For a moment let’s think about today’s population in the USA. In a report I found on http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0763098.html , Chicago, Il and Houston, TX were ranked as the 3rd and 4th largest CITIES in the US as of 7/1/2011, each with 2-3 million people. I also looked at the population of each STATE in the US according to data gathered from the US Census Bureau in 2008 at http://www.worldatlas.com/aatlas/populations/usapops.htm Nevada, Utah, Kansas, Arkansas, and Mississippi EACH have a TOTAL population between 2-3 million people. WHY am I presenting this to you in our Bible Study?? Plain and simple, I wanted you to have REAL images to compare with the population of Israel in Leviticus.
Now that you have these images of population numbers, how would you go about teaching this many people any one topic without the internet, TV, mail carriers, telephones, cell phones, etc? No easy task right!! As we read the books of the Old Testament IMHO it is important for us to realize we are not talking about a small group of people that would all fit on an acre of land.
WE are looking at a HUGE nation. Moses was God’s spokesman. Aaron is now the High Priest. And the descendants of Aaron (who don’t decide to play with unauthorized fire) are the priests. All of the Levite men were dedicated for service to God, but ONLY Aaron and his descendants could be the priests. The priests are the ones who are to teach this nation the ONE TRUE GOD’s ways for worship, purity, and holiness. God desired an entire people who would be a holy priesthood, but sin prevented that from happening which is why the Levites became the tribe of Israel/Jacob that became the priesthood.
Today we can take rest in the words from 1 Peter 2:5-9
you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For in Scripture it says: “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe, “The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,”and, “A stone that causes people to stumble and a rock that makes them fall.” They stumble because they disobey the message—which is also what they were destined for. But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession,that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
Believers in Jesus Christ who have asked Him into their hearts are NOW this priesthood. HOW do we learn the things God wants us to do? Today we have HIS Word in the Holy Bible, Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. The Israelites had NONE of this…. In the book of Leviticus, Moses is documenting it as he goes along.
As you read all the details from today’s reading keep in mind WHY the book of Leviticus was written. You know it was written for the Hebrew Nation. The reason it was written was to provide instruction and laws to guide a sinful, yet redeemed people in their relationship with a holy God, the ONE TRUE God. There is focus on offering proper sacrifices for atonement of sin, clean and unclean food to keep their bodies healthy and clean, and today we will see how they are to handle personal hygiene, diseases, and sex.
Keep in mind that when Joseph delivered the Hebrew Nation OUT of Canaan into Egypt so they would survive the famine there were only 70 Hebrews. 400+ years have gone by and there are now 2-3 million Israelites. During this 400 years God knows they had been exposed to an acquaintance and acceptance of the Egyptians gods … many gods. The Israelites had much to learn about God’s character: Who is was (and is since HE NEVER changes); what He could do, and HOW they were to live and approach HIM on a daily basis. With the Egyptian gods, they had been exposed to:
- Eating unclean foods (which could lead to diseases),
- Having sex with prostitutes in public as a form of sacrifice to a god of fertility and crop growth (which could also lead to diseases),
- Other forms of inappropriate sexual relations to appease the gods
- Child sacrifice to appease the gods
God had to make sure they KNEW HIS ways were NOT the ways they had been exposed to and living with for many years. He wanted to set HIS people apart from all who worshiped the pagan gods (they had left Egypt with all those gods and now headed to Canaan where there would be the same gods … with different names.) God wanted them STRONG and FULL of knowledge about HOW to remain clean through confession and sacrifices, pure of heart and body, coming before HIM cleansed and repentant, forgiven of sin and prepared to worship HIM.
The message I gather from this reading today is “HOW do I approach the ONE TRUE GOD?’ Do I prepare myself to be with Him through confession of sin, prayer, praise, thanksgiving, ready to worship HIM the way He deserves or do I simply come out of guilt or as a last resort with no effort on my part to confess my sin and SEE that I am entering the Holy of Holies with the ONE TRUE God.
In my writing I am not talking about rituals, or time, I am talking about our hearts being prepared to enter the Holy of Holies with HIM. God knows us. He knows our circumstances. He knows our schedules and responsibilities. He knows EVERY thing. And He just wants us to come before HIM … with humility, confessing our sins so NOTHING gets in between our time with HIM, and like a child.. climb into the lap of our Daddy God (Abba Father) to spend time with HIM…. Just you and HIM.
As you read these three chapters today, keep in mind that not only was God teaching them how to live clean lives, and the proper way to WORSHIP the one true God, but He was also protecting them from the many diseases they could be exposed to in eating the wrong foods, their methods of hygiene, their sexual relationships, and potential contagious diseases such as Leprosy.
Chapter 11 — Unclean animals. How do we know that God still does not want us eat those animals? Jesus tells us (Praise God!)
Again Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen to me, everyone, and understand this. Nothing outside a man can make him ‘unclean’ by going into him. Rather, it is what comes out of a man that makes him ‘unclean……He went on: “What comes out of a man is what makes him ‘unclean.’ For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and make a man ‘unclean.’ (Mark 7)
Verse 44: I am the LORD your God; consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am holy. Do not make yourselves unclean by any creature that moves about on the ground. I am the LORD who brought you up out of Egypt to be your God; therefore be holy, because I am holy.
God is STILL HOLY and wants us to be holy. Take a look at 1 Peter 1: 13-16:
Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”
Chapter 12 – Purification after childbirth – again in this chapter I believe God wanted the people to focus on being set apart. He wanted HIS people to KNOW they were set apart with NO confusion or excuse to be involved with sexual perversion as was offered to the many pagan gods of their past (and would be as they entered the Promised Land.)
Chapter 13 –Skin Disease: Holy Moly — right? Leprosy in the Bible means any skin disease and it can also be a parallel to sin. Reading this chapter with this in mind will open up a whole new place in your heart. One thing that caught my attention was that the Priests had a WHOLE LOT OF RESPONSIBILITIES!!! If they would have written job descriptions back in the day…. Can you IMAGINE what it would have said??? … Don’t play with unauthorized fire, no drinking, cleanse yourself before dressing in your priestly garments, dress according to your position, take this seriously, animal slaughter, keep the lampstand lit, keep the sacrificial offering fire burning, wash properly, EXAMINE the people for diseases (were they doctors too??), know when to quarantine people, know when to release them, know when to have them yell “unclean, unclean”, know which parts of meat are to be burned outside the camp, know how to clean the animals, know who is bringing their offerings and sacrifices, know how to delegate responsibilities, keep up with the pregnant women, keep up with bodily secretions, know what foods are clean and unclean…. And on and on and on!!!! Seriously though, in verse 8 it states: The Priest is to Examine (not the people) what is clean and unclean which means the people were not to judge their neighbors by their outside appearances.
Aren’t you glad that today our High Priest is Jesus 🙂 Compare the OT system of sacrifices with the NT system from the chart below.
|SYSTEMS OF SACRIFICE|
|OLD TESTAMENT||NEW TESTAMENT|
|Was TEMPORARY (Heb. 8:13)||Is PERMANENT (Heb 7:21)|
|Aaron 1st high priest (Lev 16:32)||JESUS ONLY High Priest (Heb 4:14)|
|From tribe of Levi (Heb 7:5)||From tribe of Judah (Heb 7:14)|
|Ministered on earth (Heb 8:4)||Ministers in heaven (Heb 8:1-2)|
|Used blood of animals (Lev 16:15)||Uses blood of Christ (Heb 10:5)|
|Required MANY sacrifices (Lev 22:19)||Required one sacrifice (Heb 9:28)|
|Needed perfect animals (Lev 22:19)||Needs a perfect life (Heb 5:9)|
|Required careful approach to Tabernacle (Lev 16:2)||Encourages confident approach to throne (Heb 5:9)|
|Looked forward to new system (Heb 10:1)||Sets aside old system (Heb 10:9)|
|Information from The Life Application Bible pg 233|
Jesus FULFILLED the high priest seat. HE (and no other) makes us clean so WE may enter the Holy of Holies. We are to learn from our reading of the bible that SCRIPTURE IS THE ONLY AUTHORITY. WE ARE SAVED BY FAITH IN JESUS CHRIST. And, THERE IS NO PRIESTLY HEIRARCHY. In other words there is ONLY ONE HIGH PRIEST. HIS name is Jesus Christ. We are told in the NT that we ALL become the priesthood.
We ALL have the same direct access and authority with the Lord through Jesus. NO person on earth is above us in worshiping and praying to the Lord Jesus…. We have been given such a gift in Jesus Christ, one that not only gives us eternal life with Him, gives us abundant life while on earth, but ALSO HE gives us DIRECT access to our Abba Father… any time … any place …. Any day… always and forever!!!
A couple of extra scriptures to “chew” on throughout your day in how we personally approaching Jesus. Also when you read this try substituting the word “sin” for “leprosy” and see if that touches your heart deeper.
Luke 17:11-19 Do we just walk on?
Luke 5:12-13 Are we willing??
Sharing HIS love,