Tag Archives: law

Meditation on Psalm One

“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.  He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.  The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away.  Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; for the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.” (Psalm 1)

This is the beginning of the longest book of songs and poetry in the Bible.  Placed in the middle of the Bible, the Book of Psalms is easy to find, and is full of reassuring verses and meditations on the word of God, praising God, and thanking God for His blessings.  Most of the Psalms were written by King David, and some of them reflect different events that happened in his life.

Looking at the notes at the top of some Psalms it is likely that many of them were intended to be sung.  I suspect that many of these Psalms formed what we today would call a hymnbook, for the Jews.  Its interesting to contemplate what they would have sounded like in the Hebrew language, accompanied by a simple stringed instrument.

Lets think about this particular Psalm, and consider what sort of man the Lord blesses.  Someone who does not get his advice in life from the wicked, or sinners.  These are quite harsh terms to use about people – I’m sure many people have friends in their lives who they would not necessarily consider as wicked just because they do not follow the same beliefs as they do, and of course we know that we are all sinners.  The emphasis here seems to be on those people who scoff at God, and do not take His words into account.  If we have a life issue, we should discuss it with a fellow Christian to get the moral perspective of God on our problem, and consider the spiritual aspects of our actions, not just the worldly aspects.

A man who is blessed by the Lord meditates on the Bible day and night!  Taken literally, this is quite an undertaking, and means that a godly personality is  something that few of us may reach, however hard we strive.  If we take a slightly more figurative response to this passage we can say that in every action we do in our lives we must ensure that the results are pleasing to the Lord.  Every action and reaction is considered in the light of what God would have us do, and we bring all things before Him in prayer.  His teaching is in our hearts and this is reflected in our lives.

If you are a Christian, do you prosper in all that you do?  If not, why not?  Psalm One says that you will.  Well, as we have mentioned a one hundred percent godly person is almost an impossibility.  If prosperity is linked to godliness it is no wonder that we all fall short and do not receive the full blessing of God.  However, we can view this instead as future prosperity.  We know that worldly things do not matter, but that in the end, we will achieve God’s kingdom, a prosperity beyond our wildest dreams.  Not only that, whilst life may seem tough at times, we can look back and see God’s hand at work in the decisions we made.

As for the wicked perishing and not prospering, this must surely be a reflecting on those around us who are not interested in following in God’s ways and ultimately will not be part of that glorious kingdom which we all look forward to.

So let our meditation be on God’s word and His law be in our hearts so that we may truly be blessed by Him.

 

Bitesize Bible Study – The Book of Deuteronomy

What does “Deuteronomy” mean?

  • It means “the Law repeated”

What happens in the book?

  • The Israelites had now been wandering for 40 years in the wilderness
  • They were not far from the Promised Land
  • The Law had originally been given to the older generation of Israelites
  • They had now all died out due to lack of faith in God
  • Moses repeats the Law of God to the new generation – Chapters 5-26
  • Then Moses lists the blessings that Israel will receive if they follow his law, and the curses that will come upon them if they do not – Chapter 28
  • Finally Moses blesses the Israelites, encourages them, and appoints his successor, Joshua
  • Moses dies in the wilderness, up a mountain, where he views the Promised Land that he will never enter

Why was the Law repeated?

  • A key theme in the book is that of remembering
  • The repetition emphasised that they must not forget God’s Laws like their forefathers
  • God loved his people and wanted them to keep the faith:
  • “For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth” – Deuteronomy 7:6
  • In later years, many Jews kept God’s Law with them by wearing phylacteries – little boxes containing scripture on their foreheads
  • This is a reminder to us to keep God’s word in our hearts at all times

Jesus and Deuteronomy

  • Jesus took this lesson to heart – he quotes from Deuteronomy on many occasions
  • In particular when he refutes the Temptations, he used Deuteronomy each time:
  • “Man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.” – Deuteronomy 8:3

Anything else?

  • This book is a reminder of why we have decided to follow God:
  • “See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil…therefore choose life…loving the LORD your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life and length of days.” – Deuteronomy 30:15, 19, 20

Next time: watch out for more Bitesize Bible study!

Bitesize Bible Study – The Book of Leviticus

What does the word “Leviticus” mean?

  • Levi was the tribe of Israel from which the priests of Israel were chosen
  • The priests work, the Levitical work, was that of helping the people follow God’s law, including all the rituals and sacrifices
  • The Book of Leviticus includes all the details about these priestly duties
  • The first High Priest was Aaron, the brother of Moses

How many types of sacrifice are there, and what are they for?

Generally sacrifices reminded the people that they had sinned and needed their sins taken away.

The specific sacrifices are as follows:

  • Chapter 1 – The Burnt Offering – Giving yourself to God
  • Chapter 2 – The Meal (Cereal) Offering – Giving gifts and thanks to God
  • Chapter 3 – The Peace Offering – To be at peace with God
  • Chapter 4 – The Sin Offering – A covering for general sin
  • Chapter 5 – The Trespass Offering – Forgiveness for specific personal sins
  • Chapter 16 – The Day of Atonement – A day of national cleansing with God

The deeper meaning of sacrifice:

  • Ultimately the Levitical priesthood failed, and the Law could not save
  • The people knew they needed a permanent Saviour – God would later provide a perfect Priest – his son Jesus
  • “For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” – 1 Timothy 2:5
  • Jesus was a perfect offering for all our sins because he himself was sinless
  • “We have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”  – Hebrews 10:10

What else is in the Law?

  • Chapters 8-9 – setting apart of the priests to do their special work
  • Chapters 11-15 – many rules for health and cleanliness
  • Chapters 18-20 – rules on social behaviour and relationships
  • Chapters 23 and 25 – feasts that must be kept

What feasts did the Jews keep – and what do they mean for us today?

  • Passover (April time) – signifies the death of Jesus
  • First-fruits/Harvest (June time) – signifies Christ and his followers
  • Trumpets (October time) – signifies the return of Israel to the land (1948)
  • Atonement (October time) – signifies the repentance of Israel (in the future!)
  • Tabernacles/Booths (October time) – signifies the Kingdom Age (in the future!)
  • Note that April time was the first month of the Jewish year.
  • Every 7th year was a Sabbatical Year, and after 7×7 (49) years the 50th year was the Jubilee Year.
  • The Jubilee Year is also a symbol of the Kingdom to come!

Next time: Bitesize Book of Numbers!

Is the Law of Moses still relevant today?

After preparing the Bitesize Study on the Book of Exodus I was thinking about the things in that book, and in particular the Law of Moses, which is first given during the time the Israelites wandered in the wilderness.  Of course the Law is an important part of the history of the Jews, but we are not just reading the Bible as a history book, we want to get something out if it that’s relevant to our lives today. 

Looking at the Bible as a whole we know that Jesus was the only person who ever managed to fulfil the Law.  He never sinned, and he never went against God’s rules.  His death was the perfect sacrifice for us because he was a “lamb without blemish”, and he took our sins on himself so that we have a way back to God. 

It goes without saying that Jesus knew the Law inside out. Reading the Gospels shows this, as we can see Jesus’ constant references to passages from the Old Testament. 

The Law of Moses was full of outward duties and rules and regulations.  It told people how they should live their daily lives.  When Jesus came, he made it clear that what was inside a person, and his attitude towards life was much more important than any outward show.  

Far from doing away with the Law however, in many cases he expanded on it.  One little example involves one of the Ten Commandments. 

You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’  But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. – Matthew 5:21-22

So Jesus says that not only should we not kill anyone – which I’m sure most of us wouldn’t ever contemplate – but that we should also address the root cause of murder, hatred.  We shouldn’t stand before God when we are angry with someone.  How difficult it us to never feel angry or wronged!  I know myself it’s easy to feel angry at the slightest provocation, or the slightest violation of what we consider to be our rights. 

Just with thus one little sentence Jesus makes doing God’s will an almost impossible task.  We should be thankful that we are no longer under the Law, but under grace, and so what is impossible with man is possible with God.  He knows we all sin and cannot live up to His high standards, but as long as we make the effort, there is forgiveness when we do wrong. 

The Law was also a shadow of things to come, and because we know that under the Law sins had to covered by the death of an animal, we can understand that when Jesus completed the Law and died sinless, he covered our sins once and for all.  Many Old Testament people, deeds and events are echoes of the life of Jesus, or the life of a Christian, and reading these things can help to remind us of what Jesus has done for us. 

So the answer has to be yes, the Law is relevant to us today, and as we continue to explore this history in Bitesize Bible Study, let’s try and take it a step further, and apply the facts we’ve learned to our lives today and discover why those things were written down for us. 

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness. – 2 Timothy 3:16