February 23: Feasts!

February 23, 2016:

by Josh Moody Today’s Bible Reading: Leviticus 21-23; Psalm 45; Matthew 20:17-34; Acts 27:27-44 Leviticus 21-23: Leviticus 21 explains how the office of priest does not exclude him from having to have both real and ceremonial holiness, and in fact the standards are higher for him and his family. It also stipulates exactly what degrees of next of kin can eat of the food from the ceremonial cult and what degrees cannot, presumably to protect against its abuse. The general picture given is that both animals that are sacrificed, and the ones doing the sacrifice, are set apart as special, in order to indicate the holiness of God and his purity, and their holiness and the purity of God is in no way to be sullied. Leviticus 23 lists the appointed feasts. Of great interest for Old Testament aficionados and New Testament exegetical geeks alike, it is fascinating to see not…

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February 22: Be Holy

February 22, 2016:

by Josh Moody Today’s Bible Reading: Leviticus 18-20; Psalm 44; Matthew 20:1-16; Acts 27:1-26 Leviticus 18-20: These chapters obviously have some tricky elements to them, and it is worth reading them in a slightly unusual way in order to be able to unpack their meaning. Start with the end in mind! If you look at verses 22 to 26 of chapter 20, you will see God gives the explanatory grid that undergirds all these instructions—an explanation that is also interwoven throughout all the different laws, expressed in various ways in these chapters. God says, "You shall therefore keep all my statutes and all my rules and do them, that the land where I am bringing you to live may not vomit you out.  And you shall not walk in the customs of the nation that I am driving out before you, for they did all these things, and therefore I detested…

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February 21: Atonement

February 21, 2016:

by Josh Moody Today’s Bible Reading: Leviticus 16-17; Psalm 43; Matthew 19:16-30; Acts 26:19-32 Leviticus 16-17: Now at last we come to slightly more familiar territory! The Day of Atonement, the tenth day of the seventh month, a special fast day, where God’s people are to have their sins “atoned,” or paid for, the punishment that they deserve is taken, as God’s holy wrath against an unholy people is propitiated. There are various instructions, summarized far more briefly in Numbers 29:7-11, that show how the priest is to act on this special day. There is also the somewhat mysteriously named “Azazel” goat (16:6-10) (as it is transliterated, literally rendered, from the Hebrew in the ESV version, or as it is traditionally translated “scapegoat,” reflecting the thinking that the word was meaning the goat that was sent away). But however mysterious or otherwise may be the actual name of the goat, its…

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February 20: God with Us

February 20, 2016:

by Josh Moody Today’s Bible Reading: Leviticus 14-15; Psalm 42; Matthew 19:1-15; Acts 26:1-18 Leviticus 14-15: Once again we are diving into the precise regulations for maintaining healthy communal living in a tight-knit, ancient society, immersed at a time without modern medical procedures, modern plumbing or building materials, and the like. Various skin diseases could easily spread; mold in houses could easily spread; human “emissions” and bleeding could carry infection, and various laws are required. However, what is interesting about these laws is that the grounding of them—indicated over and over again by the stipulation that sacrifices are required for the reintroduction of the unclean into the community—is that such order has a witnessing component to it. Leviticus 15:31: “Thus you shall keep the people of Israel separate from their uncleanness, lest they die in their uncleanness by defiling my tabernacle that is in their midst.” It is also worth noting,…

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February 19: Different

February 19, 2016:

by Josh Moody Today’s Bible Reading: Leviticus 11-13; Psalm 41; Matthew 18:15-35; Acts 25:13-27 Leviticus 11-13: Part of the difficulty with interpreting these laws as contemporary followers of Jesus is that the situation then was not only so different from today—a large nation, on the move, in camp, without modern medical techniques, where problems with sanitation and “cleanliness” must have been ever present—but that what we in the new covenant have separated was there conjoined. They were a nation, a congregation, a military group all together as one: a “theocracy.” However, the New Testament Church (in this way different from the Old Testament people of God, though in other respects there are multiple points of similarity) is not a “theocracy.” God’s people are “scattered” among the nations; in God’s plan, we are a multi-national group of people from every tribe and nation, and we are to render to Caesar what is…

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February 18: Unauthorized and Authorized Fire

February 18, 2016:

by Josh Moody Today’s Bible Reading: Leviticus 8-10; Psalm 40; Matthew 18:1-14; Acts 25:1-12 Leviticus 8-10: The details of these sacrifices continue to be explained so that all is done “as the Lord commanded” (8:4, 9, 13, 17, 21, 29; 9:7, 10; 10:15). That emphasis on doing as God says, according to his word, is emphasized over and over again throughout these chapters. It is also underlined by the tragedy that befell Nadab and Abihu who offered “unauthorized fire” (10:1) before the Lord, and died as a result (10:2). Their sin was such that punishment and judgment was the just and inevitable consequence. God is teaching by this means that relational connection, nepotism—they are sons of Aaron even—is no barrier or “inside ticket” to the necessity of being forgiven through God’s sacrifice. It is not just that they disobeyed some minor matter of a religious ceremony; they were attempting, by their…

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February 17: Sin and Sacrifice

February 17, 2016:

by Josh Moody Today’s Bible Reading: Leviticus 5-7; Psalm 39; Matthew 17:14-27; Acts 24 Leviticus 5-7: We now have descriptions of the burnt offering (Lev. 1, 6:8-13), the grain offering (Lev. 2, 6:14-18), the sin offering (Lev. 4:1-5:13, 6:24-30), the guilt offering (Lev. 5:14-6:7, 7:1-7), the ordination offering (Lev. 6:19-22), and the peace offering (Lev. 3, 7:11-21, 28-36) (7:37). These are the offerings that God commanded Moses on Mount Sinai (7:38), and are recorded for us though they were not spoken to us. We live on the other side of the cross, in a different age, under a new covenant, where these offerings are fulfilled in the sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. And those in Christ are now all a kingdom of priests (Ex. 19:5-6; 1 Peter 2:5), declaring God’s praises to the world around us (1 Peter 2:9), all with access to God through Jesus, our great high…

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Sermon Video: Love, Sex and God

February 16, 2016:

Below, on February 14, 2016, Josh Moody preached a message on “Love, Sex and God” in the sermon series “Biblical Answers to Life's Big Questions.” Taken from Hosea 1, this message is structured around three parts: a situation, a sign, and a solution. Discussion questions about this sermon can be found here.

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February 16: Sacrifice

February 16, 2016:

by Josh Moody Today’s Bible Reading: Leviticus 1-4; Psalm 38; Matthew 17:1-13; Acts 23:12-35 Leviticus 1-4: Leviticus is a book of the Bible that many people, when they start to read, quite soon give up! It appears a little obscure, overly detailed, and (frankly) irrelevant. In context, Moses is giving instructions to the Levites, the priests. Having established the tabernacle where God’s glory appeared (Exodus 40:34-35), he now instructs the priests how to administer all the different sacrifices for God’s people. And its main message may be simply divided into two sides of the same coin: God is holy, and therefore he also in his mercy provides sacrifices for our sins that we might be forgiven. Plus, the shape of this book within the overall panoply of the Bible, its place in the story arc, is not much in dispute: these sacrifices functioned to point towards a fulfillment. The very detailed,…

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February 15: Glory!

February 15, 2016:

by Josh Moody Today’s Bible Reading: Exodus 38-40; Psalm 37:23-40; Matthew 16:13-28; Acts 23:1-11 Exodus 38-40: At first glance these chapters seem yet more instructions, of a rather arcane kind, about how to construct the tabernacle and make priestly garments, instructions that, while perhaps of antiquarian interest, have no real pertinence spiritually today. However, there is a repeated refrain throughout these chapters, and a described result as a consequence at the end of these chapters, that brings out the intended meaning and lesson of these words. The repeated refrain, often in these precise words, if not mild variations of the kind, is frequent enough—multiple times—to be sure that the narrator is intending to draw our attention. “As the LORD had commanded Moses,” so they did. Each activity, precise detail: “as the LORD had commanded Moses.” Here is a people who are obeying, to the letter, with precision and faithfulness, exactly what…

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