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.

HIS STORY, our history?

The earliest shadow of our reality as the Church can be seen in Genesis 14:17-20. When Melchizedek appeared to Abraham, he gave the work of God a glorious and futuristic hope in providing a link or bridge back for the lost state of humanity to our Creator. The unique nature of Melchizedek’s priesthood was in his Kingship. His Kingship held the power to promote peace between humanity & God, Hebrews 7:2. In contrast to the first priesthood of Melchizedek was the Jewish priesthood of Levi, one of the Great-grandsons of Abraham. The Levitical Priesthood would never be royal, it’s glory was not in gold & power to promote peace physically, but rather blood and incense to promote peace spiritually. Their work would merely provide one nation with annual peace, between annual sacrifices, whereas Melchizedek’s peace was present and promised secure forever…

We as the church have that peace in Christ, because He is our peace, Ephesians 2:14.

Another great gift from God in the prophetic work of  Melchizedek’s priesthood was the meal he offered Abraham, Gen. 14:18-19. There is a message for us in the bread & wine. It was obviously a celebratory mark of victory God gave Abram over his enemies. Today in the Church we remember the victory Christ holds over death in the Lord’s Supper every Sunday. His body and blood is where the victory was won and when He is represented in our communion, we rejoice in this bitter-sweet fulfillment of Melchizedek’s prophetic royal priesthood. The reality of Christ’s resurrection is powerful in that it was both physical and spiritual. Critics of Christ to this day falsely claim that His resurrection was spiritual, not bodily. But if it wasn’t a bodily resurrection, where is the real power over death, where is the evidence?

Remember who Abram rescued? Righteous Lot, 2nd Peter 2:7. This is why our history is important to learn. If Lot could be counted righteous by the standard of morality God gave them, then how much more righteous is everyone in Christ? Therefore, ANYONE in Christ can be rescued, not because of the righteousness of any human, but because of Christ’s righteousness. This is good news!

There are at least 15 messages recorded in Acts, a couple more depending on how you count and list them. What do all of them have in common? The word Christ and/or Messiah is used at least 28 times in Acts.

Acts 2:14-14 Jesus Christ is the Son of God; Repent & be baptized for the remission of sins.

Acts 3:12-26 Jewish people should repent for Crucifying the Christ

Acts 4:5-12 The power of Christ healed the crippled man 

Acts 7 Review of Jewish history & that the Jewish leaders murdered the Christ 

Acts 10:28-47 Christ can save the Gentiles also like the Jews 

Acts 11:4-18 Gentiles can now be saved by Christ 

Acts 13:16-41 Jesus was the Christ & the Old Testament is fulfilled

Acts 15:7-11 Salvation by the grace of Christ is available to all 

Acts 15:13-21 Circumcision is not required of Gentile converts to Christ

Acts 17:22-31 God will hold all people accountable for their response to Christ 

Acts 20:17-35 Remain faithful to Christ in spite of false teachers and various persecutions 

Acts 22:1-21 Recounts his conversion to Christ and his ministry & mission to the Gentiles 

Acts 23:1-7 Paul’s defense, declares himself a Pharisee believing in the resurrection of Christ

Acts 24:10-21 Righteousness, self-control, and judgment to come with the resurrected Christ

Acts 26:2-23 Recounts his conversion and evangelism for the gospel of Christ

What does the church today emphasize in our preaching and teaching?

God’s Word on The Church

  1. His Story / Our history
  2. His Purposes / Our purpose 
  3. His Names / Our name
  4. His Gift / Our gifts 
  5. The Church’s State and End-Goal

Most Christians understand and believe that we are baptized into the body of Christ which is the church, (1st Cor. 12:13, Eph. 5:23, Col. 1:24) Right? Helping the world understand what the church is, is a huge task, kind of like helping a toddler understand what a computer is, he can see it and enjoy it, but he finds it impossible to understand how to interact with it and really use it, all the toddler can really do is, spectate & speculate. If he tries to use it, the toddler ends up frustrated or breaking it. One of the first tasks Jesus gave His apostles was to make disciples, Matthew 28:18-19. Secondly, He commands baptism, then thirdly he tells them to teach them basically everything! So how do we make disciples before baptizing them, if they don’t even know how to relate to what the church is that they are being baptized into? That conundrum must be one of the biggest hindrances to disciples becoming Christians. I’m convinced infant sprinkling in some denominations, is maintained for that very reason. If you “baptize” a baby, you don’t need to worry about them making a choice, they can’t! It’s like labeling them a “christian” before they even have a chance to know what a disciple is, much less decide to become one. If it wasn’t so unscriptural, it would be hilarious. Jesus commands us to make disciples of Him, not us, the church. That’s great, considering most people in the world think the church is a building! Thankfully some people in the world think the church is a group of people, but they have no idea what God thinks of these people, or how He treats people, they call “the church”. So the best place to start with making disciples is to show them the Christ. If they will follow Him, they prayerfully can understand what God thinks of the people He calls the church. If they will follow Jesus for any length of time, they can not fail but to understand His love and morals. His love & morals should encourage them to be baptized and then they can start interacting as part of His body. Which is much more complicated than a computer but also much more beautiful, so they should grow and stay functioning as part of his body. The church is truly like a lampstand, not the light itself. The light is Jesus, the lampstand is the church, Matthew 5:14-15. But what is a light without a stand? It is like a city in the dark, dangerous! 

That is why it is very important to know God’s view of the church. He introduced it through prophecy. Read Micah 4:1-5 and see the prediction of a new nation with a judge that promotes eternal peace. There are many more Old Testament passages that prophesy about the church, so let’s learn and rejoice in God’s word/message about who we are and what He wants us to do, so that we might share it with people in the world that can see the love and morals of Christ.