If you haven’t spent much time in an agricultural area, you probably don’t fully appreciate the miracle of planting and harvest.
Farmers are some of the biggest gamblers I know. They plant a crop in the winter or spring, then pray for rain at the right time, plenty of sun (but not too much), no hail, and then no rain when it’s time harvest the crop.
Most amazing of all, is the fact that after they plant the seed, they trust that the little seedlings will eventually grow into something that can be harvested. Farmers are truly amazing people.
You know, whether or not you live on the farm, you’re a farmer too.
Please join me in today’s reading to discover more.
INSIGHTS AND EXPLANATIONS
Leviticus 9:7-24. The difference between this chapter and chapter 8 is that in chapter 8, Moses performed the priestly functions while Aaron and his sons watched as laypeople. In this chapter, Aaron and his sons are now offering the same sacrificial rituals as priests. Moses has now handed off this function to Aaron. This is also a good example of mentoring. Moses first offered the sacrifice while Aaron watched. Now Aaron is offering the sacrifice while Moses watches. In verse 23, Moses and Aaron then entered the Tent of Meeting (tabernacle) together.
After the priests offer sacrifices on their own behalf, they offer sacrifices on behalf of the people. Notice the order of those sacrifices: sin offering, burnt offering, grain offering and fellowship offering. This gives us a logical order to worship: forgiveness, restoration of their relationship with God (called “atonement”), setting themselves apart to follow God in the future (called “consecration”), and fellowship.
Leviticus 10:1-20. After the priestly duties are passed to Aaron and his sons and glory of the Lord falls on the people, this chapter provides a real downer. Despite God’s meticulous instructions, Aaron’s sons offered “unauthorized fire” to God and were struck dead.
No one is certain what “unauthorized fire” means. “Unauthorized” literally means “strange” or “from the outside.” For this reason, some scholars believe the two sons brought fire from outside the tabernacle, rather than lighting the censer from the altar (Leviticus 16:12).
So what’s the takeaway from this tragic story? God is holy and should be taken seriously. He desires a relationship with us, but we must avoid treating him cavalierly or with disrespect.
Psalm 37:30-40. Doing the godly thing is difficult when people around you are taking shortcuts. In this section of Psalm 37, we’re encouraged to be patient and wait for God, because he sees everything and eventually we will be rewarded.
The reference to “sinners” obviously refers to wicked people who resort to violence and fail to heed God’s law. All of us are sinners.
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THE WORD MADE FRESH
There are two types of people. Actually, there are more than just two types of people, but for the sake of this conversation, I’ll break them into two classifications: rule followers and rule breakers.
I’ve always been a rule follower. As a kid, it was important to play by the rules and ensure that everyone else was playing by the rules, too. When my friends broke the rules, I considered myself an emissary of God sent to inform them of their transgression.
As a result, my mom often advised me, “Mike, stop playing the part of the Holy Spirit!” Over time, it adversely affected some of my relationships…even as an adult.
As a parent, it’s tricky walking that fine line between parenting and playing the part of the Holy Spirit. Following in the footsteps of my wife, my oldest daughter is a rule breaker at her core. When Anna was sowing her wild oats, it drove me crazy. More disturbing than her behavior, my daughter’s contempt for God deeply concerned me.
“Mike, you can’t do anything about Anna,” Kelley assured me in those troubling moments. “We’ve planted seeds in her life. Now we have to wait for the seeds to grow.”
I knew she was right, but what I wanted to do was play the part of the Holy Spirit. Like the sower, I wanted to dig up the seeds that were under the soil to determine how they were doing.
The key phrase—to me at least—in Mark 4:26-29 is “all by itself.” The sower sows the seed, but the seed grows “all by itself.” The job description of the sower is to sow seeds and reap the harvest. The sower cannot, however, make the seed grow. Nor can the sower determine the yield of the harvest.
Really, all of us are sowers. All we can do is plant seeds and reap the harvest. We can till the soil and water the seeds, but the produce from the harvest is solely God’s responsibility.
Perhaps parenting isn’t your greatest stress. Maybe you have a loved one (even a spouse) who displays a contempt for God that really concerns you. Or a neighbor or coworker.
Do your best to avoid playing the Holy Spirit. Plant seeds, trust God and let him determine the nature of the harvest.
- What spoke to you in today’s reading?
- What does Leviticus 10 tell you about God? Is it disappointing or disconcerting? Why or why not?
- How do people treat God with disrespect? How do you treat him with disrespect?
- What “shortcuts” are you tempted to take in your walk with God?
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Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, Colorado.