1:1-2:16 - Jesus Christ, ‘the Lamb without blemish’, has ‘made atonement’ for sin through the shedding of His ‘precious blood’ (1:3-5; 1 Peter 1:18-19). This offering of Christ – He ‘loved us and gave Himself up for us’ – is ‘a pleasing odour to the Lord’, ‘a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God’ (1:9,13,17; Ephesians 5:2). Read of the ‘cereal offering’ in which there was to be ‘no leaven’ (2:11). Think of Christ – ‘Our Passover Lamb has been sacrificed’: ‘Let us celebrate the festival (the Lord’s Supper)… with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth’ (1 Corinthians 5:7-8). May our worship – ‘frankincense’: an expression of worship (Matthew 2:11) – be filled with ‘the oil of gladness’, ‘with the Holy Spirit and with fire’ (Psalm 45:7; Luke 3:16). Such worship is ‘most holy… to the Lord’ (2:3,10).
3:1-4:35 - Christ is the real thing. Israel’s sacrifices are only ‘copies of the heavenly things’, ‘a shadow of the good things to come’ (Hebrews 9:23-24; 10:1,5-10). As you read of the ‘peace offering’, rejoice in this: ‘we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ’ (Romans 5:1). We look to Christ, and we say, ‘He is our peace’ (Ephesians 2:14). Christ is ‘our sin offering’ – ‘offered… to bear the sins of many (4:3; Hebrews 9:28). The ‘blood’ has been shed – We have been ‘washed… in the blood of the Lamb’ (4:5-7; Revelation 7:14). Christ went ‘outside the camp’ for us: He ‘suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through His own blood’ (4:12; Hebrews 13:11-12). For Christ, there was suffering. For us, there is forgiveness – ‘he shall be forgiven’ (26,31,35).
5:1-6:30 - Christ’s sacrifice covers every sin. No matter what your sin may be, you can bring it to Him for forgiveness. ‘If any man sins’ – Take your sin to Christ: He has ‘made atonement for sin’ (5:1,6,10,13-14,16; 6:2,7). ‘Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit’ (Mark 3:28-30) does not refer to some specific, identifiable sin, which lies beyond God’s power to forgive. It refers to your persistent refusal to bring your sins to Jesus Christ for forgiveness. The Holy Spirit convicts of sin and leads to the Saviour (John 16:8-9,14). Let Him show you your sin. Let Him lead you to your Saviour. ‘It is a thing most holy’ (6:17) – Never forget God’s holiness. Christ’s death speaks of both holiness and love. In holiness, God pronounces His judgment on sin. In love, He provides forgiveness for sinners.
7:1-38 - As we read about the sacrifices, rejoicing in Christ – the perfect Sacrifice for sin – , let us bring our sacrifice of ‘thanksgiving’ (12-13,15). ‘Let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God’ (Hebrews 13:15). Let it be ‘a living sacrifice’, the sacrifice of our lives – this is ‘our spiritual worship’ (Romans 12:1). God’s salvation is ‘to the praise of His glorious grace’ (Ephesians 1:6). ‘We bring the sacrifice of praise… We offer up to You the sacrifices of thanksgiving… the sacrifices of joy’. ‘Fill Thou my life, O Lord my God, In every part with praise… Not for the lip of praise alone nor e’en the praising heart, I ask, but for a life made up of praise in every part’ (Mission Praise, 722; Church Hymnary, 457). Still ‘in the wilderness’ (38), let us learn to worship as we travel to ‘the promised land’!
8:1-36 - ‘This is the thing which the Lord has commanded to be done’ (5): For us, it must be ‘as the Lord commanded’ (4,9,13,17,21,29,36). God calls us to serve Him (Hebrews 5:4-5). Obedience to God, love for God – These are to be our priorities (1 Samuel 15:22; 1 Corinthians 13:3). Christ is to be our ‘first love’ (Revelation 2:4). Washed, robed, anointed (6-7,12): Our robes washed in the blood of the Lamb, we have this anointing – ‘to preach the Gospel…’ (Revelation 7:14; Luke 4:18-19). Ears, hands and feet: Consecrated by the blood of Christ to hear the Word of the Lord, do the work of the Lord and walk in the way of the Lord (24), we must pray for a change of heart – ‘O for a heart to praise my God, a heart from sin set free; a heart that always feels Thy blood so freely shed for me’ (Church Hymnary, 85).
9:1-10:20 - Aaron had to make atonement for himself and for the people (9:7). Christ did not need to make atonement for Himself – He was ‘without sin’ (Hebrews 4:15). In Christ, we are ‘accepted’. In Him there is blessing, glory and joy (9:22-24; Ephesians 1:6,3; 2 Thessalonians 2:14; 1 Peter 1:8). God has given us ‘holy fire’. Let us not try to do His work with ‘unholy fire’ (10:1-2; Acts 2:3-4). To those who seek to live ‘as the Lord has commanded’ (9:7; 10:15), God promises to reveal His holiness, nearness and glory (10:3). Do you want to draw near to God, to become ‘mature’ in Christ? – Learn ‘to distinguish between the holy and the common… the unclean and the clean… good and evil’ (10:10; Hebrews 5:14). God reveals the glory of His holiness. Let us confess our sins, be forgiven and be obedient. (Isaiah 6:3-8).
11:1-47 - God sees only two types of people: ‘clean’ and ‘unclean’. All of us are ‘in Adam’ (sinners). Not all are ‘in Christ’ (saved) (Romans 5:12-21). How about you? – Are you cleansed, forgiven, born again, saved, committed (1 John 1:7,9; John 3:7; Acts 16:31; 2 Timothy 1:12)? Or, are you still in your sins, guilty of neglecting God’s great salvation, not far from – yet still outside of – God’s Kingdom, almost persuaded but still uncommitted (John 8:24; 9:41; Hebrews 2:3; Acts 26:28)? Before the call to holiness (45), there is the call to salvation. Give your heart to Christ. This is where holiness begins (Mark 7:14-23). Holiness is not our own achievement – ‘God is at work in you’ (Phillipians 2:13). Remember: Our holiness is grounded in His redemption (45). Feed on His Word – and let holiness grow (Psalm 119:9-11).
12:1-13:46 - How can I be made clean (12:8)? – This is the vital question to which the Gospel gives its emphatic answer. We ask, ‘What can wash away my stain?’. The answer is given, ‘Nothing but the blood of Jesus’. We ask, ‘Has atonement been made for my sin’ (12:8)?’. The answer is clear: ‘Christ has for sin atonement made’. You can be ‘washed in the blood of the Lamb’. What water cannot do, Christ does for us. The water used in baptism – ‘a little’ or ‘a lot’! – cannot wash away our sin. It can only point beyond itself to Christ’s Cross, where we hear the Good News: ‘There is wonder-working power in the precious blood of the Lamb’ (Redemption Hymnal, 333,615,309,288). Confess your sin – ‘Unclean, unclean’ (13:45). Christ will change you – beginning with your ‘heart’ (12:3; Romans 2:28-29).
13:47-14:32 - We read about skin disease. Remember: there is also the sin disease – and we’re all suffering from that!. Sin is a deadly ‘cancer’ for which there is only one treatment: ‘Oh, precious is the flow that makes me white as snow; no other fount I know, nothing but the blood of Jesus’ (Redemption Hymnal, 333). The new birth – like physical birth – is a unique, once-for-all, experience: it is the beginning of the Christian life (John 3:3-6). Many times over, we will need to be ‘washed a second time’ (58). Justification (Romans 5:1) happens in a moment: ‘The vilest offender who truly believes, that moment from Jesus a pardon receives’. Sanctification (Romans 6:13,19). lasts a lifetime: ‘Take time to be holy…(Mission Praise, 708,625). God loves us: He will help us to ‘be holy’ (1 Peter 1:16).
14:33-15:33 - You can get ‘dry rot’ in people – as well as houses (14:34; Hebrews 12:15)! Sin is like ‘a wasting disease’ (Psalm 106:13-15). It will only get worse – unless something is done about it! Sin spreads. and spreads, and… Can anything be done about this sad situation? Look into yourself, and you will find that the situation is hopeless (Romans 7:14-20). Look to Christ, and there is hope: ‘where sin increased, grace abounded all the more’ (Romans 5:20). Sin is not to be taken lightly. Don’t underestimate the power of sin. Little by little, it will lure you away from Christ. Keep close to Jesus, rejoicing in this: ‘He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world’ (1 John 4:4). God calls for holiness: ‘your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit’; ‘present your bodies…to God’ (1 Corinthians 6:19; Romans 12:1).
16:1-34 - God is ‘holy‘. We cannot ‘draw near’ and ‘come’ to Him without a ‘sin offering’ (1-3). We cannot bring ‘a sin offering’ to Him. We can only bring our sin: Our righteousness is ‘like filthy rags’ (Isaiah 64:6). There is a ‘way’ for sinners to ‘draw near’ to God: Christ is the true and living Way (John 14:6; Hebrews 10:19-22). In verses 20-22, we have a great picture of Christ bearing the sin of the world: ‘Bearing shame and scoffing rude, in my place condemned He stood… Full atonement, – Yes it is! Hallelujah! What a Saviour!’ (Church Hymnary, 380). Atonement has been made for us…We have been cleansed from all our sins (30): What a perfect atonement! What a perfect Saviour! – ‘God forbid that I should glory save in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ’ (Galatians 6:14).
17:1-18:23 - We are to be devoted ‘to the Lord’ (17:4-6,9): ‘You are not your own; you were bought with a price’ (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Underlying Christ’s atoning death, there is this principle: ‘the life… is in the blood… I have given it for you… to make atonement…’ (17:11). Christ has shed His blood: He has given His life that we might have life. God looks upon His Son, crucified for us: He ‘has commanded the blessing, life for evermore’ (Psalm 133:3). We confess our sin, acknowledging that ‘without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins’ (Hebrews 9:22). With grateful thanksgiving, we rejoice in our Saviour, ‘the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world’ (John 1:29). ‘Dear dying Lamb, Thy precious blood shall never lose its power…’ (Mission Praise, 671).
18:24-19:37 - Holiness and love – the two belong together (1,18,34). God calls us to live a life of holiness, a life of love. Through His Spirit – the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of love – , He enables us to live this life. We need His promises. We need His commands. Take them both together – not one without the other! Promises without commands – We take God for granted, we presume on His blessing. Commands without promises – Our ‘obedience’ becomes a legalistic thing which has nothing to do with the Gospel of grace. We are to ‘be holy… before Him in love‘ (Ephesians 1:4). ‘The holiness without which no one will see the Lord’ (Hebrews 12:14) is to be accompanied by the ‘love’ without which we are ‘nothing’ (1 Corinthians 13:1-3). The Lord has redeemed us: By His grace, we shall ‘be holy… in love’ (34,36).
20:1-27 - The life of holiness is not an expression of our own moral virtue. It is an expression of the holy character of God being reproduced in us: ‘I am the Lord who sanctify you’ (8). God wants us for Himself – This is why we must not live the world’s way: ‘I the Lord am holy, and have separated you from the peoples, that you should be mine’ (26). God has a great purpose for us: ‘You shall inherit their land… I will give it to you, a land flowing with milk and honey’ (24). ‘You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies… my cup overflows’ (Psalm 23:5). ‘The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly… in Christ Jesus’ (1 Timothy 1:14). This is the pathway to holiness: ‘By grace you have been saved through faith… for good works’ (Ephesians 2:8-10).
21:1-22:16 - We are sanctified by the Lord (21:8,15,23; 22:9,16). It is His doing – God’s call to holiness is founded in His gift of holiness: ‘the Holy Spirit…has been given to us’ (Romans 5:5) – ‘every virtue we possess… every victory won… every thought of holiness, are His alone’ (Church Hymnary, 336). When we are so conscious of our own weakness, God says, ‘I am the Lord’ (21:12; 22:2-3,8). He is more than sufficient for our justification, sanctification and glorification. Between our justification (the forgiveness of our sins) and our glorification (heaven) there is our sanctification (‘conformed to the image of His Son’). This is God’s doing. From beginning to end, it is the work of God (Romans 8:28-29). We lack faith, we lack holiness, we lack perseverance: In this we rejoice – ‘Salvation is of the Lord’ (Jonah 2:9).
22:17-23:44 - God says, ‘I am the Lord’ (22:30-33): Let Him be ‘your God’ (23:14,22,28,40,43,). We are to ‘worship in Spirit and in truth’ – ‘in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day’ (John 4:24; Revelation 1:10) When Christ died – This was the day of atonement. We worship Him, ‘our Passover Lamb’ (22:28; Exodus 12:13; 1 Corinthians 5:7-8). After ‘fifty days’ came the Day of Pentecost – What a day that was (Acts 2:4,16-21,41)! Bring ‘the first fruits of your harvest’ (9): ‘What can I give Him? – my heart‘ (Church Hymnary, 178). Blow the trumpet (23:23; Joel 2:1,15) – It must be a ‘clear call’: ‘Get ready for battle’ (1 Corinthians 14:8). On the ‘day of worship’ (3), God is preparing us for the rest of the week: ‘Be strong in the Lord‘ (Ephesians 6:12). Pray for the ‘fire’ of God (8,18,25,27,36-37; Acts 2:3-4).
24:1-25:24 - ‘Pure’ worship is to be offered ‘continually’: This is what God is looking for (1-8). ‘Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? Who shall stand in His holy place?’: No-one else but Christ – He alone ‘has clean hands and a pure heart’, He alone ‘will receive blessing from the Lord’ (Psalm 24:3-5). Our worship is offered to God – in Christ… to the praise of His glorious grace’ (Ephesians 1:3,6). This is our worship, this is our joy – We have been reconciled to God ‘through our Lord Jesus Christ’ (Romans 5:11). The ‘jubilee’ – ‘fiftieth year’ (25:11): Half a century is such a short time in the light of eternity (James 4:14). God has been good to us. How have we lived? How much do we love God? How much have we loved one another? Rededicate yourself to ‘the Lord your God’ (25:17).
25:25-55 - Moral conduct is to be grounded in divine redemption. Throughout the detailed ethical instructions, there is the recurrent emphasis on God’s salvation: ‘I am the Lord your God, who brought you forth out of the land of Egypt (Salvation) to give you the land of Canaan, and to be your God (Sanctification)… For to Me the people of Israel are servants (Service) whom I have brought forth out of the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God’ (38,55). Salvation; Sanctification; Service. We do not begin with the questions, ‘How can I live a godly life? How can I serve the Lord?’ We begin with the question, ‘What must I do to be saved?’. God’s answer is clear: ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus …` (Acts 16:31).
26:1-46 - ‘Every spiritual blessing’ is ‘in Christ’ (Ephesians 1:3). The moment you begin to feel superior – ‘I am blessed because I am obedient’ (There is too much of ‘I’ in this!) – , remember: ‘in Christ‘. We are blessed because God loves us and Christ died for us. It is His grace which changes us. Without Him we can do nothing (John 15:5). Our obedience comes from Him. Our disobedience comes from ourselves. We do not deserve His blessing. We deserve His judgment. There is only one way to blessing: Humbly confess your sin, turning to the Lord in whom alone there is blessing. We must not ‘be proud’ of our ‘obedience’. There is only one thing about which we should ‘boast’: ‘the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ’ (Galatians 6:14). Thank God for His ‘new covenant’ (42,44-45; Hebrews 8:8-13; 1 Corinthians 11:25).27:1-34 - ‘Every devoted thing is most holy to the Lord’ (28). We are loved by the holy God. We are precious in His eyes. In love, He has reached out to us – through the Cross of Christ (Romans 5:8). We are ‘greatly beloved’ (Daniel 9:23). The Lord takes great joy in every sinner who returns to Him (Luke 15:7,10). ‘Most holy to the Lord’ – This is how the holy God looks upon those who have ‘faith in Jesus’ (Romans 3:26). We are to be ‘devoted’ to the Lord: The Lord must come first – ‘All the tithe… is the Lord’s’ (30). The bringing of the tithe (tenth) to God was an outward sign of an inward commitment. Do you love God? – Let it show in your living and giving. Let it be Thanksgiving (I want to) – not Grudge Giving (I have to) or Duty Giving (I ought to): ‘God loves a cheerful giver’ (2 Corinthians 9:7).