Sunday, February 26, 2017

I am the LORD

February 26, 2017

Ask my wife; I can be somewhat dense at times. I guess God knows this about me too, and about most people as well. There's really no other explanation for the wording of the text. Leviticus is what the name implies; the amplification of the Ten Commandments of Exodus 20. It is the laws and regulations by which God's people were to live. Admittedly, it can be pretty dull reading, but buried within its pages are gems of exquisite beauty. Chapter 22 verses 30-33 highlights one of them. In these four verses a single phrase is repeated four times: "I am the LORD," once with the qualifying phrase, "who sanctifies you, who brought you out  of the land of Egypt."

Critics often see the Old Testament Law as the means ordained for us to be brought into right relationship with God, but that is a complete misunderstanding of it. In this particular text, God tells his people how they are to offer their sacrifices of thanksgiving, adding that they are to be careful to observe his commandments, especially to  honor his Name. Twice he links his Name with their obligation to obey his commands, but the last two mentions of the Name are attached to what God himself has done. He rescued his people from slavery and then separates them unto himself from all other peoples. His Name is connected not only with his demands, but also with his mighty acts of salvation on behalf of his people.

Forty eight times in Leviticus God identifies with his people, claiming this special relationship with its demands, but also with the amazing fact of his having chosen them. There have been plenty of times in my life when I felt pretty insignificant, pretty powerless to make a difference in this world, a failure and a disappointment to myself, others, and to God. But God, our God, delivers us from sin and despair, sets us apart from everyone else, reveals his Name to us, and does the impossible: he makes us holy. I may be insignificant; I may be powerless; I may be a disappointment, but nevertheless, because of Christ, I am chosen, and though powerless in and of myself, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me, because with God, nothing is impossible. This God, my God...our  God delivered us from sin, and is actively making us holy as he molds us into the image of his Son, our Savior. May the Name of the LORD be praised forever!

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