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March 5, Day #65 – Joy in the Morning

In the first seven chapters of Leviticus, we have seen God’s requirements for holiness expressed through the ritual laws that relate to sacrifices. These sacrifices concerned sacred days and festivals and issues that relate to justice before God. In chapters eight through ten, we have seen the laws that relate to the priesthood – the ordination of priests, the higher standards required for priests, and their responsibilities to represent the people properly before a holy God. In chapter ten, we saw the horrible consequences for Aaron’s sons – Nadab and Abihu – for improperly experimenting with worldly forms of worship. As we come to chapter 11, we now see God’s attention given to laws for purity and cleanliness (i.e., clean versus unclean). We need to understand that God is making a distinction here – there is a difference between sin and righteousness – and God calls His people to forsake sin and “be holy” (cf., Leviticus 10:10). In chapter 11, God identifies His will regarding specific animals that are “clean” and “unclean.” We need to understand that ceremonial laws for purity are for our good and for our health, about which God is concerned. Things that are “unclean” spoil our lives – people do not knowingly eat foods gone bad or rotten meat. Why? Because they are impure, and they can actually and ultimately kill us. In Leviticus 11:43, we read, “Do not defile yourselves by any of these creatures. Do not make yourselves unclean … be holy, because I am holy.” To be holy, we must be clean. In chapter 12, we read about the purification laws for a woman after childbirth.

Psalm 30 has been important to me ever since I was a teenager. Back then, I read an excerpt from a novel entitled, Joy in the Morning, and I was so impressed by the writer and the story that I copied parts of it - just to imagine what it might be like to be a writer. The original excerpt ends with Psalm 30:5 - “weeping may stay for the night, but joy comes in the morning.” Reading this Psalm many times over the years, I recognize that I haven’t really known as much grief as many other people have known. God has truly been merciful to me, and for that I’m thankful. But now that I am old, I have come to realize the “depths” from which God has truly “lifted me” (verse 1), not only as an individual, but also as a member of the sinful human race. I’m genuinely thankful for that, too, and I seek to “exalt the LORD” for it (verse 1). I can testify that God has always helped me when I called to Him. Undeniably, I have known seasons of “weeping,” but God always brought me “joy in the morning” (verse 5). How I praise God for His unfailing love, His lovingkindness, His mercy, and His faithfulness which is new every morning (cf., Lamentations 3:22-23).

In Mark 12:13-27 we see once again that the Pharisees, the Sadducees, and the Herodians try to trick or trap Jesus about paying taxes to Caesar. Their intent clearly reveals their jealousy and spite toward the Son of the very God of the universe. They envied Christ’s following of the people, and they desired to put Him in a position of opposition to Rome and its Emperor. Jesus answers their question about paying taxes to Caesar, about the truth of the resurrection, and about the greatest commandment. Once again, Jesus turns the tables on them by indicating the temporal reality of marriage for this age and explaining its distinction in the resurrection. Jesus tells these rulers of Israel that they are “in error … not knowing the Scriptures” (verse 24). Regarding the dead, Jesus points out that God is “not the God of the dead, but of the living,” again revealing their error (verses 26-27). Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are alive – not dead – and they continue to serve the living God. Jesus once again demonstrates His deity, His divine origin, and His authority.

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