Week 6: Leviticus 19-27; Numbers 1-10

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Exodus ended with Moses being unable to enter the tabernacle because of the presence of God. This week’s reading ends with God speaking to Moses from above the mercy seat in the Holy of Holies. The journey out of Egypt paused at Mt. Sinai. Now after a year at the base of the mountain, God commands His people to head for the promised land. The people follow the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night that represents God’s presence. Before leaving they celebrate the Passover feast which commemorates their deliverance.

Leviticus Chapter 19 details additional laws that God gave the people. Jesus quotes Leviticus 19:18 as the second great command-ment: “you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” An equally remarkable statement is found in verse 34: “the stranger that resides with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself.”

The covenant with Abraham promised that all nations of the world would be bleed through Israel. Further God describes Israel as God’s “kingdom of priests” meaning they were to share with the rest of the world the truth and the law God shared with them. Verse 33 proves God Yehovah was never meant to be a tribal God or a God to only Israel. Jesus was asked, “who is my neighbor?” The answer primarily is all those who believe on Him for their salvation. We extend this to everyone as “ambassadors for Christ” 2 Corinthians 5:20.

This same principle is highlighted in another way in both Leviticus 24 and Numbers 15. In these passages we are told that God has “one standard for you; it shall be for the stranger as well as the native.” God holds all people to His law – there is not one law for the Jew and another for the gentile. Remember the purpose of the law is to instruct us how to have a loving relationship with God and our fellowman. So God wants all men to know his law and follow it in order to accomplish both of these goals. This is why Israel was called to be priests to the rest of the world and we were given the Great Commission. Our commission as Christians includes our responsibility to teach everyone “to observe all that I commanded you.” God’s law as described throughout the Bible is what Jesus commanded us to follow.

The day of atonement is the focal point of the book of Leviticus this ceremony represents the sins of the people being forgiven. The central teaching of the book and the primary reason for the giving of the law is that the people would “be holy as I am Holy.” This statement occurs four times in the book of Leviticus 11:44, 11:45, 19:2 and 20:26. We should not be surprised to find that Jesus made the focal teaching of the Sermon on the Mount for His followers to “be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

Dr. Samuel Abatte is a physician practicing in Wasilla, Alaska. This column first appeared in the Frontiersman, a Wick newspaper serving the Matanuska-Susitna Valley of Alaska.