Friday, July 14, 2023

2023.07.14 Hopewell @Home ▫ Leviticus 1:1–2

Read Leviticus 1:1–2

Questions from the Scripture text: Who calls in Leviticus 1:1? To whom? And what does He do when He calls? From where does He call? By what manner does He speak? What does He tell Moses to do to whom (Leviticus 1:2)? What might one of them bring near? To Whom? From where might the brought-near things be brought?

How can the dwelling place of God be a tent of meeting, if man cannot enter it? Leviticus 1:1–2 looks forward to the evening sermon on the coming Lord’s Day. In these two verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that God specifies who may come near, and how. 

YHWH breaks the silence. Exodus has detailed how YHWH has come to dwell with His people. But it has introduced a new problem. When the glory of YHWH filled the tabernacle, even Moses could not enter. And if Moses could not enter, then who could? So the book of Exodus concludes with us at an impasse. Eden has been reproduced in the desert—and that in mobile form. But, as with the previous Eden, currently they are shut out of the presence of God. This cannot be bridged or remediated from our end. 

What a great mercy that God does bridge and remediate the impasse for us. And He does so especially by His Word. Note the triple language of “called,” “spoke,” and “saying” in Leviticus 1:1. He calls to Moses from within (cf. Exodus 24:16) and gives him the way of drawing near.

The book of Leviticus will detail the regulations by which the people may approach the God Who has come to dwell among them. The first nine chapters detail the sacrifices and the priesthood/ordination, climaxing with Moses and Aaron being able to enter.

If we try to come to God in our own way, not only do we make the same dreadful mistake that will be made in Leviticus 10:1–3, but we also spurn the amazing goodness of God that He Himself has actually spoken to us the right way of coming. Marvelously, although the rituals and priesthood of the shadow times (cf. Hebrews 8:5, Hebrews 10:1) sufficed for this tabernacle, God would ultimately tabernacle in the Word Himself (John 1:14), Who would also be our priest for that tabernacling. How great is the mercy and provision of God that He breaks the silence and gives His way by His Word!

YHWH brings us near. The root for “near” appears four times in the Hebrew of Leviticus 1:2. Both instances of “bring” are actually a causative form of the verb for drawing near. And the word that is being translated offering is built on the same root. Translating it ultra-literally, Moses is to say, “When a man from among you causes to come near a brought-near-thing to YHWH, you shall cause to come near a brought-near-thing…”

We point this out, because Leviticus 1:2 is rich with drawing near to God. Here, the problem is that, now that God’s glorious presence in the midst of His people, drawing near was precisely the problem. But even in the language with which God begins to give the instructions, He makes clear that He is making a way that they can draw near while honoring God’s holiness.

Again, this will be the point in Leviticus 10:3, “By those who come near Me I must be regarded as holy.” The point of the five different types of sacrifice is that this is the way by which God’s people may come near. The point of the priesthood is that these are the people by whose ministry God’s people may come near. And to come near in any other way is to profane God Himself. Indeed, it is only to pretend to come near, because man cannot actually effect his own coming near to God. “Coming near” in our own way, therefore, disregards God’s marvelous provision in favor of a play-acting blasphemy.

Where can we learn the right way of coming near to God? What is the GREAT provision that He has made for our coming near? What are we doing if we try to come in some other way?

Sample prayer:  Lord, we thank You and praise You that You have made the way for us to draw near to You in Your Son, our Lord Jesus. And we thank You and praise You that You have told us about this in Your Word, even speaking to us the actions by which we come near through Jesus. Grant that we would draw near to You through Him in accordance with Your Word, and that we would come in no other way, we ask, in Jesus’s Name, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP73C “Yet Constantly I Am with You” or TPH73C “In Sweet Communion, Lord, with Thee”

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