Today's Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“Order my steps in Thy word: and let not any iniquity have dominion over me.”
Psalm 119: 133
King James Version
“A God of Order”
“There is an orderliness in the universe, there is an unalterable law governing everything and every being that exists or lives.”
When I hear the words, “order” or “orderliness,” what picture comes to my mind?
“Order is heaven’s first law.”
“Order is the shape upon which beauty depends.”
Pearl S. Buck
Today we begin a two-week study in the book of Leviticus, one of those often overlooked books of the Old Testament, it is ignored because it may be difficult to understand and rather repetitious to read.
Well, as God’s daughters, and sons too, we are not afraid to tackle the challenging portions of Scripture. Because to do so, would mean we miss some wonderful truth or lesson or glimpse into the depth and width that is our Heavenly Father. I like this statement by Erickson Fabien, “We cannot find the God of the Bible without following the Bible of the God.”
This is exactly what we are doing as we study the lives of all the women in Scripture from Genesis to Revelation, whether we know their names or not.
The book of Leviticus received its name because it deals mostly with the priesthood, which contained members from the tribe of Levi, one of Jacob’s twelve sons. The Talmud calls this book, “The Law of the Priests.” However, if you read the book in its entirety, you’ll find that much of what was written was information from God, conveyed to Moses, to Aaron, the high priest, and to all the children of Israel.
This is why, during the next five days we will uncover what the book of Leviticus reveals to us about God. It is in this revelation, even in an obscure book like Leviticus, where we begin to more completely understand and recognize, not only what God does, but why He does it.
There are five distinct characteristics of God, I have identified as I have read this book and studied what others have unearthed within the pages of this “priestly” book:
Characteristic #1: Our God is a God of order.
Characteristic #2: Our God is a God of truthfulness.
Characteristic #3: Our God is a God of purity.
Characteristic #4: Our God is a God of reverence.
Characteristic #5: Our God is a God of healing.
Believe it or not, all of these qualities are found in Leviticus as we will see, especially as God interacts with all His children, both men and women.
Whether we look at the sacrificial offerings; the laws of purification; the lives of those in the priesthood; divers laws on healing; or the specific stories of individuals – woven throughout Leviticus are the threads that, when tied together, bring us a beautiful tapestry that unveils the emblem of a God who longs to share Himself with you and with me.
Today, we’re going to look at God’s characteristic of orderliness. I want to begin with this particular quality because the book of Leviticus, in certain places, makes God sound almost picky and petty. There are so many tiny details. Offerings have to be presented in certain ways. Sacrificial offerings are so specifically decreed that God even instructs the priests on how animals are to be cut and killed. Frankly, all these details sound brutal to me, even sickening. Then when you get into Leviticus 2, God starts in with a list of unclean and clean animals that is so detailed it makes your head spin. And when God begins giving instructions about the dress and behavior of the priests, He is no less specific.
What you and I should not miss, is that contained in all these details, is God’s profound quality of order. And I have to honestly tell you, I didn’t recognize this fact and its importance at first until I went to the Hebrew definition of “order” which is very diverse. However, in the context of our text for today combined with God’s Levitical instructions, I’d like to point us to a word used in Hebrew to describe “order.” It is the word “frame.” Our text today, from Psalm 119: 133, says, “Order my steps in Thy word; and let not any iniquity have dominion over me.” In other words, David asks God to “frame” his steps, so that nothing unrighteous will rule or dominate or be given power over him. The “order” or “framing” of David’s life by God, protects him from evil.
This is why, at the beginning of Leviticus, God, in dealing with over a million people who had lived under the chains of slavery for 400 years, places such emphasis on order. Every person in the Israelites’ camp could not become a law unto themselves. Lawlessness would lead to chaos and chaos to destruction and so God placed order at the top of His priority list as He sought to guide His slave children from bondage to freedom.
But lest we think order was something new that God chose to use just with the children of Israel, I’d like to invite you to go back to Genesis 1 and 2 and read about the “order” that is evident as God created this earth.
This point was brought home to me recently as I watched a program about Sir Isaac Newton, who discovered the theory of gravity and was called the “father of calculus.” To call Sir Isaac a genius would be an understatement. But what has astonished scientists and historians in recent years is that Sir Isaac Newton was also a very spiritual man. As he uncovered the laws about the “order” of the universe, he became more deeply assured that only a Divine God could create a universe of such immense capacity yet one that ran with such precision. It was the orderliness of the earth’s Creator that was a factor in convincing Sir Isaac of the Divine. Albert Einstein noted that, “Scientists were rated as great heretics by the church, but they were truly religious because of their faith in the orderliness of the universe.” These brilliant minds found a systematic arrangement in the universe. They recognized methods that followed an orderly pattern and plan.
And so several thousand years after earth’s creation, the Father of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob dipped into His well of creative order and took over 1 million people and designed an orderly plan for taking a group of rag-a-muffin slaves and forming them into a nation through whom the Saviour of the world came to earth.
In my living room is a picture painted by an artist I’d call a free-spirit. If you could have seen the picture on the canvas, unframed, you’d believe it was completely unfit for a more formal setting. It looked as though it was an unplanned picture, even unfinished. I decided there was beauty in the heart of this painting so I took it to a friend who is a picture framer. We worked together on picking out several frames which we molded together around this painting. If you could see the painting today, you would not recognize it. What was once unfinished, now framed, is a beautiful work of tranquil serenity. The frame finished the unfinished. The frame defined the scene. The frame brought order to chaos.
This is exactly what God does in Leviticus. Out of disunity, He brought harmony. Out of chaos, He brought order. Charles Peguy wrote that, “Order, and order alone, definitively makes liberty. Disorder makes servitude.” God longed to bring His children from the sorrow of Egyptian servitude to the joy of Heavenly liberty and so He infused their lives with the power of Divine order.
“Good order is the foundation of all good things.”
“Thou takest the pen – and the lines dance.
Thou takest the flute – and the notes shimmer.
Thou takest the brush – and the colours sing.
So all things have meaning
and beauty in that space beyond time
where Thou art. How, then,
can I hold back anything from Thee.”
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