Today our passages are Leviticus 4:1–5:19; Mark 2:13–3:6; Psalm 36:1-12; and Proverbs 10:1-2. The readings are from The Message by Eugene H. Peterson. If you find these readings helpful, please consider sending an offering directly to Cove Presbyterian Church, 3404 Main Street, Weirton, West Virginia or through PayPal.
Leviticus 4-5:19 (The Message)
The Absolution-Offering1-12 God spoke to Moses: "Tell the Israelites, When a person sins unintentionally by straying from any of God's commands, breaking what must not be broken, if it's the anointed priest who sins and so brings guilt on the people, he is to bring a bull without defect to God as an Absolution-Offering for the sin he has committed. Have him bring the bull to the entrance of the Tent of Meeting in the presence of God, lay his hand on the bull's head, and slaughter the bull before God. He is then to take some of the bull's blood, bring it into the Tent of Meeting, dip his finger in the blood, and sprinkle some of it seven times before God, before the curtain of the Sanctuary. He is to smear some of the blood on the horns of the Altar of Fragrant Incense before God which is in the Tent of Meeting. He is to pour the rest of the bull's blood out at the base of the Altar of Whole-Burnt-Offering at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting. He is to remove all the fat from the bull of the Absolution-Offering, the fat which covers and is connected to the entrails, the two kidneys and the fat that is around them at the loins, and the lobe of the liver which he takes out along with the kidneys—the same procedure as when the fat is removed from the bull of the Peace-Offering. Finally, he is to burn all this on the Altar of Burnt Offering. Everything else—the bull's hide, meat, head, legs, organs, and guts—he is to take outside the camp to a clean place where the ashes are dumped and is to burn it on a wood fire. 13-21 "If the whole congregation sins unintentionally by straying from one of the commandments of God that must not be broken, they become guilty even though no one is aware of it. When they do become aware of the sin they've committed, the congregation must bring a bull as an Absolution-Offering and present it at the Tent of Meeting. The elders of the congregation will lay their hands on the bull's head in the presence of God and one of them will slaughter it before God. The anointed priest will then bring some of the blood into the Tent of Meeting, dip his finger in the blood, and sprinkle some of it seven times before God in front of the curtain. He will smear some of the blood on the horns of the Altar which is before God in the Tent of Meeting and pour the rest of it at the base of the Altar of Whole-Burnt-Offering at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting. He will remove all the fat and burn it on the Altar. He will follow the same procedure with this bull as with the bull for the Absolution-Offering. The priest makes atonement for them and they are forgiven. They then will take the bull outside the camp and burn it just as they burned the first bull. It's the Absolution-Offering for the congregation.
22-26 "When a ruler sins unintentionally by straying from one of the commands of his God which must not be broken, he is guilty. When he becomes aware of the sin he has committed, he must bring a goat for his offering, a male without any defect, lay his hand on the head of the goat, and slaughter it in the place where they slaughter the Whole-Burnt-Offering in the presence of God—it's an Absolution-Offering. The priest will then take some of the blood of the Absolution-Offering with his finger, smear it on the horns of the Altar of Whole-Burnt-Offering, and pour the rest at the base of the Altar. He will burn all its fat on the Altar, the same as with the fat of the Peace-Offering.
"The priest makes atonement for him on account of his sin and he's forgiven.
27-31 "When an ordinary member of the congregation sins unintentionally, straying from one of the commandments of God which must not be broken, he is guilty. When he is made aware of his sin, he shall bring a goat, a female without any defect, and offer it for his sin, lay his hand on the head of the Absolution-Offering, and slaughter it at the place of the Whole-Burnt-Offering. The priest will take some of its blood with his finger, smear it on the horns of the Altar of Whole-Burnt-Offering, and pour the rest at the base of the Altar. Finally, he'll take out all the fat, the same as with the Peace-Offerings, and burn it on the Altar for a pleasing fragrance to God.
"In this way, the priest makes atonement for him and he's forgiven.
32-35 "If he brings a lamb for an Absolution-Offering, he shall present a female without any defect, lay his hand on the head of the Absolution-Offering, and slaughter it at the same place they slaughter the Whole-Burnt-Offering. The priest will take some of the blood of the Absolution-Offering with his finger, smear it on the horns of the Altar of Burnt-Offering, and pour the rest at the base of the Altar. He shall remove all the fat, the same as for the lamb of the Peace-Offering. Finally, the priest will burn it on the Altar on top of the gifts to God.
"In this way, the priest makes atonement for him on account of his sin and he's forgiven."
Leviticus 51 "If you sin by not stepping up and offering yourself as a witness to something you've heard or seen in cases of wrongdoing, you'll be held responsible. 2 "Or if you touch anything ritually unclean, like the carcass of an unclean animal, wild or domestic, or a dead reptile, and you weren't aware of it at the time, but you're contaminated and you're guilty;
3 "Or if you touch human uncleanness, any sort of ritually contaminating uncleanness, and you're not aware of it at the time, but later you realize it and you're guilty;
4 "Or if you impulsively swear to do something, whether good or bad— some rash oath that just pops out—and you aren't aware of what you've done at the time, but later you come to realize it and you're guilty in any of these cases;
5-6 "When you are guilty, immediately confess the sin that you've committed and bring as your penalty to God for the sin you have committed a female lamb or goat from the flock for an Absolution-Offering.
"In this way, the priest will make atonement for your sin.
7-10 "If you can't afford a lamb, bring as your penalty to God for the sin you have committed two doves or two pigeons, one for the Absolution-Offering and the other for the Whole-Burnt-Offering. Bring them to the priest who will first offer the one for the Absolution-Offering: He'll wring its neck but not sever it, splash some of the blood of the Absolution-Offering against the Altar, and squeeze the rest of it out at the base. It's an Absolution-Offering. He'll then take the second bird and offer it as a Whole-Burnt-Offering, following the procedures step-by-step.
"In this way, the priest will make atonement for your sin and you're forgiven.
11-12 "If you cannot afford the two doves or pigeons, bring two quarts of fine flour for your Absolution-Offering. Don't put oil or incense on it—it's an Absolution-Offering. Bring it to the priest; he'll take a handful from it as a memorial and burn it on the Altar with the gifts for God. It's an Absolution-Offering.
13 "The priest will make atonement for you and any of these sins you've committed and you're forgiven. The rest of the offering belongs to the priest, the same as with the Grain-Offering."
Compensation-Offering14-16 God spoke to Moses: "When a person betrays his trust and unknowingly sins by straying against any of the holy things of God, he is to bring as his penalty to God a ram without any defect from the flock, the value of the ram assessed in shekels, according to the Sanctuary shekel for a Compensation-Offering. He is to make additional compensation for the sin he has committed against any holy thing by adding twenty percent to the ram and giving it to the priest. "Thus the priest will make atonement for him with the ram of the Compensation-Offering and he's forgiven.
17-18 "If anyone sins by breaking any of the commandments of God which must not be broken, but without being aware of it at the time, the moment he does realize his guilt he is held responsible. He is to bring to the priest a ram without any defect, assessed at the value of the Compensation-Offering.
18-19 "Thus the priest will make atonement for him for his error that he was unaware of and he's forgiven. It is a Compensation-Offering; he was surely guilty before God."
Mark 2:13-3:6 (The Message)
The Tax Collector
13-14Then Jesus went again to walk alongside the lake. Again a crowd came to him, and he taught them. Strolling along, he saw Levi, son of Alphaeus, at his work collecting taxes. Jesus said, "Come along with me." He came.
15-16Later Jesus and his disciples were at home having supper with a collection of disreputable guests. Unlikely as it seems, more than a few of them had become followers. The religion scholars and Pharisees saw him keeping this kind of company and lit into his disciples: "What kind of example is this, acting cozy with the riffraff?"
17Jesus, overhearing, shot back, "Who needs a doctor: the healthy or the sick? I'm here inviting the sin-sick, not the spiritually-fit."
Feasting or Fasting?
18The disciples of John and the disciples of the Pharisees made a practice of fasting. Some people confronted Jesus: "Why do the followers of John and the Pharisees take on the discipline of fasting, but your followers don't?"
19-20Jesus said, "When you're celebrating a wedding, you don't skimp on the cake and wine. You feast. Later you may need to pull in your belt, but not now. As long as the bride and groom are with you, you have a good time. No one throws cold water on a friendly bonfire. This is Kingdom Come!"
21-22He went on, "No one cuts up a fine silk scarf to patch old work clothes; you want fabrics that match. And you don't put your wine in cracked bottles."
23-24One Sabbath day he was walking through a field of ripe grain. As his disciples made a path, they pulled off heads of grain. The Pharisees told on them to Jesus: "Look, your disciples are breaking Sabbath rules!"
25-28Jesus said, "Really? Haven't you ever read what David did when he was hungry, along with those who were with him? How he entered the sanctuary and ate fresh bread off the altar, with the Chief Priest Abiathar right there watching—holy bread that no one but priests were allowed to eat—and handed it out to his companions?" Then Jesus said, "The Sabbath was made to serve us; we weren't made to serve the Sabbath. The Son of Man is no lackey to the Sabbath. He's in charge!"
Doing Good on the Sabbath
1-3 Then he went back in the meeting place where he found a man with a crippled hand. The Pharisees had their eyes on Jesus to see if he would heal him, hoping to catch him in a Sabbath infraction. He said to the man with the crippled hand, "Stand here where we can see you."
4Then he spoke to the people: "What kind of action suits the Sabbath best? Doing good or doing evil? Helping people or leaving them helpless?" No one said a word.
5-6He looked them in the eye, one after another, angry now, furious at their hard-nosed religion. He said to the man, "Hold out your hand." He held it out—it was as good as new! The Pharisees got out as fast as they could, sputtering about how they would join forces with Herod's followers and ruin him.
Psalm 36:1-12 (The Message)
A David Psalm1-4 The God-rebel tunes in to sedition— all ears, eager to sin.
He has no regard for God,
he stands insolent before him.
He has smooth-talked himself
That his evil
will never be noticed.
Words gutter from his mouth,
Can't remember when he
did anything decent.
Every time he goes to bed,
he fathers another evil plot.
When he's loose on the streets,
He plays with fire
and doesn't care who gets burned.
5-6 God's love is meteoric,
his loyalty astronomic,
His purpose titanic,
his verdicts oceanic.
Yet in his largeness
nothing gets lost;
Not a man, not a mouse,
slips through the cracks.
7-9 How exquisite your love, O God!
How eager we are to run under your wings,
To eat our fill at the banquet you spread
as you fill our tankards with Eden spring water.
You're a fountain of cascading light,
and you open our eyes to light.
10-12 Keep on loving your friends;
do your work in welcoming hearts.
Don't let the bullies kick me around,
the moral midgets slap me down.
Send the upstarts sprawling
flat on their faces in the mud.
Proverbs 10:1-2 (The Message)
The Wise Sayings of Solomon
An Honest Life Is Immortal1 Wise son, glad father; stupid son, sad mother.
2 Ill-gotten gain gets you nowhere;
an honest life is immortal.
Verse of the Day
“Can anything separate us from the love of Christ? Can trouble, suffering, and hard times, or hunger and nakedness, or danger and death? In everything we have won more than a victory because of Christ who loves us.” - Romans 8:35,37
Today's passage is from the Contemporary English Version.
Thought for the Day
Egyptian politician and diplomat who was the sixth Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN) from January 1992 to December 1996, Boutros Boutros-Ghali wrote, “While the broad principles of democracy are universal, the fact remains that their application varies considerably . We are at the beginning of the road, at the very beginning. We still have a long way to go.”