Our world is replete with grocery markets, restaurants. What do the Levitical Dietary Laws have to do with us today?
Leviticus 11 “What’s for Dinner” is a question heard around the world! We all love to eat! Of course, we are speaking tongue in cheek here regarding that question because we are offered so many choices! It was not so near Mt. Sinai when God gave these dietary laws. The Lord spoke this chapter to Moses and Aaron that they might know His standards regarding what foods were clean and unclean as they lived their nomadic lifestyle. Now they were people of the book, people of Jehovah and were to be different and to follow these regulations as a separated people. They were not to be like the idolaters of the nations around them.
Remember James as he spoke to the dispersed believers? He did not mince words but told them that if they were friends with the world’s system that they were in enemies of God. That is why James hammered home their walk, talk, and their lifestyle. They must not mimic the world. Like Paul, he was saying they were to “come out from among them and be separate.” Thus Moses and Aaron are to teach the people these principles so they can be a holy separated people group. Thus God set a standard beginning with the most basic necessity—what foods were clean and what foods were unclean. There was essentially nothing wrong with those animals listed but the prohibition was to teach a symbolic lesson of what separateness means.
So the question is before us, do those around us see us as a different people group? In other words, when the world sees us what do they see? Does our life mimic the world or are we a people who choose God’s ways?
Leviticus 10 Do you excuse your or other’s sin? How does God feel about that when you do? The evidence is pretty clear. King Saul was told to wait for Samuel but did not. Cain knew the right sacrifice was a lamb but presumed a gift of vegetables was ok. Ananias and Sapphira presumed a white lie was ok. A “friend” was caught in adultery and when chastised said, “God will understand.”
Nadab and Abihu, sons of Aaron, are like those examples. They presumed that taking a short cut was ok. They took their fire pan, put fire into it; then set incense into it and went in to and presented strange fire before the Lord—“which he had NOT commanded them to do.” Immediately, fire went out from the presence of the Lord and consumed them so that they died before the Lord.”
Yes God understood all of those people. He understood that each presumed He would overlook their sin but learned all too late that the consequences for presuming is deadly.
Whereas we are quick to excuse sin, God does not. Take heed to King David’s words: “keep back Your servant from presumptuous or flagrant sins; Let them not rule over me; Then I will be blameless,”[Ps 19:13]
Do you feel like it never ends, sacrifices untold to get forgiveness of sin? Christ paid it all my friend! Stay tuned!
In the NT, James the brother of Jesus calls himself a bondservant. As he writes he is not only looking at his present circumstances but those of his flock who are scattered calling them to holiness. That calling began way back here in the book of Leviticus through the sacrificial system. Each day the priests were met with perhaps hundreds of people who inadvertently or actually sinned. The line outside the Tabernacle stretched “around the block” so to speak. The priests worked from dawn to dusk helping people to atone for their sins. Leviticus paints for us a graphic picture of the various sacrifices with one purpose: holiness before a Holy God is costly. It was hard, arduous and time-consuming and why Christ came as the completed atonement. Remember in Acts 15 when the church council was discussing how to handle problems? In the middle of this came a booming voice of Paul “Why are you putting God to the test by placing on the neck of the disciples a yoke that neither our ancestors nor we have been able to bear?”
The hymn writer got it right: Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe, Sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow. What the sacrificial system could not attain for sacrifices had to be offered over and over, Christ attained it once for all.
Has He cleansed you?
Leviticus 1 to 4 There is a little book on the market simply titled: Jesus Calling. As you read this little book you see evidence of a person mulling over what God is telling them to do. But, here in our new book of Leviticus, we find that God is the one calling and He calls for a purpose
- God called Moses at the burning bush to lead his people out of Egypt
- God called Moses from the top of Mt. Sinai to give him the Ten Commandments and now
- God calls Moses to instruct him in how to teach the priests about sacrificial offerings that were to be a sweet aroma to him.
Just as Moses was called to lead his people out we are called to lead people out of their sin and depravity. Solomon asked God for wisdom to lead the people and we are to ask God for wisdom in how to call people to Jesus. The words of Jesus to the disciples: be my witnesses unto the furthest part of the earth.
God called Moses and gave him the Ten Commandments. God called and empowered the early with His Holy Spirit.
Lastly, God called Moses to instruct him in teaching and James reminds us of the responsibility to be the wise instructors of His flock. Paul told Timothy to teach the word that will make a man holy. Preach it in season and out of season, be faithful to teach the Word of God.
The Book of Leviticus is our guide book to holiness according to God’s ways that we would be holy. It is up to us to hear God calling and then to listen carefully that we may teach others just as Paul told Timothy to do.
Where is God calling you?
Exodus 35-37 “When I am tested, I will come forth as gold”
Alchemy is the attempt to convert base metals into gold but God didn’t use base metals, He used the real thing to complete His Tabernacle. Thinking back to the trials the men/women faced in Egypt we can see that God used them to instruct his men/women in the skills that would be needed to build His dwelling place. From that trial came the jewelers, woodsmen, and women skilled in weaving. The people groaned under the pressure but God was forging His people in the fire of that trial. Often we cannot see or understand that God is turning our trial into the precious gold to be used for His kingdom work. Trust God, He is doing just that and why you need to do, as I have to do, count it all joy when you encounter trials.
Among the released slaves was a man by the name of Bezalel, son of Uri, son of Hur of the tribe of Judah. God chose him as His architect with a vision to build God’s “palace.” He was not just an architect but he was an artist extraordinaire. Imagine being given this task to build this Tabernacle that would envision heaven on earth in all of its glory. In addition, God skilled others to assist him; jewelers who took the pure gold and pure silver to cover the boards that they would gleam in the sunlight. There were others who were craftsmen with wood. It was God that gave these men and women the ability and the intelligence along with the vision.
How beautiful are the men and women who are skilled to fulfill God’s work! You may be God’s Bezalel or Oholiab and He has been forging you in the fire to accomplish His beautiful work.
Stop and think what skill God has given to you and are you using it for His glory? “
But he knows the pathway that I take; if he tested me, I would come forth like gold. [Job 23:10]
Photo credit: Christopher Campbell/ unsplash + author caption
Exodus 28 Do you feel called to ministry? Do you feel like God wants you to teach? If so, remember that ‘not many of you should become teachers …because we will be judged more strictly.”
God takes seriously those who are called to ministry. James, the bondservant of Jesus, felt this way too because as he notes: we all stumble in many ways. Therefore, God spoke to Moses about Aaron and those who would be a part of the priesthood as well as those chosen to prepare them for ministry. God filled them with the spirit of wisdom that they might fulfill their duties.
Are we asking God to fill the men/women who will preach, teach and pray with His wisdom?
Secondly, God said Aaron would carry the names of the Israelites on his shoulders as he ministered that he might remember that. Because we are now a kingdom of priests this also applies to us.
Are we holding up the names of those are in need of our prayers?
Now that we are anointed with the power of the Holy Spirit we no longer are in need of costly garments but we are
in need of holiness. Aaron’s headpiece was labeled “Holiness to the Lord” and that should be our headpiece as well.
May God bless those who are called, those who are the chosen. Pray without ceasing those who are over you that they be holy as unto the Lord.
What is your challenge from this reading?
We often relegate children to the childrens’ table. Imagine what it must have been like to sit at the Lord’s “Children’s Table”
As amazing as it seems to be, God allowed His glory to be seen by 74 men who would lead Israel. Imagine sitting down to a meal on the side of a mountain hosted by the Lord God Almighty! What a feast it must have been. As they sat or reclined as they did often, they looked above and they saw the feet of God and a pavement made of sapphire, clear as the sky itself. Yet in all of that God’s glory did not destroy them but in fact, they saw God, ate and drank with Him. This reminds us of the time when Jesus took the bread and the wine and shared it with the disciples at the Last Supper.
What it must have been like to see God in all of His holiness—even if was just His feet! Jesus washed the disciples’ feet; God fed the men and revealed His feet. Philip in his address to Jesus said: “show us the Father and we will be satisfied!” Yet Jesus said in return: “The person who has seen me has seen the Father!”
Although we have not literally seen Jesus we have seen Him in our own transformed life “for he is the radiance of his glory and the representation of his essence.” Peter reminded his readers: “You have not seen him but you love him. You do not see him now but you believe in him, and so you rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy.” If you have experienced Jesus in all of His glory you have “seen” the Father as well.
Have you fed at the Lord’s Table today?
Exodus 11 to 13 As we have watched, there were two camps of people in Egypt; those who believed and obeyed as in the hail plague. God’s mercy was showered upon those who obeyed because they took their animals and families in and were spared.
God’s mercy overshadowed all that we have seen and now see in the 10th plague. Pharaoh’s heart remained hard but the Egyptians hearts were softened because of God’s doing. Pharaoh had no respect for Moses yet Pharaoh’s servants had respect.
God desired that Pharaoh and the Egyptians soften their hearts and turn to Him because He does not delight in the death of the wicked. Instead, He is long-suffering giving them many opportunities to turn to Him and not perish. [Ez 18:23 & Ezek 33:8; 2Peter 3 ] God offers the way to salvation but if men continually reject His mercy His plan will be executed. [Is 55:8]
God’s mercy led the Israelites out from the hardened Pharaoh and away from the land of the warring Philistines. He covered them with a cloud from the searing heat of the sun by day and the pillar of fire by night to keep them warm.
Truly God demonstrates His mercy to all yet each man is responsible for his attitude and response.
Where are you?
Exodus 8-10 You have heard of stories where a person is in a crisis and they plead with God and offer to obey Him forever after. However, like Pharaoh, we have short memories and usually, after the crisis we find ourselves doing another lap around that same crisis! Pharaoh is no different! Pharaoh stated emphatically: “Who is the LORD that I should obey him…” And he began to bargain with God. Sounds like a challenge we hear agnostics and atheists say today.
The Israelites too at first were enamored that soon they would be free from their slavery but when Pharaoh told them to make bricks with no straw their belief waned. How like us! Instead of seeing this as an opportunity to count it all joy, as James says, they fell into the deadly d trap of discouragement. But God is God. He will reveal Himself to the Egyptians that they may know that these doings are “the finger of God.” And to the Israelites, He will give them a story of His power for the next generation.
Many centuries later the psalmist wrote similar words “we will tell the next generation about the LORD’s praiseworthy acts; about his strength and the amazing things He has done.” [Ps 78]
So what is the point of all the plagues? Why didn’t God just send one catastrophic plague and release His people? It was so that the testing of the Israelites faith would produce endurance for the journey to the Promised Land. Secondly, they needed a fresh faith of God’s presence and power. Thirdly, these plagues would reveal to the world the foolishness of idolatry.
So where is God testing your faith? Will you endure to the end that you might hear “well-done thou good and faithful servant.” OR are you like Pharaoh just doing one lap after another because you refuse to humble yourself?
Exodus 5 -7 “It’s All Your Fault!” God! How often do we echo those words of Moses to God when, after being obedient, there is still no change in the circumstances? How often do we also echo what Moses says: “if the Israelites did not listen to me, then how will Pharaoh listen to me since I am of uncircumcised lips.” Isaiah said much the same: “My lips are contaminated by sin.” Without God’s intervention, we are in this condition and why we need the cleansing power of the Holy Spirit which comes to us with a burning coal or the burning bush or the flaming tongues of fire as in Acts.
God uses fire as a remedy for the purification of our sin just like controlled burns cleanse the land of that which is combustible. Without each, our sins remain and the combustible trash of the forest is fodder for a raging fire.
Moses had to return figuratively to the burning bush for cleansing when impetuously he whined: “It is all your fault, God! Why did you send me? You have not rescued them!” Thankfully God did not strike him dead on the spot like He did Ananias and Sapphira! Instead, God was gracious and patient and He is the same to you and me! Moses needed more instruction so God graciously said: “now you will see…”
We may not understand but one lesson we can apply is from Habakkuk: I will stand still and see what the Lord will do.