Mark 8

Jesus feeds 4,000 in the Gentile Decapolis area, east of the Sea of Galilee.  He contrasts this with a warning against the bread and leaven of the Pharisees.  He gives good bread; they give crummy stuff.

He makes a point the modern reader doesn't understand easily.  He fed 5000 in Israel and 12 baskets were left.  He fed 4000 in Gentile land, and 7 baskets were left.  These numbers are symbolic, based on the location.  12 is for 12 tribes of Israel: Jesus can feed all Israel.  7 is for the 7 Canaanite nations driven out by Moses, some of whom went to this region: Jesus can feed all the Gentiles.  5 might be for the 5 books of Moses, and 4 might be for the 4 corners of the earth.  The point is that Jesus is the true Joseph, who can provide bread for the whole world, Jew and Gentile.

Jesus connects His identity with His coming cross and resurrection.  This is what it will mean to be the Christ.  It's totally unexpected, and Peter objects.  Jesus notices Satan at work in Peter.  He calls for everyone to note that we must take up our cross like Jesus will, follow Him, and not be ashamed.

The last verse assumes the divinity of Jesus.

Not noticing when we need to be fed by Jesus.
Thinking Jesus is like other religious teachers, when He gives real food and the others do not.
To resist Satan sometimes an extra measure of resistance or rejection of friends is needed.
Being embarrassed or feeling guilty when we aren't "winning" as Christians in the culture.

Mark 7

Jesus rebukes the Pharisees for leading people away from obeying God's Word, for the sake of keeping some of their traditions.  Interestingly, He then declares all food clean, contra Leviticus 11!

Jesus heals people outside Israel, too, in Tyre and then east in Decapolis again.  He was apparently looking for some R&R, not to deliberately heal.  But the faith of some He meets prompts Him to heal them.

Sins this may reveal
Sticking to routines instead of deliberate obedience to God's Word.
Focus on nutrition or other lesser defilements more than actual sins we commit.
Not asking Jesus for things we need - thinking we aren't important enough to ask.


At Least Don't Crucify It

It's one thing to chase big names as a fanboy.
It's another to pursue excellence.

After 10 plus years of speaking for a living, it starts to dawn on me - hey, words matter.  I need to be able to sustain a thought for more than 5 seconds in conversation, for more than 2 sentences in a paragraph.

Call me a slow learner.

So I'm coming to appreciate the difficult task of writing and speaking well, so that you're enjoyable to read or hear.  This has set me on the tightrope journey between chasing celebrities and studying excellence.  You probably face this in some other area of life.  It may be sports or investing or anything.  Do you hang on every word Warren Buffet says, or do you study why he's doing what he's doing?

Kevin DeYoung is a big name preacher and writer right now.  We were both in the same denomination, and we have the same values and concerns.  He's speaking at Ligonier and Desiring God.  He's a year or two younger than me, which makes me feel... well, jealous.  What's the difference between him and me?


He excels at speaking and writing.  I get by.  I know I'm helpful to people, since they've told me so.  I'm not meaning to be self-deprecating or conspicuously humble or beat myself up.  Some people have a knack for it, or they work harder, but whatever the process, the end result is better than it is for others.

Americans have a hard time with this.  Our creed is that all people are equal, a distortion of what Jefferson actually wrote - that we are created equal.  Politicians today actually pursue equality of income.  This makes us resent the more able, the wealthy, the popular.

But we should pursue excellence and commend it!  When I read a great blog post, I want to work harder at writing better.  If I respond sinfully, I wind up grumpy at the author for being a "celebrity" with "fans."  He's obviously caught up in pride and the narcissism of the blogosphere.  Like I really know, but I need to cut him down to size in my mind, since he's obviously doing better than I am.

So when you bump into excellence, be inspired to work harder at it yourself.  Avoid the trapdoor of resentment and envy.  Watch out for the easy road of following folks as a fan.  This is fine, when you're keeping an eye on how the pros do it, so you can do it, too.  But often we follow celebrities to escape from our duties and live vicariously through them.  No, no, no.

The Jewish leaders asked Pilate to put Jesus to death because of envy (Mark 15:10).  Don't be those guys.  But many react and resolve to not follow anyone or anything excellent.  Wouldn't want to be part of a "celebrity culture."  Uh, huh.   Which leaves you on your own.  Don't look for help from anyone else, that would be copycatting.  This is WAY mis-guided.

Instead, let us fix our eyes on Jesus and run our race as He ran His (Hebrews 12:1-2).

What will you do with the excellence you see in the world?

Leviticus 13-14

Various skin diseases are examined by the priest, who declares them either safe, under quarantine for a week usually for further inspection then, or unclean and to live apart until healed.

If you are healed you kill one bird ritually and release another.  You wash, shave your head hair, wait 7 days, then shave it all off.  Then you sacrifice 3 lambs with a grain offering (1, if you can't afford 3).

If a house has mold or mildew, you do the same thing.  The priest comes and inspects and declares it either clean, under quarantine for a week, or unclean and to be destroyed.

How this is about Jesus
Jesus follows this general principle in His visitation of Israel and Jerusalem.  His teaching declares their life and doctrine unclean early on.  He comes to Jerusalem and declares them unclean again.  He returns in 70 AD and destroys the house.  It is thoroughly diseased.

Sins this reveals
We often minimize our sin, saying it's only skin deep, when it really goes to the heart.  We are cherishing and reveling in some sin, instead of coming across it incidentally or mortifying it.


What's a Supra-Lapsarian?

Section II: Theology Proper (Study of God)
Chapter 9 - Goodwin's Christological Supralapsarianism

Goodwin was a Supralapsarian in his doctrine of election.

Not Arminian
God chose us in Christ, which means within Himself, with Christ as the goal and glory of our election.  It doesn't mean that God chooses us because we have faith in Christ, or because we are holy and blameless.

God's purpose
One aspect of supra-lapsarianism in Goodwin is this.  In decreeing the Son to become Incarnate, God's purpose was more to glorify Christ than to reconcile us to Him.

More supra than infra, but both
Did God consider us fallen or unfallen when He choose us for salvation and union with Christ?  Goodwin tried to say it both ways.  The fall and our salvation was a means to the end of glorifying Christ.  As far as God's decree was to save and reconcile us, it was as fallen, and thus infra-lapsarian.  As far as God's decree was to glorify Christ, it was as unfallen, and thus supra-lapsarian.

Goodwin's main emphasis is that God sought Christ's glory more than anything, in His work for our salvation.  This is good.  It leads him to say that the Incarnation was probably the greatest most glorious work, even more than the crucifixion or resurrection.

This has always seemed a semantic argument, to me.  Of course, He chose us before the foundation of the world.  And that election involved redemption from sin.  It's helpful to remember that God has a purpose for us that goes beyond sin and forgiveness - our union and fellowship with Him. To the extent the supra position does this, it's good.  But it can descend to a rationalistic and/or hyper-Calvinist view.

Leviticus 11-12

Chapter 11

  • Animals okay to eat:
  • land animals with cloven hoof and that chew cud
  • sea animals with fins and scales
  • some birds are out
  • insects with four legs and jointed legs are okay
  • If you touch unclean things you have to wash your clothes and are unclean until sunset.
  • Any kitchen item touched has to be3 destroyed, even a stove or oven!
  • This is tied to your holiness.

How this is about Jesus

  • Jesus repeals this code for us in Mark 7
  • The purpose was to illustrate the distinction between holy and defiled, which principle continues today
  • Jesus revamps this in the sermon on the mount in Matthew 5:48
  • The point of the food laws was NOT nutritional, but ethical: distinguish between clean and unclean.  See verses 44-47.

Chapter 12
After birth, a boy is to be circumcised on the 8th day.  The mother is unclean for 40 days, then brings a sin and burnt offering to the temple.  If it's a girl she's unclean for 80 days.  The reason for the impurity is probably the loss of blood during birth - emissions of fluid generally made you unclean.  No reason is given for the double time for the girl, but it would go against Genesis 1:27 to say a daughter is less wanted or more impure inherently than a son.

How this is about Jesus

  • Joseph and Mary fulfill this, and meet Simeon and Anna in the temple.
  • This passage is a reminder of the curse and promise in Genesis 3.  Birth would involve pain, now that we sinned, but through birth would come a redeemer to cleanse away all impurity (1 Timothy 2:15).


Mark 6:30-56

Jesus seeks down time with the disciples but none is granted.
Instead He feeds the five thousand and walks on water.
His popularity is high.

Sins this may reveal
Seeking time for self when it's time to serve.
Doubting God can provide for many needs.
Seeking Jesus for material needs alone.

Leviticus 8-10

Chapter 8
Moses washes and anoints Aaron and his sons, consecrating them to the priesthood.
Moses sacrifices a sin offering (bull), burnt offering (ram), ordination offering (ram) and grain offering.  The priests eat of the last two in the gate, and stay in the tabernacle seven days.

Chapter 9
On the eighth day (new creation), the priests take over doing the sacrifices instead of Moses.  They bring sin and burnt offerings, the people bring sin, burnt, grain and peace offerings.  Then Aaron blesses the people (benediction) with raised hands.  Fire comes supernaturally from God to burn up the sacrifices.

Chapter 10
Two of Aaron's sons make unauthorized fire in the tabernacle, and God strikes them dead for it.  He tells Aaron not to mourn, though Israel may.  No alcohol is allowed in the tabernacle (were Nadab and Abihu drunk?)  Aaron has the sin offering burned instead of eaten.  This goes against God's instruction, and Moses gets mad.  But Aaron didn't feel worthy to eat it after what happened to Nadab and Abihu.  Moses accepts that.

How this is about Jesus

  • Jesus went into the true sanctuary in heaven and made atonement for us as the great high priest.
  • He was raised on the eighth day, the day after the sabbath, after a week of consecration and redemptive work (lamb selection at Triumphal entry, teaching, sacrifice).
  • His sacrifice was pleasing to God, as He Himself was.  He committed no rebellion, mistake or lack of faith.

There is a clear order to the sacrifices: sin, then whole burnt consecration, then peace offering eaten, then benediction.  It corresponds to our worship order today: confession of sin, preaching of Word (a knife that cuts us up and arranges us for consecration to God), Communion.
Be careful tampering with worship!  Don't just inject whatever you want.  Follow Scriptural principles.


What's the Big Deal about Singing in Parts in Church?

Here's your answer:
It's an act of love and beauty, glorifying God and neighbor.
Take a minute to watch, and think about church music.

Ken Myers, fourth from right, does great work here.
The others are those notorious Auburn Avenue guys...

Mark 6:1-29

Back at His hometown of Nazareth, the people can't believe their Jesus could do such things, so He does little.
Jesus sends the disciples out on their own, to heal, exorcise and preach.  They are to be supported by those who receive them.
This makes Jesus more famous, and Herod hears of it.  He thinks John the Baptist is back from the dead haunting him.  He has a guilty conscience from having John beheaded after showing off his daughter in front of his state leaders and cabinet.

Sins this reveals
Rejecting or devaluing Jesus for petty reasons.
Not trusting God to provide while we are doing His work.
Showing off things we shouldn't.
Making rash promises while in the grip of lust.
Holding resentment and seeking revenge against people who point out our sins.

Leviticus 6-7

Having looked at each different kind of sacrifice, we now look at the priest's work and portion.
The ashes from the altar had to be cleaned out, new wood put on and a fire kept going at all times.
They get the unleavened grain offerings from the people, but only the males could eat it.
The priests were to offer a grain offering twice a day, baking and burning the whole thing.
Sin and guilt offerings can be eaten by the priests who do the work of offering them, but if the blood goes into the holy place that animal is burned up completely.
Peace offerings had to be eaten by the third day.  The priest got the right thigh piece.
Meat to be eaten couldn't be if it touched something or someone unclean.
Fat couldn't be eaten but could be used to other things.  Blood not to be eaten.

How this is about Jesus
Jesus our great high priest offering up a sin sacrifice for us (Himself).
He saw this labor and was satisfied (Isaiah 53:10-11).

The priests were pretty well compensated for their work:
Animal skins and meat, grain, etc.


Leviticus 1-6

With the tabernacle set up and the priests ordained, sacrifice can now begin.
Here is detailed instruction on how to offer each sacrifice.

Burnt, whole, or ascension offering: chapter 1
Whether cow, sheep, goat or bird, it is killed, blood applied to altar base/sides, meat put on altar, rest of body washed and put on altar and burned as "a food offering with a pleasing aroma to Yahweh."

Grain offering: chapter 2
Raw or baked, it is given with oil.  A handful is burned on the altar, the rest is for the priests to eat.
No leaven or honey is to be burned on the altar.  Salt is to be used with every grain offering.
The best elements are always to be used (fine flour, fresh ears, new grain - vss. 1, 14; animals without blemish - 3:1 and 1:3).

Peace offering: chapter 3
Cow, sheep or goat, it is killed, blood applied to the altar, and fatty parts burned.
Fat is the Lord's (because it's the best/tastiest, I think, not because it's bad for you).
Blood not to be eaten.
Nothing is said about the meat, but it's explained later.  It was eaten by the one offering the sacrifice, with part of it going to the priest (Lev. 7:11-18; Deut. 12:6-7).

Sin offering - chapters 4-5
Sinner brings an animal, lays hand on it, it's killed, the blood is applied to the altar (and sprinkled before the veil in the temple if it's a leader's sin or a corporate sin), the fat is burned, the rest of the body is burned outside the camp.  The animal varies based on who sinned: bull for priest or congregation, male goat for leader, female goat or lamb for commoner.

These unintentional sins are specified: failing to testify when you're a witness, becoming unclean without knowing it, or taking a rash vow.  When you realize it, you bring a female lamb or goat, 2 turtledoves, or a 3/5 a bushel of grain, depending what you can afford.

Some sins against the temple required compensation based on the value of the thing defiled.  A ram was offered, and 1/5 was added to the restitution needed, and paid in silver shekels.

Guilt offering (6:1-7)
Intentional sins: offer a ram as a sin offering and pay it back with 1/5.

How this is about Jesus

  • Jesus is the sacrifice God provides for us, so that God can be pleased with us, so that we can draw near to Him and be accepted by Him (1:2-3).
  • As the sin offering, He is taken outside the camp (Heb 13:11-12).
  • Our sins are laid on Him (1 Peter 2:24).
  • He was a pleasing sacrifice to God (Isaiah 53:10).
  • His blood was sprinkled before God and atones for our sin (Rev. 1:5).  Hebrews 9:12 - "Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption."

Mark 5

Verses 1-20
Jesus restores a man possessed with many demons, in the pagan Decapolis region, east of the lake of Galilee.  Jesus identifies Himself and His work with the Lord directly (vs. 19).  Often it's more important for us to go tell others what Jesus did for us, than for us to stay with Jesus physically.

Verses 21-43
A synagogue ruler asks Jesus to save his sick daughter's life.  On the way, Jesus stops to figure out (?) who in the crowd was healed by touching Him.  We wonder why He would do this, but He wants that woman to be as valued publicly as the ruler's daughter.  After verse 35, many would be tempted to affirm that Jesus should NOT have stopped to help a less important person.  He rejects this.

Sins this reveals
Not trusting the timing of Jesus.
Giving important people more attention and favor than others.
Despairing that death is the end.
Treating Jesus like He can't overcome major life problems (diseases we have for years, death, etc.).

Washington's Moral Leadership; Reporting Abuse in the Church; More

Here is a free book chapter by Marvin Olasky.
Fascinating how many revolutionary war wins for the patriots happened partly because of immorality in the British high command.

World magazine got accused of being anti science around the new year, so they wrote up a list of anti science assertions being made by the secular press today.  Quite good.

This is an important statement about reporting to the police any abuse that happens in a church context.

Mark 4

Verses 1-20
Jesus tells and explains the parable of the Sower and seeds.  The seed is the word, and it lands in various soil types.  Some receive the word and bear much fruit.  Most do not receive it, or only for a short time.

Verses 21-41
When we bear fruit, it is to be helpful to those around and show them the glory of God.
The Word does this by nature: growing from a tiny bit to be of great use.
They then cross the lake, and a storm puts them in danger of sinking and drowning.  Jesus sleeps, but wakes and commands the wind and sea to stop.  It does!  This fills the disciples with fear.  Jesus is Lord of creation, controlling it as He wants to.

Sins this reveals
Apathy to the Word.
Hearing but not doing the Word.
Not going public with our faith or deeds.
Not pursuing growth in relationship with the Lord.
Being afraid of threatening circumstances, when the Lord is with us.