March 8: Leviticus 15 | Psalm 117-118 | 2 Corinthians 10-11

Reading 1 - Leviticus 15:2,7

"Speak to the Israelites and say to them: 'When any man has a bodily discharge, the discharge is unclean... Whoever touches the man who has a discharge must wash his clothes and bathe with water, and he will be unclean till evening" (Lev 15:2,7).

"Not only a leper, but any man having a running issue out of his flesh, was to be regarded as unclean till he was cured -- unclean in himself and defiling to others. All contact with him in any way was forbidden. Everything he used or touched was to be considered as defiling, whether saddle, crockery ware, chair, or bed; and any one touching any of these, was to be considered unclean for the whole day, and compelled to wash, both himself and clothing. The advantage of such a law as a hygienic protection, is self-manifest, but it is the spiritual significance we are in search of. There are moral lepers and men whose mouths are a fountain of uncleanness -- men comparable only to running sores in the community. 'Avoid them' [Rom 16:17], says Paul: 'turn away' [2Ti 3:5] -- 'Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness but rather reprove them' [Eph 5:11]. Their company -- their very touch -- is defiling. Men of God may be thrown into contact with them, as the Mosaic type contemplates: but they have a resort for cleansing which is also figured in the type: they bathe themselves in the water of the living word, and wait with a sense of contracted uncleanness till the next day, when sleep and prayer will bring a return of the purity that is native to the mind in which God dwells" (Robert Roberts, "Law of Moses" 260).

Reading 2 - Psa 118:22

"The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone" (Psa 118:22).

This "stone" is specifically interpreted as the Messiah in Mat 21:42-44: "Jesus saith unto them, 'Did ye never read the scriptures, "The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes"? Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder' " (cp Mar 12:10,11; Luk 20:17).

To his quotation of Psa 118 Jesus adds (in Mat 21:44) an allusion to the "stone of stumbling" of Isa 8:14,15 -- equating both the rejected stone and the stone of stumbling to himself. Peter confirms this, and also joins Isa 8 together with the tried and precious cornerstone of Isa 28:16: "To whom [ie, to the Lord] coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed [ie, rejected: Psa 118:22] indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, ye also, as lively [living] stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, 'Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded' [Isa 28:16]. Unto you therefore which believe he is precious {Isa 28:16]: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner [Psa 118:22], and a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence [Isa 8:14], even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient" (1Pe 2:4-8).

The repeated use by Jesus and the apostles (cp Paul in Rom 9:32,33 and Eph 2:20-22) of these Old Testament "stone" prophecies calls for special attention. Undoubtedly they saw the great altar-stone of Zion as emblematic of the sacrificial work of the Messiah.

The One who came to offer his life as the perfect sacrifice was rejected in that task by the would-be spiritual heads of Israel (Act 4:11); but it was through that very rejection, and only because of it, that Jesus was actually offered as the sacrifice for the sins of all men. And so the cross of Christ, while precious to some, became at the same time a source of confusion and offence, or stumbling, to others (1Co 1:18-29, especially v 23). But, like the original altar-stone, Christ too can never be moved or replaced (1Co 3:11). He is, and will be, the sure foundation of all the apostles and prophets, and in and around him the whole "building" of God's holy temple has been, is being, and will be framed (Eph 2:20-22; cp Dan 2:34,35,44).

Reading 3 - 2Co 10:12

"We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise" (2Co 10:12).

Let us not compare ourselves with one another -- that is, with the brethren and sisters around us; that is not wise. Such actions foster judgmentalism and pride. By this course, a community's standards of conduct and holiness and service and sacrifice gradually and imperceptibly sink lower and lower toward the way of the flesh, in blind complacence.

Let us rather constantly and honestly compare our service and way of life with the holy precepts of the Word, and with the humbling and mortifying examples of Christ and of Paul; these are specifically set before us as patterns to copy and standards of comparison (cp 1Co 11:1). This way a community's devotion and service are gradually lifted higher and higher, growing and developing toward the Spirit of God, going on "from glory to glory" (2Co 2:18).


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