Who Was the High Priest to Marry? But, Who Did Jesus Marry?

TODAY’S READING: LEVITICUS 19-21

A significant emphasis in these three chapters is holiness. In Leviticus 19:2, God told Moses to tell Israel, “You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy.” The word holy is found 16 times. So, these chapters give a picture of what holiness before the Lord looks like.

While the words clean and unclean rarely appear in these three chapters, they are a significant focus of Leviticus. The issue of holiness is related to what is clean and unclean. Israel was not to bring anything unclean before the Lord so that Israel could be holy, set apart from all other nations.

Israel took the command to be holy to mean that they should have no contact with any person that was unclean. Israel believed that to be holy as a nation meant that every person who was unclean should not have access to God. And, in the most extreme cases, the person that was unclean should be stoned to death so that their blood would be upon them, which of course would permanently bar them from the presence of God.

Yes, there were certain things that Israel, and us today, should not do because God doesn’t do them. We are to be holy as God is holy. If Israel did those things, then Israel wouldn’t be separate from the nations of the world. Therefore, they would not be holy as God is holy. But, what does it look like to be holy as God is holy?

That question can only be answered when we read these three chapters through the lens of Jesus. It is then, and only then, we can know what it means to be holy as God is holy. In Jesus, we see what it means to be clean or unclean. In Jesus, we see how one that is holy, the Holy One of Israel, interacts with all that is unholy, which includes every person ever born.

THE HIGH PRIEST’S BRIDE

A wonderful example of being holy as God is holy in found in Jesus, the Holy One of Israel, and who he would marry.

In Leviticus 21, we read the commands for who “the priest who is chief among his brothers” could marry. This priest was the high priest. And, according to Hebrews, Jesus is a our high priest.

The command for the who the high priest could marry is found in Leviticus 21:13-15. It says, “And he shall take a wife in her virginity. A widow, or a divorced woman, or a woman who has been defiled, or a prostitute, these he shall not marry. But he shall take as his wife a virgin of his own people, that he may not profane his offspring among his people, for I am the Lord who sanctifies him.” Israel believe that the high priest should only marry a virgin from her own people. The bride of the high priest should be clean, pure, unblemished, undefiled, etc.

But, is that who Jesus married? Does that describe the woman that Jesus married?

Not at all!

JESUS MARRIED A WIDOW

Throughout the Bible, Israel is pictured as God’s bride. God, the Word of God, Jesus, was made flesh and dwelt, literally tabernacled, among Israel. But, Jesus died. God died. It was as if Israel had become a widow.

Romans 7:1-4 says, “Or do you not know, brothers – for I am speaking to those who know the law – that the law is binding on a person only as long as he lives? For a married woman is bound by the law to her husband while he lives, but if her husband dies she is released from the law of marriage. Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But, if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she marries another she is not an adulteress. Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit to God.”

Jesus died and Israel was released from the law of marriage. Israel had become a widow. Therefore, Israel was free to marry another. The one Israel was to marry was the one who had been raised from the dead – Jesus.

Instead of viewing the widow as unclean, unholy, and unfit for marriage, Jesus in several instances reveals his attitude towards the widow. Jesus speaks favorably of the widow who offered two mites, everything that she had. And, Jesus raised from the dead the son of the widow of Nain.

Jesus, the high priest, married a widow in direct contradiction to Leviticus 21.

JESUS MARRIED A DIVORCED WOMAN

That nation of Israel was broken into two kingdoms, Israel and Judah. Did you know that God divorced Israel? Jeremiah 3:8 says, “She saw that for all the adulteries of that faithless one, Israel, I had sent her away with a decree of divorce.” God divorced Israel.

However, in John 4, Jesus meets a woman at a well. This woman was a Samaritan. The Samaritans were of the ten tribes God split off into the kingdom of Israel whom he divorced. So, the woman Jesus meets at the well is a picture of the divorced woman.

Jesus said to the woman, “Go, call your husband, and come here.”

The woman responded, “I have no husband.”

Jesus said to the woman, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband.”

Apparently, the Samaritan woman had been divorced five times. She was now living with a six man. But, at the well, the well where this is living water, eternal life, she meets a seventh man. Seven is the number of perfection, completion, and rest. At the well, the Samaritan woman, the divorced woman, met her perfect husband. From this husband she received eternal life.

Jesus, the high priest, married a divorced woman in direct contradiction to Leviticus 21.

JESUS MARRIED A DEFILED WOMAN

In Leviticus, we read that a woman who was menstruating, shedding blood, was unclean and could not enter the sanctuary or tabernacle. A woman who was shedding blood could not come into the presence of God and worship.

However, in Luke 8:42-48 we read of the woman who had an issue of blood and how Jesus responded to her. The woman had a discharge of blood. Therefore, she was unclean. No one would be allowed to have contact with her or else they would be unclean too.

In the Bible, the number 12 often symbolizes God’s power and authority. This woman’s discharge of blood had lasted 12 years. In other words, this woman was so unclean, so defiled, that she had been completely cut off from God’s power and authority. This woman had spent all she had to be healed, to be made clean, but nothing worked. Nothing could cleanse her. Nothing could make her undefiled.

So the woman went to Jesus in the midst of a crowd and touched the hem of his garment. Immediately, her discharge of blood ceased. Jesus asked who touched him, and the disciples wondered how Jesus could even ask that question since they were in such a large crowd. But, Jesus said, “Someone touched me, for I perceive that power has gone out from me.” This woman who had been completely cut off from God’s power went to Jesus, the Word of God who tabernacled among Israel, and received God’s power to heal her.

Jesus didn’t tell this woman she wasn’t allowed to touch him, that she wasn’t allowed near the tabernacle. No, he received this woman and acknowledged her faith. Jesus said, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.”

Jesus, the high priest, married a defiled woman in direct contradiction to Leviticus 21.

JESUS MARRIED A PROSTITUTE

In Luke 7:36-50, Jesus was having dinner at the house of one of the Pharisees. Into the house came a woman of the city, who was a sinner. In other words, the woman was a prostitute. This woman knelt behind Jesus at his feet, began weeping, wetting Jesus’ feet with her tears, wiped Jesus’ feet with her hair, kissed his feet, and anointed his feet with an expensive ointment. A prostitute, an unclean woman, had come to Jesus, the tabernacle, to worship.

The Pharisee, who had invited Jesus to dinner, was appalled. He said to everyone at the dinner, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.”

But, Jesus lays out the truth for this Pharisee. Jesus responded, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; and you gave me no water for my feet, but she was wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven – for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.”

Jesus then told the prostitute, “Your sins are forgiven. Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

Jesus, the high priest, married a prostitute in direct contradiction to Leviticus 21.

JESUS PRESENTS HIS BRIDE HOLY

We tend to think that salvation is a work of God and then we need to work to make ourselves clean, holy, sanctified. But, the work of holiness, of sanctification, is just as much a work of God as the work of salvation. In Leviticus 19-21, the Lord repeatedly says that he is the one who separates us, he is the one who makes us holy, he is the one who sanctifies us. It is not our work but his.

Therefore, in direct contradiction to who Israel believed the high priest should marry, Jesus marries the widow, the divorced woman, the defiled woman, the prostitute. Jesus and these women come together while the women are in their unclean, unholy, and unsanctified states.

But, what does Jesus do for these women who have become his bride? What does Jesus do for us who have become his bride?

Ephesians 5:25-27 says, “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.”

Jesus takes us, who are unclean, defiled, not worthy to enter the tabernacle and worship, and marries us. He brings us to himself. And, then he washes us with his word, he cleanses us, he removes every spot and wrinkle, so that we can be holy and without blemish. We don’t do this to ourselves first and then come to Jesus already holy. No, we come to Jesus, the high priest, as the woman Israel believed the high priest shouldn’t marry. And, Jesus, our high priest, makes us the bride that he desired.

So, through these women, Jesus shows us how we are to treat those that are unclean, unholy, and unsanctified. We aren’t to stone them to death, permanently barring them from the presence and worship of God. Instead, we are to bring them in to the presence of Jesus to be cleansed by him.

Food and Clothing; Christ in You and You in Christ

Two of the great themes that run through the Bible from beginning to end are food and clothing.

The first instruction God gives directly to man is to be careful what he eats. Man can eat from any tree of God’s garden, including the tree of life, but man should not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

God created man naked, even though man was not aware of this until he ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Man then tried to clothe himself with leaves. Man attempted to cover himself with that which had revealed he was uncovered. God stepped in and clothed man with the skin of an animal.

The Bible closes with a wedding feast, the wedding feast that God gave man access to in the beginning before man rejected it for one piece of fruit from a single tree.

At that wedding feast is a bride, the bride of Christ. She is no longer naked but adorned for her husband, having the glory of God, her radiance like a most rare jewel.

In between the first few chapters of Genesis and the last few chapters of Revelation, the themes of food and clothing are seen over and over, each time from a different vantage point. While Israel wandered in the wilderness for 40 years, God fed her daily with manna from heaven and her clothes never wore out. And, Paul says godliness with contentment is great gain. For, if we have food and clothing, then with these we will be content (notice he never even mentioned a home).

But, these themes of food and clothing are meaningless, unintelligible, without Jesus Christ. He, and he alone, provides the substance and the meaning to these two great metaphors of food and clothing.

Jesus says, “Abide in me and I in you.”

Jesus says, “Whoever abides in me and I in him.”

Jesus says, “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you.”

Do you see who is in the center of those three statements? Jesus!

Jesus is at the center of life, of abiding. He has the place of preeminence.

But, look again at how Jesus expounds on abiding.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit.

Vine → Branches → Fruit

Jesus is the vine. You are the branches.

Who is the fruit? The Holy Spirit. The Spirit of Christ.

Vine → Branches → Fruit

Christ In → You → In Christ

The vine feeds the branches with its sap, its life. Christ in you is the epitome, the fullness, the truth of the theme of food that runs through the Bible. For this grand theme of Christ in you, we have been given an act to commemorate it. We call it communion. We partake of the bread, symbolizing Jesus as the true bread from heaven. We partake of the wine, symbolizing the blood of Christ in which is eternal life, the life of God. We do this as often as we get together. Eating and drinking must be done daily for physical life. So, must we eat and drink daily of Christ for his life to be in us. The vine feeds the branches. Jesus is our food. Christ in you.

But, as the sap of the vine, its very life, flows through you, it produces fruit. Fruit that is of the Spirit, the Spirit of Christ. You are now in Christ. The tree bears fruit. The tree is clothed with fruit. You are clothed with Christ. For this grand theme of you in Christ, we also have been an act to commemorate it. We call it baptism. In baptism, we put off the old man and put on the new man – a change of clothing. We are baptized into Christ, into his righteousness, into his clothing. But, unlike communion, this act, baptism, is done just once. We only need to change clothes one time as we eat daily of Jesus.

Vine → Branches → Fruit

Christ In → You → In Christ

Christ in heaven as the head of his body. You, the body of Christ in the earth. You are a witness of him to all the world, partaking in the ministry of reconciliation, through the bearing of fruit, which is the expression of the life of Christ in the earth. On earth you are his body, the expression of the life of Christ.

You are the priest, the mediator, of Christ between heaven and earth. This is how you participate with Christ in the reconciling of all things to God.

The vine is nothing to look at. But, the fruit is the glory of the tree.

Vine → Branches → Fruit

Christ In → You → In Christ

Christ in you is the hope of glory!

Food and Clothing

Communion and Baptism

The Vine and the Fruit

Christ in You and You in Christ

How impotent are the words. How powerful is the truth!

Jesus: “Whoever Drinks My Blood Has Eternal Life”

TODAY’S READING: LEVITICUS 16-18

In John 6, Jesus fed 5,000 men plus women and children with two loaves of bread and five fish. When this crowd came to Jesus the next day, he told them that they were seeking him because they saw a miracle and had their stomachs filled. So, Jesus told them that he is the true bread from heaven.

The Jews grumbled about this. Isn’t this the son of Joseph and Mary? Who does he think he is?

Jesus continued to tell the crowd that he is the true bread from heaven. He said that their fathers ate the manna in the wilderness and died, but anyone who eats his flesh, the living bread that came down from heaven, will live.

The Jews disputed among themselves. How are we going to eat this man’s flesh?

Then Jesus drops a proverbial bomb on them. In John 6:53-56, Jesus says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.”

Now Jesus had really done it. When the disciples heard this business about drinking Jesus’ blood they said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?”

So, in John 6:63, Jesus said to them, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and life.”

It was at that moment that many of Jesus’ disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. Those disciples that turned away wanted the physical, having their stomachs fed, but they didn’t want, or couldn’t grasp, the spiritual, feeding on Jesus’ flesh and drinking his blood to give their spirits life.

Why was the teaching about drinking Jesus’ blood so hard?

ANYONE WHO EATS BLOOD WILL BE CUT OFF

This was a hard teaching because the Jews and the strangers sojourning with them had been strictly forbidden from eating any blood. If they did, then they would be cut off from the people of Israel.

Leviticus 17:10-12, 14 says, “If any one of the house of Israel or of the strangers who sojourn among them eats any blood, I will set my face against that person who eats blood and will cut him off from among his people. For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it for you on the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes atonement by the life. Therefore I have said to the people of Israel, No person among you shall eat blood, neither shall any stranger who sojourns among you eat blood…For the life of every creature is its blood: its blood is its life. Therefore I have said to the people of Israel, You shall not eat the blood of any creature, for the life of every creature is its blood. Whoever eats it shall be cut off.”

The Jews took this literally. They believed exactly what it said. They were not to eat any physical blood of any physical creature. So, when Jesus said they were to drink his blood, they immediately called to mind this law from Leviticus 10. The Jews said to themselves we can’t literally drink his blood because we have been specifically forbidden by God not to do that. If we do what he says, then God will cut us off.

But, this was reading the law of God as a dead letter with a veil over it. It was a reading of the law of God, an understanding of what God had said, that was based on the natural mind.

This is why Jesus said in John 6:63, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.” Jesus’ command to drink his blood could not be understood by the natural mind. His words were spirit. Therefore, they needed to be understood by the spiritual mind. Then these words would be life.

There were some that at least partially understood what Jesus was saying. The 12 disciples did not leave Jesus. It was here that Peter confessed that Jesus had the words of eternal life and the 12 had come to know that Jesus was the Holy One of God. Sure, they did not understand the full import of what Jesus was saying, and no one would until after his resurrection, but the 12 had at least some understanding of the spirit of Jesus’ command to drink his blood.

So, what was Jesus saying?

YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT

The spiritual nature of Jesus’ command to drink his blood is you are what you eat.

So, when Leviticus 17 says that the life is in the blood of the creature and the Jews are not to eat that blood, God is saying that if you physically feed on the blood, the life, of these creatures you will become like them.

Ephesians 6:12 says, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” Paul, and others in the Bible, many times alludes to these spiritual forces as beasts, animals, creeping things, living creatures, etc. Spiritually, therefore, if we feed on these evil spiritual forces ruling the world, their blood and their life, then we will become like them.

Nebuchadnezzar is one picture of this in Daniel 4. In Daniel 4:25, Daniel interprets the king’s dream, “That you shall be driven from among men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. You shall be made to eat grass like an ox, and you shall be wet with the dew of heaven.” Nebuchadnezzar fed on pride and his power, the pride of life, the spiritual forces of this world, believing that he had made Babylon great. As a result, Daniel 4:32-33 says, “‘And you shall be driven from among men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. And you shall be made to eat grass like on ox, and seven periods of time shall pass over you, until you know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will.’ Immediately the word was fulfilled against Nebuchadnezzar. He was driven from among men and ate grass like an ox, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven till his hair grew as long as eagles’ feathers, and his nails were like birds’ claws.” Nebuchadnezzar had fed on the blood, the life, of the beasts, the spiritual forces of this world, and became like them.

Therefore, to drink the blood of Christ is to feed on his spiritual nature, light, love, and life, and become like him. But, this is to be done spiritually. How so?

DRINKING JESUS’ BLOOD = SETTING YOUR MIND ON CHRIST

Romans 12:2 says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind.” Our mind is renewed by setting it on Christ, the things above, not on the things of this world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.

Paul is telling us not to drink the blood of animals and beasts because the blood contains their life. Do not set your minds on the spiritual forces of this world or you will be conformed to them.

Instead, drink the blood of Jesus. Feast on his life. Set your mind on Jesus. Be transformed by the renewing of your mind. This is how we become like Jesus – by eating him.

The Jews heard what Jesus said and took it literally. They were thinking of dead letters. They were reading Moses through a veil. But, 2 Corinthians 3:16-18 says, “But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”

Jesus said his words are spirit and life. So, we need to hear them, read them, with the veil removed. Drink his blood. Set your mind on Jesus.

Why Is the Purification for a Woman Twice as Long for a Daughter than a Son?

Leviticus 12 gives the ritual of purification for a woman after she gives birth to a child. One issue that is particularly difficult to understand in this chapter is why the time for purification for woman is twice as long when she gives birth to a daughter versus when she gives birth to a son. In this teaching, I am going to offer a possible explanation that helps us see Jesus in this chapter.

Why Is the Purification for a Woman Twice as Long for a Daughter than a Son?

LEVITICUS 12

Leviticus 12 gives the ritual of purification for a woman after she gives birth to a child. One issue that is particularly difficult to understand in this chapter is why the time for purification for woman is twice as long when she gives birth to a daughter versus when she gives birth to a son.

As when we looked at Genesis and Abraham’s offering of Isaac, most of the commentaries are not very helpful in truly understanding what this passage is about. Many of the commentary writers even admit they are stumped as to why the ritual of purification was different for a daughter than for a son.

In this teaching, I am going to offer a possible explanation.

COMMENTARIES: NATURAL OR CULTURAL EXPLANATIONS

The New American Commentary: Leviticus provides a typical view of Leviticus 12. It says, “The reason purification needed to be made after childbirth is not given in the text. Some in fact find it curious in view of the fact that God gave man the mandate to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. Calvin believed that the existence of a depraved offspring in the womb created uncleanness. While there may be truth to this assertion, a more likely explanation would be that it was the contact with the blood of childbirth that defiled. The latter explanation is supported by the fact that being in the menstrual state rendered one unclean. The similarity of this condition to giving birth is explicitly made in the text.”

When one sees that menstruation is the shedding of blood, which I believe is linked to the crucifixion of Jesus, then the need for purification is pretty obvious.

Again, The New American Commentary: Leviticus provides a typical view on the longer time of purification for the mother after the birth of a daughter. “Common explanations include: (1) females were understood in some sense seen [sic] as inferior to males, (2) the longer amount of time involved for the formation of the male and female embryo, (3) the fact that the blood discharges after the birth of a female last longer or have greater toxicity than they do after the birth of a male, and (4) the fact that women are associated with the pains of childbearing that come as the punishment for sin. With regard to the uncleanness of the mother after the birth of the son being only one week as opposed to two, the difference of this length of time may be found in the text itself. The length of uncleanness after the birth of a son is interrupted by the command to carry out the circumcision on the eighth day. If the mother was considered ceremonially unclean on the eighth day after the birth of her son, it could be conceivable that she would be able to witness her own son’s circumcision.” The commentary continues that there is no consensus. It details other cultural issues that may speak to the longer time of purification at the birth of a daughter.

In another commentary, the author admits that he has no idea why the time of purification is double for a daughter versus a son. The author simply chalks it up to the whim of God. At least he’s honest.

Take note that virtually all the commentaries focus on natural or cultural explanations for the uncleanness of the mother and for the time of uncleanness lasting twice as long for a girl than for a boy. Hardly a one considers any “supernatural” explanation of Leviticus 12. Jesus is almost never mentioned. But, before we get to Jesus, let’s get a handle on the surface understanding of the Leviticus 12.

MOTHER, SON, AND DAUGHTER

The focus of this short chapter is on the mother who gives birth. The chapter details how the mother is to become clean after giving birth. There are two different cleansing rituals: one for the birth of a son and one for the birth of a daughter.

UNCLEAN AND CLEAN

The words unclean and clean appear a total of five times in this short chapter.

The first half of the chapter details the woman’s uncleanness and the length of time she is unclean.

If the woman conceives and bears a son, then she is unclean for seven days. After this seven day period, the son is circumcised on the eighth day. Then, the woman continues in the blood of her purifying for another 33 days, which includes the eighth day.

If the woman bears a daughter, then she is unclean for 14 days. After this 14 day period, the woman continues in the blood of her purifying for another 66 days.

Therefore, the time periods are twice as long for the birth of a daughter as they are for the birth of a son. The time of the woman’s uncleanness is 7 days for a son but 14 days for a daughter. The time for the blood of the woman’s purification is 33 days for a son but 66 days for a daughter. The total time of uncleanness is 40 days for a son but 80 days for a daughter.

We are also told what it means to be unclean. While the woman was unclean she could not touch anything holy and she could not come into the sanctuary. This means that the woman could not worship with the rest of the congregation of Israel. The issue at stake was worship. It is important to note that the son or daughter was not unclean. Therefore, they were able to worship while the mother was not.

The second half of the chapter details how the woman becomes clean after the 40 or 80 days of uncleanness. The process for becoming clean is the same regardless of the child born being a son or daughter. This shows that the difference in the length of time of the woman’s uncleanness for having a son or daughter does not have to do with the sex of the child. If it did, then we would expect there to be a difference in the process of becoming clean for a son or a daughter.

In either case, the woman needed to bring to the priest a lamb a year old for a burnt offering and a pigeon or turtledove for a sin offering. If the woman was too poor to afford a lamb, then she could offer two pigeons or two turtledoves, one for a burnt offering and one for a sin offering. The priest would offer these before the Lord and make atonement for the woman.

BLOOD

The words blood and menstruation appear five times in the chapter.

In the first half of the chapter, the word menstruation, which is the shedding of blood, and the word blood, as in the blood of the woman’s purifying, occur four times. The process of giving birth is linked to menstruation, or the shedding of blood. Therefore, it is the shedding of blood that makes the woman unclean.

In the second part of the chapter, the word blood is mentioned just one time. When the priest has made atonement for the woman, the woman is said to be clean from the flow of her blood.

A LITERAL FULFILLMENT BY MARY AND JESUS

Luke 1 and 2 records the literal fulfillment of Leviticus 12 by Mary and Jesus.

The angel Gabriel was sent from God to Mary. Mary was a virgin betrothed to Joseph. In Luke 1:31, Gabriel said to Mary, “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son.” Leviticus 12:2 says, “If a woman conceives and bears a male child.” Notice that in both cases the woman conceives a child and no father is mentioned. This is about the woman.

Luke does not specifically say that Mary was unclean for seven days. But, Luke does write in 2:21 “at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised.” This is in fulfillment of Leviticus 12:3, which says, “And on the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised.”

Luke 2:22-24 says, “When the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, ‘Every male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord) and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the Lord, ‘a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.’” Here we have Mary and Jesus completing the fulfillment of Leviticus 12.

Mary and Joseph were taking Jesus up to the temple to set him apart to the Lord. This was in fulfillment of Exodus 13:2, which says, “Consecrate to me all the firstborn. Whatever is the first to open the womb among the people of Israel, both of man and of beast, is mine.” When Jesus was presented in the temple before the Lord, he would be consecrated, set apart, holy to the Lord. But, Leviticus 12:4 said that Mary, as the woman who bore a son, could not touch anything holy or come into the sanctuary until the 33 days in the blood of her purifying were completed. So, we know that Jesus was not presented in the temple, which would have made him holy, before this 33 days was completed, otherwise Mary would not have been able to touch. Also, Luke 2:27 says that Mary and Joseph brought Jesus into the temple. Mary would not have been allowed to enter the temple if the 33 days in the blood of her purifying had not been completed.

Another confirmation that Mary’s 33 days were completed was that they offered a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons at this time. This was what those who could not afford a lamb offered when the mother’s days of purifying were completed according to Leviticus 12:6, 8. Interestingly, 2 Corinthians 8:9 says that Jesus was rich but for our sake he became poor. We know this because Mary and Joseph offered two turtledoves or pigeons instead of a lamb.

So, Luke 1 and 2 gives us a literal fulfillment of Leviticus 12 by Mary and Jesus. The only problem is that this doesn’t address the woman who bears a daughter and the times of her purification being doubled because she had a daughter instead of son. Therefore, I think there is a greater fulfillment to be found.

A GREATER FULFILLMENT – ISRAEL, JESUS, AND THE CHURCH

According to the Passover, Jesus was selected as the lamb of God on the 10th day of the month, which was the first day of the week. He was crucified on the 14th. The seventh day would have been the last day of the week, Saturday, or the Sabbath. This speaks to a week of uncleanness.

Luke 24:1 says, “But on the first day of the week.” The disciples went to Jesus’ tomb the first day of the week, eight days after he was selected as the lamb to be sacrificed. When Jesus was resurrected on the eighth day he had put off his natural body and taken on a spiritual body. We know this because nobody was able to recognize him right away after the resurrection. It was as if his natural body had been circumcised on the eighth day.

Acts 1:3 says, “He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.” In Leviticus 12, we know that the woman that bore a son had seven days of being unclean, on the eighth day the son was circumcised, and then she continued in the blood of her purifying for 33 days. The total time of her purification was 40 days.

Therefore, in Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension we can see a second fulfillment of Leviticus 12, which I believe speaks to a greater fulfillment.

Throughout the Old Testament, Israel is pictured as God’s wife. In Leviticus 12, I think we can look at Israel as the woman who bore a son. Jesus was the son that came forth from Israel. Israel was unclean for seven days, or a complete period of time. The woman in Leviticus 12 was unclean for seven days as at the time of her menstruation. Menstruation is the shedding of blood. So, Israel, as the woman, was unclean for these seven days because it was the time when she shed the blood of Jesus.

Jesus, as the son, was resurrected, or circumcised from his natural flesh, on the eighth day. Baptism, circumcision, and resurrection are linked together at different points in the New Testament.

Then, Israel continued in the blood of her purifying for 33 days. The number 33 speaks to the complete time of Jesus’ work. Also, the total time of 40 days for Israel’s purifying represents the complete time of her testing.

But, where does the woman who had a daughter come in?

Like Israel, the church is pictured as a woman throughout the New Testament. The church is the bride of Christ. But, where did the church come from? Well, the first believers were Jews. They were from Israel. It’s as if the woman, Israel, gave birth to a daughter.

If the woman, Israel, had a daughter all the times of her purification were doubled. Why were the times doubled? The number two in the Bible represents union. Genesis 2:24 says, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” The two became one.

Paul quotes this passage in Genesis when he says in Ephesians 5:29-32, “For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.” Jesus, the bridegroom, was joined to the church, his bride, and the two became one.

So, the seven days that Israel was unclean for shedding the blood of Jesus became 14 days for shedding the blood of the church, which was Jesus’ body. When did this happen? In Acts 7:54-60, we are told of the stoning of Stephen. For the first, but not the only, time, Israel shed the blood of a member of the church. But, not just a member of the church. This was a member of Christ’s body.

When Saul was converted on the road to Damascus in Acts 9, Jesus said to him, “Why are you persecuting me?” Saul asked, “Who are you, Lord?” Jesus responded, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.” Saul and Israel weren’t just shedding the blood of the church, they were shedding the blood of Jesus and the church, the two that had become one. Therefore, the time of uncleanness, which was likened to the time of menstruation, again for the shedding of blood, was doubled from 7 days to 14 days.

Of course, daughters were not circumcised in the Bible. Plus, unlike Jesus, we have not been circumcised of our flesh yet. We have been baptized into Christ and have had a circumcision of the heart. But, we have not had our flesh circumcised and received our new bodies like Jesus did. Therefore, there is no doubling of the eighth day.

But, the woman, Israel, does need to continue 66 days in the purifying of her blood for the daughter that she bore. The number 66 is twice the number of the time of Christ’s finished work, 33, because the two have been made flesh. In Luke 21:24, Jesus says, “They will fall by the edge of the sword and be led captive among all nations, and Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.” The finished work of the Gentiles, their time, was double because they had been joined as one with Jesus. Remember, Jesus’ bride is generally pictured as a Gentile woman throughout scripture.

So, the total time for the woman’s purification because she bore a daughter was 80 days. Again, the period of testing was doubled because the church, the daughter of Israel, had been made one with Jesus.

An interesting side note to all of this, is that Leviticus 12 pictures Jesus, the son, and the church, the daughter, as having the same mother. But, there’s the sense that Jesus and the church have different fathers. With the son, the woman conceived and bore a son. But, with the daughter, the woman just bore a daughter. Therefore, Jesus and the church are step brother and step sister.

Why is this interesting? Because that was the relation of Abraham and Sarah. Genesis 20:12 says, “Besides, she is indeed my sister, the daughter of my father though not the daughter of my mother, and she became my wife.” Abraham and Sarah were step brother and step sister.

WHEN THE TIME OF PURIFICATION IS COMPLETED

Whether a son or daughter was born, when the time of the woman’s purification was completed she brought an offering to the priest. The priest would offer the offering to the Lord and make for atonement for the woman.

I think there’s a possibility that this pictures the time when Israel reaches the conclusion of her test and recognizes that she has crucified her Messiah. Israel brings this recognition to the priest in acknowledgement of the offering that Christ made for her. Then, Christ presents Israel’s recognition of his sacrifice for them and makes atonement for her.

Having been atoned for, the woman is now clean from her menstruation, which is to say that Israel, having recognized her crucifixion of the messiah, has an offering presented by the priest to the Lord. This makes Israel clean from shedding the blood of the savior.

Perhaps others will see Leviticus 12 differently, but this does seem to be a way that this law as fulfilled by Jesus and bearing witness to him.

Jesus and the Holy Spirit: Cleansing and Powering the Leper on the 8th Day

TODAY’S READING: LEVITICUS 14-15

Like we saw yesterday with the law of the clean and unclean creatures in Leviticus 11, the last verses of Leviticus 14 tell us what the chapter is about. Leviticus 14:54-57 says, “This is the law for any case of leprous disease: for an itch, for leprous disease in a garment or in a house, and for a swelling or an eruption or a spot, to show when it is unclean and when it is clean. This is the law for leprous disease.”

Therefore, Leviticus 14 is about knowing when someone has been cleansed from their leprous diseases. So, what, or who, cleanses the leper? How does the cleansing occur? What is the result of the cleansing?

LEPROSY: A DISEASE OF THE FLESH ROOTED IN THE HEART

Leprosy is a disease of the skin, or the flesh.

Romans 7:16-20 says, “Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do, the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.”

Paul recognizes that there is nothing good that dwells in his flesh. He can see the outward manifestation in his flesh of whatever this thing is that dwells in him that produces evil even when he desires to do good. What Paul sees in his flesh has its root somewhere else within him. Paul comes to see that what dwells within him is sin. And, it is sin that produces nothing good in his flesh.

In Matthew 15:18-19, Jesus says, “But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.”

Jesus says that the evil that appears in our flesh comes from the inner condition of our heart. Genesis 6:5 says, “The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” And, Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” Because the condition of our heart is evil, wicked, and desperately sick, sin manifests itself in our flesh.

Therefore, we should understand leprosy as the manifestation of sin in the flesh, the external reality, of the evil intentions, or uncleanness, of our hearts, the internal reality. While Israel cleansed the outward manifestation of leprosy in the Old Testament, Jesus came to cleanse the internal root of leprosy, the manifestation of sin, in our hearts.

CLEANSED ON THE EIGHTH DAY

Leviticus 14:1-9 deal with the first seven days of the process of being cleansed from leprosy. But, I want to focus on just the eighth day of the process in verses 10-32.

Eight is the number of new creation, new life, and resurrection in the Bible. All four gospels reveal that it was the on the first day of the week, the day after the Sabbath, eight days after Jesus was selected as the Passover lamb, that Jesus was resurrected. On this day, he had a new, glorified body and a became a life-giving spirit. It was as if, in the resurrection, the old body Jesus had was circumcised.

In the New Testament, circumcision is equated with baptism. And, both circumcision and baptism are linked with resurrection, or new life. Here are three scriptures that show the connections.

“Do you no know that all of use who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.” – Romans 6:3-5

“For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” – Galatians 3:27

“In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead.” – Colossians 2:11-12

So, in Leviticus 14, when the leper is cleansed on the eighth day, the above scriptures give us the picture of what is happening to the believer. The believer, the leper, is dying with Christ in baptism. This death removes the old self, the flesh, which manifested sin from the heart through leprosy. But, the believer is also raised with Jesus to newness of life. Indeed, on the eighth day the leper was cleansed, which meant he could now enter the sanctuary to worship. He could live for God. For the believer, this lets us abide in Christ and he in us, thereby sharing life together.

HOW CHRIST AND THE HOLY SPIRIT CLEANSE AND EMPOWER

The process of cleansing the leper on the eighth day is a picture of what Christ does for us to cleanse our hearts and the Holy Spirit does to empower what Christ has cleansed.

On the eighth day, the leper brought to the priest three animals to be offered. One was for a guilt offering. One was for a sin offering. And, one was for a burnt offering. Leviticus 14 shows that the offerings took place in that order – guilt then sin then burnt. The guilt and sin offering belonged to the priest but the burnt offering belonged wholly to God.

I believe this shows that Jesus first deals with our guilt. We acknowledge that Jesus has taken the guilt for our sin even though he was without sin. Second, Jesus bears the weight of our sin in the sin offering. We put all our sin, all our violence, upon him. These two offerings belonged to the priest, to Jesus. But, the third offering, the burnt offering, belonged to the Father alone. This is because the burnt offering was about acceptance by the Father. Jesus, as the burnt offering, is the only one that God accepts. But, when we are baptized in Christ’s death, God accepts us through Christ.

When the guilt offering was slain, the priest took some of the blood and put it on the leper’s right ear, then the thumb of his right hand, then the big toe of his right foot. The order is important.

The blood that cleanses our guilt first touches our ear. Romans 10:14-15, 17 says, “How then will they call on him whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to her without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” It is the blood of Jesus that opens our ears to hear his voice that gives us faith in him. Our ears hear the voice of the Lord, which cleanses our hearts

Then the blood touches our hand. Now that our hearts have been cleansed by hearing the word of Christ, the work of our hands is cleansed by the blood too. We now work for God and not men. Colossians 3:23 says, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.” And, Psalm 90:17 says, “Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us; yes, establish the work of our hands!”

After the blood has cleansed the work of our hands to be for God and not men, the blood is applied to our feet to cleanse the way in which God sends us. Romans 10:15 says, “And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” And, as part of the armor of God, Ephesians 6:15 says, “And, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.” Our feet, our way, is cleansed by the blood so that we can preach the good news, the gospel of peace. No longer will we learn and teach war and violence. Now, having died to ourselves, we are sent to preach peace, literally dying in the process if we must.

But, the leper to be cleansed had more than the blood of Christ applied to him. On top of the blood on the ear, the hand, and the foot, oil was applied. Oil is a symbol of the Holy Spirit. Having been cleansed by the blood of Christ, we are anointed by the Holy Spirit.

The blood of Christ opened our ears to hear the preaching of the word of Christ that would bring faith. But, it is the Holy Spirit that teaches us through what is preached. According to 1 John 2:27, “But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie – just as it has taught you, abide in him.”

Having been taught Jesus by the Holy Spirit, our hands are anointed to work with power. The Holy Spirit is the power we need to do the work God has called us to, the preaching of peace and the ministry of reconciliation. In Luke 24:49, Jesus says, “And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” Jesus again says in Acts 1:8, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Finally, Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Not all the things that we want to do, but all the things that God has created us for and called us to do. No matter the situation we maintain the preaching of peace and the ministry of reconciliation.

Having received the power of the Holy Spirit to the work God has called us to, our feet receive the anointing of the Holy Spirit as well. The Holy Spirit now leads us to where God wants us to work. Galatians 5:16 says, “Walk by the Spirit.” Galatians 5:18 says, “If you are led by the Spirit.” And, Galatians 5:25 says, “If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.”

On the eighth day, we are made a new creation. Our ears, hands, and feet are cleansed by the blood of Jesus. And, our ears, hands, and feet are anointed by the Holy Spirit. We have been cleansed from leprosy, the manifestation of the sin that dwelt in our hearts, and have been powered to live for God, to do everything as if we were doing it for the Lord.

Why Was Israel to Eat and Touch Only Clean Animals?

TODAY’S READING: LEVITICUS 11-13

Leviticus 11 gives a detailed list of animals that are clean and unclean. There are three components to creation – the earth, the sea, and the sky. The chapter details the animals in each part of creation that are clean and unclean. The clean animals can be eaten and touched, but the unclean animals are not to be eaten and not to be touched.

The whole chapter is summarized in the last two verses. Leviticus 11:46-47 says, “This is the law about beast and bird and every living creature that moves through the waters and every creature that swarms on the ground, to make distinction between the unclean and the clean and between the living creature that may be eaten and the living creature that may not be eaten.”

WRITTEN FOR OUR LEARNING

Romans 15:4 says, “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”

So, everything written in Leviticus is for our instruction. Through endurance and the encouragement of what is written in Leviticus 11 we are to get hope.

How do the laws regarding what animals are okay to eat (the clean animals) and what are animals are not okay to eat (the unclean animals) give me hope? I’m supposed to draw endurance and encouragement through these seemingly arbitrary laws?

Paul says they were written for our learning. What am I supposed to learn?

Am I supposed to learn that God gave Israel these commands so that they would be healthier than the nations around them? Even though they did not have the science to understand these things, God supernaturally gave them these laws so they would be without disease? Is that what I am supposed to learn? Because I have actually heard that preached as the point of Leviticus 11. How does that give me hope today?

Am I supposed to learn to follow a very strict diet? Certain foods are okay for me and others are not? Many religions to still practice exactly these kinds of diets. How does that help me endure and encourage me?

WHAT IS WRITTEN BEARS WITNESS TO JESUS

In John 5, Jesus healed a man on the Sabbath and even called God his own Father, making himself equal with God. For this reason the Jews wanted to kill him. So, Jesus goes on a long teaching about his authority and the witnesses to who he is.

In John 5:39-40, Jesus says, “You search the scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.”

The Jews searched the scriptures. They poured through Leviticus 11. They fastidiously held to the laws about which animals were clean and which were unclean, what was okay to eat and what was not okay to eat. By searching the scriptures and obeying the commands of which animals they could eat and touch and which animals they could not eat and touch, the Jews thought they would have eternal life.

Jesus said no to that way of thinking and reading the scripture.

Let me repeat that.

Jesus said no to that way of thinking and reading the scripture.

However, Jesus did say that the scriptures, what was written, Leviticus 11, bear witness to him. Leviticus 11 teaches us about Jesus. But, only if what we read causes us to go to Jesus. Jesus says come to me for eternal life. Leviticus 11 is to point us to Jesus so that we go to him and receive eternal life. If we refuse to let the scriptures, Leviticus 11, point us to Jesus and we refuse to go to him, then we will not have eternal life. We will be stuck in dead letters written in stone that have the ministry of death (2 Corinthians 3).

SET YOUR MINDS ON JESUS

Leviticus 11 was written so that we would learn to set our minds on Jesus.

How so?

Leviticus 11 talks about foods that make us clean and unclean. There are foods that defile and foods that do not defile us.

Look at what Jesus says in Matthew 15:10-11, 16-20.

“And he called the people to him and said to them, ‘Hear and understand: it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.’…And he said, ‘Are you also still without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is expelled? But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone.”

Jesus says what you eat and what you touch doesn’t make you clean or unclean. The Jews and the disciples did not understand this because they knew Leviticus 11 and the rules for what foods were clean and unclean and they thought following those rules would give them eternal life. They were trying to get life from dead letters.

Jesus says it is not the external that defiles you but the internal. “For what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts.”

This is precisely Jesus’ teaching in the sermon on the mount in Matthew 5, 6, and 7. You have heard it said do not murder. But, Jesus says do not hate. You have heard it said do not commit adultery. But, Jesus says do not lust.

How do these evil thoughts get into our hearts and minds?

Through our eyes and ears. The eyes and ears are the gateway to our hearts and minds. The eyes and ears take in thoughts and ideas. But, unlike food, which enters the stomach and passes through the body, thoughts and ideas enter our hearts and minds and get stuck there. As unclean thoughts and ideas build up in our minds they come out of our mouth and defile us, make us unclean. The buildup of these unclean thoughts produce murder, theft, adultery, sexual immorality, covetousness, etc.

This is exactly what Jesus says in Matthew 6:22-23. “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!”

The eye is the gateway to our mind. Jesus says we want our eye to be healthy so that our body will be full of light. The Greek word for healthy actually means single. Jesus is saying if our eye has a single focus then our whole body will be full of light. But, our eye can also be bad. In context, we understand this to mean that our eye can wander or roam. It’s possible for our way not to have a single focus but take in all sorts of things. If our eye is bad, then our whole body will be full of darkness. And how great is that darkness!

Jesus goes on to tell us not to worry about food and clothing – the things of this world. We are not to be anxious about them. We are not to think about food and clothing – the things of this world. We are to trust that God will provide us what we need.

However, in Matthew 6:33, Jesus says, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” The Greek word first doesn’t mean do this first and this second and this third. The Greek word first here means make seeking the kingdom the principle thing you do. It should be what your life is about. In other words, your eye should have a single focus of seeking the kingdom of God. Then your whole body will be full of light.

Therefore our whole focus should be on Jesus. He is clean. Everything else is unclean. Jesus is righteous. No one else, not one, is righteous.

GUARD YOUR HEARTS

Because it is what comes out of our hearts that makes us unclean, scripture tells us to guard our hearts. Proverbs 4:23 says, “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” We have to be vigilant in guarding our hearts. We can’t be haphazard in this. We must be focused intently on guarding our hearts.

How do we do this?

By guarding our eyes and ears.

Psalm 119:37 says, “Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways.” Look at clean things not unclean things.

Proverbs 4:25 says, “Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you.” There’s that single focus of the eye again.

Job 31:1 says, “I have made a covenant with my eyes; how then could I gaze at a virgin?” Be strict with yourself in what you are allowed to look at.

Proverbs 2:1-2 says, “My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding.”

Proverbs 4:20 says, “My son, be attentive to my words, and incline your ear to my sayings.”

Proverbs 5:1 says, “My son, be attentive to my wisdom; incline your ear to my understanding.”

Proverbs 22:17 says, “Incline your ear, and hear the words of the wise, and apply your heart to my knowledge.”

Proverbs 23:12 says, “Apply your heart to instruction and you ear to words of knowledge.”

God says, “This is my beloved son. Listen to him.” Jesus says that his sheep know his voice. Sheep only respond to the voice of their shepherd.

What we look at and what we listen to is very, very important. This cannot be stressed enough. What we look at and listen to gets stored in our hearts and minds. What we look at and what we listen to will either make us clean or unclean, pure or defiled, holy or unholy.

THINK ON THE THINGS ABOVE

Leviticus 11:41-45 says, “Every swarming thing that swarms on the ground is detestable; it shall not be eaten. Whatever goes on its belly, and whatever goes on all fours, or whatever has many feet, any swarming things that swarm on the ground, you shall not eat, for they are detestable. You shall not make yourselves detestable with any swarming thing that swarms, and you shall not defile yourselves with them, and become unclean through them. For I am the Lord your God. Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am holy. You shall not defile yourselves with any swarming thing that crawls on the ground. For I am the Lord who brought you up out of the land of Egypt to be your God. You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.”

Notice what is not to be eaten, what makes you unclean. Anything that moves on the ground. Eating earthly things will make you unclean. Eating earthly things will make you detestable. Eating earthly things will defile you. If we let into our eyes and ears earthly thoughts and ideas, then we will become unclean, full of darkness, detestable, unholy.

Instead of thinking on earthly things we are to think about the things above.

Colossians 3:1-2 says, “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” Eat things that are above, things that are clean. Don’t eat things that move on the ground, things that are unclean and detestable.

Philippians 4:8 says, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” There is only one thing, rather one person, that fits the description Paul gives – Jesus Christ! We are to think about at all times. We are to meditate on him day and night. We are to feed on him. Man does not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. Jesus is the true bread from heaven.

The clean and unclean things are not foods, animals, or people. When read scripture through the lens of Jesus, we understand that the clean and unclean things of Leviticus 11 are thoughts, ideas, arguments, opinions. Therefore, Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 10:3-6, “For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when you obedience is complete.” The war is internal not external. The war is against ideas and thoughts and strongholds in the mind, not flesh and blood.

So, what do we learn from Leviticus 11?

Eat what is clean. Eat Jesus. Set your mind on him and him alone.

Then your whole body will be full of light.

Then you will be holy as God is holy.

Now we see the hope that Leviticus 11 gives – Jesus Christ.

“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope.” – 1 Timothy 1:1

 

Who Killed Nadab and Abihu? Jesus or Satan?

Today’s Reading: Leviticus 8-10

Leviticus 10:1-7 records the unusual story of Nadab and Abihu. It struck me this morning that this story is very similar to the story of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5:1-11.

In the story of Nadab and Abihu, it appeared that it was the Lord that killed them. In the story of Ananias and Sapphira, we presume that it was the Holy Spirit that killed them. But, does the account in Acts ever say that the Holy Spirit struck them down? Or, do we just read that into the story because we project our violence onto God? And, if the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Jesus, did not kill Ananias and Sapphira, then who did? And, if we know who killed Ananias and Sapphira does that teach us anything about who killed Nadab and Abihu?

THE DETAILS OF NADAB AND ABIHU

I think it is always important to know the meaning of names in the Bible. I have found that this provides context and clarity to what the Bible is trying to teach me.

Nadab means to impel or stir; to make a voluntary decision or contribution.

Abihu is comprised of two Hebrew words. The first means father. The second means he, it; this, that; this same; the same. One source says that the name means “the father of him”. But, by the end of this post, I think you might agree with me that the name might mean something like “the same as his father”.

Nadab and Abihu took their own censers and put fire in them and laid incense on the fire. The censers were their own and carried in their hands. It is quite possible that they took the fire and the incense from the altar in front of the most holy place inside the tabernacle.

The offering Nadab and Abihu made was said to be unauthorized or strange fire before the Lord. The Hebrew word for unauthorized here means to turn aside or estrange. In other words, it means to be a stranger. But, God did not command them to make this offering. Nadab and Abihu did it voluntarily. They were stirred or impelled to make this offering.

Leviticus 10:2 says, “And fire came out from before the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord.” Based on this alone, it sure looks like the Lord killed them, burned them up with fire.

So, two nephews of Aaron carried Nadab and Abihu away from the front of the sanctuary and out of the camp. They carried them out in their coats.

So, Nadab and Abihu made a voluntary decision to make this offering. I believe they were stirred or impelled by the spirit that was the same as their father. The question is – who was their father?

I think looking at the story of Ananias and Sapphira will provide some clarity.

THE DETAILS OF ANANIAS AND SAPPHIRA

Like we did with Nadab and Abihu, let’s start with the meaning of the names Ananias and Sapphira.

Ananias is the Greek version of the Hebrew name Hananiah. Hananiah, and therefore Ananias, means Yahweh has been gracious or graciously given of the Lord.

Sapphira is related to the word for sapphire. Several times in the Bible sapphire is mentioned as the foundation of God’s throne or kingdom. And, it is sometimes related to wisdom. While, I don’t have an exact meaning of the name, I think we have a sense of its connotation.

So, in a sense, Ananias and Sapphira had graciously been given the foundation of the kingdom from the Lord. To me, this says that they had received Jesus and his fellowship.

In Acts 4, the disciples sold their properties and shared everything in common. What God had put into their hands they did not consider their own, but they brought the proceeds of what they sold, gave it to the apostles, and had it distributed to meet the needs of their fellow disciples.

Like the other disciples had done, Ananias and Sapphira sold a piece of property. They brought the proceeds to the apostles. Except the two of them conspired to keep some of the proceeds for themselves. They wanted to have the appearance of giving all the proceeds for the use of everyone else, sharing all things in common, but in reality they wanted to keep some of what they had graciously been given by God for themselves instead of using it for the kingdom of God.

In Acts 5:3-4, Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to man but to God.”

What happened to Ananias as a result? Acts 5:5 says, “When Ananias heard these words, he fell down and breathed his last.” Now, right here almost all of us have assumed that the Holy Spirit killed Ananias. But, the text does not say that at all. Ananias heard what he had done and he fell down dead.

God is life. He is not a murderer. Satan is the murderer and has been from the beginning. It was Satan that had filled Ananias’ heart to voluntarily give part of the proceeds from the sale of his property. And, I would say that it was the overwhelming grief from serving Satan and lying to God that killed Ananias. It was not the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit, like God, gives life.

So, after Ananias died, young men arose, wrapped him up, and carried him away from the apostles’ feet where he had laid his offering.

A short time later Sapphira came in before the apostles. Peter asked her if she knew how much the land had been sold for. She said she did and gave the same amount as her husband. When she was confronted by Peter with her testing of the Spirit of the Lord “immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last.” (Acts 5:10) Again, the text does not say that the Spirit of the Lord, Jesus, killed Sapphira. Rather, she was overcome with the grief of serving Satan and lying to God. Satan murdered her. Satan is the author of death. But, Jesus is “the author of life,” according to Acts 3:15.

PARALLELS BETWEEN THE STORIES

Do you see the parallels between the stories?

  • Nadab and Abihu had censers with fire and incense in their hands and Ananias and Sapphira had the proceeds from the sale of their property in their hands.
  • Nadab and Abihu brought their offering before the Lord and Ananias and Sapphira laid their offering at the apostles’ feet.
  • Nadab and Abihu made an offering that was not commanded by God (it was voluntary) and Ananias and Sapphira had control of the property and the proceeds of the sale at their disposal at all times (in other words, their offering was voluntary).
  • Nadab and Abihu’s offering was unauthorized, making them strangers before God, which is to say it broke their fellowship with him, and Ananias and Sapphira’s offering was the product of their lie to the Holy Spirit, separating them from the God, which is to say it broke their fellowship with him.
  • Nadab and Abihu were impelled or stirred up to make this voluntary offering to the Lord by the spirit that was the same as their father and Ananias and Sapphira were filled by Satan in their hearts to lie to the Holy Spirit about their offering.
  • Nadab and Abihu were carried in their coats from the front of the sanctuary out of the camp by the nephews of Aaron and Ananias and Sapphira were wrapped up and carried out from the apostles’ feet by young men.

In John 8:44, speaking to the Jews who said they were of Abraham, Jesus said, “You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”

Ananias and Sapphira had their hearts filled by Satan with a lie and were murdered by him. Satan is the murderer. God is the giver of life. The purpose of Jesus coming was to clearly show us this. In fact, Jesus came to destroy the works of Satan, which were lying and murdering. If Jesus came to destroy Satan’s work of murder, then how could Jesus be a murderer himself?

So, when we know the meaning of the names of Nadab and Abihu, we understand that they were stirred up to give this strange offering by the spirit that was the same as their father. Like Jesus said, their father was Satan, not God.

WHO KILLED NADAB AND ABIHU?

Jesus is the exact image of God. He is our clearest picture of who God is. The Holy Spirit was sent by Jesus to bear witness of Jesus. That is the Holy Spirit’s sole function. Therefore, he doesn’t do anything that Jesus would not do.

God is life, according to 1 John 5. Jesus is the author of life, according to Acts 3:15. The Holy Spirit is the breath of life, according to Genesis 2:7. In every possible way, with no exceptions, with no change, with no shadow of turning, God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are life.

In John 14:30, Jesus said that the ruler of this world was coming, but he had nothing in Jesus. The ruler of this world is Satan. He has nothing in Jesus. Jesus is life and Satan is death. John 10:10 says that the thief, Satan, “comes only to steal and kill and destroy.” Jesus came to destroy those works of Satan not to kill us.

Given that Jesus is the express imprint of God, the image of the invisible God, we need to interpret the Old Testament through the lens of Jesus and not interpret Jesus, and therefore God, through the lens of the Old Testament.

Leviticus 10:2 says, “And fire came out from before the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord.”

So, knowing what we know about Jesus, knowing what we know about God, knowing what we know about who killed Ananias and Sapphira (that would be Satan), who really killed Nadab and Abihu?

Not God. Not Jesus. Not the Holy Spirit.

Satan!

Sure, the death of Nadab and Abihu was attributed to God. But, God got the credit for their death unjustly and incorrectly. That’s not who God is as Jesus has shown.

We need to continually grow in our understanding of who God is so that we can rightly discern what God did and what God did not do in the Old Testament. As Paul says in 2 Corinthians 3, there was a veil over the Old Testament that was removed by Christ but for those that are perishing that veil remains to this day. When we have the veil removed by Jesus, then we can see clearly. It is only through Jesus and the teaching of the Holy Spirit that we can rightly handle the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15). It’s Jesus and the Holy Spirit that renew our minds so that we can test and discern what is, and is not, the will of God in the Old Testament.

Jesus Bears the Iniquity of Our False Witness

Today’s Reading: Leviticus 5-7

Leviticus 5:1 says, “If anyone sins in that he hears a public adjuration to testify, and though he is a witness, whether he has seen or come to know the matter, yet does not speak, he shall bear his iniquity.”

“A public adjuration to testify” is one word in the Hebrew, alah. Basically, it means to swear or take an oath with punishment for swearing falsely. Leviticus 5:1 says that it is a sin to be put under an oath to testify and not speak even though you are a witness and know the truth.

The Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament common in Jesus’ day, says, “And if someone sins and hears a swearing of an oath, and this witness either has seen or is aware of it, if he does not speak out, he will incur guilt.”

In this verse, the Greek word for oath is horkismos, which basically means an oath taking. So, “swearing of an oath” is to call someone to take an oath or put someone under an oath to testify.

What’s so interesting about this is that there is only one place in the New Testament where someone is literally put under an oath.

JESUS IS PUT UNDER AN OATH

In Matthew 26:57-68, Jesus is seized and brought before Caiaphas the high priest for a trial. The scribes and elders were also gathered. Importantly, Matthew says that Peter was following at a distance and went inside to sit with the guards to see what would happen to Jesus.

The chief priests and the whole council were seeking false testimony against Jesus so they could put him to death. But, they couldn’t find any false testimony against Jesus even though many false witnesses came before them. The chief priests and council were looking for a specific “false” testimony – that Jesus claimed to be the Christ, the Son of God.

At last, two witnesses came forward, since it takes two witnesses to corroborate a matter, and said, “This man said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to rebuild it in three days.'” The high priest stood up and asked Jesus if he had an answer to this charge, “but Jesus remained silent.”

Because Jesus wouldn’t answer, in Matthew 26:63, the high priest said to him, “I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.” The Greek word for adjure is exorkizo. It comes from the same root word, orkos, as horkismos. Orkos means an oath. Exorkizo means to put under an oath. This is the only time in the New Testament that exorkizo is used. Jesus is the only one to be put under an oath. Jesus is the only that the law of Leviticus 5:1 is applied to.

Jesus was his own witness to everything that had happened. Jesus stated this in John 8:14, 17-18, “Even if I do bear witness about myself, my testimony is true, for I know where I came from and where I am going, but you do not know where I come from or where I am going…In your Law it is written that the testimony of two people is true. I am the one who bears witness about myself, and the Father who sent bears witness about me.” Therefore, in order to be sinless, Jesus now needed to speak and the answer the chief priest’s question.

Jesus said to him, “You have said so.” The same incident is recorded in Mark 14. In verse 62, Jesus answered, “I am.” Jesus answered with the name of God given to Moses, the man who brought the law that the Jews revered, at the burning bush. In Luke 22:70, Jesus answered, “You say that I am.” Not only did Jesus say “I am”, declaring himself to be God, but Jesus said that even the priests and the whole council called him “I am”.

In Matthew 26:65, the high priest said, “He has uttered blasphemy.” So, the whole council declared that “he deserves death.” Even though he was a put under an oath, was a witness, and testified to the truth, Jesus was put to death. Therefore, Jesus bore the iniquity of one (all of us actually) who sinned in the matter where he did not.

PETER TAKES AN OATH

Earlier in Matthew 26, just before Jesus is arrested, he tells the disciples, “You will all fall away because of me this night.” But, Peter says, “Though they all fall away because of you, I will never fall away.” Jesus then tells Peter that he will indeed deny him three times. Peter, and all the disciples, responded, “Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you.”

After his adamant declaration that he would never deny Jesus, Peter saw Jesus put under an oath, testify to the truth, and wrongfully given the punishment of death. Recall, that earlier Peter had correctly proclaimed Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God. Peter had witnessed and acknowledged the truth. According to Leviticus 5:1, Peter had come to see and know the matter.

However, in Matthew’s gospel, the very next incident after Jesus is put under an oath and given the penalty of death despite his true witness is Peter’s denial of Jesus. Matthew is purposefully contrasting Jesus being put under an oath and Peter taking an oath unto himself. Jesus was a witness and gives true testimony. Peter was a witness and refuses to speak.

Peter’s denial of Jesus is recorded in Matthew 26:69-75. A servant girl comes up to Peter and accuses him of being with Jesus. In response to this first accusation, Peter simply denies the charge. Matthew 26:70 says, “But he denied it before them all, saying, ‘I do not know what you mean.'”

A second servant girl comes up to Peter, and she too accuses him of being with Jesus. But, this time Peter doesn’t just simply deny the charge. Matthew 26:72 says, “And again he denied it with an oath: ‘I do not know the man.'” Oath here is the Greek word horkos. Unlike Jesus, who was put under an oath, Peter took the oath upon himself. Peter escalated the matter by taking an oath.

After some time, the bystanders come up to Peter and accuse him of being with Jesus based on his accent. Matthew 26:74 says, “Then he [Peter] began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, ‘I do not know the man.'” Peter has gone from an oath to invoking a curse on himself. This is fascinating because the Hebrew word for oath, alah, also means to utter a curse, to put a curse on someone. Peter had escalated the matter again.

Peter was given three chances and refused to speak even though he had seen Jesus as the Christ and come to know the matter. It was at this moment that Peter heard the rooster crow. Matthew 26:75 says, “And he went out and wept bitterly.” Peter recognized his guilt. And, according to Leviticus 5, Peter needed to make an offering to cleanse himself from this sin.

But, that’s not how the story ends.

JESUS REDEEMS PETER

Instead of Peter giving an offering as compensation for the sin he committed, Jesus redeems Peter. We read the account of this in John 21:15-19.

Peter denied Jesus three times. So, three times Jesus asks Peter if he loves him. The first two times Jesus asks Peter if he agapao’s Jesus. That is, does Peter love Jesus like the Father loves Jesus and Jesus loves Peter. But, Peter says that Jesus knows he phileo’s Jesus. Peter says I love you like a brother. So, the third time Jesus meets Peter where he is. The third time Jesus asks Peter if he phileo’s Jesus. Peter can now bear witness truthfully. In John 21:17, Peter answers, “Lord, you know everything, you know that I love [phileo] you.”

Peter was a witness to Jesus for three years. Yet, he did not speak up to the truth of what he heard and saw even though he took an oath to himself. Peter sinned and should have borne his iniquity. But, Jesus bore Peter’s iniquity for him. And, Jesus does the same for us. For like Peter, we have all denied Jesus and refused to speak what we have seen and come to know about him.

The Offerings: A Picture of Jesus’ Obedience to the Father

Today’s Reading: Leviticus 1-4

Today’s reading contains detailed descriptions of a variety of offerings: the burnt offering, the grain offering, the sacrifice of peace offering, and the unintentional sin offering. There is a fifth offering, the guilt offering, that is described in chapter five.

Have you noticed that not one of these offerings was to be given by Israel at the command from God?

God never commanded these offerings. God never said, “You must offer…”

Leviticus 1:2 says, “When any one of you brings an offering to the Lord…” In just these four chapters the word “when” occurs six times. Further, in Leviticus 1:3, God said to Israel, “If his offering…” In just these four chapters, the word “if” occurs 16 times. These are not commands.

What is going on here?

Let’s go back to the very first offering recorded in the Bible in Genesis 4. These were the offerings made by Cain and Abel. There was no command from God for Cain and Abel to make an offering. There were no instructions on why, how, or what they should offer. Cain and Abel voluntarily made offerings to the Lord. Offerings were something that man did. Man believed that offerings were how you served god.

So, when we come to Leviticus, God knows that Israel is going to make offerings to him. Therefore, instead of giving offerings any way they want, God tells Israel when you make an offering, if you make an offering, then this is how I want you to do it.

If the offerings weren’t a command from God, then why does God direct Israel on how to make offerings?

Because each of these offerings, every particular detail of these offerings, was a picture of Jesus, specifically his obedience to the voice of God. God knew that Israel would make these offerings every day for thousands of years. By seeing these offerings enacted every day, God wanted Israel to be ready for Jesus voluntarily giving his life for them. God wanted Israel to have seen these offerings so many times that when Jesus offered his life for them then Israel would know exactly what had happened.

Psalm 40:6 says, “In sacrifice and offering you have not delighted, but you have given me an open ear. Burnt offering and sin offering you have not required.” Sacrifice and offering involved death. But, God is life (see 1 John 5). God is life, and, therefore, there is no death in him. Hence, God does not delight in sacrifices and offerings. God does not require burnt offerings or sin offerings. God did not demand, ask, beg, or wish that Israel would give him burnt offerings and sin offerings.

But, David writes that God had “given me an open ear.” What was God asking from Israel throughout the book of Exodus? He wanted Israel to hear his voice. He wanted Israel to diligently obey his voice. But, Israel refused. Israel told Moses to hear from God and then Moses could tell them what God said. Israel did not want to hear God’s voice. So, God said, “When any one of you brings an offering…” and “If his offering…”

Psalm 40:6 is not the only instance where the Bible records that God did not require, demand, or command offerings be given to him.

Psalm 51:16 says, “For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.” When we read the psalms as the prayers of Jesus, we understand that Jesus knew that burnt offerings did not please God. Jesus knew it was obedience to the Father’s voice that the Father wanted.

Isaiah 1:11-13 says, “What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices? says the Lord; I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of well-fed beasts; I do not delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs, or of goats. When you come to appear before me, who has required of you this trampling of my courts? Bring no more vain offerings; incense is an abomination to me.”

How about Isaiah 66:3-4? “He who slaughters an ox is like one who kills a man; he who sacrifices a lamb, like one who breaks a dog’s neck; he who presents a grain offering, like one who offers pig’s blood; he who makes a memorial offering of frankincense, like one who blesses an idol. These have chosen their own ways, and their soul delights in their abominations; I also will choose harsh treatment for them and bring their fears upon them, because when I called, no one answered, when I spoke, they did not listen; but they did what was evil in my eyes and chose that in which I did not delight.”

Here God equates offerings and sacrifices with idolatry. Israel did what was evil in God’s eyes and chose to do that which he did not delight in. But, they didn’t do what God wanted. He wanted Israel to obey his voice. When God called, no one answered. When God spoke, no one listened.

Jeremiah 6:20 says, “Your burnt offerings are not acceptable, nor your sacrifices pleasing to me.”

In response to Saul’s sin, in 1 Samuel 15:22, Samuel said, “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams.”

In Jeremiah 7:22-24, God directly says he did not command offerings. Plus, God says exactly what he commanded Israel to do. “For in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, I did not speak to your fathers or command them concerning burnt offerings and sacrifices. But this command I gave them: ‘Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be my people. And walk in all the way that I command you, that it may be well with you.’ But they did not obey or incline their ear, but walked in their own counsels and the stubbornness of their evil hearts, and went backward and not forward.”

Could God be any clearer?!?

God doesn’t want offerings. God wants obedience to his voice.

This is exactly what Jesus Christ did. There is no record of Jesus presenting an offering in the gospels, even though he attended numerous feasts where ?Israel presented offerings. Rather, Jesus obeyed God’s voice. Look at what Jesus said he did in his own words.

“Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise.” – John 5:19

“For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.” – John 6:38

“When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he, and I do nothing on my own authority, but speak as the Father taught me.” – John 8:28

“For I have not spoken on my authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment – what to say and to speak. And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me.” – John 12:49-50

Jesus heard the voice of God and obeyed him.

Which brings us back to Psalm 40:6. The writer of Hebrews quotes this verse in Hebrew 10:5-7, “Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said, ‘Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body have you prepared for me; in burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure. Then I said, “Behold, I have come to do your will, O God, as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.”‘”

Jesus came to do God’s will as it was written of him. Part of what was written about Jesus was how he would offer his life for us. And, that is what is captured in the offerings in Leviticus. The offerings in Leviticus are a picture of Jesus offering his life for us. They are a picture of his perfect obedience to the Father.

Notice that all of the animal offerings were to be without blemish and the grain offering was to be without leaven. Jesus was an offering without sin. We were ransomed “with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.” (1 Peter 1:19) “He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth.” (1 Peter 2:22)

Notice that it was the one who offered or the sons of Aaron that killed the offerings. Peter, in the first sermon preached after the Holy Spirit was poured out, said in Acts 2:23, “This Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.”

Notice that God’s description of the guilt offering beings with “If anyone sins unintentionally in any of the Lord’s commandments about things not to be done…” As he was being crucified, Jesus said in Luke 23:34, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Jesus said we didn’t know what we were doing. It was unintentional. Further, Paul said in 1 Timothy 1:13, “I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief.”

These are just three rather obvious places where the instructions for offerings bear witness to Jesus. But, every detail of every offering bears to witness to the work of Jesus. It is worth our time to search these details out so that we better know the person and the work of our Lord.

As Jesus obeyed the voice of God, we are to obey the voice of God too. We are to have the same mind as Jesus, to present ourselves as an offering as he did. Notice in Leviticus 1 that the burnt offering was about acceptance before the Lord. This is what Paul is speaking of in Romans 12:1, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.”

Take note that bodies is plural but the sacrifice is singular. The believers are members of one body, Christ’s body. As he presented his physical body a burnt sacrifice out of obedience to God’s voice, so too are we to present our bodies, which are the temple of the Holy Spirit, the spiritual body of Christ on this earth today, a living sacrifice holy and acceptable to God.

The offerings are about the obedience of Jesus to the voice of the Father and shows us what our spiritual worship, our obedience to the Father’s voice, should look like.