TODAY’S HEADLINES: WHY DO WE FORGET THAT GOD FORGETS?
- DON’T SETTLE FOR A RELIGIOUS PATCH-UP JOB THAT WILL FAIL YOU; CHRIST IS THE REAL THING; THE NEW WINE AND THE NEW WINESKIN
- PLUCKING CORN ON THE SABBATH
OLD TESTAMENT READING: LEVITICUS 4:1-5:19
Yesterday, when we started to read the Book of Leviticus, we understood its uniqueness. It is not a story book. It is a user’s manual for the people of Israel instructing them how they were to relate to the Holiness of the Lord manifested in the Tabernacle.
The Book of Leviticus gives us a vocabulary by which we can understand the gospel of our salvation which will one day be spelled out in the person and work of Jesus Christ.
- We learn the principle of substitution through the innocent animals representing Christ as our innocent Sin-Bearer.
- We learn the principle of identification, with the Offerer (priest) being identified with the Offering (substitutionary sacrifice).
- We learn the various facets of atonement in the five major offerings of Chapters 1-5.
The Tabernacle and its services give us a picture of what God requires in order for His presence to dwell among us. The Lord God spells out His terms for holiness, in our worship before God in The Tent of Testimony (Chapters 1-10), and in our personal holiness, the Tent of our Bodies (Chapters 11-15), and the Tent of our Social Lives (Chapters 17-27). In between the section on personal holiness in the tent of our bodies (11-15) and relational holiness, the section on how we behave with one another in our daily lives (17-27), there is the important Chapter on the Great Day of Atonement representing an all-encompassing offering that puts away sin (Chapter 16).
The Book of Leviticus tells us what God requires for holiness. It also teaches us that we don’t have what God requires! The tabernacle was a schoolteacher pointing out our need for the detailed beauty of Jesus’ offering on our behalf (Gal 3:24). We do not have the devotion (pictured by the burnt offering), the submission (meal offering), or the fellowship (pictured in the peace offering) that we need to bring pleasure to God. We can be accepted by God only through His provision of a Perfect Substitute.
This is why the New Testament points out that “by God’s doing” (1 Cor 1:30a) believers are “hid with Christ” (Colossians 3:3), “identified with Christ”, “baptized into Christ” (Romans 6:1-10), positioned “in Christ Jesus” who became to us “wisdom from God” (our answer, our sufficiency) and has been made to be for us our righteousness, sanctification and redemption. (1 Corinthians 1:30b).
The perfect devotion of Jesus is our burnt offering. The Father is perpetually mindful of the sweet-smelling sacrifice of His obedience. The obedience of the Last Adam undid the damage of the disobedience of the First Adam. The perfect submission of Jesus is our meal (grain) offering. He learned obedience through the things He suffered (Heb. 5:8). He sanctified Himself on our behalf. He went through the fire for us. He was tempted at every point yet without sin. He allowed Himself to be crushed like grain into fine flour (Lev 2:14). “He was crushed for our iniquities” (Isaiah 53:5). “Consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself” (Hebrews 12:3).
Jesus is our peace offering (Ephesians 2:14). Without Christ there is no way that we can have true fellowship with God or with one another. Through our being identified with Jesus Christ we have access to God, are brought to God, and are granted the same fellowship privileges He has (Ephesians 2:19).
The sweet-smelling sacrifices (burnt offering, meal offering and peace offering) are perpetually remembered by God. They represent the positive side of the Atonement- Christ’s all sufficient merit being credited to us. The laying of hands on the sacrifice in this case speaks of all the virtues of the sacrifice being transferred from the innocent substitute to the offeror.
The next two sacrifices (the trespass and sin offering) are different. They are not sweet-smelling. They are designed to cover sin and point to the once and for all Sacrifice of Christ on the cross that will put away sin. The transference goes the other way. The guilt of the transgressor is transferred to the innocent substitute.
These sins are perpetually forgotten instead of being perpetually remembered (as were the sweet-smelling sacrifices representing Christ’s virtues).
Psalm 103:12 (NASB)
12 As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.
Isaiah 43:25 (NASB)
25 “I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake, And I will not remember your sins.
Isaiah 44:22 (NASB)
22 “I have wiped out your transgressions like a thick cloud and your sins like a heavy mist. Return to Me, for I have redeemed you.”
Micah 7:19 (NASB)
19 He will again have compassion on us; He will tread our iniquities under foot. Yes, You will cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.
Isaiah 38:17 (NASB)
17 “Lo, for my own welfare I had great bitterness; It is You who has kept my soul from the pit of nothingness, For You have cast all my sins behind Your back.
Isaiah 55:7 The Lord abundantly pardons.
Thank God that the Lord chooses to forget our sins! He doesn’t count our trespasses against us (2 Cor. 5:19). He remembers our sins no more (Jeremiah 31:34; Hebrews 8:12; 10:17).
Jeremiah 31:34 34 “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”
THE SIN OFFERING (Leviticus Chapters 4 and 5)
“If a person sins unintentionally, (Lev 4:1) …and they will,….if the anointed priest sins (4:3) … and they will ..if the whole congregation commits an error (v.13)..and they often do, when a leader sins (4:22) and they do, if anyone of the common people sins unintentionally (4:27) and they will, they are to bring an offering to the priest at the Tabernacle when they become aware of it.
In the case of the priest, or the congregation as a whole, they are to bring a bull to be killed before the Lord, whose blood is to be sprinkled seven times before the veil that seals off the Holiest of All. Some blood is to be applied to the horns of the altar and all of the remaining blood poured out at the base of the altar of burnt offering. The fat is to be burned on the brazen altar. Then the body of the bull is to be taken outside the camp and burned on wood with fire.
In the case of a leader sinning unintentionally, when they are made aware of their guilt, he shall take a goat, a male without defect, lay hands on it and kill it before the Lord. The blood then is to be put on the horns of the brazen altar, and then poured out at the base. The fat of the goat is to be burnt on the brazen altar. (No mention here of the priest dipping his finger and sprinkling the blood seven times before the veil or the carcass being taken outside the camp.) Yet the good news is that “he will be forgiven” (Lev 4:22).
In the case of anyone of the common people sinning unintentionally, when they are made aware of their sin, they are to bring a female goat (4:28) or female lamb (4:32) without blemish. The blood is put upon the horns of the altar and the remaining is poured out at the base. The fat from the goat is to be burnt and gives a quieting, soothing and tranquilizing aroma to the Lord (4:31). If a person cannot afford a lamb, they can bring a dove or a pigeon (Lev 5:7). If he or she is so poor that they cannot bring birds, they can bring a tenth of an ephah of fine flour as a sin offering (5:11).
No one is infallible, whether they be priest, leader, or common person, rich or poor. All need a sin offering and need to deal with guilt God’s way when that sin is made known to them (1 John 1:9). God’s way of dealing with sin is for the sinner to acknowledge his or her sin and trust in our Blessed Savior and His perfect sacrifice on our behalf.
1 John 1:9 (NASB) If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
We are to walk in the light. When the light shines on our lives and brings awareness of our sin we are to deal with the sin properly. We are to confess (this word ‘confess’, ‘homo-logeo’ in the Greek language, literally means to ‘say the same thing’). To confess is to say the same thing that God says about our sin- that sin is an offense to Him and for that offense the blood of Christ was shed.
1 John 1:7 (NASB) 7 but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.
The sin offering deals with sins that are committed without one being aware of their guilt at the time and speaks of redemption in general.
THE GUILT OFFERING (5:14- 6:7)
The guilt offering, sometimes called ‘the trespass offering’, is for those specific sins, intentional or unintentional, resulting from the scheming of our deceitful hearts. It involves a ram without defect being slain and offered for his or her offense before the Lord. It also involves restitution being made to offended parties (5:16-17). This involved rectifying every possible wrong. The thief is to give back more than was stolen (a fifth more).
NEW TESTAMENT READING: Mark 2:13-3:7
Jesus calls the tax-collector, Matthew (Levi) to follow him. Matthew was despised by the Pharisees due to the company he kept and his job which involved collecting money for the Romans. Matthew soon opens his home for guests and the religious leaders ask the disciples, “Why is He eating and drinking with tax collectors and sinners?”
Mark 2:17 (NASB) 17 And hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
This is good news to those who humble themselves and recognize that they have been gripped by the disease of sin and need a Savior.
The next question is also revealing. The Pharisees wonder why the disciples of Jesus do not fast like their disciples or the disciples of John? Jesus replies that the attendants of the bridegroom cannot fast because they need to be doing what the bridegroom is doing. Jesus is making known that He is Israel’s bridegroom (Isaiah 54:5). The Pharisees, as custodians of the revelation of Scripture, should have recognized that Jesus was the Messiah. Religious piety is no substitute for being in fellowship with God. Are we taking our cues from the Living Jesus, according to the witness of the Scriptures, from religion, or our own habits that are detached from real engagement with God? Is Jesus our focus today? What would He have you do? Feast if He is feasting. Fast if He is fasting. It’s not what you do, it’s who you do it with. Follow Jesus.
Jesus gives the parable of new things. The new patch requires a new cloth. The new wine requires new wineskins. Attempting to bind the newness of the gospel (by which we are accepted by God in the righteousness of Another, that is, Jesus) to an old religion (where we are trying to gain acceptance before God by our own works of righteousness) is as futile as trying to patch an old garment with a new untreated piece of cloth.
The new wine of the gospel cannot fit into a rigid religious system of self-redemptive, self-justifying religious works. The grace of God, offered us in Christ, is incompatible with the idea that people can be made right with God by externally conforming to religious standards and by merely practicing moral or religious principles.
THE LORD OF THE SABBATH
Jesus irritated the Pharisees further by plucking corn on the Sabbath. Jesus was acting lawfully.
Deuteronomy 23:25 (NASB) 25 “When you enter your neighbor’s standing grain, then you may pluck the heads with your hand, but you shall not wield a sickle in your neighbor’s standing grain.
The Pharisees perceived that he was violating the Sabbath by reaping corn (Exodus 34:21).
Exodus 34:21 (NASB) 21 “You shall work six days, but on the seventh day you shall rest; even during plowing time and harvest you shall rest.
Like David in 1 Samuel 21:1-6, Jesus ate corn and gave it to his disciples in good conscience. They both discerned the intent of the law that was written. Jesus was the author of the Law and knew what the Sabbath meant and what the Sabbath was for. He invented it! Notice how Jesus responded to His critics:
Mark 2:27-28 (NASB) 27 Jesus said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. 28 “So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”
The Author of the Law is the authority on the Law!
TODAY’S READING FROM THE BOOK OF PSALMS: Psalm 36:1-12
Sing of His steadfast love today! (Psalm 36:5)
The righteous character of God is contrasted with the foolish habits of those that do not know Him. How foolish it is to think that we can hide our sin from God! (Numbers 32:23) The estimations of the person who does not know God is faulty and his self-righteous boasting is foolish. He is an expert in rationalizing good reasons to do evil.
The big question is: “Where do you put your trust?” Do you put your trust in the wisdom of men, so self-centered in its habits, perverse in its estimations, and foolish in its boastings? Or will you trust in the righteousness and steadfast love of the Lord?
Psalm 36:7 7 How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God! And the children of men take refuge in the shadow of Your wings.
This Psalm contains a verse that I have written on the flyleaf of my Bible:
Psalm 36:9 9 For with You is the fountain of life; In Your light we see light.
This reminds me of the quote from C.S. Lewis: “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”
TODAY’S READING FROM PROVERBS: Proverbs 10:1-2
Be wise- Be right with God, think right with God, and do right with God!
Proverbs 10:1-2 1 The proverbs of Solomon. A wise son makes a father glad, but a foolish son is a grief to his mother. 2 Ill-gotten gains do not profit, but righteousness delivers from death.
PRAYER FOR THE GLOBAL HARVEST:
TODAY WE PRAY FOR ISLANDS IN THE CARRIBBEAN: ANGUILA, https://www.operationworld.org/angu
And ANTIGUA and BARBUDA
PRAYER: Thank You Lord for giving us insights into Your holiness as we read the Book of Leviticus. Our estimation of Your beauty and grace increases as our understanding is enlightened by Your Word. We thank You once again that Your Word became flesh and tabernacled among us, and we have perceived His glory, Your glory, Father, in Christ Jesus our Lord, full of grace and truth! Because of Him Your plan to tabernacle among us will be fulfilled!
Thank you for calling us into fellowship with Your Son (1 Cor. 1:9), the Lord of the Sabbath! When we do life together with Him, we are at rest!