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.
That’s one of the things that i like about YHWH. It’s not all just about rules and regulations. It’s about utilizing all kinds of aspects of life. It’s about creativity and connecting the past, to the present, to the future. Worship is not just about sacrifices and burnt offerings. It’s also about bringing something before God that you are to consume in his presence. It’s about festivals and rest as well.
There are a number of festivals that are to be celebrated throughout the year; the Passover, Pentacost, the feast of weeks, the feast of booths, etc. They all have meanings and important interpretations. For instance, passover is a celebration of freedom from bondage and slavery under the Egyptians. It is a celebration of new life and hope. It is a celebration of freedom. Meanwhile, the feast of booths is a week long celebration in which the first day is a day of rest and the only work that can be done is the building of small booths made of the branches, boughs, and fronds of trees. It is a celebration as a reminder of the Israelite’s time in the wilderness where they had to rely on God for protection and provision. It is a time of blessing. The feast of booths begins and ends with a day of rest to the LORD. I mean honestly, how many religions do you know that celebrate rest?
Are we taking seriously what YHWH has done for us? Do we make it a point to remember and celebrate together the ways that He has brought health and healing to our lives? Do we remind one another and celebrate together His work and purpose in and through us? How can we do this more?
The priestly laws continue. It must be hard to be a priest in Biblical times. The rules and regulations you had to keep track of. Some of them are obvious of course… like if you touch something unclean you will remain unclean until evening. No leaper of the sons of Aaron may eat of the holy sacrifices, and while the family may eat, the married daughters may not eat unless she is divorced or widowed with no children and returns home to her father’s house. It just seems like the laws and rules never end, but they are there for a reason. An important reason. Because someone needed to represent the people to YHWH, and YHWH to the people.
So the priests were responsible for the sins of the people and their relationship with YHWH. They are the ones who placed their lives on the line day after day to make sure that the people’s sins were covered. They are the ones who had to do everything perfectly every day and every time. They had to teach the people the precepts of YHWH. It is their responsibility and their honor. YHWH is a holy and a jealous God. To serve Him day by day is an honor and a responsibility of a lifetime.
Do we take YHWH seriously, or do we just use Him as a rescue raft. Do we worship the Holy God, or do we demand assistance from a galactic servant. Do we pursue a relationship with Him in awe and wonder, or do we attempt to flippantly use Him for our advantage and advancement? We are the servants of the Most High. Maybe we need to start acting that way… if that’s alright with you.
Everyone is unclean at some point in their lives. Some of us just more so than others. So what do you do when you have an unclean people and a holy God who can not stand uncleanness in His presence? You don’t want their uncleanness to cause their destruction. So how do you separate their uncleanness from YHWH’s tabernacle?
Well, the simplest and easiest way would be to set down some ground rules. Set up some basic rules and expectations of ways to keep the uncleanness away from the presence of the one whose holiness would consume the one with the uncleanness. Once that uncleanness is dealt with and accounted for, that should allow life to go on as needed.
Do we recognize our need to separate our sin from His holiness? Do we attempt to pursue Him while still being consumed by our sins, or do we come to Him with a repentant heart? Do we acknowledge our uncleanness emitted through our actions as sins, and do we come to Him for forgiveness; or do we just excuse them as “flaws” that give us character and personality? What is our attitude about our uncleanness and the “emissions” in our lives?
We are coming to the end of the beginning. Israel is dying and Joseph is bringing his sons to Israel so that he can bless them. Israel does something unexpected. He tells Joseph that Joseph’s sons do not belong to him. Israel is taking Manasseh & Ephraim and claiming them as his own. Joseph can claim any others that come after them, but these two are his.
Then Israel goes to bless them. Joseph puts Manasseh (the elder) at Israel’s right hand, and Ephraim at Israel’s left. So Israel goes to bless them and he crosses his hands and places his right hand on Ephraim giving him the blessing of the elder while Manasseh gets the lesser blessing.
God does that sometimes. He sets up certain expectations and standards of His own actions and behaviors and of ours. Then He goes ahead and breaks those expectations as if they don’t really matter. Go figure, the God who sets the expectations can rearrange them as He sees fit. 🙂 God blesses / favors him who he wishes to bless / favor, and curses him who he wishes to curse.
Does that mean that we can do the same thing? I would say, absolutely positively, without a doubt, usually not. God puts his rules and expectations into place for specific reasons, they are important and when we ignore them it means trouble (…the rules serve the reasons). However, the purposes and reasons extend beyond the rules.
So when God chooses to bless His favored over the expectations of society and the individual, that is a choice He is free to make.