Lessons From Leviticus

A person reading Leviticus on the surface may be “put off” a bit by all the descriptions of bloody sacrifice, laws of clean and unclean things, and so many details.  But seen through the lens of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, which fulfilled every requirement, it is a beautiful picture of our redemption and atonement.  It speaks of a God who desires to have a relationship with His people.  It speaks of His holiness and majesty, and His willingness to bring us into His presence.
While reading straight through Leviticus, I came up with a list of “lessons” – things I found that are applicable to me – a Gentile in 21st century America.  God’s Word is amazing.  There is treasure in every word.
1.       Sacrifices come from my ‘herd’ – those things that belong to me, that provide for my family and my needs.  Sacrificing my money, time, talent, skills may “cost” me or my family – time together, material goods, etc.  It is a matter of trusting God to provide for our needs.
2.       Sacrifices must be without defect – I do not offer God things that I would reject.  I do not offer God my leftovers.
3.       Sacrifices are given “fully” – what I offer is consumed (I expect nothing back, only what the sacrifice accomplishes in my life.)  For the Jewish man, this meant atonement.  For me, my atonement is paid in full in Christ.  Any “sacrifice” I give is only returning what already belongs to God, as He has purchased me for His own.  It is being a good steward of the grace I have been given.
4.       Sometimes, part of the sacrifice was given to the priests, to provide for their needs.  When I give to God, He may choose to use my gift (whatever it is) to provide for other children of God.
5.       Grain offerings were not to contain any leaven, which represented sin, and also false teaching.  I must serve and give to God with a pure heart, in line with the His truth.
6.       Sacrifices were called a “soothing aroma” to the Lord.  My obedient service and generous giving back to God, when done His way, can bring pleasure to Him.
7.       Some offerings were “offering by fire”.  Sometimes it is painful to be obedient.  God has the right to consume us.
8.       Sacrifices were made for both intentional and unintentional sin.  Christ’s atonement covers both our willful disobedient, hard hearts by gloriously saving us, and continues to cover our ignorant, immature failures as we learn to walk and grow in Him.
9.       God demands specific obedience.  No shortcuts.
10.    Dead things defile.  Physically and spiritually, this is true.  God gave commands not to touch dead things, which protected the people from disease.  But spiritually, the dead things of the world, all that is against God, defiles my life and brings the disease of unholiness and sin into my life.  Stay away from it.
11.    Sometimes thoughtless words come out of our mouth.  When the harm these words have done is brought to our attention, we must deal with it by asking God’s forgiveness (for the Jew, a guilt offering; for us, repentance).
12.    No one is exempt from repenting when our sin is exposed – rich or poor, there is provision for redemption.
13.    The sacrifice for a guilt offering was in proportion to the person’s means (a lamb or goat from the flock, for the well off, down to a tenth of an ephah of flour for the very poor).  This speaks to restitution, and spiritual maturity.  For a person who is spiritually mature, the “repair of the damage done” by a thoughtless word may be more than that of a brand new believer or immature person (mentally, spiritually).  We should extend grace to others and give room for growth.
14.    Since our atonement for our guilt is met in Christ, our sacrifice and restitution is an act of gratitude and obedience – it does not “purchase” our justification.
15.    Unintentional sin still brings guilt.
16.    There is always fire on the altar.  Grace does not expire, go out, or run out.
17.    “Just as the Lord had commanded” – Moses’ obedience in listening carefully to the instructions that God had given him, and his detailed relay of those instructions to Aaron, and Aaron and his sons’ careful obedience to those instructions resulted in atonement for Aaron, his sons, and all the people.  If (when: Nadab/Abihu) they went outside of God’s instructions, it resulted in death.  When we obey, it does not just affect us.  When we listen, it is not just for our own sake.  God gives instructions so that we can carry out His purposes in the lives of our brothers and sisters.  To take it lightly, not listen, or to disobey could result in tragic consequences for others, as well as ourselves.
18.    God demands to be treated as holy.  Worship is not a “trifling” thing.
19.    God makes clear distinction between holy and profane, clean and unclean.  Our worship of Him is a holy thing, and to come into His presence in an “unclean” way or to bring “profane” things into our worship offends Him.
20.    God gave strict instructions on clean and unclean animals that could be eaten.  The unclean animals generally were those that themselves ate dead flesh, scavengers.  Perhaps God, while teaching about unclean/clean, also intended to protect the Jewish people from sickness and disease.  We could also learn from this list of “what to eat” for our own health.
21.    Homosexuality is an abomination in God’s eyes: (18:22)
22.    “You are to be holy to Me, for I the Lord am holy; and I have set you apart from the peoples to be Mine.”  If we want to belong to God we must meet His standard.  We are made holy in Christ, but we are still to live holy lives in this world, as evidence that we have been made spiritually whole.
23.    The priests were to be careful with the “holy gifts” which were the sacrifices the people brought, that were given to the priests and their families to eat.  This was their provision to God, and it was holy, because it was holy to the Lord.  The priests were not allowed to eat of the gifts if they were unclean.  Likewise, a pastor or minister or earns his living from the gospel ought to be careful with the “gifts” of the Lord, which come from the people they serve.  They are given to the Lord, and are holy.  So they should be treated as such, not lightly, or with undue expectations or carelessness, or a sense of “deserving” but as recognizing that it all is a gift from God.  Also, our lives should especially be held to a high standard of holy behavior that reflects of the righteousness of Christ in our life.
24.    The oil in the lamp was never to go out; it burned continually, just as the light of Christ, God’s Spirit, burns continually in our lives and will be with us forever.
25.    Blaspheming the name of God was punishable by death.  God takes His holy name seriously, unlike the world we live in.
26.    God promised blessing and provision if the Jews would honor His commandments and walk in His statutes.  In the same way, we can trust God to provide for our lives and bring His blessing if we honor Him and obey Him with our lives.  Obedience brings blessing to us, but spills over to our families, our friends, our work, and our spiritual life.
a.        the land would produce so that they would eat to the full and live securely
b.       there would be peace in the land, with no fear
c.        harmful beasts and other enemies would be eliminated
d.       there would be victory over enemies
e.       they would be fruitful and multiply
f.         God Himself would make His dwelling with them, and not reject them
g.        God Himself would walk among them and be their God; they would be His people
27.    God promised penalties for disobedience, if the Jews rejected His statutes.  In the same way, sin brings grief into our lives when we reject His ways.  Life doesn’t work when we live in disobedience, and it affects our family, our physical health, our mental health, our work, our relationships with others, and our relationship to God.
a.        sudden terror of consumption and fever causing the eyes to waste away and the soul to pine away
b.       enemies will eat up the seed they sow
c.        struck down by enemies
d.       ruled by those who hate them
e.       flee when no one is pursuing
f.         break down your pride of power
g.        make your sky like iron and earth like bronze
h.       land not yield produce; trees not yield fruit
i.         increased plague
j.         beasts to destroy children and cattle
k.        sword to execute vengeance
l.         pestilence that causes deliverance into enemy hands
m.      rationed bread
n.       eat the flesh of your sons and daughters
o.       high places destroyed
p.       cities laid waste
q.       sanctuaries desolate
r.        offerings rejected
s.        scattered among nations
 

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