“For if we are faithful to the end, trusting God just as firmly as when we first believed, we will share in all that belongs to Christ.” (Hebrews 3:14 NLT)
I’ve gone back and forth on whether or not I should do a blog entry this week. This weekend, I came down with some sort of virus, very possibly the flu. The past 2-1/2 days, I’ve spend the majority of my time in bed or on the couch. Each time I’ve tried to muster up enough energy to do something useful, my body has fought back with me and I have been forced to relent. I missed Church and two days of bible study time, leading me to question whether I should post something this week.
I annoyingly succumbed to the reality that my body just needs rest. If I haven’t alluded to it in previous blogs, I am not a person that likes to sit still for too long. When I can’t get things done around my home or adequately take care of my responsibilities, I feel an overwhelming sense of failure. It might seem silly to other people, why I would put any blame on myself for being sick. Yet, as much as I hate admitting to it, that is something I do frequently to myself when I find my body isn’t operating at its best.
This past week, I’ve begun a new study in the Bible of both the books of Leviticus and Hebrews. As I mentioned in my very first blog, Proverbs 31 Ministries has recently provided some fruitful studies of books from the Old Testament. (Thank you Proverbs 31!) This particular one is a nice combination of both Old and New Testament Scripture. The Old Testament can be daunting and intimidating, but it’s also a book I feel compelled to better understand in order to better understand God. I guess that’s why I decided to start a Study, along with other women who feel the same way I do ~ in order to gain better understanding of the Scripture and how it pertains to my own life.
The Study begins in Hebrews 1. In this Chapter, we read that Jesus is superior to the angels. The author tells us that God speaks to us “through his Son,” essentially pointing out that God and Jesus are one in the same. Also, as Hebrews 1:3b (NIV) states, “When he had cleansed us from our sins, he sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven.” This Chapter clearly is expressing how important it is that we recognize Jesus as our ultimate messenger, guide and protector.
Moving on to Hebrews Chapter 2, we learn the importance of embracing our salvation. Hebrews 2:9 points out the fact that Jesus was “made lower than the angels for a little while.” That can be a bit confusing, having just read that Jesus is superior to the angels. However, Jesus was made in human form. Here we learn that Jesus was made to think, feel and experience life just as we all have. One major difference was that Jesus was also part of God. He was perfect. I find it extremely comforting knowing that Jesus faced overwhelmingly hard temptations and trials without faltering. Not only did he do that, but he sacrificed himself for our salvation. My favorite passage in this Chapter is Hebrews 2:11 (NLT), “So now Jesus and the ones he makes holy have the same Father. That is why Jesus is not ashamed to call them his brothers and sisters.” I love thinking of Jesus as my brother, always looking out for me and wanting the best for me.
In Hebrews Chapter 3, the message is living in faith and not losing trust. Hebrews 3:15-19, reminds us of how God warns us against not trusting in Him. Here, God reminds us of the Israelite’s failure to trust in Him. (Remember Exodus Chapter 32 and the Gold Calf the people worshipped?) God would now allow them into His Promised Land, because it was essential that they believe in Him. It is a warning to us of the importance of putting our full faith and trust in God and in His plans for us.
After reading Hebrews Chapters 1 through 3, we move on to Leviticus Chapter 1. Here, we learn of the laws for burnt offerings. We see a parallel here to Hebrews and it points to Jesus’ sacrifice. In Old Testament times, animals were sacrificed as the penalty for the sinner. God gave specific instructions in these sacrifices. A male from the herd was to be sacrificed with “no defects.” The sinner was to place their hand on the animals head as the Lord accepted its death as sacrifice for their own sin. God also gave specific instruction on how and in what manner the animal should be brought before the altar for burnt sacrifice (see Leviticus 1:3-10). Why all of these specific instructions? Well, as we have read in early scripture, God is detailed. The burnt offerings are a direct representation of Jesus Christ and his sacrifice for us all. Jesus was the perfect animal with “no defects.” He accepted death for our sin and died on the cross to pay the penalty for it. So now, because of Jesus Christ, we need only to offer our sin to God and ask for forgiveness.
Lastly, in Leviticus Chapter 2, we learn of the laws for grain offerings. I believe the key point here is the importance of living a pure life. God instructed that no yeast was to be mixed in with the grain offering. Why was this? Yeast is a bacterial fungus. It causes mold and it is a symbol of sin. The more we let sin enter into our lives, the more our lives suffer because of it. Also, salt was used to season the grain offerings. Salt preserves, heals and penetrates – much like God does for us in our own lives. The grain offering is representative to how God wants us to live: purely, with perseverance and allowing Him to be active in our lives.
What I can learn from these Chapters, in my own life, is that just because I get sick or life doesn’t go the way I expect it to, doesn’t mean I have failed. Maybe the voice I hear telling me I’ve failed is the one trying to prevent me from getting the rest I need or the one trying to prevent me from persevering. That voice is definitely going to keep me farther from God, who is my only healer and protector.
I sure like to pride myself on being a faithful and trusting servant of God. However, in my time of illness do I truly give that to Him? Or do I let the little voice inside of me tell me that I must be bringing this onto myself in some way? Isn’t that evil trying to win? And the bigger question… Do I allow that?
The answer is no way! Maybe that used to be the case. But, today, I woke up a little less tired and also with a yearning to be with God. I had the energy I so severely lacked these past couple of days, to sit at my computer to write about it. I feel a peace and strength inside of me just letting the feelings and words come out. That is not from me. That is from Him.
Thank you Father God, for being my ultimate protector. Thank you for teaching me, through your Word, how you are always ready to be active in my life. Please help me to come to you in the darkness and to lean on you when my body fails me and to gain new energy and life from you. Please help me to be easier on myself in times of stress and trouble and remember that I only need to lean in to you. I praise you for the ways you are teaching me through your Word, so I can share it with others. In Your Most Holy Name, Amen.