Posts Tagged ‘Leviticus’
Leviticus is not easy reading. It’s one of those books that make you want to turn to the “easy” reading of the New Testament. I can identify with the epistles of Paul. I can identify with many of the characters both in the Old and New Testament. I can identify with the Psalms. But I have trouble with Leviticus. I have heard many times that the key to understanding Leviticus is the book of Hebrews. I have read Hebrews many times and yet I still struggle with Leviticus. I have purchased commentaries on Leviticus and yet I still struggle to grasp this book. I know that it’s the Law and mainly focused on the ceremonial aspects of the Law but it is not easy reading.
Yet we can learn from Leviticus. I was reading in Leviticus 10 today and the one truth that I always get from reading Leviticus is that God is holy and that He wants to be worshiped as He prescribes and not by the flesh of people. Because He is holy, He expects to be worshiped in the spirit of holiness. He calls His people, especially His priests to be holy. Of course, the priesthood is no longer confined to a group of people. The entire Church is now holy unto the Lord and all of the people of God are priests unto God (1 Peter 2:9-10). There is no longer any special priesthood or clergy who do the work of the ministry. God calls all His people to holiness and to service unto Him. As Charles Spurgeon put it, “You are either a missionary or a mission field.” We are all God’s slaves if we belong to Him (Romans 6:17-19). We are all called to serve Him and to honor Him as holy (Luke 17:10).
In Leviticus 10 we see a picture of what happens when people disregard His holiness. In this story, we find Nadab and Abihu serving before Yahweh. They are the two eldest sons of Aaron. We don’t know what exactly happens here other than perhaps they were drunk in God’s presence while offering incense (vv. 8-9). We do know that they offer what the Bible calls “unauthorized fire” (ESV) or “profane fire” (NKJV) before the LORD. The MacArthur Study Bible notes, “by doing so they showed their carelessness, irreverence, and lack of consideration for God. Such a tendency had to be punished for all priests to see as a warning.” The same fire that had consumed the priest’s proper sacrifice in Leviticus 9:24 now goes out to consume these two men. God was using them to show His people that He was to be regarded as holy. We know this because of what Yahweh says through Moses to Aaron in Leviticus 10:3 (NKJV):
By those who come near Me
I must be regarded as holy;
And before all the people
I must be glorified.
The Bible simply adds that Aaron held his peace. What could he say? He had just lost his two sons in death because of their disregard for the holiness of God. Aaron knew this. He knew that God was holy and that He must be worshiped as holy. God, because He is holy, had every right to not just consume Nadab and Abihu but all flesh. It was because of the mercy of God that any flesh were allowed to live. In Genesis 2:16-17 God had told Adam and Eve that if they ate of the tree they would surely die. I have heard many try to say that this was spiritual death because Adam and Eve didn’t die when they ate in Genesis 3:6 but they did die spiritually and only later did they die physically. I believe that the truth is that God was merciful to His fallen creatures. He had every right to strike them down but in His great love and mercy, He instead provided an atonement for their sins (Genesis 3:21). He also promised redemption in Genesis 3:15. He could have killed them and He would have been right to do so since they violated His law but instead He showed them great mercy. Aaron knew this about God and He knew that if God wanted to, He could not only strike down his sons but himself as well. It was only by God’s grace and mercy that He didn’t.
God is holy. He is to be respected as holy. He is not your buddy. He is not “the Man upstairs.” He is not your “homeboy” as one emergent told me. God is absolutely and completely holy. When we lose sight of His holiness in the light of our sinfulness, we soon try to make ourselves better than we really are. When we reduce God from being holy and we have no regard for how perfect He is, we will soon elevate ourselves. We will treat as mundane the things of God. We come carelessly into His presence. We fail to see that He has every right to strike us down and we deserve to be cast into hell. We don’t deserve Him. We don’t deserve His heaven. We don’t deserve His Son. We don’t deserve His Word nor His presence in our lives. We receive all this because of His grace and mercy. The cross of Jesus Christ demonstrates both His holiness and His mercy. In Christ God was reconciling the world unto Himself (2 Corinthians 5:18) but we forget sometimes that God made Him who knew no sin to be sin so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21). 2 Corinthians 5:21 makes no sense to the person who doesn’t grasp Leviticus 10:3. Until we see how holy God is, we don’t see how utterly sinful we are. Until we see how great His love was manifested in pouring out His just wrath against our sins upon the cross, we fail to see just how great His love was manifested on the cross (Romans 5:8-9). Jesus saves us from the wrath to come (1 Thessalonians 1:10). This wrath is coming because of sin (Matthew 3:7). This wrath is coming because God’s holy Law is ignored and disobeyed (1 John 3:4). Without Christ, mankind must face God’s wrath alone.
And if we can learn anything from Leviticus is this: God is holy and He will judge sin. We must hide ourselves in Christ (Colossians 3:1-3). Those who are hidden in Christ need not fear the wrath of God against our sins because we are forgiven in Christ (1 John 1:9-10). Jesus has bore our sins. Jesus had set us free from the wrath of God against our sins. This doesn’t mean that we can transgress His law and have disregard for His holiness but rather this means that we can now worship Christ in spirit and in truth (John 4:23-24). We must regard God as holy and continue to fear Him. We must continue to stand in awe of His grace and mercy and respect Him as Lord of all. Yes we are forgiven. Yes we are saved from Him through His Son. But, we fear Him. We tremble at His presence. We still are amazed at His grace. And why? Because we know Him as holy. We regard Him as holy. We know who we are without His grace. We know that left to ourselves, we deserve hell. We know that without Jesus, we would not be saved. Without His Spirit, we would not have come to Him for redemption (Romans 1:18-25; 3:10-11). We do not seek God. We do not love God. Apart from His grace, we could not be saved (Ephesians 2:8-9). It is only by His doing that we are in Christ Jesus (1 Corinthians 1:30-31 NASB).
Let us then regard God as holy. Let us fear Him. Let us rejoice in His Son for our salvation. Let us proclaim to the nations that they must repent (Acts 17:30-31). Let us praise God for all that He has done in saving us from His just wrath. Let us love Him for His holiness and also for His mercy. Let us come into His presence with trembling and respect (Hebrews 12:25-29).
So what do we learn from Leviticus. It is this: Yahweh is Holy!