Friday, November 24, 2023

2023.11.24 Hopewell @Home ▫ Leviticus 17

Read Leviticus 17

Questions from the Scripture text: To whom does YHWH speak (Leviticus 17:1) to address which three groups (Leviticus 17:2a) introducing  the statement in what way (verse 2b)? What three things might a man have killed (Leviticus 17:3)? In what two places? But failed to do what (Leviticus 17:4)? What will be the consequence? What will he have done? With what penalty? Where must the children of Israel carry out all such slaughterings (Leviticus 17:5)? To what with them (end of verse 5)? What must they do with the blood (Leviticus 17:6)? And with the fat? What had they otherwise been doing (Leviticus 17:7)? What entire categories of offerings are addressed now in Leviticus 17:8 (beyond just when the offered thing is an ox, lamb, or goat)? What might the offerer fail to do (Leviticus 17:9)? What shall be done with him? What two types of people does Leviticus 17:10 consider? What might they do? Who will do what two things to him? What do such rules teach about the blood (Leviticus 17:11)? For what purpose has the Lord given it to them? Therefore, whom does the Lord prohibit from what (Leviticus 17:12)? What two groups of people does Leviticus 17:13 consider? What incident does it consider? What two things must be done with the blood in that case? What has God designed blood to do (Leviticus 17:14)? What are they not to do with this life? What must be done to whomever eats it? What is the difference between the animal in Leviticus 17:15 and the other animals in this chapter? What two types of people might end up eating it? With what effect (cf. Leviticus 11:39–40)? What must such a person do? With what effect? What if he doesn’t (Leviticus 17:16)? 

What is the first part of Israel’s distinguishing the holy from the common? Leviticus 17 prepares us for the evening sermon on the Lord’s Day. In these sixteen verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that the first part of Israel’s distinguishing the holy from the common was to be their respect for the holiness of blood.

Back in Leviticus 10:9–11, the Lord had sought to guard the life of the priests so that they could teach Israel to distinguish between holy and common, and between clean and unclean. Chapters 11–15 had dealt with distinguishing between clean and unclean. Then, chapter 16 brought us back to chapter 10. Now, chapters 17–22 focus especially upon distinguishing between the holy and the common/profane. 

Continual reminder of the inability to draw near due to sin, and of God’s provision to overcome that inability. The Lord had provided various ways of coming near to Him by slaughter. The peace offering (end of Leviticus 17:5) was the culmination of the other offerings (sin/trespass, then ascension, then tribute). The slaughtering of animals for it now governs the slaughtering of animals as a whole. 

The Lord has provided a purpose for this slaughtering, and now He has provided the tabernacle a place for this purpose; so, now, Israel must not just slaughter in the open field (Leviticus 17:5). Apparently, being left to themselves about where to offer sacrifices had even led to them offering to some sort of goat figures, which Leviticus 17:7 of our version translates as “demons.” So, now, every time they kill or eat one of the “sacrifice” animals (Leviticus 17:3), they are to remember that in Israel, these animals especially communicate that God has brought His people near by way of peace (Leviticus 17:5), preceded by ascension (Leviticus 17:8). 

Over and over again, continually, the Israelite was to be reminded “I am a cut-off sinner, but God is my Savior.” The one who did not live in the light of that reality would, in fact, be cut off from the community of salvation (cf, Leviticus 17:4Leviticus 17:9Leviticus 17:10Leviticus 17:14). This may mean execution, as our translation’s margin note asserts. But excommunication suits the words and the context at least as well, if not better. The cutting off is at least as likely to refer to community, or even to inheritance (cf. Psalm 37:22), as it is to life itself. In either case, the penalty is dreadfully serious, particularly in Leviticus 17:10, where God Himself personally carries it out.

Life from the Lord alone. It was not just atonement for Israel that was sacred (Leviticus 17:11) but even life itself (Leviticus 17:14). For this reason, even eating that which is killed by hunting rather than slaughter, they were to be very careful not to eat or even touch the blood (Leviticus 17:13). They were not to ingest the animal in a way that looked to the animal for life, but only in a way that looked to the Lord for life and received the animal from the Lord as a nourishment like bread. Animals were to be their nourishment, not to be their life. The Lord was to be their life. 

This is a good reminder to modern man, who is tempted to substitute science for magic, but treats his food (or his medicine) not as nourishment that God has provided but as the very source of his life. Such an approach cuts God out of our thinking and relies upon our own efforts to derive life directly from the world around us. If we are unmindful of God, then we will not give Him glory or thanks, and we will end up worshiping created things rather than the Creator (cf. Romans 1:18–25). 

Death itself is defiling. The last two verses (Leviticus 17:15-16) repeat what was already established in Leviticus 11:39–40. Though that belonged to the teaching to distinguish between clean and unclean, there is a reminder here that it is the holiness of God that makes uncleanness such an abomination. The unclean is automatically common/profane and can never be holy. Particularly, that chapter had reminded us that death is always unclean. Death came into the world through sin, so death itself must be banished from the gracious presence of the God of life. Worship is not a place to bring that which is from the flesh, from the first Adam’s fall, from the sinner. It is a place to bring that life which God, by grace, has given even to sinners in Jesus Christ! We should remember this when we think about worship, and especially when we come to worship. Though the ceremonial code is abolished, yet believers do have within them that which is from the death of our flesh and that which is from the life of Christ’s Spirit. And it is only the latter that has a place in God’s worship. We must look to Christ, by His Spirit, to wash us clean of that which is fleshly, as we prepare to come into His presence.

What is the substitution that the Lord has provided for you? What is the life that the Lord has provided for you? With what attitude/mindset should you make use of things like food or medicine—or, really, anything else in the creation? What is an example of the type of thinking or feeling that comes from yourself, rather than from Christ, that you need to be careful to deal with by Christ, before coming to worship?

Sample prayer:  Lord, thank You for giving us life and breath and all things as our Creator. And, thank You, for providing for us, as our Redeemer, that atonement by Christ through which we may come near—and the application of that atonement to us by the work of Your Holy Spirit. Grant unto us to live in a continual rememberance of You, our Creator and Redeemer through Jesus Christ, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH426 “How Vast the Benefits Divine” 

No comments:

Post a Comment