Watercolor statue of King David by Jesse Steel

Today: Psalms 29; Mark 11:27-33; Mark 12:1-12; Leviticus 9 & 10

Psalm 29

The LORD was the love of David’s life, his soulmate and passion. David spent a lot of time with God. He heard and recognized God’s voice so clearly that he is able to describe it for us in Psalm 29. THIS is what God’s voice sounds like…

“The voice of the LORD is on the waters; the God of glory thunders… the voice of the LORD is powerful, the voice of the LORD is majestic. The voice of the LORD breaks the cedars…. The voice of the LORD divides flames of fire. The voice of the LORD shakes the wilderness… the voice of the LORD makes the deer give birth and strips the forests bare.” Psalm 29

WOW. That is quite an amazing voice!

Painting by James Tissot

Mark 12 – The Vineyard Parable

The chief priests and scribes had just asked Jesus where His authority came from. They wanted to know who He really was. And in wonderful Jesus fashion, He answers them in a parable.

The beloved son in the vineyard parable is Himself, sent by His Father to collect the harvest. But the vine-growers in the parable kill the son. By telling this parable, Jesus has identified Himself as the beloved son of the Father and has also prophesied about His own death.

Jesus ends the parable by quoting Psalms 118:

“The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; the LORD has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes.” Psalms 118:22-23

The chief priests and scribes would have been familiar with this prophetic passage from King David, who had written in the previous verse that “…you have become my salvation.” (v.21) Jesus brilliantly connected the son in His parable, the one who was rejected and killed, to David’s prophecy of the coming Messiah.

There was Jesus’ bold answer to their question. Jesus was the beloved son of the Father, the prophesied Messiah who had come to bring salvation to the world.

Leviticus 9-10

Lots of blood and guts! Sacrificing was a messy business. But it was all done “just as the LORD had commanded Moses.” (v.9:10)

Crucifixion was a messy business too. The Israelites had no idea how the LORD was going to ultimately provide true salvation for the world. They had no idea that all the blood and guts pointed to the true saving sacrifice of Jesus Christ. They had no idea what God’s complete plan was.

All they had was His specific instructions to Moses. And as long as they followed God’s crazy, weird instructions, they were saved. God rewarded their obedience by showing them His glory (awesome!). He sent fire from heaven to consume the offering… “and when all the people saw it, they shouted and fell face downward.” (v.9:24) Cool!

But when they did not follow God’s instructions — when Aaron’s sons, Nadab and Abihu, offered “strange fire” that had not been commanded — God sent His own fire and killed them. This obviously sounds terribly harsh to our 21st century pampered ears. But God had given them extremely detailed instructions. There was no excuse for not following such a detailed how-to manual.

Obedience was important! Some people get miffed that God asks us to be obedient. Our culture despises this idea of obedience. They are offended even by the word. Of course, the ways of God have always been offensive to the world. But, like it or not, God has EARNED His authority over us by creating the Universe and giving us life.

Yes, God does require obedience because He is perfect and holy. Perfect holiness cannot commune with imperfection. And we, every single one of us, are undeniably imperfect. We cannot be perfectly obedient, no matter how hard we might try. We just can’t do it! God knows that. That’s why He sent Jesus to be perfect for us.

God knows how stubborn and dimwitted we are. He knows that telling us something isn’t usually going to work. He has to SHOW us! That’s why He lad down this crazy, over the top law on the Israelites. That’s why He burned up Nadab and Abihu. He was going after shock and awe. He wanted to make sure they understood WHO He was and WHO they were. He first wanted to make sure they understood that obedience was required. And then He slapped a law onto their heads that could never be completely obeyed. He wanted to SHOW them how desperately they needed a Savior.