Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Tuesday - Leviticus 9 - A Daily Routine & A Unique Show of Power

This chapter gives an account of the first regular day of ministry in the life of the first priests. Seven days of full consecration had been fulfilled and so Moses instructed Aaron to commence regular service.  A sin offering, the burnt offerings, a meal offering and the peace offerings were brought before the Lord in accordance with the prescription that had been given previously.

Now, just because a precedential system (which would be reenacted thousands of times in the future) was the business of the day, that doesn't mean that that day was a mundane one. In fact, the glory of God was promised and granted on that wonderful day (Leviticus 9:4 & 23). God blessed the people with a manifestation of His beautiful presence and even poured miraculous fire upon the brazen altar.  It's not every day that God dispenses visible fire as a token of His pleasure (Leviticus 9:24, I Kings 18:38, II Chronicles 7:1& Acts 2:3). And, the people responded appropriately with shouts and abjection.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Monday - Leviticus 8 - Setting Things in Motion

Exodus 28 and 39 recorded the instructions for and the construction of the holy garments of Aaron, and Exodus 29 told how to commence the utilization of those garments. Here in Leviticus 8 we have the story of the actual ceremony that those three passages prepared us for.

Moses served as God's minister in setting the Aaronic priesthood into motion. He came before the Lord with his brother and his nephews, with the anointing oil, with a young bull, with two rams, with     unleavened bread and with the people of Israel. He obeyed God's command by ceremoniously washing Aaron and his sons, by clothing them with all of the garments appointed for their office, by anointing the holy things and Aaron with oil, by slaying the sin offering and carrying out the proper rituals attached to it, by slaying the burnt offering and fulfilling the assigned rites connected to it, by anointing Aaron and his sons with the blood and by commanding them in accordance with what God had instructed.

Aaron and his sons did as Moses commanded. They boiled the meat from the other ram and ate of it. And, they remained in continual service in the tabernacle for the next week. The Aaronic priesthood and all that it represented was in place. Of course, it was a temporary arrangement. A greater order was actually already in place (Hebrews 7:6, 9 & 10). Our high priest ministers according to the rituals of a higher priesthood. For Christ, the commencement of His priesthood marked the completion of it. He sat down at the right hand of the Father on high, never to be needed again to make an atoning sacrifice (Hebrews 10:10).

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Saturday - Leviticus 7 - In Conclusion

This passage teaches that the priests were allowed to keep certain parts of certain sacrifices for themselves. Every priest was allowed to eat part of certain sacrifices, if they ate it while they were in the foremost section of the Tabernacle. Not only did they eat of some sacrifices, but the skins of burnt offerings became the possession of the priest who offered it. It is likely that they used it as something of a currency.  Remember, the tribe of Levi did not have the same opportunities as those of the other tribes to earn wages, so God arranged for their keep in this way.

Additionally, some of the meat offerings became the possession of the priests (Lamentations 3:24). In some cases, it was kept by the priest making the offering and in other cases it was commonly held.

The burnt offering, the meat offering, the sin offering, the trespass offering and the peace offering... all had separate and specific purposes and meanings. Whether in worship, adoration, fellowship, repentance or in thanksgiving - every offering pointed in some way to the ONE who would come and fulfill all of the demands of every sacrifice, forever.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Friday - Leviticus 6 – More Regulations

We can't turn all these religious regulations into a tidy little package. For the Levites living back in the day, this hefty set of rules would've been much easier to understand. It was the career occupation of this priestly tribe to understand and teach these laws. And, they didn't just read about these rituals, they acted them out repeatedly. That kind of perspective would make these things much less complicated.

The devil is a liar and is the father of lies. God is the God of truth. Hence, lying is particularly hated by our God. In this chapter God laid out some distinct clarifications concerning deception. Now, while we might sin by lying to ourselves or to God, several brands of lying to one's neighbor are mentioned here. Lying about something that was entrusted to your care, or about a pledge, or about robbery, or about a lost and found item... under the OT law, any of those lies that cost one's neighbor some specific amount required precise arrangements to rectify that wrong. The guilty party had to restore the principal value along with a 20% interest penalty to the person who was wronged. On the same day that the amount was returned to the wronged party a trespass offering (a ram) was to be offered to God with a priest presiding over the reconciliation.

The good news in all of this was that God promised and demanded that the criminal was to be forgiven "for any thing of all that he had done in trespassing" (Leviticus 6:7). Anything! A window into God's mercy is seen here in the law. Hallelujah!

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Thursday - Leviticus 5 - The Trespass Offering

Guilty, guilty, guilty!  What do we do when we are guilty?  Well, in God's economy, we confess our guilt and we seek atonement. Now, for the Jews in Moses' day the forgiveness came at a price. A ram, a young female lamb, a young female goat, two doves, two pigeons or a five-pound bag of flour had to be sacrificed. The sacrifice selection depended on the nature of the sin and upon the ability of the offender.

If the transgression involved either a desecration of some holy thing or a direct violation of one of God's commandments, then a ram was required. If a person heard someone make a commitment and then failed to testify in defense of whoever was supposed to be the recipient of that commitment; or, if a person touched any unclean thing such as an animal carcass or some human pollution; or, if a person made a rash commitment ... he was to consider himself guilty. A simpler trespass offering was demanded (i.e. a lamb, kid, dove, etc.).

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Tuesday - Leviticus 4 - Sin Offerings

There were some distinct differences in the rituals of the sin offering. Like in the burnt offerings, the whole animal was to be destroyed. Like in the peace offerings, the fat, the caul and the kidneys were to be burned on the brazen altar.  However, unlike those kinds of offerings, the rest of the animal was to be burned outside the camp. Not only that, a small part of the blood was supposed to be sprinkled in front of the Tabernacle veil, another part was to be wiped on the horns of the incense altar (except when the sacrifice came from a common Israelite) and the rest was to be poured out around the brazen altar.

Additionally, if the sin was committed by a priest (I Peter 4:17) or by the nation then the animal had to be a young bull. If the sin was committed by a leader of the people then he was to offer a young male goat. If one of the common people sinned then they were supposed to offer a young female goat or lamb and the blood was only placed on the horns of the brazen altar (and poured at the foot of the same altar) ... none of it was taken into the Tabernacle.

The most significant part of this whole process was the promise that their sin would be forgiven. If there had been no promise of forgiveness, what good would all of this do? Of course, we know that the forgiveness was incomplete. The sin sacrifice had to be repeated and the sins were not ultimately taken away (Hebrews 10:4-6). God's mercy was applied but His justice was only temporarily appeased. Only the blood of Christ makes full propitiation for sins and only His blood can cure our moral disease (Hebrews 9:14).  Only Jesus' blood provides for a new birth and a new nature.

One final thing... the bodies of the sin offerings were burned on the outside of the camp (Hebrews 13:11-13). As the personification of sin (II Corinthians 5:21) Jesus was rejected, cast out and relegated to the outside.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Monday - Leviticus 3 - Peace Offerings

Leviticus 1-4 deals with 4 different kinds of offerings in order: burnt, meat, peace and sin.  So, Chapter 3 addresses the methods and procedures of peace offerings. Peace offerings were apparently not related to a specific schedule or to any general sinfulness of any individual. They were to be offered in gratitude and willingly as a response to prosperity whenever God's blessings were apparent.

The first distinction of this kind of sacrifice is the fact that the gender of the sacrifice was irrelevant.  Only males could serve as whole burnt offerings, but either males or females could be offered as peace offerings. The blood was still to be sprinkled on the brazen altar and a part of the animal was to be burned.  Specifically, the fat, the kidneys and the connecting lobe off of the liver were to be burned.

God forbad the consumption of the fat and the blood of any beast (Leviticus 3:17). And, in the offering of peace offerings, He commanded that it be given to Him. Strangely, He called it His food (Leviticus 3:11 & 16). The rest of the peace offering remained for the priests and for the devotees to eat, but those particular parts (fat, blood, caul & kidneys) were retained by God.

But, you may ask, "Why the kidneys?" If you check the definition and application of the word kidney in this text you will find that in Moses' day it was used much like we use the word "heart." Not that they would necessarily have said, "I love you with all of my kidneys," but, the exact same word is translated "reins" almost as many times as it is translated "kidneys" (Psalm 16:7). So, if the people regarded the kidneys as the seat of emotion, affection or will... then it certainly makes sense that God would ask for it for Himself. The life of the flesh was in the blood, the excess sustenance of the body was energy stored in the fat and the prerogative of the soul was linked figuratively to the kidneys.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Saturday - Leviticus 2 - Gifts without Blood

While it is true that we focus mostly on the Old Testament sacrifices that required the death of an animal and the sprinkling of its blood, there were offerings that did not involve death or blood (Hebrews 9:22). In Leviticus 2 we find that these certain oblations (gifts) were called meat offerings (or, grain offerings to be eaten).

Here are the offerings that are addressed in this chapter: 1. Fine flour  (with oil & frankincense), 2. Oven baked cakes made with flour & oil, 3. Oven baked wafers with oil on them, 4. Bread baked on a flat plate, 5. Bread baked in a frying pan, and... 6. The first of the grain harvest which was to be dried by fire and either beaten into meal (or at least separated from the husks).

Oil and frankincense were variously offered with portions of all of these sacrifices. Only a small part of these things were actually burned on the brazen altar, the remainder belonged to the priests. Under no circumstance were they supposed to use leaven (yeast, fungus or any fermenting agent) in any meat offering. Specifically they were not supposed to ever burn any leaven or honey (II Chronicles 31:5) with any offering to the Lord. However, they were ALWAYS supposed to include salt with every meat offering (Mark 9:49-50, Colossians 4:6). If we meditate on all of the practical uses for salt then we should come to the spiritual meaning of its constant inclusion... preservation, healing, seasoning, etc.

God is still looking for offerings that do not require the shedding of blood. He wants us to live for Him. He yearns to see generous reciprocation in His children. He gave extravagantly to us... we should return gifts to Him of all that we have. Christ was a sacrifice for us all, yet, He desires and accepts holy offerings of obedience and gratitude from His children as we bring them in humble worship (Romans 12:1-2 and Hosea 14:2).

Friday, May 20, 2016

Friday - Leviticus 1 - Individual Atonement Offerings (part 2)

Now, if the animal was a sheep or a goat (instead of a young bull), then the process was in the hand of the priests from the point that the devotee laid his hand upon the animal's head. A priest was to kill it on the right side of the altar before fulfilling the rest of the ritual. If the animal was a bird then the priest was supposed to twist off its head, pluck the feathers off (and discard them in front of the altar where the ashes were collected), cut it open and burn it.

It seems to me that the various sacrifices and processes reflect the diversity of testimonies among the elect. Each believer has a unique conversion experience. Not every child of God has the same intellect, environment, opportunities, distractions, education or heritage, yet everyone must come by a substitution sacrifice - Jesus. And, the ministers of God play varying roles in the conversion of His saints... some more; some less. But, the most important meaning of the different sacrifices appears to be the reflection that each one casts upon the ultimate sacrifice - Christ. Perhaps the young bull symbolized His strength. The sheep would surely represent His humility. The goat reminds us that He became sin for us. The dove might show us how innocent He was; the pigeon how poor. And, the types and figures go on and on... the fire of the altar speaks of God's holiness. The dissection of the sacrifice reminds us that God looks upon the inside, not the outside to find what pleases Him.

But, most glorious of all is the fact that the ancient Jewish disciples offered these sacrifices of their own voluntary will (Leviticus 1:3). It is the only kind of offering God desires - willing, not compulsory offerings. And, of course, Jesus is the ultimate volunteer in the area of sacrifice.   He willingly offered Himself (John 10:18).

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Thursday - Leviticus 1 - Individual Atonement Offerings (part 1)

This book of Leviticus was called by some The Law of the Priests" (John Gill). After Moses and the Levites erected the Tabernacle... and after God's glory had filled it, God spoke to Moses out of the Tabernacle and issued (in this chapter) commandments concerning the ritualistic offerings of the people for atonement of their sins.

There were different rules depending on whether the animal was a young bull, a sheep, a goat, a dove or a pigeon. Practically speaking, what animal was brought appears to have depended upon the capabilities of each particular penitent worshipper.

There were certain responsibilities that the people had and other responsibilities that were reserved for the priests only... depending on what kind of animal it was. If the sacrifice was a young bull then the citizen was to select the animal according to God's instructions, bring it to the Tabernacle, lay his hand on it, kill it just outside the gate of the Tabernacle, skin it and dissect it according to the prescription. Yes, the commoner who came with the sacrifice to seek atonement for his specific sin was to be the killer of that sacrifice.  He was to lay his hand on the animal's head thus admitting that he was responsible for the death of that innocent animal (a picture of our guilt in the death of Christ). He would therefore be identifying himself with the sacrifice and would be figuratively transferring his own guilt to it.

The priests were then supposed to take the blood and sprinkle it on the brazen altar. Then they were to set a strong fire upon the altar in preparation for the carcass itself.  Finally, they were supposed to take the pieces of the carcass and burn the whole thing on the altar. It would have produced a distinct smell there in the court of the Tabernacle, but more importantly it was an “acceptable savor” in the spiritual olfactory sensors of the Almighty. The legs and the intestines had to be washed prior to the burning of the sacrifice to rid the body of foreign debris (feces and dirt).  I believe this washing was to remind the people of God's holiness and of the fact that immoral worldly pollution is absolutely unacceptable to God.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016


No chapter or blog entry today.  Find a summary of Leviticus in a study Bible or online, and read that.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Monday - Exodus 40 - Opening Day

The Tabernacle was set up one year after the nation of Israel made their escape from Egypt. And, it had taken about six months to make all of the individual parts of this portable sanctuary (JF&B).  Opening day was a BIG event!

God commanded Moses to have the thing erected with all of its furniture from the inside out and to anoint it all with the holy anointing oil. Every item was important: the ark, the mercy seat, the veil, the table, the candlestick, the altar of incense, the tent, the brazen altar, the Iaver, the court border and all of the particular items associated with every part... the bread, the light, the sweet incense, the burnt offering, the water - everything, it was all essential. Then Moses was to array the priests in their attire according to the prescription found in chapter 28. Again, they too were anointed with oil as they were ordained into their office of service (Psalm 133:2).

When Moses had finished this task and had washed himself, God's glory came in the form of a cloud and filled the place. The cloud that had been with them at the crossing of the Red Sea now stood above the Tabernacle and represented God's presence among them.

As we close the book of Exodus I'm reminded of two passages, Deuteronomy 5:29 & Revelation 2:4. Both of these verses speak to the original zeal of a converted people.  Opening day was wonderful for the nation, for the leaders and for God. Yet, the passion of the people would soon wane. Despite God's extravagant blessings upon them, they would come to doubt, resist and rebel.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Saturday - Exodus 39 - Blessed Obedience

This chapter shows that the people made the priestly attire just as God had commanded back in Exodus 28. For the high priest, they made an ephod that must have been something like an apron. It was made out of a breathable linen fabric that was blue, purple and red... plus it had fine gold threads (wires) woven into it as well. There was also a matching belt which was used to hold it in place. Additionally, 2 onyx stones with the names of the 12 tribes (6 on each) were on the shoulders of the apron.

They made a matching rectangular 9 inch medallion with four rows of jewels in it. Each jewel was engraved with the name of one of the tribes of Israel. It was attached to the apron with gold chains and blue lace to keep it from swinging freely.

Underneath the apron was a blue robe which covered more than the apron did and was to be worn over a white tunic and white trousers. The robe was one piece with a single hole for the head of the priest (John 19:23).  The hem of the robe had golden bells and decorative pomegranates all around its border.  And, a white turban and cap with a gold crown completed the outfit for Aaron.

When everything had been made just like God had commanded, the people brought it all to Moses to show him the finished product.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Friday - Exodus 38 - The End of the Project

The building of the Tabernacle itself was completed in this chapter. Here is a summary of how things were wrapped up...

The horned altar for burnt offerings was constructed of wood and plated with brass. The surface area of the top of that altar was 7.5 ft.  It was 4.5 ft. tall.  The tools for the altar were all solid brass (pots, shovels, basins, flesh-hooks and fire-pans). The poles for carrying it were made of wood and plated with brass. There are 2 aspects of the construction of the altar that are a little hard to visualize: 1. the grate underneath the altar and 2. the hollow part of the altar.

Perhaps the grate was a decorative lattice that went around the altar running halfway down from the top like a skirt. It being hollow must allude to the fact that there was nothing underneath.

The large washbasin and its stand were made of solid brass. In fact, it was constructed from brass that came from the polished metal hand-mirrors that some of the devout Jewish women donated to the cause. For them to surrender such prized items would surely have been quite a sacrifice.

The fence or border or wall around the court of the tabernacle was constructed according to the directions recorded in Exodus 27. The total length of the border of the court was 450 feet.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Thursday - Exodus 37 - Inside the Tabernacle

In this chapter we have the record of the crafting of the golden furniture for the Tabernacle. The main structure was complete and so they proceeded immediately to prepare these things which were to go inside.

The mercy seat, the cherubim, the candlestick, the dishes for the table and the implements for the candles - these things were all made of pure gold... no alloys and no wooden structures underneath the gold. The rest of the items were made of shittim wood and were plated with gold just like the boards and the bars of the Tabernacle itself had been. The ark, the table, the incense altar and the poles that were used to carry those three items were all wooden on the inside and golden on the outside. It appears that the size, shape and weight of each item may have been the practical factor used in determining the construction differences.  Still, the wood hidden under all of that gold must have symbolic significance. Indeed, it is the life, death and practical necessity of THE TREE upon which the glorious beauty of eternal worship is based. We may not always have the cross in our view, but it is always there. Surely in eternity we will be reminded of what foundation undergirds the pleasures and extravagances of heaven. The cross may recede into the background to some extent... but it will always be there ... underneath all of the glory... supporting, maintaining and guaranteeing our blessedness in the presence of the Father forever.

Now, here are the items listed: The ark, the mercy seat, the crowned table for the bread, the dishes, spoons, bowls, and lids, the fancily florally decorated candlestick, the snuffers and snuff-dishes that went with the candlestick, the horned incense altar with its crown and finally the oil that would be used to sanctify all of these things.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Tuesday - Exodus 36 - Too Much Generosity

The people were excited.  In fact, they were so pumped up about the building program that they were in at the time that they kept coming every day to give more and more and more gifts. They gave so much stuff that Moses had to restrain the people by commandment to stop them from giving.  While I have seen some similar cases of generosity myself, I'm guessing that not many of God's leaders have had this problem.

So, once they had stopped the flow of freewill offerings, they focused on the making of the items that God had commanded. A talented team of workmen made the parts for the structure of the tabernacle under the direction of Bezaleel and Aholiab. The people did precisely what God had said for them to do (back in Exodus 26).  Here is what they made: 10 linen curtains, 11goat's hair curtains, 2 coverings for the tabernacle, one of red ram's skins and another of badger's skin, 48 wooden boards, 16 bars, 1 veil, 2 cherubim, 5 pillars and all of the various connectors that were to hold all of those pieces together and in place.

If you have ever been a part of a building program then you can imagine just how exhilarating it was for the people to see this thing come together. They had a common goal and purpose. They knew that God was in favor of it. They were unified.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Monday - Exodus 35 - The First Building Program Offering

We'll get to the building program in a moment, but the first thing to take note of in this chapter is yet another repetition of the 4th commandment. By my count this is the sixth time it has been covered specifically in Exodus (Exodus 116:26-30, 20: 8-11, 23:12, 31:15-17, 34:21 & 35:2).  Obviously it was intended to be the core outward expression of godly faith in that era. After all, the penalty for breaking it was death.

The emphasis on the willing hearts of the people is unmistakable in this passage. Exodus 35:5, 21, 22, 26 & 29 all speak conspicuously of the role of the willing heart in the donations which were to be made for the Tabernacle. If all you see in this chapter is a grocery list of the items which were given in order to construct the sanctuary, well, then you have missed the highlight of the text. We need to go further than the offering total. We need to see why the people gave (II Corinthians 9:7).

Not to imply that God didn't affect the hearts of all of these people... quite the contrary is true. Exodus 35:34-35 indicate plainly that God put abilities in these people; that HE filled them with wisdom and desire. No surprise of course...this section features the great mystery of God's wonderful sovereignty and the genuine prerogatives of men (Proverbs 16:9, Genesis 24:27, Jeremiah 10:23 & Psalm 37:23). Obviously these people's hearts couldn't have been so noble without God's influence (Jeremiah 17:9, Romans 3:11 & Psalm 51:10). We are always ill equipped, yet liable... and, He is always fully equipped and able ... hence the necessity of our reliance upon Him.