June 18

Leviticus 1:1-6:7

We are in the World Stream today starting the book of Leviticus. We are reading from The Message this week.

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Commentary by Dr. Drake Travis

Lord your concern for us, for every phase, for every step, every friendship, every meal – your concern for us is comprehensive and forgive us for failing to understand the depth of your love. Bring us closer to your heart; the consuming fire that refines us.  Amen.

As we have started Leviticus today, be encouraged as our aim is for us to better and more deeply understand God’s care for us.  The overarching ethic in Leviticus is that a holy God wants us to be with Him and to become like Him so there can be purer fellowship – like with Adam in the Garden/Eden. God’s holiness is wholly pure. God’s character is not mixed with evil. The yin and the yang we find in Asian folklore does not exist with God. He does not have an evil side. Granted He has control over evil – yet it does not control Him – and God will eventually eradicate and punish all evil permanently. But God being holy, He loves us, and wants us to be like Him so to better be with Him. A great theme in Leviticus is that there is to be no mixing. We are like this. We demand that our loved ones not be mixed up with unsavory characters, We demand fidelity from our betrothed. We demand that there be no dirt on the strawberries on our dessert pie. We demand pure, clean washed lettuce for our salads. We insist the sand in our children’s sandbox be clean – without compost or cat litter.  AND we do not sand mixed in our salad – not one grain! Are we not like God in this regard? We demand pure milk in the bottle for our babies – a little bit of dishwater mixed in is NOT okay.  We demand pure gasoline for our car – we want it free of water or gunk. We demand pure water to make our coffee with – or do you mind a few drops of chlorine just to kill the moss that might be left from a mug you drink from that hasn’t been washed in 5 months.  Nonsense. We want purity
We know what purity is and we insist we be served pure purity.  The weirdity about human character is that after demanding trueness of all those around us for ourselves – humans then want to mix things up for themselves.  Many think it’s good to be bad so we can have a good time. eh?  We trust that this trek through Leviticus reveals the excitement of purity. Sim;ply decide now to not be bored. Yes, sometimes it may read like a maid’s checklist cleaning a hotel room. Well imagine going to a hotel room and mold is here and there and smelly washcloths were turning colors in the corner from three guests ago, and the sheets were sticky and many various matters were untended to. To this, the maid responds, “oh, I don’t follow the checklist for cleaning. That’s too confining. It’s boring. I’d rather follow my whimsical feelings as I go through rooms. It’s bad to leave a room good.” [HUH!?] Is that fine with you? No.  Leviticus is teaching the rigors of clean living.  That is not boring. Seeing it as what it is: That God’s depth of care for us is refreshing.
 There are five offerings in this reading today.  The Burnt Offering, Grain Offering, Fellowship Offering, Sin Offering, Guilt Offering. They are found accordingly in the five chapters we read today and in the start of the sixth.
 The Burnt Offering was to be completely consumed on the fire. The best was to be brought to God. It was for worship signifying commitment and surrender to God, for unintentional sin. There was more mention of this in Lev. 6 and 8 and 16.  We are to bring our best and first to God today and offering it totally to Him, are we not?
The Grain Offering was grain or flour or olive oil, bread – what was grown; hence the income or increase from each one. This was to be brought to God also as a voluntary act of worship.  It created the occasion for Israel to pause and recognize that God in His goodness provides and we are therefore to respond with our devotion to Him.  Let’s worship God and remember the bounty He gives – not worship the bounty, then hoard it and then forget God. Otherwise we become greedy people who get all we can / can all we get / and then sit on the can.  By then anyone who threatens to take anything from us or any one of our cans gets a violent reaction from us.          Grain Offerings (from our bounty) keep us remembering, gracious, godly people.
The Fellowship Offering involved us bringing an animal without defect to be shared plus a variety of breads.  This was a voluntary act within the worship and service of our lives.  It contributed to the communal meal. This was to be eaten together. It kept God in the center of the fellowship. These feasts were joyous events and God and happy devoted hearts surrounded the table. Contrast this to the food orgies and saturnalia feasts gone amok in the Greek and Roman world that would follow a few centuries later.  The filth and vomit and trash-ruined rooms and wasted food was disgusting at these pagan gatherings. We either keep God in our fellowship or our fellowship goes bad.
The Sin Offering (dealt with in 4:1-5:13) was required to give for specific sin – be it unintentional. There must be confession, forgiveness and cleansing that must occur.  Sins were being dealt with in a whole new way now.  No blaming, fighting, getting ugly, or the world’s way –> repeat the sin until it doesn’t feel like sin anymore – who cares who gets hurt?. No,… sin was dealt with before God, wrongs made right and it was to end there. The size of the offering reflected the status of the person religiously or economically.
The Guilt Offering was for sin that required restitution.  There was to be a Ram sacrificed. This was mandatory for atoning the unintentional sin. There must be cleansing from defilement plus a 20% fine added on to aright the guilt.
Does all this seem tedious and laborious? It’s simpler than Law School. Getting right with God make things automatically go right with others.  Surprise! You’re going to love this book this year.

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