The shape of worship
Author book Leviticus
By Moses, the shepherd of God’s people
Moses wrote Leviticus to the Jewish people during their 40-year wilderness journey in the Sinai Peninsula. Leviticus provides details regarding priests, sacrifices, holy days, and laws the Jewish people were now required to follow as its own nation.
The title Leviticus refers to the Levites, the tribe of priests who were responsible for overseeing the practices regarding the law for Israel.
There is a story behind every book of the Bible, and study book Leviticus is no exception. Only a few months before, the Israelites had been slaves in Egypt, breaking their backs every day to serve a paranoid and despotic Pharaoh.
God had heard their cries and remembered the covenant He made with Abraham and his family, so He sent Moses to rescue them. After many miracles, the liberated slaves lumbered en masse out of Egypt and headed east toward Abraham’s ancestral lands.
But on the way, they had a stop to make. God commanded Moses to return to Mount Sinai, the place where the Eternal revealed Himself and commissioned Moses to be His emissary to the beleaguered slaves.
Moses met with God frequently on the mountain and at the congregation tent, a specially designed tent, a meeting place between God and His people.
Leviticus is part of a larger dialogue where God lays down certain stipulations for the new covenant with His people, a covenant that builds upon and extends God’s relationship with Abraham’s people.
These traditions begin in Exodus 25–31; 35–40, continue through Leviticus, and end in Numbers 1–10.
Understanding book Leviticus is a manual for the priests, those individuals set apart by God in order to care for and maintain the covenant with the Eternal One.
In bible book Leviticus, Priests are mediators between God and the average person.
They communicate God’s grace to those who desperately need it and carry the concerns of people who live with great burdens to a loving God through offerings, feasts, and other services.
This book consists of 27 chapters, covering four major themes.
Discover Grace, Repair Lives
As we continue book Leviticus bible study, we will find that the heart of the book is worship, this is how an unholy people approach an absolutely Holy God.
This book Leviticus commentary shows us that the former slaves are fully convinced that God is in their midst and is calling them to be a different sort of people, a people chosen to bear witness to the one True God and make Him known to all the nations.
But His nearness means an acute sense of sin, guilt, and impurity.
So, this portion of bible study Leviticus provides the spiritual leaders with the spiritual means by which hopelessly flawed people can discover grace and find their broken lives repaired.
The first theme includes laws regarding the five major offerings God commanded the Israelites to practice: burnt, grain, peace, sin, and trespass offerings. From 1:1—6:7 the laws are presented to the people.
In 6:8—7:38 the laws regarding these sacrifices are presented to the priests.
The second major theme is the origin of the Jewish priesthood in chapters 8—10. In chapter 8, Aaron and his sons are ordained as the priests of the Jewish people. In chapter 9, these priests offer their first sacrifices.
Chapter 10 then describes the account of Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu dying before the Lord for their unauthorized sacrifices.
The third major theme includes laws regarding uncleanness (Leviticus 11—16). This includes laws regarding unclean animals (Leviticus 11), as well as laws regarding uncleanness related to child bearing (Leviticus 12).
In chapter 13, Moses lists a variety of unclean diseases or disorders, with chapter 14 addressing steps of cleansing regarding these issues. Chapter 15 addresses unclean discharges.
Chapter 16 then shifts to the tabernacle and how to keep it pure from all uncleanness, giving specific instructions regarding what is known as Yom Kippur or the Day of Atonement.
The fourth major theme addresses practical guidelines for holy living (Leviticus 17—27), addressing 11 total topics.
- These are sacrifices and food (Leviticus 17),
- sexual behavior (Leviticus 18),
- treatment of neighbors (Leviticus 19),
- serious crimes (Leviticus 20),
- priestly regulations (Leviticus 21—22),
- festivals (Leviticus 23),
- the tabernacle’s holiness (Leviticus 24:1–9),
- various civil punishments (Leviticus 24:10–23),
- special years of Sabbath and Jubilee (Leviticus 25),
- blessings and curses (Leviticus 26),
- and voluntary gifts or vows (Leviticus 27).
- The burnt offering
- And reason for the burnt sacrifice
- The law of the burnt sacrifice
This is the oldest offering known to man. It was the offering of Abel, Noah, and Abraham. All the offerings were made on the brazen altar but because the burnt offering was made there, the brazen altar is also called the burnt altar.
It received its name from this sacrifice. This offering is recorded first of the five offerings because of its prominence and priority. This offering is a picture of Christ in depth as well as in death.
A man cannot probe the full meaning of this offering because it sets before us what God sees in Christ. We can’t see as much as He does. Here is a profound mystery that only the Holy Spirit can reveal.
The burnt offering shows the person of Christ. He is our substitute. Paul reveals this in Ephesians 5:2: “And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savour.”
- Offerings mixed but unbaked;
- offerings mixed and baked;
- offering of firstfruits;
- the law of the meal offering
The sacrifices and offerings not only please God but they provide for the physical and spiritual needs of the people. All the priests are from the tribe of Levi and participate in the spiritual heritage of Aaron, Moses’ brother.
With some of the offerings, God prescribes that the priests must share in the food brought by the people. By eating from their sacrifices, the priests participate in the lives of those who wish to approach God.
Some sacrifices are described as “memorial” offerings to God. These are offerings that ask God to remember His people and keep them in His good favor.
In the ancient world, salt was a valuable substance. It was used for a variety of purposes: to preserve meats, promote healing, and seal friendships.
When covenants were made, people celebrated with fine meals seasoned with salt and other spices.
The permanence of salt symbolized the permanence of God’s covenant with His people (Numbers 18:19). Jesus echoes this covenant practice when He instructs His followers to be salt in the world (Matthew 5:1).
- A sacrifice from the herd;
- a sacrifice from the flock;
- a sacrifice from the goats;
- the law of the peace offering
In Leviticus there are many kinds of sacrifices. Some celebrate God’s covenant with His people. Some atone for sin. The peace offering is a meal in which the worshiper, his family, and the priests all participate.
Some parts of the animal become part of the fire-offering. The rest is eaten by the priests and people. In a sense, God, the priests, and the worshipers all share a common meal.
- Sins of ignorance;
- sins of the priest;
- sins of the congregation;
- sins of the ruler;
- sins of the common people;
- the law of the sin offering
Sin is serious business; it destroys one’s relationship with God and can even endanger entire communities. So sin must be dealt with seriously.
God provides a process whereby sin may be forgiven and guilt may be set aside. It begins with admitting you are wrong and then following the requisite sacrifices.
But note: these sacrifices only atone for sins committed unwittingly. There is no sacrifice offered for sins committed deliberately.
- The trespass offering:
- specific acts of sin committed in ignorance;
- non-specific acts of sin committed in ignorance
These are some cases where a purification offering for sin is required. It is important to note that sacrifice is not some magical cure for sin or its consequences.
Before you come to God through the sacrifice, you must realize the error of your ways and confess it. Confession has always been act one of restoration.
- Conclusion of rules concerning the trespass offering;
- law concerning the burnt offering;
- concerning the meal offering;
- concerning the sin offering
Holiness is contagious. We’re accustomed to thinking about it in the negative. “A bad apple spoils the barrel,” our Western wisdom instructs us. But the Scriptures are clear that holiness, too, spreads from contact.
Essentially, holiness refers to whatever is set apart for God’s purpose and use. The act of setting apart creates a reality that can transform anything it touches.
Holy bread consumed in the holy place by holy priests created a holiness that could spread throughout the community.
- Concerning the trespass offering;
- concerning the peace offering
There are three kinds of peace offerings described: (a) thanksgiving, expressing gratitude for God’s favor; (b) votive, fulfilling a promise made to God; (c) freewill, made out of appreciation but not obligation.
As hard as it may be for us to understand, being “cut off from your people” is another way of saying “death penalty.” God is tough on disobedience because sin and impurity is a contagion that can ruin and ultimately destroy His people.
To deal with these matters decisively requires decisive action. Like a deadly disease, sin has to be quarantined.
- Calling of the congregation to witness the ritual of consecration of the priests;
- cleansing of Aaron and his sons;
- clothing of the high priest;
- consecration of the high priest;
- clothing and cleansing of the priests and Aaron;
- commandments given to Aaron and his sons
There is much we do not know about the Urim and the Thummim. We do know the high priest used them to ascertain God’s will on difficult questions (see Numbers 27:21; 1 Samuel 14:41–42 ).
This consecration is of Aaron and his sons along with the enclosed part of the congregation tent, the sanctuary, and their objects. They are all set apart for God’s special purpose.
- Aaron prepares to begin his service;
- Aaron offers the sin offering;
- Aaron offers the burnt offering;
- Aaron offers the meal and peace offerings;
- Aaron blesses the people and the glory of the Lord appears
This chapter is intensely interesting, as it not only marks the initiation of Aaron and his sons into the service of the priesthood, but it gives in detail the daily ritual of the service of the priests.
With the exception of the great Day of Atonement, very little detail is given in the remainder of Scripture relative to the daily ritual. This marks the time when the priest for the first time became a priest.
Although one was born in Aaron’s line, he was not fully a priest until he was consecrated. The Hebrew word for consecration literally means “to fill the hand.” That means we come to God with empty hands.
Consecration isn’t a promise to go out as a missionary or to do something else for the Lord. Consecration means to come to the Lord with empty hands and ask, “Lord, what will You have me to do?”
He does the filling!
That is consecration.
Too many folk think they must bring something to God if they are to be consecrated. Some folk seem to think they are giving the Lord a whole lot if they give themselves. We’re not giving Him very much, friends.
When He got me, all He got was just so much sin. That’s all. The Septuagint adopted the Greek word teleioo to express consecration. This expresses the same thought.
Telos means “end,” and it means “the purpose,” meaning to accomplish what God wants you to accomplish. It means to fulfill the end for which you were born.
We were born for the purpose of completing the body of Christ. And He was born for the purpose of coming down here to accomplish the will of God in order that He might bring us home to glory.
“For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings” (Heb. 2:10).
You see, Jesus was consecrated. He had a purpose. “For the law maketh men high priests which have infirmity; but the word of the oath, which was since the law, maketh the Son, who is consecrated for evermore” (Heb. 7:28).
In this chapter it is the office of Jesus, not His character, which is in view. It is Jesus accomplishing the purpose, the God-given purpose, in His office.
- Incident concerning Nadab and Abihu,
- sons of Aaron;
- instructions coming out of the incident;
- injunctions concerning the offerings in connection with the incident
The glory of God is a hard notion for us. The word often translated “glory” means essentially heaviness or weight. The Eternal One uniquely is the most substantial and most significant being in the cosmos.
Only God is eternal. Only God has true substance. Creation runs out, wears out, and peters out eventually.
In the Scriptures the term “glory” is used often for those unique times and places when God manifests Himself in some visible way. It is His epiphany, or manifestation, one might say. To see God’s glory is a fearsome thing.
That’s why people fall on their faces and call out for mercy. Not many people have seen God’s glory, but those who do never forget it.
- The food of God’s people—clean and unclean animals;
- contact with carcasses of unclean animals;
- contact with carcasses of clean animals;
- contamination of creeping creatures;
- classification of clean and unclean made by a holy God
Now that Aaron and his sons have been set aside as priests, it is time to instruct them on one of their major duties, that is, helping God’s covenant people understand the difference between purity and impurity.
Impurity is a constant challenge and threat to holiness, and God has called His people to be holy. But many actions and circumstances in life put holiness in jeopardy. God knows that His people need help figuring these things out.
That’s one of the reasons He sets aside Aaron’s family as priests and gives them these instructions. It is important to note that purity and impurity, as understood here, are much more than what is sanitary or unsanitary.
The ritual purity instructions encompass nearly every aspect of social and religious life in Israel.
Have you noticed how often faith and food come together? One of the most authentic expressions of our spiritual lives has to do with the table where we gather with family and friends to bless God for the goodness the earth provides.
These regulations recorded here helped Israel to maintain its status as God’s chosen and holy people. Kosher laws, as they are called, are unique to Israel’s covenant with the Eternal One.
They aren’t God’s laws for everyone; they serve as a cultural boundary-marker indicating what kinds of meat should be eaten.
- Cleansing of a mother after childbirth;
- a sacrifice for atonement
In the preceding chapter we saw the contamination of sin by contact. The external character of sin was emphasized—we live in a world surrounded by sin. This chapter places the emphasis on the internal character of sin.
Not only do we become sinners by contact, but we are sinners by birth. And this chapter is the law concerning motherhood, the transmission of sin by inheritance. The very nature that we inherit is a fallen, sinful nature.
David said, “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me” (Ps. 51:5). This chapter is in the field of obstetrics, as the former chapter was in the field of dietetics and pediatrics.
Our Lord is the Great Physician and He is the specialist in all fields. Pagan people entertained superstitious notions about the uncleanness of women in childbirth.
There is not a shred of that notion in the Levitical economy, as we hope to point out. It was also a pagan practice to place women in an inferior position to man.
This law does not contain a breath of that idea, as the Mosaic economy lifted womanhood and ennobled motherhood in contrast to the base heathenism that surrounded the nation Israel.
Obviously there were certain hygienic benefts in the practice of these God-given laws—as we saw in the matter of diet. God was caring for His people physically, and at the same time was teaching them (and us) the great spiritual truth that we are born in sin.
There is a doctrine today that is almost totally rejected, and that is the total depravity of man—but man is certainly demonstrating it! Our news media is full of it, and man’s total depravity is quite obvious.
We are told: “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Rom. 5:12).
The world thinks of innocence, virtue, and goodness in the picture of a young mother holding a sweet, cuddly baby in her arms. But God paints a different picture, an opposite portrait, in this chapter.
There’s the young mother holding the precious baby, but he’s not a picture of innocence and sinlessness. He is a picture of uncleanness and sin.
Do you know what happened?
That mother brought into the world a sinner. That’s all she could bring into the world because she is a sinner—and Papa’s a sinner too.
S. H. Kellogg has this comment:
“In the birth of a child, the special original curse against the woman is regarded by the law as reaching its fullest, most consummate and significant expression. For the extreme evil of the state of sin into which the first woman, by that first sin, brought all womanhood, is seen most of all in this, that now woman, by means of those powers given her for good and blessing, can bring into the world only a child of sin” (The Book of Leviticus, p. 314).
You recall that God said to the first woman: “. . . I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee” (Gen. 3:16).
Not only would the woman travail in bringing a child into the world, but the chances are that child would be a heartbreak to her because that child is a sinner.
That is, I think, what Paul had in mind when he put down certain regulations concerning woman’s place in public worship. He says: “But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence” (1 Tim. 2:12).
He is talking about the place of doctrinal leadership in the church, and I think the reason is twofold. Adam was created first, and also in the transgression the woman was the one who was deceived.
“For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression” (1 Tim. 2:13–14).
This is not teaching the superiority of man over woman. Rather, it is a matter of order and headship. Secondly, the woman was first in the transgression—she was the leader there.
The fact that a Christian mother travails in the birth of her child is an evidence of God’s judgment, but it certainly does not mean she loses her salvation when she brings a sinner into the world.
“Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety” (1 Tim. 2:15). She is not saved by childbearing; she is saved through childbearing.
In other words, she does not become unclean and lose her salvation by bringing a sinner into the world. The evidence of her salvation is in her faith, love, holy living, and sobriety.
“Uncleanness” under the Law reminded her that she had brought a sinner into the world. “Travail” under grace reminds the mother today that a sinner has been born even though she is a believer.
When Paul the apostle said to the Philippian jailer, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house” (Acts 16:31) he didn’t mean that his family would be saved just because he believed on the Lord.
- Diagnosis of leprosy;
- disposal of lepers’ garments
Humans suffer from many different kinds of skin disorders. Although one of the most dreaded diseases known to antiquity was leprosy, it is most likely that few Israelites in Moses’ day suffered from the disease we know as leprosy.
The Hebrew word that appears in this chapter covers many disfiguring and debilitating skin diseases that certainly can be infectious.
The priests are given the challenge of making critical observations as to what is indeed infectious and what is not.
The term applied not only to a variety of skin diseases, but it was also used to describe articles of clothing or buildings marred from leprous like outbreaks. By the time of the New Testament, leprosy is present in Israel.
It is caused by a bacterium that can begin as a blemish on the skin; but when it runs its course, the skin is left discolored.
There are unsightly lumps and scaling, and eventually the nerves are paralyzed so that there is no feeling of pain. Without the pain sensation people eventually wear down their fingers and toes into mere nubs.
It is a terrible, contagious disease that socially marginalized people from their families’ loving touch and intimate relationships.
- Ceremonial cleansing of the leper;
- ceremonial cleansing of a house of leprosy;
- ceremonial law for cleansing of leprosy and issues of the flesh
Again I must insist that we are not being given a cure for leprosy. This is the ceremonial cleansing. In the preceding chapter we saw the details of the decisions in diagnosing the leprosy.
There evidently were those lepers who were cured by the treatment of that day—whatever it was, and also there were those who were healed supernaturally. We know today there is a cure for leprosy.
It is not an incurable disease, and Scripture does not present it as such. It was a terrible disease and is used to teach us tremendous spiritual lessons about sin.
This chapter casts a ray of light and hope into the darkness of the leper’s plight. We note that no physician’s prescription is given for the treatment and cure of leprosy.
Rather, it shows the ceremonial cleansing which follows the cure. This alludes to the redemption of the sinner. The ritual is entirely symbolic, yet there is a therapeutic value in the washing and cleansing.
When a man sinned in the Garden of Eden, sin separated God and man. This barrier of sin moved in a twofold direction in that it affected both God and man. It moved upward toward God and made man guilty before a holy God.
It moved downward toward man, and man became polluted and contaminated with sin. Leprosy is a picture of sin in its pollution and contamination.
The remarkable feature in this chapter is the unique ceremony of cleansing and the treatment of a plague of leprosy in a house. The house is treated as a leper, obviously emphasizing the thought of contagion.
- Running issues of the man;
- running issues of the woman;
- repulsiveness and regulations of running issues
This is the general principle: a bodily discharge produces a state of ritual impurity for both men and women. As we see in this chapter, some of these discharges are abnormal and caused by active infections or diseases.
When this is the case, healing is required.
But some discharges are actually normal. For example, a woman’s period is normal, but there are conditions that cause her to bleed at odd times or too much. Again, in such cases, healing is required.
The impurity referred to in these verses has to do with ceremonial and ritual practices such as making sacrifices, going to festivals, or receiving a revelation. Men, like women, have times when they become ritually impure.
For men it happens whenever they have an ejaculation. For women it happens whenever they have their period.
It’s important to note that these bodily functions are normal and natural, not sinful or evil. The ancients knew the power of such events for making them one with their wives and ultimately creating life.
Through these bodily fluids men and women become partners with God in creating other humans who are made in the image and likeness of God. Such power cannot and must not be taken lightly.
- The great Day of Atonement—preparation of the priest;
- preparation of the place;
- preparation of the people
There are two goats for the annual Day of Atonement. Lots are cast — perhaps the Urim and the Thummim — to see which goat is slaughtered for Israel’s purification before God and which goat is released into the desert.
The meaning of the Hebrew term Azazel is translated “scapegoat” but is uncertain; Azazel may refer to the name of a wilderness demon or a place in the desert, or it may simply refer to the goat that takes Israel’s sin deep into the desert, that is, “scapegoat.”
- One place of sacrifice;
- the offense of occult goat worship;
- the offering of sacrifice at the tabernacle;
- the obligation not to eat blood
Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, is the holiest day of the year.
On this day the high priest enters into the holiest chamber of the congregation tent, the place where the covenant chest resides. Here, in God’s immediate earthly presence, he makes reparations for the sins of the people.
Chapters 17–26 are often referred to as the “Holiness Code.” The words “holy” and “sacred” are repeated over and over again throughout these chapters.
God reminds His people to be different from the rest of the nations for He chose and set them apart for a special purpose. They are to be holy for He is holy.
- Immorality condemned,
- amplification of the seventh commandment—preamble to social prohibitions;
- sexual relations with relatives forbidden;
- sundry sexual sins prohibited;
- offspring forbidden to be offered to Molech;
- perversion of sex prohibited;
- nations in Palestine cast out for committing these sins
God allowed His people to eat meat, but He had concerns about how and where these animals would be killed.
The commandments can be summarized this way: every time an animal is used for food, its death must be treated as a sacred event.
That’s why God tells the people to present it to Him in the sanctuary. Whenever one of God’s creatures gives its life for one of our meals, that life is to be respected.
Blood is central to life. It makes life possible. That’s why blood is so significant to the sacrifices, and violating any of these laws results in severe penalties.
- Man’s relationship to God;
- man’s relationship to the poor;
- man’s relationship to his neighbour;
- man’s relationships in different life situations
People and their land are connected. When people engage in disgusting practices, it affects the land, pollutes it, and makes it sick. But when people live by God’s rules, the land is well.
God’s care for the poor is clearly reflected and codified in these verses. Those who have are to leave something for those who have not.
No one is charged to make them care for the poor; God’s covenant people are to do this in obedience to His commands.
But the poor have a responsibility as well. They are to go and gather the grain left in the fields and collect the clusters left in the vineyard.
In this way, they join with the landowners and farmers in caring for themselves and the earth.
- Capital punishment for those who offer their children to Molech;
- capital punishment for those who practice spiritism;
- capital punishment for those who curse father or mother;
- capital punishment for those who commit adultery;
- certain offenses which require lesser penalty;
- conclusion to the law of holiness
Genuine faith manifests itself in the way God’s people treat others. While some may dishonor aliens or take advantage of outsiders, God’s own must live differently.
The law of love guides them to treat others as they wish to be treated and to extend hospitality to those who look and sound like they are far from home.
God reminds them: you were once strangers and outsiders, too, in Egypt. You of all people should know what it is like to be aliens in a foreign land. Likewise genuine faith shows up in the marketplace.
True believers conduct business with integrity. Whether they are buying or selling, they insist on proper weights and measures, hard work, and honesty.
Since God has pledged Himself to Israel as a husband to his bride, marriage becomes a powerful symbol of the loving, faithful relationship between God and His covenant people.
Marital infidelity then — both adultery and prostitution — signify what happens when His people go after other gods.
- Defilement of priesthood prevented in human kinship and friendship;
- disqualifications for priestly function
We have been studying the law as directed to the people from chapter 11 through chapter 20. Now we come to the law for the personal purity of the priests. This is found in chapters 21 and 22.
We will find a certain amount of repetition here. It had been God’s original intention that the entire nation should be a kingdom of priests (Exod. 19:5–6).
Their disobedience in the matter of the golden calf destroyed the possibility of the realization of a perfect and ideal society. In the Millennium, the perfect society will be attained.
Then the entire nation of Israel will be the priests here on the earth for the earthly people, the gentile nations. Through the Millennium and through eternity, there are the three groups of the human family:
(1) the church of Jesus Christ in the New Jerusalem,
(2) the nation Israel here on this earth,
(3) the saved Gentiles on this earth.
After Israel’s failure, God chose only one tribe to be the priests, the tribe of Levi. In Israel, therefore, there were the congregation, the priesthood, and the high priest. The higher position required a higher obligation.
The greater responsibility demanded a higher way of life. The church today is called a royal priesthood. Every believer is a priest and has access to the throne of grace today.
Every believer-priest is required to live a holy life which is possible only by the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit. “And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.
Use hospitality one to another without grudging. As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen” (1 Pet. 4:8–11).
He also said,
“But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy” (1 Pet. 2:9–10).
As God’s people we are called to a higher way of life.
“This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind. . . . That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; and be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness” (Eph. 4:17, 22–24).
The child of God is saved by grace and has been called to a high place in his life. A believer should be careful about accepting an office in the church. If he does become an officer, he should measure up to that responsibility.
I have very little patience with men who accept an office in the church and then say they are not able to come to the midweek service or come on Sunday night. Well, my brother, you should not have accepted the office.
Responsibility, you see, comes through privilege. It is a privilege to serve the Lord in an office. You have been elevated. Then live up to it. Jesus Christ is our Great High Priest and He measured up to His office.
“For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s: for this he did once, when he offered up himself. For the law maketh men high priests which have infirmity; but the word of the oath, which was since the law, maketh the Son, who is consecrated for evermore” (Heb. 7:26–28).
The Lord Jesus Christ is both the priest and the sacrifice. He offered Himself. The priests and the high priest now come under the purview of the law. Let us look at it.
- Defilement of the priesthood through disease,
- and the dead;
- discernment of the offerings brought by the people
In our world, these rules are hard to understand. But remember, it has only been in recent years that Western society has shown concern for people with disabilities.
In much of the world today, people who suffer deformities or disabilities are treated differently — as somehow imperfect. Less than a century ago, “little people” and other “freaks of nature” were in circuses for the amusement of the rest of us.
So we must be careful not to judge people who lived 3,000 years ago by our modern standards and sensibilities. That would not be fair.
The logic is clear: just as the sacrifice must be pure and unblemished, so must the priest who offers the sacrifice be whole in body.
Disabled priests are mercifully included in God’s provision because they are permitted to eat the consecrated bread.
- The holy seasons of the Sabbath;
- the holy season of Passover;
- the holy season of Unleavened Bread;
- the holy season of Firstfruits;
- the holy season of Pentecost;
- the holy season of Trumpets;
- the holy season of the great Day of Atonement;
- the holy season of Tabernacles
Sin causes damage in ways we do not easily recognize. It damages our relationship with God, other people, and the rest of creation. But we should not forget that sin damages us too. We are damaged goods.
The Day of Atonement provides the people of Israel with a regular opportunity to recognize how broken and flawed they are, to repent and turn to God, and to seek His healing and forgiveness.
The Feast of Booths takes place after the fall harvest is in and the people can take some time off.
In this feast, God’s people are called to remember how He provided for them, particularly how He provided for them when they wandered in the desert, living in tents or booths, for 40 years.
- Olive oil for the golden lampstand;
- fine flour for the table of showbread;
- death penalty for the sin of blasphemy
This chapter seems to be out of place with what has gone before. The items in this chapter seem to be disconnected. The oil for the lampstand and the bread for the table do not seem to belong between the Feast of Tabernacles and the Sabbatic year.
Nevertheless, this is the method the Holy Spirit uses on another occasion. In Numbers 8:1–4 there are the instructions for lighting the lights, and a brief description is inserted between the gifts of the princes and the cleansing of the Levites.
I think it teaches that all is to be done in the light and leading of the Holy Spirit. The same lesson is to be drawn here.
The celebration of the feasts and the observances of the Sabbatic and Jubilee years must be performed in the light of the Holy Spirit and in the strength and power of Christ.
That is very important. There are some practical implications which must not be overlooked. The people were to furnish the oil for the lampstand and the fine flour for the bread on the table.
God made them participants in the provision and worship of the tabernacle. God, by some miracle, could have furnished the oil and the flour and the workmanship for the table and the lampstand.
However, He wanted the people to participate. That is the way I feel about getting out the Word of God. In every local congregation there are ways for you to get involved in the work of the Lord.
Just keep your eyes open and you will notice something to do. All those who love the Word of God should get involved in getting the message to people. God says, “You bring the oil; you bring the flour.”
The importance of the lampstand cannot be overlooked. It was probably the most accurate and beautiful picture of Christ in all the tabernacle. It was solid gold and beautifully wrought into seven branches of almond boughs from one main stem.
Aaron had sole charge of the lights of the lampstand to keep them burning (Exod. 30:7–8). It is important to see that today the lamps are in the hands of our Great High Priest. Jesus Christ has said that He is the Light of the world.
Before He left, He told His own that they were to be the light of the world. Paul uses this same idea when he says, “. . . among whom ye shine as lights in the world” (Phil. 2:15).
In Revelation 1 and 2, the Lord Jesus Christ as our Great High Priest walks in the midst of the lampstands today to keep us shining. He pours in the oil which is the filling with the Holy Spirit.
He trims the wicks so that the light will burn brighter. He removes the light when it refuses to burn—this is the sin unto death which John mentions in his epistle.
Therefore the insertion of the lampstand and the showbread in this section is not out of place. The second incident in the Book of Leviticus is found in this chapter: the son of an Israelitish mother and an Egyptian father blasphemed.
This is another example of the problem and difficulty presented by the mixed multitude that came out of Egypt with Israel. They were problem children and troublemakers.
They correspond to those in the church today who are torn between the world on one hand and serving God on the other.
- Olive oil for the golden lampstand;
- fine flour for the table of showbread;
- death penalty for the sin of blasphemy
The year of jubilee is a far-reaching idea in the ancient world. In the 50th year, land that has been sold to pay debts during the preceding 49 years returns to its original owners.
Israelites who had to sell themselves into slavery to pay debts are set free. All debts are declared “paid in full.”
The jubilee is a regular reminder to God’s covenant people that every acre of ground, every soul belongs to God, not to those rich enough to buy them.
Actually land cannot be sold; it can only be leased in 50-year increments, from jubilee to jubilee. So God’s law protects the welfare of future generations by preventing the permanent transfer of land and wealth outside the control of the family.
- Prologue to Israel’s Magna Carta of the land;
- promise of blessing;
- pronouncement of judgment;
- prediction predicated on promise to patriarchs
This is a marvelous chapter. It is a prophetic history that covers Israel’s entire tenure of the Promised Land until the present hour and gives the conditions in the future on which they will occupy the land.
This section stands in a peculiar relationship to the remainder of the Book of Leviticus. There are not great spiritual lessons and pictures here, but this is the direct word of Jehovah to the nation Israel concerning their future.
This is history prewritten and reveals the basis on which Israel entered the land of Canaan and their tenancy there. This is an “iffy” chapter. “If” occurs nine times and it has to do with the conditions on which they occupy the land.
God says “I will” twenty-four times. God will act and react according to their responses to the “if”. God gave them the land, but their occupancy of it is determined by their answer to the “if”.
Obedience is the ground of blessing in the land. This chapter is not only the calendar of their history, but it serves as the barometer of their blessings. Their presence in the land, rainfall, and bountiful crops denote the favor of God.
Their absence from the land, famine, and drought denote the judgment of God because of their disobedience. You and I are blessed with all spiritual blessings in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus. However there are some “ifs” connected to that also.
God loves you and wants to shower you with His blessings. But you can put up an umbrella of indifference, you can put up an umbrella of sin, you can put up an umbrella of stepping out of the will of God.
When you do that, the sunshine of His love won’t get through to you. You must put down your umbrella to experience His spiritual blessings.
- Commutation of vows concerning persons;
- commutation of vows concerning animals;
- commutation of vows concerning houses;
- commutation of vows concerning land;
- concerning three things which are the Lord’s apart from a vow
Now there is nothing to suggest that God requires His people to make vows; but when they do, they must be taken seriously.
So if a person pledges to give God something in exchange for His help or blessing on a matter, then that person is bound to keep his promise. It would be better not to make a vow in the first place than to make it and not fulfill it.
Animals that are unclean according to the law are not be donated in fulfillment of a vow because they are not acceptable as sacrifices.
They are taken to the market and sold; the money gained from the sale supports the priests and their service.
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