Lent Devotion for February 18, First Sunday in Lent
Reader: “Be holy…”
Response: “Because I, the Lord your God, am holy.”
SCRIPTURE: Leviticus 19:1-15
1 The Lord said to Moses, 2 “Speak to the entire assembly of Israel and say to them: ‘Be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy.
3 “‘Each of you must respect your mother and father, and you must observe my Sabbaths. I am the Lord your God.
4 “‘Do not turn to idols or make metal gods for yourselves. I am the Lord your God.
5 “‘When you sacrifice a fellowship offering to the Lord, sacrifice it in such a way that it will be accepted on your behalf. 6 It shall be eaten on the day you sacrifice it or on the next day; anything left over until the third day must be burned up. 7 If any of it is eaten on the third day, it is impure and will not be accepted. 8 Whoever eats it will be held responsible because they have desecrated what is holy to the Lord; they must be cut off from their people.
9 “‘When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. 10 Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the foreigner. I am the Lord your God.
11 “‘Do not steal.
“‘Do not lie.
“‘Do not deceive one another.
12 “‘Do not swear falsely by my name and so profane the name of your God. I am the Lord.
13 “‘Do not defraud or rob your neighbor.
“‘Do not hold back the wages of a hired worker overnight.
14 “‘Do not curse the deaf or put a stumbling block in front of the blind, but fear your God. I am the Lord.
15 “‘Do not pervert justice; do not show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the great, but judge your neighbor fairly.
Reader: “The word of the Lord.”
Response: “Thanks be to God.”
Have you noticed how often the phrase, “be holy, for I am holy,” occurs in Leviticus? This book, more than any other in the Old Testament speaks of holiness, God’s holiness and His desire for His people to live holy lives. Sixteen times in this chapter alone we read the phrase “I am the Lord your God” or “I am the Lord.” Each time we read the phrase, we are reminded of the authority of the one speaking along with the directive, “this is how you are to live a holy life.” Verse two gives us the context for all that follows. “You must be holy because I, the Lord, am holy [and you are my people].” What follows, you’ll notice, has great similarity to the Ten Commandments. These were words of guidance and expectation. The directives concern worship, respect for parents and others, sacrifices for sin, care of the unfortunates, care for employees, justice without partiality to rich or poor, transparency when dealing with others, and finally to love your neighbor as yourself. This portion deals with some of the same themes as did Jesus with His Sermon on the Mount. The closing line of this portion is, lest there be any doubt (!), “You must obey all my decrees.”
The entire nation of Israel was related. All had descended from the twelve brothers and their families. God adopted the whole clan! The family unit was the building block of the whole nation. “Brother” was a common term in addressing one another. The integrity of the home was of great concern. The breakdown of the family unit was the path to break down of the nation. That is why there were very specific instructions with a severe penalty for sexual sins such as adultery, and incest, to name a few. The Israelites lived in a world where such practice was part of the pagan culture. God’s people were to be set apart, to be holy. The “do not’s” pointed to the “do’s” of holiness. Part of holy living was also caring for all in the family. Caring for widows, orphans, the poor, foreigners, and those in need were part of community responsibility, making sure the poor had food, hence the directives regarding harvesting the crops. God was showing the Israelites how a godly society should function, then and now.
"If Ye Love Me" by Cambridge Singers under John Rutter (Watch on YouTube)
Thou Maker and Sustainer of all things, day and night are thine, heaven and earth declare thy glory; but I, a creature of thy power and bounty, have sinned against thee by resisting the dictates of conscience, the demands of thy law, the calls of thy gospel; yet I live under the dispensation of a given hope. Deliver me from worldly dispositions, for I am born from above and bound for glory. May I view and long after holiness as the beauty and dignity of the soul. Let me never slumber, never lose my assurance, never fail to wear armour when passing through enemy land. Render my obedience to thy will holy, natural, and delightful. Let me never undervalue or neglect any part of thy revealed will. Sanctify me in every relation, office, transaction and condition of life, that if I prosper I may not be unduly exalted, if I suffer I may not be over-sorrowful. Thus may I be content, be a glory to thee and an example to others. In the name of my Savior. Amen.
- from Valley of Vision, p.139