Israel 2016

Israel 2016
Roman architectural influence in Bet Sean, Israel

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Canonical Reading Plan for Feb 2, Lev 5-7

Today's readings are Lev 5 - 7.

In Lev 5, we begin to see the details of the ceremonies for the sacrifices for various sins. For unintentional sins, there is a three-part ceremony:  a solemn confession of the sin is made (Lev 5:5), a substitute sacrifice is made (Lev 5:6a) and a ritual gesture of forgiveness is provided (Lev 5:6b). This will be the general pattern for all sacrifices. This will become the pattern for the entire sacrificial system: confession, substitute sacrifice, and atonement. This particular ceremony (Lev 5:14-16) covers sins that are not deliberate, sins that are committed without conscious thought, yet are still sins nonetheless. Payment is still required. "I didn't mean it!" or “I didn’t know!” does not absolve the sinner from responsibility for sinful behavior (Lev 5:17). A sacrifice must be made for those sins as well.

We also see that there are offerings for people of meager means (Lev 5:7). There is not a need for elaborate, expensive sacrifices. What is more important is a sincere heart and a desire for redemption. It's not the value of the offering, it's the condition of the heart that is more important to God. Poor people make a sacrifice that is equivalent in overall value to that of people who are better off. All pay the same relative price. Likewise, it becomes clear that all sin must be atoned for, regardless of wealth, social stature or position in the community. No one is exempt.

The last set of sacrifices in Lev 5:14-19 has to do with confessing a lack of integrity in business/personal dealings and possession of material things. Being unhappy with what God has given us and taking what is not rightfully ours is sinful and requires atonement. 

In Lev 6 we see that sins against another child of God are actually sins against God Himself. They require atonement as well.

Lev 7 shows us that the priest who is ritually cleansed makes the sacrifice holy. If an unclean person touches a clean object or piece of food, it becomes unclean. But in most cases, if a ceremonially clean priest touches something unclean, it becomes clean. The priest not only serves the people by carrying out the work in the Temple, the people serve him by providing part of the sacrifice for his personal use. In this manner, the people serve the priest as the priest serves the people. They work as one, as a body of believers.

It is becoming clear that all sin requires atonement. Everyone is hopeless due to the fact that atonement is required even for unintentional sins. No one can atone for themselves.  All need a priest, an intermediary to make a sacrifice for them. The priest is worthy of honor because he represents the people to God. He is worthy of double honor because he also represents God to the people. Through him, atonement is made for sins. Through him, sins are atoned for. Ultimately, it is not the priest who is honored, but God. 

While it may be imperfect at the time it is given, the entire sacrificial system reveals another characteristic of God and how He operates - He provides for His children. In this case, He does it by appointing an intermediary to stand between Him and His holiness and sinful man. This intermediary becomes the priesthood - Aaron and the Levites that serve in the Tabernacle. Their descendants, the Levitical and Aaronic priests will faithfully serve the Hebrew people and their God for generations, first in the Tabernacle and later in the Temples. Yet, they are a portent of what is to come.

God graciously provides these guidelines for the sacrifices while He leads His children into the Promised Land. The Law leads to the realization of the need for the sacrifices. Both work together to sanctify God’s people. God is always laying the template and pointing the way toward His ultimate expression of grace, love, mercy and redemption that will eventually manifest itself in His only Son.

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