After having gone through the book of Leviticus chapter by chapter, i see this book much as i did before. It is YHWH’s rules and regulation for the nation of Israel. It is a defining of His covenant with them. God both issues directives to obey the rules and promises to help and allow the people to obey and prosper.
Leviticus is an important book in that it sets the tone and direction for the expectations for the nation of Israel. It is the measuring rod by which the actions and motive of the nation are defined. Without Leviticus, there is no understanding of YHWH’s interactions with the nation of Israel. Without understanding that there are rules and what the rules are, we have no ground by which to judge the sin or righteousness of man. As such, we have no foundation for understanding sin and the need for salvation and a savior. While rules and laws may seem constricting and confining at times, they are actually more boundaries that when understood and followed allow us freedom to live happy, healthy, and satisfying lives without fear and stress of the aftereffects of our actions.
I really like C.S. Lewis’ quote from The Pilgrim’s Regress “When everything you eat is more or less poison, you need very strict rules to stay healthy” (rough quote). The point is that when sin abounds in the world, understanding where the rules and limitations are gives you the freedom to live life within those limitations and without fear of their destruction.
That is the beauty of Leviticus, or that should have been the beauty of Leviticus for the Israelite people.
Rev. John J. Camiolo Jr.
In the New Testament there is a listing(s) of spiritual gifts. Gifts given to the people of the body of Christ in order to strengthen the body and to help the people do the work of ministry. There are people who debate about how many “gifts” are actually represented in the list(s) and what it all means. It can be an interesting conversation sometimes trying to process through the information, but the conversation of the gifts of Spirit will oftentimes come back to the Old Testament. To Exodus 31. Why? “See, I have called by name Bezalel, the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. I have filled him with the Spirit of God in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all kinds of craftsmanship, to make artistic designs for work in gold, in silver, and in bronze, and in the cutting of stones for settings, and in the carving of wood, that he may work in all kinds of craftsmanship.” Suddenly, there is a whole new discussion. Are there “gifts” of the Spirit that we don’t even know about? YHWH gave this man and others gifts to be able to do the work of building the tabernacle and all that was to be in it. They were given gifts of the Spirit for the building up of the people and the work of service, yet craftsmanship is not listed in the New Testament gifts. It certainly gives you pause to think.
I would so love to see the work that was done by these people. I can only imagine the beauty and craftsmanship of their work. To see the alter and the tabernacle. To smell the incense and the sacrifice. To hear the sounds of the work and the worship. What beauty. But, it is not a privilege that i will have on this side of eternity.
The other key aspect of this chapter is its focus on the Sabbath. Six days are for work, and one for rest. God takes that command very seriously, even when we don’t. We know that we should be taking a day of rest, but how often do we truly take a Sabbath? Aren’t we working around the house, or in the yard, or preparing for work, or some other “important” task. I know that many times i’m teaching a class on Sunday mornings. Monday through Friday i’m teaching college level psychology in the high-school. Wednesday through Saturday i’m working with boys and young men who have low IQ’s and behavioral problems. Add to that the time spent working around the house, and that i am working on this project almost every day, and it all adds up to working 7 days a week almost every day of the year. I know i’m not the only one who does this kind of thing. So if God’s word is so important, and He takes the Sabbath so seriously, why don’t we?
As i began reading this chapter i began thinking about the purpose of the priestly garments and the relationship between man and God. The question popped into my mind, “Does God need the priest to be dressed in special visually attractive garments? Are these garments related to giving honor and glory to YHWH because He IS God, or are they aesthetically pleasing and more serve the purpose of giving the Israelites an identity of worship to YHWH? Is it that elegant clothing somehow draws YHWH to the priests and His people more than plain clothing would?… I know, to some extent that sounds silly… Is it about giving YHWH glory and honor by bringing only the best into His presence? …like somehow He NEEDS that? Or; is it like when God spoke aloud honored Christ before the disciples not for Christ’s sake, but for theirs? Does this relate to God’s need for honor or glory, or the people’s need to be able to honor and glorify him through beautiful worship and sacrifice?
I thought it was a really interesting question and i really liked the direction that the question was leading. It’s a question that was definitely worth pursuing even if i already had a good idea as to the answer. Then i hit the end of verse two, and in all honesty i felt a little gipped. There was the answer sitting right in front of me; “for glory AND for beauty”. My reaction was, “Awe come on! You’re just going to GIVE me the answer! That’s no fun!” I figured that the answer was probably going to somehow be both, but it’s just so much fun to process through. At least i got to do it here.
The other thing i wanted to note really quickly is that the robes; the priestly garments seem to be given the same attention to detail and significance as the temple building itself. It started to get me thinking about the parallels between the temple as the outward covering of the Glory of God, and the priestly garments as an outward covering bringing glory to the priest.
Well, that’s all for now!
The tabernacle of the LORD was a beautiful thing. I would have so loved to have seen it. Exodus 26 is all about God describing to Moses the plans and process for building this traveling tent of His. It describes the pillars overlaid with gold, the fine linen walls, the scarlet draperies, the goat skin tent covering the tabernacle, and the curtain that separates the holy place from the Holy of Holies. I can only imagine what it would be like come to the tabernacle. To come to the alter. To enter the holy place. To look into the Holy of Holies.
Of course i know that even if i were somehow transported to that time and place, i could never go there. I am not a jew, i am a gentile. So the closest i would be able to come would be to see it taken down and put up from a distance, or to see its splendor and beauty from the outside. Even as an Israelite, you still wouldn’t be able to look into the Holy of Holies. If you could see inside the tabernacle there was a great curtain between the holy place and the Holy of Holies. Only the high priest could enter and only 1x per year. That great curtain was both a blockade and a protection. It prevented people from casually entering and being consumed due to their sin and lack of godliness.
The wonderful thing is though, that we don’t need to. When Christ died on the cross the curtain was torn from top to bottom. His sacrifice removed that barrier that prevented us from being able to relate directly to the God that created us. Through Christ’s blood we are redeemed and cleansed. We can have a relationship directly with God. There is no need for a high priest. There isn’t even a need for an ordinary every day priest. There is God and there is us. Through Christ’s cleansing blood we are able to speak with YHWH with no curtain in the way. Don’t you want that too?
I am not a Greek, Aramaic, or Hebrew expert. I wish that i was, and someday i may become those, but today is not one of them. The nice thing is though that i have studied under people who are, and i have learned a great deal as a result.
One of the principles that i have learned from and really grasped into my life is a better understanding of this concept of “You shall”: “You shall have no other gods before me.” “You shall not make for yourself an idol…” “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God (YHWH-Elohim) in vain.” When you read those words, “You shall”, what does it mean to you? Chances are, if you are like most people, you see “You shall” as a command. It begins the 10 commandments and it is God telling us that we have to do something. While that is not incorrect, neither is that an accurate understanding.
This is one of those easily misunderstood things that once you have a grasp of it, can change your whole outlook on something. The words “You shall have” here is יהיה (hâyâh). Strong’s concordance says, “…to exist, that is, be or become, come to pass…”. So what does that mean for us? It means that this is not simply a command; it is a promise. This WILL come to pass! It is something that we are to do, but when we pursue and surrender to God, this is also a promise to/for us. So this promise is not just “Don’t have any other god’s before me!” It’s also, “Don’t worry, you won’t have any other gods before me.”
Isn’t that beautiful! It’s not only the 10 commands, but it’s also the 10 promises! That’s what our relationship is like with God. Yes, He gives us commands to follow! Yes, we have rules we have to obey; but as time goes by and we pursue Him, these are things that He promises us will no longer be rules and regulations, they will also be a part of who we are. They go from external instruction to internal drives and motivation. We have a promise! …that this is who we are to become! …and i love it!
There are still many times that i struggle and sin. There are still times that i mess up, screw up, and fail. I have struggled with the concept of repentance, and i need God’s help to get to that place. Part of these big 10 promises is learning to accept and acknowledge that we fail and we sin. Understand, i am not some expert in this. I am just as messed up and flawed in this as so many others. I need to repent of my sins and stand on these promises as who i am in the process of becoming. I need the prayer and help.
Rev. John J. Camiolo Jr.
If chapter 1 was all about beauty, poetry, structure, and order, then overall chapter 2 is about amazement.
First off, i honestly think that the first three verses of ch. 2 belong at the end of ch. 1. The first three verses are the day of rest, and they belong at the end of the poetic structure of chapter 1. And, since the chapter and verse numberings were added much, much later than the original scriptures were given to Moses to be written, they are much more recommendations than decisive and definitive lines in the sand.
I call chapter 2 Amazement because of God’s work in this chapter. He turns around, takes the very dirt / ground / earth of His creation and forms something completely different from it. Like a sculptor creating from the clay. Only He doesn’t stop there! He breaths His own breath / life into this sculpture! He forms this thing, then whooooshhhh! It’s alive! It’s a creation who’s very life comes from the very breath of its creator! If that’s not amazing, then i don’t know what is.
But it does not end there. Man is created in God’s image, and it seems almost immediately that God recognizes that he needs more than just himself. In fact, he needs more than just himself and God! If that’s not enough to blow your mind, than maybe you’re just not catching it. So lets look at that again. The absolutely perfect and complete creator, created something in His own image, with His own breath, that needs something more than Him! So what does he do? He brings the beasts and birds to the man and the man names them. Still not enough (i tell ya, some people are just never satisfied 😛 )!
So what does God do? He solves the problem. He takes from the man a rib / part / side, and uses that to create what the man needs! Wow, i mean WOW! What’s man’s response? Pure poetry. “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; (i was smiling hugely while copying that down in my notebook). Then, joy of joys, the reuniting of what was torn asunder. I think that this truly is the most beautiful and amazing ending to such an amazing chapter. “And the man and his wife were both naked, and were not ashamed”… enough said 😀
Wow, that took longer than i anticipated. I had figured on average 1 hour for each chapter, with the first chapter of Genesis being a shorter one, partially due to my knowing it so well. That was not really the case. 80-90 minutes later, and i am short on time.
Overall that was a good experience and a good start. I had some fun with this chapter. It is one of my favorite chapters in the Bible, along with chapters like Psalm 23 & 119, John 1 & 3, I Corinthians 13-14, Ephesians 6, etc. I love the way that Genesis 1 is setup. It is very poetic and structured. You have an introduction and 6 days represented, but the first three days parallel the second three. So you end up with a structure that looks like this
Day 1 –> Day 4
Day 2 –> Day 5
Day 3 –> Day 6
So that is how i set it up in my personal copy. After the introduction i divided the page and put the sections parallel, so they matched up.
I love this structure too because it seems as though every new day relies on what was created the days before. Without light and heat, the water is nothing but cold and ice. Without the light, heat, and water, the land is a dry desolate wasteland. Without the land and plants, the light has no purpose and no direction. So on, and so forth.
There is so much more i want to add, but i’m out of time for now. See you all tomorrow, and blessings in the new year!