Sabbatical 2017

Sabbatical 2017
Arc de Triumph

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Canonical Reading Plan for Feb 6, Lev 16-18.

Today's readings are Lev 16-18.

We see the Day of Atonement in Lev 16, a day when atonement is made for the sins of the entire nation. Two goats are used in the ritual, one to be sacrificed and the other to bear the sins of the people. It is not enough for the sins to be covered by the sacrifice. They must be removed, distancing them from the people who committed them. The blood and remains are removed from the camp, showing the camp is clean and presentable as a place for God to dwell.

Lev 17 begins a section that runs through Lev 25. These chapters take holiness as a godly attribute and expand it into a set of guidelines that detail holiness as a way of life.

No meat is to be slaughtered outside the Tabernacle without bringing the blood to the Tabernacle (Lev 17:3-4). The sacrifices prescribed by God were “to make atonement for your souls” (Lev 17:11). For God's people, there was to be neither confusion nor overlap with sacrifices made to other gods.To the Hebrews, blood represented life and was sacred. In these sacrifices, God reveals that He uses the shedding of blood to redeem His people. For these reasons, the shedding of blood in any manner should be done with reverence. This is the polar opposite of the custom of many Mideastern cultures of the time which was to shed blood in sacrifice to their gods (Lev 17:7). Those pagan rituals differed from the sacrifices God commanded in that the pagan sacrifices were made to curry favor with the gods. Sacrifices to the one true God were made to draw His people into an intimate relationship with Him. 

Expanding on that theme, intimacy is declared sacred in Lev 18. It is to be shared with neither immediate nor extended family members. Those were pagan practices. Neither are God's people to be united with people who worship other gods. God is faithful to His children and expects His children to be faithful to Him as well.

All unnatural acts are concisely detailed and prohibited. Adultery is prohibited (Lev 18:20), it displays unfaithfulness in a people that are called to emulate God's faithfulness. Child sacrifice is prohibited (Lev 18:21), it violates the commandment not to murder. Sex is to be shared between one man and one woman only (Lev 18:22-23). God is not capricious concerning those with whom He unites. He is united with His chosen people, no others. God shares spiritual intimacy only with those who are His. He is faithful to them. They should be faithful to Him. God has given them sexual intimacy as a gift and blessing that will allow them to multiply and carry His message all over the world. That gift should not be perverted for sinful, self-centered pleasure. 

These are timely chapters. The daily lives of the Jews are to reflect the holiness of God who lives among the Jews. That holiness sets them apart from the world. God gives very clear guidelines. They are timeless and are subject neither to changing cultural mores nor modern thinking. One of the lessons we see in Scripture time and again, is that God will not be challenged on His guidelines for holiness. Like His faithfulness, His holiness is neither capricious nor culturally sensitive

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