The last four chapters 16-20 spoke of the holy priesthood. What of the priests? What about their “lifestyle”? What about what they eat? Who can also eat? What about what is offered by the people? Leviticus 21-22 seeks to answer these questions, moving from the nation of priests to the true priests themselves and the pattern of our lifestyle.. in New Creation.
1. Without Blemish: the renewed Bodies (Leviticus 21)
2. Priestly food: the Tree of Life (Leviticus 22:1-16)
3. Priestly sacrifices: the unblemished Lamb (Leviticus 22:17-33)
1. Without Blemish: the renewed Bodies (Leviticus 21)
Matthew Henry points out the distinctions in Leviticus 21:
This chapter might borrow its title from Mal_2:1, “And now, O you priests, this commandment is for you.” It is a law obliging priests with the utmost care and jealousy to preserve the dignity of their priesthood. I. The inferior priests are here charged both concerning their mourning and concerning their marriages and their children (Lev_21:1-9). II. The high priest is restrained more than any of them (Lev_21:10-15). III. Neither the one nor the other must have any blemish (Lev_21:16, etc.).
Note that while the priests themselves are ‘lower’ than the high priest, the priest witnesses to the high priest, just as the high priest witnesses directly to Christ. However, note that there is no partiality in terms of blemish: both must be without blemish, whether high priest or not. Let’s understand Jesus better by looking at the meanings of God’s establishment of holiness on these priests.
Lev 21:1-24 And the LORD said to Moses, “Speak to the priests, the sons of Aaron, and say to them: No one shall make himself unclean for the dead among his people, (2) except for his closest relatives, his mother, his father, his son, his daughter, his brother, (3) or his virgin sister (who is near to him because she has had no husband; for her he may make himself unclean). (4) He shall not make himself unclean as a husband among his people and so profane himself.
The meanings of these verses display the complete dedication of the priests to their duty, to the point where they have no ‘liberty’ to weep for peopl besides the immediate family. This may sound harsh, but it reflects much about Christ’s work. Christ indeed wept for people during his 30-year ministry on earth:
Joh 11:32-35 Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” (33) When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. (34) And he said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” (35) Jesus wept.
Who was this dead man? Lazarus: yet, did Jesus know him intimately? No. In fact, if we were to read Leviticus 21:1-4 correctly, it appears that the only people Christ would have wept for is Mary, Joseph, and James, depending on whether you see him as Christ’s blood brother or spiritual brother (I vouch the former, for not many other Christians in the New Testament were referred to specifically as the LORD’s brother). However, Jesus’ weeping for Lazarus means something incredibly profound: that he would consider us so dear to him like the “closest relatives” (Leviticus 21:2), before Lazarus even rose from the dead! That is the significance of Christ’s love for us, before we even loved Him; his faithfulness to us, before we even try to be faithful (Romans 3:4).
(5) They shall not make bald patches on their heads, nor shave off the edges of their beards, nor make any cuts on their body. (6) They shall be holy to their God and not profane the name of their God. For they offer the LORD’s food offerings, the bread of their God; therefore they shall be holy. (7) They shall not marry a prostitute or a woman who has been defiled, neither shall they marry a woman divorced from her husband, for the priest is holy to his God. (8 ) You shall sanctify him, for he offers the bread of your God. He shall be holy to you, for I, the LORD, who sanctify you, am holy. (9) And the daughter of any priest, if she profanes herself by whoring, profanes her father; she shall be burned with fire. (10) “The priest who is chief among his brothers, on whose head the anointing oil is poured and who has been consecrated to wear the garments, shall not let the hair of his head hang loose nor tear his clothes. (11) He shall not go in to any dead bodies nor make himself unclean, even for his father or for his mother. (12) He shall not go out of the sanctuary, lest he profane the sanctuary of his God, for the consecration of the anointing oil of his God is on him: I am the LORD. (13) And he shall take a wife in her virginity. (14) A widow, or a divorced woman, or a woman who has been defiled, or a prostitute, these he shall not marry. But he shall take as his wife a virgin of his own people, (15) that he may not profane his offspring among his people, for I am the LORD who sanctifies him.”
There is much to be said about v.5-15, but it would be entirely appropriate to classify these verses under the priest’s sexual purity. v.5-6 speaks of holiness manifested through the priests’ obedience in not making marks on their bodies, most likely reflecting the pagan cultures surrounding them – and again, it is re-emphasised that they are not merely called to be clean – but to be holy (v.6). Therefore, their purity is maintained by not marrying a prostitute, or a woman divorced from her husband – thus, a virgin (v.7-9, 13-15). This is entirely significant, and follows on from the imagery of Adam and Eve in the Garden. God created both in his image (Genesis 1:26-27), and both revered God as to embody the picture of Adam’s headship over Eve’s submission, which manifestly displays Christ’s love for the church which submits (Ephesians 5:22-33). However, where is this picture shown when the priest, or High Priest, ‘goes into’ or ‘knows’ (both terms relating to sexual intercourse) or ‘marries’ a prostitute or a divorced person? The reason simply given in Leviticus 21:7 is “for the priest is holy to his God“. Holiness is readily defined time and time again throughout Leviticus, which ultimately speaks of God’s personality. Leviticus is God’s biography – and he is manifestly telling us that Christ is not going to marry a corrupt, ungodly church. That is the picture of adultery, when Israel has been constantly referred to as idolatrous and adulterous because of her unfaithfulness (c.f. books of Hosea and Ezekiel). Thus, for a priest to marry a prostitute is akin to Christ marrying, for example, a Canaanite who still offers herself to other gods and idols. That is why in v.14 it says that he shall take a virgin from his own people – for Christ marries none other than his own. What kind of gospel are we preaching when we, as Christians and as priests of God, date or marry a non-Christian? It is a ‘gospel’ of universalism and open theism. Let us not be false teachers people, and learn to devote ourselves to Christ in our relational life.
But why marginalise the ‘prostitues’, ‘divorced’ and ‘widowed’, over the ‘virgin’? This is speaking about the purity of the person coming before the priest; the purity of the person coming before Christ. The definition of ‘purity’ and ‘without blemish’ will come more into play in the later verses, but it is important to note that this seeming partiality towards the divorced and the prostitute is extremely important in our eschatological theology. What the LORD is essentially telling us, is that in new Jerusalem, where we have our wedding feast with Christ – only there will we be officially married to Christ. It is most important to remember however that before we can even stand before Christ in new creation, we must be in our wedding garbs of righteousness (Isaiah 61). What this means is mani-fold, but just to pick out two: it means that we are completely righteous before Christ and the Father, as if we are Christ himself (since we are in Christ now). Remember however that Christ is a virgin – that he never knew a person during his lifetime on earth. This, along with other reasons why he remains celibate, completely contradicts the “Brownian effect” (a term I coin for Dan Brown’s ludicrous theology), and is just merely an expression of someone who simply did not understand Christ’s ministry on earth.
If we are in Christ, and we are presented to the Father as if we were Christ himself, that means we inherit his body, his resurrection, his ascension, his righteousness… and undoubtedly, his virginity. Therefore, it is most important that the wife is a virgin – to emulate the virginity of Christ, as the church takes on Christ’s very being.
(16) And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, (17) “Speak to Aaron, saying, None of your offspring throughout their generations who has a blemish may approach to offer the bread of his God. (18 ) For no one who has a blemish shall draw near, a man blind or lame, or one who has a mutilated face or a limb too long, (19) or a man who has an injured foot or an injured hand, (20) or a hunchback or a dwarf or a man with a defect in his sight or an itching disease or scabs or crushed testicles. (21) No man of the offspring of Aaron the priest who has a blemish shall come near to offer the LORD’s food offerings; since he has a blemish, he shall not come near to offer the bread of his God. (22) He may eat the bread of his God, both of the most holy and of the holy things, (23) but he shall not go through the veil or approach the altar, because he has a blemish, that he may not profane my sanctuaries, for I am the LORD who sanctifies them.” (24) So Moses spoke to Aaron and to his sons and to all the people of Israel.
People may read v.16-21 and say that it is harsh. Remember however, that this priesthood was not ‘gained’ by Aaron and his sons, because of their faithfulness. It has always been God’s pattern to gift us with ministries and salvation (Genesis chapters 12, 15; Romans 9:6). If we continually look at the priests Christologically, we are learning something valuable about the comparison of the human priests to our God-King-Priest Yeshua/Joshua/Jesus. Because, the human priest is after all weak, and will succumb to God’s sovereignty over their birth defect, or defect eventually gained in their life (v. 18 ). But the fully divine AND human priest is sinless, and without blemish. The LORD, through the expression of these verses, is solidifying his holiness over man’s incapability of remaining holy without the LORD’s permission or sovereignty over even his own birth. One cannot help but read these verses and completely kneel and give oneself to the living God’s interaction with us, and ability to humble us so we do not misappropriate the true role of priesthood in our own hands, when we have been given this privilege through Christ alone, who is our only sinless High Priest without blemish (Hebrews 4:15). Without a High Priest without blemish, he would not be capable of representing the assembly of Israel to take the blood of the sacrifice before the ark of the covenant within the Holy of Holies (v.21 and 23).
However, do not be discouraged because you are born with, or you now have, a physical defect. That is not God’s intention nor his expression in these verses: he is actually giving us a message of hope and humility to stand before him without arrogance, and trusting only in Christ. Because Christ took on human flesh, he rose again in a renewed body. In the same way, our Christ whose body was without blemish, who was a virgin, who ascended to heaven and sat at the right hand of God – WE also, will appropriate these things because of him. Leviticus 21 is a picture of hope for us only if we stand by the unblemished High Priest, so we look forward to our new creation bodies without blemish.
2. Priestly food: the Tree of Life (Leviticus 22:1-16)
If the holiness and unblemished character of the priests reflect that of Christ’s unblemished nature, what of the priestly food?
Lev 22:1-33 And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, (2) “Speak to Aaron and his sons so that they abstain from the holy things of the people of Israel, which they dedicate to me, so that they do not profane my holy name: I am the LORD.
The opening verses of chapter 22 follows on naturally from chapter 21 – firstly, if the priest is holy, so also the “things” are holy.
It is quite interesting as to why both priest and the offering are holy – for they speak of how Christ is both priest and sacrifice. We play no role in creation nor redemption! We are partakers, and taken up into that role of creation and redemption. Here, we see a picture of God’s definition of redemption: that Christ the holy priest offers himself as holy offering. Jurgen Moltmann in his “The Church in the Power of the Spirit: A Contribution of Messianic Ecclesiology”:
“It is not the church that has a mission of salvation to fulfill in the world, it is the mission of the Son and the Spirit through the Father which includes the church”
It is therefore through Christ that we can even partake in God’s work. God continually reminds the Aaronic priests that it is not them actually remitting the sins of Israel, for they are actually sinful! This is explained in v.2 – that the Aaronic priests should abstain from the holy things while he has uncleanness as explained in v.3 onwards:
(3) Say to them, ‘If any one of all your offspring throughout your generations approaches the holy things that the people of Israel dedicate to the LORD, while he has an uncleanness, that person shall be cut off from my presence: I am the LORD. (4) None of the offspring of Aaron who has a leprous disease or a discharge may eat of the holy things until he is clean. Whoever touches anything that is unclean through contact with the dead or a man who has had an emission of semen, (5) and whoever touches a swarming thing by which he may be made unclean or a person from whom he may take uncleanness, whatever his uncleanness may be– (6) the person who touches such a thing shall be unclean until the evening and shall not eat of the holy things unless he has bathed his body in water.
This is actually a great verse, in exposing the truth of Genesis 3:22. Here is the verse:
And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever…
Now, some people think there is a defect in the translation – and I think there is. But it is better interpreted as such in the context of Genesis 3. Remember that man has eaten from the tree of good and evil, celebrating the seeming autonomy of man pitted against God. Satan has effectively influenced man through the tree of the law – and man attempted to do the works of the law and fulfill the law in itself. However, man can at any time take from the tree of life, having already sinned against God. Can man just live forever and God will look away at man’s great offence against Him? No – and that is why God bars the way to the tree of life. We simply do not deserve it: and our sin must be dealt with. To live forever as self-proclaimed and self-righteous and self-justifying “God-men” (in terms of judging what is good and evil for ourself) is simply heresy.
However, we can eat from this holy tree, if we are clean. Adam and Eve solidified their uncleanness by eating of the tree of good and evil, thus God barred the way to the tree of life signified by the cherubim and the burning sword, manifested in the veil with the cherubim pattern. The only way we can enjoy the food, the feast, is if there is blood to cleanse us so we have renewed bodies. Only with a renewed body can we take food from the tree of life – any other attempt is futile and we will only be caught up in the veil-flame between the Holy of Holies and the Holy Place. Revelation 2:7 and 22:14:
He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.
Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.
And who can overcome? Who can do his commandments? Christ. And in Christ, God looks at us as if we are Christ himself – and we stand as the righteous and blessed man, through His Son’s blood and water.
(7) When the sun goes down he shall be clean, and afterward he may eat of the holy things, because they are his food. (8 ) He shall not eat what dies of itself or is torn by beasts, and so make himself unclean by it: I am the LORD.’ (9) They shall therefore keep my charge, lest they bear sin for it and die thereby when they profane it: I am the LORD who sanctifies them. (10) “A lay person shall not eat of a holy thing; no foreign guest of the priest or hired servant shall eat of a holy thing, (11) but if a priest buys a slave as his property for money, the slave may eat of it, and anyone born in his house may eat of his food. (12) If a priest’s daughter marries a layman, she shall not eat of the contribution of the holy things. (13) But if a priest’s daughter is widowed or divorced and has no child and returns to her father’s house, as in her youth, she may eat of her father’s food; yet no lay person shall eat of it. (14) And if anyone eats of a holy thing unintentionally, he shall add the fifth of its value to it and give the holy thing to the priest. (15) They shall not profane the holy things of the people of Israel, which they contribute to the LORD, (16) and so cause them to bear iniquity and guilt, by eating their holy things: for I am the LORD who sanctifies them.”
v.16 – “For I am the LORD who sanctifies them”. What of this seeming intolerance of “lay persons”? Let’s go through verse by verse. v.7-8 is a re-iteration of the law on eating, and the refrain again: “I am the LORD who sanctifies them” (v.9). Then, v. 10: a lay person shall not eat a holy thing. Therefore, the contrast is established: a holy unblemished priest can eat of holy things: but a lay person, who is merely clean cannot eat of holy things. v.11 explains: a slave bought as the priests property for a price, can eat of it.
Let’s stop here for a bit: a doulos (greek for slave) who is bought at a price for his life? 1 Corinthians 7:22:
For he who was called in the Lord as a slave is a freedman of the Lord. Likewise he who was free when called is a slave of Christ.
However, given the potential exegetical fallacy in comparing the NT greek for ‘doulos’ with the OT ‘ebed (עבד Hebrew for bond-servant), there is a high possibility that they convey subtle different meanings. Indeed there is – the word doulos is in fact such a limited semantic choice the translators picked for the ESV. Consider the LXX on v.11: psyche (ψυχή), which actually means breath or spirit. Thus, matching the LXX against the Hebrew, it can be re-translated as “but if a priest buys any soul as his property for money“. The semantic range for “soul” (psyche in Greek, nephesh in Hebrew, נפשׁ ) is vast: it can simply mean a breathing creature, a creature which has life or simply Spirit (though I think a living creature is more appropriate, since the Spirit is often referred to as wind, or ruah in Hebrew).
The Trinity in relation to those who take part in the House of the Priest
Let’s look at the first semantic choice: if a slave can now eat of the holy food as if he was actually born in the house of the priest (aka, becoming one of the priestly line), then he is adopted into the Holy family! What a wonderful picture of the Holy Trinity! Matthew 11 is my proof text for comparison:
Mat 11:25-27 At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; (26) yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. (27) All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.
These verses from Matthew reveals just how closely intertwined one’s salvation is to one’s knowledge of the Trinity: one simply cannot be saved without acknowledgment of the Trinity. When we are adopted into the Holy Family of God, we are now seen as sons of God (meaning the Father: c.f. Romans 8:14, so we are not sons of Christ), like Christ, because we are joined to, and in Christ! We NOW partake in Christ’s sonship and directly capable of speaking to the Father by the power of the Spirit making all of this possible. Without the Trinity, salvation simply does NOT make sense. The implications of this are vast – or should I say explicit nature, rather than implicit nature. If we follow after Abraham’s faith in Romans 4, and Hebrews 11 states very clearly that these Old Testament saints had the same faith which we now follow, then how is it possible that the Old Testament saints can even be saved without any saving knowledge of the Trinity? Leviticus 21-22 is a lesson plan, teaching them about the Trinity in the context of New Creation! For the people alive during Moses time who not only had the passages of Genesis and Exodus to read concerning the Angel of the LORD, the Burning Bush, the Pillar of Cloud and Fire, the Passover Lamb, the Three Tabernacle Furniture described BEFORE the Tabernacle itself, the Father who descended on Mt. Sinai on the Third Day – these are all profound and explicit pictures of not the multi, but tri-Personal nature of the Trinity. Otherwise, there is profound difficulty in Jesus being the sacrifice to himself – when he is clearly bringing his blood to the Father, and not to himself! What we may end up with is a modalistic nature of God who ‘acts’ as sacrifice, Son, Father, Spirit when he wishes, which is clearly impossible given the separate actions of each to fulfil the fulsome picture of a Holy Family who are separate in number and persons, but not separate in entity.
That, however, is merely the limited semantic concerning the English translation ‘slave’ or ‘bondservant’. What of the specific usage of psyche and nephesh – the spirited creature? I have investigated the claim concerning fish which are the only creatures without breath, without a soul (Genesis 1:30 implies that only the birds in heavens, beast of earth and everything that creeps on the ground has the breath of God sustaining them). This in fact is a picture of salvation, coloured by the salvation of spirited beasts in Jonah (Jonah 3: 8 ) – which points again towards New Creation (Isaiah 11:6-10) where only the creatures with the Spirit sustaining them will co-exist with us there peacefully. Thus, v.11 isn’t exclusive of the beasts who, throughout Scripture, are mentioned to be saved unto God to new Creation – and the semantic range of v.11 simply refers to the salvation of every creature (including man and beast) to New Creation, by adoption through Christ, the true priest!
A layman is simply ‘clean’ – and even God says that is not enough. That is the explanation of the Ascension: if we are left with death and resurrection, then as Christians, we are left with a blank slate whenever we return to Christ. He is like an eraser, who erases our sins. But that is merely a burnt and a sin offering for cleansing. What about our priestly ordination? What about our ability to eat of the holy fruit: we must become holy; we must be sanctified. This is why the ascension is CRUCIAL to the work of the cross: without it, we will not be sanctified and go with Christ through to the Holy of Holies. We would forever remain as clean laypeople but barred from even going through the veil of fire. What good would that be? What kind of God ‘saves’ us, but leaves us stranded on the proverbial limbo? Not the Jesus of the Bible: for he desires not only to cleanse us, but to impute to us HIS holiness, so WE as a body of Christians can commune with the Triune God manifested through food, as symbolised by the great wedding feast which is the first thing that awaits us in New Creation! He is, as He repeatedly says, the LORD who sanctifies us – through Jesus Christ alone.
3. Priestly sacrifices: the unblemished Lamb (Leviticus 22:17-33)
(17) And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, (18) “Speak to Aaron and his sons and all the people of Israel and say to them, When any one of the house of Israel or of the sojourners in Israel presents a burnt offering as his offering, for any of their vows or freewill offerings that they offer to the LORD, (19) if it is to be accepted for you it shall be a male without blemish, of the bulls or the sheep or the goats. (20) You shall not offer anything that has a blemish, for it will not be acceptable for you. (21) And when anyone offers a sacrifice of peace offerings to the LORD to fulfill a vow or as a freewill offering from the herd or from the flock, to be accepted it must be perfect; there shall be no blemish in it. (22) Animals blind or disabled or mutilated or having a discharge or an itch or scabs you shall not offer to the LORD or give them to the LORD as a food offering on the altar. (23) You may present a bull or a lamb that has a part too long or too short for a freewill offering, but for a vow offering it cannot be accepted. (24) Any animal that has its testicles bruised or crushed or torn or cut you shall not offer to the LORD; you shall not do it within your land, (25) neither shall you offer as the bread of your God any such animals gotten from a foreigner. Since there is a blemish in them, because of their mutilation, they will not be accepted for you.”
Now, we turn to priestly sacrifices which are also seen as without blemish (v.20-21). If our priests are without blemish, and that the food they (and the other priests, including slaves of priests and those who return to the house of the priest as wholly devoted, like the woman who has returned to singlehood and no longer bound to another, so she can devote herself fully to Jesus in spiritual marriage to Him) eat gives them life as classified as a holy thing, then HOW can we receive these things? Through sacrifices without blemish.
You may wonder: what does this have to do with v.24-25 – the sacrifice’s ‘testicles’? This is because this is where the seed comes from: the seed that gives life. I have investigated the truths behind ‘semen’, behind ‘seed’ theology (Genesis 1:11), behind circumcision (Genesis 17) – and that they find their definitive meaning of renewed eternal life in the Seed of Genesis 3:15. Therefore, to provide an animal with crushed testicles, then that is to preach that the animal is incapable of giving new life – that the animal is not an appropriate sacrifice which preaches Jesus’ ability to give new life, as symbolised by the renaming of Eve as the mother of all living, and through Mary the literal mother of the Son of True living.
(26) And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, (27) “When an ox or sheep or goat is born, it shall remain seven days with its mother, and from the eighth day on it shall be acceptable as a food offering to the LORD. (28 ) But you shall not kill an ox or a sheep and her young in one day. (29) And when you sacrifice a sacrifice of thanksgiving to the LORD, you shall sacrifice it so that you may be accepted. (30) It shall be eaten on the same day; you shall leave none of it until morning: I am the LORD. (31) “So you shall keep my commandments and do them: I am the LORD. (32) And you shall not profane my holy name, that I may be sanctified among the people of Israel. I am the LORD who sanctifies you, (33) who brought you out of the land of Egypt to be your God: I am the LORD.”
Again, let’s not smoothe over the details of the birth of the ox or sheep, which awaits the 8th day of Christ’s resurrection after Sabbath to be seen as acceptable as food offering to the LORD. It is a forward looking sacrifice to new creation of the 8th day. The cutting of the flesh through which seed is borne in the male genitalia (Genesis 17) is directly analogised to the cutting of the flesh of the beast – and both are suitable examples of Christ’s work on the cross – he is the God, the man, and the Lamb.
v28 is interesting and is a humane presentation of God’s view to sacrifices – he is not bloodthirsty: but the sacrifices are still necessary. Here is Matthew Henry’s take on the verse:
That the dam and her young should not both be killed in one day, whether in sacrifice or for common use, Lev_22:28. There is such a law as this concerning birds, Deu_22:6. This was forbidden, not as evil in itself, but because it looked barbarous and cruel to the brute creatures; like the tyranny of the king of Babylon, that slew Zedekiah’s sons before his eyes, and then put out his eyes. It looked ill-natured towards the species to kill two generations at once, as if one designed the ruin of the kind.
And v.29-30 is again a re-establishment of the laws already taught in Leviticus 7:15; 19:6-7.
v.10 and v.25 of chapter 22 speaks quite clearly against foreigners: this immediately symbolised the purity of Israel which we have already looked at. It is a witness towards spiritual purity – and that the only acceptable person to eat of the Holy food, off the Tree of Life, is a Christian – not a ‘foreigner’ who confesses not Christ. Secondly, the animal sacrifice shall be provided by a local, and not a foreigner – again to display the salvation of Christ through the Jews, explaining his incarnation as a Jew – to be part of their ethnic and spiritual identity.
The last two verses of chapter 22 summarise many of the truths spoken of since Exodus 20 to Leviticus 22: “I am the LORD who brought you out of the land of Egypt to be your God: I am the LORD”. Since Exodus 20, every statement has been a pattern of things to come – that even the 10 commandments are filled with “You shall” statement. Statements of promise that we will do these things without blemish. Similarly, v. 31 repeats it: “you SHALL keep my commandments” – not you must. Remember this is no works-salvation: the Israelites are learning these commandments on the basis of having been already saved – the constant phrase of “I am the LORD who saved you out of the land of Egypt“. A God who saves will not then require them to prove themselves as save-worthy – that would be akin to asking the Israelites to do as Nadab and Abihu did, and provide strange, additional hostile offering. Rather, this is a God making promises: Here is a Father, and the Son, and the Spirit, authoritatively and confidently establishing what we will and we shall do eventually – in new creation. Are you confident in your own ability to be the priest who provides an unblemished sacrifice of your own, whether in the form of your devotion in religion, the number of times you pray, or the number of pilgrimages and fasts you have committed yourself to? Or are you confident in Christ’s ability to be the priest who provides himself (Genesis 22) as the unblemished sacrifice?
Let us inherit the hope of New Creation – looking forward to our own sanctification so we can finally eat of the Tree of Life which God had always intended for us to enjoy with us by His side.