Sabbatical 2017

Sabbatical 2017
Arc de Triumph

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Canonical Reading Plan for Feb 5, Lev 14-15

Today's readings are Lev 14-15.

The details of the sacrificial ceremonies continue. It is becoming clear that God intends to cleanse all impurity from His people through an elaborate series of ritual cleanings and sacrifices. There are two types of sacrifices involved in these rituals - a guilt offering and a sin offering. Both offerings, we are told, are “holy” meaning the process of redemption is a sacred and godly one. Using leprosy as an example of how ruthless the camp must be in eradicating any evidence of impurity, even the dwelling of the people must be cleansed of its presence (Lev 14:33-53).

Some may speculate on what the Jews thought of all this, whether or not they assumed the rituals themselves were effective in atoning for sin. There is even debate on what they believed the nature of atonement to be. Was it temporary? Eternal? Covered? Removed? But, that sort of conjecture misses the point. The Jews, imperfect as they could be at times, were faithful in carrying out God’s instructions for these rituals and ceremonies. They may not have fully understood how they worked, but they trusted God that He did. They were perfectly fine with some of God’s ways being a mystery. They knew that God may not always call His children to a full understanding of His ways, but He always calls them to obedience.

In Lev 15, we see the need to be cleansed of any personal impurity. At the end of the chapter, we see the reason for the cleansing is so as not to defile the tabernacle, the dwelling place of God. It is to be pure and holy. The tabernacle will eventually be torn down and transported with the Hebrews on their journey. Even so, it is the tangible evidence that God dwells among His people. It sets them apart. Unlike other religions of the time, God moves with His people and lives among them. As such, they should enter the tabernacle with reverence, making sure, as much as it is humanly possible, to leave the filth of the world outside.

We should see the character and nature of God in these cleansing rituals. He is holy as are His rituals and ceremonies. In order for His people to enter into His presence and dwell together in a holy manner, they must be made holy. He lovingly and graciously provides a way for them to become holy but the rituals are not permanent. They must be performed over and over again. The path of sanctification is through obedience and sacrifice. He carefully instructs them on the rituals and ceremonies so that they can be restored to Him and be a reflection of Him to the world.

Many centuries later, there will be a sacrifice to end all sacrifices. All the rituals and ceremonies will find their fulfillment in Christ. The need for repeated rituals will cease. Meanwhile, in these books of the Old Testament, God’s chosen people are called to obey His guidelines as a demonstration of their faith and trust in Him.

Meanwhile, here is a chart from the Zondervan NIV Study Bible that gives a short explanation of all the sacrifices described in Leviticus. You can click on it to make it larger.

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