Leviticus Reflections

These are notes collected from studying Leviticus with Matt Lantz, Matt Roefer, and Neal Karsten. Anything good comes from the Lord. Everything else is from us!

Leviticus 1-7 – FIVE BASIC SACRIFICES

  1. BURNT OFFERING – this is BY FAR the most common sacrifice mentioned in the Bible, and seems the base of other sacrifices. Abraham offered up Isaac as burnt offering. Noah offered this up to appease God’s wrath from judgment. This is a sacrifice given totally to the Lord for our atonement (= covering) of sins. This clearly points to the death of Christ given over to God to satisfy God’s wrath toward our sin. Note that it was celebrated by a male animal without blemish in the prime of his life. BOOM! Sound familiar?
  2. GRAIN OFFERING – in John 12:24, Jesus reveals that a seed going into the ground is like a seed dying and being buried. BUT, when it comes up, it’s like resurrection. Hallelujah! We also read of the firstfruits as a symbol of resurrection (see 1 Cor. 15). The grain offering incorporates the firstfruits – no death is involved in the sacrifice. It is clearly pointing to resurrection of a perfect life. BOOM! Sound familiar? We are just beginning Leviticus and we already have Christ’s death and resurrection as the starting point!
  3. PEACE OFFERING – this was an offering you bring before God to celebrate the peace you already have with him. It is something you’d eat with others. Part of it is given to God (the fat and blood), and part of it is for you. It is a meal shared with you, others, and the Lord to celebrate that you have peace with God. BOOM! Sound familiar? Our communion is this…it extends the death of Christ to be a provision of unity with others (compare 1 Cor. 11).
  4. SIN OFFERING – this is a sacrifice you present after you sin. It’s interesting to note the sins mentioned there. A lot deal with your words: did you speak hastily, or did you not speak when you should’ve because you knew the truth in a matter (ouch – that resonates!). But, the sacrifice of a perfect offering in the prime of his life atones for this sin. BOOM! We have provision in Jesus when we sin against God (see 1 John 1).
  5. TRESPASS OFFERING – this is a special kind of sin offering. It is still a sin that requires atonement by an unblemished sacrifice. But it is when you hijack something for yourself that belongs to another (goes back to Exodus 20 – do not steal). When you do this, you need to restore what you took PLUS add 1/5 to the value (think of it like paying interest for the time it was away). An amazing thing to think about here is that when lepers are restored to God, they have to present a trespass offering. Why?! What property was taken that belonged to another?? Well…the leper himself/herself belongs to God to be used by him. The leprosy took them away from being used by God. When they become clean they can go back to being used by God! Amen – all for His glory!! We belong to Him. Sin isn’t just a bad thing for us to experience (though it is that). Sin is “falling short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). We think of sin as falling short of a good life we can experience. Not quite…it’s better to think of sin in terms of what God loses. He gets less glory in us. Look at Luke 15. The lost coin, the lost sheep, the lost son. All point to what the owner loses when there is sin, and what the owner gains when sinners are restored. Owner = God!

Chapter 2:13 stood out as well. That the offering needed to have salt. Just thinking that is as an offering we are to be seasoned with salt as well. “You shall season all your grain offerings with salt. You shall not let the salt of the covenant with your God be missing from your grain offering; with all your offerings you shall offer salt.”

LEVITICUS 8-10 – CONSECRATION FOR MINISTRY

I find Lev. 8 a very moving picture to consider for us in our own ministry. We are all called to be priests (1 Pet. 2:9), therefore we should find application in priestly service and consecration for all Christians. And boy oh boy do we ever, IMHO!I believe Lev. 8 shows the picture of what Rom. 1-6 points to:

  • Romans 1-5 = Jesus’ blood atones for our Sins // Lev. 8 begins with the priests doing a sin offering, where the blood atones for their sins
  • Romans 6a = Jesus’ crucifixion renders us dead to sin // Lev. 8 continues with the priests offering a burnt offering where the whole animal is consumed for God, “crucified unto the Lord”, you could say. So not only are the priests’ sins covered by the blood of another life, but they join with the death (burnt offering) of the animal, just as we join with the crucifixion of Christ (see Rom. 6:1-6)
  • Romans 6b = our new life in Christ is now purchased by his blood so that it belongs to God, not sin…God is our new Master, purchased by His blood…therefore our life belongs to Him alone // Lev. 8 continues on with blood being applied to the tip of the ear, hand, feet – I believe this is a sign that our hearing, doing, walking no longer is up to us, but belongs wholly to the Lord (to the outermost parts of that…not 1 bit of it is for us anymore)

Lev. 10:1-2 should be a sobering warning for all of us. Zeal and passion can be deadly if it isn’t coupled with truth and knowledge: “Desire/Zeal without knowledge is not good, and whoever makes haste with his feet misses his way.” (Prov. 19:2). Sincerity, passion, and zeal can all lead to hell if it is not based on God’s word/truth/way. Thankfully we’ll see the contrast of this in Leviticus 16 where the Day of Atonement is set as a contrast to this tragedy of fire killing Aaron’s sons. In Lev. 16 we see GOD’S WAY. And when we see that truly, then our passion and zeal can be applied to that, and it will be well pleasing and lead to life before the Lord.

I’d also add the value of them being clothed/covered first in Lev. 8. This is a theme we’ve seen from Adam and Eve onward in the Bible. And it’s definitely a big deal in the N.T. (with us being covered/clothed in Christ and his righteousness). In fact, the N.T. letters seem to begin with first establishing this truth: you are clothed in Christ’s finished work, made perfectly righteous in Him. Then it proceeds from there in how to walk out this new life. Similarly, Lev. 8 shows the priests first being clothed, and then the rest of the procedures follow that.

“I Put a Case of Leprous Disease”

“When you come into the land of Canaan, which I give you for a possession, and I put a case of leprous disease in a house in the land of your possession,”
Leviticus 14:34

I PUT — definitely challenges some people’s concept of God… but the rest of the chap shows provisions for dealing with it…so He puts the sickness (which is all ultimately part of our own fall to sin back in the garden) but also shows how to remedy it

LEVITICUS 11-15 – PURIFICATION

  • Ch 11 – becoming unclean by something outside you entering inside
  • Ch 12; 15 – becoming unclean by something from inside you going outside
  • Ch 13-14 – discerning uncleanness from something on you (if it comes from inside you, it’s unclean)

Lots to unpack here…for another time (:

Love Your Neighbor as Yourself

“You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.”
Leviticus 19:18

This is where the phrase “love your neighbor as yourself” originates in the Bible. The sad irony is how some have used the phrase for some people while incidentally they “take vengeance” and “bear a grudge” against other individuals or groups of people. It’s no different than Pharisees who had a strict way of defining who their “neighbor” was so that they felt off the hook for loving all people. It is a complete disregard of the context of this verse. Lord help us all return to Your heart and Your way that comes from Your Spirit alone!

So, if I may, I wanted to plunge in a little more to Leviticus 19. Mainly, I find this chapter important to look at carefully, because it gives so many examples of what it looks like to “love your neighbor as yourself”. As I said above, Lev. 19:18 is where that phrase originates. Though the same idea is found in Lev. 19:33 – “Love them [the foreigner] as yourself.” So if we look at the surrounding contexts of both of those verses, we can start to get God’s mind behind some of what this concept would look like:

  • As you reap wealth, leave some of it for the poor and needy (vv. 9-10)
  • Don’t steal from others (v. 11a)
  • Don’t lie or deceive others (v. 11b)…especially not when you are invoking God’s name in the matter (v. 12)
  • Don’t cheat others out of money/wealth that belongs to them (v. 13)
  • Don’t make deliberate obstacles for others, especially those with disabilities (v. 14)
  • Make judgments that are based 100% based on fact/actions, without giving special treatment to the poor OR the great (v. 15)
  • Don’t spread slander about anyone (v. 16a)
  • Don’t do things that could endanger others (v. 16b)
  • Don’t harbor bitterness or hate in your heart toward someone (v. 17a)
  • If you see someone doing wrong, tell them frankly and directly…don’t secretly resent or share this with others behind their back (v. 17b)
  • Don’t seek revenge against anyone. (v. 18a)
  • Don’t bear a grudge against anyone. (v. 18b)
  • Don’t mistreat anyone, especially foreigners or strangers to your area (v. 33)
  • Instead, welcome all people the way you would your own community (v. 34)

The last thing I might mention (though I think it’s obvious here)… Your “neighbor” is every single person. It’s the Conservatives and Liberals. It’s people of all beliefs. It’s the Police and the BIPOC. It’s the COVID vaccinators and anti-vaxxers. If they are people, they are your neighbors. It was the Pharisees who tried to redefine their “neighbors” to only the people who they had natural affinity towards (Luke 10:29).

In contrast, Jesus calls us to love neighbor (Luke 10:27), our enemy (Matt. 5:44), and our brothers and sisters in Christ with a special affinity/love that makes the world want to join the church (John 13:35; 15:17; etc.). All of this is impossible outside the Holy Spirit indwelling you and giving you His love for others, including that special love for the church (Gal. 5:22-23; 1 John 3:14), which is the sign that you are a true Christian (Eph. 1:13; Gal. 5:22).

I should probably add… We, as sinners, take things like this and immediately point to someone else who isn’t “living up” to this. I know because I am one! But I think that completely misses the point. Instead, ask God to search you on these things. And repent and ask forgiveness where He shows you you’ve missed the mark. I’m doing it with you. Then let’s walk together in that grace forward.

Jesus & The Gospel

But he shall not go through the veil or approach the altar, because he has a blemish, that he may not profane my sanctuaries,  for I am the Lord who sanctifies them.”
Leviticus 21:23 – 

Jesus alone can fulfill this on our behalf!

If it is to be accepted for you it shall be a male without blemish, of the bulls or the sheep or the goats.
Leviticus 22:19

Again…only Jesus fulfills!
He is the priest and sacrifice unblemished, male.

And whoever does any work on that very day, that person I will destroy from among his people.
Leviticus 23:30

This is in context of Day of Atonement where the high priest atones for their sins (Jesus fulfills this in gospel – see Heb 9). What a warning against us adding any of our works to the gospel. God will “destroy” us. See Gal 1:6-10.

“Bring out of the camp the one who cursed, and let all who heard him lay their hands on his head, and let all the congregation stone him.
Leviticus 24:14

This is sobering to consider. But, among other things, it shows that sin = death. Every time they killed an animal it was a reminder of this. It also shows the power of Christ’s sacrifice—if He without sin died; we with sin can live.

Giving Quality Offerings

Lev 27:14 stood out to me – “If anyone dedicates their house as something holy to the LORD, the priest will judge its quality as good or bad.” Simple concept, but it shows that God cares about the quality we offer to Him. It’s not enough to say we’ve just offered something.

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