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Current study: Spiritual Warfare

22 February 2012

Week 8 - 20 February - Leviticus 15-18

Today we begin our reading with bodily discharges (eeeew). These discharges represent our secret sins. Outwardly, we might be “super Christians” who attend church every service, sing in the choir, help count the money, usher, maybe even preach or lead worship. Our families look perfect. Our life seems to be wonderful. Inside, however, we harbor lust or envy. Perhaps we hide doubt or even unbelief. Our “real” life is very different from what we allow others to see (and when people are aware of these secret sins, it gives them a reason to call us “hypocrites”). We are just like Paul!

For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. 17 So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18 For I know that 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. 19  For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. Romans 7:15-20 (ESV)

The discharges enumerated in chapter 15 remind us how easily our sin nature takes over. We need to honestly evaluate our lives, with God’s help, and see what “discharges” we have. We need to ask God to help us to acknowledge our secret sins. We need to understand that the sins that we hide from the world will fester, and without the Great Physician’s help, will come to the surface and ruin our testimonies as well as the peace which we should have through Christ Jesus.

In Chapter 16, we see the celebration of the Day of Atonement. This was a solemn and frightening day. All Israel was required to stop their regular work and present themselves at the Tabernacle. There, the High Priest would walk into the Holy of Holies – and it was only on this day that this approach was permitted. It is an obvious pointer to the once-for-all sacrifice made by Christ.
This ceremony was to be held in the seventh month. Seven signifies completeness.

…but when the fulness of the time came, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5 that he might redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. Gal 4:4-5 (ASV)

So Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him. Heb 9:28 (ESV)

The Israelites offered regular and daily sacrifices to show that we are in continual need of atonement. However, the Day of Atonement happened only once a year. Likewise, we need to continually ask for forgiveness of our sins, but there is no need for Christ to die again for our sins. It was once and for all!
Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said,
“Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body have you prepared for me;
6 in burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure. 7 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.’ ”  8 When he said above, “You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings” (these are offered according to the law), 9 then he added, “Behold, I have come to do your will.” He does away with the first in order to establish the second. 10 And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. Heb 10:5-10 (ESV)

In what ways did the Day of Atonement under the law parallel the atoning work of Christ at Calvary?

1.       The High Priest had to separate himself from his family before the ceremony. His diet was limited, and on the ceremonial day, he was required to fast. He also performed all the menial duties usually performed by the regular priests. He also had to divest himself of all priestly garb and dress humbly.

But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Phil 2:7-8 (KJV)

2.       Everything was to be done by the High Priest. He could receive no help.

He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. 1 Peter 2:24 (ESV)

3.       It was an exhausting, crushing day for the High Priest. The sins of the people were literally on his shoulders.
And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. Luke 22:44 (ESV)

The atonement offering itself was also special. The goats used were to be spotless and perfect; a picture of Christ as Propitiation. The law said that the goat of the sin offering was to be killed. Likewise, our Savior was slain for the sins of the world.

Chapter 17 is quite shore, and deals with where sacrifices can be made as well as the animal’s blood.

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. Lev 17:11 (ESV)

This is a pretty clear picture of the atonement that Christ made for us!

And chapter 18 – when you read it, did you think of how close some of this sounded to today’s “reality TV” This proves to me that man has been sinful since time began. And God, through His wonderful grace, wanted man to remain perfect, pure and holy. He wants us to remain out of the world. He doesn’t want us to have improper sexual relations with family members or members of the same sex.  Beastiality is forbidden. And the consequences are dire:

But you shall keep my statutes and my rules and do none of these abominations, either the native or the stranger who sojourns among you 27 (for the people of the land, who were before you, did all of these abominations, so that the land became unclean), 28 lest the land vomit you out when you make it unclean, as it vomited out the nation that was before you. 29 For everyone who does any of these abominations, the persons who do them shall be cut off from among their people. Lev 18:26-29 (ESV)

I hope that you have begun to see that Leviticus is a crucial book. It’s practical in that it tells us exactly what God expects. It’s precious in that it points to the One Who came to save us from our sins – and from the need to sacrifice in a legalistic way.

I pray that you will take time today to thank God for His Word – even the parts that on the surface seem out of date or old fashioned. I pray that you thank Him that His Word is a living book and that all of it is placed there for a reason. I pray that as we continue through the Bible, you will take the time to delve below the surface to determine that seemingly obscure passages can mean to you today!

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