Leviticus is a tough book that most people would rather just skip over. The focus is the Mosaic/Levitical Law of do’s and don’t. It can be very boring at times reading about the ritualistic requirements of obeying the Law. But the Law was the Law of the Land; no pun intended. The people of Israel, God’s people were to be a select, peculiar people; different from everyone else. As such, God’s requirements for their spiritual and physical lives were under specific Covenant Commands. 1 Peter says the we all are to be a holy people [those that live by faith in Jesus]. We are a chosen people, we cannot live like others live. Our lives need to be visible and noticeable different. Romans 12:1-2; I beech you therefore brethren by the mercies of God that you present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God; which is your reasonable service; and be not conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind so that you will know the acceptable will of God. The Old Testament Law has been discounted by many today as being outdated and irrelevant. However when we look closer at the prohibited laws; there is wisdom in them. Remember that there is approximately 1.6 million “camping Israelites” – any disease or sickness would wipe them out. Most of the prohibited – do’s and don’t have to do with maintaining a healthy people. In our reading this week, the focus was primarily on was is called by the Anchor Dictionary “Permitted Impurity” versus “Prohibited Impurity.” The Permitted Impurity concerns things that are by NATURE unclean or impure. Things like dead carcasses, sexual [bodily fluids], disease [leprosy] and cultic rituals. There is clear identification of what this “unclean” condition is, and most of the cases was rectified by the “washing of Water” and time. We can also include in the state of “uncleanliness” diet restrictions we read about in chapter 11. These animals were by NATURE unclean. This is addressed in Acts 10- with Peter and his vision of the unclean animals coming down on a sheet. Remember, Jesus’ statement to him, “DO not call unclean, that which I declare Clean.” This had immediate implications for the Gentile people – who were by NATURE considered Unclean by Jewish laws. It is interesting that again, the washing of water made something clean in the Permitted classification. Hum, were we all not “Baptized, and have the Washing of the water of the Word?” We symbolically look at baptism as spiritually being cleansed. SO we are now Holy in God’s eyes as Gentiles. This however, does not deal with the second classification: Prohibited Impurity. In this class, what is being dealt with is the Sin – actions which result in an UNCLEAN state. Sexual sins, idolatry and taking of life – interesting that these prohibitions are all addressed in the Ten Commandments from God. In this situation, these sins are not dealt with by water, but by a Blood sacrifice. While the Gentiles may have been declared Clean in Acts 10 – it took the Blood of Jesus to Cleanse them of their sin. Isaiah 1:18-20; addresses this cleansing action by the Father.
Our minds often just think of something be impure, dirty or unfit. The point of the Levitical Laws are more than just what they touched and ate, but what they did in life. Life is more than food and drink [Matthew 6:25-33]; what really makes one unclean is what comes out of our lives, not what goes in our stomachs. [Matthew 15:15-20]
Our reading for this week from Leviticus 6-10 could be viewed as some of the most mundane reading in the Old Testament. However, the struggle we might have is viewing the instructions as “performance of Sacrifices” on the Altar. This would be very short-sighted on our part because the focus is not on the sacrifices but what they really are: Offerings to the LORD Almighty. I have to admit I to got caught up in the repeated instructions of preparations and all; and lost sight of the WHY of the offerings. There are voluntary offerings and mandatory offerings. But all the offerings were to the LORD. As I read the various instructions of what to bring and burn, there is the constant view that the “Fat is the LORD’s.” Since I like to BBQ I know that the fat in the meat makes it smell and taste so good. This was the point – that offerings would be a “sweet-smelling savor” in the nostrils of God. Yes, the offerings dealt with infractions of the Law and the sins of men; but the point was that God would be pleased with the offerings and His grace and mercy would be evident, for the fellowship would be restored. The various offerings are: Peace, Sin, Burnt, Guilt, Free Will and Wave. The offerings were prescribed according to the sin or circumstances around breaking the Law. The Offerings to the LORD could range from sheep, goats, bread or birds; the point was the condition of the heart bringing the offering, and the authenticity of seeking restoration. Of course our reading also delineates the portion for the Priests to have as their sustenance.
Raymond Campbell [http://biblecentre.org/content.php] has made charts and such description the purpose and Old/New Testament correlation. As the Offerings were for the restoration of relationship between God and Man; each had their own direct purpose. The Burnt Offering was for the single purpose of Glorifying God; with parallels in Gospel of John and Psalm 40. The Meal or grain offering was for the Perfect Man, usually Unleavened Bread denoting absence of sin; parallels in Psalm 16. The Peace Offering was an offering for fellowship; it could be either sex , with the fat and kidneys to God, and the breast & right shoulder for the one offering it; parallels in Gospel of Luke and Psalm 85. The Sin offering obviously for the Judgment of Sin; here a bull was burnt outside the camp, sort of like the Scape Goat being the sin bearer. Parallels in Mark’s Gospel and Psalm 22. The the Guilt Offering, sometimes called the Trespass offering; the offering of restoration; with it the requirement of 1/5 more than what was taken. This is probably best seen a “restitution” for the sin; recompense for the loss of another. While it seems like a great ordeal to have the offerings all the time, we can see that the offering was necessary to “cover sin” until the ultimate Offering Sacrifice of Jesus came; which didn’t cover over the sin, but dealt with it and removed the sin forever. When we think of our lives – Romans 12:1-2; we are to be an offering to the LORD; a living and holy sacrifice which is our reasonable service. We are an “Offering to the LORD” – we must be a holy sacrifice just as the animals were in the Old Testament. God is serious about doing “offering and sacrifices” that are holy. Check out Leviticus 10 and Acts 5 to find out what happens when there is no reverence for the Holy things of God.
This is a combination blog for the reading of Exodus 37-Leviticus 5; the reason for this is the common thread of thought. While we finished up Exodus last week, the thought was how precise is the instructions for the LORD to Moses on the construction and materials for the Tabernacle of God? The Tent of Meeting, the place where God would meet the Priests – who were to minister to HIM. Too often we think that we minister to people; but our ministry is to the LORD on behalf of the people. I am guilty as all of us are that we forget that our ministry was given to us by the father. The ministry is to bring from the people To THE LORD, we stand in the gap so to speak on their behalf. But our worship is to the LORD God. I did some simple calculations, they were rough, but the cost of the Tabernacle with all the furniture and veils comes to about $40 million in today’s dollars. I thought it was interesting that prior to Moses bringing down the instructions for construction, the people had already had made a mockery of the resources the LORD let them take from Egypt – in the form of a Golden Calf. I wondered how many times, man has used God’s resources for their own “worship” instead of the work of the LORD? The artifacts that were constructed were to be beaten metals, not molten – wondered if this was because of the idolatry earlier? Needless to say with all the instructions to be followed, how long would it take to make all the necessary items as prescribed by God? Nearly a year. The details are overwhelming! I have gone through a building program; whew, not something I want to necessarily do again. There are so many details to think of and put in place. The “gifts” from the people was a very encouraging word to me. Like Psalm 127:1 says If the Lord doesn’t build the house, the labors work in vain. There was no shortage of building materials. The people were compelled to bring the “offerings” to build the place of worship to the point that people were told, Quit bringing – we have too much! Only one other time do I know this occurred in scripture – when the people were asked to bring “offerings” for the building of the Temple by King David. Too much – tell the people to quit bringing. I have not heard of such a thing in our day. But I do know that Jehovah-Jireh [the Lord will provide] works if the people will listen. From the Lamp stands, to the brazen altar and Table of Bread and Incense, the Tent of Meeting was constructed. Then the laying out of responsibilities for up-keep and assembly when the people moved to the specific tribes-each at their own place around the camp. God spared no expense in building the place where He would be present. Just as God was putting His name on the Temple of Solomon, God spared no expense in worship of the people of Him. Our Savior Jesus Christ was more costly than all the Gold, Silver or Bronze that was used in either or both of the Tabernacle or Temple. God spared no expense in enabling His people to come worship Him. Too often, when we come to the Sanctuary today, it is almost a sacrilegious act – for there isn’t any respect or awe for the Place of Worship. I think of the High Priests and hold they had to cleanse and wash themselves before they could enter into the Presence of the Lord. Can’t come to the Presence of God filthy – yet how many times do we do this without even thinking of who we are standing in the Presence of? Long before any “God offerings” were prescribed, the details of the Place and Priestly function were established. The Offerings – the best – without defect, given at the pleasure of the worshipers to be “Pleasing to Jehovah.” As I read through the many “offerings” and how there was specifications of what was given to God – it sounded more like a BBQ. The fat of an animal is the taste, and smell of good aromas. Our Worship is to be Pleasing to The LORD – not an exercise to justify ourselves. The command – Be Ye Holy and I am Holy.