40 Jews, Dead From Self-Imposed Starvation

Daily Scripture readings for July, set #16:

– Leviticus, chapters 1-4
– Psalm 38
– Matt 17:1-13
– Acts 23:12-35

I will admit it: reading these first few chapters of Leviticus wasn’t exactly thrilling. The repetition of various offering statutes and details feels like a strong contender for the “most irrelevant to our day” section of Scripture. And yet, God saw fit to include it in his eternal word, and so we must read it. Regarding repetition, I noticed today that the description of burnt offerings functioning as “a pleasing aroma to the Lord” occurs almost ten times in these chapters (1:9,13,17,etc…). This kind of thing is a good example of how “ultra-literal” interpretations of Scripture can be quite confusing. Did the Lord really just enjoy the smell of burnt animal flesh, and therefore commanded that this practice be part of Israel’s daily routine? I doubt it. Anyone have any thoughts on the significance of this phrase?

Is it striking to anyone else that David, in Psalm 38, gives God credit for his pitiful state AND YET turns only to God for deliverance? It is clear that David takes responsibility for his own sin, but verse 2 is very direct that it is the Lord’s hand that has brought David low: “For your arrows have sunk into me, and your hand has come down on me.” But then he concludes in verse 15: “But for you, O Lord, do I wait; it is you, O Lord my God, who will answer.” David does not have to choose between the Lord as either a) the one who disciplines, or b) the one who delivers. For David, the Lord is both.

Matthew’s account of the Transfiguration is a familiar story, but for some reason the last few verses were very unfamiliar as I read them just now, especially regarding John the Baptist and Elijah. “‘But I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but did to him whatever they pleased. So also the Son of Man will certainly suffer at their hands.’ Then the disciples understood that he was speaking to them of John the Baptist” (vs 12-13). So, John the Baptist was the “return” of Elijah? That is totally new to me! I don’t even remember noticing that during my readings last year. Am I understanding this correctly?

The plot to kill Paul in Acts 23 is really interesting and totally reminds me of a Russel Crowe movie or something. Nothing in this section of verses jumped out at me as noteworthy, although I wonder what came of the oath that these guys took: “When it was day, the Jews made a plot and bound themselves by an oath neither to eat nor drink till they had killed Paul” (vs 12).

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