Be Holy For I Am Holy

A Study through Leviticus

A Holy Walk before the LORD – Leviticus 11-17

 

We have said that the book of Leviticus can be divided in the following way:

I.                   Holy Worship of the LORD – Leviticus 1-10

II.                Holy Walk Before the LORD – Leviticus 11-17

III.             Holy Walk in the Sinful World – Leviticus 18-27

We have seen the holy principles involved with worshipping God and coming into His presence. Now we will look instruction from God through Moses on how to walk in a holy way before the Lord. The idea of holiness involves distinctiveness and separation. The instructions we will study in these chapters are a guide for God’s people on how to remain distinct from the unsaved and separated from their sinful ways.

Ceremonial Law

As we look at God’s law as it pertains to selection and preparation of foods, child birthing, diagnosing disease, and other areas we need to keep in mind that we are looking at ceremonial law. A “ceremony” refers to actions that stress careful attention to form and detail. Ceremonies involve rituals, religious rites and actions that adhere to a prescribed set of rules and patterns.

Ceremonial law was given to deal with the transgression of the moral law of God, i.e. the Covenant Commandments. The ceremonial law consisted of ceremonies, ordinances, and sacrifices that the people were required to perform in order to deal with their sins. The book of Hebrews tells us that the ceremonial sacrifices were only useful in dealing with sin in that they presented opportunities for God’s people to apply their faith in obedience to God and hence be righteous before God (e.g. Gen. 15:6; Heb. 11:4). These ceremonial laws and sacrifices did not actually atone for sin but provided a just way for God to pass over the sin confessed by Old Testament people of faith until Jesus actually atoned for sin on the cross (cf. Rom. 3:21-26). Hebrews is clear in stating that the ceremonial sacrifices of the Old Testament did not atone for sin but served as types and shadows of Jesus the only sufficient Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (cf. John 1:29; Hebrews 7-10).

Warren Wiersbe gives three important facts about the ceremonial law and in particular the dietary laws:

Three facts should be noted about the dietary laws: (1) God gave these laws only to the Jewish nation; (2) obeying them guaranteed ceremonial purity but didn’t automatically make the person holy in character; and (3) the laws were temporary and were ended on the cross of Christ (Col. 2:14).[1]

 

Jesus taught that all foods were clean in His response to the Pharisees who criticized the fact that Jesus’ disciples weren’t observing ceremonial washing when they ate. Jesus said it wasn’t what went into a person’s mouth and stomach that made them unclean but what came out of their heart that did (Mark 7:1-23). The gospel brought a way for those previously unclean due to sin to be made clean in Christ through faith in His atoning work on the cross. This was a lesson Peter; a devout Jew had difficulty understanding (Acts 10:9-16). But heart cleansing was not and cannot ever be accomplished by way of ceremonial works. Heart cleansing comes through faith in Christ (Acts 15:8-9).

There are not two standards or means of salvation and heart cleansing from sin. Both Jew and Gentile are saved through faith in Christ. This is the point of Paul inspired epic doctrinal treatise of Romans (cf. Rom. 1-5). There are those who try to give more weight to ceremony and ritual than is justified. These are referred to as “weak in the faith” (Rom. 14). Those who are strong are those who have shaken off the shackles of ceremonial law keeping. Those who are strong in faith are instructed to bear those who are weak (Rom. 15:1-13). For instance “food does not commend us to God” but we are not to cause division and stumble someone weak in faith who practices self-imposed adherence of ceremonies (1 Cor. 8:8-9).

When it comes to dietary laws, holy days, feasts and the Old Testament laws we are not bound to keep them as a means of righteousness. These served to expose human sinfulness and as a testimony against us were nailed to the cross of Christ. In Colossians Paul is inspired to write:

·         Colossians 2:16-23 - 16 So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, 17 which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ. 18 Let no one cheat you of your reward, taking delight in false humility and worship of angels, intruding into those things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, 19 and not holding fast to the Head, from whom all the body, nourished and knit together by joints and ligaments, grows with the increase that is from God. 20 Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations— 21 “Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle,” 22 which all concern things which perish with the using— according to the commandments and doctrines of men? 23 These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh.

Warren Wiersbe adds:

“Paul affirmed that special days and diets must not be considered either the means or the measure of a person’s spirituality (Rom. 14:1–15:13). “But food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do” (1 Cor. 8:8, NIV). It’s wrong to judge other Christians on the basis of what they eat (Col. 2:16–23). As long as they believe God’s Word that all foods are clean, and ask God to bless their food, they have the right to eat it (1 Tim. 4:1–6).” [2]

What value does the ceremonial law have for the one who has received Jesus as Savior and Lord? A person is not saved by keeping the law of God (Gal. 2:16; 3:10-13; Eph. 2:8-9; Titus 3:5). This is true of the moral as well as ceremonial law of God. The law of God was given to point out and expose sin (Rom. 7:7; Gal. 3:24; 1 Tim. 1:8-11). The Law is used by God to expose humanities’ sinfulness in order to demonstrate their need of salvation and a Savior in Jesus Christ (Rom. 3:1-26; 5). 

What value then do ceremonies and laws such as we find in Leviticus have for the follower of Christ? There is great value in that the law, ceremonies and sacrifices are “shadows” of Christ (Heb. 8:5; 10:1). The volume of God’s word is all about Jesus (Heb. 10:7). Therefore every part of God’s word is valuable to study in order to discover aspects of Jesus and our walk with Him so that we can build our relationship with Him.

“Should Christian Jews Live like Jews?”

That is a title of one of the chapters in Dr. Walter Kaiser’s book Hard Sayings of the Bible. In a part of the church today there is a rise in Messianic Jews, Jews who have come to accept Jesus as the fulfillment of the promised Old Testament Messiah. These are Jews who consider themselves more completed than converted by Christ. Messianic Jews choose to continue to observe rituals and holidays based on their culture and ethnicity and see them now in light of their fulfillment in Christ. The problem with such a practice is that it has been a source of division and assumed spiritual superiority and pride by some. This is a problem but it is no reason to throw the baby of meaningful Jewish insights to God’s word with the bathwater of modern pharisaical attitudes. The Bible is a Jewish book. Jesus has a Jewish lineage. But in Christ the two groups, Jew and non-Jew are to come together and be one (Eph. 2:11-22). What is the solution to this problem?

A good balance and proper perspective is offered by Dr. Walter Kaiser.  His response to this issue is worth including here. His response in part is as follows:

Paul clearly had no place for the observance of Jewish ceremonies by Gentile believers. He states in the strongest terms in Galatians and Romans that circumcision, Sabbath observance and Jewish dietary laws are not binding on Christians. In fact, he writes, “If you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all” (Gal 5:2).

It is also clear that Paul believed that God’s promises to Israel were still in effect. Therefore he expected not just a remnant of Israel to be saved in the present, but “all Israel” to be saved in the end (Rom 11:26). He could therefore also write about a separate Jewish-Christian mission with a methodology different from his Gentile-Christian mission (Gal 2:7–10).

Finally, Paul states that even though he was free he became “all things to all men,” which included becoming a Jew and living under the law while among Jews, for the sake of the gospel (1 Cor. 9:19–23). This means that Paul personally could take part in Jewish ritual, if for no other reason than to forward the gospel. For him this would not be the same sort of compromise as the circumcision of Titus would have been (Gal 2:3), for Titus was a Gentile by birth and Paul was already a Jew when he was converted. Thus Jewish behavior would not have been adding anything to his Christianity, but saying that he did not have to abandon his Jewish culture to become a Christian….

 

…. for Paul there was no theological reason why Jews could not observe Jewish customs, as long as they were seen as signs of national identity or cultural expressions of piety, not a way of making themselves more holy than Gentile Christians. At the same time it was improper for Gentile Christians to follow such observances, for they were not Jews and becoming Jews would be no advantage to them. Instead, such observances would indicate that Christ was not enough for them. Finally, he insisted that Jewish and Gentile Christians remain in table fellowship with one another (Gal 2:11–21; Rom 14), which meant principally the observance of the Lord’s Supper together. However difficult this may have been due to Jewish dietary rules and Gentile freedom from them, the rule of love was to prevail in maintaining their unity in Christ.

 

Within such constraints Paul felt personally free to live as a Jew whenever possible. For him returning to the temple as a worshiper was a meaningful experience in continuity with his early zeal for God that, although misdirected, had now been brought to its proper fulfillment in Christ. Likewise he would surely bless today’s Messianic Jews who also find their Jewish culture meaningful in continuity with their Christian belief. What he would discourage is any tendency to separatism or elitism, for love and the unity of the faith must be preserved across cultural and ethnic barriers. [3]

 

The dangers associated with Messianic Judaism are division due to a sense of spiritual superiority and bondage to keeping the Law. The blessings are the rich insights to be gleaned from Judaism’s religious context of scripture. The answer is to understand that whether your background is one of Jew or Gentile, we are all saved by grace and are to have a fervent love for one another; a love that will help us to come together in the most important unifying attribute which is our saving relationship with Christ. As we grow in the Spirit and His love, the many parts of what Christ calls the church will fit together perfectly.  

A Distinctive Holy Diet

Leviticus 11:1-2 - Now the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying to them, 2 “Speak to the children of Israel, saying, ‘These are the animals which you may eat among all the animals that are on the earth:

In 1 Timothy 4:8 the apostle Paul was inspired to write, “For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of hat which is to come.” Bodily exercise and the care of our physical health “profits a little,” but it does profit. Christians are often guilty of neglecting their bodies. We are created in the image of God as body, mind and spirit (e.g. 1 Thessalonians 5:23). Each of the three parts of our being is interconnected and affects the other part. If we don’t care for ourselves physically (e.g. poor diet, no exercise, etc.) it can affect our mood and thoughts. We may get depressed or become preoccupied with the way we feel or look. That may lead to a neglect of our devotional life. On the other hand if we are feeling depressed a way out is to go prayerfully to God’s word as well as get in shape. Each aspect of our being, body, mind and spirit are interconnected.

As we study this chapter in Leviticus the temptation is to dismiss its contents by saying we are not under the Law. While we are not under the Law and can eat what we desire to eat as long as we pray over it, there is still great value in studying this portion of scripture. ALL of God’s word is worth our study. As we proceed and dig into the types and shadows of this passage you will see a great wealth of practical revelation to apply to our lives. This passage, believe it or not, has a lot to say about walking holy before God. There is a reason why the great call to holiness of Leviticus is placed in this chapter and section.

In chapter 11 we find dietary instructions concerning which foods are acceptable for consumption and those that are not. There is evidence in the time of Noah of the classification of animals for food as either clean or unclean (Gen. 7:1-10). In Exodus 15: 22-26 God gave His people a promise, if they obeyed His instructions, He would keep them healthy. (This was a lesson learned at Mariah when the people complained of the water being bitter. Moses cried out to the Lord and the Lord “showed him a tree” that when cast into the waters would make them sweet. Here we have a type application. The tree is a type of the cross of Christ [Gal. 3:13]. When the cross is brought into bitter situations in life, God bring sweetness, e.g. the sweetness of forgiveness, reconciliation, etc.) But in Exodus 15:26 God states:

·         Exodus 15:26 - 26 and said, “If you diligently heed the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in His sight, give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. For I am the Lord who heals you.”

Later in Deuteronomy God inspires Moses to write:

·         Deuteronomy 7:12, 15 - “Then it shall come to pass, because you listen to these judgments, and keep and do them, that the Lord your God will keep with you the covenant and the mercy which He swore to your fathers. . . . 15 And the Lord will take away from you all sickness, and will afflict you with none of the terrible diseases of Egypt which you have known, but will lay them on all those who hate you.

God wants His people to be healthy and makes provision for that.[4]

How effective are God’s dietary laws in keeping His people healthy? The Bubonic Plague or Black Death, infected Europe in the Middle Ages and it is estimated that 200 million people; nearly one in four Europeans died from this dreaded disease. The Black Death brought the swelling of lymph glands called buboes as well as other symptoms such as, “heavy breathing, continuous blood vomiting, urination of blood, aching limbs, coughing, and extreme pain. The pain is usually caused by the decaying or decomposing of the skin while the person is still alive. Additional symptoms include fever, headaches, chills, extreme tiredness, gastrointestinal problems, lenticulae (black dots scattered throughout the body), delirium and coma.”[5] So pervasive was this plague that the children’s game “Ring around the Rosy” was morbidly concocted:

The children's game of "Ring Around the Rosy" (or Ring a Ring o' Roses) may be derived from the appearance of the bubonic plague. Proponents claim that "Ring around the rosy" refers to the rosy-red, rash-like ring that appeared as a symptom of the plague. "Pocket full of posy" referred to carrying flower petals as at the time it was believed the disease was spread through the ether of unhygene, and scent stopped the spread. "Ashes, ashes" referred to the burning of infected corpses (in the UK the words of the rhyme are "atishoo, atishoo" mimicking sneezing), and "we all fall down" referred to the virulent deaths attributed to the plague. [6]

What is interesting is that the Jewish community was virtually immune to this Plague. Why? Because they kept the Old Testament sanitary regulations. God gives us instructions that protect us when they are obeyed.

While for the Christian food is “sanctified through the word of God and prayer” (1 Tim. 4:5) there are lessons to be learned in this chapter. Health was one purpose of these dietary laws but there is a deeper more important purpose found in them from God. Warren Wiersbe makes the following comment:

When He gave these laws, no doubt the Lord had the health of His people in mind (Ex. 15:26; Deut. 7:15), but the main purpose of the dietary code was to remind the Israelites that they belonged to God and were obligated to keep themselves separated from everything that would defile them. “Be holy, for I am holy” (Lev. 11:44; see Deuteronomy 14:3–20 for a parallel list of clean and unclean foods). 

Nevertheless, the spiritual principle of separation from defilement applies to the people of God today. The fact that we know God must make a difference in every aspect of our lives. “For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Cor. 6:20, NKJV). “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (10:31, NKJV). God hasn’t given His church a list of things that are clean and unclean, but He’s revealed enough to us in His Word to help us know what pleases Him and what grieves Him.[7]

Holiness involves living in the world but not being of the world (John 15:19; 17:14-16). Holiness involves separation from the polluting sinful activities of the world (Rom. 13:11-14; Eph. 5:8-14). Holiness involves a new way of thinking, thinking separate from and above worldly philosophies (Rom. 12:2; 2 Cor. 10:4-5; Eph. 4:23; Col. 2:8).  Our new standard and way of thinking is governed by a passion to please God and bring glory to Him (Col. 3:17, 23). We surrender all pet indulgences and polluted worldliness in all areas of life for the sake of preventing spiritual dissonance and static between us and God so that we can draw closer and closer to Him.

 

In this chapter the animals listed are likely meant to be representative more than all inclusive of clean and unclean animals.

There are types and shadows that convey principles of holy living to be found here. Let’s take a look at what God’s word says about holy living before Him. And let’s pray as God illumines His word to us that we apply in the Spirit to our lives that which He reveals.

Leviticus 11:3 - 3 Among the animals, whatever divides the hoof, having cloven hooves and chewing the cud—that you may eat.

God used the way an animal walked to determine its cleanliness and acceptability. The cloven divided hoof of an animal symbolizes a separation. A holy walk before the Lord involves being separate from the world. Is there a difference between us and the world or do we easily fit into the world’s ways with no apparent distinction?

Why the distinction of chewing the cud? A cow chews grass over and over until it becomes cud that is better digested. Similarly the walk that is holy before the Lord is a walk that chews on God’s word in meditation. We need to meditate and digest God’s word to get the most out of it.

The Bible speaks about meditating on God, His works and His word:

·         Joshua 1:8 - This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.

·         Psalm 63:6 -  When I remember You on my bed,  I meditate on You in the night watches.

·         Psalm 77:12 - I will also meditate on all Your work,  And talk of Your deeds.

·         Psalm 119:15 - I will meditate on Your precepts, And contemplate Your ways.

·         Psalm 119:27 - Make me understand the way of Your precepts; So shall I meditate on Your wonderful works.

·         Psalm 119:148 - My eyes are awake through the night watches,  That I may meditate on Your word.

·         Psalm 143:5 - I remember the days of old; I meditate on all Your works; I muse on the work of Your hands.

·         Psalm 145:5 - I will meditate on the glorious splendor of Your majesty, And on Your wondrous works.

·         Philippians 4:8 - Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.

In the preface to John Wesley’s Standard Sermons he write the following about the need to study God’s word:

"Here then I am, far from the busy ways of men. I sit down alone; only God is here. In his presence I open, I read his Book; for this end, to find the way to heaven. Is there a doubt concerning the meaning of what I read? Does anything appear dark or intricate? I lift up my heart to the Father of lights: 'Lord, is it not thy Word, "If any man lack wisdom, let him ask of God"? Thou 'givest liberally and upbraidest not'. Thou hast said, 'If any be willing to do thy will, he shall know.' I am willing to do, let me know thy will. I then search after and consider parallel passages of Scripture, 'comparing spiritual things with spiritual'. I meditate thereon, with all the attention and earnestness of which my mind is capable. If any doubt still remains, I consult those who are experienced in the things of God, and then the writings whereby, being dead, they yet speak. And what I thus learn, that I teach."

How important is meditation? Charles Spurgeon once said:

"He is not the best student who reads the most books, but he who meditates the most upon them; he shall not learn most of divinity who hears the greatest number of sermons, but he who meditates the most devoutly upon what he does hear; nor shall he be so profound a scholar who takes down ponderous volumes one after the other, as he who, reading little by little, precept upon precept, and line upon line, digests what he learns, and assimilates each sentiment to his heart by meditation."

We need to be Bereans (Acts 17:11). We need to read through God’s word but we also need to study it and meditate on what it says so that we take in the substance and deeper meanings of it. Chew the cud of God and His word!

Leviticus 11:4 - 4 Nevertheless these you shall not eat among those that chew the cud or those that have cloven hooves: the camel, because it chews the cud but does not have cloven hooves, is unclean to you;

Camel meat has been associated with intestinal disease. If while walking down a street a gnat entered the mouth of a Pharisee he would strain and gag himself to expel the gnat even though it would do him no harm. Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for straining at gnats but swallowing camels, i.e. straining at inconsequential details while overlooking the big picture and overall meanings of God’s word (Mat. 23:24).

In Leviticus 11 the word “unclean” occurs 32 times and the word “abomination” occurs 10 times. The lesson here is that what God calls unclean and is abominable to Him should be unclean and abominable to us. Throughout history and in the world today there are those who cloud and confuse truth and falsehood, right and wrong, evil and good. This was the case with God’s people as Isaiah pronounces God’s woe stating:

·         Isaiah 5:20 - Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!

There is a great danger in minimizing sin’s seriousness. Grace should never be an excuse to sin (Rom. 6:1 ff.). Rather we should realize that friendship with the world and toying with worldly things greatly hinders our relationship with God. We can’t love the things of the world and God. Read what God’s word clearly states:

·         James 4:4 - Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

·         1 John 2:15-17 - 15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. 17 And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.

God is teaching the children of Israel to be single-hearted. Even if you chew the cud of God’s word, if you walk with a divided heart you’ll break in two.

Leviticus 11:5-6 - 5 the rock hyrax, because it chews the cud but does not have cloven hooves, is unclean to you; 6 the hare, because it chews the cud but does not have cloven hooves, is unclean to you;

Some translations refer to the rock hyrax as a coney. The coney chews the cud but does not have a cloven foot. The application here is that it is not sufficient to merely take in God’s word, even if we meditate on it (i.e. chew the cud). We need to apply God’s word and what we learn from it. We need to chew the cud of God’s word and apply it to our walk to be holy.

The founder of Kraft Foods was an outstanding Christian. Mr. Kraft spent the last few winters of his life in Miami. He had an invitation to address a convention in San Francisco, and the newspapers of Miami made note of it. The night before he left for San Francisco, the telephone rang. A woman's voice, filled with sadness, said, "Mr. Kraft, I see by the paper that you are going to San Francisco tomorrow. I want to ask a favor. My son is in Alcatraz for life I write him and send his gifts, but he has never responded. Would you please go see him, and ask him just to write me a note? Kraft agreed to the lady's request. He went to the prison and was granted permission to visit the young man. He started down the corridor to where it turned right, to the visiting room. Just as he made the turn, a big hand shot out in front and clamped him by the chest, and a voice said, "Stand perfectly still, Mr. Kraft, don't move for a moment." Kraft said he heard a buzzing sound... then a voice said, "OK, Mr. Kraft, you're clean." Offended, he asked, "What do you mean, 'I'm clean?' Of course I am!" "I mean," said the guard, "that you don't have anything that you should not take to the visitor's room." The guard told Kraft what he had in his pocket. He went on down the hall thinking to himself, "Suppose Christ would stop me around the next corner and say, "'Stand still, Kraft, let me see if your heart is clean inside.'" Said James Kraft, "I stopped where I was and asked God to examine me."[8]

If Jesus stopped you and examined you, what would He conclude about you? Would you be clean or unclean?

Leviticus 11:7-8 - 7 and the swine, though it divides the hoof, having cloven hooves, yet does not chew the cud, is unclean to you. 8 Their flesh you shall not eat, and their carcasses you shall not touch. They are unclean to you.

The swine or pig was unclean because it only had cloven hooves but did not chew the cud. The swine represents those who try to walk right (i.e. cloven hooves) but who neglect God’s word (i.e. don’t’ chew the cud). .

Leviticus 11:9-12 - 9 ‘These you may eat of all that are in the water: whatever in the water has fins and scales, whether in the seas or in the rivers—that you may eat. 10 But all in the seas or in the rivers that do not have fins and scales, all that move in the water or any living thing which is in the water, they are an abomination to you. 11 They shall be an abomination to you; you shall not eat their flesh, but you shall regard their carcasses as an abomination. 12 Whatever in the water does not have fins or scales—that shall be an abomination to you.

Fins and scales help a fish to move in the water. Fish life without scales or fins of some kind rest on the bottom of the ocean and are bottom feeders. Bottom feeders eat the waste and garbage of the ocean. The typological significance of this is expressed well by Jacob Prasch who states:

Shellfish . . . . are scavengers at the bottom of the sea and they eat garbage. They are not kosher. We are not to eat them. They eat garbage, so – what you eat, you are – they become garbage.[9]

Jesus called His disciples to be fishers of men (Mat. 4:19). But shellfish live in the deep beyond the grasp of the net of evangelism. Jacob Prasch goes on to say:

Shellfish speak of people who are closed and who are filled with garbage. If you do not eat right food you are going to eat wrong food. They eat garbage and they become garbage. They are so far into the world system that they are not going to get saved. They are closed to the gospel. [10]

We need to swim and maneuver and find life in the water of God’s word (e.g. Eph. 5:25). If we feed off of the base and garbage of this world we will end up being cheated out of God’s rich gospel treasure (e.g. Col. 2:8).

Leviticus 11:13-2013 ‘And these you shall regard as an abomination among the birds; they shall not be eaten, they are an abomination: the eagle, the vulture, the buzzard, 14 the kite, and the falcon after its kind; 15 every raven after its kind, 16 the ostrich, the short-eared owl, the sea gull, and the hawk after its kind; 17 the little owl, the fisher owl, and the screech owl; 18 the white owl, the jackdaw, and the carrion vulture; 19 the stork, the heron after its kind, the hoopoe, and the bat. 20 ‘All flying insects that creep on all fours shall be an abomination to you.

Birds are often used to represent evil entities in scripture such as the agents of Satan that pluck up the seed of the gospel before it can penetrate the heart of some people (Mk. 4:4, 15). But what of the birds that came and fed Elijah (1 Kings 17:6)? God wants us to know He can work through anything and anyone to minister to us. God can even work through the unsaved (e.g.  Cyrus – Isaiah 44:28). We simply need to scrutinize everything through the lens of scripture to glean the good from the bad.

Leviticus 11:21-23 - 21 Yet these you may eat of every flying insect that creeps on all fours: those which have jointed legs above their feet with which to leap on the earth. 22 These you may eat: the locust after its kind, the destroying locust after its kind, the cricket after its kind, and the grasshopper after its kind. 23 But all other flying insects which have four feet shall be an abomination to you.

We don’t eat insects normally in the west but they are still consumed in the Far East. John the Baptist lived on locusts and wild honey (Mat. 3:4). Some people today cover ants with chocolate and eat them. They may not be a delicacy for you, but someday, out of necessity, you may have to rely on them for nourishment.

Leviticus 11:24-28 - 24 ‘By these you shall become unclean; whoever touches the carcass of any of them shall be unclean until evening; 25 whoever carries part of the carcass of any of them shall wash his clothes and be unclean until evening: 26 The carcass of any animal which divides the foot, but is not cloven-hoofed or does not chew the cud, is unclean to you. Everyone who touches it shall be unclean. 27 And whatever goes on its paws, among all kinds of animals that go on all fours, those are unclean to you. Whoever touches any such carcass shall be unclean until evening. 28 Whoever carries any such carcass shall wash his clothes and be unclean until evening. It is unclean to you.

That which is holy cannot make something unholy holy. But that which is unholy, can make that which is holy, unholy. Samson who lived under a Nazarite vow defiled himself by eating honey from a lion carcass (Judges 14:1-9; compare with Num. 6:6, 9). The prophet Haggai used this principle to illustrate how God’s people had become polluted with their sinful associations (Haggai 2:10-14). You can pour all the clean water you want into a mud puddle and it won’t make it clean. But you can take one drop of muddy water poured into a glass of clean water and make it dirty. You may think you can enter a sinful situation or are and make it clean but you can’t. It’s more likely that entering an unholy situation or area will make you unclean.

The principle here is that those who follow God can be defiled by what they touch or associate with in the world. This principle is seen in Paul’s inspired words the Corinthians when he writes:

·         2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1 - 14 Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? 15 And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? 16 And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will dwell in them And walk among them.  I will be their God, and they shall be My people.” 17 Therefore “Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord.  Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you.” 18 “I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” 7:1  Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

One commentator adds:

Today, we live in a society that rejects moral absolutes and promotes a “fluid” morality that isn’t morality at all. Like the people described in the Book of Judges, everybody is doing what is right in their own eyes (Jud. 21:25). But society’s reclassifying of sin hasn’t changed anything; God still calls sin an abomination and still judges it.

 

Doctors can be sued for malpractice if they make the wrong diagnosis and prescribe the wrong treatment. But a university professor, a liberal preacher, or a popular newspaper columnist can excuse sin and defend immorality and be applauded for the skillful diagnosis. Why? Because the human heart is “deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” (Jer. 17:9) and people love “darkness rather than light” because their deeds are evil (John 3:19).

 

Evangelist Billy Sunday used to say that a sinner can’t find God for the same reason a criminal can’t find a police officer: the criminal isn’t looking very hard! “Prophets and priests alike, all practice deceit,” wrote Jeremiah the prophet. “They dress the wound of My people as though it were not serious. ‘Peace, peace,’ they say, when there is no peace” (Jer. 8:11, NIV). The people are persecuted who have the right diagnosis and the only remedy, while the people with the false diagnosis and the useless remedy are honored. “The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and My people love to have it so” (5:31). [11]

 

There is a lesson to be learned here. Sometimes people associate spiritual maturity with a freedom to indulge in questionable even sinful activities. They think I can handle it when it comes to pressing the envelope of borderline sinful activity. They want to see how close they can get to the world and still be a Christian. Like the moth attracted to the flame, they will end up being burned. Being spiritually mature is not freedom to sin but wisdom and freedom not to sin. The closer a person gets to Jesus the less and less of the world they will crave or be interested in. Move away from the world’s flame and come close to Jesus; you won’t regret it.  

Leviticus 11:29a-29 ‘These also shall be unclean to you among the creeping things that creep on the earth: the mole, the mouse, . . .

There is no such thing really as big and little sins, venial and mortal sins. Sin cannot be ranked. Sin is like cancer, one small cell can grow to infect an entire body and kill it. Even the small things can make you unclean. Sin is sin.

Leviticus 11:29b-33 - . . . and the large lizard after its kind; 30 the gecko, the monitor lizard, the sand reptile, the sand lizard, and the chameleon. 31 These are unclean to you among all that creep. Whoever touches them when they are dead shall be unclean until evening. 32 Anything on which any of them falls, when they are dead shall be unclean, whether it is any item of wood or clothing or skin or sack, whatever item it is, in which any work is done, it must be put in water. And it shall be unclean until evening; then it shall be clean. 33 Any earthen vessel into which any of them falls you shall break; and whatever is in it shall be unclean:

When a vessel is touched by something that is unclean it must be broken. Brokenness and repentance are essential to forgiveness of sin (e.g. 2 Cor. 4:7). We must forsake our sin and humbly come to God in godly sorrow for sins to be forgiven (e.g. 2 Cor. 7:9-10). Brokenness is needed not to supplement the completed atoning work of Christ but because sincerity and heart purification is needed.

Leviticus 11:34-36 - 34 in such a vessel, any edible food upon which water falls becomes unclean, and any drink that may be drunk from it becomes unclean. 35 And everything on which a part of any such carcass falls shall be unclean; whether it is an oven or cooking stove, it shall be broken down; for they are unclean, and shall be unclean to you. 36 Nevertheless a spring or a cistern, in which there is plenty of water, shall be clean, but whatever touches any such carcass becomes unclean.

When sin comes into contact with us it makes us unclean and in need of the cleansing of the Lord (1 Jn. 1:7, 9). But there is a source of water that is able to handle contact with sin, the river of Jesus living water (Jn. 4:7; 7:37-39). We may feel like rodents at times, but Jesus isn’t afraid to call us friends (Heb. 2:11).

Leviticus 11:37-40 - 37 And if a part of any such carcass falls on any planting seed which is to be sown, it remains clean. 38 But if water is put on the seed, and if a part of any such carcass falls on it, it becomes unclean to you. 39 ‘And if any animal which you may eat dies, he who touches its carcass shall be unclean until evening. 40 He who eats of its carcass shall wash his clothes and be unclean until evening. He also who carries its carcass shall wash his clothes and be unclean until evening.

John Courson has a great comment on these verses stating:

If a bat or lizard falls in a bag of seed, if the seed is still in its shell, it’s okay. But if the shell of the seed is no longer there because water has softened it, that seed is to be thrown out because the seed itself will have become polluted. The seed being a picture of the Word (1 Peter 1:23), if the seed is not encased by the armor of faith, rats of unbelief will gnaw at it, causing us to question if it truly is infallible, immutable, applicable. Can the Word become unclean? Yes—to people who no longer read it in faith, but find fault with it rather than allowing it to find and change the faults within them.[12]

 

We need to read the word of God prayerfully in faith seeking the illumination of it by the Spirit (1 Cor. 2:9-14).

 

Leviticus 11:41-47 - 41 ‘And every creeping thing that creeps on the earth shall be an abomination. It shall not be eaten. 42 Whatever crawls on its belly, whatever goes on all fours, or whatever has many feet among all creeping things that creep on the earth—these you shall not eat, for they are an abomination. 43 You shall not make yourselves abominable with any creeping thing that creeps; nor shall you make yourselves unclean with them, lest you be defiled by them. 44 For I am the Lord your God. You shall therefore consecrate yourselves, and you shall be holy; for I am holy. Neither shall you defile yourselves with any creeping thing that creeps on the earth. 45 For I am the Lord who brings you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God. You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy. 46 ‘This is the law of the animals and the birds and every living creature that moves in the waters, and of every creature that creeps on the earth, 47 to distinguish between the unclean and the clean, and between the animal that may be eaten and the animal that may not be eaten.’ ”

Here are the central thematic verses for the book of Leviticus. They are a call to a holy walk before God. God wants His people to be distinct, holy. Unfortunately God’s people are often more interested in seeing how much of the world they can indulge and still be acceptable before God. That is entirely the wrong mindset. We shouldn’t see how close we can get to the flame before we are burned. We should stay away from the flame of sin and cling to the light of God and His word.

We need to be discerning. That is a big part of the message God sends to His people with these dietary laws. They had to carefully observe the things they put inside themselves as well as the things they touched around them. This was to be taught and learned as soon as a child was able to learn (Deut. 6:1-9).

The 17th century Christian Thomas Brooks explained ministry in the following way:

I have always looked upon the great work of the ministry to consist in two things: first, in making unholy men holy; and, secondly, in making those who are already holy to be more and more holy. First to beget holiness, and then to nurse up holiness. First to bring souls to Christ, and then to build up souls in Christ, is without all question the greatest work which should be most in every minister's eye, and which should always lie nearest and warmest upon every minister's heart.

That is our aim, enter into the holy life and continue in it.

What are we to learn? We are to learn to live holy before God who is holy. In the Old Testament God states “You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy” (Lev. 11:45). In the New Testament God states, “but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, ‘Be holy, for I am holy.’” (1 Peter 1:15-16). Paul is inspired to write, “. . . walk worthy of the calling with which you were called” (Eph. 4:1). Living a holy life is not less of a calling and emphasis in the New Testament than in the Old Testament, it is more of our calling. That is because we have the Holy Spirit who indwells believers (Rom. 8:9-11). The indwelling Holy Spirit pours His love into our hearts (Rom. 5:5). And it is the living in and through the power of such love that the Law of God is fulfilled in and through us (Rom. 13:10). God’s laws should not be a burden to us; it is a great privilege and blessing. John, the apostle of love was inspired to write:

·         1 John 5:2-5 - 2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. 4 For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world— our faith. 5 Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

The greatest commandment of the Old Testament is loving God supremely (Deut. 6:4-5). That didn’t change in the New Testament. Jesus said:

·         Mark 12:29-31 - 29 Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. 31 And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

That love has been poured out into our hearts in Christ by the indwelling Holy Spirit. Love is the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22).

The love of God in us, our love for God, should motivate us in all we do (2 Cor. 5:14-16). And if we love God we will desire to please Him. That means we will be discerning in life. We walk in love (Eph. 5:2). But Biblical love is not blind; it is discerning and vigilant so that we can please our Husband. We need to walk circumspectly, watching where we walk, watching the alleys and shadowy doorways of life. Our path is lit by God’s word (Ps. 119:105). We walk as children of light in a dark world (Eph. 5:15, 17).

I’ll conclude this chapter with words from a wise commentator who states:

One of the marks of maturity is the ability “to make a difference” (Lev. 11:47) and distinguish between right and wrong. As a pathologist looks through his or her microscope, he or she can see a difference between a healthy cell and a cancerous cell. The expert musician can hear the difference between the right note and the almost-right note, and the expert writer knows the difference between “any word” and the right word. Likewise, mature believers can exercise discernment, identify that which is unclean, and avoid it. Remember, children are prone to walk into the mud and get dirty.

 

What the Prophet Hosea said about Israel in his day is true of many professed Christians today: “You stumble day and night, and the prophets stumble with you . . . My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:5–6, NIV). “But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil” (Heb. 5:14, NIV). Commenting on 1 Corinthians 2:13–16, Vance Havner said, “Nothing is more rare in churches today than discernment. The natural man knows nothing of it, the carnal man is devoid of it. Only the spiritual man has it and we have all too few in that category.” [13]

 

Discern your surroundings and live holy before the LORD.  

Dealing with Depravity

Leviticus 12:1-2 -    Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “Speak to the children of Israel, saying: ‘If a woman has conceived, and borne a male child, then she shall be unclean seven days; as in the days of her customary impurity she shall be unclean.

God created humanity male and female and declared His creation was “very good” (Gen. 1:27, 31). He also instructed people to be fruitful and multiply (Gen. 1:28). Children are a blessing from the Lord (Ps. 113:9; 127:3-5; 128:3; Prov. 17:6; Mat. 19:14). God instilled in His people sanctity for human life. Unwanted pregnancies were not aborted by God’s people.

Why then is there any uncleanness connected to the birth of children? Physiologically a woman who gave birth was considered unclean due to the bleeding and secretion of bodily fluids connected with the birthing (12:1-2).

Leviticus 12:3 - 3 And on the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised.

A boy child was circumcised on the eight day (12:3; Luke 1:59). This is interesting because waiting for the eighth day allows time for the blood in a baby to develop its capacity to coagulate. It was at the time of circumcision that the child was named (Luke 1:59-60).

Circumcision was the particular sign ordained by God for His people to mark them as His. Circumcision was instituted by God with Abraham as a sign of the Covenant between Abraham, his descendants and God (Gen. 17; Rom. 4:11).  Circumcision was necessary to partake in the Passover meal (Ex. 12:48). To neglect circumcision was viewed as a very serious offense by God (Ex. 4:24-25).

In the New Testament we see that physical circumcision is only of value to the extent it symbolizes the reality of an inner work of God on a person’s heart. The typology of circumcision points to spiritual surgery that is performed by God on the heart. Paul wrote:

Romans 2:25-29 - 25 For circumcision is indeed profitable if you keep the law; but if you are a breaker of the law, your circumcision has become uncircumcision. 26 Therefore, if an uncircumcised man keeps the righteous requirements of the law, will not his uncircumcision be counted as circumcision? 27 And will not the physically uncircumcised, if he fulfills the law, judge you who, even with your written code and circumcision, are a transgressor of the law? 28 For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; 29 but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God.

The substance of circumcision from its inception is that it was supposed to be an outward expression of what God had worked in the heart inwardly (Deut. 10:16; 30:6). This is confirmed later by Jeremiah as well (Jer. 4:4). What can we assert about circumcision?

 

First, circumcision as a necessary sign for salvation is removed by the gospel. Paul wrote:

·         Galatians 5:1-4 - Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. 2 Indeed I, Paul, say to you that if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing. 3 And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law. 4 You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.

If a person gets circumcised because they feel it necessary for salvation then they become a debtor to keep the entire law (which no one can do – Gal. 3:1-13; James 2:10).

Second, circumcision avails nothing in Christ. Paul writes:

·         Galatians 5:6 - For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love.

·         Colossians 3:10-11 - 10 and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, 11 where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all.

Nothing can be added to the completed work of Christ. Paul went so far as to write:

·         1 Corinthians 7:18-19 - Was anyone called while circumcised? Let him not become uncircumcised. Was anyone called while uncircumcised? Let him not be circumcised. 19 Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing, but keeping the commandments of God is what matters.

The point Paul clearly makes is that whether or not a person is outwardly circumcised has no effect on their standing before God. What counts is the condition of the heart. The commandments we are to keep are faith working through love. Love is the fulfillment of the Law (Rom. 13:10).

Third, false teachers try to impose circumcision on people as a requirement of salvation. In Acts 15 there were “certain men” who were teaching that circumcision was necessary for salvation (15:1). Some Pharisees sided with these men and said the Law of Moses must be kept (15:5). Peter then stood up and rebuked this as an attempt to put a yoke on God’s people (15:10). Peter proclaimed salvation was by grace through faith in Christ (15:11). Circumcision was not to be imposed on new converts (Acts 15:5-29).

 

Fourth, Christians are circumcised in Christ. Paul wrote:

 

·         Philippians 3:3 - For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh,

·         Colossians 2:11 - In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ,

Every believer is circumcised in Christ; circumcised in heart. We need not put any confidence in the flesh or mere outward signs. In Christ we have a circumcision made without hands by the Spirit in our hearts.

Some compare infant baptism to circumcision. That is not a connection that can be substantiated by scripture. One commentator states:

Some people equate infant baptism with circumcision; but as R.K. Harrison wisely states it, “The parallels are too superficial and narrow to be entirely convincing or valid.”4 The true believer has experienced an inner spiritual circumcision through the Holy Spirit, the “true circumcision” that changes the heart and imparts new life (Gal. 6:12–16; Phil. 3:1–3; Col. 2:10–11). Because the sinful nature of the believer has been “put off,” he or she can walk in newness of life and does not have to yield to the desires of the flesh.[14]

 

Leviticus 12:44 She shall then continue in the blood of her purification thirty-three days. She shall not touch any hallowed thing, nor come into the sanctuary until the days of her purification are fulfilled. 5 ‘But if she bears a female child, then she shall be unclean two weeks, as in her customary impurity, and she shall continue in the blood of her purification sixty-six days. 6 ‘When the days of her purification are fulfilled, whether for a son or a daughter, she shall bring to the priest a lamb of the first year as a burnt offering, and a young pigeon or a turtledove as a sin offering, to the door of the tabernacle of meeting. 7 Then he shall offer it before the Lord, and make atonement for her. And she shall be clean from the flow of her blood. This is the law for her who has borne a male or a female. 8 ‘And if she is not able to bring a lamb, then she may bring two turtledoves or two young pigeons—one as a burnt offering and the other as a sin offering. So the priest shall make atonement for her, and she will be clean.’ ”

 

Children are a beautiful gift from God. But as beautiful as they are, they are born in sin. David was inspired to write:

·         Psalm 51:5 - Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me.

·         Psalm 58:3 - The wicked are estranged from the womb; They go astray as soon as they are born, speaking lies.

Children do not have to be taught how to sin. They are born in sin. Psychology teaches babies are born with a clean slate and only acquire bad habits. But in truth Man is not a sinner because he sins. Man sins because he is a sinner. That is the Biblical perspective on humanity.

 

The depravity of humanity affects us in a number of areas.

 

First, an awareness of human depravity affects our parenting. If you understand that your child is born in sin, it affects your disciplinary strategy. Children are not innocent little people, they are prone to sin and if not guided properly they will gravitate toward sin and away from God. Proverbs states:

 

·         Proverbs 13:24 - He who spares his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him promptly.

·         Proverbs 22:15 - Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; The rod of correction will drive it far from him.

Parents need to discipline their children from the perspective that they’re born in sin. Foolishness or the tendency to not factor God into their life equation is something that needs to be addressed in raising children. You don’t have to teach a child to have a temper tantrum, be sneaky or deceptive. The rod of correction is God’s prescription. God made us and knows what is best. One commentator states:

Foolishness, rebelliousness, and sin are built into the heart of a child. If you have kids, you know this to be so. Not one parent has ever had to teach his child how to have a temper tantrum when he didn’t get his way. Not one had to teach his child how to lie, how to be sneaky, how to be deceptive. Not one says, “Today I’m going to teach my kids how to sin.” . . .

God knows exactly what He’s doing when He says that the way to deal with the sin in our kids is to do so lovingly with the rod of correction. Tears flow, guilt is released, hugs follow. And they can go on free from the baggage of guilt and sin. [15]

 

Second, an awareness of human depravity affects our politics. Communism operates from a basis that humanity is basically good and that comradeship and brotherhood can cure the ills of humanity. But communism collapsed. Capitalism, which takes into account the depravity or fallenness of humanity survived because human greed drives people to work for personal reward. Checks and balances are needed in all systems of government because of the sinful nature of humanity. This is why Christianity is so vital to the democratic system of government in the United States.

Third, an awareness of human depravity affects our personal outlook. The Bible says there is nothing good in us, in our flesh (Rom 7:18). I needn’t be shocked when I sin or struggle with sin. Rather when we struggle with sin we cling to God and seek His help to overcome. Our sin does not shock God. In fact he sent Jesus to die for us knowing full well our sinful condition (Rom. 5:8). Jesus sets us free from the bondage of struggling in our own strength (Rom. 7:25). The key to victory is life in the Spirit (Rom. 8).

Fourth, an awareness of human depravity affects our relationships. Being aware of human depravity should move us to be gracious and more understanding with those around us. If we understand we are all sinners (Rom. 3:23), then we should understand we need to rely on God’s grace to get by (1 Cor. 15:10). We need to commit ourselves to not look at people from a fleshly perspective (2 Cor. 5:16). Instead we need to let the love of Christ compel us in our interactions with others (2 Cor. 5:14-15). We need to have a fervent love for one another that covers sins (1 Pet. 4:8).

God made allowances for the poor to bring a sacrifice for this purpose. Mary and Joseph took advantage of this provision of God (Luke 2:21-24). God is merciful and kind despite our sin condition. These offerings all point us to Jesus. Jesus the Lamb of God who came to take away the sins of the world (John 1:29).

 

Dealing with Leprosy – A Type of Sin

Leviticus 13:1-2 - And the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying: 2 “When a man has on the skin of his body a swelling, a scab, or a bright spot, and it becomes on the skin of his body like a leprous sore, then he shall be brought to Aaron the priest or to one of his sons the priests.

In Leviticus 13 we see instructions concerning outbreaks of skin disease or leprosy. Leprosy as described in this chapter was identified by swelling and rash (13:1-8), whiteness and raw or tender skin (13:9-17), boils (13:18-23), connected with burns (13:24-28), and various skin irritations (13:29-44). In dealing with the forms of leprosy people (13:1-46), clothing (13:47-59) and houses (13:33-57) were involved in treatment. This leprosy evidently also involved dealing with mildew and fungi that were very destructive (Deut. 28:22; Amos 4:9).

 

Disease is a type of sin in the Bible. Leprosy is a type of sin and this chapter gives us valuable insight into the nature of sin. David Gudzik makes the following parallels between leprosy and sin:

 

o   It begins as nothing.

o   It is painless in its first stages.

o   It grows slowly.

o   It often remits for a while and then returns.

o   It numbs the senses - one cannot feel in the afflicted area.

o   It causes decay and deformity.

o   It gives a person a repulsive appearance.[16]

 

Someone has said, “Sow a thought and you reap an action; sow an act and you reap a habit; sow a habit and you reap a character; sow a character and you reap a destiny." Like leprosy, sin starts out slowly and if left unchecked it will spread and will consume us. It numbs us to the still small voice of God. It makes us insensitive spiritually as well as toward others. Sin like leprosy makes a person ugly and repulsive. God is especially repulsed by sin (Hab. 1:13).

Leprosy was seen as a cancer like disease that was nearly always incurable and very debilitating (2 Kings 5:7). Luke mentions that in Elijah’s day it was a common disease (Luke 4:27). It was a disease that made a person unclean both physically and socially an outcast (Lev. 13:44-45; 15:5). Leprosy disqualified a person from serving in the priesthood (Lv. 22:2-4). Leprosy was used by God to discipline people (Moses – Ex. 4:6-7; Miriam – Num. 12:1-10; Gehazi – 2 Kings 5:25, 27; Uzziah – 2 Chron. 26:16-21). [17]

 

It took a miracle of God to heal leprosy (Ex. 4:6, 7; Num. 12:13, 14; 2 Kings 5:8-14). Jesus demonstrated His power in curing lepers (Mt 8:3; Lu 5:13; 17:13, 14). And Jesus gave His disciples the power to heal lepers (Mt 10:8). [18]

 

Let’s examine the parallels between leprosy and sin further in this section of Leviticus.

 

First, sin is “deeper than the skin” (13:3-4, 25, 30-32, 34).

 

Leviticus 13:3-4 3 The priest shall examine the sore on the skin of the body; and if the hair on the sore has turned white, and the sore appears to be deeper than the skin of his body, it is a leprous sore. Then the priest shall examine him, and pronounce him unclean. 4 But if the bright spot is white on the skin of his body, and does not appear to be deeper than the skin, and its hair has not turned white, then the priest shall isolate the one who has the sore seven days.

 

Jesus said murder, adultery, theft, and all sinful acts are symptoms of an inner sinful heart (Mat. 15:19-20). Sin is a matter of the heart (Jer. 17:9). You wouldn’t try to treat or heal cancer with skin lotion. You can’t treat or heal sin with superficial surface treatments. Sin is “deeper than the skin” and treating symptoms does not address the deeper problem of a sinful heart.

 

Humanity is born in sin and has a sinful nature in which there is nothing good (Rom. 7:18). Under Sharia law of Islam a person caught stealing can have their hand cut off. But cutting off a hand isn’t going to address effectively the problem of sin in the heart. The heart must be cleansed from sin and the power of sin broken. That can only happen through faith in Christ (Rom. 6:14).

 

The problem with secular social services or legal systems is that they address only the surface skin symptoms of what is a deeper heart problem in humanity. This is like running to and fro putting out the fires set by a pyromaniac rather than finding and stopping the pyromaniac.

 

Second, sin is contagious; it spreads (13:5-8, 22-23, 27-28, 32, 34-36, 51, 53, 55, 57; 14:39, 44, 48).

Leviticus 13:5-8 - 5 And the priest shall examine him on the seventh day; and indeed if the sore appears to be as it was, and the sore has not spread on the skin, then the priest shall isolate him another seven days. 6 Then the priest shall examine him again on the seventh day; and indeed if the sore has faded, and the sore has not spread on the skin, then the priest shall pronounce him clean; it is only a scab, and he shall wash his clothes and be clean. 7 But if the scab should at all spread over the skin, after he has been seen by the priest for his cleansing, he shall be seen by the priest again. 8 And if the priest sees that the scab has indeed spread on the skin, then the priest shall pronounce him unclean. It is leprosy.

 

Sin, like leprosy, spreads. When we look at the early portions of Genesis we see Adam and Eve sinning in Genesis 3, their offspring Cain murder his sibling in Genesis 4, and by the time we get to Genesis 6 the entire world except for Noah and his family are overtaken by sin. Don’t kid yourself or allow yourself to be deluded into thinking you can dabble in sin in one portion of your life without it eventually spreading to other areas of your life.

 

The prophet Isaiah was inspired to write:

 

Isaiah 1:5-6

5     Why should you be stricken again?

     You will revolt more and more.

     The whole head is sick,

     And the whole heart faints.

6     From the sole of the foot even to the head,

     There is no soundness in it,

     But wounds and bruises and putrefying sores;

     They have not been closed or bound up,

     Or soothed with ointment.

 

Sin is ugly. It spreads and has a putrefying effect on life. Sin is not something to dabble in or leave unattended. We need to root it out and remove it.

 

Jesus said, “Whoever commits sin is a slave of sin” (John 8:34). Thank the Lord He also said, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free . . . if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed” (John 8:31-32, 36).

 

Sin desensitizes. The modern day name of Leprosy is Hansen’s disease. Hanson’s disease is an illness that affects the skin and nerve endings. As nerves die the skin and body loses its ability to feel pain. Because the body has lost its capacity to feel pain, when a person with Hansen’s touches a fire or cuts themselves they are unaware which leads to infection and often the loss of appendages. Sin separates us from God (Is. 59:2). Sin desensitizes us to God. Ezekiel spoke of the people hearing God’s word but not doing it and that it was an indication of their sinful hearts (Ezek. 33:31).  Jesus quoted Isaiah’s words that God’s people caught in sin paid God only lip-service but their hearts were far from Him (Mat. 15:7-20).

 

Third, Sin makes us unclean (13:9-17)

 

Leviticus 13:9- 9 “When the leprous sore is on a person, then he shall be brought to the priest. 10 And the priest shall examine him; and indeed if the swelling on the skin is white, and it has turned the hair white, and there is a spot of raw flesh in the swelling, 11 it is an old leprosy on the skin of his body. The priest shall pronounce him unclean, and shall not isolate him, for he is unclean.

12 “And if leprosy breaks out all over the skin, and the leprosy covers all the skin of the one who has the sore, from his head to his foot, wherever the priest looks, 13 then the priest shall consider; and indeed if the leprosy has covered all his body, he shall pronounce him clean who has the sore. It has all turned white. He is clean. 14 But when raw flesh appears on him, he shall be unclean. 15 And the priest shall examine the raw flesh and pronounce him to be unclean; for the raw flesh is unclean. It is leprosy. 16 Or if the raw flesh changes and turns white again, he shall come to the priest. 17 And the priest shall examine him; and indeed if the sore has turned white, then the priest shall pronounce him clean who has the sore. He is clean.

The word “unclean” occurs 23 times in Leviticus 13 (54 times in Leviticus 13-15). To be declared unclean meant a person was unfit for social or religious activities. Sin makes us unclean. When Isaiah came into the presence of the Lord all he could do was confess his and his people’s uncleanness (Is. 6:5). Later he wrote:

Isaiah 64:6

6     But we are all like an unclean thing,

     And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags;

     We all fade as a leaf,

     And our iniquities, like the wind,

     Have taken us away.

Sin is filthy and defiles us. Sin thoroughly defiles us. When David wrote his great prayer of repentance in Psalm 51 he referred to the pervasiveness of his sin touching his eyes (v. 3), mind (v. 6), ears or what he heard (v. 8), his very bones ached with the guilt of sin (v. 8), his heart (v. 10), and his mouth or what he spoke (v. 13-15). Sin is pervasive and defiles every part of our being.

The only remedy for sin is the blood of Jesus. The following verses testify to this truth:

·         1 Corinthians 6:9-11 - 9 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.

·         1 John 1:7- 7 But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.

·         1 John 1:9 - 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

·         1 Peter 1:18-19 - 18 knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.

·         Revelation 1:5 - 5 and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood,

Only the blood of Jesus can wash our sins away.

Fourth, sin isolates (13:18-23).

Leviticus 13:18-23 - 18 “If the body develops a boil in the skin, and it is healed, 19 and in the place of the boil there comes a white swelling or a bright spot, reddish-white, then it shall be shown to the priest; 20 and if, when the priest sees it, it indeed appears deeper than the skin, and its hair has turned white, the priest shall pronounce him unclean. It is a leprous sore which has broken out of the boil. 21 But if the priest examines it, and indeed there are no white hairs in it, and it is not deeper than the skin, but has faded, then the priest shall isolate him seven days; 22 and if it should at all spread over the skin, then the priest shall pronounce him unclean. It is a leprous sore. 23 But if the bright spot stays in one place, and has not spread, it is the scar of the boil; and the priest shall pronounce him clean.

“Isolate him for seven days . . . he shall dwell alone” (13:21, 46). Sin isolates us. A sinner can be in a crowd and still feel alone. A sinner can have a family, friends and belong to many different groups, but still feel alone. Why is that? Because God alone can fill the need for companionship. You can’t fill your need for companionship with God with other relational puzzle pieces. You need to allow God to fill your void (Ps. 4:8). He alone is the One who will never leave you nor ever forsake you (Heb. 13:5).

Fifth, sin uses painful situations to multiply (13:24-28)

Leviticus 13:24-28 - 24 “Or if the body receives a burn on its skin by fire, and the raw flesh of the burn becomes a bright spot, reddish-white or white, 25 then the priest shall examine it; and indeed if the hair of the bright spot has turned white, and it appears deeper than the skin, it is leprosy broken out in the burn. Therefore the priest shall pronounce him unclean. It is a leprous sore. 26 But if the priest examines it, and indeed there are no white hairs in the bright spot, and it is not deeper than the skin, but has faded, then the priest shall isolate him seven days. 27 And the priest shall examine him on the seventh day. If it has at all spread over the skin, then the priest shall pronounce him unclean. It is a leprous sore. 28 But if the bright spot stays in one place, and has not spread on the skin, but has faded, it is a swelling from the burn. The priest shall pronounce him clean, for it is the scar from the burn.

The enemy is merciless. Just like leprosy here, sin uses painful situations to manifest itself. Satan will strike us when we are going through pain. Satan tempted Jesus with bread when He was hungry (Mat. 4:3-4). The remedy is to do what Jesus did, rely on the word of God.

Sixth, sin discolors (13:29-37).

Leviticus 13:29-37 - 29 “If a man or woman has a sore on the head or the beard, 30 then the priest shall examine the sore; and indeed if it appears deeper than the skin, and there is in it thin yellow hair, then the priest shall pronounce him unclean. It is a scaly leprosy of the head or beard. 31 But if the priest examines the scaly sore, and indeed it does not appear deeper than the skin, and there is no black hair in it, then the priest shall isolate the one who has the scale seven days. 32 And on the seventh day the priest shall examine the sore; and indeed if the scale has not spread, and there is no yellow hair in it, and the scale does not appear deeper than the skin, 33 he shall shave himself, but the scale he shall not shave. And the priest shall isolate the one who has the scale another seven days. 34 On the seventh day the priest shall examine the scale; and indeed if the scale has not spread over the skin, and does not appear deeper than the skin, then the priest shall pronounce him clean. He shall wash his clothes and be clean. 35 But if the scale should at all spread over the skin after his cleansing, 36 then the priest shall examine him; and indeed if the scale has spread over the skin, the priest need not seek for yellow hair. He is unclean. 37 But if the scale appears to be at a standstill, and there is black hair grown up in it, the scale has healed. He is clean, and the priest shall pronounce him clean.

Just as leprosy turns a normal black hair, yellow, sin discolors and makes impure. You’ve heard the expression, an off color joke. Sin takes that which is pure and normal and sees it in a corrupt sinful way. Sin corrupts the way we see the world around us. It gives us sin colored glasses to see through. It pollutes us so that we begin to think in sinful perverse ways

Seventh, sin brings shame (13:38-46).

Leviticus 13:38-46- 38 “If a man or a woman has bright spots on the skin of the body, specifically white bright spots, 39 then the priest shall look; and indeed if the bright spots on the skin of the body are dull white, it is a white spot that grows on the skin. He is clean. 40 “As for the man whose hair has fallen from his head, he is bald, but he is clean. 41 He whose hair has fallen from his forehead, he is bald on the forehead, but he is clean. 42 And if there is on the bald head or bald forehead a reddish-white sore, it is leprosy breaking out on his bald head or his bald forehead. 43 Then the priest shall examine it; and indeed if the swelling of the sore is reddish-white on his bald head or on his bald forehead, as the appearance of leprosy on the skin of the body, 44 he is a leprous man. He is unclean. The priest shall surely pronounce him unclean; his sore is on his head. 45 “Now the leper on whom the sore is, his clothes shall be torn and his head bare; and he shall cover his mustache, and cry, ‘Unclean! Unclean!’ 46 He shall be unclean. All the days he has the sore he shall be unclean. He is unclean, and he shall dwell alone; his dwelling shall be outside the camp.

The leper had to announce themselves with the words, “Unclean! Unclean!” so that clean people could move away and not be in danger of catching the disease. It was a shameful thing to have leprosy. You were isolated from the community and it was seen as a sign of disfavor form God. Sin leads to shame (e.g. Prov. 3:35; 11:2; 13:5). If the sinner persists in their sin they actually get to a point where they glory in their shame (Phil 3:19). 

Eighth, sin must be burned away (13:47-59).

Leviticus 13:47-59 - 47 “Also, if a garment has a leprous plague in it, whether it is a woolen garment or a linen garment, 48 whether it is in the warp or woof of linen or wool, whether in leather or in anything made of leather, 49 and if the plague is greenish or reddish in the garment or in the leather, whether in the warp or in the woof, or in anything made of leather, it is a leprous plague and shall be shown to the priest. 50 The priest shall examine the plague and isolate that which has the plague seven days. 51 And he shall examine the plague on the seventh day. If the plague has spread in the garment, either in the warp or in the woof, in the leather or in anything made of leather, the plague is an active leprosy. It is unclean. 52 He shall therefore burn that garment in which is the plague, whether warp or woof, in wool or in linen, or anything of leather, for it is an active leprosy; the garment shall be burned in the fire. 53 “But if the priest examines it, and indeed the plague has not spread in the garment, either in the warp or in the woof, or in anything made of leather, 54 then the priest shall command that they wash the thing in which is the plague; and he shall isolate it another seven days. 55 Then the priest shall examine the plague after it has been washed; and indeed if the plague has not changed its color, though the plague has not spread, it is unclean, and you shall burn it in the fire; it continues eating away, whether the damage is outside or inside. 56 If the priest examines it, and indeed the plague has faded after washing it, then he shall tear it out of the garment, whether out of the warp or out of the woof, or out of the leather. 57 But if it appears again in the garment, either in the warp or in the woof, or in anything made of leather, it is a spreading plague; you shall burn with fire that in which is the plague. 58 And if you wash the garment, either warp or woof, or whatever is made of leather, if the plague has disappeared from it, then it shall be washed a second time, and shall be clean.

59 “This is the law of the leprous plague in a garment of wool or linen, either in the warp or woof, or in anything made of leather, to pronounce it clean or to pronounce it unclean.”

If sin is not cleansed and allowed to grow and persist ultimately it will be thrown in the fire of God. Hell is God’s eternal furnace, a lake of fire where sin will be eternally burned as well as those show chose to live in it (Mat. 25:41; Mark 9:44; Rev. 19:20; 21:10, 14-15). Leprosy is an earthly disease that kills our temporal body. You could be saved and still a leper. But if you allow the leprosy of sin to go untreated the consequences are eternal. If you are living in sin, see the Doctor.

The Cure for Leprosy - Salvation

There was no human cure for the leprosy described in Leviticus 13 and elsewhere. If a leper was healed, it was only by God’s gracious provision. The bad news of sin is given in chapter 13. The bad news precedes the good news. Chapter 14 in Leviticus speaks of the healing of leprosy.

First, God, through the priest, takes the initiative (14:1-3).

Leviticus 14:1-3 -  Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “This shall be the law of the leper for the day of his cleansing: He shall be brought to the priest. 3 And the priest shall go out of the camp, and the priest shall examine him; and indeed, if the leprosy is healed in the leper,

The leper was isolated from the community. Therefore the priest had to go to the leper. Similarly Jesus came to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10). Jesus is the Physician for those infected with the leprosy of sin (Mat. 9:10-13). God demonstrates His own love for us in that while we were still sinners Jesus came to die for us (Rom. 5:8). Just as the priest went outside the camp to a place of outcasts to minister to the leper, Jesus went outside the gate to suffer in our place on the cross (Heb. 13:12-13).

Second, a sacrifice in an earthen vessel (4:4-7).

Leviticus 14:4-7 - 4 then the priest shall command to take for him who is to be cleansed two living and clean birds, cedar wood, scarlet, and hyssop. 5 And the priest shall command that one of the birds be killed in an earthen vessel over running water. 6 As for the living bird, he shall take it, the cedar wood and the scarlet and the hyssop, and dip them and the living bird in the blood of the bird that was killed over the running water. 7 And he shall sprinkle it seven times on him who is to be cleansed from the leprosy, and shall pronounce him clean, and shall let the living bird loose in the open field.

Just as the sacrifice of the two birds were to be put in an earthen vessel, Jesus was incarnated and came in clay pot humanity (Jn. 3:13, 31; 6:38; 42; compare with 2 Cor. 4:7). Just as one of the birds was sacrificed, so was Jesus. The running water is a type of the Holy Spirit (John 7:37-39) at work in the offering of Jesus (Heb. 9:14). The release of the blood stained bird speaks to the resurrection of Jesus (1 Cor. 15:1-4). The sprinkling of the blood on the leper speaks to the fact that without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins (Heb. 9:22).

Third, personal application (14:8-9).

Leviticus 14:8-9 -  8 He who is to be cleansed shall wash his clothes, shave off all his hair, and wash himself in water, that he may be clean. After that he shall come into the camp, and shall stay outside his tent seven days. 9 But on the seventh day he shall shave all the hair off his head and his beard and his eyebrows—all his hair he shall shave off. He shall wash his clothes and wash his body in water, and he shall be clean.

We are justified through faith in Christ (Rom. 5:1). This means through faith in Christ God forgives our sins because of Jesus atonement that justly paid the debt for sin. Because of Jesus work on the cross God grants us positional justification. But we must practically apply what we have received by God’s grace through faith in Christ. We must “work out our salvation” (Phil. 2:12). We must live holy (2 Cor. 7:1). We must bear fruit (Mat. 13:23). The Lord helps us in this (Phil. 2:13), but we need to personally apply God’s grace (1 Cor. 15:10). We need to put off the old and put on the new in Christ (Col. 3:1-14).

Fourth, follow God’s prescription (14:10-32).

Leviticus 14:10-32 - 10 “And on the eighth day he shall take two male lambs without blemish, one ewe lamb of the first year without blemish, three-tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil as a grain offering, and one log of oil. 11 Then the priest who makes him clean shall present the man who is to be made clean, and those things, before the Lord, at the door of the tabernacle of meeting. 12 And the priest shall take one male lamb and offer it as a trespass offering, and the log of oil, and wave them as a wave offering before the Lord. 13 Then he shall kill the lamb in the place where he kills the sin offering and the burnt offering, in a holy place; for as the sin offering is the priest’s, so is the trespass offering. It is most holy. 14 The priest shall take some of the blood of the trespass offering, and the priest shall put it on the tip of the right ear of him who is to be cleansed, on the thumb of his right hand, and on the big toe of his right foot. 15 And the priest shall take some of the log of oil, and pour it into the palm of his own left hand. 16 Then the priest shall dip his right finger in the oil that is in his left hand, and shall sprinkle some of the oil with his finger seven times before the Lord. 17 And of the rest of the oil in his hand, the priest shall put some on the tip of the right ear of him who is to be cleansed, on the thumb of his right hand, and on the big toe of his right foot, on the blood of the trespass offering. 18 The rest of the oil that is in the priest’s hand he shall put on the head of him who is to be cleansed. So the priest shall make atonement for him before the Lord. 19 “Then the priest shall offer the sin offering, and make atonement for him who is to be cleansed from his uncleanness. Afterward he shall kill the burnt offering. 20 And the priest shall offer the burnt offering and the grain offering on the altar. So the priest shall make atonement for him, and he shall be clean. 21 “But if he is poor and cannot afford it, then he shall take one male lamb as a trespass offering to be waved, to make atonement for him, one-tenth of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil as a grain offering, a log of oil, 22 and two turtledoves or two young pigeons, such as he is able to afford: one shall be a sin offering and the other a burnt offering. 23 He shall bring them to the priest on the eighth day for his cleansing, to the door of the tabernacle of meeting, before the Lord. 24 And the priest shall take the lamb of the trespass offering and the log of oil, and the priest shall wave them as a wave offering before the Lord. 25 Then he shall kill the lamb of the trespass offering, and the priest shall take some of the blood of the trespass offering and put it on the tip of the right ear of him who is to be cleansed, on the thumb of his right hand, and on the big toe of his right foot. 26 And the priest shall pour some of the oil into the palm of his own left hand. 27 Then the priest shall sprinkle with his right finger some of the oil that is in his left hand seven times before the Lord. 28 And the priest shall put some of the oil that is in his hand on the tip of the right ear of him who is to be cleansed, on the thumb of the right hand, and on the big toe of his right foot, on the place of the blood of the trespass offering. 29 The rest of the oil that is in the priest’s hand he shall put on the head of him who is to be cleansed, to make atonement for him before the Lord. 30 And he shall offer one of the turtledoves or young pigeons, such as he can afford— 31 such as he is able to afford, the one as a sin offering and the other as a burnt offering, with the grain offering. So the priest shall make atonement for him who is to be cleansed before the Lord. 32 This is the law for one who had a leprous sore, who cannot afford the usual cleansing.”

Healing comes from accepting and following God’s instructions. We don’t ever come to God on our terms but on His terms. There is no other way to come to God but by Jesus (John 14:6). This was an elaborate ritual to carry out with lepers. Interestingly in 2 Kings 5:1-14 the Syrian Naaman who was a leper was instructed by Elisha to dip seven times in the Jordan River in order to be healed of his leprosy. This shows it isn’t the ritual that heals, its God by His grace that heals. The law humbles us by revealing our sinfulness to us. God is opposed to the proud but gives grace to the humble. Therefore we must come to Him humbly. The law humbles us be exposing our sin. The ritual of the leper simply showed sinfulness and the need for atonement and cleansing.

Fifth, clean your house (14:33-57)

Leviticus 14:33-57 - 33 And the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying: 34 “When you have come into the land of Canaan, which I give you as a possession, and I put the leprous plague in a house in the land of your possession, 35 and he who owns the house comes and tells the priest, saying, ‘It seems to me that there is some plague in the house,’ 36 then the priest shall command that they empty the house, before the priest goes into it to examine the plague, that all that is in the house may not be made unclean; and afterward the priest shall go in to examine the house. 37 And he shall examine the plague; and indeed if the plague is on the walls of the house with ingrained streaks, greenish or reddish, which appear to be deep in the wall, 38 then the priest shall go out of the house, to the door of the house, and shut up the house seven days. 39 And the priest shall come again on the seventh day and look; and indeed if the plague has spread on the walls of the house, 40 then the priest shall command that they take away the stones in which is the plague, and they shall cast them into an unclean place outside the city. 41 And he shall cause the house to be scraped inside, all around, and the dust that they scrape off they shall pour out in an unclean place outside the city. 42 Then they shall take other stones and put them in the place of those stones, and he shall take other mortar and plaster the house. 43 “Now if the plague comes back and breaks out in the house, after he has taken away the stones, after he has scraped the house, and after it is plastered, 44 then the priest shall come and look; and indeed if the plague has spread in the house, it is an active leprosy in the house. It is unclean. 45 And he shall break down the house, its stones, its timber, and all the plaster of the house, and he shall carry them outside the city to an unclean place. 46 Moreover he who goes into the house at all while it is shut up shall be unclean until evening. 47 And he who lies down in the house shall wash his clothes, and he who eats in the house shall wash his clothes. 48 “But if the priest comes in and examines it, and indeed the plague has not spread in the house after the house was plastered, then the priest shall pronounce the house clean, because the plague is healed. 49 And he shall take, to cleanse the house, two birds, cedar wood, scarlet, and hyssop. 50 Then he shall kill one of the birds in an earthen vessel over running water; 51 and he shall take the cedar wood, the hyssop, the scarlet, and the living bird, and dip them in the blood of the slain bird and in the running water, and sprinkle the house seven times. 52 And he shall cleanse the house with the blood of the bird and the running water and the living bird, with the cedar wood, the hyssop, and the scarlet. 53 Then he shall let the living bird loose outside the city in the open field, and make atonement for the house, and it shall be clean. 54 “This is the law for any leprous sore and scale, 55 for the leprosy of a garment and of a house, 56 for a swelling and a scab and a bright spot, 57 to teach when it is unclean and when it is clean. This is the law of leprosy.”

We need to clean the leprosy out of our houses. We need to do a search and destroy mission in our homes to identify and remove sin.

Leprosy is humanly incurable. Thalidomide is a treatment for Hansen’s disease but can cause horrific birth defects. So often in our human treatments of disease the cures seem just as bad if not worse than the diseases trying to be cured, e.g. chemotherapy for cancer. For Jesus, this humanly incurable disease of leprosy was no big problem. In fact on one occasion Jesus cured 10 lepers! All at once! With a word (Luke 17:11-14). Tragically, the healed lepers responded like so many of us do today. Nine of the ten went there way. Only one returned to thank Jesus and glorify God (Luke 17:15-19). A greater miracle is being healed of our leprous sin by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ. And yet, how many remain thankful for this greatest of healings? Our physical, mental and spiritual illnesses are very curable with the Lord. But when we are cured, we need to remember to be thankful to the One, the Great Physician who healed us.

Ongoing Prevention of Leprosy – Sanctification

This chapter addresses personal hygiene. The spiritual application points to sanctification.

Leviticus 15: 1-15 - And the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying, 2 “Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘When any man has a discharge from his body, his discharge is unclean. 3 And this shall be his uncleanness in regard to his discharge—whether his body runs with his discharge, or his body is stopped up by his discharge, it is his uncleanness. 4 Every bed is unclean on which he who has the discharge lies, and everything on which he sits shall be unclean. 5 And whoever touches his bed shall wash his clothes and bathe in water, and be unclean until evening. 6 He who sits on anything on which he who has the discharge sat shall wash his clothes and bathe in water, and be unclean until evening. 7 And he who touches the body of him who has the discharge shall wash his clothes and bathe in water, and be unclean until evening. 8 If he who has the discharge spits on him who is clean, then he shall wash his clothes and bathe in water, and be unclean until evening. 9 Any saddle on which he who has the discharge rides shall be unclean. 10 Whoever touches anything that was under him shall be unclean until evening. He who carries any of those things shall wash his clothes and bathe in water, and be unclean until evening. 11 And whomever the one who has the discharge touches, and has not rinsed his hands in water, he shall wash his clothes and bathe in water, and be unclean until evening. 12 The vessel of earth that he who has the discharge touches shall be broken, and every vessel of wood shall be rinsed in water. 13 ‘And when he who has a discharge is cleansed of his discharge, then he shall count for himself seven days for his cleansing, wash his clothes, and bathe his body in running water; then he shall be clean. 14 On the eighth day he shall take for himself two turtledoves or two young pigeons, and come before the Lord, to the door of the tabernacle of meeting, and give them to the priest. 15 Then the priest shall offer them, the one as a sin offering and the other as a burnt offering. So the priest shall make atonement for him before the Lord because of his discharge.

Leviticus 15:16-18 - 16 ‘If any man has an emission of semen, then he shall wash all his body in water, and be unclean until evening. 17 And any garment and any leather on which there is semen, it shall be washed with water, and be unclean until evening. 18 Also, when a woman lies with a man, and there is an emission of semen, they shall bathe in water, and be unclean until evening.

19 ‘If a woman has a discharge, and the discharge from her body is blood, she shall be set apart seven days; and whoever touches her shall be unclean until evening. 20 Everything that she lies on during her impurity shall be unclean; also everything that she sits on shall be unclean. 21 Whoever touches her bed shall wash his clothes and bathe in water, and be unclean until evening. 22 And whoever touches anything that she sat on shall wash his clothes and bathe in water, and be unclean until evening. 23 If anything is on her bed or on anything on which she sits, when he touches it, he shall be unclean until evening. 24 And if any man lies with her at all, so that her impurity is on him, he shall be unclean seven days; and every bed on which he lies shall be unclean.

25 ‘If a woman has a discharge of blood for many days, other than at the time of her customary impurity, or if it runs beyond her usual time of impurity, all the days of her unclean discharge shall be as the days of her customary impurity. She shall be unclean. 26 Every bed on which she lies all the days of her discharge shall be to her as the bed of her impurity; and whatever she sits on shall be unclean, as the uncleanness of her impurity. 27 Whoever touches those things shall be unclean; he shall wash his clothes and bathe in water, and be unclean until evening.

28 ‘But if she is cleansed of her discharge, then she shall count for herself seven days, and after that she shall be clean. 29 And on the eighth day she shall take for herself two turtledoves or two young pigeons, and bring them to the priest, to the door of the tabernacle of meeting. 30 Then the priest shall offer the one as a sin offering and the other as a burnt offering, and the priest shall make atonement for her before the Lord for the discharge of her uncleanness.

31 ‘Thus you shall separate the children of Israel from their uncleanness, lest they die in their uncleanness when they defile My tabernacle that is among them. 32 This is the law for one who has a discharge, and for him who emits semen and is unclean thereby, 33 and for her who is indisposed because of her customary impurity, and for one who has a discharge, either man or woman, and for him who lies with her who is unclean.’ ”

We need to clean the plague or leprosy out of our homes. That means we need to look around and see what things lead us to sin and remove them. This is an ongoing process since we are constantly tempted to pick up things that will plague us with sin. There must be regular inspection and cleansing in sanctification.

Seven Shadows of Christ in the Day of Atonement

The Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur, is the holiest day of the Hebrew Calendar. This day is described in Leviticus 16 and is the climax of the book of Leviticus. The first sixteen chapters of Leviticus give us the means to holiness. Chapters 17 to 27 of Leviticus are a holiness manifesto. But central and climactic to this Old Testament book is chapter 16 where what has been taught in the first fifteen chapters is applied. Once a year, on the Day of Atonement all the Levitical regulations would come to bear.

Someone has said the Old Testament is the New Testament concealed; the New Testament is the Old Testament revealed. The truth of this is conveyed in the New Testament letter to the Colossians where Paul states the Old Testament ceremonies are, “a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ” (Col. 2:17).  The entire volume of the Bible is about Jesus (Hebrews 10:7). If this is the case, what does this climactic Day of Atonement tell us about Jesus? There are Seven Shadows of Jesus in the Day of Atonement. There are seven important truths about Jesus that can be found in Leviticus 16.

Shadow #1 – Sin is Serious

Leviticus 16:1-3 - Now the Lord spoke to Moses after the death of the two sons of Aaron, when they offered profane fire before the Lord, and died; 2 and the Lord said to Moses: “Tell Aaron your brother not to come at just any time into the Holy Place inside the veil, before the mercy seat which is on the ark, lest he die; for I will appear in the cloud above the mercy seat. 3 “Thus Aaron shall come into the Holy Place: with the blood of a young bull as a sin offering, and of a ram as a burnt offering.

Leviticus 16:16 - 16 So he shall make atonement for the Holy Place, because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel, and because of their transgressions, for all their sins; and so he shall do for the tabernacle of meeting which remains among them in the midst of their uncleanness.

Leviticus 16:21 - 21 Aaron shall lay both his hands on the head of the live goat, confess over it all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions, concerning all their sins, putting them on the head of the goat, and shall send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a suitable man.

Leviticus 16:29 - 29This shall be a statute forever for you: In the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you shall afflict your souls, and do no work at all, whether a native of your own country or a stranger who dwells among you.

Leviticus 16:31 - 31 It is a sabbath of solemn rest for you, and you shall afflict your souls. It is a statute forever.

 

  1. Sin separates – 16:1-3 - Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron were struck down by the Lord for their irreverence (Leviticus 10). The Bible is clear that sin causes a separation from God (Isaiah 59:1-2).
  2. Sin is Severe – 16:16, 21 – “Transgression = Hebrew PESHA – “rebellion; revolt; transgression”; most severe word for sin; purposeful sinning.
  3. Sin must be exposed and acknowledged – 16:21, 29, and 31 – People needed to afflict themselves and confess their sin over the scapegoat.

 

Shadow #2 – Sacrifice

Leviticus 16:4-6 - 4 He shall put the holy linen tunic and the linen trousers on his body; he shall be girded with a linen sash, and with the linen turban he shall be attired. These are holy garments. Therefore he shall wash his body in water, and put them on. 5 And he shall take from the congregation of the children of Israel two kids of the goats as a sin offering, and one ram as a burnt offering. 6 “Aaron shall offer the bull as a sin offering, which is for himself, and make atonement for himself and for his house.

Leviticus 16:9 - 9 And Aaron shall bring the goat on which the Lord’s lot fell, and offer it as a sin offering.

Leviticus 16:11-19 - 11 “And Aaron shall bring the bull of the sin offering, which is for himself, and make atonement for himself and for his house, and shall kill the bull as the sin offering which is for himself. 12 Then he shall take a censer full of burning coals of fire from the altar before the Lord, with his hands full of sweet incense beaten fine, and bring it inside the veil. 13 And he shall put the incense on the fire before the Lord, that the cloud of incense may cover the mercy seat that is on the Testimony, lest he die. 14 He shall take some of the blood of the bull and sprinkle it with his finger on the mercy seat on the east side; and before the mercy seat he shall sprinkle some of the blood with his finger seven times. 15 “Then he shall kill the goat of the sin offering, which is for the people, bring its blood inside the veil, do with that blood as he did with the blood of the bull, and sprinkle it on the mercy seat and before the mercy seat. 16 So he shall make atonement for the Holy Place, because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel, and because of their transgressions, for all their sins; and so he shall do for the tabernacle of meeting which remains among them in the midst of their uncleanness. 17 There shall be no man in the tabernacle of meeting when he goes in to make atonement in the Holy Place, until he comes out, that he may make atonement for himself, for his household, and for all the assembly of Israel. 18 And he shall go out to the altar that is before the Lord, and make atonement for it, and shall take some of the blood of the bull and some of the blood of the goat, and put it on the horns of the altar all around. 19 Then he shall sprinkle some of the blood on it with his finger seven times, cleanse it, and consecrate it from the uncleanness of the children of Israel.

1.      Aaron gave up his priestly garb on this day – 16:4-6

Jesus gave up His heavenly position – Philippians 2:5-8

2.      Sin requires a costly sacrifice – 16:9

Jesus paid the full price – 2 Cor. 5:21; 1 Peter 1:18-19

3.      Sacrifice atones for sin – 16:10, 11-19

“Atonement” = Hebrew KOPHAR – “to cover”

OT sins were “covered” on the basis of Christ’s NT sacrifice on the cross – Acts 17:20; Romans 3:24-25; Hebrews 9:15

 

Shadow #3 – Scapegoat

Leviticus 16:7-10 - 7 He shall take the two goats and present them before the Lord at the door of the tabernacle of meeting. 8 Then Aaron shall cast lots for the two goats: one lot for the Lord and the other lot for the scapegoat. 9 And Aaron shall bring the goat on which the Lord’s lot fell, and offer it as a sin offering. 10 But the goat on which the lot fell to be the scapegoat shall be presented alive before the Lord, to make atonement upon it, and to let it go as the scapegoat into the wilderness.

Leviticus 16:20-22 - 20 “And when he has made an end of atoning for the Holy Place, the tabernacle of meeting, and the altar, he shall bring the live goat. 21 Aaron shall lay both his hands on the head of the live goat, confess over it all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions, concerning all their sins, putting them on the head of the goat, and shall send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a suitable man. 22 The goat shall bear on itself all their iniquities to an uninhabited land; and he shall release the goat in the wilderness.

1.      “Scapegoat” = Hebrew LO_AZAZEL – “wholly to go away”

This symbolizes God’s total removal of sin:

Psalm 103:12; Isaiah 38:17; 44:22; Jer. 31:34

God completely removes our sin; He never throws it back in our face.

We are called to forgive as He forgave us (Matthew 18:21-22; Luke 17:3-4; Ephesians 4:32).

2.      “Bear” (v. 22) = Is taken from the same root as “forgive”

Isaiah made reference to this when he spoke of the Suffering Servant – Isaiah 53:4, 12

This is a picture of Jesus’ work – John 1:29; Hebrews 6:19-20; 9:7-14

3.      We are forgiven on the basis of:

a.       God’s nature – Ps 86:5

b.      God’s grace – Luke 7:42

c.       Shed blood – Hebrews 9:22

d.      Death of Christ – Col. 1:14

e.       Son’s power – Luke 5:21-24

f.       Repentance – Acts 2:38

g.      Our forgiveness – Matthew 6:12-14

h.      Faith in Jesus – Acts 10:43

 

Shadow #4 – Solitariness

Leviticus 16:3 - “Thus Aaron shall come into the Holy Place: with the blood of a young bull as a sin offering, and of a ram as a burnt offering.

Leviticus 16:14-15 - He shall take some of the blood of the bull and sprinkle it with his finger on the mercy seat on the east side; and before the mercy seat he shall sprinkle some of the blood with his finger seven times. 15 “Then he shall kill the goat of the sin offering, which is for the people, bring its blood inside the veil, do with that blood as he did with the blood of the bull, and sprinkle it on the mercy seat and before the mercy seat.

Leviticus 16:18-19 - And he shall go out to the altar that is before the Lord, and make atonement for it, and shall take some of the blood of the bull and some of the blood of the goat, and put it on the horns of the altar all around. 19 Then he shall sprinkle some of the blood on it with his finger seven times, cleanse it, and consecrate it from the uncleanness of the children of Israel.

Leviticus 16:34 - This shall be an everlasting statute for you, to make atonement for the children of Israel, for all their sins, once a year.” And he did as the Lord commanded Moses.

  1. Only Aaron was to serve on this day – 16:3

Christ was alone on the cross – Psalm 22:1; John 16:32; 2 Cor. 5:19

  1. Only on this day was blood sprinkled on the mercy seat behind the inner veil – 16:14-15, 18-19; a once a year occurrence – 16:34

Christ made a solitary effective sacrifice – Heb. 9:27-29; 10:10-18

Shadow #5 – Sharing

Leviticus 16:21-22- Aaron shall lay both his hands on the head of the live goat, confess over it all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions, concerning all their sins, putting them on the head of the goat, and shall send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a suitable man. 22 The goat shall bear on itself all their iniquities to an uninhabited land; and he shall release the goat in the wilderness.

When the scapegoat was led “into the wilderness by the hand of a suitable man,” Israelites were placed at intervals along the way. This was done to assure the scapegoat would go so far into the wilderness that it would never return.

When the scapegoat was removed the Israelites would relay the message back to the camp by sharing the news from station to station.

In the same way we are to share the good news of Christ’s provision for the total removal of sin  - Mark 1:1,14,15; 13:10; 16:15; Acts 10:41-43

Shadow #6 – Sanctification

Leviticus 16:23-28 - “Then Aaron shall come into the tabernacle of meeting, shall take off the linen garments which he put on when he went into the Holy Place, and shall leave them there. 24 And he shall wash his body with water in a holy place, put on his garments, come out and offer his burnt offering and the burnt offering of the people, and make atonement for himself and for the people. 25 The fat of the sin offering he shall burn on the altar. 26 And he who released the goat as the scapegoat shall wash his clothes and bathe his body in water, and afterward he may come into the camp. 27 The bull for the sin offering and the goat for the sin offering, whose blood was brought in to make atonement in the Holy Place, shall be carried outside the camp. And they shall burn in the fire their skins, their flesh, and their offal. 28 Then he who burns them shall wash his clothes and bathe his body in water, and afterward he may come into the camp.

Leviticus 16:30 - For on that day the priest shall make atonement for you, to cleanse you, that you may be clean from all your sins before the Lord.

The purpose of this day was to, “cleanse you, that you may be clean from all your sins before the LORD” (v 30).

This cleansing was accomplished in light of Christ and by Christ’s work on the cross – Eph. 5:26; Heb. 10:22; 1 John 1:9

Shadow #7 – Sabbath

Leviticus 16:29-34 - 29This shall be a statute forever for you: In the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you shall afflict your souls, and do no work at all, whether a native of your own country or a stranger who dwells among you. 30 For on that day the priest shall make atonement for you, to cleanse you, that you may be clean from all your sins before the Lord. 31 It is a sabbath of solemn rest for you, and you shall afflict your souls. It is a statute forever. 32 And the priest, who is anointed and consecrated to minister as priest in his father’s place, shall make atonement, and put on the linen clothes, the holy garments; 33 then he shall make atonement for the Holy Sanctuary, and he shall make atonement for the tabernacle of meeting and for the altar, and he shall make atonement for the priests and for all the people of the assembly. 34 This shall be an everlasting statute for you, to make atonement for the children of Israel, for all their sins, once a year.” And he did as the Lord commanded Moses.

This day was to be a day of “solemn rest.” In the same way we need to rest in Jesus – Hebrews 4; 2 Cor. 3:17-18

The Day of Atonement gives us a picture of God’s mercy – Ps 103

The Place and Power of Holiness

Leviticus 17 gives us further details on how the Day of Atonement is to be implemented in life.  In this chapter we will learn two very important aspects of holiness.

The Tabernacle – The Only Acceptable Place to Worship the Lord

Leviticus 17:1-9 - And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “Speak to Aaron, to his sons, and to all the children of Israel, and say to them, ‘This is the thing which the Lord has commanded, saying: 3 “Whatever man of the house of Israel who kills an ox or lamb or goat in the camp, or who kills it outside the camp, 4 and does not bring it to the door of the tabernacle of meeting to offer an offering to the Lord before the tabernacle of the Lord, the guilt of bloodshed shall be imputed to that man. He has shed blood; and that man shall be cut off from among his people, 5 to the end that the children of Israel may bring their sacrifices which they offer in the open field, that they may bring them to the Lord at the door of the tabernacle of meeting, to the priest, and offer them as peace offerings to the Lord. 6 And the priest shall sprinkle the blood on the altar of the Lord at the door of the tabernacle of meeting, and burn the fat for a sweet aroma to the Lord. 7 They shall no more offer their sacrifices to demons, after whom they have played the harlot. This shall be a statute forever for them throughout their generations.” ’ 8 “Also you shall say to them: ‘Whatever man of the house of Israel, or of the strangers who dwell among you, who offers a burnt offering or sacrifice, 9 and does not bring it to the door of the tabernacle of meeting, to offer it to the Lord, that man shall be cut off from among his people.

Up until this time each family had their own priest and offered their own sacrifices. Their offerings were made in the open field because there was no Tabernacle with a sanctuary. Now this would change.

It was a pagan practice to make offerings to their gods in an open field. In order to separate from pagan practices all offerings would be brought to the Tabernacle, “at the door of the Tabernacle.” God’s people should not be associated or confused with pagan practices (17:4-6, 9).

Verse seven states, “They shall no more offer their sacrifices to demons, after whom they have played the harlot. This shall be a statute forever for them throughout their generations.” Of this verse one commentary explains:

The Hebrew word se’irim translated devils in the KJV (demons in some other versions) literally means hairy, shaggy, rough, or hairy ones, and is used for he-goats. In our text-verse it is a reference to goat-demons that were believed to inhabit the wilderness. These were probably the “satyrs” in ancient mythology. The Egyptians worshiped the goat under the name of Mendes, by which name a province in Egypt was called. The goat was worshiped as a personification of the fructifying power of nature, and was reckoned among the eight principal gods of Egypt. A splendid temple was dedicated to Mendes, and statues of the god were erected in many places. The Israelites doubtless learned the worship of the se’irim while they were slaves in Egypt. The worship was accompanied with the vilest acts of bestiality.

 

During the wilderness journey, the slaughter of a clean animal for food was to be done at the tabernacle as a peace offering (Leviticus 7:3–4). This requirement was undoubtedly intended to prevent the Israelites from engaging in idolatrous practices. Scriptural evidence, however, indicates that some form of Egyptian idolatry continued (see Joshua 24:14; 2 Chronicles 11:15; Ezekiel 20:6–8.) The restrictive requirement concerning the slaughter was lifted when the Israelites entered the Promised Land of Canaan (Deuteronomy 12:15, 20–21).[19]

 

J. Vernon McGee comments further:

Why did God give such instructions? Israel was fresh out of Egypt where they had been surrounded by idolatry. They had worshiped the idols of Egypt, and there was always the danger of lapsing back into idolatry. They had worshiped the nature gods of Egypt. In verse 7 the word translated “devils” is actually seirim which means “hairy one” and refers to goats. The Egyptians worshiped Mendes, the goat god, and the Greeks worshiped the goat god as Pan—familiar to us from Greek literature and art depicted with tail, horns, and cloven feet. Medieval Christianity then identified this form as the devil. We get our word panic from this period of time when it described the terror that the devil caused.[20]

The Israelites had succumbed to the temptation of idolatry while in Egypt (Ezek. 20:6-8). Later in their history King Jeroboam would appoint priests to worship demons (2 Chron. 11:15). This prohibition of God was preventative. God knows the heart of humanity and He was putting in place preventative measures. Only in Christ can the gates of Hell be stormed and broken down (Mat. 16:18).

False gods of the Bible

In Old Testament through Moses God states:

Leviticus 17:7 - They shall no more offer their sacrifices to demons, after whom they have played the harlot. This shall be a statute forever for them throughout their generations.” ’

This is the first mention of demons and we see that one of the main ways demons manifest themselves is through false gods as implied by the reference to sacrifices. Idols that represented false “gods” are first alluded to in Genesis 31 when Rachel stole her father’s household idols (Genesis 31:19, 30-35). Later when Jacob has experienced personal revival he instructs his family to “Put away the foreign gods that are among you, purify yourselves, and change your garments” (Genesis 35:1-3).  Therefore we see from the beginning humanities’ proclivity to idolatry and false god worship. In light of Leviticus 17:7 we see this is actually demonically inspired temptation to worship something other than the one true God.

The sin that got Lucifer cast out of heaven was his tempt to usurp the throne of God Almighty. It states in Isaiah:

·         Isaiah 14:12-15 - 12 “How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning!  How you are cut down to the ground, You who weakened the nations! 13 For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation On the farthest sides of the north; 14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.’ 15 Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol, To the lowest depths of the Pit.

When Lucifer was cast from a third of the angels of heaven (who had followed him in his rebellion) were cast out with him (Rev. 12:4). That some of the angels of heaven were able to be deluded into forsaking God Almighty to follow Lucifer testifies to the delusional power of this beautiful created being. Once cast to the earth it is no surprise that Lucifer continued his attempt to be worshipped. This started in the Garden of Eden when as a serpent he tempted Eve and Adam to disobey God and His word (Gen. 3). The serpent used the same proud sinful self-delusional reasoning to tempt Adam and Eve that he had used to rebel against God Almighty.

In Genesis it states:

·         Genesis 3:1-6 - Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” 2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; 3 but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’ ” 4 Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate.

Notice the serpent’s lures:

1.      First he brought into question God’s word: “Has God indeed said . . .?” (3:1).

2.      Then he introduces a question that directly challenges and questions God’s truthfulness: “You will not surely die” (3:4).

3.      He undermines Adam and Eve’s relationship with God by bringing into question God’s loving care for them: “For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (3:5). This last lure uses the attraction to knowledge coupled with the false promise of self-worship. Self-worship is a form of idolatry.

4.      Self-worship is The Great Exchange which involves a movement from seeing God as the Source of all truth to thinking you know better than God and living in a self-reliant, self-serving, self-promoting way. Self-worship opens the door to other kinds of idolatry.

In Romans we see revealed the truth that the sin of proud self-worship opens the door to all other sinful practices:

·         Romans 1:21-32 - 21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things. 24 Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, 25 who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. 26 For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. 27 Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due. 28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, 30 backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; 32 who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.

Note the following downward spiral of sin introduced by proud self-worship:

1.      Those who knew God stopped worshipping Him: they did not glorify or thank Him (v21a).

2.      This leads to futile (i.e. vain, foolish) thinking; corrupted knowledge; sin in the mind (v21b).

3.      This leads to foolish hearts; sin in the heart (v21c).

4.      This leads to false profession: they talk as though they are wise but they are really foolish (v22).

5.      The Great Exchange: they make the grand sinful exchange: “the glory of the incorruptible God” for “an image made by corruptible man” – idolatry (v23a).

6.      This leads to further idolatry: “and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things” (v23b).

7.      God gives them over or allows them to pursue the ends of their personal willful decision to reject Him and His truth to follow their own sinful ways: “Therefore God gave them up” (v24a, 26a, 28).

8.      This leads to a downward spiral into deeper and deeper sin:

a.       Uncleanness (v24b): unclean or filthy, unholy; sinful humanity sees itself as common; sinful humanity sees itself more as just another animal than as a person created in the image of God (cf. Gen. 1:26-27).

b.      Lust (v. 24c): “lusts of their hearts”; natural God given desires are perverted into imbalanced lusts of the flesh.

c.       Dishonor (v. 24d; Greek - ἀτιμία - atimia, at-ee-mee´-ah): sinful humanity begins to misuse their bodies with others.

d.      The Great Exchange: sinful humanity living by “the lie” of self-worship leaving the truth of God as the One True God who alone is to be worshipped and obeyed (v25). Notice that sinful humanity doesn’t leave God’s truth for just any lie but “the lie.” “The lie” points us back to the original lie of the serpent in Genesis 3, the great exchange of worshipping God for worshipping self – “worshipped and served the creature [created things] rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.”

e.       Vile passions (v. 26a): “Vile” is translated from the same root of the word “dishonor” in verse 24. The idea is behavior that is embarrassing.  These vile passions are manifested in:

                                                              i.      Lesbianism: Women exchanging natural use for what is against nature (v. 26b): sexual interaction between women

                                                            ii.      Homosexuality: Men sexual activity with men (v. 27a)

1.      Burning in lust for one another (v. 27b)

2.      Shameful (v. 27c)

3.      Receiving in themselves the “penalty” of their error which was due” (v. 27d)

f.       Debased Mind (v. 28): “Debased” means worthless, rejected, reprobate (e.g. Gen. 5:5-8). The debased mind is the mind that depraved, disqualified and fails God’s test of acceptability. The debased mind is the consequence of two things: first, a person who “did not like to retain God in their knowledge”; and second, “God gave them over to”. The product of a debased mind is “to do those things which are not fitting” such as the terrible twenty four:

                                                              i.      “being filled with all unrighteousness” (v. 29a)

                                                            ii.      “sexual immorality” (v. 29b)

                                                          iii.      “wickedness” (v.29c)

                                                          iv.      “covetousness” (v. 29d)

                                                            v.      “maliciousness” (v. 29e)

                                                          vi.      “full of envy” (v. 29f)

                                                        vii.      “murder” (v. 29g)

                                                      viii.      “strife” (v. 29h)

                                                          ix.      “deceit” (v. 29i)

                                                            x.      “evil-mindedness” (v. 29j)

                                                          xi.      “whisperers” (v. 29k)

                                                        xii.      “backbiters” (v. 30a)

                                                      xiii.      “haters of God” (v. 30b)

                                                      xiv.      “violent” (v. 30c)

                                                        xv.      “proud” (v. 30d)

                                                      xvi.      “boasters” (v. 30e)

                                                    xvii.      “inventers of evil things” (v. 30f)

                                                  xviii.      “disobedient to parents” (v. 30g)

                                                      xix.      “undiscerning” (v. 31a)

                                                        xx.      “untrustworthy” (v. 31b)

                                                      xxi.      “unloving” (v. 31c)

                                                    xxii.      “unforgiving” (v. 31d)

                                                  xxiii.      “unmerciful” (v. 31e)

                                                  xxiv.      Calling good evil and evil good (Is. 5:20); encouraging sin: “who knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them” (v. 32).

This is the product of idolatry and it is incited and pushed by Lucifer/Satan and his demons. The underlying struggle involved with idolatry has to do with Satan and his fallen angels or demons who seek to rule in the place of God (Eph. 6:12).

That Satan and demons are behind idolatry is verified in scripture. In the New Testament through the apostle Paul God states:

·         1 Corinthians 8:4-6 - 4 Therefore concerning the eating of things offered to idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is no other God but one. 5 For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as there are many gods and many lords), 6 yet for us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and through whom we live.

·         1 Corinthians 10:19-22 - 19 What am I saying then? That an idol is anything, or what is offered to idols is anything? 20 Rather, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice to demons and not to God, and I do not want you to have fellowship with demons. 21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord’s table and of the table of demons. 22 Or do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than He?

We need to be clear on something; there is only one true God. An idol is a manmade representation of an imagined god.  Such “gods” are really not gods, they are deceptive demonic manifestations.

The primary false gods of the Bible were:

1.      Adrammelech (Syria) - 2 Kin. 17:31

2.      Anammelech (Babylon) - 2 Kin. 17:31

3.      Artemis (Greek) - Acts 19:34

4.      Ashtoreth (Canaan) - 1 Kin. 11:5, 33

5.      Baal (Canaan) - 1 Kin. 18:19

6.      Baal of Peor (Moab)  - Num. 25:1–9

7.      Beelzebub (Philistine) - Luke 11:19–23

8.      Bel (Babylon) - Jer. 51:44

9.      Calf worship (Egypt) - Ex. 32:1–6

10.  Chemosh (Moab) - 1 Kin. 11:7

11.  Dagon (Philistine) - 1 Sam. 5:1–7

12.  Hermes (Greek) - Acts 14:12, 13

13.  Milcom (Ammon) - 1 Kin. 11:5

14.  Molech (Ammon) - 1 Kin. 11:7

15.  Nebo (Babylon)-  Is. 46:1

16.  Nisroch (Assyria) - 2 Kin. 19:37

17.  Rimmon (Syria) - 2 Kin. 5:18

18.  Tammuz (Babylon) - Ezek. 8:14

19.  Zeus (Greek) - Acts 14:12, 13

 

In addition to these false gods there were the gods of Egypt that God demonstrated His superiority to during the plagues He brought on Egypt at the Exodus (Exodus 4-12).

 

When we look at the sinful behavior associated with some of these gods it isn’t hard to connect demonic activity to them. The behaviors associated with idol worship of these gods were:

 

1.      Immorality  -  Num. 25:1–9

2.      Prostitution -  2 Kin. 23:7

3.      Divination  -  Lev. 20:1–6

4.      Sacrilege  -  Dan. 5:4

5.      Pride - 2 Kin. 18:28–35

6.      Flagellation and cutting – 1 Kings 18:26-29

7.      Persecution -   1 Kin. 19:1–3

8.      Child sacrifice  -  Jer. 7:29–34 [21]

 

Idolatry is a work of the flesh; it focuses on humanity and relies on human understanding rather than God’s truth (Gal. 5:19-20). That the involvement of God’s people in such “worship” and immoral conduct is abhorrent to God is demonstrated in God’s judgment on His people because of such sin (e.g. Manasseh – 2 Kings 21). Under King Josiah there was a temporary revival during which Josiah led the people back to the word of God and removed all signs of pagan idolatry (2 Kings 23). But after his death God’s people returned to their sinful idol worship demonstrating their addiction to it. They even brought idols and idol worship into the Temple of God. They mocked the prophets sent by God to rebuke and correct them and persisted in their sin until God removed His hand of protection allowing them to be defeated and taken into captivity for 70 years (2 Chron. 36:14-23; Jer. 5; 10; 25).

 

Galatians 4:8 tells us, “But then, indeed, when you did not know God, you served those which by nature are not gods.” Jesus said eternal life was knowing “the only true God”:

·         John 17:3 - And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.

Satan and his minions attempt to distract the lost from worshipping the one true God by tempting them with alternative “gods” that are manufactured in the imaginations of people. There is good reason why God commands His people to stay away from idolatry (Ex. 20:2-3). Worship of false gods is incompatible with God’s truth and His people should have no fellowship with such things (2 Cor. 6:15, 16). Idol worship is detestable to God (Deut. 7:25) and abominable to Him (1 Pet. 4:3). It turns His stomach to see people deluded into vain empty practices when they could be experiencing the full joy that comes in His presence (Psalm 16:11; 115:4-8; Is. 44:19; Jer. 10:3). Those who partake in idol worship actually are acting hatefully toward God (Deut. 16:22; Jer. 44:4). Idol worship is an instrument of Satan to draw people into extreme sin (Ex. 23:39). It defiles the participant (Ex. 20:7; 36:18). Because idol worship is worship of figments of imagination it is profitless (Judges 10:14; Is. 46:7). God has revealed Himself in nature, in His word and by sending His only Son (Psalm 19:1-6; Rom. 1:19-20; 1 Sam. 3:21; John 1:1-3, 14; Heb. 1:1-3). In light of God’s revelation of Himself it is idol worship is irrational (Acts 17:29; Rom. 121-23). 

In light of all of this, there is good reason that the apostle John closes his first epistle with the words, “Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.” (1 John 5:21). There is only one true God and eternal life is all about knowing Him through faith in Jesus and worshiping Him not demonically inspired idols.

The Blood – The Power of Atonement

Leviticus 17:10-16 - 10 ‘And whatever man of the house of Israel, or of the strangers who dwell among you, who eats any blood, I will set My face against that person who eats blood, and will cut him off from among his people. 11 For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.’ 12 Therefore I said to the children of Israel, ‘No one among you shall eat blood, nor shall any stranger who dwells among you eat blood.’ 13 “Whatever man of the children of Israel, or of the strangers who dwell among you, who hunts and catches any animal or bird that may be eaten, he shall pour out its blood and cover it with dust; 14 for it is the life of all flesh. Its blood sustains its life. Therefore I said to the children of Israel, ‘You shall not eat the blood of any flesh, for the life of all flesh is its blood. Whoever eats it shall be cut off.’ 15 “And every person who eats what died naturally or what was torn by beasts, whether he is a native of your own country or a stranger, he shall both wash his clothes and bathe in water, and be unclean until evening. Then he shall be clean. 16 But if he does not wash them or bathe his body, then he shall bear his guilt.”

God through Moses forbids the drinking of blood (17:10). This is because the life of a creature is in its blood and the blood is given by God for the express use of atonement on His altar (17:11, 14). The drinking of blood was also a practice common to pagan ritual. Keeping with the separation aspect of holiness God states drinking blood like the pagans did was not something God’s people should do. Anyone who does drink blood was to be “cut off” from God’s people (17:10, 14). There was to not only to be a general respect for life that is in the blood but also for the ending of a life as seen in the uncleanness incurred by one eating an animal that has died (17:15-16).

In contemporary times people shy away from the mention of blood. Even in the church mention of the blood of Jesus as the means to atone for and cleanse our sins is downplayed. The mention of blood is seen as crude or even perverse. If blood is spoken of it is referred to as an outdated vulgar way of communicating God’s truth. Blood is not a popular subject in “seeker friendly” churches more concerned with offending people than honoring God. Paul said when we put the concerns of people above the concerns of God we cease being a servant of God (Gal. 1:10). If we are to convey the revelation of God accurately blood is an indispensible part of it. God has said, “for the life of all flesh is its blood” (17:11, 14). Blood, in many ways, is used by God to convey the life of His revelation.

Warren Wiersbe states:

According to Leon Morris, the word “blood” is used 460 times in the Bible, 362 of them in the Old Testament.2 In Leviticus 17, you find the word “blood” 13 times; you also find in this chapter the key text in biblical theology on the significance of the blood in salvation: “For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul” (v. 11, NKJV).

Long before medical science discovered the significance of the circulation of the blood in the human body and its importance for life, Scripture told us that the blood was the life. When a sacrifice was offered and its blood was shed, it meant the giving of a life for the life of another. The innocent victim died in the place of the guilty sinner. Throughout Scripture, it’s the blood that makes the atonement. Any theology that ignores or minimizes the blood isn’t founded on the Word of God. [22]

 

The first allusion to life being in blood is seen in God’s words concerning Abel who was slain by Cain. God exposes Cain’s sin by saying, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood cries out to Me from the ground” (Gen. 4:10). An even clearer mention that God has put life in the blood comes a little later in Genesis where it states:

·         Genesis 9:4 - 4 But you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood.

The life of humanity is in the blood. Therefore, reference to blood in scripture carries important implications and truths. Let’s examine the importance of blood in scripture.

Blood is sacred to God. In God’s covenant with Noah He uses the term “lifeblood” indicating the life of a person is in their blood. He further stipulated that if a person sheds the blood of another person killing them that person would pay for his sin with the shedding or life of his own blood (Gen. 9:5-6). Because God has put life in blood, the blood of human beings is sacred. Ending a life or shedding a person’s blood is a serious offense paid for with the offender’s own blood. Earlier in Genesis the concept of shedding blood to atone for sin is conveyed when God provides converings for Adam and Eve (who have lost their innocense by sinning against God and His word) that are animal skins (Gen. 3:21). The blood of an animal was shed by God to provide those coverings. Blood is sacred and valuable to God because His creative life is in the blood. Therefore, blood, the most sacred of commodities to God, is what is required to atone for sin (Lev. 17:10-14). This is the root principle communicated throughout the Old Testament sacrificial system and points to the culmination in Christ as He shed His blood on the cross.

God’s view of blood as sacred should give us pause as we look at the bloodlust in our world today. The popularity of vampirism among youth today and its encouragement by TV programming and movies that glorify vampires should cause us to consider whether or not such interests and curiosities are demonically inspired. Society seems to be more casual in its willingness to shed blood. In fact we see a proliferation of spilling blood in sports. Cage fighting is an super popular sport that frequently leads to messy bloody fights that are as brutal as the gladiatorial competitions of Roman times, save for the actual taking of life. It should also be mentioned that near the end of Rome’s fall bloodletting and the public sacrifice of human beings in the arena was extremely popular. Is the popularity of bloodletting in our society and the world today a parallel that will lead to similar consequences? Something to think about. And if as a Christian we are involved in participating or watching bloody entertainment, we need to pray about that. God views blood as sacred. Are we treating blood in a sacrilegious way that offends God?

Blood is a sign of humanities humanness. In scripture the unity of mankind is based on being “one blood.” Scripture states:

·         Acts 17:26- “And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings,”

God has identified humanity by its DNA. Humanity is human based on blood. Discrimination against certain people groups based on outward appearance fails to consider that outward appearance doesn’t determine humanity, the blood does. The In history, in the last century alone, Jews, people of color, and people with different body indigenous body traits have been persecuted and looked down upon as being less than human. Such a view is ungodly and unscriptural. It is Satan who wants to divide and destroy. God is impartial and seeks to unite (e.g. Rom. 2:11; Eph. 2:11-22). The truth is, regardless of your ethnicity, race, or bodily characteristics, human beings are all “one blood.”

Blood identifies an individual soul. A person or individual soul is at time referred to by mention of blood. For instance, God tells Ezekiel that as a watchmen for Israel the “blood” of individuals will be on his hands if he doesn’t warn them (Ezekiel 33:8). The essence of a person’s life is associated with their blood. Life for humanity starts with and is associated with their blood (John 1:13).

Blood is tainted by sin. Human depravity caused by sin is described “struggling in your own blood,” or “struggling in your blood” (Ezekiel 16:6, 22). When Adam and Eve sinned, a sin nature infected the human race. The heredity of this sinful nature to all humanity is described in Romans 5. The shedding of Jesus’ blood to atone for sin links this imagery with our blood (Rom. 5:9). Our blood is infected with sin. We have inherited the guilt of sin (Mat. 23:35). Jesus pure sinless blood was needed to purify us (1 John 1:7).

That blood is used to illustrate the depravity of sin in humanity is seen in its further association with sin. Reference to blood is linked to a number of sinful acts such as:

Blood is used to convey the idea of the guilt of sin - 2 Samuel 1:16 – “So David said to him, “Your blood is on your own head, for your own mouth has testified against you, saying, ‘I have killed the Lord’s anointed.’ ”

Blood is used to describe sin - Isaiah 59:3 – “For your hands are defiled with blood, And your fingers with iniquity; Your lips have spoken lies, Your tongue has muttered perversity.”

Blood is used to convey the sin of slaughter (the disregard for the sanctity of life) - Isaiah 34:6-8 – “The sword of the Lord is filled with blood, It is made overflowing with fatness, With the blood of lambs and goats, With the fat of the kidneys of rams. For the Lord has a sacrifice in Bozrah,  And a great slaughter in the land of Edom. 7The wild oxen shall come down with them, And the young bulls with the mighty bulls; Their land shall be soaked with blood, And their dust saturated with fatness.” 8For it is the day of the Lord’s vengeance, The year of recompense for the cause of Zion.”

Blood is used to convey the sin of merciless retribution - Isaiah 49:25-26 – “But thus says the Lord:  “Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken away, And the prey of the terrible be delivered; For I will contend with him who contends with you, And I will save your children. 26 I will feed those who oppress you with their own flesh, And they shall be drunk with their own blood as with sweet wine. All flesh shall know That I, the Lord, am your Savior, And your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.””

Blood is used to convey the abominations of sin - Isaiah 66:3 – “He who kills a bull is as if he slays a man;  He who sacrifices a lamb, as if he breaks a dog’s neck; He who offers a grain offering, as if he offers swine’s blood;  He who burns incense, as if he blesses an idol. Just as they have chosen their own ways, And their soul delights in their abominations,

Blood is used to convey the sin of vengeance - Ezekiel 35:6 – “therefore, as I live,” says the Lord God, “I will prepare you for blood, and blood shall pursue you; since you have not hated blood, therefore blood shall pursue you.”

Blood is used to convey the sin of cruelty - Habakkuk 2:12 – “Woe to him who builds a town with bloodshed, Who establishes a city by iniquity!”

Blood is used to convey the judgment due with sin - Revelation 16:6 – “For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, And You have given them blood to drink. For it is their just due.”

God has power over blood. God turned the waters of the Nile and all the water of Egypt  into blood (Ex. 7:20, 21). Jesus was able to stop the flow of blood in a woman who had gone to many doctors for treatment without success (Mark 5:25-29).  Jesus controls the blood. Jesus is God. God will turn the moon to blood red as a sign of the End Times (Acts 2:20; Rev. 6:12; blood is red - 2 Kings 3:22, 23). He will turn the Sea to blood in the Tribulation period (Rev. 11:6).

The efficacy of atonement requires blood.  The Bible says that without the shedding of blood there is no remission or forgiveness of sins (Heb. 9:22, 23). Blood represents the sanctity of life that God as Creator has blessed upon humanity. Sin has polluted and made impure humanity and this is conveyed through the imagery of God’s sacred symbol, blood.

Only the blood of Jesus atones for sin. God, through His prophets, predicted a time when the blood of humanity, tainted with sin, would be cleansed (Is. 4:4; Ezekiel 16:9; Zech. 9:11). The fulfillment of this prophesied promise came in Christ. Jesus inaugurated a New Covenant in His blood (Mat. 26:28). This New Covenant provides new life, spiritual regeneration, eternal life in Christ (John 6:53-56). The New Covenant that leads to new life comes through the shed blood of Jesus’ atonement (Heb. 9:14).

Jesus blood was untainted by sin (Mat. 27:4). He was born of a virgin and thus the sin of human depravity did not pass to Him (Is. 7:14). Therefore, He alone, was in a position to provide a blood atonement that would fulfill all the just requirements of God. Peter refers to the blood of Jesus as “precious” because of its purity (1 Pet. 1:18-19). The blood of Jesus alone is sufficient to atone for the sins of the world (Heb. 9:13-14). Jesus shed blood on the cross is the final means of atonement for our sins; it does not ever need to be repeated; it cannot be added to  (Heb. 9:24-28). It is the blood of Jesus applied to our sins that cleanses the sinner of their sin when they accept by faith  the revelation light of that truth in the gospel (1 John 1:7).

The full effect and scope of Jesus’ atoning blood is seen in the many references to His blood and the various aspects of our salvation such as:

Communion - Matthew 26:26-29 – “And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.” 27 Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. 28 For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. 29 But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.”

Eternal Life - John 6:53-56 – “Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. 55 For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. 56 He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him.”

Redemption - Romans 3:24-25 – “being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed,”

Justification - Romans 5:9 – “Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.”

Reconciliation - Ephesians 2:13-16 – “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, 15 having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, 16 and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity.”

Sanctification - Hebrews 10:29 – “Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace?”

Purity - Revelation 7:14 – “And I said to him, “Sir, you know.” So he said to me, “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”

Victory - Revelation 12:11 – “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.”

The life is in the blood (17:11, 14). Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sin (Heb. 9:22). The wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23). The soul that sins shall die (Ezek. 18:14). Atonement therefore, to be just, must involve the payment of this death penalty debt. That is why Jesus had to die for the sins of the world in order to atone for them and satisfy God’s just requirement (1 Pet. 1:18-19). Satan tries to counterfeit and cheapen the shedding of blood in idol worship practices involving the shedding of blood. But the only blood that can wash away our sins is the precious blood of Jesus.

A dear friend of mine sent me an illustration that well expresses the love of God in the sacrifice of His Son.

The day is over, you are driving home. You tune in your radio. You hear a little blurb about a little village in India where some villagers have died suddenly, strangely, of a flu that has never been seen before. It’s not influenza, but three of four people are dead, and it’s kind of interesting, and they are sending some doctors over there to investigate it. You don't think much about it, but on Sunday, coming home from church, you hear another radio spot. Only they say it’s not three villagers, its 30,000 villagers in the back hills of this particular area of India, and it's on TV that night. CNN runs a little blurb; people are heading there from the disease center in Atlanta because this disease strain has never been seen before.

By Monday morning when you get up, it’s the lead story. For its not just India; it’s Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iran and before you know it, you're hearing this story everywhere and they have coined it "the mystery flu." The President has made some comment that he and everyone are praying and hoping that all will go well over there. But everyone is wondering, How are we going to contain it? That's when the President of France makes an announcement that shocks Europe. He is closing their borders. No flights from India, Pakistan or any of the countries where this thing has been seen.

And that's why that night you are watching a little bit of CNN before going to bed. Your jaw hits your chest when a weeping woman is translated from a French news program into English; there’s a man lying in a hospital in Paris dying of the mystery flu. It has come to Europe. Panic strikes. As best they can tell, once you get it you have it for a week before you know it. Then you have four days of unbelievable symptoms. And then you die. Britain closes its borders, but it’s too late. South Hampton, Liverpool, North Hampton and its Tuesday morning when the President of the United States makes the following announcement: "Due to a national security risk, all flights to and from Europe and Asia have been canceled. If your loved ones are overseas, I'm sorry. They cannot come back until we find a cure for this thing."

Within four days our nation has been plunged into an unbelievable fear. People are talking about "What if it comes to this country"? And preachers on Tuesday are saying it’s the scourge of God. It's Wednesday night and you are at a church prayer meeting when somebody runs in from the parking lot and shouts,"Turn on a radio, turn on a radio!" And while the church listens to a little transistor radio with a microphone stuck up to it, the announcement is made. Two women are lying in a Long Island hospital dying from the mystery flu. Within hours it seems this thing just sweeps across the country. People are working around the clock trying to find an antidote. Nothing is working. California, Oregon, Arizona, Florida, Massachusetts. It's as though it's just sweeping in from the borders.

And then all of a sudden the news comes out. The code has been broken. A cure can be found. A vaccine can be made. It’s going to take the blood of somebody who hasn't been infected and so, sure enough, all through the Midwest, through all those channels of emergency broadcasting, everyone is asked to do one simple thing: Go to your downtown hospital and have your blood type taken. That's all we ask of you. When you hear the sirens go off in your neighborhood, please make your way quickly, quietly and safely, to the hospitals.

Sure enough, when you and your family get down there late on that Friday night, there is a long line and they've got nurses and doctors coming out and pricking fingers and taking blood and putting labels on it. Your wife and your kids are out there, and they take your blood type and they say, "Wait here in the parking lot and if we call your name you can be dismissed and go home." You stand around, scared, with your neighbors, wondering what in the world is going on and if this is the end of the world.

Suddenly a young man comes running out of the hospital screaming. He's yelling a name and waving a clipboard. What? He yells it again! And your son tugs on your jacket and says," Daddy, that's me."

Before you know it, they have grabbed your boy.

"Wait a minute. Hold on!" And they say, it’s okay, his blood is clean. His blood is pure. We want to make sure he doesn't have the disease. We think he has got the right type."

Five tense minutes later, out come the doctors and nurses crying and hugging one another - some are even laughing. It’s the first time you have seen anybody laugh in a week, and an old doctor walks up to you and says, "Thank you sir. Your son's blood type is perfect. It's clean, it is pure, and we can make the vaccine.

As the word begins to spread all across that parking lot full of folks, people are screaming and praying and laughing and crying. But then the gray-haired doctor pulls you and your wife aside and says, "May we see you for a moment? We didn't realize that the donor would be a minor and we need.....we need you to sign a consent form."

You begin to sign and then you see that the number of pints of blood to be taken is empty. "H-h-h-ow many pints?" you ask. And that is when the old doctor's smile fades.

"We had no idea it would be a little child. We weren't prepared. We need it all!"

"But- but... I don't understand. He's my only son!"

"We are talking about the world here. Please sign. We... we need it all!"

"But can't you give him a transfusion?"

"If we had clean blood we would. Please, will you please sign?"

In numb silence, you do. Then they say, "Would you like to have a moment with him before we begin?"

Could you walk back? Could you walk back to that room where he sits on a table saying, "Daddy? Mommy? What's going on?"

Could you take his hands and say, "Son, your mommy and I love you and we would never ever let anything happen to you that didn't just have to be? Do you understand that?"

And when that old doctor comes back in and says, "I'm sorry; we've got to get started. People all over the world are dying." Could you leave? Could you walk out while he is saying, "Dad? Mom? Dad? Why... why have you forsaken me?"

And then next week, when they have the ceremony to honor your son, and some folks sleep through it, and some folks don't even bother to come because they have better things to do, and some folks come with a pretentious smile and just pretend to care. Would you want to jump up and say, "EXCUSE ME! MY SON DIED FOR YOU! DON'T YOU EVEN CARE? DOES IT MEAN NOTHING TO YOU?"

I wonder, is that what God wants to say? "MY SON DIED FOR YOU! DOES IT MEAN NOTHING? DON'T YOU KNOW HOW MUCH I CARE?"

Father, seeing it from your eyes should break our hearts. Maybe now we can begin to comprehend the great love you have for us.

The life is in the blood. Jesus shed His blood for us. Do you trust in His shed blood for your salvation, for your cleansing from sin?

 

 

 

 

 



[1]Wiersbe, W. W. (1996, c1994). Be holy. "Becoming 'set apart' for God"--Cover.; "An Old Testament study--Leviticus"--Cover. (Le 11:1). Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books.

[2]Wiersbe, W. W. (1996, c1994). Be holy. "Becoming 'set apart' for God"--Cover.; "An Old Testament study--Leviticus"--Cover. (Le 11:1). Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books.

[3]Kaiser, W. C. (1997, c1996). Hard sayings of the Bible (537). Downers Grove, Il: InterVarsity.

[4] Cf. S.I. McMillen, M.D., and David E. Stern, M.D., None of These Diseases (Grand Rapids, MI: Flemming H. Revell, 1963, 1984, 2000.

[5] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bubonic_plague#cite_note-6

[6] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bubonic_plague#cite_note-6

[7]Wiersbe, W. W. (1996, c1994). Be holy. "Becoming 'set apart' for God"--Cover.; "An Old Testament study--Leviticus"--Cover. (Le 11:1). Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books.

[8] http://elbourne.org/sermons/index.mv?illustration+1433

[9] Jacob Prasch, Grain for the Famine (Moriel Ministries: Victoria, Australia, 1999) p. 35

[10] Ibid. Prasch, p. 36

[11]Wiersbe, W. W. (1996, c1994). Be holy. "Becoming 'set apart' for God"--Cover.; "An Old Testament study--Leviticus"--Cover. (Le 11:24). Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books.

[12]Courson, J. (2005). Jon Courson's application commentary : Volume one : Genesis-Job (392). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

[13]Wiersbe, W. W. (1996, c1994). Be holy. "Becoming 'set apart' for God"--Cover.; "An Old Testament study--Leviticus"--Cover. (Le 11:44). Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books.

4 4. R.K. Harrison, Leviticus, Tyndale Old Testament Commentary series (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity, 1980), 134. <bo>Chapter 5

[14]Wiersbe, Warren W.: Be Holy. Wheaton, Ill. : Victor Books, 1996, c1994, S. Le 12:1

[15]Courson, Jon: Jon Courson's Application Commentary : Volume One : Genesis-Job. Nashville, TN : Thomas Nelson, 2005, S. 394

[16] http://www.enduringword.com/commentaries/0313.htm

[17]Thomas Nelson Publishers: Nelson's Quick Reference Topical Bible Index. Nashville, Tenn. : Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1995 (Nelson's Quick Reference), S. 378

[18]Torrey, R.A.: The New Topical Text Book : A Scriptural Text Book for the Use of Ministers, Teachers, and All Christian Workers. Oak Harbor, WA : Logos research Systems, Inc., 1995, c1897

[19]Freeman, James M. ; Chadwick, Harold J.: Manners & Customs of the Bible. Rev. ed.]. North Brunswick, NJ : Bridge-Logos Publishers, 1998, S. 154

[20]McGee, J. Vernon: Thru the Bible Commentary. electronic ed. Nashville : Thomas Nelson, 1997, c1981, S. 1:ix-403

[21]Thomas Nelson Publishers: Nelson's Quick Reference Topical Bible Index. Nashville, Tenn. : Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1995 (Nelson's Quick Reference), S. 259

2 2. See chapter 3 of The Apostolic Preaching of the Cross by Leon Morris (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1955).

[22]Wiersbe, Warren W.: Be Holy. Wheaton, Ill. : Victor Books, 1996, c1994, S. Le 17:1