LEVITICUS: from God to the people
In today’s devotional we are looking at the third book of the Bible, which is Leviticus. Leviticus gets its name from the Levites, a tribe of Israel that served as priests. It was their responsibility to represent the people to God and to represent God to the people.
The book of Leviticus describes how a sinful people could have dealings with a holy God. The book of Leviticus describes the various sacrifices and festivals the Israelites were to make and to observe in order to be forgiven for their sins and to give thanks to God for all he provided for them.
The offerings and sacrifices made by the Israelites differed in purpose from the sacrifices made by the pagan people around them. For the pagans, their offerings and sacrifices were given to manipulate their gods.
Some of the sacrifices involved giving grain or drink offerings to thank God for bountiful harvests. Offerings of repentance for sin involved killing animals where the life of the animal was required to pay for the sins of the people. In some cases, the persons giving the sacrifice would place their hands on the head of the sacrificial animals symbolically transferring their sin to the animals.
We can be very thankful that we do not have to keep all the decrees of the Levitical laws. Jesus fulfilled the law for us. In Matthew 5:17 Jesus said, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.”
Hebrews 10:12-25 describes Jesus’ fulfillment of the law further:
“But when this priest [Jesus] had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, and since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool. For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.
The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. First he says:
‘This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.’
Then he adds:
‘Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.’
And where these have been forgiven, sacrifice for sin is no longer necessary.”
The decrees of the Levitical law were a glimpse of what Jesus would do for us. He became the ultimate sacrifice to take away our sins and our guilt. As Christ died on the cross the curtain in the temple that separated the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place was torn in two permitting us access to the presence of God without the need for further sacrifices.
Hebrews 10:19-25 tells us then what we are to do now that we have direct access to God through Christ Jesus:
“Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God,
· let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, [this is how we are to approach God]
· having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience [this is what happens when we repent of our sins and are forgiven] and
· having our bodies washed with pure water [this refers to baptism and indicates that we are to be righteous in our physical lives as well as our spiritual lives].
· Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful [even in the midst of a pandemic and time of uncertainty we can have hope because we can trust our heavenly Father].
· And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds [our love and good deeds should encourage others to love and to do good deeds. The King James Version says we are to “provoke each other to love and good deed”s.]
· not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. [While we have had to meet together virtually at times, there is no substitute for the encouragement we get when we get together. One of the challenges of our present situation is figuring out how we can encourage each other when we have to stay apart.]
(I added the bullets for emphasis and the italics are my comments).
This week I challenge you to consider how you can be Levitical in representing God to the people in your life by the way you live and represent those people to God as you intercede for them in prayer.