I must admit, I was dreading reading Leviticus. What am I going to write about in Leviticus? Now, after reading it, I have so much I could write about but don’t have the time to get it all in. I was surprised that many of the issues brought up in my last blog were directly addressed in Leviticus.
“You must be holy because I, the LORD your God, am holy.” Lev. 19:2 NLT
Holy God. Sinful people.
How can the two coexist? Rebellion and sin won’t be tolerated in the presence of the Almighty Holy God. But then, what can God do with a people terrified of him? If God is executing his justice left and right (which he did) as his people flagrantly sin (which they did) then the people will panic and will be driven even further away from him. Then the intimacy that he desires to have with his people is compromised by their sheer stark terror for their lives. As you can see, this is a huge problem!
In Leviticus, God is now enabling Israel, giving them the tools they need, to be in relationship with a holy God.
The Sacrificial System
This practice of connecting the butchering of animals to worship had it’s origins with God. He was the first to sacrifice an animal to clothe Adam and Eve and somehow Abel knew to bring him the “fat portions from some of the first born of his flock” – incidentally “the fat portions” is exactly what Moses specifies as the offering to the LORD.
God required the fat, the kidneys and the long lobe of the liver to be a burnt offering on the alter in every animal sacrifice. The people were then forbidden to eat the fat or drink blood. We all know that animal fat clogs up our blood vessels and arteries and isn’t good for us, right? I just did a little research about kidneys and liver and came across this interesting article:
Both the liver and the kidneys are responsible for removing toxins and the filth from our bodies (kidneys produce our urine!). So God is claiming the most polluted parts of the animal for himself (the fat, blood, kidneys and a portion of the liver) and this for our own good because he loves us and then he says it’s a “sweet smelling aroma” to him. Indeed it was a sweet smelling aroma – like burger King venting the smell of frying burgers – and the tabernacle was strategically placed in the center of the camp with that delicious smell wafting through the camp making everyone hungry and more than willing to bring in a peace offering to share with God… clever. (I realize that this is a silly way to look at it – more on peace offerings later – really exciting stuff!)
Question to ponder: Did God really forgive the people their sins because of the blood of these animals? Or rather was it because this outward action created faith in people’s hearts to receive and enjoy God’s forgiveness? Think about it. All those in the camp with a guilty conscience looking for grace would come with their offering and meet God’s requirements thus giving their hearts the freedom to say, “Now I am forgiven and cleansed”.
The writer of Hebrews later writes, “It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.” (Hebrews 10: 4 NIV)
Scripture explains that the sacrifices were a looking forward, by faith, to the perfect sacrifice God would provide. For those in Israel who had been paying attention, they had access to the story about Abraham in Genesis 22 where God tested him regarding his son. Consider this prophecy of a future provision of a sacrifice, “So Abraham called that place The LORD Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided.” (Genesis 22:14 NIV)
I would argue that it was this faith in God (and ultimately the future sacrifice of Jesus) that cleansed them – not the sacrifice. But would the faith have happened without this sacrifice? Not likely. And it would have never, on such a grand scale, served a nation as well as this sacrificial system.
We know from the New Testament that Jesus and His shed blood was the real atoning sacrifice for sins that brings all who trust in him the pure joy and freedom found in forgiveness.
“He (Jesus) is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.” 1 John 2:2 NIV
When was the last time you felt the joy and freedom of forgiveness? Why not experience that once again today? Take some time right now and talk to God about this.
The Grain Offering
The grain offering is interesting, because now not only do we have the smell of yummy meat on the grill but now the smell of fresh baked bread! I found it very interesting that he says, never forget to add salt to your grain offering “to remind you of God’s eternal covenant” (so just how long will this covenant with Israel last?). Frankincense was added to this burnt grain offering which not only smelled nice, but it cleansed the air of undesirable germs. It was also a natural mosquito repellent. God is so amazing! He thinks of everything!
The Peace Offering
This is by far my favorite offering. Whenever people are slaughtering an animal for a meal they would bring it to the tabernacle and offer the fat and other select portions to God as a peace offering and then share the meal with friends and family that same day. What a cool idea! Incorporating fellowship with God and others every time you grill out. This offering was usually an expression of thanksgiving. Fellowship with God over a meal is an idea that is also carried into the New Testament with the Lord’s supper.
Consider this amazing Scripture where Jesus says this to the believers in Laodicea:
“Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.” Revelation 3:20
That’s so awesome!
The Law of Love
When we talk about the “law of God” we often forget that his law is a law of love. Every command is for our highest good and for the good of the community. As the Scriptures say:
“Whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. 9 The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” Romans 13:8-10 NIV
So do we really want to wage war against love by choosing to sin? Or wouldn’t you rather rid your heart of love’s greatest enemy (sin) out of your life? You can do this right now by bringing your sin to Jesus. Recognize the sacrifice he made on behalf of sin, repent, and receive God’s forgiveness, a cleansed conscience, and yes, even a restored innocence! Isn’t it amazing that we have somewhere to go with our sin?
“But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.” 1 John 1:9 NLT
I wrote a song based on the above verse that I would like to share with you called “Bring Me to the Light”. Be Blessed! JESUS PAID IT ALL!!!!!
Jesus, we pray that you would take take our sin away. Even as I pray that I realize that, through your sacrifice, you already have. But, we do need to acknowledge and receive your sacrifice on our behalf, and so we do. Jesus, we want to feel that joy of a cleansed conscience and restored innocence – of restored fellowship with you, the Source of all love. We pray that you would transform our hearts in this moment as we bring all our sin into your light. Thank you that your blood has covered all our sin and set us free.
ps. Here is more Scripture that sheds light on the sacrificial system and how Jesus is the fullfillment: Hebrew 7