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March 8, Day #68 – In Memory of the Unnamed Woman

Yesterday, in our Leviticus readings, we were reminded of mankind’s two main problems – obedience and holiness. Today, our readings in Leviticus 15-16 reveal that, of the two, man’s greater problem is holiness. Obedience simply means to do what we’re told to do. A person can be obedient without being holy, but a person can never be holy without obeying God. Holiness has to do with sanctification – being separated and set apart for some particular or special purpose. These chapters address the uncleanness that is associated with bodily discharges of men and women. Uncleanness, such as a physical discharge, is not necessarily sinful, but as defined by God, it affects the purity of the individual, and impurities must be dealt with properly for a man or a woman to attain holiness. For example, in middle eastern culture, it wasn’t sinful for a traveler’s feet to become dirty by walking along a dusty road. But, because of the impurities of dirt, dirty feet need to be washed regularly (cf., John 13:1-17). We need to bathe frequently because we become dirty. However, impurities are not restricted to physical dirt. Moral and spiritual filth also make a man impure – keeping him from holiness. Holiness is a state of absolute purity without a speck of taint, and to fellowship with a holy and undefiled God, man needs to be made pure by the washing of regeneration (cf., Titus 3:5-7). In Leviticus 15:31, we read, “You must keep the Israelites separate from things that make them unclean so they will not die in their uncleanness for defiling my dwelling place among them.” Leviticus 16 presents the requirements for the annual day of atonement. “On this day atonement (a covering) will be made for you to cleanse you. Then, before the LORD, you will be clean from all your sins” (16:30). Leviticus show us that, try as we may - apart from God’s intervention - we cannot attain God’s two main requirements - to obey Him and to be holy before Him. This is why the whole book anticipates the coming of Christ.

In Psalm 31, we have a beautiful, prophetic picture of Christ’s sufferings. Moreover, in today’s reading (i.e., verses 1-8), we see God’s mighty hand of protection in that He is both our Refuge and our Rock, and in His righteousness, He rescues and delivers us from every “trap that is set before” us (verses 1-4). This speaks to us not only of the physical and material realms which harbor thousands of present, temporal dangers that can harm us, but also it addresses the spiritual realm where eternal dangers are greater and can last potentially forever. The words “deliver, rescue, and save” occur several times (verses 1-2), and they are soteriological - relative to our eternal salvation. In verse 5, David states, “Into your hands I commit my spirit,” emphasizing that our greatest need is spiritual, not physical. Our Lord quoted this verse at the time of His death.

In Mark 13:32 - 14:16, we see the continuation of Christ’s warning regarding the signs for the end of the age. In this section, He says that “no one knows about that day or hour … but only the Father” (verse 32). Again, He warns, “Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come” (verse 13). Here – consistent with so much of Scripture - is the direct statement of our Lord that wedo not know.” In verses 34-35, twice again, Jesus says “Keep watch!” And again in verse 37, He ends this discourse “to everyone” the same way He began it to Peter, James, John, and Andrew in verse 5: “Watch!” In Mark 14:1-16, we see Jesus having dinner at the home of Simon the Leper, during which time “a woman came and … poured very expensive perfume on His head” (verse 3). Some of the disciples became indignant about this, but Jesus said, “Leave her alone. She has done something beautiful to me” (verse 6). It is interesting to me that there are people in this world – even believers – who become indignant regarding the extension of anything truly beautiful. Why would anyone do that? We live in a broken, sin-marred world that reminds us always and everywhere of its ugliness. This incident was so beautiful that Jesus promised, “wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world what she has done will also be told in memory of her” (verse 9). Though we do not know her name, we remember her.

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