A Christian Perspective on Leviticus (Pt. 7)

Chapters 17-20 holds a beautiful message about true holiness. This passage is full of details about how different Jews were to live holy in contrast to everyone around them in every aspect of the daily life of Israel. 

The Food laws in 17:1-16 show what was holy and unholy and were focused on how meat was handled. After Noah was introduced to eating meat after the Flood it was an open door for ambiguity, but now that God came to live amongst the Nation in the Tabernacle, they had clarity about how to deal with meat. Christians are reminded in 1st Corinthians 11:27-30 that we have food that is holy too. The Lord’s Supper entails both flesh & blood spiritually, to remind us that it is Jesus who makes our whole life holy. Therefore we do not need to deal with the details of Levitical commands about food. Everything we eat and drink outside the Lord’s Supper is holy in the context of love and gratitude, see Romans 14:1-4.

The Sexual laws in chapters 18-19 are centered on the royal law of God in James 2:8 which is actually quoting Leviticus 19:18 & 34. Jesus said it best in Matthew 22:37-40, the first commandment is likened to the second, love God first and love others as yourself. This principle prevents us from entertaining or encouraging any and all kinds of sexual perversions and detestable alternative lifestyles. All of humanity is designed as sexual creatures and 18:1-30 was God’s way of making sure Israel’s sexuality was a bright and pure contrast from the polluted practices of pagan cultures around them in stark darkness. The fact that sexual laws (v10–21) are grouped with laws about child sacrifices (v1–5) and consulting dead ancestors (v6, 27) or cursing living parents (v9) indicates that this text is not simply about sexual lust. These are laws about building a family heritage, and doing so in holiness (v.7–8, 22–26). Remarkably, the parameters established in Lev. 18, critique the marriages of Abraham, who married his half sister, Gen. 20:12 (Lev. 18:9) and also Jacob, who took a “woman as a rival wife to her sister”, Gen. 29:1-30 (Lev. 18:18). If Israel lived Leviticus, then they wouldn’t repeat the same disastrous sins committed by their forefathers..So for Christians, “whatever you do in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Colossians 3:17) He is the only man who ever treated people with purity and it’s only His Holiness that shapes our own, that we may become the righteousness of God, 2nd Corinthians 5:21.

The last few verses of Lev. 19 point Israel to God’s expectations on how to treat a foreigner living next door. It was one of the reasons Jesus told his disciples the parable of the Good Samaritan, Luke 10:25-37. It serves as the heart of what the chapter teaches about what it means to be holy. This significant role of holy citizenship shows how other New Testament writers regarded this passage as an important summary of the whole perfect law of liberty, Mat. 5:43, Rom. 13:9 & James 1:25.

The punishments & sentences for disobeying the Law of Moses in Leviticus were strict, sometimes even resulting in execution, 20:27. No one escapes the consequences of sin, except ultimately those who are found in Christ, who took our punishment on himself and forgives us completely. But “bearing their iniquity” in Leviticus 20:19 & Numbers 18:23 is a fact of life even for the faithful who are forgiven. Forgiveness is real and eternal, but some consequences will linger till Jesus comes. Why? Because we still live in a world where the rain falls on the righteous and unrighteous. God is fair even in forgiveness and in this He is just, Matthew 5:45.

A Christian Perspective on Leviticus (Pt. 6)

The Atonement

Leviticus 16 is reminding us of what happened to Nadab & Abihu when they attempted to serve God with unauthorized tools and stubborn hearts in ignorance, forging ahead with service to God that is dismissive of his holiness being more powerful than our attempt to emulate it, see 1st Sam.15:23. Heeding the warning to Aaron to not come into the Holy Place inside the veil…., so that he may not die…but in this way Aaron shall come into the Holy Place (16:1-3). There is a strong connection of timing, between the event of offering incense in Lev. 10 by the sons of Aaron, and the offering of incense in Lev. 16. Anyone can see how it seems backwards that Nadab & Abihu would presume to do this before their father the High Priest. Today we should praise God that there is a sure and effective way to enter his presence and be accepted with life and heaven’s blessings! But there is only one way. It is only through the sacrifice foreshadowed in the Levitical atonement rituals that were accomplished by the Great High Priest, Jesus Christ, John 14:6.

Why must the high priest first make atonement for himself and his own house? Hebrews 7:26-28

In the final phase of the Day of Atonement, the high priest changed out of the plain, linen robe he wore for the day’s sacrifices (v. 4) and back into his high priestly garments (vv. 23–24; compare Ex. 28:1-43. Ponder the significance of the high priest wearing plain linen robes for the sacrifices and changing into his glorious robes afterward, ref: Isaiah 61:3

Scripture encourages us with the glorious hope that, in these last days, the consequence of sin’s power is fully removed from our experience in the future, never to be felt again because of Christ’s resurrection. His holiness is powerful, 1st Cor. 15:42, Heb. 12:23, 2Pt. 3:13, 1Jn.3:2-5 & Rev. 6:11 

The Old Testament high priest was a shadow of the Great High Priest, Jesus, who has entered into the heavenly Most Holy Place with the blood of our atonement and now stands in glory to intercede for us, Heb. 2:17-18, 4:14-16, 8:1-6, 9:6-14 & 10:11-14.

The design of the Most Holy Place was a reminder to Israel that this “divine palace” on earth was not the literal house of God, nor were its rituals the literal source of atonement. They were earthly shadows of the real atonement the true High Priest would present to God in the real temple—heaven itself. Exodus 25:40 & Hebrews 8:5 & 9:24. When we pray, we should take faith in the power of the Holy Spirit of Christ sanctifying our words & thoughts, interceding for us before the Throne of God our Father. Never let anyone tell you that you can not pray to His Spirit, because without His Spirit, we are mute before God and not allowed before His presence. In this God gifted way of His Son, is our atonement beneficial. We are “at one & meant” to be together.

Leviticus from a Christian Perspective, (Pt 5)

Chapter 13: The diagnosis of leprosy and other skin diseases was in the hands of the Levitical priesthood. When Jesus came, his lineage through Mary and legally through Joseph, were neither from the Tribe of Levi. Since Mary & Joseph descended from the Tribe of Judah, he was positioned to treat lepers and diseased people differently, in fact Jesus made himself ceremonially unclean in order to prove his divine power in God as the fulfillment of healing to conquer death. Jesus loved diseased people and gave them hope when it was completely void in their life, Matthew 8:1-4 & Luke 17:11-19.

Chapter 14: Here is one of the clearest examples in the Old Testament of Israel’s faith in the resurrection. Don’t let the strangeness of its ritual sacrifices cause you to miss the beauty of the hope captured here. This passage marks the presence of death where there ought to be life. Reproductive organs were created for life. The abnormal and normal loss of fluids in these centers of life shows the negative consequences brought in by sin. Leprosy made visible the presence of death and decay in the body and in the coverings of life, clothes and homes. But each of these leprosy sections closes with rituals of restoration when the presence of death has been reversed. The centerpiece of the collection is the extensive ritual of restoration for the person healed of leprosy. Public ceremonies of restoration from “living death” ensured that Israel knew what had taken place and that all the people should see this reversal of death as a message of victory in God’s atonement—resurrection, (Lev. 14;18-20) Today we no longer mark physical healing with ritual markers of resurrection, because we have the ultimate testimony of our resurrection hope to look to—the historical resurrection of Jesus. These laws given by God were designed to compel Jews to believe their life could be seen through these promises God made in healing and to restrain them from the temptations of surrounding nations, see Galatians 3:19. However, by the time Jesus came, the legalistic tendencies of the Pharisees, over-interpreted the Mosaic laws, adding new commandments and traditions of their own, see Mt. 15:1-9. Ancient Israel looked to rituals of resurrection attached to certain afflictions to give them hope in all their afflictions. Read the eyewitness account of the resurrection displayed, so that it eclipses all those old rituals—the resurrection of Jesus (Luke 24:1-9) Praise God for such a great resurrection hope, and direct our own heart to view all our afflictions through the promised power of resurrection faith. Lev. 14:25-28 describes how the lamb’s blood was used on any person cleansed, pointing us to the initial sanctification of the High Priest in Lev. 8:23-24. This should remind us of our connection by the blood of our High Priest in Jesus, cleansing us from diseases for eternity. All the consequences of sin are void for eternity!

Chapter 15: The laws of hygiene for both men & women, either single or married, were given to all Israel, not just priests, because God wanted to help them see personally and publicly how different they were from the nations and cultures around them. This is a shadow of our reality in how Christians are to pay attention to our behavior personally and publicly. Read 1st Thessalonians 4:1-5 and ask yourself if God is not concerned with your personal hygiene. “Holiness & Honor” is indicating the reality of cleanliness being akin to godliness.