Today: Psalms 27:7-14; Mark 10:13-31; Leviticus 4; Leviticus 5:1-13
Just as David laments in Psalm 27, I have also been the victim of false witnesses. At a job I worked at many years ago, a coworker told another coworker that I had said very mean things about her. Now this was absolutely untrue and I have no idea what made the first coworker tell these lies. I really liked and respected the woman who was told that I had maligned her. I would have never said the things I was accused of. The most painful part of the situation was that she believed the lies. I tried repeatedly to assure her that I had not said anything bad about her. But she never believed me and never trusted me with her friendship again.
Being falsely accused can feel devastating. We live in a time when false accusations are commonplace. The anonymity of social media has made people feel quite comfortable with slander. Any disagreement is an opportunity to bash your opponent with all sorts of derogatory names, usually completely disconnected from any truth. Chances are, you may have been a victim of this as well. But take heart, Jesus was also falsely accused.
In my case, I knew I was completely innocent. I did everything I could to resolve the problem but it was beyond my control. I moved and left that job soon afterwards; I have completely lost contact with everyone there. My situation was painful, but mostly petty misunderstanding. Some people pay a much higher price. Jesus was executed because of false accusations. There are times when we must just fix our eyes on Jesus and know that justice WILL come eventually when our Savior returns.
The way Jesus treated children, women, and the poor — with respect and honor — was quite radical in the Jewish culture of His day. Jesus always turned cultural norms upside down. He lifted up the unpopular, weak, and oppressed. He was harsh with the religious leaders and said about the wealthy that it is “easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” (v.25) The elite rich were revered then just as they are today and the disciples were shocked when Jesus said this. But He knew that human power and wealth often fool people into believing they do not need a Savior.
All the rules! All the sacrifices! It is tedious and overwhelming. And that was exactly the point. God had tried to let the Israelites to simply follow His leading. But they were hopelessly fickle, turning away from Him continuously and running after false idols.
So God said, alright wise guys! You wanna do it your own way? Here ya’ go! And he blasted them with books of regulations and minutiae that could never be completely kept. Some people must be shown instead of told. If they wanted to save themselves, HERE was how to do it. But it could never be done. They could never follow all the rules. And that was the entire purpose of the overkill. God wanted to make sure they understood.
How much more clear could God make this? Leviticus 4 covers UNINTENTIONAL sins, for goodness sakes! And Leviticus 5 discusses what to do if someone accidentally touches something unclean that was hidden! C’mon man! God was trolling the Israelites. His whole purpose was to show them that they couldn’t measure up. The needed God’s mercy and forgiveness. They desperately needed the coming Savior.