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 The Old Testament Law has been discounted by many today as being outdated and irrelevant.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]
Exodus 11-15; In this last plague from Yahweh, we find there is so much more than just the hard-hearted Pharaoh at stake. The 10th plague is the death plague. When we look at Egypt – “called the house of slavery” we can draw from this phrase – it means enslaved to sin and its bondage over us. Sin is not going to let us go easily, much less go to worship the LORD! In the beginning of the plagues, Pharaoh hardened his heart. But by the last three plagues we find that the LORD knowing Pharaoh’s intentions and ego, hardened his heart further. The point of the plagues wasn’t just to get Israel out of Egypt, but also that the LORD El Shaddai would be glorified through His work in Egypt and the bringing down of Pharaoh. The news of the “LORD’s strong hand” was spread all over and for many years kept in the memories of Israel and the surrounding nations. Some 40 years later Rahab, recalls the great defeat and victory God/Israel had over the Egyptians. The Memorial of the Passover while being an Israelite Feast – it has great significance for people of Faith in Jesus Christ. The instructions for observance are important with respect to the “unblemished Lamb” – for such was Jesus. We find that the Institution of the Passover was the New Beginning of days for Israel. Their Jewish calendar is based on the event. The month is Nissan correlates to our month of March/April; hence Easter during this time of the calendar. The Lamb was to be taken and observed for 4 days; this observance was to ensure that there wasn’t any defect in the Lamb. Jesus entered into Jerusalem on Sunday and on Thursday; four days later the Religious leaders came to take him and crucify him. Jesus meet the requirement of the Unblemished Lamb. Required was the absence of Leaven; this has been over emphasized in the Lord Supper for Christians today. The reason for no leaven was because the people were to be in a poster of readiness. Some have equated the admonition of Jesus to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees [Matthew 16:6 -ff] as leaven has the meaning of sin. The Feast of Unleavened Bread and the Passover over time became jointed together into a week-long Feast to the Lord. Jesus in the Upper Room with the disciples on Thursday was observing the Feast of Unleavened Bread – even though it was called the Passover. Passover did not occur until the Sabbath Friday and the sacrifice of the Passover Lamb in the Temple. Jesus was the Passover Lamb – he was scourged and crucified at the time the Passover Lambs were being sacrificed in the Temple. However, Jesus’ sacrifice as the Lamb of God was a one time completion of the sacrifices – that’s why the Temple Veil was torn, no longer did there need to be a Lamb sacrifice or a Day of Atonement – Jesus in Hebrews is the High Priest and the Lamb [blood] sacrifice once and for all. The Blood was to be placed on the doorposts and the lintel; the presence of the Blood [which makes a cross] would cause the “death angel to ‘Passover’ the house.” When the blood of Jesus is applied to the repentant person, it is effectual for “passing over” the sins of the person and the eradication of death – that’s why we have eternal life – death no more holds sway over us. The Resurrection is proof that death has been defeated by Jesus. Sin and death have been dealt with and the Believer is “free” to live the abundant life in Christ – John 10:10b and Col 1:27. The institution and Memorial were to be perpetual for Israel until the time of Jesus – who would come to “fulfill the Law” of sacrifice. The Memorial Feast finds its counterpart for us in the Lord’s Supper/Communion observance. This is an Ordinance not a Sacrament. In other words we observe for “remembering nor for saving.” Israel was to remember and pass on the great deliverance from Egypt – just as we are called to remember the deliverance from sin by Jesus through the Lord’s Supper table. Israel fail miserably in remembering which so often led to their troubles and falling away. The failed to remember the Lord’s feasts and celebration such as the Year of Jubilee and Sabbatical Year – this directly relates to the 70 years in Babylon captivity, marking the number of times Israel forgot the Lord’s Feasts. We must remember and pass on to our children the “why” of the things we do for in doing so we exalt and bring glory to God for His “righteous powerful strong hand.”