The Daily Office | March 17, 2018
Psalms 86, 87, 88
Leviticus 19:1-18, 19:30-end
1 Timothy 6
Collect: Ash Wednesday
Almighty and everlasting God, you hate nothing you have made, and you forgive the sins of all who are penitent: Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of you, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Collect: The Fourth Sunday in Lent
Gracious Father, whose blessed Son Jesus Christ came down from heaven to be the true bread which gives life to the world: Evermore give us this bread, that he may live in us, and we in him; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Often Christians make a distinction between the law and the gospel. We think, “That oppressive law was only to keep people in check before Jesus came. These days we have freedom in the gospel. We don’t have to worry about those crazy, ultra-specific rules!”
While the apostle Paul does make it clear that we can’t be saved by the law, it’s incomplete to think that the law was given to be a burden to the Israelites. Leviticus 19 provides us with an excellent example of the graciousness of God’s law.
Think about some other ancient law codes you’ve heard of, like the Code of Hammurabi. These laws were incredibly strict, and their punishments severe. Think, for instance, of the punishment for stealing: the thief would lose his hand!
We don’t find anything like this in the Law of Moses. The justice this law seeks is far more restorative than it is retributive, and all these laws, in some way or another, are for the wellbeing of the community and each person in it.
Sometimes we do find something that makes us wrinkle our brows in confusion; what’s the deal with not wearing a garment made of two kinds of cloth? But these shouldn’t distract us from the overarching theme of the law: love God, and love your neighbor. Don’t oppress the foreigner. Don’t take advantage of those in lower social or economic strata than you. God is a God of mercy, and his law is a law of mercy.