Psalm 97, Leviticus 3, Isaiah 1, 1 Corinthians 15
Ps. 97:6-7 – The heavens proclaim his righteousness, and all the peoples see his glory. 7 All worshipers of images are put to shame, who make their boast in worthless idols; worship him, all you gods! – Psalm 97 is a song of rejoicing in the power and majesty of our God. The psalmist uses images of creation to demonstrate the power of God. I love how he mocks the powerless idols that people worship in place of the Creator God. Do you want to worship the Creator of coastlands and clouds or darkness and fire of lightning and the earth of mountains of the universe, or do you want to worship items made by man? How sad that many of us are freaking out because the god of money had died. Like those who worshipped idols in the past, we have made our own gods that we depend upon and worship. Those gods are false. They will never be God. May we recognize the power and majesty of God, this day and forevermore.
Lev. 3 – Leviticus 3 gives us the guidelines and procedures for the peace offering. This was an offering that was given as a reminder and symbol of the covenant relationship that God had with His chosen people. The person making the offering was to offer an animal without blemish before the Lord (vs. 1 and vs. 6). I think one of the reasons God asked for an animal without blemish was because He is without blemish. God’s relationship with the people was perfect on His part. We need to remember that God is holy. There is no sin in him. We should strive to live holy lives too. We will never be sinless this side of heaven, but we can strive to live holy lives.
Is. 1:4 – Ah, sinful nation,a people laden with iniquity,offspring of evildoers, children who deal corruptly! They have forsaken the Lord,they have despised the Holy One of Israel, they are utterly estranged.- Isaiah begins his book with a vision that he received from the Lord. Here he proclaims the guilt of the people of Israel. This chosen people had forsaken their God. And, God would punish them for their straying from His precepts. I’m especially struck by the words “they are utterly estranged.” Have you ever been in an estranged relationship with someone? It’s no fun. Now, imagine being the chosen people of God and suddenly finding yourself estranged from Him. Your sins have brought punishment. How sad to be estranged from God!
Is. 1:7-9 – Your country lies desolate;your cities are burned with fire;in your very presence foreigners devour your land; it is desolate, as overthrown by foreigners. 8 And the daughter of Zion is left like a booth in a vineyard, like a lodge in a cucumber field, like a besieged city. 9 If the Lord of hosts had not left us a few survivors, we should have been like Sodom, and become like Gomorrah. – This is a picture of a nation that had disobeyed God coming under extreme judgment. What a sad picture. A country desolate. Cities burned with fire. There are a lot of parallels to the prophecies about the end times. But, God has saved a remnant of people who are faithful to Him.
Is. 1:10-20 – I’m so glad that Isaiah’s first chapter doesn’t end after the first nine verses. There is hope. Isaiah gives us God’s prescription for the nation in verses 16-19 Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean;remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil,17 learn to do good; seek justice,correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause. 18 “Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool. 19 If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; 20 but if you refuse and rebel, you shall be eaten by the sword; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
It’s beautiful to read about the grace of God, isn’t it? Though our sins are as scarlet they shall be as white as snow! I love that picture. There is something beautiful about being pure. When is th last time you felt spiritually pure? Has it been awhile? Confess your sin. Ask for God’s forgiveness. He promises us that if we confess our sins that He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). He will do it for nations when God’s people repent. May we, who are children of God lead the way when it comes to confession. And, may our passions be to do good, seek justice, correct oppression, bring justice to the fatherless and plead the widow’s case.
1 Corinthians 15
1 Cor. 15:3-11 – For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. 9 For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. 11 Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed. – Paul wanted to make sure that the main thing remained the main thing at the church in Corinth. He emphasizes that the Gospel is of utmost importance. And, how appropriate that we get to read this passage on Holy Week. As we think about Easter, and recognize that Easter changed everything, we see just how awesome the resurrection of Christ was. Jesus rose from the dead. The apostle saw him, over 500 men saw him after he was resurrected, even Paul saw him. Jesus’ resurrection had changed Paul forever. It can change you too!
1 Cor. 15:14 – 14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.- Again, how awesome to read this during Easter week. If it were not for the resurrection there would be no reason to worship Christ. But, if Christ truly raised, and there is so much evidence for His resurrection, then there are demands that His resurrection makes upon us.
This teaching from Paul came to dispute the claim of some in the church at Corinth who had adopted the belief of the Sadducees that there was no resurrection of the dead.
1 Cor. 15:33 – Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.” – Somebody once said that the greatest difference between you today and five years from now are the people you meet, the places you go and the books you read. When I was a youth pastor, I used that quote a lot. It’s sad how many lives are changed forever because of the company that they keep. Who we hang out with matters. Be careful about the friends that you choose. They will rub off on you. At the same time, don’t abandon your mission field. There is a fine line between loving people into the Kingdom and being drug down. Be careful, but don’t forget to be a missionary every day too.
1 Cor. 15:51-58 – Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. 53 For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. 54 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” 55 “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” 56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. – What an encouraging way to end 1 Corinthians 15. There are great things in store for those who are followers of Jesus Christ. When we go through trials in this world, it is good to remember the hope that we have for eternity. Death’s sting, for the Christian, is swallowed up in hope and victory.