We talked about the weight of being chosen and the wages as well. Now we look at the purpose. Aaron & his sons and the rest of the Levites were not chosen for the fun of it. They were given a reason, a purpose. This is where we begin to see that.
This is where we see the ordinance of the red heifer. The red heifer is meant to be a sacrifice, but not just any sacrifice. It is the sacrifice that cleanses the tabernacle. That is one of the primary roles and purposes of the priest. They are to offer the sacrifices and teach the people so that they can be purified and so that their sins can be covered. Their purpose is to serve YHWH, and to help the unclean to become clean before the LORD.
What happens when the unclean does not become clean… when the priest does not do his duty as he has been called by YHWH to do?
20 ‘But the man who is unclean and does not purify himself from uncleanness, that person shall be cut off from the midst of the assembly, because he has defiled the sanctuary of the LORD;
If the priest did not do his duty, the peoples sins were not covered, and they were forever separated from the assembly … the people … the congregation of YHWH. That’s quite the responsibility.
Aren’t you glad that there is both a perfect Sacrifice and a perfect Priest. One who cannot fail in his priestly duties because He is both the one who cleanses us, and the one who makes us clean. The one sent of YHWH to answer the perfect call with perfect purpose.
Thank you Jesus the Christ. The one prophesied to come, and the one to fulfill all of the prophesies. Now we too can have a purpose!
Rev. John Camiolo Jr.
Things are starting to come together. The end is nigh and the countdown is beginning. This chapter begins with the triumphal entry. Jesus enters Jerusalem for His / the final passover. The disciples find the colt as He predicts. He rides the colt into Jerusalem with the bystanders worshiping YHWH and giving Him adoration calling for Him to fulfill His mission as Messiah to save them and desiring Him to free them from Roman tyranny. However, as is the case quite often, our expectations of what YHWH should do, and what He does, are two different things. Even when we have the same message / prediction.
Christ comes in and begins the process of redemption and rescue from tyranny… He drives the money changers and the seats of those who were selling in the temple. Those who were turning His Father’s house into a den of thieves.
The next morning he was hungry and came upon a barren fig tree. It should have had fruit, but it didn’t. He cursed it, and it began to wither and die. This is a great analogy of the pharisees. They too are not bearing fruit to righteousness. As a result, they begin to wither and die as Christ sacrifices Himself to build the church.
The rest of this chapter is focused on this dynamic action – reaction of Jesus and the Pharisees. They challenge His authority wanting to know what right He has to teach preach, and do these things. Christ in turn He puts their actions and those of sinners into perspective. He shows that knowing the law and being sinless are two very different things, and He criticizes them for it.
Jesus continues with another parable about a landowner who builds a vineyard, rents it out to vine-dressers, and sends his servants out to collect the fruits of the vineyard. The vine-dressers instead beat the representatives and eventually kill the owner’s son. This is the final truth of their relationship. The pharisees will kill the landowner’s son, but the landowner will destroy the vine-dressers and redeem His people.
The relationship between Jesus and the pharisees is such a contrast. Jesus cares for the fruit of the vine, while most of the Pharisees care more about what they can get from the fruit than they do about caring for the fruit. They are killing the vineyard from the inside out, and they just didn’t seem to care. This dynamic seems to define and explain all that follows. It is the reason and purpose for all that follows.
This is a key turning point in Jesus ministry and the pharisees focus when it comes to Jesus.
Rev. John J. Camiolo Jr.
Most of the sacrifices previously mentioned have been for the individual. Whether it was a burnt offering, or a peace offering, or a wave offering, or a grain offering. Each person would bring their sacrifice to the tabernacle to cover their own sins or for themselves and their families. However, the day of atonement is different.
The day of atonement is very special in comparison to the other “daily” sacrifices. The day of atonement occurs once per year on the 10th day of the seventh month of the Jewish calendar. It is a time when all of the congregation of Israel was to get together at the tabernacle / temple for a special sacrifice for all. The day of atonement is about bringing cleansing to the high priest and his family; to the tabernacle, alter and tools of worship; and to the congregation of Israel as a whole. It’s about purifying and bringing all to right. It’s kind of like rebooting or restoring a computer. It cleans out the system and gives a fresh start.
This is very important over the succeeding centuries, and if it had been done and taken seriously as it should have been, it would have gone a long way to help prevent the corruption and downfall of the nations of Israel and Judah. Yet it didn’t.
This principle still applies today. While it is important for each individual to come to repentance before the LORD, and that seems to be a lost art. Even more so the repentance of the nation. How often do we take responsibility for the sins of the nation. How often do we come to YHWH in worship of Him and seeking not only forgiveness and healing for our own sins but for those of our nation. How often do we take responsibility for the decisions and direction of the nation. It is something that the leaders of the nation especially are to do, but that the people of the nation need to pursue and take accountability for as well. It is our nation and our responsibility.
Rev. John Camiolo
The second half of Leviticus 14 continues with the same theme only in a different direction. While the first half responds to cleansing for a person who has leprosy, the second half deals with “leprosy” (mold) in a house. In order to keep people healthy, and keep people in a healthy relationship with YHWH, the priest is responsible for responding to unclean environments. So when a home becomes unclean, or as YHWH says, “I put a mark of leprosy on a house in the land of your possession…” It is the priest’s responsibility for responding to the situation and getting to the bottom of the problem.
It’s amazing just how much the priest is responsible for. The priest acts as a priest, offering sacrifice to the LORD for the people. The priest’s job is also to teach the people the laws and precepts. He also acts as a physician diagnosing and treating some medical problems. They also deal with culinary questions. What is clean? What is healthy to eat? What is downright forbidden? And, now we see them diagnosing problems with a house and acting as an inspector and contractor who is responsible to get the appropriate people on the job to get the right work done. With all of this work to do; where does the priest’s job end? Being the man who is responsible for the relationship between men and YHWH, he has a whole lot more to do to cleanse the lives of the people than we give them credit for sometimes.
Leviticus 14 is another long chapter with almost 60 verses, but the subject matter is very important. Chapter 13 was about leprosy and how to discern leprosy from not leprosy. Meanwhile, this chapter is about cleansing. It’s about overcoming the problems and being able to return to health and life. It is about hope and the process of coming to cleansing. Leprosy was considered to be one of the more incurable diseases of the time. Once you had true leprosy, there was little hope of ever living a normal life again. It was generally a death sentence.
But this chapter brings hope. It brings the promise that a person can come out of it. This is a chapter of cleansing. In this chapter the priests and people are given instructions on what to do when a person is shown to be clean. What steps are necessary to allow them to return to the lives that they lost… their homes, their families. It is a promise that there are no true lost causes.
When i look and think about this, i think about those who have been consumed by drug and alcohol abuse. Those who lose their lives and purpose due to choices they have made over the years. There is hope. YHWH can bring cleansing and strength to those who need it. But it’s not limited only to drug and alcohol abuse. It is also for all other sins.
We are not without a way out. God can make a way. Not only can He, but He does time after time, day after day. No situation… no life is hopeless. We need simply to pursue Him. He is the one who brings cleansing.
It becomes the responsibility of Aaron and his sons to serve the LORD; to come between the people and YHWH; to bring the people, their requests, their need for cleansing to the LORD. As such Aaron and his sons needed to have one foot on the earth, and the other in the doorway to heaven. How do you balance the impurity and sin that is so prevalent in the world with the awesome purity and Holiness of God? Talk about a difficult task; yet that is what Aaron and his sons are charged with doing.
The first steps in fulfilling that role are described here. Before anything else, Aaron and his sons need to be separated from the group and cleansed both physically and spiritually. They are responsible for being representatives / ambassadors / spokesmen of men to God. Therefore in coming into God’s presence they must be as close to clean and pure as humanly possible. So in this process, Moses is responsible to follow YHWH’s instruction and purify Aaron and his sons.
Could you imagine having the responsibility of being the one that stands between man and YHWH? Every day you must perform your duties and bring the sacrifices and offerings of the people before Him. Thus the process of being set apart for God is extremely important.
One thing of interest that i did note, in these first 25 verses of Exodus 29, is that in verse 22 it talks about taking the fat from the ram and from all of these different parts, and then it says, “and the right thigh (for it is a ram of ordination)“. When i was looking at this, i thought it was kind of weird that it said to take the fat from the kidneys, and the fat from the entrails, and the fat tail, etc. and then randomly talked about the right thigh because it is a ram of ordination.
It does seem kind of strange, but not so much when you refer back to Genesis 32:24-32. This passage in Genesis is where Jacob, who had been blessed and set apart by God, wrestles with God. God touches his thigh socket and he has a limp from then on, and the sons of Jacob do not touch the sinew of the thigh of the meat that they eat. It is an interesting parallel. I don’t know beyond a doubt that this is what this is referring to, but it sure does give you pause to think.