LEVITICUS 1, JOHN 20, PROVERBS 17, PHILIPPIANS 4

Leviticus 1:3-5
I was struck by the repetition of "before the LORD."  To be accepted before the LORD, the people of Israel must bring a male from the herd or flock without flaw, lay his hand on the head of the animal to be offered and kill it before the LORD.  The sacrifice in Chapter one was specifically for dedicating oneself to God. In fact, it was the only sacrifice a Gentile convert could offer.  Though the primary purpose of the sacrifice in Leviticus 1 was not to deal with the sin of the offerer, it does act as an atonement for their sin. This animal's death, in place of the one making the offering, was necessary for both right standing before God and a continued devoted relationship with Him.

I tend to forget, but this offering was costly.  Meat was a rare delicacy.  The burnt offering was consumed entirely; nothing was for human consumption, it was all for the LORD.   The various options of a bull, sheep, goat, dove or pigeon are based on what the individual could afford. 

By laying his hands on the sacrifice's head, the worshiper was acknowledging his sin, the transfer of his guilt to the animal which was to die in his place, and his undivided covenant devotion to the Lord.

LORD God, You are just.  All rebellion against You must be punished.  But LORD God, You are gracious and merciful.  Your willingness to not only accept a substitute but to provide the One true sacrifice proves Your grace and mercy. 

John 20:1-18
Mary Magdalene is a great person to study. 

She was one of the women who followed Jesus, ministering to Him (Luke 8:2-3), she was Him at the cross (Matthew 27:55) and the tomb (Matthew 27:61).  Mary Magdalene was the first person to see the resurrected Christ, and Jesus had cast seven demons out of her (Mark 16:9).  Tradition has identified her as the woman in Luke 7:36-50, but there is nothing in the NT to support that claim. 

In this passage, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, but Peter and John didn't.  She had to run and get them.  They came and left, but Mary stayed persistently looking for Jesus.  She saw two angels, but even that did not distract her.  She wanted to find Him.  When Jesus came to her, she did not recognize Him but asked where Jesus was.

When Jesus called her name, she immediately knew Him.  What an awesome reward for her persistence.  He is indeed the Good Shepherd.  He is the One who calls His sheep by name, and they know His voice and follow Him.

Lord Jesus, may I have the persistence of Mary Magdalene.  When I do not understand what is happening, may I pursue You as faithfully as she did.  The reward of seeing You and hearing You call my name is worth any effort.

Philippians 4:1-4
Just as "before the LORD" caught my attention in Leviticus 1, "in the Lord" stood out as I read Philippians 4.  It reminded me of the difference between the old and new covenant.  In Leviticus under the old covenant, the people stood "before" the Lord and in Philippians under the new covenant; the brothers stood "in" the Lord. 

In the Lord is a phrase Paul uses several times in Philippians.  "In the Lord" we are to be confident, hope, trust, receive fellow believers with joy, rejoice, stand firm, agree, rejoice always, and rejoice greatly (Philippians 1:14; 2:19, 24, 29; 3:1; 4:1, 2, 10).

Lord Jesus, thank You for the new covenant, Your body broken for me, Your blood shed for me.  Father, thank You.  Because of You, I am in Christ Jesus, my Lord. 

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