Week 5: Exodus 35-40; Leviticus 1-18
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This week will be one of the most challenging for the year. Leviticus is overwhelming and confusing to us with its many sacrifices, laws, and details about the priesthood and even leprosy. An understanding of this book will not be achieved by a single reading – it takes years of careful study.
In Exodus the plans for the tabernacle were given. In Leviticus we get the details of its operates. God defines how man may properly approach Him. That is why Moses was unable to enter the tabernacle at the end of Exodus. He had been invited into God’s presence on Mt. Sinai but he had not yet been summoned to speak with God in the tabernacle – that will come later. We later see in the account of Nadab and Abihu the consequence of presuming to approach God on our terms and not His. The application is that God has one means of salvations through His son Jesus. Acts 4:12 tells us “there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.
We also learn important lessons from the details of the sacrificial system. Atonement for sin comes through the shedding of the blood of an innocent representative – the sins of the people were transferred to the animal that was then sacrificed. The sacrifice had to be without blemish in order to be acceptable. 2 Corinthians 5:21 tells us that Jesus was without sin yet became sin on our behalf and died for the forgiveness of our sins. 1 Peter 1:18-19 tells us that “you were not redeemed with perishable things …but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.
We also learn that the sacrifice comes at a cost to the person seeking atonement. Animals were valuable and had to be purchased. But we see that accommodation was made for those of lesser financial means – God’s forgiveness is not subject to our financial status. For us salvation is a free gift which cost the life of Jesus.
However, we show our gratitude to God by living a life of service to Him, by living for His purposes and not our own.
Another portion of this week’s reading deals with leprosy. The Hebrew word translated as leprosy, tzaraat, is not the same as the disease we call leprosy. The condition was seen as a physical manifestation of an underlying spiritual problem. The priests were responsible for identifying whether or not leprosy was present.
We can see this as the ministers of God as pointing out sin in our lives. Also the severity of the consequences is suggested by identifying if it was superficial or deep within the skin. Finally, it is the role of the priest to restore the person’s relationship with God and his fellow man.
The day of atonement is the focal point of the book and is a foreshadowing of Jesus atonement for our sin.