Sunday, 9 February 2014

(41) February 10: Leviticus 10-12 & Matthew 26:1-19

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

Read Leviticus 10-12 & Matthew 26:1-19

To discover:­­
As you read consider what we learn as to the purpose of God’s strict regulations.

To ponder:
10v3 is absolutely key. It gives the reason for all we’ve considered. To those who approach God (ie. his people), his concern is to show how holy he is and be honoured with obedience. These regulations stress just that. The LORD is so utterly pure that without Christ such things are needed to approach him in worship.
            Nadab and Abihu prove the point dramatically. The fire of God’s holiness that consumed the offerings now consumes them because of their flippant disregard for his commands. This is akin to the striking down of Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5v1-11). Aaron and his other sons cannot defile themselves by carrying them out. And they are not allowed to mourn it seems because that would be inappropriate for God’s presence and so provoke him too.
            Their role is then outlined, and requires them being sober: distinguishing between the holy and common (special and normal) and the clean and unclean (acceptable and unacceptable due to sin, weakness or disease). They are to teach God’s decrees accordingly.
            In carrying out the remaining instructions for the offerings (9v24), Aaron’s living sons break God’s commands by not eating their share. However this time they are not consumed and Moses anger is pacified because they intended to please God by acknowledging the seriousness of what had happened. This shows God’s judgement for breaking regulations is not a legalistic one. The attitude of the heart is paramount.
            It is unclear what distinguishes some food from others as clean. The best suggestion is that clean animals are those which do not eat dead meat and that are more distinctive to their sphere of creation: land animals who chew the cud and have split hooves, sea creatures with fins and scales (not skin like land animals), flying creatures with wings and who hop (and so don’t walk like land animals). This stresses the idea of cleanliness as that of being acceptable and distinctive - a reminder that in worshipping God, Israel are to be set-apart from the nations. Now the nations can be included amongst God’s people through Christ, this reminder and the food laws have passed (Acts 10v9-15).
            All animals were declared good at creation, so labelling some “detestable” simply means they are to be treated as forbidden. They must not be eaten, and their carcass makes any utensil that touches them unclean too. This stresses the need for absolute separation from what is unacceptable. Indeed, touching any carcass whatsoever makes a person “ceremonially unclean” until evening. This means they cannot touch any sacred thing or go to the sanctuary (12v4) – once more because uncleanness implies they are unacceptable to approach God.
            The laws on childbirth seem derogatory through modern eyes. But we must remember being unclean doesn’t mean something is sinful or wrong. Childbirth is commended throughout the Old Testament. Rather, the woman may be unclean during her period and after childbirth simply because both were considered unseemly in God’s presence. Alternatively, it might be because they were impacted by God’s curse after the fall (Gen 3v16). Most likely the atonement required afterwards is just that necessary in approaching God after a time apart from him. The shorter time of uncleanliness after the birth of boys may be to mark the primacy (but not superiority) of sons as heads of their families (1 Cor 11:2-16). Genesis 1v27 is clear both genders have equal dignity as those in God’s image.
Praying it home:
Praise God that he now calls the nations to be part of his people. Pray however that we would reflect not a flippancy, but a seriousness with respect to our obedience.

Thinking further:
None today.

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