col 1: 15-17) The crowds who jostled Jesus were doing exactly that but I doubt that even his apostles who had seen his miracles fully understood his divinity. Jesus is not a distant, silent or vindictive god like many cultures worshiped. He always keeps his spiritual antenna alert to those who need him and seek him. ( Acts 2:38) ( Acts 2:21) ( Ro 10:11) The gospel of Mark tells us that as a crowd pressed around Jesus he felt that power had gone out from him. He asked, “ Who touched me?” His disciples explained that it could have been nearly anyone in such a crowd. But Jesus knew and told the woman who had been suffering for 12 years from a bleeding illness that her faith had healed her. ( Mk 5: 24-34) Max Lucado puts it wonderfully. “Near enough to touch. Strong enough to trust.”
Jesus’ antenna is attuned to the pleas and silent prayers of the weak, the forgotten and the abused. He is never oblivious, unconcerned nor too busy for a pure-hearted searcher. He promises rest for the weary and burdened. ( Mt 11: 28-29) As his disciples we also need to have an active antenna ready to read and react to the hurt of a hurting world. One of the ways we do that is by following the Spirit-inspired command given by the Apostle Peter. “…always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect…”( 1 Pe 3:15)
It seems that God gave many animals a type of early warning system when danger is imminent. Surely he gives his people a spiritual antenna to detect imminent needs of brethren and seekers.