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Monday, December 08, 2008
Worship and Mission: Part 4

I want us to take a look at the following text and make some observations about the connections between worship and mission that emerge from the text. Don't be afraid of stating the obvious-- sometimes that's where the greatest insight comes. Get involved with this thread as it promises to unfold some potentially major epiphanies in the way ahead.

Leviticus 19

Various Laws

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 his mother and father, and you must observe my Sabbaths. I am the LORD your God.

4 " 'Do not turn to idols or make gods of cast metal for yourselves. I am the LORD your God.

5 " 'When you sacrifice a fellowship offering [a] 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 he has desecrated what is holy to the LORD; that person must be cut off from his 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 alien. 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 your neighbor or rob him.
" 'Do not hold back the wages of a hired man 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.

16 " 'Do not go about spreading slander among your people.
" 'Do not do anything that endangers your neighbor's life. I am the LORD.

17 " 'Do not hate your brother in your heart. Rebuke your neighbor frankly so you will not share in his guilt.

18 " 'Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD.


posted by John David Walt | at 12/08/2008 07:22:00 AM



Anonymous Cam Collins said...

Ruth took advantage of the grain on the edges. Result: new husband, but more importantly: incredible lineage. Cam Collins

6:51 PM EST  
Blogger Kendra said...

The passage works from an epicenter, kind of like the ten commandments do. The commands radiate outward from the I AM, to the heart of worship and actions in relationship with God - like sacrifice offered to God, to actions that affect those who in that culture would be the closest to a person - the family (Exodus 20 commands), to what you offer to your neighbors to supply for them, to the general way you treat others.

9:36 PM EST  
Blogger Kendra said...

Ooooooh! oooh! You know when you get tired of saying something because you are repeating yourself so much? After a while, your pattern can be adopted so that people understand as if you are still saying it? Like one bannanna, two bannanna, three bannanna, four..., five...

The first verses of Leviticus 19 possibly could be setting a pattern for the reasoning behind why each of the following commandments should be obeyed.
(v.2) "for I the LORD your God am holy."
(v.3) "for I am the LORD your God"
(v.4) "for I am the LORD your God"

I'm not sure if that is an appropriate observation with Hebrew writing or storytelling. But if it is the pattern, then the reason we bless our neighbor by leaving the grain, by telling the truth, by ridding ourselves of oppressive ways...is because "I am the LORD your God."

Mission results from knowing the person of God. The sacrifice and religious system is one of the practices that honors His place and person. Though the list of commands may not be descending in importance, it is noteworthy that there does seem to be movement or progression from the I AM. They are all be or do commands, active. ...

10:41 PM EST  
Blogger sandra r. said...

[Hey Kendra! We had some pretty similar observations... I had just finished writing them out, when I saw your second post!] :-)

Here are my initial observations:
--In verses 1-10, the phrase "I am the LORD your God" appears 3 times. In verses 11-18, the phrasing changes to "I am the Lord" in every other verse. Is there any significance to leaving "your God" out?
--(v.2) "Be holy because I...am holy" - It seems that God is calling His people to be imitators of Him.
--It's interesting that the commands to honor your father and mother and remember the Sabbath are the first mentioned in this passage.
--The first "Do not" statement is in relation to idolatry. It seems to echo the first two commandments in Exodus 20... pretty major emphasis that God is the ONLY one.
--The fellowship offering (peace offering) - give God our best - it's all for Him
--(v.6 & 7) - does the third day mentioned have any significance?
--(v.8) - there are no exceptions
-- (v.9 & 10) "...the harvest of your land..." - this made me think of Ruth, too. Also, don't just look out for your own self-interests

That's what I have so far. Still processing a lot of how this relates to worship and missions...

11:30 PM EST  
Blogger John David Walt said...

I think you all are onto it. particularly this:

the reason we bless our neighbor by leaving the grain, by telling the truth, by ridding ourselves of oppressive ways...is because "I am the LORD your God."

Mission results from knowing the person of God.

well said.

what amazes me is the way we see these three things in such close proximity-- in the same basic idea. 1. the holiness of God 2. instructions on offering a sacrifice, and 3. peculiar instructions about farming (i.e. leaving grain in the field for the vulnerable and disadvantaged). this says something profound about God and holiness doesn't it? it also says something deeply connected concerning the nature of worship and mission-- don't you think? this notion connecting mission and knowing the person of God is really it. consider some of what may be Jesus most challenging words from matthew 7:

21"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' 23Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'

more on this in an upcoming post. thanks for engaging. jd

8:13 AM EST  
Blogger Michael said...

Sorry I'm jumping in late here. I always tend to read this passage as a treatise on holiness and relationship. Because the proclaiming begins with "Be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy," that the rest of the passage seems to explain what it means to be Holy. The LORD is not allowing holiness to be abstract here...it is real, it is "earthy", and it is carried out in relationship.

The holiness does not exist apart from the relationship with the LORD your God--just as the people cannot be holy without realtionship. Both the relationship with God and the relationship with one another is played out here.

Again, just like in Exodus with the ten commandments, all can be summed up with Jesus' words of the greatest commandment, "Love the LORD your God with all your heart, and love your neighbor..."

12:11 PM EST  
Blogger Rob said...

So in the movie "Stripes," (shows where I come from, eh) there is this scene where everyone is panicked because the platoon in training has had no real leader, has goofed off, and has now overslept on the day of graduation. They are going to fail if they can't do marching maneuvers.

In the midst of this chaos and selfish concern, Bill Murray's character says, "Whoa Whoa Whoa!" to get everyone's attention. Then with all eyes on him, he says, "Now do what I do (long pause), and say what I say (second long pause), and everything will go just fine."

Worship, in some sense is focusing on God, knowing him intimately, RECOGNIZING he is THE HOLY ONE so that when he says, "Now do what I do, and say what I say," we actually do it. The "doing it" is mission, but not only mission - it is the extension of worship as mission.

7:15 PM EST  

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