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March 14, Day #74 – Obedience Leads to Life

Today our readings contain incredible truths for us to apply to our hearts and lives. Earlier in Exodus, and here in the book of Leviticus thus far, we have observed God’s sovereign power against disobedience. As we come to the end of Leviticus, I think it is sad that this book is the least read book of all the Bible, although it contains many of the principles of truth that we most need. For example, notice that Leviticus 26 opens with “Do not make idols …” (verse 1). While it is true that our God is a jealous God, we must understand that His jealousy is perfect because it is holy. His jealousy is sovereignly and righteously possessive for our sakes, because He knows that idolatry is not good for us. His jealousy is also protective – similar to those reasons why a parent would not allow his child to play on the freeway. By contrast, idolatry is perilous - an extreme form of disobedience against God. We have already seen that, with the creation and worship of the golden calf in the wilderness, the Israelites were prone to idolatry. Nevertheless, before we condemn the Israelites for their idolatry, we – even as believers today – ought always to examine our own lives to see if we are in possession of any foreign gods. We live in a culture that directly and unapologetically idolizes film stars, politicians, wealth, health, possessions - even television evangelists - and our culture indirectly worships them. Latent forms of idolatry are ever present. Anything that replaces our relationship to our God can quickly become an idol. Leviticus concludes in chapter 27 with the laws for redemption of that which belongs to the Lord. We would do well to recognize that God is the Owner of everything, and we should hold loosely onto whatever He entrusts to our stewardship (cf., Psalm 39:6). The last verse of Leviticus summarizes the entire book: “These are the commands the LORD gave Moses on Mount Sinai for the Israelites” (27:34).

The purpose of a commandment is obedience. A military command implies obedience, and if it is not obeyed, the natural result is punishment. While the Bible does emphasize punishment for lack of obedience, God’s Word also focuses on the positive side of obeying His commands. For example, here in Proverbs 7, notice that obedience to God’s commands leads to life. Proverbs 7:1-5 fits right in with the conclusion of Leviticus: “My son, keep my words and store up my commands … and you will live” (verses 1-2). These verses advise us to “guard” God’s teachings “as the apple” of our eye (verse 2). Ordinarily, we are very careful to protect our eyes from harm, and in the same manner, we are told to “guard” (i.e., protect) the truth of God’s Word. “The adulterous woman” (verse 5), is a picture of the evil in the world and its ways - against which we need carefully to “guard” ourselves.

As Luke opens his gospel, in Luke 1:1-25, we meet Zechariah and Elizabeth - an old couple who carefully knew the secret of protecting or “guarding” the Word of God. They also knew how to guard their hearts. God blessed them as His hand-picked parents of John the Baptist, the forerunner of our Lord. What an honor to stand before a watching world and know God’s proclamation for having lived an “upright and blameless” life before the Lord (Luke 1:6). This passage is similar to God’s visitation to Abram in Genesis 15. Like Abram, Zechariah was told that his wife would become pregnant, and like Abram, he asked the same question: “How can I be sure?” (cf., Genesis 15:8 and Luke 1:18). However, the difference between the two men is that Abram believed God but Zechariah did not believe Gabriel (cf., Genesis 15:6 and Luke 1:20). Although Zechariah was silenced temporarily for his unbelief, nevertheless, we see in this section how – in God’s economy and over the long-term - obedience clearly leads to life.

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