Friday, December 29, 2023

2023.12.29 Hopewell @Home ▫ Leviticus 22

Read Leviticus 22

Questions from the Scripture text: Who spoke to whom in Leviticus 22:1? To whom was he to speak (Leviticus 22:2)? From what were they to be separate? Why? In what condition could they come near (Leviticus 22:3)? Otherwise, what would be done to them? In what condition are the men described in Leviticus 22:4-5? How long will he be unclean (Leviticus 22:6)? What must he do, then? Then what may he do (Leviticus 22:7)? Why? What mustn’t he eat (Leviticus 22:8)? What does the keeping of these ordinances prevent (Leviticus 22:9)? What does YHWH do to them? Who may not eat of it, even if he is clean (Leviticus 22:10Leviticus 22:12)? But who may (Leviticus 22:11Leviticus 22:13)? What if someone does eat of it (Leviticus 22:14)? What is done to the offerings (Leviticus 22:15) or the priests (Leviticus 22:16) if these rules aren’t followed? Why? Who spoke to whom in Leviticus 22:17? To whom was he to speak (Leviticus 22:18)? And to whom else? Regarding what? What could be offered as a freewill offering (Leviticus 22:19)? What could not be? What other type of peace offering could be offered int his way (Leviticus 22:21)? What must never be offered (Leviticus 22:22, cf. Leviticus 21:18–20)? What exception could be made (Leviticus 22:23)? For only which type of offering? What else couldn’t be offered (Leviticus 22:24-25)? Who speaks to whom in Leviticus 22:26? What new regulation does Leviticus 22:27 add? And what can’t happen on the same day (Leviticus 22:28)? What previous regulation is tied to this (Leviticus 22:29-30, cf. Leviticus 7:11–18)? What summary does Leviticus 22:31 make of this? With what reason? What summary does Leviticus 22:32 make of the holiness code? With what reason? What had the Lord done to them (Leviticus 22:33)? In order to be Whom to them (cf. Exodus 20:2)?

What did the holiness code teach Israel? Leviticus 22 prepares us for the evening sermon on the Lord’s Day. In these thirty-three verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that the holiness code emphasized to Israel that the Lord had brought them not just out of Egypt but to Himself—that He had drawn near to them, and was giving to them to draw near to Him.

Holy priests must also be clean in order to come near, Leviticus 22:1–9Leviticus 22:9 reminds us that everything since chapter 10 has been occasioned by Nadab and Abihu’s demise and the need that it exposed (cf. Leviticus 10:8–11). Even as God has made the way of coming near Him, He has not compromised or diminished His holiness at all. 

Leviticus 22:1-3 teach that even that which is holy must come near only in a state of ceremonial cleanness. All worshipers must follow the cleanliness code of chapters 11–15, of which Leviticus 22:4-8 are a sample and a summary. How much more must it be followed by those who have been consecrated for their special duties in bringing the people of God near Him! So Leviticus 22:3 uses the language of excommunication—but here with respect to “My presence”—to describe deposing the priests from office. The language “My presence” implies again that discipline in the church on earth reflects spiritual reality that precedes it in heaven. 

The priest who is not following the Lord’s rules isn’t actually leading people into the Lord’s presence. This indicates the dreadful harm that comes by the so-called service on earth of someone who is supposed to be a servant who leads worship, but who is not biblically qualified. He leads people on earth, but they come near to God only in appearance. They do not actually, spiritually enter His presence. 

The unclean, unqualified worship leader corrupts the worship, and God refuses to permit the assembly that he leads to draw near to His presence. Perhaps the believing worshiper is still drawing near to God and knowing Him in heart. But the worship of the congregation as a whole does not actually draw near to God, so that the worship is a corporate self-deception. Such worship ought to expect to receive harm rather than benefit and curse rather than blessing. To whatever extent God does not do this, He is not showing that the worship or the worship leader is somehow acceptable. He is only showing how abundant his patience and forgiveness and mercy are.

Persistence of holiness, Leviticus 22:10-16. God communicates the persistence of holiness in what He consecrates to himself by the rules concerning who may eat what. Once the food has been consecrated, it belongs to the worship, to the holiness of drawing near to the Lord. It must not be fed to common people. 

Within these verses, also, the Lord gives us the doctrine of the household as the fundamental unit of the congregation, as well as an understanding of covenantal headship, and the benefits of those who come underneath the head. Whoever was a member of the priest’s household (not just a visitor or dweller in the house), came into the privileges of being under the covenant headship of the priest.

This is not instructive with reference only to the benefits and membership that we get in the visible church through our head who is on earth. It is also instructive with reference to those perfect and everlasting benefits that we get in the invisible church through our Head who is in heaven. The covenant household here is a pattern of the glorious Covenant Household where Christ is Head over innumerable multitudes.

We can see that God continues to deal with the visible church in this way in the New Testament by such things as household baptisms, and His referring to children of believers as “saints,” and to households of believers as a “church in the house,” and even by His calling the child of only a believing mother “holy” with an equal holiness as if his father was also a believer (cf. 1 Corinthians 7:14).

Maintaining the distinction of the holy from the commonLeviticus 22:17-30. In Leviticus 21:17–23, we learned about defects that were not defects in value or even consecration (n.b. Leviticus 21:22), but defects in the ability to serve in the tasks and purposes of the office of tabernacle priest. Now, in Leviticus 22:21–22, we see the same characteristics forbidden in the substitute that is selected as an offering (a “brought-near” thing). The brought-near thing is a stand-in for the worshiper. No man may draw near to the Lord by a substitute brought-near-thing that itself bears the image of not being suitable for service. 

In Leviticus 22:23, an exception is made not only for the animal, but for specific parts of the animal that will remain on earth as the worshiper’s portion (cf. Leviticus 7:15). That which is the Lord's portion must still be perfect, but in just the one case, the leg may be long or short. Whatever the animal, it must die entirely by the slaughter (and application of blood) that identifies it with the worshiper who is coming near by it. It cannot die in any of the ways described in Leviticus 22:24. So, there must be a wholeness to the holiness both of the condition of what comes near and of the way by which it comes near.

Leviticus 22:26-30. Continue to relate to the substitute ascending to heaven as representative of the worshiper himself. Leviticus 22:27 is related to circumcision; the substitute represents someone who is bound to the Lord in covenant, and must be at least eight days of age. Leviticus 22:28 emphasizes the new purpose the consecrated animal has; its old life is gone, including its old connections to either mother or child. When Leviticus 22:29-30 repeat stipulations from Leviticus 7:11–15 in this context, it helps us understand the rule about leaving nothing till morning (or the third day, as the case may be). Heavenly food eaten in the holy presence cannot be kept for earthly leftovers.

Summing upLeviticus 22:31-33Leviticus 22:31 ties off the entire section going back to Leviticus 10:11Leviticus 22:32 summarizes the section distinguishing “the holy from the unholy” (chapters 17–22). And Leviticus 22:33 goes all the way back to Exodus 20:2. The purpose of YHWH’s bringing them out of the land of Egypt was not so much to get them out of Egypt as it was to get the Egypt out of them. YHWH Who sanctifies them (Leviticus 22:32) saved them for the purpose of being their covenant God (Leviticus 22:33). Now, the Lord has both made a dwelling place among them and given them the way by which they could come near. He brings them near without compromising or relaxing His holiness even a little.

All of this emphasizes just how great is the gloriousness of Christ has tabernacle, Christ as priest, and Christ as substitute in Whom we are brought near. So the divine holiness of God and of Christ, as the One in whom we come near, also demands our consecration in our daily lives, to fit us for coming in the way that He has appointed us to do on earth. And the divine holiness of God and of Christ, as the One in Whom we come near, requires the perfecting of His sanctifying work in order for us finally to be actually admitted into glory in soul (at death) and in body (at the resurrection). 

We can even see here the necessity of the glorified body in the resurrection, for if we are coming near to God bodily in glory, then there must be no corruption whatsoever in us physically. For the corruptible cannot inherit the incorruptible (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:50). The incorruptible is not so much the new earth as it is God Himself, to Whom we will draw near in the new heavens and the new earth.

In Whom alone can you draw near to God? How should you live, if you will be coming near the Holy One in His public worship in six days or less? What are some sins that you are currently mortifying in order to live that way? What should you pursue, if your soul is to enter into God’s glorious presence upon death? How are you pursuing it? What sort of body will you have at the resurrection? What is the great(est?) reason for which it must be perfect and glorious?

Sample prayer:  Gracious God, we thank You for bringing us near Yourself in Jesus Christ. Grant that we would always live in such a way as to prepare for public worship on earth, as by grace we pursue the holiness without which we would not see the Lord. Make us to know You as our very own covenant God, and ourselves as Your very own covenant people, we ask through Christ, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP15 “Within Your Tent, Who Will Reside” or TPH165 “To Your Temple, I Repair”

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