Tuesday, February 23, 2010

2010 – Feb. 23 – Communal Responsibility

Study from God’s Word Lev. 5: 14-19; Lev. 6: 1-7; Lev. 7: 1-10, 37-38; Num. 28: 9-15; Deut. 21: 1-9; Lev. 22: 17-25 [Deut. 17: 1]; Lev. 22: 26-30; Ex. 23: 18: 35, 34: 25; Lev. 14: 1-9; Num. 6: 22-27; … Passage for Reflection: Deuteronomy 21: 6-8 … NIV 6 Then all the elders of the town nearest the body shall wash their hands over the heifer whose neck was broken in the valley, 7 and they shall declare: "Our hands did not shed this blood, nor did our eyes see it done. 8 Accept this atonement for your people Israel, whom you have redeemed, O LORD, and do not hold your people guilty of the blood of an innocent man." And the bloodshed will be atoned for.

My Journal for Today: As I’m reading today through the various rules and offerings which were required of God’s people in my daily reading of the Daily Bible in Chronological Order, we come across a section in Deut. 21: 1-9 where offerings for an unknown murderer are discussed; and one might ask, why would God, in His instructions to His people, especially the leaders of the people, discuss the communal responsibility of a town or group of people where a corpse was discovered and the community didn’t have a clue who was responsible for the murder?

Then Dr. Smith poignantly points out that with full knowledge of the “law” that a community of God’s people must take some responsibility for even an unknown murder. Then, we think about those Jewish believers, especially the leader elite, who called for the blood of Jesus to be shed on the cross. What responsibility, given their full knowledge of this section of God’s Law, did they take for that murder? And then I think of a very personal thing which happened for me just a year ago when my wife and I were with a group of Christians on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land.

At one point in our sightseeing, we were led to the place in Jerusalem where archeologists believe Jesus was nailed to the cross. I’ll not go into how they know that; but I will mention that there are carvings in the stones which show that Roman soldiers were playing games, casting lots for clothing. And so, as I was standing on those stones, I looked down at my feet; and I began to weep because I realized that it was MY sin which nailed MY Savior to that cross. I realized that I was not only no better than the mob who cried for Christ’s death, I was equally responsible for each nail which was driven into the body of my Savior.

In some sense, when we read each day – as we here in the Memphis area certainly do – of murders, rape, and other senseless crimes, we must take some degree of corporate spiritual responsibility for those crimes. We may not pull the trigger in a murder or rape a weakened woman; but we can’t say were blameless as a community for the atmosphere which breeds such senseless crime. As F. LaGard Smith wrote to close his devotional for today, ”As I go about my community today, what vulnerable lives will I be touching for good or for ill?”

My Prayer for Today: Lord, we touch others with our influence, … with our caring, …or with our lack of concern. May I be one who makes a difference for Your glory today, Lord, and may I give honor to You in the way I treat others. Amen

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