TODAY’S READING- THE MEANING OF THE FIRE; THE ASHES; THE FOOD; AND THE UNPARDONABLE SIN
The sacrificial system in the Old Testament dramatically spells out what is required for our redemption. The worshiper needs a specific kind of intercession and atonement if they are to approach God, who is holy.
The priesthood and the sacrifices prescribed in the ceremonial law could not in themselves make worship acceptable (Hebrews 7:11-10:4-6). Their effectiveness was in that they pointed the Israelites to God’s future grace- the provision of the perfect Intercession and Atoning Sacrifice that would be provided by Jesus Christ (Hebrews 10:7-14).
The privilege of intimacy with God is not attained through any sacrifice that we can bring. Our only hope for communion with God can only be realized on the ground of absolute righteousness (Heb 7:19).
The Book of Leviticus helps us to understand this. We cannot offer any inherent righteousness of our own, for we are convicted as transgressors worthy of death according to God’s holy law. The good news is that God in His infinite grace has offered us the righteousness of Another, the absolute righteousness of God the Son, Christ Jesus.
He is our Great High Priest, without sin and worthy of eternal life (Hebrews 4:14-15; 6:19-20; 7:25-26; 8:1; 9:11-15). He approaches God as our Representative, clothed in the beauty and glory of absolute holiness. He offers His merits in place of our demerits. These merits are seen in the three sweet-smelling sacrifices which exist as a lingering reminder of His standing in our place in the presence of God’s holiness. The perpetual fragrance of Christ is evident in:
- THE BURNT OFFERING (Leviticus 1) portraying HIS PERFECT SURRENDER.
- THE GRAIN (MEAL) OFFERING (Leviticus 2) portraying HIS PERFECT SERVICE, as His humanity is perfectly submitted to God on behalf of others.
- THE PEACE OFFERING (Leviticus 3) portraying HIS PERFECT SERENITY as He communicates and mediates the fellowship of the Godhead.
“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful” (John 14:27).
“For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one” (Eph 2:14).
THE SIN OFFERING (Lev 4-5:13) and THE GUILT OFFERING (Lev 5:14-6:7) portray Jesus taking the punishment of God’s wrath against sin upon Himself and putting away sin (Heb 9:26). The sin offering was for those who offended God who were ignorant of it at the time. The Guilt offering was for sins against the holy things of the Lord (the tabernacle or the priesthood-5:15) and against one’s neighbor (6:1-7). The offering involved confession (Numbers 5:7) and restitution.
We have the repetition of the phrase “unintentionally” or “in ignorance” (4:2,13,22,27; 5:15) meaning that the violators were not aware that they were violating the law at the time.
There was no sacrifice for High-handed or deliberate sins (Numbers 15:30-36) and these transgressors had to cast themselves upon God’s mercy with the sacrifice of a broken spirit and contrite heart (Psalm 51).
Important concepts and themes that are introduced in the Book of Leviticus will be picked up in many other books in both the Old and New Testaments. You will be grateful that you did not skip reading this Book!
The priesthood and the tabernacle provide important insights into the ways of God that are made clear in the Book of Hebrews in the New Testament (Hebrews 9 and 10).
In Leviticus 6 and 7 we are introduced to more important facts.
We have learned of the fire in the cloud that provided illumination and direction in the darkness (Exodus 13:21; 14:20). We have seen the role of fire as it consumes the sacrifices on the brazen altar. Fire releases the fragrance of the sweet-smelling sacrifices and destroys those that are not. Fire is used at the altar of incense.
In Leviticus 6 we learn of the LAW OF THE BURNT OFFERING. This had to do with the maintenance of the fire (6:9,12) and the deposition of the ashes for the burnt offering sacrifices (6:10-11).
What strikes the reader are the words:
Fire shall be kept burning continually on the altar; it is not to go out. (Leviticus 6:13; NASB)
The fire speaks of the nature of God and His work in judgment and purification.
Deuteronomy 4:24 (NASB)
24 “For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.”
This is repeated in the New Testament:
Hebrews 12:29 (NASB)
29 for our God is a consuming fire.
The fire represents the holy nature of God and the activity of holiness in judgment and purification. We learn in a later chapter of Leviticus that the fire on the altar was a divine initiation. God started the fire.
Leviticus 9:24 And there came a fire out from before the Lord, and consumed upon the altar the burnt offering and the fat: which when all the people saw, they shouted, and fell on their faces.
Any fire in the Tabernacle that was not of divine origin is considered “strange fire”. Aaron’s sons, Nadab and Abihu will be killed for the sin of offering “strange fire” before the Lord (Lev. 10:1).
The presence of holy fire in the Tabernacle indicated that it was God Himself who would make the acceptable sacrifice. The fire of God’s holiness consumes all that is contrary to Himself. It is God Himself who is the consuming fire. It is God who reduces to ashes that which represents sin. It is God who releases on behalf of the worshiper the fragrance of that which is pleasing to Himself in the burnt offering, the meal-offering, and the peace offering.
It is God who initiates and completes the work of salvation. It is God who makes holy. That fire is never to go out, day and night. The priests were to be sure that the fire was well fed. They were not to let it go out.
Man has no holiness in Himself. It all comes from the Lord.
The fire is to be maintained by the presentation of all that we are to God. Wood speaks of our humanity. We are to present things in our lives that are unworthy. They need to be surrendered for destruction. We are to present things in our lives that are worthy. They are to be handed over for purification. We should withhold nothing from the fire.
There is no moment of the day or night that our lives need not be presented to God, our holy fire.
THE ASHES– (Lev 6:10-11)
Ashes are an important symbol in the Old Testament. They are considered as evidence that a sacrifice has been fully consumed. The ashes serve as a witness to what has taken place. There has been an accomplished act. An acceptable substitutionary sacrifice has been offered as a provision for redemption.
Jesus made reference to an incident when the Pharisees reprimanded him for plucking corn on the Sabbath. He said that David entered the house of God and ate the showbread when he was hungry (Mark 2:25-26; 1 Samuel 21:6). We can see from Leviticus 6:16; 7:6 that only Aaron and his sons had permission to eat the bread from the grain offering, and from the table of Showbread (Lev. 24:5-9).
In pagan religions, sacrifices are offered to appease or “feed” the gods. However, the God of the Bible provides food for man (Gen 1:29). In the Tabernacle, we see that it is God who feeds His people with the sacrifices. He provides a portion to the priests, and in some cases to the worshipers in front of the Tabernacle.
Some people see God as a vending machine. You put so much in and you get so much out. This is not the way of our God.
God does not need us to feed Him.
Psalm 50:10-12 (NASB)
10 “For every beast of the forest is Mine, The cattle on a thousand hills. 11 I know every bird of the mountains, and everything that moves in the field is Mine. 12 If I were hungry I would not tell you, For the world is Mine, and all it contains”.
The children of Israel were to eat of the Passover Lamb. The donors of an animal for the Peace offering were permitted to partake of its meat.
ONLY THE PRIESTS could eat the grain offering, sin, and guilt offerings and they had to eat it in a holy place. (Lev 6:16). They could eat the skin of the burnt offerings and breast and right thigh of the peace offerings.
These Old Testament types were placeholders for the perfect once and for all sacrifice of Christ. The death of Jesus was the final sin offering in the Bible (2 Corinthians 5:21). What are the offerings that we bring as New Testament believers? As those who are alive to God and members of His royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:9), we present our bodies, the entirety of our lives, as a living sacrifice. This is our reasonable service. Full devotion and surrender (Romans 12:1). We bring the sacrifice of praise (Hebrews 13:15), we honor, meditate upon and obey His Word, we pray for and we do good to others, sharing generously through the gospel, for the gospel, and in active support of the work of the gospel. (Hebrews 13:16-18; Galatians 6:6-10).
NEW TESTAMENT READING: Mark 3:7-30
Once again, we notice that the demons are quick to recognize Jesus as the Son of God:
Mark 3:11 (NASB) 11 Whenever the unclean spirits saw Him, they would fall down before Him and shout, “You are the Son of God!”
In the Book of Acts, we realize that demons not only recognize Christ, but they recognize those who have been born of His Holy Spirit.
Acts 19:15 (NASB) 15 And the evil spirit answered and said to them, “I recognize Jesus, and I know about Paul, but who are you?”
Are we sufficiently identified with Christ to be known by the forces of heaven and hell?
Jesus chooses 12 disciples. Soon we learn that others, including some of his friends, think Jesus is crazy. (John 10:20)
When His own people heard of this, they went out to take custody of Him; for they were saying, “He has lost His senses.” The scribes who came down from Jerusalem were saying, “He is possessed by Beelzebul,” and “He casts out the demons by the ruler of the demons.” (Mark 3:21-22)
Jesus answers critics picking up on the word ‘Beelzebul’ which means ‘master of the house’:
“If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. If a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand.”
“If Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but he is finished! But no one can enter the strong man’s house and plunder his property unless he first binds the strong man, and then he will plunder his house.” (Mark 3:24-27)
Jesus makes it clear that He stands in opposition to Satan and that He is stronger than Satan. The evidence of this is that He cast out the demons.
Jesus then warns these Pharisees that they were in danger of committing an eternal and unforgivable sin. (Mark 3:28-30)
The only unforgivable sin is the rejection of the Son of God. The ministry of the Holy Spirit is to bring conviction of sin and the Word’s witness of the Savior to the heart. The religious leaders who had denied every overture from God, even being offered forgiveness by Jesus on the Cross, resisted the Spirit (Acts 7:51) and rejected Christ to their own destruction. Their willful, persistent and decisive verdict that the Holy Spirit’s witness about Jesus Christ is Satanic kept them from the Fount of Forgiveness.
What a great Psalm to read today! Don’t waste emotional energy on worrying or reacting to others (v.1-2). Trust the Lord and respond to His grace (v 3-11).
When you delight yourself in the Lord, He gives you new desires! (v.4).
We can have confidence in the Lord’s enabling power if we are committed to doing God’s work God’s way:
Psalm 37:5-7a 5 “Commit your way to the LORD, trust also in Him, and He will do it. 6 He will bring forth your righteousness as the light and your judgment as the noonday. 7 Rest in the LORD and wait patiently for Him;”
TODAY’S READING FROM PROVERBS- Proverbs 10:3-4
This is a good admonition to be diligent while recognizing it is the Lord who feeds you!
Proverbs 10:3-4 3 The LORD will not allow the righteous to hunger, But He will reject the craving of the wicked. 4 Poor is he who works with a negligent hand, But the hand of the diligent makes rich.
May the Lord starve our wicked cravings! He blesses those who hunger and thirst after righteousness! Bless our diligent work, in Jesus’ Name!
PRAYER: Holy Spirit, keep the altar of our heart’s devotion continually aflame with Your abiding presence that we may readily offer You the sacrifice of praise! Father, thank You for calling us to holiness, and providing Christ to be for us our holiness, representing us before You, living in us and by the power of His Indwelling Holy Spirit ever-changing us into His likeness (2 Corinthians 3:18)! We delight ourselves in You and are thrilled to be able to participate in what You are doing to make disciples of all kinds of people in the world today!
P.S. PRAY TODAY FOR ARGENTINA (Prayer needs are listed on p. 109-112 of “Operation World”)
Latin America’s second largest country, with a great range of climate, rainfall and topography. The 16,300 sq. km Islas Malvinas (Falkland Islands) are claimed by Argentina but remain under British rule. There is one federal district and 23 provinces.
Church leadership remains a critical bottleneck in further growth. Leaders who train, disciple and release other leaders into ministry and who minister in the Word and the Spirit are always needed. Pray for those involved in training through seminaries, Bible schools and TEE; there are literally hundreds across the country. Pray also for students who are hindered by lack of finance, facilities or time.
For more prayer information, click the link:
Current events should be triggering our prayers for the Gulf Region.
Pray for Bahrain (p. 130-131 of “Operation World”)
As Egypt and Tunisia are in transition, protests have spread to Libya, Iran, Yemen and Bahrain with disturbing incidents of violence. The uprising in Bahrain pits the ruling Sunni monarch against the protest movement composed mainly of Shiite Muslims.
Pray for restoration of peace and for good government in which the gospel can be preached (freedom of speech) and there will be freedom to worship.
1 Timothy 2:1-4 (NASB)
1 First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, 2 for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. 3 This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
Here is a sample prayer from John Piper:
Father in heaven, and Lord of all nations, rule over the Middle East in these tumultuous days so that political leaders and laws and practices are established that support peace and freedom for the followers of your Son. We praise you that you are not a tribal deity, and that you desire people of all ethnic groups to be saved through the blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ. In ways we cannot imagine, O God, govern the minds and hearts and systems and regimes and authority structures and intrigues and revolutions and constitutions and localities and neighborhood networks so that your people have protection, provision, peace, and spiritual power to lead holy lives, filled with fruitful passion to reach millions with the gospel. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Keep on reading, praying, loving, serving, rejoicing and reaching out in love as you abide in Christ!