February 25, 2018
DO NOT IMITATE THE WORLD’S WAY OF LIFE
When the Lord gave the law to Moses, He warned the Israelites not to imitate the way of life of the Egyptians where they used to live, nor the Canaanites where He was taking them. He wanted His people to follow His ways, not the world’s ways. So, God gave them His laws to show them His ways. But the Israelites did not follow His law. Instead, they began to imitate the way of life of Egypt and Canaan.
God’s law is good, but it is not able to save. As the apostle Paul wrote, “The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature. So God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins” (Rom. 8:3). Now in Christ, we have not only the example, but the power to follow God’s ways rather than imitating the world’s ways.
February 16, 2018
Salt was the opposite of leaven. Salt was always to be added to the sacrifice, but never leaven. Salt represented purity and preservation, but leaven represented impurity and sin. Salt was a sign of God’s eternal covenant. It was even mentioned as a sign of the eternal covenant God made with David that the throne belonged to his descendants forever (2 Chron. 13:5). In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus told His disciples that they were the “salt of the earth” (Matt. 5:13). We are to be agents of Christ in this world, representing His gospel to the nations.
February 27, 2017
The Lord taught the Israelites that they were to “be holy to” Him. It was He that had “separated” them from other “peoples.” Just as the temple implements and clothing were actually common until they were “separated” from others and set apart for special use, so they were to “be holy to” the Lord. That they were chosen “from the peoples” of the world was not a rejection of the other nations. The Israelites were not holy to Him because of who they were, but because of who He is. He had chosen them and “separated” them from other peoples because of His intent to make them the means by which He would call all peoples to Himself. The prophet Zechariah wrote of this future purpose, saying, “Many nations shall be joined to the Lord in that day, and they shall become My people. And I will dwell in your midst” (Zech. 2:11). Until then, the many moral, civil and ceremonial laws were given to separate the Israelites from the other nations and prepare them to be the people to whom the Messiah, God’s Son, would be born. As John wrote in fulfillment of Zechariah, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.”
February 24, 2017
The Lord told Moses to tell his brother, Aaron, that even though he was the high priest, he was not allowed to enter the Holy Place “just any time” he wanted. The Holy Place, or the Holy of Holies, was the inner room behind the veil that contained the Ark of the Covenant. Covering the Ark was a golden lid fashioned between two golden cherubim that was called the “mercy seat.” Upon this, the presence of the Lord would rest in the form of a cloud. It was on this mercy seat that the high priest was to sprinkle the blood of atonement once a year on the Day of Atonement (“Yom Kippur”). This was the only time that the Lord permitted him into His throne room (With the exception of when the camp had to be packed up for travel, at which time the cloud would move out of the Tabernacle and become a pillar of cloud leading the people).
This was the old covenant until Christ was crucified and the curtain to the Holy Place was torn (Matt. 27:50-51), establishing a new covenant and opening up a new way to God’s throne room to all who are in Christ Jesus. Now, we can enter at any time because Christ, our Great High Priest, is ever seated at the right hand of the Father, interceding for us (Heb. 8:1-2). We can “come boldly to the throne of grace, that we might obtain mercy” (Heb. 4:16) because of Christ’s priestly work on our behalf.
February 23, 2017
Why does God’s Word contain laws concerning leprosy?
The laws in Leviticus are in three categories: 1) Moral, 2) Ceremonial and 3) Civil. Moral laws are perpetual, revealing the character of God and showing us how to treat both God and man. Ceremonial laws have to do with temple worship, holy days, and the sacrificial system. Civil laws have the effect of setting the Jews apart as God’s peculiar people. The leprosy laws fall into the last two categories, they both preserve the holiness of corporate worship and protect the civil community from communicable disease.
Yet, within these laws there are spiritual signs that point to Christ. Consider the elements of the law of the leper for the day of his cleansing: two birds, cedar wood, scarlet and hyssop.
– The two birds: This points to the union of the two natures in Christ, both human and divine. The one sacrificed and its blood shed points to His crucifixion and death. The one let loose points to His resurrection and ascension.
– The cedar wood: This points to the cross itself.
– The scarlet: The color of the robe the Roman soldiers put on Christ and mocked Him (Matt. 27:28).
– The hyssop: The Roman soldiers lifted a sponge filled with sour wine with a hyssop branch to Christ on the cross (John 19:28-30).
Leviticus is rich with spiritual meaning and metaphor when we read it through the lens of the New Testament.
February 21, 2017
The law for the purification of a woman who had given birth to a male child called for the child to be circumcised on the 8th day. After the circumcision of her son, she had to wait thirty-three more days to complete her time of purification. Then, she was to bring with her to the Temple a lamb for a burnt offering and a pigeon for a sin offering. Yet, the law further stated that another pigeon might be substituted for the lamb if the mother “is not able to bring a lamb.” This provision for the poor was utilized by Mary and Joseph when they brought baby Jesus from Bethlehem to Jerusalem on the 8th day to be circumcised. And Mary brought “two turtledoves or pigeons” as an offering as they presented Jesus to the Lord (Luke 2:21-24). They did this that all the law might be fulfilled concerning Jesus.
That this provision was utilized points to the poverty of the young couple to whom Jesus was born. This took place after the visit of the shepherds, but before the visit of the Magi, for their gifts would have made the purchase of a lamb possible for the couple.
Isn’t it wonderful that God’s law made provision for the poor and especially for the Son that became poor for our sakes, that we might become rich in Him (2 Cor. 8:9)?
February 20, 2017
After days of instruction and training, and seven days of consecration, two of the newly minted Aaronic priests decided to offer their own version of worship to the Lord before the people of God. This was the first worship service in the newly ordained Tabernacle and the Lord was so pleased, that He allowed His glory to appear to all the people, sending fire that consumed the offering that Aaron had placed on the altar. The people let out a great shout at this display and fell on their faces before the Lord. It was at this time of appropriate and authentic worship, that Nadab and Abihu drew attention to themselves, by ad-libbing their own fiery display. Not only was their activity ill-timed and distracting from God’s glory, it was against the training and instruction they had been given as priests. Their fire was “profane,” not taken from the altar as was prescribed, but lit from their own fire, and placed in their own censer. Their motive for this false worship was not revealed, but the Lord’s response is revealing. The same fire that went out from the Lord to consume the offering on the altar, now went out and “devoured” Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron.
The Lord would not allow His priests to vary from His worship order, especially at the inaugural service of the Tabernacle. If He allowed such self improvisation from the beginning, how far might the people stray after a time? Every detail of the worship service had been revealed to Moses, so that the people would be prepared for its future fulfillment in the Messiah, Jesus Christ. Any variation, whether subtraction or addition, would garble the message that pointed to Jesus.
There seems to be a similarity between the deaths of Nadab and Abihu in Leviticus 10 and that of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5. In both cases, they are at the beginning of a new era. The sons of Aaron, offered “profane fire” at the first worship service of the Mosaic Covenant and the Lord struck them dead. And Ananias and Sapphira offered a false offering just as the Church age commenced following Pentecost, and they both fell dead for it. The Lord seemed to be setting a precedent, that those who would worship Him must worship in “spirit and truth” (John 4:24). False worship would not be accepted.
February 19, 2017
Sprinkle or pour?
Moses consecrated the Tabernacle with all its implements, “sprinkling” them with the special anointing oil as the Lord commanded. Then, he washed Aaron and his sons with water, clothed him in priestly garments, and “poured” the anointing oil on his head to consecrate him as high priest. David wrote of the copious amount of oil poured on Aaron’s head, comparing it to the luxurious fragrance of unity among God’s people, “Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity! It is like the precious oil on the head, running down on the beard, on the beard of Aaron, running down on the collar of his robes!” (Psalm 133:1-2).
There is much symbolism to consider in the consecration of Aaron and his sons. For as believers, our sins are “washed” away by the blood of Jesus’ sacrifice (Heb. 10:19-22, 1 John 1:7). We are clothed in new clothes of righteousness, putting off the old man and putting on the new in Christ (Col. 3:1-15). And we have been anointed with the “oil” of the Holy Spirit (2 Cor. 1:21-22). Yet, Aaron the high priest, who had the anointing oil “poured” on him, is a foreshadowing of Christ, the Anointed One, our Great High Priest (Heb. 4:14-15). “For in Christ all the fullness of the Godhead dwells in bodily form (Col. 2:9).
And it was Christ, who has “poured” out His Spirit upon us!
February 17, 2017
Centuries before Roman law declared, “Ignorantia juris non excusat” (Ignorance of the law excuses not), God gave the same to Moses. The number and detail of levitical law is overwhelming to read and no doubt, even more overwhelming to keep. A careful numbering of levitical law brings the total to 613 commandments (248 positive “i.e. “Remember the Sabbath” + 365 negative “i.e. Thou shalt not kill”). The majority of the commands (603) were given to further describe the keeping of the Decalogue (10 commandments). Yet, Jesus was able to summarize the whole into one word, namely, love: “Love God, love others as yourself” (Matt. 22:36-40).
Whether it’s one, two, ten or 613, the Bible says that none of us can keep the law without sin (Rom. 3:23). Claiming ignorance of God’s law does not excuse us. Only an appropriate sacrifice will satisfy. Thankfully, the complex law and sacrificial system were satisfied in one person, Jesus Christ. He has kept the law and offered Himself as the unblemished sacrifice for our sin, both those we committed knowingly and unknowingly. He bore our sin and guilt that we might receive His righteousness!
March 1, 2016
Every seven years the Israelites were to keep a Sabbath for the land. This was called the “shemitah.” God promised to bless their land with such abundance in the sixth year that it would provide enough for three years (Lev. 25:21-22). After seven of these cycles (49 years), in the fiftieth year they were to declare a Year of Jubilee. This was like the Sabbath Year, yet included cancellation of debts. In the sabbath year, each field was to lie fallow, which appears to be a sound agricultural practice. Every fiftieth year, all leased or mortgaged lands were to be returned to their original owners, and all slaves and bonded laborers were to be freed. This practice reminded the Jews that the land really belonged to God and that they were really just “strangers and sojourners” in the land (Lev. 25:23). It also taught them to depend on God for supply, as they rested every seven years. In Luke 4, Jesus read from Isaiah’s prophecy concerning the “Year of the Lord’s Favor” (Luke 4:19) and declared that He was its fulfillment. Jesus is our Sabbath rest. He is our Jubilee.