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Julie Ferwerda Christian Blog and Commentary

OYB February 24

Today's One Year Bible Reading


16:7-10 Then he must take the two male goats and present them to the Lord at the entrance of the Tabernacle. He is to cast sacred lots to determine which goat will be reserved as an offering to the Lord and which will carry the sins of the people to the wilderness of Azazel. Aaron will then present as a sin offering the goat chosen by lot for the Lord. The other goat, the scapegoat chosen by lot to be sent away, will be kept alive, standing before the Lord. When it is sent away to Azazel in the wilderness, the people will be purified and made right with the Lord. (see also 21-22)

The word "Azazel" sounds similar to a Hebrew word for "escape," and that is how "scapegoat" got its name.

Recently we saw how Jesus and Barabbas were the goat of sacrifice and the scapegoat. But I never noticed that "sacred lots were cast." Jesus also had sacred lots cast for His clothing. I am sure we're missing even more rich meaning with the scapegoats but I was unsuccessful in finding out why. However, I did learn that this ritual was associated with The Day of Atonement, or Yom Kippur. This is part of the fall Festivals with Trumpets and Tabernacles, and is the most solemn day on the Jewish calendar when their sins are atoned for. It is preceded by 10 days of serious repentance before the Lord and others.


7:2-3 They noticed that some of his disciples failed to follow the Jewish ritual of hand washing before eating. The Jews, especially the Pharisees, do not eat until they have poured water over their cupped hands, as required by their ancient traditions. Again, we are going to see if Jesus ever defied or dismissed the Torah, and in this case, again He did not. This practice by the Pharisees was based on oral traditions, not on written Torah, and Jesus was trying to show the Pharisees that all their zillions of "added" laws were a burden and not a freedom, as they were intended by Yahweh! This is why Jesus says in verse 7, "...for they replace God's commands with their own man-made teachings." And again in both 8 and 9, His response is, "You reject God's laws in order to hold on to your own traditions."

Again in verses 11-13, we see Jesus upholding even more Torah, that has been negated by Pharisee traditions. So you see, Jesus did not dismiss the Torah. He absolutely upheld it, but also showed us that it should not be added to, becoming confining and burdensome.

Questions for reflection:

Look over the list of defilement (Mark 7:20-23) and identify the areas of struggle for you. Are you bothered by these things in your life or indifferent to them? I have a friend who says she doesn't have any of these struggles, yet I (and everyone else) see them in her life. Self-deception is such a powerful and dangerous thing! Let's ask God to open our eyes to our defilement so that we can allow Him to help us become pure in Him.

A snapshot of Julie's inner life: I think for me, greed, pride, and foolishness are my most recognized struggles in that list. I'll talk about the two shortest ones (pride could take pages).

Greed: I have a hoarding fetish. There are certain things I worry about not having enough of, so I squirrel them away. Chapstick, toilet paper, sweatshirts, and of course, cash, to name a few. I know this is weird, you are all wondering if the world is as safe as you thought before reading this blog, but this hoarding thing is a reflection of something in me that doesn't fully trust God to take care of me.

Now it can be a responsible thing to have a little cash put away for emergencies, but I think the American mindset of financial security goes against everything that the Bible teaches (name one godly person in the Bible who had a fat savings account or who put their hope in financial security). We are to invest our assets in the Great Commission, and allow God to provide for us day to day primarily. This doesn't mean we can charge up the town on our credit cards and expect God to bail us out, or extend ourselves beyond our means with the "house we can afford in five years." It is a lifestyle of responsible, simple living where we can keep our cash flow available for God. It is in essence, delayed gratification (as in, TWINMH from two days ago).

The verse, James 5:3 (which is a principle throughout scripture), has really convicted me in this area: "Your gold and your silver have rusted; and their rust will be a witness against you and will consume your flesh like fire. It is in the last days that you have stored up your treasure!" I used to read verses like this and think they were for someone else. But now I read myself and my fellow countrymen right into scripture. Can you say, the typical American Christian in the typical American church? Yes, I know, I'm stepping on toes including my own. But I am only speaking truth, and if I don't speak truth, I will be judged for it.

Foolishness: You know, I want to be a wise person. But for all my understanding and head knowledge in the Word, I still find myself doing the stupidest, most petty things. And I say to myself, "Shouldn't I be past this kind of behavior?" I will let something someone says get to me, or I will react foolishly to it. I still make dumb decisions sometimes, unable to take in the big picture. And I think... "man, it's a good thing most of my ministry is done behind a computer screen. If these people had to live around me, things could get ugly!" (I know my husband would love to get his two cents in here.)