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March 7, Day #67 – Watch Out and Be on Your Guard!

One of the most important lessons that the book of Leviticus teaches is found in the question - Will man simply obey God? Will the Israelites obey and do all the extremely tedious and complex regulations found in this book? That is the test that the book sets forth, and ultimately, it is God’s test for us all. Will we obey Him? To man, God’s requirements often seem absurd - silly and even completely unrelated to the subject at hand. Scripture offers many illustrations of this. For example, Naaman (2 Kings 5) had leprosy and was commanded to dip himself seven times in the muddy Jordan River to be cleansed of his disease. Not a difficult task, though perhaps an embarrassing one. Naaman first believed this solution was silly - totally unrelated to his disease. But that’s exactly our difficulty. We don’t believe it. However, God is sovereign, and He can use any means He wants to test us or to treat our condition. Which is worse - His requirements to solve our problem - or living with the besetting problem itself? The question is, “Will we believe God and trust His solution to treat our problem? This is what Leviticus is all about. Chapter 14 of Leviticus continues the highly detailed regulations (that began in chapter 13) for cleansing infectious skin diseases and for treating mildew. Anyone in the camp who was affected by these problems had to follow these regulations precisely. Why? Because we need to understand what it means to be holy. We cannot come into God’s presence any other way than to be holy – completely pure, cleansed, and set apart from every tainted condition.

We continue today with Psalm 30, verses 8-12. In this section, we see David crying out to the LORD for mercy – twice (cf., verses 8 and 10). In verse 7, David asserts that “when God favored Him,” He made David’s “mountain stand firm,” but when God hid His face from David, he was dismayed.” We all experience times when we feel closer to the Lord in our walk, and at other times, we feel like He “has hidden His face from us.” Being distant or even removed from God’s presence is truly disheartening which is made worse by the fact that the change in proximity is almost always our problem – we are the wayward ones – the ones who moved. I am encouraged to read that a man like David also shared similar experiences. The Psalms comfort and encourage us because they exemplify how our godly predecessors handled these issues before us. God wants us to emulate them. David says, “O LORD, be my help,” and upon receiving His help, David responds, “you removed my sackcloth (a picture of mourning) and clothed me with joy” (verses 10-11). “O LORD my God, I will give you thanks forever” (verse 12). May this ever be our praise before Him.

In Mark 13:1-31, as Jesus is leaving the temple, He points out that a time is coming when “not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down” (verse 2). Later, the disciples asked Him privately to tell them when these events would occur. Jesus said, “Watch out that no one deceives you” (verse 5). We need to recognize how prevalent deception is in our world – opportunities for deception occur on every hand and topic, and we need to guard ourselves against deception. In discussing the end of the age, Jesus said that “deceptions, wars, rumors of wars, nation rising against nation, kingdom against kingdom, earthquakes, famines,” etc., would come, but these are only the “beginning of birth pains” (verses 5-8). Again, Jesus warned, “Be on your guard” (verse 9). I fear that many of us are no longer “watching out,” and we are no longer maintaining “our guard.” We are living in a deceptive culture that has lulled us into a confusing but placid stupor of convenience, information, and entertainment availability that has also minimized, twisted, or even concealed the truth from us. The events Jesus described in Mark 13:9-13 are already happening all around us. The sign of the end, according to Jesus, is “the abomination that causes desolation standing where it does not belong” (cf., Daniel 9:27; 11:31; 12:11). Jesus states that, at the end, “the days of distress will be unequaled from the beginning when God created the world until now – never to be equaled again” (verse 19). We need to heed Christ’s warnings to “watch out” and to “be on our guard.”

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