Friday, August 04, 2023

2023.08.04 Hopewell @Home ▫ Leviticus 3

Read Leviticus 3

Questions from the Scripture text: What sort of brought-near thing does the apostle now deal with (Leviticus 3:1)? From where may he offer it (Leviticus 3:1Leviticus 3:6)? What is a difference between the peace offering and the ascension (Leviticus 3:1Leviticus 3:6, cf. Leviticus 1:3, Leviticus 1:10)? What is the same about it? Before Whom is it presented? What preparations are made in Leviticus 3:2? What, then, can be offered (Leviticus 3:3)? What is removed (Leviticus 3:3-4)?Who do what with it (Leviticus 3:5)? Upon what other “smokeified” thing is this peace offered? How is it perceived by Whom? What are the similarities if it is a lamb from the flock (Leviticus 3:6-8)? What fatty part did the lamb have that the cattle did not (Leviticus 3:9-11)? What are the similarities if it is a goat from the flock (Leviticus 3:12-13)? How is it different from the lamb (Leviticus 3:14-15)? What do Leviticus 3:11Leviticus 3:16 call the fatty parts what are smokeified on the altar? To Whom do these parts belong? Who (from where) could not eat these parts (Leviticus 3:17)? What else weren’t they permitted to eat?

What does a worshiper find in God’s presence, when he ascends there with his tribute? Leviticus 3 looks forward to the evening sermon on the coming Lord’s Day. In these seventeen verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that God brings worshipers near to enjoy the hospitality of His house as royalty. 

The peace. In the ascension (Leviticus 1:3–17), the worshiper has come near to Yahweh by ascending in a substitute that was turned into smoke. In the tribute (chapter 2), he has come with the King-assigned tribute in hand—being welcomed as a subject and demonstrating his gladness to be one. Now, in the peace (chapter 3), the worshiper finds that he is not only welcomed as a subject but as a royal guest. The “peace” is a table fellowship with YHWH. This chapter covers the “food” that is presented to the King, but in the companion passage in Leviticus 7:11–27 we see that the worshiper also is to eat of it. No one eats of the ascension; only the priests eat of the tribute; but, the worshiper himself eats of the peace! Peace, shalom, is far more than the elimination of hostilities. It is full blessing in the whole of the worshiper’s life by way of the whole commitment unto that blessing of all that YHWH Himself is.

Though the false idols of men in the ancient near east were thought to need to eat, the Scripture elsewhere strongly asserts that YHWH needs no food. The entire purpose of this meal is to welcome the worshiper into table fellowship with the King. He gives us a shared life with Himself that reaches a climax in Ephesians 2:13–14 which takes the “brought near” language, the “blood” language, and the “peace” language of Leviticus and announces, “But now in Christ Jesus, you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation.”

The portions. The worshiper identifies himself with the peace by the leaning/resting-upon/laying-hold-of ritual that we had seen in the ascension (Leviticus 3:2Leviticus 3:8Leviticus 3:13; cf. Leviticus 1:4). Then the offering is consecrated by the life of the worshiper, as the blood of the substitute is sprinkled all around on the altar (Leviticus 3:2Leviticus 3:8Leviticus 3:13). At that point, YHWH’s portion (Leviticus 3:16) is removed. The bulk of the chapter is devoted to detailing the various fatty parts that belong to Him, even though the three lists are the same, except for the lambs having a fatty tail that the cattle and goats do not. The purpose of this is clear from Leviticus 3:11Leviticus 3:16, which refer to the fatty parts as “food.” 

The King is served first at the royal table. Already, they were not permitted to eat blood, because the life is in the blood (Leviticus 3:17, cf. Genesis 9:4; Leviticus 17:10–14). The blood instead would be applied to consecrate the furnishings of the tabernacle, bringing the life of the worshiper via his substitute into contact with the presence of God as communicated by the furnishings of the tabernacle. Now, they are also not permitted to eat the fat, because the choicest part of the worshiper via his substitute are YHWH’s exclusive portion.

The participation. The specific word translated “sacrifice” throughout this passage (Leviticus 3:1Leviticus 3:3Leviticus 3:6Leviticus 3:9) shares a root with the word for “altar” throughout Hebrew Scripture that has cognates in sister languages meaning “meal.” How far we have come from the problem at the close of Exodus! Not only has the worshiper been brought near by ascending, but in YHWH’s presence the worshiper has found mutual recognition and identification in the tribute, and he is now being seated at the King’s own table. Indeed, though the King is served a first and exclusive portion, the worshiper will eat from the same sacrifice, the same meal! Though we don’t come to the actual eating until then, the participation is in view at the end of chapter 3. The table is literally now set for chapter 7. Having entered the King’s presence, the worshiper finds himself the object of the hospitality of the King’s table (cf. Deuteronomy 12:7; Psalm 23:5, Psalm 36:8, Psalm 65:4; Isaiah 25:6).

Having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. We have shalom with Him. We have that fellowship, that shared life, in which God gives all that He is in His life for all that we need in our life. This is the culmination of the Lord’s bringing us near!

What is the end/goal/purpose for which the Lord brings believers near in Christ? Have you been brought near? How are you enjoying that peace, that fellowship of shared life, with God in Christ? 

Sample prayer:  Lord, we thank You and praise You for Your mercy to us sinners. Thank You for bringing us near to Yourself. Thank You for openly acknowledging us as Your own. And thank You most of all for giving us peace with Yourself. Grant that Your Spirit would communicate to us the shared life that we have with You through Christ, AMEN!

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

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