Saturday, 8 February 2014

(40) February 9: Leviticus 7-9 & Matthew 25:31-46

Ask God to open your mind, heart and will to understand, delight in and obey what you read.

To discover:­­
As you read consider how you might define the role of the priests.

To ponder:
Instructions for the priests continue for the guilt and fellowship offerings. The first type of fellowship offering was “an expression of thankfulness.” This displays how the offerings were to be an outer demonstration of an inner attitude to God. The second type, given after vows or as freewill offerings, could not be eaten from the third day, otherwise they would “not be credited to the one who offered it.” This speaks of how the offerings were actually effective in achieving before God what he said they would. We don’t know why meat had to be consumed within different periods.
            The absolute distinction between the holy and unclean (between God and what is abnormal and imperfect) is stressed by the extreme penalty for unclean people who eat holy meat or blood that should be for the LORD. To be “cut off” from God’s people implies death. Even the fat of cattle, sheep or goats not used in sacrifice was not to be eaten, no doubt to stress its importance in the sacrifices.
            The rest of the fellowship offering could be eaten by anyone who was “clean,” although the priests should have a share: Aaron and sons getting the breast, and the right leg going to the officiating priest. Chapter 7 ends listing the offerings: the burnt, grain, sin, guilt, ordination and fellowship offerings. We’re reminded these were commanded via Moses in a day on Mount Sinai.
With all in place, everything is ready for the priests to be ordained. So the whole assembly of Israel are gathered at the entrance to the tent of meeting (tabernacle), and Aaron and his sons are ordained according to the instructions given in Exodus 29 (see that post). With this all done, the climax: On the eighth day Moses commands Aaron, his sons, and the elders, to offer burn and fellowship offerings “for today the LORD will appear to you.” The sacrifices are made in a way that is now familiar. This concludes with Aaron and then Moses and Aaron blessing the people. God’s glory then appears with fire coming from his presence (presumably the holy of holies) and consuming the offering as affirmation that it was acceptable. In response the people rejoice and fall down in worship.
            As seen throughout this is all to protect Israel from the holy presence of God. He is so other, so pure and opposed to sin, that without these things he would either break out against the nation of have to remove himself from them. However, with these things in place, he can remain and bless them. More supremely, through the blood of Christ “we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place” with “our hearts sprinkled from a guilty conscience” and “our bodies washed with pure water” (Heb 10v19-22). Israel’s sacrifices effected only outer cleansing, and that was temporary, requiring them to be regularly given (Heb 9v9-14). Christ achieves a permanent, inner and full cleansing. So we need not fear.
Praying it home:
Praise God for his holy purity and perfection. Pray that he would grant you assurance as to the utter forgiveness and cleansing Christ has worked.

Thinking further:
None today.

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