Leviticus From A Christian Perspective (Pt. 2)

Atonement is all about fellowship between God (the host), and His people (whose sins are forgiven in the atonement) via the priests (who accomplishes our atonement) Notably the word ‘atonement’ is used by God more so in Leviticus, than any other book in the Bible. The root word is “Levi” which means to attach or join, Genesis 27:34.

Mealtime today in our society rarely has the same significance it did in biblical times. It is easy for us to overlook the importance of ritual meals in God’s house as the culmination of the sacrifice. Having already discussed the sacrifice procedures for all five categories of offerings (Lev. 1:1–6:7), Leviticus revisits all five offerings again, this time with particular focus on how the resulting fellowship meals were to be eaten in the Lord’s house (Lev. 6:8–7:38).

When offerings are presented at the Temple, the entire offering becomes the Lord’s. It is the Lord who gives portions of the sacrifice, as food, back to the priests (Lev. 6:17). Instructions for eating the various sacrifices is given in three groups: the one offering wholly consumed by God (Lev. 6:8–13); the three offerings consumed by God and the priests (6:14–7:10); and the one offering meal shared by God, the priests, and the people (Lev. 7:11–38)

However, The burnt offering was consumed wholly on the altar. It was intended to be kept burning around the clock, replaced daily (ref: Exodus 29:38-42). The other sacrifices were piled on top of this one and carried heavenward in its flames (6:12). How would an ancient Hebrew believer have felt knowing that, wherever he or she was at any time of the day, a “pleasing aroma” was rising to God for his or her atonement? Can we see Jesus in this sentiment? See Ephesians 5:2 & 2nd Corinthians 2:14-16.

As we look at the culmination of all these offerings ascending, we should not miss out on the fellowship God had in sharing portions of the sacrifices after the burnt offering. It was his way of honoring their work in accomplishing the people’s atonement ( Lev. 7:7).  This can be an expression of God’s pleasure in the work of the priests and it’s purpose can serve as a backdrop to our understanding of what Jesus says in John 10:17-18. In sharing sacrifices as a meal, we can learn something from the warnings God places in these instructions, Lev. 7:11-27. He prohibits consumption of the sacrifice’s blood (Lev. 7:26–27) which is very significant. Some ancient religions required worshipers to consume blood in order to unite the participant’s life with that of the offering (“the life of every creature is its blood” Lev. 17:14). What do you think it means that Old Testament believers were not to consume the animal’s blood (being a foreshadowing of the true sacrifice), yet the Lord’s Supper (the fulfillment of the peace offering meal) includes our participation in Christ’s blood, as we drink the cup in communion, see Mark 14:23-24 ?

This fellowship means we do not come to worship to appease God and end up coming away with a blessing, but rather our fellowship with him does mean we are pleasing to God and are honored as His guests in this priceless gift of his body & blood, because we have already been blessed!

A Christian Perspective on Leviticus (Pt.1)

Chapter 1, The Burnt Offering
The burnt sacrifice was to be a male animal without blemish, portraying the One ”who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God” Hebrews 9:14.  

Chapter 2, The Meal Offering
It consisted of finely ground flour with no lumps in it. Jesus Christ displayed no unevenness in His humanity or character. Oil, a symbol of the Holy Spirit, was then poured out upon the fine flour. (1st Sam. 16:13 & Isa. 61:1 & 1 John 2:20, 27 The Heavenly Father pointed to the Lord Jesus with a dove as representing the Holy Spirit at his baptism. Then frankincense was placed upon the oil and flour. This produced a fragrance when fire was applied. Our Lord stated ”My food is to do the will of Him that sent Me, and to finish His work.” His death & resurrection completed the picture. John 4:34. Oil was part of a continual and all encompassing generational statue for Israel, to burn for light, Ex. 27:20-21, an obvious reminder of the eternal light of the world to come into the world as the Spirit of Christ in the church. In addition, the sacrifice was seasoned with salt. Salt is a barrier against corruption. This word is sometimes used in Scripture in connection with speech, Colossians 4:6, ”Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt.” The believer is told, ”Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly” Col. 3:16. A handful of this offering of flour, oil, and frankincense was presented to God. The rest was eaten by the priests. How beautifully this pictures our spiritual nourishment as we partake of Christ, our meal offering, who was sacrificed for us! We abide in Him, and His words abide in us.

Chapter 3, The Peace Offering
The law of this offering is in Lev. 7:28-36. It presents a beautiful picture of reconciliation, making possible communion with God. The offerer was to ”lay his hand upon the head of his offering and kill it at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation” Lev. 3:2. Then Aaron’s sons, the priests, sprinkled the blood upon the altar. The New Testament fulfillment says, ”And, having made peace through the blood of His cross, by Him to reconcile all things unto Himself. Colossians 1:20. Once the reconciliation was accomplished by the sprinkling of the blood, the priests were to eat of the sacrifice. Lev.7:32-34. This speaks of communion and fellowship. The priests and the ones presenting the peace offering both ate of it in the presence of the Lord. This sacrifice was the basis of their peace and fellowship. It was indeed a ”thank offering”, Lev. 711-12.

Chapter 4, The Sin Offering
In the burnt offering the believer is seen as identified with Christ. In the sin offering, Christ is seen as identified with the believer’s sin. These factors apply:

  1. It was given for sins of ignorance, humans are sinners, Rom. 8:3, whether we know it or not.
  2. The victim was the substitute for the sinner, 2nd Cor. 5:21
  3. The victim was taken outside the camp and burned to ashes. Christ died outside the city wall, Heb. 13:12-13..The ashes were spread outside the camp, showing sins put away. Christ outside the camp died for us

Chapter 5, The Trespass Offering
The sin offering dealt with the root; the trespass offering with the fruit. The cleansing from sins was made possible through confession, Lev. 5:5. Likewise, the Lord Jesus died, not only for what we are by nature but also for what we do because of that nature. Furthermore, the Christian knows that ”if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness, 1st Jn. 1:9, 2:1

Leviticus from a Christian Perspective

In Exodus, Abraham’s descendants have multiplied, becoming a mighty people group cohabitating with the Egyptians. The Pharaoh enslaved the people for a few centuries until God rescued them. After a dramatic exit from Egypt, God makes a special agreement with Israel, making them his people and himself their only God. The people then build a tabernacle, and the Creator of the world begins dwelling among his people. That’s why Leviticus is so important. It’s a new normal: The LORD God is publicly living with humans. This hasn’t happened since the Garden of Eden, when God would visit with Adam and Eve. Last time God shared a place with humans, the humans (with help from an evil serpent) messed it up. How can they get it right this time? Not a lot of narrative takes place in Leviticus. The people stay camped at Mount Sinai throughout the book. It’s not until the book of Numbers that they resume their journey to the promised land—and that journey isn’t completed until the book of Joshua. Leviticus is about holiness (being set apart, separate)—both God’s holiness and the holiness He expects of His people. Whereas Exodus displays God’s holiness on a cosmic scale (sending plagues on Egypt, parting the Red Sea, etc.)  Leviticus shows us the holiness of God in fine detail. God spells out His expectations for His priests and people so that the congregation can worship and dwell with Him. The call to holiness in Leviticus resounds throughout Scripture, both the Old and New Testaments. To see why Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s holiness in the world, is best read about in Hebrews 9:11-28. Parts of the Levitical law are fulfilled in Jesus Christ, such as distinctions between clean and unclean foods, See Mark 7:18-19, but the call to holiness still stands—Peter even quotes Leviticus when he encourages us to be holy in all our behavior, see 1st Peter 1:15-16. What does holiness mean to you?

His Goal/our goals

God gave a goal and Paul describes it well in Philippians 3:14, with two words, “SKOPOS” translated goal, from which we get our English word scope, and the word prize from “BRABEION” which is like the trophy we get from winning a game. What exactly is this goal or prize? Jesus pointed his critics to it, when he described what they were trying to force their way into, it is the Kingdom of God. See Luke 16:16. Both John the immersionist and Jesus the Christ preached with the theme of the Kingdom coming, being established and after the church was brought into the world. The apostles taught that they and we were translated into it. Read carefully Colossians 1:12-13 and you can see how this transfer from the domain of darkness and into the Kingdom was a past tense reality for Christians millenia ago. Truly in one aspect, Christians today are already citizens of the Kingdom, Philippians 3:20, but we do not have all the glory of inheriting it, until we reach Heaven. In the meantime, the words of Jesus are alive and well in our hearts when He says, we are in this world, but not of it, John 15:19, 16:33 & 18:36. So in one sense, our goal is the glory of Christ in our heart today, but in a different sense that glory won’t be fully realized until we get past those pearly gates. Read carefully 2nd Corinthians 4:5-7.

This is God’s goal for the church, a full realization of His holy glory as He comes into each Christians heart & daily life. However, as we grow the fruit of His Spirit, we learn about using the gifts or talents that we mentioned in the previous discussion. Therefore when we multiply those gifts and use those talents in our daily life, we discover goals in our service to God. How is this made true for us today? By seeing ministries and services in the daily life of the church bless the world with the furtherance of the gospel. Our personal goals all work together to spread good news, creating new Christians. How bright is this congregation shining in our community through good works, wherein we use our many gifts? Jesus said his followers would be like a city on a hill, lit for the world to see, Matthew 5:14. Jesus wasn’t necessarily goal-minded, instead, he was very mission-minded, his mission was full of healthy habits and tasks that led Him to getting back home to His Father through His resurrection & ascension. Today, we should have a mission minded church, instead of setting specific goals that might end up disappointing people. Why don’t we stay focused on the mission of Christ, living daily lives with healthy habits and grow the fruit of His Spirit, who enables us to share the powerful love and words of Christ with people in the world? Be purposeful in your devotion to good works, (Titus 3:8-14 & Hebrews 10:24)

God’s Gift/our gifts

The Gift of God’s Holy Spirit of Christ is seen by Luke & Paul, as given to Christians…

… in baptism, Acts 2:38, “Holy”

… in salvation, Romans 5:17, 8:10, “Righteousness”

… in personal ministry, Ephesians 4:7, “Grace”

…in public ministry, 2nd Corinthians 9:15, “Inexpressible”

Jesus says, “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”, Luke 11:13

Just as in the world, we see children grow up to give gifts in return to their parents that cared for them in their youth, we should see new Christians grow up to give gifts out of appreciation back to our Father in Heaven for giving us Christ’s Spirit. Mature Christians have the wisdom, strength and love to be grateful in…

… Giving liberally, Luke 21:1-4 

… Giving personally, Romans 12:6

… Giving publicly, Philippians 4:18

How do you give gratitude to God? The word “thanksgiving” has GIVING in it, not “saying”! So even if we are simply saying thank you to God in prayer, it should be from our hearts, giving love & respect, sincere heartfelt gratitude.

Peter calls all Christians individually in the church, publically, a royal priesthood, (1st Peter 2:9), if you believe this, then we should be able to offer sacrifices, because that is why people are made into priests. See Hebrews 13:15-16. All genuine Christians are actually spiritual priests, we do not have a physical priesthood, our sacrifices are sanctified by Christ’s blood and offered up in praise & prayer spiritually. When we do good works, they are maintained by faithful prayer, see Titus 3:8-14. 

If you believe Christ’s Spirit has been gifted to you, (Romans 8:8-9), then you are his and He is yours. Our every effort to serve him physically or spiritually can be accepted by The Father as a holy sacrifice. Do you live like this? See 1st Peter 2:1-5.

His Names/our name

“Church” (ekklesia – Greek) meaning “to call out of”. Before the New Testament was written “ekklesia” was a word used to describe what Roman Senators did throughout the many different provinces of the Roman Empire, when they were called out of, and into Rome for an annual meeting to give account of their work in their particular Province and the State of the Empire. But Jesus used it towards his disciples, who would become apostles teaching believers to become Christians, Matthew 16:18-19. This meant that Jesus intended us to be coming together out of the world as we are called into the body of Christ. Every Sunday we physically show this by coming together as a congregation, out of the world and into worship. When our Sunday worship service is finished, we go back out into the world physically, and if we are in Christ, then we are spiritually the church throughout the week. Monday through Saturday we should be living daily lives that are called out of worldliness and into the righteousness of Christ. The English word “Church” and the Scottish Gaelic word “Kirk”, derives from a Greek word, kuriakos, that means “house of the Lord.”  It applies to any lord, whether a landlord, a master, a lord of slaves or any other lord.  It is this word, from which “church” is derived, that occurs only twice in the Greek New Testament.  In I Corinthians. 11:20, it is used to identify the “Lord’s Supper” as belonging to the Lord.  In Rev. 1:10, it is used to refer to the “Lord’s Day” as belonging to the Lord. Kuriakos doesn’t appear in the NT Greek, but it’s obvious meaning is literally used as “My Father’s House” or the Lord Jesus, saying “My House”, see John 2:16 & Luke 14:23 & Acts 7:49.

Descriptions or names in the “Gospels & Acts”

The Kingdom, Matthew 16:18-19, Luke 9:27, Colossians 1:13

The Flock, John 10:16, 1st Peter 5:2

The Family, Mark 3:35, Ephesians 3:15.

The “Way”, Acts 24:14 & 22

The “Congregation”, Acts 5:11, 7:38 & Hebrews 12:23

The “Christians” Acts 11:26, 1st Peter 4:16

Titles in the “Epistles”

The Church of God… as Saints, Acts 20:28 & 1st Timothy 3:15, 1 Corinthians 1:2, 3:9, 10:32, 11:22, 15:9, 2nd Corinthians 1:1, Galatians 1:13. (Saints is used over 64 times in the New Testament)

The Church of the First-Born, Hebrews 12:23

The Churches of Christ, Romans 16:16, this title can be applied to all the various phrases in the New Testament that are written as “churches of ….. Galatia, Thessalonica, Laodicea, etc.,

There are many different words used to describe the church in the New Testament, like Bride, Body, House/Temple, Field/Vineyard and City, but these descriptions are not used like real titles, but rather they help us understand how the church should function, work and grow in the world. They help us understand what the will of the Lord is in the life of the church of Christ from day to day. The real titles of the church help us tell the world who we belong to and who has purchased us. We are owned by the Lamb of God who bought us with his blood, 1st Peter 1:18-19. Who do we belong to? Wherein lay our identity and citizenship? Philippians 3:20

His Purpose/our purpose?

To Love The Lord, John 4:23-24 & Ephesians 5:18-20.

To Pray For Worldly People, See Isaiah 56:7 & Mark 11:17 & Matthew 9:37-38, Romans 12:12.

To Teach Truth & Proclaim Christ, Matthew 28:18-20, Ephesians 3:8-11.

To Serve The Disadvantaged & Oppressed, Matthew 25:34-46, 1st John 3:17-19.

To Train The Faithful, 2nd Timothy 2:2, Ephesians 4:11-13.

Obviously there is not one single Christian that can do all of these things really well, that is why we are a body with several members. However, every Christian can fulfil God’s purpose. So in which of these purposes do you really succeed? There is a list of gifts which God describes the church sharing in, read the entire chapter of Romans 12. Surely there are a few things you can excel in, and/or at least try each of them. 

Romans 12:4-21

The Purpose of Christ for the church in…

…PROPHECY, v6, is to show our faith in his second coming and our resurrection.

…SERVICE, v7, 11,  is to show energetic integrity while pointing people to the spiritual purpose of labor.

…TEACHING, v7, is to share the knowledge of Christ.

…ENCOURAGEMENT, v8, is to comfort & strengthen each other’s hearts.

…GIVING, v8, 13, is to be generous in helping the poor.

…LEADERSHIP, v8, is to set an example of enthusiasm.

…KINDNESS, v8, to show people how to cheerfully treat each one other with God’s goodness.

…LOVE, v9-10, to be devoted in doing what is best for others at the expense of your self.

Every single gift given to us as Christians, individually members of the church, has a purpose. God’s love (agape) should be seen in that gift and/or talent, see 1st Corinthians 16:14. Agape is a much celebrated word, found in over 47 verses of the Gospels, and in over 32 verses of the Epistles and the Revelation. However, it is surprising that there is not a single verse in Acts which has the word agape! Why? Simply because God’s love is seen in action throughout all 28 chapters of Acts. Love is not just talked about in the church, love is shown in the church. So today the love of God continues to be spread by each Christian through this living message, acting out the grace and knowledge of Christ in you. How do you fulfill the purpose of Christ in your daily life? See 1st John 3:18.

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wearing away our inner self is being renewed day by day. – 2 Corinthians 4:16, See Ephesians 4:23.

God has given humans five physical senses: sight, hearing, taste, smell, and touch. Metaphorically, He has given believers spiritual equivalents: spiritual eyes to see His truth, Ephesians 1:17-18, spiritual ears to hear His word, Acts 2:37, and spiritual taste buds too, as the Psalmist says, “Taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8). The word of Christ is likened to milk, meat & bread. Christians also can sense, “the aroma of Christ” (2 Corinthians 2:15-16). There is also the spiritual sense of touching our hearts, (Hebrews 4:12 & Luke 24:32). Our hearts are where we discover our talents/gifts, so grow, share and use them to fulfil God’s purpose in your daily life.