BOOK 3: PSALM 77 OF 89 – You sustain me even when my spirit faints

Psalm 77 is a raw psalm of Asaph.  This is meditation and self-reflection at their pinnacle.  The chapter is divided into three Selah portions: versus 1 to 3 is Asaph describing his cry, his day of trouble, his soul and spirit which refuses to be comforted, which faints.  Instead of drawing comfort from God, instead of seeking God’s face in his desperation, Asaph is simply too weary.

How many of us have gone through similar sentiments?  The tired parent?  The overworked employee?  The financial pressures of life?  The imminent fear of not being able to provide for one’s family?  The list can go on, and on.  Even in the midst of our cry to God, our inner spirit has difficulty yearning for Him.  This demonstrates that, to the very core, we cannot even have strength to believe, to have faith, let alone to even attempt to follow His laws and commands.  At the heart of our being, we are weak, we are frail, we are prone to fear and prone to weariness.  And so, Asaph decides to start this chapter on that note: the note of utter surrender to and defeat by his circumstances.

However, versus 4 to 9 starts the second portion of the Psalm.  In our surrender to our circumstances, in our submission to apparent defeat, the Lord’s faithfulness means that it is He, not I, who will keep my eyelids open; even though we, such weak creatures, would even question whether his “steadfast love forever” is, in fact, not “forever”.  Rather, we question the eternal provision of His grace and love, simply because we are not experiencing it here and now.  In our frailty, where we experience none of God’s present love, we question whether He has withheld it altogether from us.  V9 summarises this: Has God forgotten to be gracious?  Has he in anger shut up his compassion?

The irony is that our rhetorical questions regarding His presence in our lives (or lack thereof) is wrought with doubt and uncertainty, such questions are typically matched by rhetorical questions raised by God which actually reveals insight, truth and conviction.  Where Asaph asks whether God has ceased his love for us, God would in turn ask us (like He did with Adam), “Where are you” (Genesis 3:9)?  The Lord of course knew where Adam was; but the question highlighted to Adam that he is lost to his own sin and pride, and that he has lost his bearings in life.

This then leads to the final portion of the Psalm.  V11 starts – “I will remember the deeds of the LORD”.  Indeed, if we cannot experience God’s love now, if we are too weary to even speak to Him let alone to wait and hear His voice, we must therefore point to the “wonders of old” (v11).  It is those wonders which do not fail to demonstrate that God has never forsaken us.  On the contrary, He has been closely and intimately involved with our lives.

Look at how God’s arm had redeemed the children of Jacob and Joseph (v15); look at how He led his people like a flock by the hands of Moses and Aaron (v20).  Look at how nature is itself even afraid of God, the deep waters, the crash of thunder, the lightnings, the trembling and shaking earth; we may fail to see His footprints (v.19), but He is there.  In sin, the world is like the earth when it was without form and void (Jeremiah 4:23); but He brings life out of that darkness, as He had created the world ex nihilo (although, more accurately, made the earth in and through Christ; c.f. Colossians 1:15).  Yet, he who remains in sin will be like Babylon, engulfed by the tumultuous waves, a land in which no one dwells, with no protection: Jeremiah 51:41-44.

As Spurgeon comments:

As if conscious of its Maker’s presence, the sea was ready to flee from before his face. The conception is highly poetical, the psalmist has the scene before his mind’s eye, and describes it gloriously. The water saw its God, but man refuses to discern him; it was afraid, but proud sinners are rebellious and fear not the Lord. The depths also were troubled. To their heart the floods were made afraid. Quiet caves of the sea, far down in the abyss, were moved with fear; and the lowest channels were left bare, as the water rushed away from its place, in terror of the God of Israel.

Let us therefore come to Him even in the midst of our weariness, for His yoke is easy and his burden is light: Matthew 11:28-30.  That is the solution to Asaph’s sorrows.  Jesus is with us, not to increase our burden, but to give us rest.  That is what creation was made for; just as man was made on the sixth day, it is immediately on the following day that Sabbath was enjoyed by God and man alike.

BOOK 3: PSALM 77 OF 89 – You sustain me even when my spirit faints

2 Kings 7-8: Revelation of the Sons of God

1 But Elisha said, “Hear the word of the LORD: thus says the LORD, Tomorrow about this time a seah of fine flour shall be sold for a shekel, and two seahs of barley for a shekel, at the gate of Samaria.”

2 Then the captain on whose hand the king leaned said to the man of God, “If the LORD himself should make windows in heaven, could this thing be?” But he said, “You shall see it with your own eyes, but you shall not eat of it.”

3 Now there were four men who were lepers at the entrance to the gate. And they said to one another, “Why are we sitting here until we die?

4 If we say, ‘Let us enter the city,’ the famine is in the city, and we shall die there. And if we sit here, we die also. So now come, let us go over to the camp of the Syrians. If they spare our lives we shall live, and if they kill us we shall but die.”

5 So they arose at twilight to go to the camp of the Syrians. But when they came to the edge of the camp of the Syrians, behold, there was no one there.

6 For the Lord had made the army of the Syrians hear the sound of chariots and of horses, the sound of a great army, so that they said to one another, “Behold, the king of Israel has hired against us the kings of the Hittites and the kings of Egypt to come against us.”

7 So they fled away in the twilight and abandoned their tents, their horses, and their donkeys, leaving the camp as it was, and fled for their lives.

8 And when these lepers came to the edge of the camp, they went into a tent and ate and drank, and they carried off silver and gold and clothing and went and hid them. Then they came back and entered another tent and carried off things from it and went and hid them.

The hope in the twilight is a theme consistent throughout Scripture.  Here, the beneficiaries of such hope are not the king of Israel, nor the teachers or the sons of prophets.  Rather, they are the four lepers, who have made the decision which most men have failed to do – to not sit here until we die.

It is an insightful proposition and very revealing of our common sin, the sin of idleness in waiting for death. Instead of succumbing to a slow death, the lepers go to the camp of the Syrians upon twilight – where instead of death, they find life (Exodus 12:6, 16:12; representative of the Passover).

9 Then they said to one another, “We are not doing right. This day is a day of good news. If we are silent and wait until the morning light, punishment will overtake us. Now therefore come; let us go and tell the king’s household.”

10 So they came and called to the gatekeepers of the city and told them, “We came to the camp of the Syrians, and behold, there was no one to be seen or heard there, nothing but the horses tied and the donkeys tied and the tents as they were.”

11 Then the gatekeepers called out, and it was told within the king’s household.

12 And the king rose in the night and said to his servants, “I will tell you what the Syrians have done to us. They know that we are hungry. Therefore they have gone out of the camp to hide themselves in the open country, thinking, ‘When they come out of the city, we shall take them alive and get into the city.’”

13 And one of his servants said, “Let some men take five of the remaining horses, seeing that those who are left here will fare like the whole multitude of Israel who have already perished. Let us send and see.”

14 So they took two horsemen, and the king sent them after the army of the Syrians, saying, “Go and see.”

15 So they went after them as far as the Jordan, and behold, all the way was littered with garments and equipment that the Syrians had thrown away in their haste. And the messengers returned and told the king.

Is this not the picture of Christ’s resurrection?  Such a plain gospel, yet so rarely received in child-like innocence.  Instead of understanding that Christ has died and is resurrected for our sins, we are like the king who is doubtful of divine good news (v.12).  Note however that instead of the king hopefully desiring the birth of the Saviour, such good news is given by the lepers to the servants; by the servants to the king; by the servants to the king again for purpose of persuasion (v.12-15; Luke 24:10).  The wealth of the Syrians is thus given first to the lepers, then to the servants, then to the king; not to the king first (Romans 11).

16 Then the people went out and plundered the camp of the Syrians. So a seah of fine flour was sold for a shekel, and two seahs of barley for a shekel, according to the word of the LORD.

17 Now the king had appointed the captain on whose hand he leaned to have charge of the gate. And the people trampled him in the gate, so that he died, as the man of God had said when the king came down to him.

18 For when the man of God had said to the king, “Two seahs of barley shall be sold for a shekel, and a seah of fine flour for a shekel, about this time tomorrow in the gate of Samaria,”

19 the captain had answered the man of God, “If the LORD himself should make windows in heaven, could such a thing be?” And he had said, “You shall see it with your own eyes, but you shall not eat of it.”

20 And so it happened to him, for the people trampled him in the gate and he died.

So, the prophecy is fulfilled according to the Word in Elisha’s mouth – yet this is commenced first and foremost by the four lepers who asked themselves the important question of the purpose behind sitting and waiting for one’s death.  In their humble obedience to the LORD, they have obtained plentiful inheritance (Psalm 37:11; Matthew 5:5).  Indeed, the LORD has made windows in heaven, and the windows have not merely brought in plunder and food – but has brought in our LORD Jesus Christ who resurrected against the expectations of the kings of this world, but much to the adoration of the marginalized, to the lepers, to the women – to those who do not doubt the LORD’s might (James 1:6).  Such is the exaltation of man in the glory of Christ’s rejected exaltation.

II Kings 8:

1 Now Elisha had said to the woman whose son he had restored to life, “Arise, and depart with your household, and sojourn wherever you can, for the LORD has called for a famine, and it will come upon the land for seven years.”

2 So the woman arose and did according to the word of the man of God. She went with her household and sojourned in the land of the Philistines seven years.

3 And at the end of the seven years, when the woman returned from the land of the Philistines, she went to appeal to the king for her house and her land.

4 Now the king was talking with Gehazi the servant of the man of God, saying, “Tell me all the great things that Elisha has done.”

5 And while he was telling the king how Elisha had restored the dead to life, behold, the woman whose son he had restored to life appealed to the king for her house and her land. And Gehazi said, “My lord, O king, here is the woman, and here is her son whom Elisha restored to life.”

6 And when the king asked the woman, she told him. So the king appointed an official for her, saying, “Restore all that was hers, together with all the produce of the fields from the day that she left the land until now.”

The exaltation at the end of chapter 7 continues here, the restoration of the humble, the exaltation of the meek, the rising of Mordecai after the death and resurrection of Christ (Esther 8) – the revelation of the true reality of the robes of righteousness (Isaiah 61:10-11).   In the opening verses of 2 Kings 8 we immediately see a type of the life of a Christian after the resurrection of Christ, until we move to verse 6 – the revelation of the son of God (Romans 8:19).

7 Now Elisha came to Damascus. Ben-hadad the king of Syria was sick. And when it was told him, “The man of God has come here,”

8 the king said to Hazael, “Take a present with you and go to meet the man of God, and inquire of the LORD through him, saying, ‘Shall I recover from this sickness?’”

9 So Hazael went to meet him, and took a present with him, all kinds of goods of Damascus, forty camel loads. When he came and stood before him, he said, “Your son Ben-hadad king of Syria has sent me to you, saying, ‘Shall I recover from this sickness?’”

10 And Elisha said to him, “Go, say to him, ‘You shall certainly recover,’ but the LORD has shown me that he shall certainly die.”

11 And he fixed his gaze and stared at him, until he was embarrassed. And the man of God wept.

12 And Hazael said, “Why does my lord weep?” He answered, “Because I know the evil that you will do to the people of Israel. You will set on fire their fortresses, and you will kill their young men with the sword and dash in pieces their little ones and rip open their pregnant women.”

13 And Hazael said, “What is your servant, who is but a dog, that he should do this great thing?” Elisha answered, “The LORD has shown me that you are to be king over Syria.”

14 Then he departed from Elisha and came to his master, who said to him, “What did Elisha say to you?” And he answered, “He told me that you would certainly recover.”

15 But the next day he took the bed cloth and dipped it in water and spread it over his face, till he died. And Hazael became king in his place.

The heart of Hazael is plain for God to see – His name, whom God sees, is exactly what Elisha has done with this future usurper of the throne of Syria.  Note the divine perception which Elisha is blessed with (v.11-12) – as if Hazael’s false innocence could not be pierced by the Spirit-filled insight (Mark 2:8, 5:30).  “You will set on fire their fortresses, and you will kill their young men with the sword and dash in pieces their little ones and rip open their pregnant women”.  In the face of such prophecy, Hazael leaves unfazed and without remorse.  This is the Satan who contends against the LORD, despite instant rebuke.  The juxtaposition of v.14 and v.15 immediately informs us that Hazael is a man to pray protection from.

16 In the fifth year of Joram the son of Ahab, king of Israel, when Jehoshaphat was king of Judah, Jehoram the son of Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, began to reign.

17 He was thirty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned eight years in Jerusalem.

18 And he walked in the way of the kings of Israel, as the house of Ahab had done, for the daughter of Ahab was his wife. And he did what was evil in the sight of the LORD.

19 Yet the LORD was not willing to destroy Judah, for the sake of David his servant, since he promised to give a lamp to him and to his sons forever.

Elisha is but one man, a glimmer of promise – but the chapter never strays to allow us to focus on Elisha’s strength, but on the promise of the lamp to him and his sons.  Elisha belongs not to Judah, nor to Israel – but to those who follow Jesus – he favours those who follow the lamp of God (Revelation 21:23).

20 In his days Edom revolted from the rule of Judah and set up a king of their own.

21 Then Joram passed over to Zair with all his chariots and rose by night, and he and his chariot commanders struck the Edomites who had surrounded him, but his army fled home.

22 So Edom revolted from the rule of Judah to this day. Then Libnah revolted at the same time.

23 Now the rest of the acts of Joram, and all that he did, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah?

24 So Joram slept with his fathers and was buried with his fathers in the city of David, and Ahaziah his son reigned in his place.

What a contrast from the days of David (2 Samuel 8:14).  In the failures of the king Joram, in his failure to walk with Christ (Proverbs 21:31), Edom revolted from the rule of Judah and set up a king of their own (v.20).  Quite contrary to the true meaning of his name – whom Jehovah has exalted.   However, it is rather the events which transpired through Joram, the king of Israel (rather than the king of Judah) which brought true exaltation to the marginalized in Israel by way of the anointed king Jehu in the following chapters:

25 In the twelfth year of Joram the son of Ahab, king of Israel, Ahaziah the son of Jehoram, king of Judah, began to reign.

26 Ahaziah was twenty-two years old when he began to reign, and he reigned one year in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Athaliah; she was a granddaughter of Omri king of Israel.

27 He also walked in the way of the house of Ahab and did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, as the house of Ahab had done, for he was son-in-law to the house of Ahab.

The blood of murderers runs thick in the line of Omri (1 Kings 16:25) – for the first time, both kings walked in the way of the house of Ahab and did what was evil in the sight of the LORD.  In the immediacy of the likelihood of the destruction of Israel as neither king walked with Jesus, the injury of king Joram would lead to the imminent downfall of those who walk in the way of the house of Ahab.  The counsel of the wicked join together to be healed of their physical pain, but the counsel of the holy will join together to destroy and bring healing to those suffering from the same birthpains of creation (Romans 8:22).

28 He went with Joram the son of Ahab to make war against Hazael king of Syria at Ramoth-gilead, and the Syrians wounded Joram.

29 And King Joram returned to be healed in Jezreel of the wounds that the Syrians had given him at Ramah, when he fought against Hazael king of Syria. And Ahaziah the son of Jehoram king of Judah went down to see Joram the son of Ahab in Jezreel, because he was sick.

2 Kings 7-8: Revelation of the Sons of God

1 Samuel 5: The Seen Father

Have you ever considered what it would be like for the Father to be seen?  Have you ever wanted to stand before God in awe?

Christ has the answer – that he has physically manifested the glory before us in redeemed and renewed adamic flesh:

Joh 17:5-10  And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.  (6)  “I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word.  (7)  Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you.  (8)  For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me.  (9)  I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours.  (10)  All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them.

This is how we partake in that divine glory – to stand in Christ so that we are crucified, resurrected and ascended – in the throne room with Him right now – by the Spirit (Romans 8:34; Hebrews 9:11-15).  Though this is the rejoicing through standing in Christ, there is also the flip side of the coin, for those who are already condemned and are awaiting their second death (Revelation 2:11, 20:6, 20:14, 21.8).  This second death reality is catalysed for many throughout the Old Testament through their presence before the ark of the covenant, the entirely purified and sacred relic of the tabernacle.  Who could offer anything more than what is ordained (Numbers 3:4)?  Who can even touch the ark (2 Samuel 6:6-9)?  Yet who can eat of the bread of presence (1 Samuel 21:6), which is placed in the Holy Place but not the Holy of Holies where the ark resides?  No one has seen God (1 John 4:12), but he who does not keep on sinning has seen Him and known Him (1 John 3:6).  When John wrote his first epistle, he did not aim to contradict himself; the same way that Samuel has seen Christ in the tabernacle so also David ate the bread of presence which was not considered profanity (Luke 6:3-5).  For Christ, the Son, is our Bread of Life; the Spirit is the light of the lamp in the Holy Place; and the Father is behind the tabernacle curtain which only the Son and the Spirit can pass.  That is the fear which should strike in our hearts – there is no way we can stand, nor partake in the Father’s glory, except by the intercession of the Anointed Christ.  If Eli is not our head, then it is the true High Priest Christ who takes our headship, whom Samuel is but a type of; where Samuel’s words came to all Israel (chapter 4:1), Christ’s words are truly what Samuel have been speaking (John 17:8).

Is it thus so surprising that Dagon is amputated from its fallen glory?  He is unliving and he is a wicked perversion of the image of God, uniting fish and man in one body (v.4).  Indeed, though we are mindless fish  (Habakkuk 1:14), we are saved from that perversion so that we are restored to the true image in Christ.  Either we are led by Samuel, or we are led by Eli; either we are led by Christ, or we are Dagon in his true form – a fish without man-like arms nor head: not a man-fish; and neither are we a sick perversion of saint-sinner, but we are truly fully a saint in the eyes of the Father for we are co-heirs with the Son because we have inherited the Son’s kingdom alongside Him (Romans 5:19; 2 Corinthians 5:21).  The priests of Dagon, these idolaters, do not tread over the threshold (v.5) as a mark of awe, not knowing what sort of God has struck them; and this superstitious behaviour is equally condemned of the Israelites when they have inherited their Philistinian traditions (Zephaniah 1:9).  This threshold is between His glory or man-made glory; between mutual sight and knowledge before the Father in the Son by the Spirit, or blindness, death, pestilence, sickness before Dagon.  The Father has ravaged (Ashdod) the Philistines at the winepress (Ekron; Isaiah 63:2) to eradicate (Ekron) those who were not part of the body of Christ.

No-one has seen God, yet those who do his will have seen Him in His Son who shares in His full glory.  Yet, this light is too bright for the unbelievers to bear; the light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not comprehend nor overcome (using the KJV and ESV translation) it.  Only the glorified High Priest can stand before the Father in the throne room: none other.  Yet, he pulled us up in Him and with Him as our prayers are coveted in the midst of the Trinity (Exodus 30, where the altar of incense is in the midst of the Three Persons; Revelation 8:4).  Like the deathly panic and terrible cry of the Passover night (Exodus 11:6, 12:30), those who were saved from the plague were protected in the Lamb’s blood at the door threshold, safe in the house of the LORD.  Yet, those who stood outside were in the raging waters of the flood of Noah; in the open danger of the wilderness; in the condemnation of the glorious Father.  We simply cannot even stand before Him; but Christ is our living righteousness external to us, yet the Spirit has bound us to His Person, so that we either remain like Dagon – a lifeless, mindless fish trying to be a god.  Dagon and Eli share the same end, the former revealed for what he really is by the light revealing darkness (c.f. Galatians 3:19), by the ark next to the man-made idol; and Eli also revealed for his failed headship for not restraining his two sons, his seed.  Where Dagon is left with a stump, the Hebrew does not even use that word specifically in v.4; it is more accurate to say that all that is left is Dagon itself; both his hands (v.4) and head were never part of it and thus Dagon does not deserve even a picture of perversion of the image of God for Dagon is, really, just a creature of the sea.  Eli, similarly, has both his hands/arms and head amputated – his strength in both sons, as if they were his right and left arms, and his headship over Israel as judge and as High Priest eradicated for it is truly Ichabod: that the glory hasn’t left Israel, but has left the household of Eli just as the glory has left the household of Dagon (v.5) that even the priests are too scared to be in his presence lest they be also struck by the true living God.  Eli is thus reduced to a mere creature, a subject of Yahweh’s punishment, revealed for what he really is in the face of the Spirit-filled Samuel.

And to the grace of the Trinity, we are like Christ so that we can embrace the Person Whom the ark represents, the Holy Unseen Father who rarely speaks directly from heaven except to give the law (Exodus 19) and to confirm that He has Sent the Seen LORD, His Son (Luke 3:22).  To this end, the Spirit amputates and destroys all the idols in our hearts, so that we are presented before Him as holy and blameless when His Son gifts us His righteousness, and what is left is a renewed physical body after going through the refiner’s fire, and we can finally embrace the Father face-to-face (1 Corinthians 13:12).

1 Samuel 5: The Seen Father

1 Samuel 1: Formation and Filling

Ruth ended on a teaser – a firstfruit of what is to come, as we see the enjoining of the once cursed race of the Moabites enjoin herself under the tent banners of the children of Shem as represented by Boaz.  In this mixed heritage will come David, the typological son of God as emphasised in Ruth 4:22.

Yet, despite God’s plan being explained in the narrative for David to be the true and favored king, why then does 1 Samuel focus not firstly on Samuel, nor firstly on David?  Instead, we see a pattern – a pattern of Peninnah against Hannah; of Eli against Samuel; of Saul against David – the pattern of the office of the old being redeemed by the new, renewing all that was initially just a formation (like the first three days of creation), but needs to be filled (akin to the latter three).  Like the body which was made of dust, but needed to be filled with the Spirit of Christ to be renewed and partake of that divine glory which Peter spoke about in 2 Peter 1:4.

Thus, the office of the true wife, the true church of Christ is to be fulfilled not by the laughing prostitute but by the one wife who is truly loved by Elkanah, who prays in tongues even against the accusation of the compromised high priest Eli.  Thus, the office of the true spiritual Levitical priest and prophet is not fulfilled by Eli whose sons are unworthy men who do not believe in Christ, but is fulfilled by Samuel the type of John the Baptist – a forerunner to David.  The promised son of the promised and loved spiritual church, Hannah.  Thus, the office of the King has been established in Ruth before 1 Samuel – that is David, who clings onto the two Lords, the Father and the Son, in the Spirit Whom he begs the LORD to let him keep (Psalm 51:11).  Saul, Peninnah, and Eli are pushed into the shadows where they belong – and the narrative of 1 Samuel 1 teach us how the first order of things (in Israel) but never meant to be; but that the true first order of things is established in Abraham when he was part of no nation, but was of the mobile international church before the physical limitation of Israel as a national and ethnic identity in Christ.  We are not David’s children, nor Moses’ children – but we are the children of Abraham who rejoiced at the thought of seeing Christ’s day which he already saw and was made glad by (John 8:39, 8:56).  This is the essence of the gospel – to yearn and to cling onto Christ Jesus, as Abraham, Hannah, Samuel and David did and will do – to perform the true Spirit of the Law which is but an empty framework, both functioning as a curse for unbelievers but a blessing for believers, just as the office of the wife, priest, king function as an empty shell of a curse for Peninnah, Eli and Saul.

In the story of Elkanah, what we see is a retelling of the creation story with different figures representing the same truth through the meaning of their names and through the details of the narrative in this chapter.  Elkanah comes from the land of the double height of watchers, Ramathaimzophim, and hails from the line of Jeroham, Elihu, Tohu, Zuph – each bearing the fruit of the Spirit akin to the list in Galatians 5 – a line of compassionate, humble, godly men tasting of the honey comb of new creation.  They are all from Ephraim, the land of double-fruit.

From Elkanah comes two wives – the churches of two categorised ages – the age of Israel and the age of the international global community; the age of Peninnah, though seen and called as a jewel, was however not the favoured one.  Like Esau, whose physical might was indeed treasured in Isaac’s eyes, it was Jacob who was truly the one favoured (Romans 9:13) through whom the line of David would be established.  Indeed, this physically beautiful church, Israel, was in fact rotting within.  She would laugh at those around her, like Jonah with the Ninevites, and fail to love Hannah whose womb was closed.  It would appear that only through Peninnah, who had many sons and daughters (v.4), would Elkanah’s righteous line continue.  However, it is through Hannah that the shaming of physical Israel is truly manifested; that Hannah, the typological spiritual church, is the true apple of Elkanah, the Creator God’s eyes.  It is in Hannah that the true line of prophethood and priesthood would continue.  Though Hannah’s womb was closed, it was eventually opened to bear fruit to new creation within her; that this global international community should be the truly favoured church bearing new creation fruit as opposed to the sting and poison of the old, rotting Israel for all her physical glory in the height of David and Solomon’s day.

Thus is the formation of creation – the sky, the waters and finally the land; so also the office of the prophet, the priest, and the overarching church in which both prophet and priest operate.  Yet, they are but an empty infantile shell, just like the created Adam before he ate of either the true of good or evil, or the tree of wisdom.  Instead, Adam needed to cling onto the true vine to experience true communion with the Trinity, yet we are from the fallen Adamic line.  But, Elkanah is from the redeemed Adamic line, where the formation is filled with new life – just as Hannah is about to birth a new child who is to announce the true king of Israel, that the formed and filled creation testifies to Christ.  So this child is also to testify to the fallenness of Saul to emphasise the true kingship of David.  Such is the great responsibility of Samuel that he who is “lent to the LORD” as a Nazirite (v.11, 28) worshipped the LORD in his youth (v.28), just as John the Baptist was filled with joy when he leapt in Elizabeth’s womb upon hearing the greeting of Mary whose son was not yet born (Luke 1:41).  Just as Elizabeth had enjoyed great mercy from God (Luke 1:58) whereupon her son John spoke with a loosed tongue blessing God, so also Hannah spoke with a loosed tongue in hope that her child would follow the ways of the true living LORD Jesus Christ.

So although the book of Judges ended on a sour note as Shiloh is heavily neglected, here the purpose of Shiloh is truly reflected in Hannah when she utters in tongues words which she cannot speak – like the Jews and Gentiles in Acts 2 who were considered drunk for speaking in each others’ languages, so also Eli the priest accused Hannah similarly, though she was deeply distressed and prayed to the LORD and wept bitterly.  Such a large contrast of faith!  Eli the High Priest with his two worthless sons Hophni and Phinehas (to be described in Samuel 2) being oblivious to the voice of God (chapter 3), yet the line of Samuel through Hannah shaming the High Priest and his sons.  Both Elkanah and Hannah couple-handedly brought the attention back to Shiloh.  Indeed, the office of priesthood and prophethood is truly restored to its true purpose in the spiritual church like Elkanah, Hannah and Samuel – for Hannah had “asked for him from the LORD” (v.20) unlike Peninnah who failed to worship.  For all of Peninnah’s glory in receiving gifts on the day of the annual sacrifice to the LORD of hosts at Shiloh, she is not mentioned once more in Scripture.  Yet, Hannah is placed in the annals of those who devoted all to the LORD – though, unlike Peninnah, she is found throughout the entire chapter weeping, in distress, but prayerful to Him persistently (v.7-8, 10, 15-16).  She is fully confident in the everlasting Christ (Habbakuk 1:12) that her son would dwell in His presence forever, and though he is of an extremely young age, he was able to worship the LORD immediately after being weaned.  None of this could have possibly been achieved without the filling of the Spirit Who teaches man to proclaim Christ crucified and worship him with a circumcised heart (Deuteronomy 30:6, Jeremiah 4:4, 1 Corinthians 2).

And so, chapter 1 ends with a beautiful imagery of the community-based family, with Elkanah, Hannah and Samuel being pushed into the forefront of the picture of the spiritual assembly and body of Christ, worshipping the LORD of hosts (Exodus 7:4; Jude 1:5) who brought the Israelites out of Egypt.  Yet, the bringing of Israel out of Egypt is but a formation and type of redemption – the Israelites still needed to have circumcised hearts like Samuel;  the Israelites still needed to be filled with the Spirit to truly worship God in their hearts.  Unfortunately, they favoured and prioritised the physical beauty of other nations above the beauty of the Trinity in Whom they could have dwelt forever, yet not all hope is lost as a strand of the promised line of the promised Messiah has been maintained from Genesis to 1 Samuel, and the famous prophet Samuel is to be the filled and formed creation witness to Christ.

1 Samuel 1: Formation and Filling

Leviticus 17-20: You shall be a holy priesthood

Now we have come to what I deem the ‘second half’ of the book of Leviticus – not in the numbers of chapters, but in the manner of these commandments coming post-Day of Atonement.  We’ve looked at the importance of the Day, and thus every teaching now speaks not merely of cleanness, but something more about God’s holiness and our relation to His holiness.  We’ve looked at sacrifices, we’ve looked at priestly ordinations – but now, we turn to the holiness of every single aspect of our lives which Leviticus 17-27 offers to teach by the power of the Holy Spirit.

1.  It is in the blood (Leviticus 17)

2.  You are salt and light: sexual morality (Leviticus 18 )

3.  The holy intra-trinitarian community: Sermon on the Mt. Pt.2 (Leviticus 19)

4.  Punishments (Leviticus 20)

1.  It is in the blood (Leviticus 17)

Running directly from Leviticus 16, and from the previous 15 chapters on sacrifices and the priestly management of sacrifices, the picture of blood is vivid in the Israelites’ mind.  Through looking at the scapegoat and the sacrificial goat, we see how utterly painful it is for true remission of sins.  Without blood, there is no remission of sins.  It does not matter how hard we work; it does not matter how devout we are; it does not matter how much faith we have; it does not matter how many other types of sacrifices we give.  If we do not stand in the cleft of the Rock from Whom the waters of the Spirit flows, Whose blood is shed for the remission of all our sins so that all may come to repentance (2 Peter 3), then anything we do is empty.  It is, as the Teacher in Ecclesiastes called it, vain – in the Hebrew הבל, “hebel”, meaning transitory – like vapour.

So the lesson continues through to Leviticus 17 – it is therefore important not to read Leviticus in bits, but to read it continuously from chapter 1 down to 17 to see the importance of the lesson of blood.  The last few verses pulls out the central meaning of the chapter:

Lev 17:14-16  For the life of every creature is its blood: its blood is its life. Therefore I have said to the people of Israel, You shall not eat the blood of any creature, for the life of every creature is its blood. Whoever eats it shall be cut off.  (15)  And every person who eats what dies of itself or what is torn by beasts, whether he is a native or a sojourner, shall wash his clothes and bathe himself in water and be unclean until the evening; then he shall be clean.  (16)  But if he does not wash them or bathe his flesh, he shall bear his iniquity.

Everything preceding it is teaching how the life of anything is in the blood.  The chapter begins with people bringing all the ox, lamb or goat they had intended to kill to the door of the tabernacle as an offering to the LORD.  The repercussions are serious if anyone fails to do that (including the sojourners – v.8 ), “bloodguilt shall be imputed to that man. He has shed blood, and that man shall be cut off from among his people” (v.4).  Not only is he ostracised from the Israelite community, but he shall bear the bloodguilt of the animal.

If you had doubts that the LORD did not care for the animals – this chapter could not be more revealing of the LORD’s heart.  He absolutely detests the taking of life; yet, for our sake, our Creator God bears the dual role of also being our Redeemer God.  He is responsible, and not deistic, leaving us to our own devices.  And through Leviticus 17, he is teaching that because he detests the taking of life to save another, we should also learn to respect the work of the Son similarly.  The Father did not take joy in punishing the Son on the cross; like the Son, the Father was equally pained.  Yet, that is the mark of his love for the Bride of Christ.  This is no cosmic child abuse – to say that is to completely misunderstand the character of the 1st Person of the Trinity.

V.7-9 is also quite revealing of the mindset of those early Israelites – God had foreseen that they would be tempted to sacrifice to other idols, to other Gods, despite seeing these wonders.  Yet, are we so different?  The LORD teaches that even such heresy will result in them being cut from the church of Israel.  Let us heed Christ, and give to him wholeheartedly, for he detests idolaters and calls them whores (Hosea 3:3).  In the Mosaic time, it may have been a goat idol (which may cast some thought on the meaning of ‘Azazel’ in chapter 16).

Eating

There is something quite important that needs to be said about the blood.  If the life is in the blood, as established not only in Leviticus 17:11, but back in Genesis 9:4-6, and even implied strongly in Genesis 3 when an animal was slaughtered before Adam and Eve’s eyes just so they can have the righteous robes of the animal skin, the prototypical progression in displaying the righteous robes of Isaiah 61.  It is emphasised again in Acts 15:28-29; yet, listen to Christ’s word: we must eat his flesh and drink his blood.  Heresy? (John 6:53-57).

Rather, if life is in the blood, and the LORD is teaching us not to take the blood of other flesh, He is fundamentally teaching us not to eat and to receive life from an animal which is not given to God.  Jesus is teaching us that no other blood is suitable for us – only HIS blood.  To take the blood of other animals is to consume the life of something other than Christ!  Are we eating of the Lamb of the Passover, or are we eating of an animal we sacrifice elsewhere for ourselves?  This is the reason why we pray before we eat: to remember that life has been sacrificed for us, as we consume the flesh and live.  Every flesh we eat of is a pale comparison to the true flesh and Christ’s blood which we partake.  To pray before we eat is to ask for God’s blessing over the meal, and for God to remain faithful and remind us of the true flesh and blood which gives us life.  To merely give thanks for food is insufficient; it is as if we merely give thanks to Christ offhandedly, like Simon the Pharisee; but to think wholeheartedly about the blood of Christ even at the meal-table is to become akin to the woman with the alabaster flask (Luke 7) – to know the true meaning of the cleansing of sin by Christ’s blood alone (Revelation 12:11).

Yet so often we regress to our Adamic behaviour – for the first thing he ate is the forbidden fruit.  But the LORD asks us to eat from the tree of life.  Eating is an important theology to consider, and the greatest meaning found through the significance of the blood.  Let us not forsake our Christian theology at the dinner table, for there we are found most starved; yet, in moments of pitiful degrees of starvation, it is then that we realise how much we need Christ Whose shadow is only shown when we consume our meals.

2.  You are salt and light: sexual morality (Leviticus 18 )

There is much comparison between Leviticus 18-20 and Exodus 21-23.  Both symbolically occur after the “Day of Atonement”.  In Exodus 19-20, the Father and the Son were on Mt. Sinai on the third day, and rules of kingdom living were given shortly afterwards.  In Leviticus 16, the Christ was crucified and his work on the cross was completed – on the third day (although the word ‘third day’ is not used in Leviticus 16, we understand that the giving of the second Decalogue was symbolic of the work of the Son on the Day of Atonement, and the connection is easy to make between Leviticus 16 and Exodus 19-20).  Because of this, the following chapters of Leviticus refer to righteous kingdom living, and what a community with the Trinity would be like in heaven.

Unsurprisingly Exodus 20 ends with this verse (v.26):

And you shall not go up by steps to my altar, that your nakedness be not exposed on it.

It is the very first exposition after the 10 commandments: that one should not expose one’s nakedness to the altar!  Then again, this connection is made between Leviticus 16-18.  We were taught about the Day of Atonement and the significance of blood and life (between chapters 16-17) – a message preached also when the Father descended to Mt. Sinai on the third day between Exodus 19-20.  And in both circumstances, the immediate message preached is – do not expose your nakedness in an ungodly manner!  Thus begins the message on sexual morality.

In a post-Ted Haggard climate where both Evangelicals and Catholics, just to name two of the biggest Christian denominations, are facing charges of abuse in leadership and hypocrisy over homosexuality, Leviticus 18 comes as a wake-up call.  The amount of detail which the LORD provides is fear-inducing.  Just how depraved can man be?  To read this and to simply deny the truth of it, is to laugh in the face of God’s anthropological assessment in comparison to what he intended us to be like.  Here is a quick break-down of the things listed in this chapter:

  1. Next of kin (18:6)
  2. Mother/step-mother (18:7-8 )
  3. Sister/stepsister (18:9)
  4. Grand-daughter (18:10)
  5. Daughter of step-mother (i.e. step-sister) (18:11)
  6. Aunt, by father or mother (18:12-13)
  7. Uncle’s wife (18:14)
  8. Daughter-in-law (18:15)
  9. Sister-in-law (18:16)
  10. A woman and her daughter; son’s daughter, or daughter’s daughter (18:17)
  11. Two sisters at the same time (18:18 )
  12. During Menstrual uncleanness (18:19)
  13. Neighbour’s wife (18:20)
  14. Offering of child to Molech (18:21)
  15. Lie with male as with woman (18:22)
  16. Lie with animal (whether man with animal or woman with animal) (18:23)

Yet, what is the significance of sexual purity and sexual morality?  The significance of sexual purity is found primarily in Genesis, when God made man on day six.  In Genesis 2:18, after man had witnessed that each beast had its own companion of the opposite gender, only he was alone.  God however doesn’t create a host of female companions for him – God created one, that was cut from Adam’s side.

The meaning of our sexuality, found in Genesis 1:26-27

The implications of this are vast, and I have covered it in my earlier posts on Genesis.  Primarily, the meaning of the rib taken from Adam’s side finds its meaning in both of them being in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27).  The true of image of God is Jesus Christ (Colossians 1:15-17), thus, for Adam to be asleep whilst the rib was taken from him is to imply that a new creation was made in the symbolic ‘death and resurrection’ of Adam.  The concept of sleep, as we know, is Christologically symbolic of death – and to be awake, in the morning, is to theologically rise again on the Resurrection Day.  Richard Baxter has this to say on the daily lifestyle of a Christian:

Therefore, when we read the 16 listed commandments concerning sexual relations, we may wonder: why those relationships?  Why don’t we succumb to the Muslim teaching of polygamy?  Or secular teaching of tolerance of bisexuality or homosexuality?  Indeed, my response would be – if Christ was preached in those sexual relationships, then yes, they are indeed pleasing to God.  My response however, would not simply be – those relationships are morally repulsive; or will cause genetic, scientific defects and diseases (though, this is partially a consequence of many sinful types of sexual relationships; this may explain why the earlier humans, with the Spirit striving in them (Genesis 6:3), may have had less problems with genetic defects given the impossibility of having sexual relations with anyone who isn’t a next of kin).  The primary response nonetheless is – can their sexual relationships preach the gospel?  Can it show the relationship in Ephesians 5, that Christ would love the church, his bride?  In the Hebrew, this is stronger: would the male heavens unite with the female terra as a proclamation of new creation when heaven and earth are renewed and conjoined as in the time of the Garden?  The usage of the gender in Hebrew often relates to the role of the female in relation to the male to display some Spiritual truth, so we should not under-estimate the role of Hebrew gender in preaching the gospel either.

To reach that conclusion however, we must dissect some things.

To begin with, in Colossians 1:15-17, we see that Jesus is the visible God of the unseen God.  The divine nature shown is his relationship within the Triune God of Father Son and Holy Spirit.  To understand therefore what God meant when he preached the gospel of creation is to understand that his Trinitarian nature is imprinted in creation (Psalm 19, Romans 1) – especially in man, where we are the image of him as I formerly mentioned (Genesis 1:27).  Only in this “image” can the Trinitarian divinity become visible – but only in Christ do we find the true meaning of this visible image.

And this Trinitarian nature gives much meaning to say, for example, 1 Corinthians 11:1-16.  The concept of headship finds its only meaning in Fatherhood and Sonship – and nothing else.  To assume a merely cultural understanding of 1 Cor 11:1-16 is to fail to understand that the Trinity is not only cultural in a divine way – it is eternal.

Paul’s Argument in Romans 1:18-32

Which brings us back to Romans 1.  Paul’s argument of our fallen nature starts with ‘sexual immorality’ and the human body.  This begs the question: why?  Why did he not start with pride, as it seemed to be one of the first sins of Satan (Ezekiel 28 )?  Why focus on man’s nature, his image in God?  In fact, the corruption of this image is the very reason why Paul starts his argument of sin in this way.  He states in Romans 1:28 – God gave them up to debased minds.  We’ve looked at just how sinful man can be, and Leviticus chapters 1-16 could not have spoken a truer picture.  The ESV in Romans 1:21 is strong – it says we have “futile” thinking, outside of Christ.

In essence, what this means is that the male and female image of God no longer proclaims the truth that God had intended through Christ.  No longer is the message of the gospel, of the Trinity, preached in the inter-sexual relationships, because we now preach all types of sexuality – from gender ‘neutrality’, to the war of the sexes, to homosexuality, to celibacy (not for godly purposes) and so on.  Thus, to look upon sexual immorality (which includes homosexuality, and this sexual immorality does not include a specific type of sexuality), which is clearly spelt out in verses 26-28:

Rom 1:26-28  For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature;  (27)  and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.  (28 )  And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.

v.28 explains it well: they did not see fit to acknowledge God.  BECAUSE they did not want to preach God, they expressed their idolatry THROUGH these debased relationships.  It is important therefore to understand what it means when I say it isn’t about gender neutrality: what I mean is that there is indeed a significant division in terms of role for each gender.  Ephesians 5, 1 Timothy 2:14, 1 Corinthians 11, just to name a few, are not patriarchal teachings in terms of chauvinism.  In fact, many of the teachings were difficult for the irresponsible males in the Greek society.  It had nothing to do with chauvinism – but everything to do with leadership, responsibility, and perfect love.  For, in response, the woman in a submissive state is to not only ‘submit’ – but the Greek hupotasso ὑποτάσσω, is actually saying “under obedience”.  But without the husband’s unconditional love, then the obedience will become one of fear – and only in God’s perfect love (1 John 4:18 ), will our fear of him be a godly fear, and not one of fear of punishment.

Therefore, not only homosexuality – but every type of sexual intimacy OUTSIDE of heterosexual marriage is a rejection of the doctrine of God!  It is a rejection of Christ’s marriage proposal, sealed with the engagement of the Holy Spirit as our ‘wedding band’ (Esther 8 ), that he awaits until New Creation to enjoy true intimacy with us, his female bride on the female terra (earth), whilst he resides in the male heavens!  Similarly, that the woman, cut from Adam, preaching the message of Genesis 1:1 that the heavens and the earth are cut-down from Christ!

This means that every homosexual relationship preaches the message of Christ marrying himself or something identical – this is a periphery of self-idolatry.  Or perhaps a relationship subsumed of headship, preaches the message of the church, teaching Jesus what to do!  How ridiculous does that sound?  Or a heterosexual relationship outside of marriage, teaches that one can have the same intimacy outside or within marriage.  But that is not true either, for we, in engagement to Christ, await Christ’s second advent because of the very reason of such small glimpses of the true intimacy we have on this side of creation!

Back to Leviticus 18 – the message preached therefore is one of gospel.  Natural relations is a way that humanity was created as male and female, and what is ‘natural’ is found in the image of God, in Jesus’ sonship to the Father’s fatherhood.  To define ‘natural’ as anything else is to be merely anthropological – and not biblical nor Christological.

Romans 1:28 says that to be even further etched into the world’s definition of ‘nature’ and ‘sexuality’ is to be in further alienation from God.  This is why God gave them over to a depraved mind – expressed strongly through their sexuality.

Therefore, matching this truth with the 16 commandments of sexuality, we must understand how Christ would not propose himself to sexual intimacy with beasts or other creatures, for he died for man alone (Hebrews 2:16).  Christ would not marry someone who belongs to someone else, because that is adultery.  What this means is that he requires us to wholeheartedly follow HIM and HIM alone, leaving our adulterous life (Hosea 3).  Nor does he want there to be a rivalry in relationships, which is why he requires a personal relationship with one figure, because he is marrying only one Church that proclaims his name! (Psalm 148 ) – Thus, the message of marriage is preached the best when you witness a leading husband, sanctifying and loving his submissive wife – and there, you see the picture of Christ loving the church.  Sexuality should have no other meaning – even sexual intimacy finds its only meaning in Christ’s intimacy with the church!

Two anomalies?  Abortion of Children and Menstrual Uncleanness

Under my numerical labelling, commandment 12 and 14 stand out like sore thumbs.  However, they are in fact tied very much to sexual relationships – what kind of sexual relationships only concern the husband and the wife, and not of the children?  What kind of sexual relationships concern only the husband or only the wife?  Commandment 12 states that to have intimacy during menstrual uncleanness is a sin – because menstrual uncleanness is a period of groaning and pain, akin to the groaning and pain of creation.  To enter the woman in that period is to preach that Christ’s return and the filling of his seed in the woman causes pain and blood!  Rather, the filling of Christ’s seed and his intimacy with his church is a time of rejoicing and NOT a time of creation’s groaning.

Secondly, commandment 14 seems also to be quite irrelevant, but this is akin to the modern practice of abortion.  Molech (meaning “king”) is a pagan God, some saying that he is synonymous with Baal.  The reason why this commandment is sandwiched within the commandments of abomination is because every children we bear is dedicated to the LORD, not to some pagan-king, most likely finding its symbolism and derivation from Satan who wants to be the LORD himself (Ezekiel 28 ).  Deuteronomy 6:7 teaches that every commandment of the law is taught to the children diligently.  Not only that – Malachi 2:15 teaches that the church is to bear godly offspring.  Are we going to dedicate our children to secular education and secular teachings, and leave him or her to their own devices in knowing God?  Are we going to raise up a child in God’s holy commandments, or kill him for our own glory and our own plans and convenience?  Or are we going to practise the role of loving parents, and imprint in their hearts God’s commandments so they learn to turn from God’s law to the gospel?  As children, they must be taught the law, so they can spiritually remove their childhood under the devilish rulers of the elements by the power of the Spirit and become mature in the gospel (Galatians 4:3).

Word of Warning

It is very important not to judge homosexuals or bisexuals over extra-marital heterosexual relationships.  Paul Blackham states it quite nicely, and I paraphrase – to discern and rebuke a man who is living with another man, is to be biased and to be self-righteous if we fail to equally discern and rebuke a man who is living with a woman.  The greatest message of discernment and rebuking comes in our relationships.  Are WE preaching the gospel with our sexuality?  Are WE preaching the gospel with our sexual purity?  If not, then what right do we have to force others to follow these sexual codes and morals?  Leviticus 18 is a chapter of hate and love amongst Christians and politicians.  Let us not preach it, unless we bring also the message of the gospel alongside it.  Without the gospel, we are only creating better heterosexual Pharisees who appear righteous – but in their heart, their relationships speak nothing of Jesus Christ.  It is most important to remember Christ’s attitude in handling these situations: he hates the sin and the sinner, but he is careful not to be biased (c.f. John 8:1-11) and is just.

Additionally, these teachings are hard to bear – but so is every other commandment that challenges our world-view to the core.  This is because we were saved from death to life, from depraved, futile non-gospel thinking to a new world of gospel and Christ-focused glory.  Let us bring our sorrows and sins to Jesus Christ, and remember that even he is looking forward to the great intimate moment on the Resurrection Day:

Rev 21:4  He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

3.  The holy intra-trinitarian community: Sermon on the “Mount” Pt.2 (Leviticus 19)

As aforementioned, Leviticus 17-20 are chapters which expose the truths of the Ten Commandments, like Exodus 21-23.  Both Exodus and Leviticus start with ‘nakedness’, for we began in the Garden naked, and left with the necessity to hide our nakedness with animal skin; and so we hide under the skin of Christ to be presentable to our Father in heaven.  Leviticus 19:2 sets the tone:

You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy.

Then the commandments move from ‘nakedness’ to other areas of kingdom living.  There are several commandments in chapter 19 and Adam Clarke is helpful in listing as he usually is:

Exhortations to holiness, and a repetition of various laws, Lev_19:1, Lev_19:2

Duty to parents, and observance of the Sabbath, Lev_19:3.

Against idolatry, Lev_19:4.

Concerning peace-offerings, Lev_19:5-8.

The gleanings of the harvest and vintage to be left for the poor, Lev_19:9, Lev_19:10.

Against stealing and lying, Lev_19:11; false swearing, Lev_19:12; defrauding the hireling, Lev_19:13.

Laws in behalf of the deaf and the blind, Lev_19:14.

Against respect of persons in judgment, Lev_19:15; tale-bearing, Lev_19:16; hatred and uncharitableness, Lev_19:17; revenge, Lev_19:18; unlawful mixtures in cattle, seed, and garments, Lev_19:19.

Laws relative to the bondmaid that is betrothed, Lev_19:20-22.

The fruit of the trees of the land not to be eaten for the first three years, Lev_19:23; but this is lawful in the fourth and fifth years, Lev_19:24, Lev_19:25.

Against eating of blood, and using incantations, Lev_19:26; superstitious cutting of the hair, Lev_19:27; and cutting of the flesh in the times of mourning, Lev_19:28; prostitution, Lev_19:29. Sabbaths to be reverenced, Lev_19:30.

Against consulting those who are wizards, and have familiar spirits, Lev_19:31.

Respect must be shown to the aged, Lev_19:32.

The stranger shall not be oppressed, Lev_19:33, Lev_19:34.

They shall keep just measures, weights, and balances, Lev_19:35, Lev_19:36.

Conclusion, Lev_19:37.

While there is merit in divulging the truth of every single law, two things must be stated: the Spirit behind the law, and the expositional nature of these commandments in relation to the law.

Scripture witnesses within itself

Firstly, the expositional nature of these commandments.  The 10 commandments did not leave itself to be interpreted widely and openly to the anthropological desires of these depraved men and women; rather, the LORD interprets it for them.  This is most important and is not the first time this has occurred.  What this indicates is that Scriptural interpretation comes from the power of the Spirit, and not from our personal experiences and cultures!  Above all, it is even above what theologians have to say who twist Scripture to their personal opinions of God.  In other words – let the written Word witness to the eternal Word.  When we find ourselves reading Scripture, and the 10 commandments, we often (if we are Catholic) leave it to the Magisterium or the Pope; or if we are Protestant, we leave it to Don Carson or John Piper.  This is what Luther has to say when he was exposing Genesis 1-3:

“If then we do not understand the nature of the days or have no insight into why God wanted to make use of these intervals of time, let us confess our lack of understanding rather than distort the words, contrary to their context, into a foreign meaning… If we do not comprehend the reason for this, let us remain pupils and leave the job of teacher to the Holy Spirit”.

Indeed, what we witnessed in Exodus 21-23, and now in Leviticus 17-20 is the work of the Spirit in interpreting the meaning of the third day, and/or the Day of Atonement – followed by explicit teachings on kingdom living framed by the 10 commandments. Here is an example:

Lev 19:9-10  “When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field right up to its edge, neither shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest.  (10)  And you shall not strip your vineyard bare, neither shall you gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the LORD your God.

If I found myself reaping the harvest of the land, I may have forgotten what it means to love my neighbour and to provide for the sojourners – and God is teaching in v.10 about compassion to our neighbours.  I think we should not exclude v.9-10 from v.11, which I believe reads on from v.10.  “You shall not steal” and “You shall not deal falsely”.  If the actions in v.9-10 teaches that we are ‘stealing’ and ‘dealing falsely’ simply by being overly economically rigorous, it means that we are not completely possessed by true Christian kingdom living.

Leviticus 19:31 is also explained in some manner too: that one would be defiled if they communicate with dead spirits.  Why?  Because, it is akin to touching the dead – it defiles us (Leviticus 21:11-12).  This is followed closely by v.32 about respect for the elderly, which is explained in the form of the colour of the hair.  Grey hair is a mark of the elderly, and within Scripture it witnesses to this truth (Proverbs 16:31; 20:29 and Daniel 7:9 where the Father is shown to have white hair).  To disregard the elderly is to indirectly disregard the living God.  These, again are merely examples of how the Scriptures testify within itself to provide its sufficient meaning in relation to the living Trinity.

Spirit behind the law

Secondly, is the dichotomy between gospel and law.  As stated, the law in Exodus 20 is related somewhat to the land of Canaan, making it partially abolished and partially fulfilled when Christ came (I am careful not to divide the law into the three-fold Aquinian definitions c.f. Galatians 5:3).  What this also means however is that we should dissect between the law which relates to the land, Canaan, which is merely temporary; and the law which relates to the future kingdom, new Jerusalem.  For example:

Lev 19:23-25  “When you come into the land and plant any kind of tree for food, then you shall regard its fruit as forbidden. Three years it shall be forbidden to you; it must not be eaten.  (24)  And in the fourth year all its fruit shall be holy, an offering of praise to the LORD.  (25)  But in the fifth year you may eat of its fruit, to increase its yield for you: I am the LORD your God.

v.23-25 clearly relates not to new Jerusalem, but it is saying something about new Jerusalem.  Three years it is forbidden to eat of the tree for food, and only afterwards will its fruit be given firstly as offering to the LORD as holy fruit; and THEN it will increase its yield.  Considering the significance of the number three, in terms of the crucifixion and resurrection, and as well as creation – where day 1 – 3 is one of formation, and day 4 – 6 is one of filling, day 4 also represents the first day of filling the formations of God’s creation.  Thus, the fourth year is one which speaks of offering to Christ; and fifth year speaks of the increase in its yield for us.  These numbers of years speak entirely of Jesus’ death for us, eventually leading to true holy offering of his blood to the Holy of Holies, while we reap the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5).

What this also implies is that wherever they go, INCLUDING Canaan, they are facing all types of pagan worship.  Canaan was never the destination – it is a temporary location to signify the grand macrocosmic scheme of the world’s Christians making our way to the spiritual Canaan – the true New Jerusalem.  That is why the Old Testament saints lived in tents (Hebrews 11).  Canaan, like any other land, as v.23-25 implies, bears forbidden fruit.  Where else is forbidden fruit mentioned?  In Genesis 3, where the tree was rooted in the Garden with the tree of wisdom.  This shows the Garden for what it is:  it is merely a pale image of the true New Kingdom, thus explaining the existence of the tree of knowledge and wisdom in the Garden (and its removal in the new heavens and earth), just as Adam was a pale image of the true image of God, Christ.   Thus, to plant a tree in any land is to remember that the fruit which first came out was forbidden, for Adam first ate of forbidden fruit.  Leviticus 19:19 adds colour to these verses:

You shall keep my statutes. You shall not let your cattle breed with a different kind. You shall not sow your field with two kinds of seed, nor shall you wear a garment of cloth made of two kinds of material.

There is much purity to be implied in these commandments, and the theology of the Seed is mentioned here – whether it is the true Seed of Christ that bears Spiritual fruit?  Or the seed of Satan?  Whether we wear linen, or linen mixed with wool?  Whether we eat the blood of other flesh, as if feeding NOT on Christ’s blood alone?  Whether we are spiritual Israelites, or spiritually allegiant to both Israel and Canaan/Ammon/Hong Kong/London/world?  But the Second Adam, after the third day, offered his holy fruit to the Father, and afterwards presented himself to be eaten so we partake in his pure holiness and bear fruit in return and present the true spiritual meaning behind the law entirely as displayed by the lifestyle of the Christian when they understand the true meaning of the law (c.f. David eating the shewbread “against” the law:  Matthew 12).

It is therefore easy to see that there is no such thing as ‘new’ commandments per se when Christ’s work fulfilled and abolished the law.  Rather, the true meaning of the law is exposed – and Moses and others understood that.  Even the Spirit interpreted that in the final few verses of chapter 19:

Lev 19:33-34  “When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong.  (34)  You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.

The teaching of “loving thy neighbour as thyself” was etched in the Israelite mind at such an early stage.  Thus, what Christ taught in the NT is not “new” – it is merely a fulfillment of what the law taught.  The fulfillment of true kingdom living, not on this earth, but in new Jerusalem! How great it would be if Israel DID commit to these teachings: but they clearly did not.  Was it a failure on God’s part to introduce these teachings?  Again: NO.  It was God’s intention to show what true new Jerusalem living is all about, and how far away these Israelites are from such righteous living.

Let thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven

The problem we therefore reach is: how did the Israelites interpret these commandments?  Did they know that it related BOTH to the bondage of the law and the gospel of Christ?

It is the same question we ask ourselves when we read the Old Testament.  My conviction, by the Spirit, is that anyone filled with the Spirit in the Old Testament would not have come to any conclusion of works-salvation.  Neither would they have come to the conclusion of not seeing Christ, such as just worshipping a ‘generic’ God shown through the kingdom living.  Nor even a matter of waiting for the NT ‘revelation’, so they can read the NT back onto the OT and “re-interpret” Christ in the OT.  The matter is, whether Christ is inherently spoken of in the OT, and already revealed.  Jesus seems to have said so in John 5:39, BEFORE he was crucified.

Instead, the most Spirit-filled Israelite would see the Trinity, working within itself, interpreting the 10 Commandments within the Triune body; the Spirit teaching us the truth of God, after the death, resurrection and ascension of Christ (an implication of the giving of the Spirit after the ascension of Christ).  The Father being revered by both Son and Spirit.  Leviticus 16-20 therefore speak very strongly of the work of the Trinity and the community and none else.

It is however a shame when people twist the law and attempt to fuse these teachings into politics.  1 Corinthians 5:12-13 is exactly what the Spirit is behind the law: it is used to judge those within the church, NOT outside.  What matter does the law have outside the context of Christ?  What matter is there to infuse it into the national law?  What they fail to realise is that Christ’s coming abolished any land-based teachings: and fulfilled the true meaning of the Mosaic law which was only introduced temporarily.  Many times, “let thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven”, is misinterpreted as establishing a “Christian Kingdom” on earth.  Rather, we are not establishing Christian “factions” or “states”.  We are establishing a church family, looking forward to the true Christian Kingdom after the Second Advent of Christ!  Only there can we commit to true Spirit-led kingdom living without compromise!  That is exactly why kingdom living is preached AFTER the ASCENSION of Christ.  That is why the Day of Atonement is on the same day as the Second giving of the Decalogue.  Because in both cases, we look forward to new creation!  And there, we will not find a community of spirit and law-less beings.  There, our lives will be led by these laws but we will commit to them perfectly in the true Christian Kingdom with the Lamb as the Light!

4.  Punishments (Leviticus 20)

And the inclusion of Leviticus 20 grounds us back onto the fact that we are not now establishing a holy Christian Kingdom par excellence and without blemish.  Why?  Because of the existence of punishment: only in a world of sin is there any punishment.  The outline of Leviticus 20 goes like this (with Paul Blackham’s additions of the punishment in italics):

Of giving seed to Molech, and the punishment of this crime, Lev_20:1-5. death by stoning

Of consulting wizards, etc., Lev_20:6-8. exile from the people

Of disrespect to parents, Lev_20:9. death

Of adultery, Lev_20:10. death

Of sexual intercourse with step-mother or daughter-in-law, Lev_20:11, Lev_20:12. death

Homosexual intercourse Lev 20:13. death

Marrying a mother and a daughter Lev 20:14. death by burning

Bestiality, Lev_20:15. death for human and animal

Incest Lev_20:17 shame and exile

Sexual intercourse during menstrual flow Lev 20:18 exile

Sexual intercourse with aunt/uncle Lev 20:19-20 infertility

Marriage to brother’s wife Lev 20:21 infertility

Exhortations and promises, Lev_20:22-24.

The difference between clean and unclean animals to be carefully observed, Lev_20:25.

The Israelites are separated from other nations, that they may be holy, Lev_20:26.

A repetition of the law against wizards and them that have familiar spirits, Lev_20:27. death by stoning

As the beginning of Leviticus 19 spoke of God’s holiness and Israel’s response to God’s holiness, so Leviticus 20 ends with the same holiness of the Israelites from other nations.  Chapter 20 therefore, like 19, focuses on the purity of Christian living.  The repetition of wizards, spirits and sorcery throughout Leviticus 20 is not out of place either – for the desire to be a sorcerer is a manifestation of the desire to be like God, in control of the spirits (Acts 8:9-25).

We must continually remember that throughout the Mosaic law, not one has it taught anything about works-salvation.  Everything has been following a pattern of heaven from Exodus 20 onwards (Hebrews 8:5) – not only the tabernacle, which is still at the centre of attention while these laws were taught when the Angel spoke from the tabernacle.  It is entirely symbolic that the Angel in the tabernacle is teaching the Israelites while they were either standing or sitting outside – for they also are taken up to the heavenly patterns and understand what true Christian, holistic living is when it is uncompromised.  The standards are extremely strict – to maintain true spiritual purity.  The refrain “death“, “exile” and “infertility” all stem from the same source of corruption and lack of sanctification.  Without true anger against both sin and sinner, the LORD is not proven righteous, but proven a biased God.  Such ‘extreme’ hatred against sin is entirely justified, for only God the Son himself could bear this burden to carry these repulsions on his shoulders.

Therefore, let Leviticus 20 speak the final word to us: that without Christ, there is no room for us to be self-righteous.  If you thought Leviticus 16 bombarded the message of dependence on Christ’s work, the Angel hammered the point again and again through the commandments of holistic living from chapters 17-20.  And if Leviticus 17-19 did not speak enough of true uncompromised holistic living in New Jerusalem, Leviticus 20 reminds us that there will be people who are punished for their sins. And their punishment is death, infertility, and exile.  Their punishment is simply exclusion from the community of God. Leviticus 20:3 says it best:

I will set my face against that person and will cut him off from among his people.

Do you want to be excluded for your own decision to rebel against the Holy God who knows true Justice?  Or do you want to know the meaning of true Christian freedom, and partake in the Holy Community of the Holy Trinity now, taken up in Christ, so that we can experience it physically as well as spiritually in Zion?

Leviticus 17-20: You shall be a holy priesthood

Leviticus 11-15: Holy, Clean and Unclean

We have dealt so slightly with the understanding of what it means to be ‘holy’, ‘clean’ and ‘unclean’.  I had initially made the mistake of thinking that ‘holy’ and ‘clean’ were synonymous – but that isn’t the case.  It is almost as if that assumption is true of our sinful fallen minds, which is why God provides through Leviticus 11-15 an extremely detailed and clear explanation of true holiness being more than just ‘clean’.

1.  Food (Leviticus 11)

2.  Birth of a child and menstruation (Leviticus 12)

3.  Leprosy: a spiritual truth (Leviticus 13-14)

4.  Bodily discharges (Leviticus 15)

Intro:  What is Holy, Clean and Unclean?

Paul Blackham created a helpful table in his Book-by-Book series.  Here is just a quick rendition:

Holy

Clean

Unclean

LORD God, heaven, new creation, Garden of Eden, Tabernacle, Tabernacle furniture, anointed priests, sacrificed animals

Israel (the congregation), the camp, ordinary equipment/utensils, a clean Israelite, clean animals

Outside of Israel, outside of the camp, defiled & decaying buildings, defiled equipment, unclean animals, unclean Israelites, Gentiles (who have not joined Israel), hell, disease, death, devil

Some have used a different diagram to help understand the distinctions of holy, clean, unclean.  Here is my rendition of what was used in the New Bible Commentary’s Leviticus commentary (with Gordon Wenham as a guide):

1.  Food (Leviticus 11)

Concerning Holy and Clean and Unclean categories, you have the sacrificial animals, the clean animals, and unclean animals; and then you move onto the separate categories within the three – creatures on earth, water and sky (the distinctions made in Genesis 1:20-30).  Finally, everything we know about these animals relate not only to animals – they also relate to men.  Exodus 3:2, and v.12-13 strongly imply this:

Exo 13:2  “Consecrate to me all the firstborn. Whatever is the first to open the womb among the people of Israel, both of man and of beast, is mine.” …

… 12 you shall set apart to the LORD all that first opens the womb. All the firstborn of your animals that are males shall be the LORD’s. 13  Every firstborn of a donkey you shall redeem with a lamb, or if you will not redeem it you shall break its neck. Every firstborn of man among your sons you shall redeem.

So we begin, again, with the Angel, Son of God, speaking to them starting at v.2 concerning the:

(a)  Edible Animals on Earth (v.2-8 )

v.3 – whatever parts the hoof, and cloven-footed, chews the cud:  but, among those which chew the cud/part the hoof – you cannot eat: CAMEL – because it chews the cud but does not part the hoof (v.4);

ROCK BADGER (v.5) and HARE (v.6) for the same reasons; PIG (v.7) because it parts the hoof but doesn’t chew the cud.

So camel, rock badger, hare and pig are the exceptional animals.  Thus, v.2 & 8 act as the bookends for the edible animals on earth.  Not only can they not eat from them, but they are unclean and their carcasses should not be touched (v.8 ).

(b)  Edible creatures in the waters (v.9-12)

Edible: v.9 – Everything that has fins and scales, whether in the seas or rivers, you may eat! By contrast, everything without fins and scales, of the swarming and living creatures in the waters is detestable to us (v.10-11) – again, none of their flesh should be eaten, and their carcasses detested.  v. 12 AGAIN re-iterates this point (in a space of 4 verses this is stated three times!).

(c)  Edible creatures of the heavens/skies (v.13-25)

Detestable (i.e. inedible)  and edible birds (v.13-19)

Lev 11:13  “And these you shall detest among the birds; they shall not be eaten; they are detestable: the eagle, the bearded vulture, the black vulture,
Lev 11:14  the kite, the falcon of any kind,
Lev 11:15  every raven of any kind,
Lev 11:16  the ostrich, the nighthawk, the sea gull, the hawk of any kind,
Lev 11:17  the little owl, the cormorant, the short-eared owl,
Lev 11:18  the barn owl, the tawny owl, the carrion vulture,
Lev 11:19  the stork, the heron of any kind, the hoopoe, and the bat.

Detestable and edible insects (v.20-25)

v.20 – All winged insects on all fours are detestable, v.21 – among these, you may eat those that have jointed legs above their feet, with which to hop on the ground; of them, you may eat (v.22) the locust of any kind, the bald locust of any kind, the cricket of any kind, and the grasshopper of any kind (all of which have jointed legs above their feet).

But v.23 reiterates v.20 – all winged insects on all fours are detestable.  Again, v.24 states what has been stated with the other creatures: whoever touches their carcass shall be unclean until the evening, and v.25 – whoever carries any part of their carcass shall wash his clothes and be unclean until evening.

(d) Flesh on Skeleton of v.1-25, and the contagious nature of the unclean creatures (v.26-47)

v.26 doesn’t exactly start on a new note, but we are given flesh to the skeleton of the previous 25 verses.

Again, v.27 now states that for all that walk on their paws, anything on all fours is unclean to man.

Then for the swarming things:

Lev 11:29  “And these are unclean to you among the swarming things that swarm on the ground: the mole rat, the mouse, the great lizard of any kind,
Lev 11:30  the gecko, the monitor lizard, the lizard, the sand lizard, and the chameleon.

After these further explanations, Adam Clarke’s commentary provides a good summary of the contagious nature of the unclean creatures from v.31-44:

All that touch them shall be unclean, Lev_11:31; and the things touched by their dead carcasses are unclean also, Lev_11:32-35. Large fountains, or pits of water, are not defiled by their carcasses, provided a part of the water be drawn out, Lev_11:36. Nor do they defile seed by accidentally touching it, provided the water which has touched their flesh do not touch or moisten the seed, Lev_11:37, Lev_11:38. A beast that dieth of itself is unclean, and may not be touched or eaten, Lev_11:39, Lev_11:40. All creeping things are abominable, Lev_11:41-44.

There is much necessity in understanding the creeping things of Lev 11:41-44. v.41-42 acts as if they are summary verses for everything spoken of in Leviticus 11:

Lev 11:41  “Every swarming thing that swarms on the ground is detestable; it shall not be eaten.
Lev 11:42  Whatever goes on its belly, and whatever goes on all fours, or whatever has many feet, any swarming thing that swarms on the ground, you shall not eat, for they are detestable.

And then Leviticus 11:45 is the famous verse explaining the purpose of the law.  “For I am the LORD who brought you up out of the land of Egypt to be your God. You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.” This verse is interesting.  The word representing God changes firstly between LORD (“Jehovah”), and then says “to be your God” which in Hebrew is Elohim.  It is the LORD, Jesus, who brought the Israelites out of the land of Egypt to be our GOD, Elohim, the GOD who created the heavens and the earth.  I have gone through the implications of the word “Elohim” for it is a plural word indicating two implications: one of the Trinity, and one of magnificence.  I think both are applicable, it would be arrogant to restrict the semantic range to the meaning of ‘magnificence’ because it may lead to mono-theistic implications when the Trinity has been so clearly shown up to this point.

Christological expressions of food, ‘creeping things’, ‘unclean until evening’, and Leviticus 11:45

The problem with Leviticus 11 is that people primarily see it as a set of commandments concerning hygiene.  I believe that argument holds little water – there is no explanation why certain creatures are seen as unclean; furthermore there is no explanation why being cloven footed is a requirement for land animals.  However, that is the implication of Leviticus 11 – that there are certain creatures, good for food, which are completely clean under any circumstance!  This brings me to verses like Romans 1:23, in the ESV which says that we exchanged the glory of the immortal God for “mortal man, and birds and animals and creeping things”.  Yet, I like the KJV’s faithfulness to the Greek here: “uncorruptible (aphthartos meaning immortal and non-decaying) God into an image made like to corruptible man (phthartos meaning decaying), and to birds, and fourfooted beasts (tetrapous meaning quadruped), and creeping things.”  These two details are crucial in understanding what Paul is writing.  The juxtaposition of exchanging a undying, eternal God for a decaying man, birds, fourfooted beasts and creeping things seem to relate directly to Leviticus 11.

Exodus 3:2 and 3:12-13 already self-explanatory in the sense that man and beast are treated alike, in the symbolism of the latter.  Thus, the birds of v.13-19 make much sense.  These are all birds of prey, which eat carrion and insects and flesh from which blood is not properly drained.

Contrarily, the clean land animals were those that chew the cud, meaning that they are vegetarian.  These clean land animals should ALSO be cloven-footed, and not only chew the cud, rather than having claws/talons.  Finally, the clean water creatures are those with fins and scales.  I stumbled across an interesting comment on a dietary website commenting on the Jewish laws:

Interestingly kosher dietary laws prohibit the eating of fish without both scales and fins. That eliminates a number of delicious sea foods, including shellfish, shrimp, catfish, lobster, mussels, eels, sharks, sturgeons, and swordfish, just to name a few.

Clearly their law-giver knew something that has taken scientists years to discover. Now we know that fish with scales AND fins are equipped with a digestive system that prevents the absorption of poisons and toxins into their flesh from the waters they call home. Flounder, cod, haddock, and salmon are a few examples of fish with scales and fins.

Catfish have fins, but do not have scales. These scavengers are primarily bottom feeders and have digestive systems designed to absorb toxins from the water. Clams, lobster, shrimp, crabs, mussels and squid do not have scales or fins and are believed to be highly toxic. They naturally absorb all the toxins in the water they live in. Interestingly, lobster and crabs are crustaceans and are a part of the arthropod family, which include caterpillars, cockroaches, and spiders!

For the comment in the second paragraph, the logic is undoubtedly inverted (the assumption being that the ‘scientists’ know better).  Other than that, I find the rest of the writer’s observations very interesting, and no doubt this supports much truth behind the cleanness of the animals thus far.  God doesn’t want us to eat of birds of prey which eat flesh without the blood drained properly; and similarly, he doesn’t want us to eat fish without scales and fins, lest we consume fish without a proper digestive system and eat of all types of carcasses underwater.  Finally, only certain vegetarian insects are clean, and anything four-footed (on all fours) is unclean except those which have jointed legs and hop (thus not remaining on the ground).

There is much to be said about these three categories which tie them together – the model of Genesis 1:27.  Only green plants were given as food for all animals.  Furthermore, in the Garden, there was no death, no predatory behaviour, no bloodshed, no disease, no dead bodies (v.24-25 and Numbers 5:2 indicates that any touching of dead carcasses renders the toucher unclean) above all, and no decay.  This isn’t the only model of unfallen creation – but also of new creation (Isaiah 11).  However, Leviticus 11 deals exactly with all these themes, all of which symbolise the parallelling truth to men.

An animal which is cloven-footed and chews the cud is an example of the Edenic animal – both vegetarian and without capacity to harm (unlike the ones with claws or talons).  Not only that, they are not on all fours, which is a mock-representation of the snake, the animal epitomising the Fallen Angel who crawls not only on all fours but entirely swarming and slithering on the ground cursed by God (Genesis 3).  This emphasises the importance of animals not being on all fours, but being joint-legged so they can hop or at least not remain on the ground entirely.  This explains Paul’s reason for writing Romans 1, who most likely refers to corruptible man; corruptible birds (i.e. birds of prey), and corruptible quadruped beasts.  He was referring to the uncleanness represented by each animal.  Romans 1:23 thus no longer is making the normal comparison between God and the common and clean.  He is saying that our fallen minds naturally turn away from the most holy, and turn to the most DEBASED.  Any Catholic thought of not having an entire corruption of natural powers is immediately revoked: Paul is essentially saying that without the Spirit, we are entirely useless and Godless.

This finally brings me to v.45.  The significance of the usage of the term is important: Jesus is defining himself in two offices.  One – that of Jehovah, of LORD, who brought the Israelites out of Egypt; and then becoming the God, the Elohim, the one who partook with the Creator Father and the Powerful Spirit.  This is akin to Philippians 2:9-11:

Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father

Yet, Christ has already been at the right hand of the Father, and has been slain before the foundations of the world, as explained by the seemingly mysterious verse in Revelation 13:8.  This therefore intrigues me to the most, that God’s identity has been eternal and true, but revealed to us in his becoming.  That we must be portrayed a process of death, decay and resurrection before we fully understand the truth of Jesus Christ on the cross.  This presentation has already been portrayed in Genesis 1 in the days of creation, and fleshed out in different ways in their dispensations but they refer very much to the same covenant established in Genesis 3:15, which was true even prior to Genesis 3:15.  Thus, as the events in OT play out to the NT, we learn how God’s usage of Israel as a priesthood, a holy nation (Exodus 19:6) never meant for the Gentiles to be seen as ‘unclean’ either – hence the implications of Acts 10:

Act 10:9  The next day, as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour to pray.
Act 10:10  And he became hungry and wanted something to eat, but while they were preparing it, he fell into a trance
Act 10:11  and saw the heavens opened and something like a great sheet descending, being let down by its four corners upon the earth.
Act 10:12  In it were all kinds of animals and reptiles and birds of the air.
Act 10:13  And there came a voice to him: “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.”
Act 10:14  But Peter said, “By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.”
Act 10:15  And the voice came to him again a second time, “What God has made clean, do not call common.

After the ascension of Christ, when the Spirit was given to the world, Christ’s identity was cemented a la Philippians 2.  But was the Spirit not given in the OT?  He was! but restricted to the physical land of Israel.  Was Christ not given in the OT to the OT saints?  He was!  But again, the LORD appeared to the saints of Israel.  But remember that the land of Israel is merely a physical restriction of Exodus 20, a covenant on Sinai, represented by Hagar (Galatians 4) – but the true covenant was not made at Sinai, but to Abraham (Genesis 12).  Because Genesis 12 precedes Exodus 20, the physical boundaries between Israel and the world were always going to be destroyed.  Yet, Jonah 3 displays that unless the sign of Jonah is complete (i.e. the success of Jonah’s evangelism is symbolically shown after he was in the “pit” of the whale for 3 days, only to ‘resurrect’ and rise again on the third day), the division would still be there – until the giving of the Spirit, there is no physical manifestation of the Gentiles being included.  Thus, Peter’s conversation with God is important:   “What God has made clean (i.e. what was ‘unclean food’ prior to the cross and the Pentecost), do not call common (in the Greek, ‘common’ is koinos which can mean defiled and polluted, whereas the Hebrew word “tahor” which is translated to ‘common’ in the English actually means pure and clean).  What God really means is that the division between the Gentiles and the Israelites is now destroyed – to fulfill the true meaning of Genesis 12, that the law and the gospel is no longer restricted to the physical land of Israel!  In the NT, both Jews and Gentiles, wherever they are, stand before God as clean men.  The symbolism of Gentiles as unclean in the OT is due to the awaiting of the fulfillment of the covenental law of Exodus 20, completed on the cross.

There is much to be said about God’s being in becoming, yet that is the implication of Leviticus 11:45, which in turn is the true implication of the food.  What you eat is really what you are – and what we are is clean, and what we need to be is more than just clean.  We need to be holy, and sanctified like the priests in the preceding chapters (Leviticus 8-10) – and only the blood of CHRIST, not any other blood can do that.  This is why touching the carcasses and eating flesh which consumed other flesh without drained blood has such huge implications.  Are we to becomes creatures of uncleanness by nailing our God to the cross and causing him to bleed?  Indeed, that is who we were.  But we are to be in Him, so we no longer crucify Him but to partake in His holy glory.

2.  Birth of a child and menstruation (Leviticus 12)

Son:  Lev 12:1; after the birth of a son, who is to be circumcised the eighth day, (Lev 12:2, Lev 12:3) the mother is seen as unclean for forty days, Lev 12:4.

Daughter:  After the birth of a daughter, eighty days, Lev 12:5.

Menstruation:  this isn’t strictly related to children, but it also concerns the flow of the woman’s blood – and this is also seen as unclean (Lev 12:2).

When the days of her purifying were ended, she must bring a lamb for a burnt-offering, and a young pigeon or a turtle-dove for a sin-offering, Lev 12:6-7. If she is too poor to bring a lamb, she must bring either two turtle-doves or two pigeons v.8.

What is implied in v.7 is that she is unclean from the flow of her blood whether she bears a male or a female child, or is in the time of menstruation.

Christological expressions of the flow of the blood and birth of children

The importance of blood is again emphasised in Leviticus 12.  Genesis 3:15-19 states that one of the curses of woman is that child-bearing is now painful, and in this pain will the Promised Seed come.  In these very verses, the coming of the Son of God is already implicated to be one where he will suffer by incarnating into this world – the Second Adam suffering by the sin contributed by First Adam.

Again, like the way we look at food, even the way we look at childbirth affects man, beast AND creation.  Romans 8:19-22 reminds us that this curse is not restricted to man, for man’s sin has wrought such a turbulent effect on whole of creation.  It is worth quoting the section from Romans 8 here:

Rom 8:18  For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
Rom 8:19  For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.
Rom 8:20  For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope
Rom 8:21  that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.
Rom 8:22  For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.
Rom 8:23  And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.
Rom 8:24  For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees?

Thus, the pain of childbirth, represented most well by the flow of the blood, is an example of this groaning.  Romans 8:23 expresses it best: us, with the firstfruits of the Holy Spirit, also groan inwardly awaiting eagerly for adoption as sons and redemption of our bodies.  We are now physically adopted and redeemed?  Not yet.  Yet, every law laid down in Leviticus 11 and 12 pertaining to blood is to point to that groaning, point to that pain since Genesis 3 thus pointing towards a renewal and a re-creation by the Seed born from pain and blood, but conquered death with His blood.

There are two smaller details we should not overlook – the fact that only the male are circumcised; and secondly, the difference of being unclean for 40 days (for male) and 80 days (for female).  The latter has an implication of the woman not needed for work for 40 days and 80 days respectively (thus resting and awaiting to be established as ‘clean’ once again), making it especially fortunate if she bore a female.  Yet, if the distinctions of men and women remain clear – that men represent Christ the Head, and women represent the church.  That men represent the heavens from which Christ was sent, and women represent the terra which receives the Seed.  That Jesus Christ, the Seed, is sent by the power of the Spirit into Virgin Mary, who received the Seed.  So, the bearing of the male in one set of forty days represents the suffering and the temptation of Christ for forty days, a theme explored when it rained for forty days and forty nights in the story of Noah and the flood.  Yet, 80 days – twice of forty, is to look further on.  Bearing the male represents Second Adam; bearing the FEMALE represents Second Eve – the second mother of all living.  And this will leave the mother 80 days unclean – thus the time of TESTING is longer than the awaiting of Christ fulfilling his work on the cross.  40 days represent the first advent of Christ; and 80 days represent the second advent of Christ when creation will no longer groan and will bear NEW creation, represented by the “second female ‘terra'”, born of the “first female ‘terra'”.

The former I have already explained: menstruation of the woman preaches the message of creation, of the groaning female terra (c.f. my commentary on Genesis 1 – the creation of heavens and earth).  It is the female terra that has been groaning from Day 8, and will continue to groan until our Resurrection Day.  If the menstruation of women preaches that message (and indeed, that sign of the curse remains on them in both Old and New Testament, meaning the message preached by menstruation is NOT yet fulfilled until creation ceases its groaning), then the circumcision of men preaches a message already fulfilled (hence the lack of necessity to circumcise; and instead, to baptise infants today after the cross and the giving of the Spirit).  It is important not to view sacraments as more important than they are – menstruation can be seen also as a sacrament from God, a sign of his curse, just as the rainbow (or more biblically, the “bow”) is a warrior bow preaching the truth of God’s judgment on everyone not in the ark of Jesus.  The monthly menstrual cycle which makes a woman unclean for 7 days also preaches the truth of the first creation, which lasted 6 days plus 1 day of Sabbath.  But she is clean after the 7 days.  So we look forward to new creation born of the groaning creation (Romans 8 ), that meanwhile we look forward to the eighth day of cleanness, and we’ve passed through the 40 days leading to the first advent, and we await the new city after the symbolic second advent after 80 days of testing.  The significance of the birth of the boy leading to a 7 day uncleanness, and awaiting further purification for 33 days, versus 14 days of uncleanness, and further purification for 66 days should not be overlooked either.

We are now in the symbolic second week of creation.  The first seven days saw the heavens and earth as we know it now.  The second seven days, since the first 8th day, involves the LORD working towards new creation (John 5:17) in this new week.  But in this second week, while the LORD is working towards new creation, the world is still groaning.  We now look forward to the symbolic second 8th day of the second new week, working from the 1st advent to the 2nd advent of Jesus.

3.  Leprosy: a spiritual truth (Leviticus 13-14)

When one approaches chapters 13 and 14 of Leviticus, it is quite easy to be discouraged on two levels: the detail given for the handling of leprosy and the seeming lack of mercy for those who are unclean and leprous (the two are not synonymous as you will later find).  This is unsurprisingly, given the spiritual significance of leprosy overweighing the ‘hygienic’ and purely physical and material significances.  This is especially shown in v.12-13, where the most common form of infectious skin diseases would not have been classified as unclean!

Leprosy, some have said, is an example of sin spreading in our hearts to the neighbouring factions – and indeed, that is the overarching principle of this skin disease (and leprosy does not refer to one type, but many types of skin diseases).  The example of decay is manifested in not only the diseases on the body, but diseases spread to the clothes and the buildings causing their decay.  This is where the English translation is especially unhelpful: in the Hebrew tsaah’rath, while it refers to the decaying flesh for the skin, it is actually translated as ‘mildew’ if found on clothing and buildings.  Thus, “leprosy” is inappropriately limited in the English translation of the Hebrew word.

The two chapters are relatively long, so it is important to summarise each segment.

Chapter 13:1-59 – speaks of the different types of skin diseases on both humans and clothing

14:1-32 – the cleansing of the skin diseases

14:33-57 – Disease in buildings

There are also several refrains in these two chapters:

“Symptoms are displayed on the surface” (13:3, 49; 14:37)

“but more than skin deep” (13:3, 14:37)

“in a specific area” (13:9-13; 14:37, 42, 55)

“but spreading further” (13:7, 51; 14:44)

On that note, let’s start with chapter 13.

Leviticus 13:  Different Skin Diseases on both Humans and Clothing

Clarke is unsurprisingly helpful here and I’ve edited it for better reading:

13:1-2 It is to be known by a rising in the flesh, a scab, or a bright spot

13:3  When the priest sees these signs he shall pronounce the man unclean, infected with the leprosy, and unfit for society

13:4-8  Dubious or equivocal signs of this disorder, and how the person is to be treated in whom they appear

The interesting thing about v. 2-8 is the way of dealing with the potential leprous disease:  the treatment and waiting is always in sets of weeks, in sets of 7 days.  And on the 7th day, the priest checks whether the disease is leprous or temporary.  If the disease is ‘checked’ and not spread in the skin, then the man/woman is locked up for seven days again.  v. 6 explains it quite clearly – if the diseased area has faded and disease has not spread in the skin, then the priest shall pronounce him as clean.  Contrarily, if this ‘eruption’ does not subside, but spreads in the skin, he is now seen as unclean with a leprous disease.

Firstly – it is the priest who announces one as unclean, and NOT the person himself.  This shows something of the truth of Christ – HE is the one who announces whether we are righteous or not.  Leprosy is not something we can control.  The sets of 7-day waiting is a good example of exactly what we can do nothing about.  Rather, these 7-day waiting periods are again to show the progression between the initial creation in the first 7 day week, awaiting new creation with a new week starting on the 8th day.  Something similar is of course preached here: the priest is awaiting a new week before making a new discernment of leprosy.  Ideally, the leprosy will be gone by the end of the second week; and also, for us, our leprosy will be gone by the end of the second week when we look forward to the second advent of Christ.

13:9-13  In what state of this disorder the priest may pronounce a man clean or unclean

13:14-15  Of the raw flesh, the sign of the unclean leprosy

13:16-17  Of the white flesh, the sign of the leprosy called clean

I find the parallel between ‘raw flesh’ and ‘white flesh’ quite interesting.  Raw flesh is a sign of flesh uncooked – for the Israelites never sacrifice any flesh without fire; it must be burnt!  Similarly, food must be cooked with its blood properly drained.  The message here clearly relates to blood.  If it is raw flesh, then there is blood and there is sign of life being drained.  It is thus unclean – for in God’s future kingdom, there is no life being drained.  Which is why, if the leprosy spreads to the whole body then it is no longer seen as ‘unclean’.  Which is why, when the raw flesh recovers and turns white again (v.16), it is pronounced clean once more.  The ‘white flesh’ and ‘raw flesh’ are thus the points of comparison.

13:18-20  Of the leprosy which succeeds a boil

13:21-22  Equivocal marks relative to this kind of leprosy

13:23  Of the burning boil

13:24-25  Of the leprosy arising out of the burning boil

13:26-28  Equivocal marks relative to this kind of leprosy

With boils, the comparison is now different: either the boil leads to a spreading of the disease, or whether there is white hair and it appears deeper than the skin, and this will lead to the priest announcing his uncleanness.  On the contrary, everything else is seen as clean.

There is quite a bit to be said here.  Why the ‘white hair’ and the ‘deeper than the skin’ and the ‘spreading of the disease’?  Because all relate to the same truth – death, and the progression towards it.  White hair is a sign of aging and otherwise caused by skin diseases; if the sign of ‘sin’ and ‘death’ is deeper than the skin and it is spreading, it is undoubtedly seen as unclean.  Everything else points to new life, new creation and regeneration, which is why they are pronounced as clean.  In the healing of the boil, we see Jesus’ rejoicing in the regneration of the skin – which points to the regeneration of our soul and our flesh.

13:29  Of the plague on the head or in the beard

13:30-37  Of the itch, and how it is to be treated

The same truth is preached here – the 7-day periods of waiting, and the regeneration of the black hair as opposed to thin yellow hair.  If the itch is healed, unchanged and not more than skin-deep, it is seen as clean.  The ESV translation says “itch”, but the KJV says “scall or scurff” which is the original Hebrew.

13:38-39  Of the plague of the bright white spots

13:40-41  Of the bald head

13:42-44  Of the white reddish sore in the bald head

If the spots on the skin of the body are of a dull white, it is leukoderma that has broken out.  He is clean.  This again, is not seen by the LORD as unclean – what the LORD considers unclean is very specific: again, listen to the refrain.  “More than skin-deep”, “spreading disease”, “reddish-white”, “raw flesh”, “white hair”, “yellow hair”.  In comparison, a breaking out of white-spots is not seen as unclean.

13:45  The leper shall rend his clothes, put a patch on his upper lip, and cry unclean

13:46  He shall be obliged to avoid society, and live by himself without the camp

Verses 45-46 serves as a summary for everyone classified in the last 44 verses to be ‘unclean’.  They live alone, they wear torn clothes, hair is hung loose, covered upper lip, crying out “Unclean, unclean“, and he shall dwell outside of the camp.

Can you imagine the pain and the suffering of being obliged to avoid society?  Yet – that is the truth of skin-disease; it points to what sin does to you and what God will not tolerate.  In New Jerusalem, we will be dwelling outside of the camp of Zion if we continue to bear these skin diseases.  If our Jesus Christ, our Priest, does not pronounce his righteousness upon us, so that we gain a spiritual regeneration and sanctification and renewed bodies, then we will remain outside the camp.  Yet, in Christ, we recover new bodies which will not decay, nor degenerate, and is better than ‘clean’ flesh.  The passages in v.1-46 clearly preach that even clean flesh can have outbreak of white-spots and other deformities; but only the sanctified flesh and spirit can withstand the holiness of the LORD and partake in the intimacy of the Trinity without mourning outside the camp which is forever proclaimed as unclean.

13:47-52  Of the garments infected by the leprosy, and the signs of this infection

13:53-58  Equivocal marks relative to this infection, and how the garment is to be treated, by washing or by burning

13:59  Conclusion relative to the foregoing particulars

There is of course much distinction between ‘garments’ and ‘men’ with leprous diseases.  The 7-day lock-up period still persists, even with garments, ever so proving that this theme is possibly the most concurrent theme throughout Leviticus – the theme of first creation, then new creation.  The specific different of garments is that if the disease has not faded from the garment, it shall be burnt up (v.52-57).  Only if the diseased area has faded after being washed, and then washed a second time will it be seen as clean (v.58 ).

This is quite interesting – the first and second waiting periods.  This has occurred throughout the other parts of Leviticus 13.  I believe this undoubtedly refers to the first advent and second advent of Christ again; the first advent, which leads to some renewal and giving of the Spirit to the world; and the second advent where true cleansing and restoration occurs.  We are in the period of the firstfruit of the Spirit; but some people may lapse and return to the dog faeces from which they came.  Some may continue to look to Christ and persist in the fight of faith to see the second advent and to be washed anew with new bodies.

Leviticus 14:1-32  The Cleansing

When a leprous person is healed, after being outside the camp however long it takes for the healing to occur, then the priest will command the person to be cleansed with two live clean birds and cedarwood and scarlet yarn and hyssop.

Scarlet yarn is one of the materials used in the tabernacle (Exodus 26:1, v.31), and the purging by the hyssop is symbolic of cleansing (Psalm 51:7).  Cedarwood is seen as a material for kings: read 1 Kings and you realise how much ‘cedar’ is the centre of the story, then Ezekiel 17:23, 31:3, and the house of Solomon in Songs of Solomon is made of cedar (Songs of Sol 1:17; 8:9).

The command is then to kill one of the birds in an earthenware vessel over fresh water; and take live bird with the cedarwood and scarlet yan and hyssop, dipping the bird in blood of the bird killed over fresh water. (v.1-6)

Fresh water is symbolically of new creation water which is not salty.  The waters of punishment were salty (the waters above the heavens) – but the waters in new Jerusalem will be fresh (Ezekiel 47:9); earthenware vessels, besides the focus on the ‘earth‘ (i.e. naturally made), is a vessel for good preservation (Jeremiah 32:14).  Whatever is in the vessel will last for a long time.  The implications of v.1-6 of Leviticus 14 is therefore one of the gospel re-displayed.  The death of the bird, representing an Angel of God, in an earthenware vessel over fresh water, meaning the preservation of such a sacrifice over new creation waters – in exchange for the life of the other bird with the material of kings, the tabernacle and of purification.  The living bird is then escaped to the open field, granted new life by the blood of the first bird, now free from decay.  This is a picture of Christ’s preserved and persisting death for us so we can live in new waters, partake in purification and to be imputed the blood and righteousness of the King.

This is sprinkled seven times on him who is cleansed of leprous disease – he is then pronounced as CLEAN and the living bird goes to the open field. (v.7)

The cleansed person shall wash his clothes, shave off all his hair and bathe himself in water (v.8 ).  He will stand outside his tent seven days; he must then shave all the hair off his head/beard/eyebrows, and wash again in water.  The SHAVING is important: so that nothing growing from the time of decay would be brought forth to new creation of the eighth day, and from the eighth day forward everything that stems from our flesh will be new and clean.

The following procedure is akin to the anointing of the priest prior to priestly work.

Lev 14:10  “And on the eighth day he shall take two male lambs without blemish, and one ewe lamb a year old without blemish, and a grain offering of three tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil, and one log of oil.
Lev 14:11  And the priest who cleanses him shall set the man who is to be cleansed and these things before the LORD, at the entrance of the tent of meeting.
Lev 14:12  And the priest shall take one of the male lambs and offer it for a guilt offering, along with the log of oil, and wave them for a wave offering before the LORD.
Lev 14:13  And he shall kill the lamb in the place where they kill the sin offering and the burnt offering, in the place of the sanctuary. For the guilt offering, like the sin offering, belongs to the priest; it is most holy.
Lev 14:14  The priest shall take some of the blood of the guilt offering, and the priest shall put it on the lobe of the right ear of him who is to be cleansed and on the thumb of his right hand and on the big toe of his right foot.
Lev 14:15  Then the priest shall take some of the log of oil and pour it into the palm of his own left hand
Lev 14:16  and dip his right finger in the oil that is in his left hand and sprinkle some oil with his finger seven times before the LORD.
Lev 14:17  And some of the oil that remains in his hand the priest shall put on the lobe of the right ear of him who is to be cleansed and on the thumb of his right hand and on the big toe of his right foot, on top of the blood of the guilt offering.
Lev 14:18  And 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. Then the priest shall make atonement for him before the LORD.
Lev 14:19  The priest shall offer the sin offering, to make atonement for him who is to be cleansed from his uncleanness. And afterward he shall kill the burnt offering.
Lev 14:20  And the priest shall offer the burnt offering and the grain offering on the altar. Thus the priest shall make atonement for him, and he shall be clean.

Notice again the focus on the 8th day, and the focus on the right-hand-side.  Leviticus 14 thus shows the sanctification of the clean man – he isn’t merely cleansed.  He is made like a priest!  And that is the picture of Exodus 19:6.  We are not to leave some as priests, and some as ‘clean’.  No – the symbolism of sin spreading in our lives, will be healed not by merely waiting.  On the symbolic 8th day of new creation, we too will become exactly like Christ – the High Priest of all ages.

v.21-32 covers the same procedure, but with two pigeons/turtledoves and one male lamb.  The male lamb seems to be the concurrent sacrificial animal whether you are poor or rich – same as Christ is to us, whether we are either poor or rich.

Leviticus 14:33-57 Disease in Buildings

This part of Leviticus is actually one of the most intriguing aspects of the book.  v.53 says it all: “So he shall make atonement for the house”.  One can make atonement for a house?

The procedures in v.33-57 actually resembles the cleansing of the leprous person in v.1-33.  The LORD is actually teaching us that one cannot over-spiritualise the truth of Leviticus 14; whatever happens to man will spread to creation, whether birds, animals, swarming things or even to apparently ‘dead’ things like buildings.  This supports the truth of new creation being physical.  We are not entering a merely spiritual heaven; but we are entering a heaven of new buildings, of new roads, of a new river of fresh water, of new trees which do not die, of new animals who will sleep alongside men.  If these are the truths preached in Revelation, then undoubtedly, the disease on tents and buildings represents the renewal necessary of ALL things within God’s kingdom.

Isaiah 6:3-5 displays it clearly – God’s presence with his people is dependent on uncleanness being excluded from Israel:

Isa 6:3  And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!”
Isa 6:4  And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke.
Isa 6:5  And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!”

4.  Bodily discharges (Leviticus 15)

Leviticus 15:31-33 summarises this chapter.  Ultimately, the LORD’s dwelling-place must be clean.  Any truth of God joining us in the community of holiness must start with the renewal of everything – the buildings, the city, the animals, the people (Revelation 21).  Paul Blackham gives the structure for this chapter:

Male bodily discharges (15:2-18 )

Female bodily discharges (15:19-30)

Long term discharge (15:2-12)

Menstrual cycle (15:19-23)

Cleansing by sacrifice (15:13-15)

Sexual intercourse (15:24)

Temporary discharge (15:16-17)

Long term (15:25-27)

Sexual intercourse (15:18 )

Cleansing by sacrifice (15:29-30)

What is clear from this chapter is the uncleanness is transferred to people, even beds and even chairs.  We have already established that this is no personal matter – sin spreads everything and everything.

Natural bodily discharges makes a person unclean, but the passage of time will remove the uncleanness, therefore no sacrifices are needed for such discharges.  Our bodies which leak fluids of semen and blood is an example of life falling from our flesh.  Our bodies should be given immortality and corruption (1 Corinthians 15), and our bodies now preach anything but.

Which brings me to ‘sexual intercourse’ which is seen as unclean.  Why?  Firstly, because of the curse of Genesis 3, which shows that we have disordered sexual desires (c.f. Romans 1 and Paul’s argument which starts with sexual immorality).  Secondly is the loss of bodily fluids when having sexual intercourse, and Genesis 9:4 and Leviticus 17:11 show that there is life in blood and semen.  The life comes as a Seed, and in Christ, the Seed of all seeds, can we have true eternal life.  Most importantly it is a temporary period of washing, and the period of impurity is short, for this is the body which we inherit from Adam’s sin which we committed in his loins (Hebrews 7:9-10).

What say you about the distinction between sacrifices made for leprous flesh, but none needed for the uncleanness of our leaking bodies?

Conclusion

Throughout this chapter, we see that human sin has huge implications for both mankind and creation (Genesis 3:17-18, Deuteronomy 28:25, Amos 4:7, Romans 8:20); the Israelites had recognised in the OT that healing from such diseases should be coupld with the same offerings made to sinners.  The connection therefore between the man with skin disease and the man with sin becomes synonymous, for both need the same sacrifice – Christ.  Even before this Levitical law was given, skin diseases may already have been prevalent; and no doubt, this would have already stirred much thinking concerning the truth behind skin diseases.  What the Mosaic law does is display our transgressions with a beamlight, yet at the same time pointing out with much clarity the cure for such scrutinised transgressions.  It is important to remember time and time again that diseases is not necessarily a cause of our sins (John 9:1-3) – many times, it is simply a result of our fallen flesh and nature.  Praise be to God for these ordinances which point out our utter fallenness, and his magnificent holiness and grace in dealing with our corruption and decay, wrought by the first Deceiver Satan, and first man Adam.  It is by his Son, who was also thrown outside the camp (Hebrews 13:12-13) that he can sympathise and die for us sinners for he became the representation of the one cursed on the tree (Deut 21:22-23), thrown outside the city, made unclean for oursake so we can be the bird who escapes from decay.

Leviticus 11-15: Holy, Clean and Unclean

Exodus 28-30: Tabernacle and Instructions (pt.2)

We’ve described most of the Tabernacle furniture and structure; we are now left with the priestly clothing, the ordination, and the remaining furniture.

1.  A list of the priestly clothing (Exodus 28:1-5)

2.  The ephod (Exodus 28:6-14)

3.  The breastpiece (Exodus 28:15-30)

4.  The robe (Exodus 28:31-35)

5.  The turban, and other clothing (Exodus 28:36-43)

6.  The priestly ordination (Exodus 29:1-46)

7.  Altar of incense (Exodus 30:1-10)

8.  The Census Tax (Exodus 30:11-16)

9.  The bronze basin (Exodus 30:17-21)

10.  Anointing Oil and Incense (Exodus 30:22-38 )

11.  The History of Mankind and the Hope of the Remnant (Summary of all the Tabernacle Instructions)

1.  A list of the priestly clothing (Exodus 28:1-5)

4These are the garments that they shall make: a(E) breastpiece, an(F) ephod,(G) a robe,(H) a coat of checker work, a turban, and a sash. They shall make holy garments for Aaron your brother and his sons to serve me as priests. 5They shall receive(I) gold, blue and purple and scarlet yarns, and fine twined linen.

Holy garments for the priests so they can do their work in the Holy Place and Most Holy Place – this is most interesting.  It is of the LORD’s personality to clothe us, and shield us from harm (think animal skin in Genesis 3; think colourful coat between Israel the father of Joseph and the typology of the Father and the beloved Son; think robes of righteousness Isaiah 61).  This clothing as directed by God should undoubtedly shout out two things: God’s righteousness in the form of clothing us (i.e. it is external to us; the righteousness is NOT found within, a la Buddhist teachings); and secondly, that it is God who clothes us, not that we clothe ourselves with this external righteousness.

If that is the case, if the clothing is that of righteousness, then the clothing should speak something of OUR High Priest, Jesus Christ, our external righteousness which we now wear as Christians.

2.  The ephod (Exodus 28:6-14)

The ephod is a beautifully crafted kind of apron made from gold thread woven into blue, purple and scarlet fine linen.  It has an onyx stone on each shoulder, each stone with the names of each six tribes of Israel written on it (Exodus 28:12) for remembrance.  What this means is that the priest isn’t just representing himself, but also representing the people of God on his shoulders.  The weight of the entire 12 tribes of Israel is therefore on the shoulders of this priest, and sacrifices which he offers are offered on behalf of the entire Israel, the entire church of Christ.  Isaiah 53:6 speaks of the heavy weight of all of mankind’s sin which Jesus had to bear on our behalf; the stones are attached to the ephod with gold chains, ensuring that they won’t fall off.  That is the seriousness of our Christ – he ensures that he has nailed our sins to the cross, and nailed our names to him!

3.  The breastpiece (Exodus 28:15-30)

On top of the ephod-apron is a breastpiece of gold, linen and 14 precious stones (including the 12 which represent each tribe of Israel, and 2 which represent the Urim and the Thummim (Exodus 28:21).  The names of the tribes of Israel are not only on the shoulders of the priest, but also on the heart of the priest!  With the ephod and the breastpiece, the identity of the priest is completely bound up with the people he represents, hence explaining the Bible’s emphasis on Christ and His people as one.  Christ is the head of the church, his body! (Ephesians 5).

Paul Blackham has provided a table of what is possibly a link between the 12 Tribes and the Stones used:

Row

Tribe

Stone

1

Reuben

Simeon

Levi

Ruby

Topaz

Beryl

2

Judah

Issachar

Zebulun

Turquoise

Sapphire

Emerald

3

Dan

Naphtali

Gad

Jacinth

Agate

Amethyst

4

Asher

Joseph

Benjamin

Chrysolite

Onyx

Jasper

However, this is different from William Brown’s interpretation.  Rather than looking at what the 12 tribes represented (in general, by the stones used), he looked at what was actually on the breastplate:

NAME of 12 Stones of Israel

3. Carbuncle (or Emerald) for Zebulun

2. Topaz for Issachar

1. Sardius (or Ruby) for Judah

1st row

6. Diamond for Gad

5. Sapphire for Simeon

4. Emerald (or Carbuncle) for Reuben

2nd row

9. Amethyst for Benjamin

8. Agate for Manasseh

7. Ligure (or Jacinth) for Ephraim

3rd row

12. Jasper for Naphtali

11. Onyx for Asher

10. Beryl (of Chalcedony) for Dan

4th row

He noted that the names on the breastplate were those of the 12 tribes arranged not according to age, but according to the order of the tribes (Exodus 39:14).  Levi and Joseph are not included; but only Manasseh and Ephraim are included.

More detail on the stones to come!

4.  The robe (Exodus 28:31-35)

Under the ephod is the blue robe.  The hem is the special feature, with brightly painted pomegranates (blue, purple and scarlet – like the colour on the curtain!) – but between the pomegranates was a golden bell. v.35 reveals that the sound of the bells will be heard when Aaron enters the Holy Place before the LORD and when he comes out, so that he will not die.  The sound of the bells as he walked meant there was nothing secretive about the work of the priest.  Levicitus 10 displays that careless wandering into the presence of the LORD warranted their deaths, even if you are a priest.  The sound of the priest walking in is an audible warning that the priests were coming before the LORD in the Holy Place; the worshippers outside would wait in anticipation for the SOUND of the Priest returning from the Holy Place.

5.  The turban, and other clothing (Exodus 28:36-43)

The priest’s turban had a plate of pure gold attached to the front, saying “Holy to the LORD”.  So not only is the priest dedicated to his job, with the weight of Israel’s sin on his shoulders, but the names of the tribes on his heart, coming in open before the LORD.  This plate of pure gold on the head displays even further the utter dedication of Christ to his job – the golden sign was declaring that the promised Messiah-Priest would be absolutely holy, without sin.

Exodus 28:38 explains that the symbolic holiness of the priest is what enables him to bear the people’s sins, which explains why Jesus cannot have sins of his own: he would have to pay for His own sins and incapable of bearing others’.  This emphasises the significance of the turban, the ephod, the robe and the breastplate which all point towards both the symbolic righteousness of the High Priest, as well as the burden which He must carry to the Most Holy Place (2 Corinthians 5:21).

The remaining clothing, Woven Tunic and Sash were about dignity and honour (v.40):

39“You shall weave the coat in checker work of fine linen, and you shall make a turban of fine linen, and you shall make a sash embroidered with needlework.

40(X) “For Aaron’s sons you shall make coats and sashes and caps. You shall make them(Y) for glory and beauty. 41And you shall put them on Aaron your brother, and on his sons with him, and shall(Z) anoint them and ordain them and(AA) consecrate them, that they may serve me as priests.

Thus, we conclude that the Levitical Priest is just a symbol of holiness, glory, beauty, dignity, honour (additional descriptions from the NIV translation).  No man has these qualities, and even the chosen High Priest must don the clothing which represents these qualities; but one God-man, Jesus Christ, has all of these qualities without the necessity of clothing anyone else’s righteousness.  He is our righteousness (Job 35:8; Psalm 5:8 ).

6.  The priestly ordination (Exodus 29:1-46)

So while chapter 28 is sufficient in presenting a figure capable of entering into communion with the Holy Trinity on behalf of others, this figure is not yet ready for service!  The priest must and cannot invite himself into the presence of God; he must be ordained.

The rites of ordination is laid out in chapter 29, with two significant features of purification with blood; and the anointing with oil – undoubtedly, two extremely prophetic and Messianic symbols.

Firstly, the blood flows everywhere in the ordination rite, from the horns of the altar to the base of the altar; sacrifice is the underlying meaning of the tabernacle.  This is a picture of the priest, having to continually offer sacrifices for himself, to keep himself in a state to gain forgiveness for others.  Only after that could he bring the forgiven people into the presence of God.  Au contraire, Jesus need not continually make such sacrifices for himself, for he had no sins of His own that needed to be forgiven!

Secondly, oil also gets everywhere, even onto the priestly clothing.  v.7 shows Aaron anointed with oil (Psalm 133:2), the symbol of the Holy Spirit (as I have established the oil’s symbolic meaning in previous posts).  This is a direct prophecy of the Messiah’s life and work, filled with the Spirit without measure (John 3:34), the Messiah who is fittingly called the Christ, the Anointed One (in Hebrew).  Thus, only a priest anointed with oil could serve in the Tabernacle; so also, only Christ anointed by the Holy Dove, could be equipped to work for his bride, the church, and his Father in heaven as symbolised by the Tabernacle and its temporary dividing curtain.

More detail on the priestly ordination to come!

7.  Altar of incense (Exodus 30:1-10)

This is the final piece of furniture described within the tabernacle.  Why is this the last piece of furniture explained?  Why couldn’t it have been explained earlier?  The order has been thus far: the Trinity furniture (Ark, Table, Lampstand); the Tabernacle Structure explaining the division between heaven and the church, the division in their harmony; the Bronze Altar, explaining the underlying significance of sacrifices and offerings to remit sins; the Court of the Tabernacle, to explain the inclusion of the church in the secular world (the whole of creation); yet the Oil for the Lamp is lit.

Who can maintain the sacrifices and the offerings though?  The priests themselves; their clothing firstly speaking of Christ; and their actions secondly during their ordination, speaking of the ordination of Christ.

What could the significance of the altar of incense mean?  Firstly, notice the location of the altar of incense: it was to be placed just near the dividing curtain in the outer room, the Holy Place.  This altar represents the prayers of the church (Revelation 5:8; Malachi 1:11).

8.  The Census Tax (Exodus 30:11-16)

The census tax is a good example of the atonement money going towards the work of the tabernacle, and what a small cost to be paid for such a tough job on the High Priest:

11The LORD said to Moses, 12(DB) “When you take the census of the people of Israel, then each shall give(DC) a ransom for his life to the LORD when you number them, that there be no plague among them when you number them. 13Each one who is numbered in the census shall give this: half a shekel[i] according to the(DD) shekel of the sanctuary (the(DE) shekel is twenty gerahs),[j](DF) half a shekel as an offering to the LORD. 14Everyone who is numbered in the census, from twenty years old and upward, shall give the LORD’s offering. 15The rich shall not give more, and the poor shall not give less, than(DG) the half shekel, when you give the LORD’s offering to make atonement for your lives. 16You shall take the atonement money from the people of Israel and shall(DH) give it for the service of the tent of meeting, that it may bring the people of Israel to(DI) remembrance before the LORD, so as to make atonement for your lives.”

This money is ransom money (v.12), it is for the atonement of their lives (v.15), and each shall pay if they are 20 years and upward.  No bias, no partiality.

9.  The bronze basin (Exodus 30:17-21)

Finally, the bronze basin, which is a sign of new birth, regeneration; after the sacrifice of burnt offering would there be a need of the washing of renewal as the tent was approached by the priest.

Titus 3:5-7:

5he saved us,(H) not because of works done by us in righteousness, but(I) according to his own mercy, by(J) the washing of regeneration and(K) renewal of the Holy Spirit, 6whom he(L) poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7so that(M) being justified by his grace we might become(N) heirs(O) according to the hope of eternal life.

10.  Anointing Oil and Incense (Exodus 30:22-38 )

25And you shall make of these a sacred anointing oil blended as by the(DP) perfumer; it shall be a(DQ) holy anointing oil. 26(DR) With it you shall anoint the tent of meeting and the ark of the testimony, 27and the table and all its utensils, and the lampstand and its utensils, and the altar of incense, 28and the altar of burnt offering with all its utensils and the(DS) basin and its stand. 29You shall consecrate them, that they may be most holy.(DT) Whatever touches them will become holy. 30(DU) You shall anoint Aaron and his sons, and consecrate them, that they may serve me as priests. 31And you shall say to the people of Israel, ‘This shall be my holy anointing oil throughout your generations. 32It shall not be poured on the body of an ordinary person, and you shall make no other like it in composition.(DV) It is holy, and it shall be holy to you. 33(DW) Whoever compounds any like it or whoever puts any of it on an outsider shall be cut off from his people.'”

The message spoken of here is immensely deep, provided we stick to the spiritual representations of the previous instructions.  The anointing oil is sacred, and holy (v.25).  Whatever touches them (the tent of meeting, aka the tabernacle; the ark of testimony; table and its utensils; lampstand and its utensils; the altar of incense; altar of burnt offering with utensils; basin and its stand) will become holy (v.29).  The Trinity, the Prayers, the Sacrifices, the Spiritual regeneration – are all made holy by the sacred anointing oil.

And only Aaron and his sons may be consecrated, serving as priests, anointed by this sacred anointing oil.  No ordinary person shall have it poured on him or her.  The significance spoken of is referring to Jesus’ work on the cross.  Only through his work, and his ascension can he fill the universe and give gifts to all them (Ephesians 4:10; Psalm 68:18).  This is extremely important: why didn’t God start the instructions with the anointing oil?  Why leave it till the very end?  Or, the question is… is this the very end?  God had already seen into the future: the saving work on the cross, the giving of the Spirit to all flesh during the Pentecost festival, Jesus’ death on the wood, His righteousness imputed onto us as ours.  At Christ’s ascension, he filled all things; gifts among even the rebellious, that the LORD may dwell on earth.

Thus, this anointing oil is a picture of the Pentecost – the giving of the Spirit to the entire world.  Prior to this, the Spirit is indeed represented by the Golden Lampstand; but when the work of the cross is complete, the Spirit is now given to both Jews and Gentiles, and the oil is spread across everything.  We partake in the complete renewal of all things because of the High Priest, Aaron, a type of Christ, in whom we stand.  He is the only one consecrated by the holy oil; and we are consecrated by the holy oil for we are in Him.

11.  The History of Mankind and the Hope of the Remnant (Summary of all the Tabernacle Instructions)

Let’s follow the line of Christian logic thus far:

The Trinity has existed prior to the creation of the world; however, heaven and the church had harmony in the past.  This is merely a foretaste of things to come in New Jerusalem, which not only a mere garden, but an entire city of God.  When Adam and Eve sinned, they were given animal skin – an offering to God as represented by the Brazen Altar, a symbol of sacrifice necessary for remission of sins after the division between heaven and earth is made.  Now Adam and Eve are thrown to the East of the Garden, into the world of the court of the Tabernacle – the rest of God’s creation.  Yet, throughout this period, the oil for the lamp, the Holy Spirit, is lit in the hearts of the professing Christians of the earliest age of mankind, preparing for the coming Messiah (Genesis 3:15).  This Great Messiah is also the true High Priest after the order of Melchizedek, of the greatest righteousness, who can carry the burden of the world’s sins on his shoulders through a righteousness of his own.

Despite his status as pre-incarnate Christ is that of glorified and transfigured righteousness, he must then be ordained to commit to the works and plans of God in his incarnation; and only through the High Priest’s saving work can the altar of incense, the representation of our prayers, work through him.  Only after the High Priest’s ordination can our prayers be relayed to the Father through the mediation of the Son, who enters the throne room in Third Heaven on our behalf. If Jesus was not ordained, and he did not go to the cross, then our prayers will not go to the Father, for the Father will not hear us.  But the very reason that the Old Testament saints spoke through Christ, the one Mediator, to the Father LORD displays the inevitable victory of Christ on the cross; it shows the inevitable anointing of the High Priest, and his work which will enable the saints of all ages to have their incense at the centre stage of the Trinity’s thoughts.

In the duration of our prayers to the LORD, we are simultaneously saved by the symbolic census tax: what we give up is such a small price compared to what we receive; and so we repent of our sins symbolised by the giving of the tax, the money which belongs to the LORD anyway; and after we are justified and salvaged from the bondage of sin, we are cleansed simultaneously by the Holy Spirit, shown through the bronze basin.  We then finally reach the anointing oil and incense which makes all things holy, including us.  We are made holy by God alone; we are made holy by Christ alone (Isaiah 61).

Yet, this leaves something to thought.  God had already established the entire plan, and Moses saw into the history of mankind and the future of mankind just for spending time with the LORD in the thickness of the mountain.  This may, after all, shed light onto the most mysterious verse of Revelation 13:8 (here are v. 6-8):

It opened its mouth to utter blasphemies against God, blaspheming his name and his dwelling,[a] that is, those who dwell in heaven. 7Also it was allowed(A) to make war on the saints and to conquer them.[b] And authority was given it over every tribe and people and language and nation, 8and all(B) who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in(C) the book of life of(D) the Lamb(E) who was slain.

Indeed, if the Lamb of God was slain before the world, it explains how some could partake in the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament; it explains how the prayers were heard in the Old Testament; it explains how the Old Testament saints were saved.  Because the work on the cross was already prophesied in the story of the Tabernacle, but actually already done before the foundation of the world!  Christ’s incarnation is but a replay, a manifestation in the physical world of what has already occured in the spiritual world!  Christ’s incarnation is a fulfillment, a theatre, of things already accomplished.  The victory was secured in Genesis 3:15 because it is already done.  We know the OT saints had the Spirit in them; how else could they be saved?  We know the OT saints had their prayers heard, but was it through Aaron’s work, or was it through Christ alone?  We know that the OT saints were saved (look at Jesus conversing with Moses and Elijah), but how could they be if the work on the cross is not accomplished?  Indeed, the work of the cross is prophecied in the OT, because it is already accomplished before the creation of the world.  The world, after all, is a theatre of God’s glory in which we partake.

Exodus 28-30: Tabernacle and Instructions (pt.2)