Learning From God's Word: Leviticus
We may note the frequent recurrence of the phrase, "a soothing aroma to the Lord" (Leviticus 1:9,13,17: Leviticus 2:2,9,12; Leviticus 3:5,16). The presence of the Lord is "like a fragrance that fills the air." Not all people welcome the presence of the Lord. To some, it is "the aroma of Christ", " a life-giving fragrance." To others, it is "a deadly fragrance" (2 Corinthians 2:14-16). We are to pray that our life - in every part - will be pleasing to the Lord, bringing glory to Him. This will involve our worship in the holy place. It will also involve our living for the Lord in the many and varied situations of everyday life.
The word, "blood, appears often here. We may note, in particular, the phrase, in Leviticus 4:25, "the blood of the offering for sin." In the final verse (Leviticus 4:35), we may note why "the blood of the offering for sin" was shed - "forgiveness" and "peace with the Lord." Reading about this, our thoughts turn towards Jesus Christ, our Saviour, who died that we might be forgiven. Out of love for us, He gave Himself for our sins so that we might have peace with God (Romans 5:8,1).
In the descriptions of different offerings, we catch a glimpse of our need and Christ's salvation. There is the "offering for sin" (Leviticus 5:6), the "fellowship offering of thanksgiving" (Leviticus 7:15), the "guilt offering" (Leviticus 7:34), the "ordination offering" (Leviticus 7:37). There is teaching here which we must build on in our understanding of our Christian experience. Christ died for our sins to remove our guilt and bring us into fellowship with God. Grateful to Him, we give ourselves to Him, confident that He has ordained that we should bear fruit for Him (1 Peter 3:18; John 15:16). All of this arises from the Old Testament details: - "the burnt offering, the grain offering" (Leviticus 7:37). We must always look beyond the Old Testament sacrifices to our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Aaron was anointed with "the anointing oil", set apart or "dedicated" to the Lord for "holy duties" (Leviticus 8:12,30). Anointed by the Lord and dedicated to Him, "Aaron and his sons did everything the Lord commanded, through Moses" (Leviticus 8:36). Concerning the Lord's commands, "Moses said, 'The Lord has commanded you to offer these sacrifices so that you may see the Lord's glory'" (Leviticus 9:6). Together with Moses, Aaron was obedient to God, bringing the blessing of God to the people - "Then the Lord's glory appeared to all the people" (Leviticus 9:23). The principles of God's blessing are still the same. We need the anointing of the Holy Spirit. He calls us to obedience. This is the way of receiving God's blessing. This is the way in which the glory of God comes down upon the people of God. We receive God's blessing when the Holy Spirit comes down upon us in His mighty power.
It is vital that we know "the difference between what is holy and what is unholy" (Leviticus 10:10). God calls us to "be holy", to "live holy lives" (Leviticus 11:44). This is the central point we must see in all the many unfamiliar details of ancient Jewish worship. This is the "permanent law" (Leviticus 10:9,15). This is the teaching which must be passed on to "generations to come."
Again and again, we read the word, "clean." Looking beyond the teaching "regarding health", we may recall that "the blood of Jesus Christ - God's Son - cleanses us from all sin" (1 John 1:7). This is the cleansing which everyone needs. No matter how healthy we may be in our bodies, we are spiritually diseased because of sin, and we need Christ's cleansing.
We read here of our need of cleansing and of the sacrifice of a lamb as a way of removing our guilt and bringing us into peace with God (Leviticus 14:21). Spiritually, we are "poor." What we have to bring to God is not "that much." It is not enough to provide for our cleansing. What we need has been provided for us - "the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29). Our Lord Jesus Christ has done for us what we could never do for ourselves - "There was no other good enough to pay the price of sin. He only could unlock the gate of heaven and let us in." All glory to God!
Each of us is unclean before God. Each of us needs Christ, who has given Himself as "a sin offering" to "make atonement" for us (Leviticus 16:16). Christ is the perfect Saviour, who "bears all our iniquities" (Leviticus 16:22). Concerning His great sacrifice for us, the Word of God says, "On this day shall atonement be made for you, to cleanse you; from all your sins you shall be clean before the Lord" (Leviticus 16:30).
Through the shed blood of Christ, we have peace with God and eternal life (Leviticus 17:11; Romans 5:1-2,8-10). We have received new life in Christ. Now, we are to leave the way of the behind us. We are to live e a new life as those who belong to the Christ (Leviticus 18:1-5; Romans 6:12-14; Romans 12:1-2).
Again and again, we read the words, "I am the Lord your God", or, more simply, "I am the Lord" (Leviticus 19:3-4,10,12,14,16,18,25,28,30-32,34,36-37). The whole point of this is that our moral practice is grounded in our spiritual worship (Romans 12:1).
The Lord calls us to be holy - because He is holy (Leviticus 20:26). We are to be like Him. He has set us apart as holy (Leviticus 21:8). We are "dedicated with the anointing oil of our God" (Leviticus 21:120> We may take this "anointing oil" as symbolic of the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. We are to "eat the food of our God - what is holy and what is very holy" (Leviticus 21:22). Here, our attention is directed towards Christ, who is our spiritual food - "the Bread of Life" (John 6).
Our careful obedience to God's Word is not to be a purely legalistic thing. We must never forget that God is the God of redemption. Our holiness is grounded in Him: He is holy, and He sets us apart as holy (Leviticus 22:31-33). Holy living involves both worship and service. We are to worship God (Leviticus 23:1-4), but we must not forget the "poor people" (Leviticus 23:22).
If our light is to be keep on burning continually, we need pure oil (Leviticus 24:2). The emphasis here is on keeping close to God. It is only through closeness to God that our light will be kept burning. In Leviticus 24:15, we read, "Whoever curses his God shall bear his sin." This is followed, in Leviticus 24:16, by some words of explanation of what bearing his sin meant: "He who blasphemes the Name shall be put to death." As we read these words, our thoughts move to Christ, the sinless Saviour who bore the sins of many - "He died that we might be forgiven. He died to make us good, that we might go at last to heaven, saved by His precious blood." Through Him, we are brought close to God. Through Him, we are darkness and into light.
This chapter is full of the Lord's instructions concerning the Jubilee to be celebrated by Israel. Why was it so important for Israel to hear and obey the Word of the Lord? - "The Israelites belong to Me as servants. They are My servants. I brought them out of Egypt. I am the Lord" (Leviticus 25:55). This is still the foundation of our call to obedience. The Lord, who calls us to obedience, has first called us to belong to Him through redemption. He has redeemed us. We belong to Him. We will serve Him.
There is blessing for those who learn to obey the Lord (Leviticus 26:3-13). There is judgment for those who persist in sinning against the Lord (Leviticus 26:14-33). The opportunity of blessing remains even for those who are in despair and are wasting away because of sin (Leviticus 26:36,39) - God says, "I will remember My promise" (Leviticus 26:42). Those who have sinned against the Lord "must accept their guilt." This is the way of coming to know the blessing of the Lord who says, "I will not reject them of look at them with disgust" (Leviticus 26:43).
The underlying theme of this final chapter is giving ourselves to the Lord to belong to Him, to be dedicated to Him, to be set apart for Him, to be holy. Such dedication to the Lord is to affect the whole of our life. We learn this from the variety of details in this chapter. There must be no turning back from following the Lord. Those who turn back do so at great cost. They become spiritually dead through their disobedience to the Lord. Let us keep up our dedication to the Lord.