Today’s Bible readings are from Leviticus 5, Psalm 3-4, Proverbs 20 and Colossians 3.
The relationship of 5:1-13 to chapter 4 continues to be the subject of some debate. Wenham summarized this section well:
“The purification [sin] offering dealt with the pollution caused by sin. If sin polluted the land, it defiled particularly the house where God dwelt. The seriousness of pollution depended on the seriousness of the sin, which in turn related to the status of the sinner. If a private citizen sinned, his action polluted the sanctuary only to a limited extent. Therefore the blood of the purification offering was only smeared on the horns of the altar of burnt sacrifice. If, however, the whole nation sinned or the holiest member of the nation, the high priest, sinned, this was more serious. The blood had to be taken inside the tabernacle and sprinkled on the veil and the altar of incense. Finally over the period of a year the sins of the nation could accumulate to such an extent that they polluted even the holy of holies, where God dwelt. If he was to continue to dwell among his people, this too had to be cleansed in the annual day of atonement ceremony (see Lev. 16).”
Matthew Henry was one commentator who understood this section of instructions (5:1-13) as dealing with the cost of forgiveness:
“… the expense of the sin-offering was brought lower than that of any other offering, to teach us that no man’s poverty shall ever be a bar in the way of his pardon. No man shall say that he had not wherewithal to bear the charges of a journey to heaven.”
Thomas Constables notes:
Under the New Covenant, the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses the believer from all sin (cf. Heb. 9—10; 1 Pet. 1:2; 1 John 1:7; Rev. 7:14). Thus this offering is now obsolete for the Christian. However, sin in the believer’s life can grieve the indwelling Holy Spirit (Eph. 4:30). Furthermore, the New Testament reminds us that judgment is still proportionate to responsibility (cf. Luke 12:48; James 3:1). For us, confession is a prerequisite to cleansing for fellowship (1 John 1:9), even though Christ’s death has brought purification from sin’s defilement and condemnation. Confession of particular sins also had to accompany the sin offerings in Israel (5:5).
The trespass offering (5:14-6:7) removed the guilt of certain sins that involved trespassing against God. Trespassing means going beyond the limits of what is right. The Hebrew word ‘asham, translated “guilt,” also means “reparation.” It may be helpful to think of this offering as a “reparation” or a “compensation to repay God,” since other sacrifices also deal with guilt.
Both Psalms 3-4 speak of being able to sleep, even in the midst of danger.
Psalm 3:5 I lay down and slept; I woke again, for the LORD sustained me. 6 I will not be afraid of many thousands of people who have set themselves against me all around.
Psalm 4:8 In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.
David trusts in God for safety and protection. He says ‘You are my shield’. He knows he’ll be OK. He remembers how Abram had fought off 5 great kings. After battle God spoke: “I am your shield” (Gen. 15:1).
If you have trouble sleeping tonight, remember that God is a “shield about you” (Psa. 3:3).
Proverbs 20 is a continuation of wisdom sayings.
Verse 1 presents wisdom proven out in experience–when one is given to alcohol, anger is exacerbated and fights happen.
1 Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise.
“A man who drinks too much on occasion is still the same man as he was sober. An alcoholic, a real alcoholic, is not the same man at all. You can’t predict anything about him for sure except that he will be someone you never met before.”
–Raymond Chandler, The Long Goodbye
“Alcohol ruined me financially and morally, broke my heart and the hearts of too many others. Even though it did this to me and it almost killed me and I haven’t touched a drop of it in seventeen years, sometimes I wonder if I could get away with drinking some now. I totally subscribe to the notion that alcoholism is a mental illness because thinking like that is clearly insane.”
–Craig Ferguson, American On Purpose
Verse 3 says…
3 It is an honor for a man to keep aloof from strife, but every fool will be quarreling.
To which Waltke says…
“The wise are more concerned to bring peace than a desire to be right, but the fool cannot restrain himself and at the first opportunity explodes and shows his teeth.”
“An unexamined life is not worth living” said Socretes, but who really knows himself?
5 The purpose in a man’s heart is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out. 6 Many a man proclaims his own steadfast love, but a faithful man who can find? 9 Who can say, “I have made my heart pure; I am clean from my sin”? 24 A man’s steps are from the LORD; how then can man understand his way?”
It takes great discernment and wisdom to understand one’s heart (v. 5). We might proclaim to be one way, but act the other (v. 6) and rarely evaluate our righteousness accurately (v. 9). We rarely comprehend the directions we take in life (v. 24).
Colossians 3 picks up Paul’s argument that self-discipline of the body, observing special days, or mystical experiences do not sanctify, but rather remembering of unity with Christ, in His death and resurrection (vv. 1-4). This is the foundation and power of our sanctification. This is what is called definitive or positional sanctification. United with Christ, we have His righteousness and power residing within.
But we must with practical righteousness by putting off those habits which do not belong to Christ (vv. 5-11). Verse 12-17 describe the lifestyle of the “new man.”
12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Verse 12 gives a command to those who already have been chosen, made holy (positionally) and are beloved of God. God doesn’t love us because of what we do or don’t do, but because of what He has done.
Because these commands and virtues are played out in relationships (not alone), Paul explains how they affect marriages, families and work relationships (3:18-4:1).