2 Chronicles 31-33: Humbled

Chapter 31

Hezekiah’s focus on the priesthood continues in chapter 31, as (like David in 1 Chronicles 16) he appointed the divisions of the priests and the Levites (v.2-10).  In the wake of the destruction of idolatry (v.1), the response is to replace such idolatry with passion for Jesus, giving thanks and praise (v.2) and giving the portion due to the priests and the Levites that they might give themselves to the Law of the LORD which points to Christ alone (v.3-4), such tithing through the Levites which have not been done for many generations of kings (v.7-8 – from the third month to the seventh month).  Such overflowing blessing which is beyond all that the Levites had needed (v.10)!  This prompted Hezekiah to command the Levites to prepare chambers in the house of the LORD (v.11) to house such contributions, tithes and dedicated things (v.12), a reminder that these are all the LORD’s to begin with – also a symbolic storing of the treasures in heaven (Matthew 6:20).

This very much defines the period in which Hezekiah led – doing what was good and right and faithful before the LORD (v.20).  Yet, Hezekiah was not the promised offspring, despite his temporary shortcomings described in chapter 32; he is not the Son spoken of in Psalm 2; like Solomon, they both shine brightly as types of Jesus, representing ages where heaven seemed to kiss earth.  Not yet, not yet.

Chapter 32

The arrogance of Sennacherib is almost a red herring given Hezekiah’s walk with Christ and devotion to the priesthood, as surety that the LORD’s steadfast love is manifested in His victory through Israel against all enemies and odds.  The waters of the Law of the LORD flows from and to Israel (Isaiah 2:2) and Hezekiah’s decision to stop the water of the springs outside the city (v.3) is a conscious act of pronouncing judgment on Sennacherib for failing to recognise the importance of Israel’s identity to Sennacherib’s salvation.  Indeed – for with Israel is the right arm of the LORD, whereas Sennacherib is but an arm of man.

Sennacherib’s blasphemy in v.9-15 is but a repeat of what Israel believes – indeed, that what the other nations believe in are but false idols.  Of course they are incapable to fend themselves against man’s mightiest threats (v.9-15) when their object of faith is dead and lacks the power to protect but only the power to deceive.  Hezekiah’s God is the true deliverer – the story of the exodus preached in Israel and surely in the surrounding nations.  Sennacherib’s ignorance of the Passover and this protected nation is already testimony to this eventual downfall – that this tribal nation’s survival has been and will continue to be entirely dependent on the LORD’s steadfast love to Israel through Jesus.  “How much less will your God deliver you out of my hand!” (v.15, c.f. v.17) is in itself a fabricated lie.

The Israelites’ first response could have been to justify themselves; to seek confidence in their military might.  Yet, Hezekiah and Isaiah’s response is exactly that required and expected of an Israelite – to pray because of such blasphemy and crying to heaven (v.20).  The irony of Sennacherib’s death is that his lie has turned on himself – that in the house of his god he was struck down rather than delivered.  One of LORD’s mere angels is sufficient to cut off all the mighty warriors and commanders and officers in the Assyrian camp (v.21), and not even the Angel of the LORD Jesus Christ Himself – let alone the angelic army which protects Israel (2 Kings 6:17)?  Once again, the king of Israel is honoured because of Israel sealing its identity as the LORD’s child, as initiated by Hezekiah and Isaiah’s joint plea (v.23) – just as Christ was exalted by the Father (Acts 5:31) and was challenged by the lies of men like Sennacherib (Matthew 27:40).  Even Hezekiah’s pride was merely mentioned as a passing stage in his life, his sin overshadowed by his humility (v.26) which blessed the nation, just as Christ’s humility on the cross provided the gifts of salvation and Holy Spirit to us.

Thus, the sign Hezekiah received (v.24), amongst the various signs he received in the destruction of Sennacherib, were the Babylonian princes’ and envoys’ subject of inquiry.  The “sign that had been done in the land” is the sacrament of God’s love towards Israel, manifested in the Shekinah glory in the House of the LORD.  Yet, God left Hezekiah to himself (v.30), in order to test him and to know all that was in Hezekiah’s heart – whether Jesus was written on his heart, or whether his own name was written on his heart.

Chapter 33

Yet, just as Hezekiah was described to have a life walking with Jesus, his son Manasseh shakes that stability in Israel by his evil leadership once again (v.2) – the mindless sheep of Israel following their sinful king even in rejecting the same LORD Whom Hezekiah lifted up.  Just like Ahaz (2 Chronicles 28) who had similarly sacrificed his offspring as an offering in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, a direct threat to the Offspring Who would have brought everlasting to Israel.  Instead, Ahaz and Manasseh choose to adopt the idolatrous practices and abominations of other nations to achieve such victory – Manasseh in particular rejecting the LORD despite receiving direct revelation from Him (v.10), leading him to be chained down like a slave, like an animal (Isaiah 37:29).  Yet, in fulfillment of Solomon’s plea in 2 Chronicles 6, that even a man like Manasseh, if he were to turn back to the LORD, he would be redeemed – v.12-13 is a fulfillment of this.  Manasseh humbled himself before the LORD, and God was moved – His steadfast love expressed in bringing Manasseh back to Jerusalem (v.13).  Only at this stage did Manasseh know that the LORD was God.  As a response in faith, he took away the foreign gods and the idol from the house of the LORD (v.15-17), restoring the altar of the LORD and sacrificing peace and thanksgiving offering.  Judah is to return to serving the LORD, not to sway from the promise of the gospel which Manasseh newly received.

Yet, like how Manasseh has “undone” the work of Hezekiah, so also Amon is another faulty line in the lineage of David threatening the coming of the Son.  He did not humble himself before the LORD, and instead he incurred more and more guilt – bearing a death very similar to Sennacherib’s (chapter 32:21).  However, there was still some ray of light – that the people would reject those who killed Amon (v.25) – and his short reign is thus replaced by young Josiah.

 

2 Chronicles 31-33: Humbled

2 Chronicles 22-24: Preserving the house of David

Chapter 22

The wicked mother Athaliah is the instigator of the potential destruction of the promise and hope of Israel in her attempt to destroy all the royal family of the house of Judah.  This begins with her son Ahaziah, in her marriage with Jehoram – and unfortunately Ahaziah walked in the ways of the house of Ahab (v.3), in the counsel of those in this wicked house (v.4-5).  Rather than instilling the fear of the LORD, the knowledge of the gospel, into the hearts of the neighbouring nations, he would rather join in alliance with Ahab’s son Jehoram to make war against Syria.  It is therefore righteous and in God’s ordinance that Jehu son of Nimshi should destroy the house of Ahab and Ahaziah alongside with it (v.9).  However, this is not the same as destroying the royal house of David, which was Athaliah’s intent (v.10), for Ahaziah had a son Joash (who was not yet able to rule v.9, v.11).

It is in God’s providence that Joash is protected from the murderous intent of Athaliah and that the lamp in the house of David is not extinguished – and this is done by the hand of Ahaziah’s sister Jehoshabeath (oath of Jehovah), wife of a priest Jehoiada (knowledge of the LORD), again the preservation of the house of David initiated not by mere man, nor by mere king, but by the ordained priesthood.  Joash was therefore hidden in the house of God whilst Athaliah the whore reigned free, just as Christ was hidden in the house of God – known to those faithful to Him – awaiting the day when He would glorify the Father and display the Triune glory in fullness on the cross and destroy the whore once and for all (Revelation 17).

Chapter 23

Just like the scene of the wise men Matthew 2, Jehoiada with Azariah (whom Jehovah helps) (son of Jeroham (cherished)), Ishmael (whom God hears) (son of Jehohanan (whom God gave)), Azariah (son of Obed (serving)), Maaseiah (work of the LORD) (son of Adaiah (adorned by Jehovah)) and Elishaphat (whom God judges) (son of Zichri (memorable)) together gathered the Levites from all the cities of Judah and came to Jerusalem to announce the coming of the true king.  These are clearly men who looked forward to the Promised Seed and saw in Joash the need to overthrow Athaliah’s mad rule, Joash being the only hope and lineage from whom the Promised Seed shall come.  This is indeed a literal keeping/guarding of the law and covenant until the day of Christ’s first coming (c.f. Genesis 2:15 original Hebrew interpretation), as we see the synonymous nature of protecting Joash as if protecting the LORD Himself (v.6)!  These were men who understood what the Sabbath truly meant – an act of worship and not a secular piece of work to further one’s own kingdom (c.f. Luke 6:1-5); thus they fulfilled the true meaning of the Sabbath not by taking “rest”, but by achieving the promised rest in protecting the king of the house of David.

It is therefore a beautiful comparison in v.11-15, the imagery of the anointed, protected and elected king Joash from the line of David (with much song and dance!) contrasted to Athaliah’s madness and eventual death (v.13-15).  Therefore Jehoiada, from the protection of the king in his early youth, to the king’s anointing was very much the picture of the John the Baptist was to Christ, making the way straight for the king’s headship over the kingdom.  His covenant between himself and all the people and the king that they should be the LORD’s people (v.16) is a restoration of the status quo set down in David’s and Solomon’s day.  Like the period of Asa, Israel once again went through a reformation of its identity (v.17-18), reminded time and time again the importance of the house of David and the lineage of priests in presenting a multimedia presentation of the true King to come.  They should all know that the peace achieved after Athaliah’s death (v.21) was but a short one, a mere taste of the everlasting peace only achievable by the destroyer of the serpent’s head.

Chapter 24

However, it was foreboding that all the work and the covenant was kept by Jehoiada – but not Joash.  Joash was only a type of the foretold King, but bore hardly any quality similar to that of Christ.  Only during the days of Jehoiada that he worked to restore the house of the LORD and re-introduced the tax initiated by Moses in the wilderness (Exodus 30:12-14) as a reminder of the people’s need to focus on the House of the LORD (which was the tabernacle, the sanctuary, in Moses’ time) which defines the entire nation.  So the national dedication of the LORD’s offering was pleasing (v.8-14) and worked towards the proper reparation of the house of the LORD as well as utensils for serving in the house of the LORD (v.14), with burnt offerings offered in the days of Jehoiada’s leadership.  However, it is apparent that Joash’s heart was merely skin-deep in his love for Jesus; where Jehoiada focused not on the pomp and presentation of the House (possibly a reason why the Levites did not act quickly under Jehoiada’s leadership – v.5-6), he compensated in his spiritual influence over the kingdom that all would offer burnt offerings and provide wise advice to the king to prevent him defecting from his role as king in the house of David.  Yet, his death led to inevitable trouble (v.17) as the heart of the king was not grounded in the Word, nor the true meaning of the glorious physicality of the temple, and instead he was led astray by the princes of Judah to abandon the house of the LORD.

Joash’s eventual murder of Zechariah, the son of Jehoiada (forgetting the kindness of Jehoiada v.22 who had preserved Joash lest he be murdered by Athaliah) is a picture of the chosen nation Israel crucifying our LORD Jesus, solidifying the truth that Israel is not an elect nation due to its purity or virtue.  Rather, Israel was elected to display itself as a type of the sinner of the world, and Jesus the creator (with the Father and the Spirit) being crucified by the rebellious created.  Thus, the irony that Ahaziah and Jehoram’s invasion of Syria is brought back on its head as the Syrians return to destroy the princes of Judah and execution of Joash despite the Syrians having come with few men (v.24).  Although Jehoiada preserved Joash under the LORD’s direction, it was also His discretion to destroy Joash for not walking with Christ and for walking in the ways of his father Ahaziah and grandmother Athaliah.  However, his destruction now is the the vengeance of the LORD (at the hand of non-Israelites – the Syrians, Ammonites and Moabites c.f. v. 26 – a picture foretelling the Gentiles being led by the LORD instead of the Israelites themselves) and His justice truly served, as the house of David is still preserved in Amaziah (v.27).  The preservation of the house of David would not have been possible had Athaliah murdered Joash at the outset, yet it is in the LORD’s mercy that He should continue his steadfast love for David’s descendants, despite the Israelites’ continual relapses into rebellion.

 

2 Chronicles 22-24: Preserving the house of David

1 Samuel 6: Who can stand before the Father?

The Old Testament is rife with examples of foreign nations speaking of Israel as light to the nations.  Does any nation have the privilege of Israel being the receivers of the Torah?  Does any nation have a God who is defined by salvation, the Hebrew action and noun by which His Son is named in His incarnation (Yeshua; c.f. Daniel 3:29)?  And here this truth is highlighted amongst the Philistines, who look back on the Exodus and Passover with fear.  “Why should you harden your hearts as the Egyptians and Pharoah hardened their hearts?  After he had dealt severely with them, did they not send the people away, and they departed?” (v.6).

Yet this is half the gospel – the gospel is the punishment of the Father towards the Son, and the love of the Father towards the Son (Isaiah 53:5; John 17).  What they saw was the death of the firstborn, and they only saw Yahweh as a mere God of Israel (v.5).  Their purpose was to provide golden images of creatures to save themselves (Exodus 20:23), just as the Israelites had created the golden image of the calf as the gods (Exodus 32:1) of their salvation.  They did not see the God of Rahab, she who preached the God of heavens and the earth; the God who saved, chose and loved, Israel and gave them Canaan (Joshua 2) the land of Promise, the nation which was given the law to display their transgressions after they were saved from Egypt (Galatians 3).  Their guilt offering is not a covenant enacted and purified by blood (v.3, v.8; c.f. Hebrews 9:20-22), but a guilt offering provided of golden idols.  What blasphemy it is to place images of pestilence next to the Ark of the Covenant which is also laden with gold!  This is why the Philistines, even having the Ark of the Covenant within their midst for seven months, is the subject of wrath – just as the beauties of His creation in the heavens and earth are poetry proclaiming Christ in the eyes of Israel (Psalm 19), but is exclaiming His wrath to all those standing outside of Christ (Romans 1:18-32).  Just as we are destined to walk into the Holy of Holies in Christ, yet the Philistines will forever stand their distance and refuse to join to Israel even after witnessing the joy of the Israelites when the throne of God is in their midst (v.16).  Instead of joining under the tent of the House of the Sun (Beth-shemesh; Malachi 4:2), they return to the House of eradication (Ekron).  Though they know it is not a coincidence (v.9), yet they fail to trust in the object of the true blood-guilt offering of the milk cow on which there has never come a yoke.

And so the Israelites carefully retrieved the ark by the hand of the Levites, the priests who are ordained and anointed to be privileged with this duty; and by the Stone of the House of the Sun in the field of Joshua, the chief typological Saviour between Moses and Samuel, these burnt offerings were truly given to the LORD in rejoicing (v.13) rather than in trembling fear.  These Philistines returned to Ekron, only to await their true eradication by the hands of the King of Israel, for even in the time of Joshua the five lords of the five cities (Ashdod, Gaza, Ashkelon, Gath, Ekron) were already the subject of wrath awaiting to be devoted to destruction (Joshua 13:3).  This true destruction is symbolized in the return of the Ark after seven months, intimating the seventy years after the Babylonian captivity whereupon the LORD will send the staggering cup for these nations to drink where the Philistines, amongst others, are to drink the cup which Christ has drunk (John 18:11):

Jer 25:12-27  Then after seventy years are completed, I will punish the king of Babylon and that nation, the land of the Chaldeans, for their iniquity, declares the LORD, making the land an everlasting waste.  (13)  I will bring upon that land all the words that I have uttered against it, everything written in this book, which Jeremiah prophesied against all the nations.  (14)  For many nations and great kings shall make slaves even of them, and I will recompense them according to their deeds and the work of their hands.”  (15)  Thus the LORD, the God of Israel, said to me: “Take from my hand this cup of the wine of wrath, and make all the nations to whom I send you drink it.  (16)  They shall drink and stagger and be crazed because of the sword that I am sending among them.”  (17)  So I took the cup from the LORD’s hand, and made all the nations to whom the LORD sent me drink it:  (18)  Jerusalem and the cities of Judah, its kings and officials, to make them a desolation and a waste, a hissing and a curse, as at this day;  (19)  Pharaoh king of Egypt, his servants, his officials, all his people,  (20)  and all the mixed tribes among them; all the kings of the land of Uz and all the kings of the land of the Philistines (Ashkelon, Gaza, Ekron, and the remnant of Ashdod);  (21)  Edom, Moab, and the sons of Ammon;  (22)  all the kings of Tyre, all the kings of Sidon, and the kings of the coastland across the sea;  (23)  Dedan, Tema, Buz, and all who cut the corners of their hair;  (24)  all the kings of Arabia and all the kings of the mixed tribes who dwell in the desert;  (25)  all the kings of Zimri, all the kings of Elam, and all the kings of Media;  (26)  all the kings of the north, far and near, one after another, and all the kingdoms of the world that are on the face of the earth. And after them the king of Babylon shall drink.  (27)  “Then you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Drink, be drunk and vomit, fall and rise no more, because of the sword that I am sending among you.’

Therefore, it is this same cup in which we are crucified in Him; it is this same cup in which the world is condemned through His mediation of creation (Colossians 1).  Yet our sacramental communion provides also the bread of life upon Whom we feed, and until then, the wrath of the Father will continue to impartially display His wrath upon all those standing outside of Christ (v.19).  Indeed, “who is able to stand before the LORD, this holy God?  And to whom shall he go up away from us?” which is an echo of Job’s question (Job 33:23).  The answer has always been Christ Jesus, the commander of the LORD’s army; but it is seen for now through the actions of David, the typological mediator who worships the LORD at the right hand of the Father (Psalm 110) – he is the only one, not Saul, nor Samuel, to take the Ark back from Kiriath-jearim to the city of David in Jerusalem, the city of Peace.

1 Samuel 6: Who can stand before the Father?

Leviticus 21-22: New Creation bodies

The last four chapters 16-20 spoke of the holy priesthood.  What of the priests?  What about their “lifestyle”?  What about what they eat?  Who can also eat?  What about what is offered by the people?  Leviticus 21-22 seeks to answer these questions, moving from the nation of priests to the true priests themselves and the pattern of our lifestyle.. in New Creation.

1.  Without Blemish: the renewed Bodies (Leviticus 21)

2.  Priestly food: the Tree of Life (Leviticus 22:1-16)

3.  Priestly sacrifices: the unblemished Lamb (Leviticus 22:17-33)

1.  Without Blemish: the renewed Bodies (Leviticus 21)

Matthew Henry points out the distinctions in Leviticus 21:

This chapter might borrow its title from Mal_2:1, “And now, O you priests, this commandment is for you.” It is a law obliging priests with the utmost care and jealousy to preserve the dignity of their priesthood.  I. The inferior priests are here charged both concerning their mourning and concerning their marriages and their children (Lev_21:1-9).  II. The high priest is restrained more than any of them (Lev_21:10-15).  III. Neither the one nor the other must have any blemish (Lev_21:16, etc.).

Note that while the priests themselves are ‘lower’ than the high priest, the priest witnesses to the high priest, just as the high priest witnesses directly to Christ.  However, note that there is no partiality in terms of blemish: both must be without blemish, whether high priest or not.  Let’s understand Jesus better by looking at the meanings of God’s establishment of holiness on these priests.

Lev 21:1-24  And the LORD said to Moses, “Speak to the priests, the sons of Aaron, and say to them: No one shall make himself unclean for the dead among his people,  (2)  except for his closest relatives, his mother, his father, his son, his daughter, his brother,  (3)  or his virgin sister (who is near to him because she has had no husband; for her he may make himself unclean).  (4)  He shall not make himself unclean as a husband among his people and so profane himself.

The meanings of these verses display the complete dedication of the priests to their duty, to the point where they have no ‘liberty’ to weep for peopl besides the immediate family.  This may sound harsh, but it reflects much about Christ’s work.  Christ indeed wept for people during his 30-year ministry on earth:

Joh 11:32-35  Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”  (33)  When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled.  (34)  And he said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.”  (35)  Jesus wept.

Who was this dead man? Lazarus: yet, did Jesus know him intimately?  No.  In fact, if we were to read Leviticus 21:1-4 correctly, it appears that the only people Christ would have wept for is Mary, Joseph, and James, depending on whether you see him as Christ’s blood brother or spiritual brother (I vouch the former, for not many other Christians in the New Testament were referred to specifically as the LORD’s brother).  However, Jesus’ weeping for Lazarus means something incredibly profound: that he would consider us so dear to him like the “closest relatives” (Leviticus 21:2), before Lazarus even rose from the dead!  That is the significance of Christ’s love for us, before we even loved Him; his faithfulness to us, before we even try to be faithful (Romans 3:4).

(5)  They shall not make bald patches on their heads, nor shave off the edges of their beards, nor make any cuts on their body.  (6)  They shall be holy to their God and not profane the name of their God. For they offer the LORD’s food offerings, the bread of their God; therefore they shall be holy.  (7)  They shall not marry a prostitute or a woman who has been defiled, neither shall they marry a woman divorced from her husband, for the priest is holy to his God.  (8 )  You shall sanctify him, for he offers the bread of your God. He shall be holy to you, for I, the LORD, who sanctify you, am holy.  (9)  And the daughter of any priest, if she profanes herself by whoring, profanes her father; she shall be burned with fire.  (10)  “The priest who is chief among his brothers, on whose head the anointing oil is poured and who has been consecrated to wear the garments, shall not let the hair of his head hang loose nor tear his clothes.  (11)  He shall not go in to any dead bodies nor make himself unclean, even for his father or for his mother.  (12)  He shall not go out of the sanctuary, lest he profane the sanctuary of his God, for the consecration of the anointing oil of his God is on him: I am the LORD.  (13)  And he shall take a wife in her virginity.  (14)  A widow, or a divorced woman, or a woman who has been defiled, or a prostitute, these he shall not marry. But he shall take as his wife a virgin of his own people,  (15)  that he may not profane his offspring among his people, for I am the LORD who sanctifies him.”

There is much to be said about v.5-15, but it would be entirely appropriate to classify these verses under the priest’s sexual purity.  v.5-6 speaks of holiness manifested through the priests’ obedience in not making marks on their bodies, most likely reflecting the pagan cultures surrounding them – and again, it is re-emphasised that they are not merely called to be clean – but to be holy (v.6).  Therefore, their purity is maintained by not marrying a prostitute, or a woman divorced from her husband – thus, a virgin (v.7-9, 13-15).  This is entirely significant, and follows on from the imagery of Adam and Eve in the Garden.  God created both in his image (Genesis 1:26-27), and both revered God as to embody the picture of Adam’s headship over Eve’s submission, which manifestly displays Christ’s love for the church which submits (Ephesians 5:22-33).  However, where is this picture shown when the priest, or High Priest, ‘goes into’ or ‘knows’ (both terms relating to sexual intercourse) or ‘marries’ a prostitute or a divorced person?  The reason simply given in Leviticus 21:7 is “for the priest is holy to his God“.  Holiness is readily defined time and time again throughout Leviticus, which ultimately speaks of God’s personality.  Leviticus is God’s biography – and he is manifestly telling us that Christ is not going to marry a corrupt, ungodly church.  That is the picture of adultery, when Israel has been constantly referred to as idolatrous and adulterous because of her unfaithfulness (c.f. books of Hosea and Ezekiel).  Thus, for a priest to marry a prostitute is akin to Christ marrying, for example, a Canaanite who still offers herself to other gods and idols. That is why in v.14 it says that he shall take a virgin from his own people – for Christ marries none other than his own.  What kind of gospel are we preaching when we, as Christians and as priests of God, date or marry a non-Christian?  It is a ‘gospel’ of universalism and open theism.  Let us not be false teachers people, and learn to devote ourselves to Christ in our relational life.

But why marginalise the ‘prostitues’, ‘divorced’ and ‘widowed’, over the ‘virgin’?  This is speaking about the purity of the person coming before the priest; the purity of the person coming before Christ.  The definition of ‘purity’ and ‘without blemish’ will come more into play in the later verses, but it is important to note that this seeming partiality towards the divorced and the prostitute is extremely important in our eschatological theology.  What the LORD is essentially telling us, is that in new Jerusalem, where we have our wedding feast with Christ – only there will we be officially married to Christ.  It is most important to remember however that before we can even stand before Christ in new creation, we must be in our wedding garbs of righteousness (Isaiah 61).  What this means is mani-fold, but just to pick out two: it means that we are completely righteous before Christ and the Father, as if we are Christ himself (since we are in Christ now).  Remember however that Christ is a virgin – that he never knew a person during his lifetime on earth.  This, along with other reasons why he remains celibate, completely contradicts the “Brownian effect” (a term I coin for Dan Brown’s ludicrous theology), and is just merely an expression of someone who simply did not understand Christ’s ministry on earth.

If we are in Christ, and we are presented to the Father as if we were Christ himself, that means we inherit his body, his resurrection, his ascension, his righteousness… and undoubtedly, his virginity.  Therefore, it is most important that the wife is a virgin – to emulate the virginity of Christ, as the church takes on Christ’s very being.

(16)  And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,  (17)  “Speak to Aaron, saying, None of your offspring throughout their generations who has a blemish may approach to offer the bread of his God.  (18 )  For no one who has a blemish shall draw near, a man blind or lame, or one who has a mutilated face or a limb too long,  (19)  or a man who has an injured foot or an injured hand,  (20)  or a hunchback or a dwarf or a man with a defect in his sight or an itching disease or scabs or crushed testicles.  (21)  No man of the offspring of Aaron the priest who has a blemish shall come near to offer the LORD’s food offerings; since he has a blemish, he shall not come near to offer the bread of his God.  (22)  He may eat the bread of his God, both of the most holy and of the holy things,  (23)  but he shall not go through the veil or approach the altar, because he has a blemish, that he may not profane my sanctuaries, for I am the LORD who sanctifies them.”  (24)  So Moses spoke to Aaron and to his sons and to all the people of Israel.

People may read v.16-21 and say that it is harsh.  Remember however, that this priesthood was not ‘gained’ by Aaron and his sons, because of their faithfulness.  It has always been God’s pattern to gift us with ministries and salvation (Genesis chapters 12, 15; Romans 9:6).  If we continually look at the priests Christologically, we are learning something valuable about the comparison of the human priests to our God-King-Priest Yeshua/Joshua/Jesus.  Because, the human priest is after all weak, and will succumb to God’s sovereignty over their birth defect, or defect eventually gained in their life (v. 18 ).  But the fully divine AND human priest is sinless, and without blemish.  The LORD, through the expression of these verses, is solidifying his holiness over man’s incapability of remaining holy without the LORD’s permission or sovereignty over even his own birth.  One cannot help but read these verses and completely kneel and give oneself to the living God’s interaction with us, and ability to humble us so we do not misappropriate the true role of priesthood in our own hands, when we have been given this privilege through Christ alone, who is our only sinless High Priest without blemish (Hebrews 4:15).  Without a High Priest without blemish, he would not be capable of representing the assembly of Israel to take the blood of the sacrifice before the ark of the covenant within the Holy of Holies (v.21 and 23).

However, do not be discouraged because you are born with, or you now have, a physical defect.  That is not God’s intention nor his expression in these verses: he is actually giving us a message of hope and humility to stand before him without arrogance, and trusting only in Christ.  Because Christ took on human flesh, he rose again in a renewed body.  In the same way, our Christ whose body was without blemish, who was a virgin, who ascended to heaven and sat at the right hand of God – WE also, will appropriate these things because of him.  Leviticus 21 is a picture of hope for us only if we stand by the unblemished High Priest, so we look forward to our new creation bodies without blemish.

2.  Priestly food: the Tree of Life (Leviticus 22:1-16)

If the holiness and unblemished character of the priests reflect that of Christ’s unblemished nature, what of the priestly food?

Lev 22:1-33  And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,  (2)  “Speak to Aaron and his sons so that they abstain from the holy things of the people of Israel, which they dedicate to me, so that they do not profane my holy name: I am the LORD.

The opening verses of chapter 22 follows on naturally from chapter 21 – firstly, if the priest is holy, so also the “things” are holy.

It is quite interesting as to why both priest and the offering are holy – for they speak of how Christ is both priest and sacrifice.  We play no role in creation nor redemption!  We are partakers, and taken up into that role of creation and redemption.  Here, we see a picture of God’s definition of redemption: that Christ the holy priest offers himself as holy offering.  Jurgen Moltmann in his “The Church in the Power of the Spirit: A Contribution of Messianic Ecclesiology”:

“It is not the church that has a mission of salvation to fulfill in the world, it is the mission of the Son and the Spirit through the Father which includes the church”

It is therefore through Christ that we can even partake in God’s work.  God continually reminds the Aaronic priests that it is not them actually remitting the sins of Israel, for they are actually sinful!  This is explained in v.2 – that the Aaronic priests should abstain from the holy things while he has uncleanness as explained in v.3 onwards:

(3)  Say to them, ‘If any one of all your offspring throughout your generations approaches the holy things that the people of Israel dedicate to the LORD, while he has an uncleanness, that person shall be cut off from my presence: I am the LORD.  (4)  None of the offspring of Aaron who has a leprous disease or a discharge may eat of the holy things until he is clean. Whoever touches anything that is unclean through contact with the dead or a man who has had an emission of semen,  (5)  and whoever touches a swarming thing by which he may be made unclean or a person from whom he may take uncleanness, whatever his uncleanness may be–  (6)  the person who touches such a thing shall be unclean until the evening and shall not eat of the holy things unless he has bathed his body in water.

This is actually a great verse, in exposing the truth of Genesis 3:22.  Here is the verse:

And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever…

Now, some people think there is a defect in the translation – and I think there is.  But it is better interpreted as such in the context of Genesis 3.  Remember that man has eaten from the tree of good and evil, celebrating the seeming autonomy of man pitted against God.  Satan has effectively influenced man through the tree of the law – and man attempted to do the works of the law and fulfill the law in itself.  However, man can at any time take from the tree of life, having already sinned against God.  Can man just live forever and God will look away at man’s great offence against Him?  No – and that is why God bars the way to the tree of life.  We simply do not deserve it: and our sin must be dealt with.  To live forever as self-proclaimed and self-righteous and self-justifying “God-men” (in terms of judging what is good and evil for ourself) is simply heresy.

However, we can eat from this holy tree, if we are clean.  Adam and Eve solidified their uncleanness by eating of the tree of good and evil, thus God barred the way to the tree of life signified by the cherubim and the burning sword, manifested in the veil with the cherubim pattern.  The only way we can enjoy the food, the feast, is if there is blood to cleanse us so we have renewed bodies.  Only with a renewed body can we take food from the tree of life – any other attempt is futile and we will only be caught up in the veil-flame between the Holy of Holies and the Holy Place.  Revelation 2:7 and 22:14:

He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.

and

Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.

And who can overcome?  Who can do his commandments?  Christ.  And in Christ, God looks at us as if we are Christ himself – and we stand as the righteous and blessed man, through His Son’s blood and water.

(7)  When the sun goes down he shall be clean, and afterward he may eat of the holy things, because they are his food.  (8 )  He shall not eat what dies of itself or is torn by beasts, and so make himself unclean by it: I am the LORD.’  (9)  They shall therefore keep my charge, lest they bear sin for it and die thereby when they profane it: I am the LORD who sanctifies them.  (10)  “A lay person shall not eat of a holy thing; no foreign guest of the priest or hired servant shall eat of a holy thing,  (11)  but if a priest buys a slave as his property for money, the slave may eat of it, and anyone born in his house may eat of his food.  (12)  If a priest’s daughter marries a layman, she shall not eat of the contribution of the holy things.  (13)  But if a priest’s daughter is widowed or divorced and has no child and returns to her father’s house, as in her youth, she may eat of her father’s food; yet no lay person shall eat of it.  (14)  And if anyone eats of a holy thing unintentionally, he shall add the fifth of its value to it and give the holy thing to the priest.  (15)  They shall not profane the holy things of the people of Israel, which they contribute to the LORD,  (16)  and so cause them to bear iniquity and guilt, by eating their holy things: for I am the LORD who sanctifies them.”

v.16 – “For I am the LORD who sanctifies them”.  What of this seeming intolerance of “lay persons”?  Let’s go through verse by verse.  v.7-8 is a re-iteration of the law on eating, and the refrain again: “I am the LORD who sanctifies them” (v.9).  Then, v. 10: a lay person shall not eat a holy thing.  Therefore, the contrast is established: a holy unblemished priest can eat of holy things: but a lay person, who is merely clean cannot eat of holy things.  v.11 explains: a slave bought as the priests property for a price, can eat of it.

Let’s stop here for a bit: a doulos (greek for slave) who is bought at a price for his life?  1 Corinthians 7:22:

For he who was called in the Lord as a slave is a freedman of the Lord. Likewise he who was free when called is a slave of Christ.

However, given the potential exegetical fallacy in comparing the NT greek for ‘doulos’ with the OT ‘ebed (עבד Hebrew for bond-servant), there is a high possibility that they convey subtle different meanings.  Indeed there is – the word doulos is in fact such a limited semantic choice the translators picked for the ESV.  Consider the LXX on v.11:  psyche (ψυχή), which actually means breath or spirit.  Thus, matching the LXX against the Hebrew, it can be re-translated as “but if a priest buys any soul as his property for money“.  The semantic range for “soul” (psyche in Greek, nephesh in Hebrew, נפשׁ ) is vast:  it can simply mean a breathing creature, a creature which has life or simply Spirit (though I think a living creature is more appropriate, since the Spirit is often referred to as wind, or ruah in Hebrew).

The Trinity in relation to those who take part in the House of the Priest

Let’s look at the first semantic choice: if a slave can now eat of the holy food as if he was actually born in the house of the priest (aka, becoming one of the priestly line), then he is adopted into the Holy family!  What a wonderful picture of the Holy Trinity!  Matthew 11 is my proof text for comparison:

Mat 11:25-27  At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children;  (26)  yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.  (27)  All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.

These verses from Matthew reveals just how closely intertwined one’s salvation is to one’s knowledge of the Trinity: one simply cannot be saved without acknowledgment of the Trinity.  When we are adopted into the Holy Family of God, we are now seen as sons of God (meaning the Father: c.f. Romans 8:14, so we are not sons of Christ), like Christ, because we are joined to, and in Christ! We NOW partake in Christ’s sonship and directly capable of speaking to the Father by the power of the Spirit making all of this possible.  Without the Trinity, salvation simply does NOT make sense.  The implications of this are vast – or should I say explicit nature, rather than implicit nature.  If we follow after Abraham’s faith in Romans 4, and Hebrews 11 states very clearly that these Old Testament saints had the same faith which we now follow, then how is it possible that the Old Testament saints can even be saved without any saving knowledge of the Trinity?  Leviticus 21-22 is a lesson plan, teaching them about the Trinity in the context of New Creation!  For the people alive during Moses time who not only had the passages of Genesis and Exodus to read concerning the Angel of the LORD, the Burning Bush, the Pillar of Cloud and Fire, the Passover Lamb, the Three Tabernacle Furniture described BEFORE the Tabernacle itself, the Father who descended on Mt. Sinai on the Third Day – these are all profound and explicit pictures of not the multi, but tri-Personal nature of the Trinity.  Otherwise, there is profound difficulty in Jesus being the sacrifice to himself – when he is clearly bringing his blood to the Father, and not to himself!  What we may end up with is a modalistic nature of God who ‘acts’ as sacrifice, Son, Father, Spirit when he wishes, which is clearly impossible given the separate actions of each to fulfil the fulsome picture of a Holy Family who are separate in number and persons, but not separate in entity.

That, however, is merely the limited semantic concerning the English translation ‘slave’ or ‘bondservant’.  What of the specific usage of psyche and nephesh – the spirited creature?  I have investigated the claim concerning fish which are the only creatures without breath, without a soul (Genesis 1:30 implies that only the birds in heavens, beast of earth and everything that creeps on the ground has the breath of God sustaining them).  This in fact is a picture of salvation, coloured by the salvation of spirited beasts in Jonah (Jonah 3: 8 ) – which points again towards New Creation (Isaiah 11:6-10) where only the creatures with the Spirit sustaining them will co-exist with us there peacefully.  Thus, v.11 isn’t exclusive of the beasts who, throughout Scripture, are mentioned to be saved unto God to new Creation – and the semantic range of v.11 simply refers to the salvation of every creature (including man and beast) to New Creation, by adoption through Christ, the true priest!

A layman is simply ‘clean’ – and even God says that is not enough.  That is the explanation of the Ascension: if we are left with death and resurrection, then as Christians, we are left with a blank slate whenever we return to Christ.  He is like an eraser, who erases our sins.  But that is merely a burnt and a sin offering for cleansing.  What about our priestly ordination?  What about our ability to eat of the holy fruit: we must become holy; we must be sanctified.  This is why the ascension is CRUCIAL to the work of the cross: without it, we will not be sanctified and go with Christ through to the Holy of Holies.  We would forever remain as clean laypeople but barred from even going through the veil of fire.  What good would that be?  What kind of God ‘saves’ us, but leaves us stranded on the proverbial limbo?  Not the Jesus of the Bible: for he desires not only to cleanse us, but to impute to us HIS holiness, so WE as a body of Christians can commune with the Triune God manifested through food, as symbolised by the great wedding feast which is the first thing that awaits us in New Creation!  He is, as He repeatedly says, the LORD who sanctifies us – through Jesus Christ alone.

3.  Priestly sacrifices: the unblemished Lamb (Leviticus 22:17-33)

(17)  And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,  (18)  “Speak to Aaron and his sons and all the people of Israel and say to them, When any one of the house of Israel or of the sojourners in Israel presents a burnt offering as his offering, for any of their vows or freewill offerings that they offer to the LORD,  (19)  if it is to be accepted for you it shall be a male without blemish, of the bulls or the sheep or the goats.  (20)  You shall not offer anything that has a blemish, for it will not be acceptable for you.  (21)  And when anyone offers a sacrifice of peace offerings to the LORD to fulfill a vow or as a freewill offering from the herd or from the flock, to be accepted it must be perfect; there shall be no blemish in it.  (22)  Animals blind or disabled or mutilated or having a discharge or an itch or scabs you shall not offer to the LORD or give them to the LORD as a food offering on the altar.  (23)  You may present a bull or a lamb that has a part too long or too short for a freewill offering, but for a vow offering it cannot be accepted.  (24)  Any animal that has its testicles bruised or crushed or torn or cut you shall not offer to the LORD; you shall not do it within your land,  (25)  neither shall you offer as the bread of your God any such animals gotten from a foreigner. Since there is a blemish in them, because of their mutilation, they will not be accepted for you.”

Now, we turn to priestly sacrifices which are also seen as without blemish (v.20-21).  If our priests are without blemish, and that the food they (and the other priests, including slaves of priests and those who return to the house of the priest as wholly devoted, like the woman who has returned to singlehood and no longer bound to another, so she can devote herself fully to Jesus in spiritual marriage to Him) eat gives them life as classified as a holy thing, then HOW can we receive these things?  Through sacrifices without blemish.

You may wonder: what does this have to do with v.24-25 – the sacrifice’s ‘testicles’?  This is because this is where the seed comes from: the seed that gives life.  I have investigated the truths behind ‘semen’, behind ‘seed’ theology (Genesis 1:11), behind circumcision (Genesis 17) – and that they find their definitive meaning of renewed eternal life in the Seed of Genesis 3:15.  Therefore, to provide an animal with crushed testicles, then that is to preach that the animal is incapable of giving new life – that the animal is not an appropriate sacrifice which preaches Jesus’ ability to give new life, as symbolised by the renaming of Eve as the mother of all living, and through Mary the literal mother of the Son of True living.

(26)  And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,  (27)  “When an ox or sheep or goat is born, it shall remain seven days with its mother, and from the eighth day on it shall be acceptable as a food offering to the LORD.  (28 )  But you shall not kill an ox or a sheep and her young in one day.  (29)  And when you sacrifice a sacrifice of thanksgiving to the LORD, you shall sacrifice it so that you may be accepted.  (30)  It shall be eaten on the same day; you shall leave none of it until morning: I am the LORD.  (31)  “So you shall keep my commandments and do them: I am the LORD.  (32)  And you shall not profane my holy name, that I may be sanctified among the people of Israel. I am the LORD who sanctifies you,  (33)  who brought you out of the land of Egypt to be your God: I am the LORD.”

Again, let’s not smoothe over the details of the birth of the ox or sheep, which awaits the 8th day of Christ’s resurrection after Sabbath to be seen as acceptable as food offering to the LORD.  It is a forward looking sacrifice to new creation of the 8th day.  The cutting of the flesh through which seed is borne in the male genitalia (Genesis 17) is directly analogised to the cutting of the flesh of the beast – and both are suitable examples of Christ’s work on the cross – he is the God, the man, and the Lamb.

v28 is interesting and is a humane presentation of God’s view to sacrifices – he is not bloodthirsty: but the sacrifices are still necessary.  Here is Matthew Henry’s take on the verse:

That the dam and her young should not both be killed in one day, whether in sacrifice or for common use, Lev_22:28. There is such a law as this concerning birds, Deu_22:6. This was forbidden, not as evil in itself, but because it looked barbarous and cruel to the brute creatures; like the tyranny of the king of Babylon, that slew Zedekiah’s sons before his eyes, and then put out his eyes. It looked ill-natured towards the species to kill two generations at once, as if one designed the ruin of the kind.

And v.29-30 is again a re-establishment of the laws already taught in Leviticus 7:15; 19:6-7.

No Foreigners

v.10 and v.25 of chapter 22 speaks quite clearly against foreigners: this immediately symbolised the purity of Israel which we have already looked at.  It is a witness towards spiritual purity – and that the only acceptable person to eat of the Holy food, off the Tree of Life, is a Christian – not a ‘foreigner’ who confesses not Christ.  Secondly, the animal sacrifice shall be provided by a local, and not a foreigner – again to display the salvation of Christ through the Jews, explaining his incarnation as a Jew – to be part of their ethnic and spiritual identity.

Conclusion

The last two verses of chapter 22 summarise many of the truths spoken of since Exodus 20 to Leviticus 22: “I am the LORD who brought you out of the land of Egypt to be your God: I am the LORD”.  Since Exodus 20, every statement has been a pattern of things to come – that even the 10 commandments are filled with “You shall” statement.  Statements of promise that we will do these things without blemish.  Similarly, v. 31 repeats it: “you SHALL keep my commandments” – not you must.  Remember this is no works-salvation: the Israelites are learning these commandments on the basis of having been already saved – the constant phrase of “I am the LORD who saved you out of the land of Egypt“.  A God who saves will not then require them to prove themselves as save-worthy – that would be akin to asking the Israelites to do as Nadab and Abihu did, and provide strange, additional hostile offering.  Rather, this is a God making promises: Here is a Father, and the Son, and the Spirit, authoritatively and confidently establishing what we will and we shall do eventually – in new creation.  Are you confident in your own ability to be the priest who provides an unblemished sacrifice of your own, whether in the form of your devotion in religion, the number of times you pray, or the number of pilgrimages and fasts you have committed yourself to?  Or are you confident in Christ’s ability to be the priest who provides himself (Genesis 22) as the unblemished sacrifice?

Let us inherit the hope of New Creation – looking forward to our own sanctification so we can finally eat of the Tree of Life which God had always intended for us to enjoy with us by His side.

Leviticus 21-22: New Creation bodies

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

Exodus 22-24: The law and the gospel

1.  Restitution – the Penal Substitution on the cross (Exodus 21:33-Exodus 22:16) – commandments 6 (murder) and 8 (stealing)

2.  Social Justice – God’s responsibility (Exodus 22:16-31) (a mixture of commandments 7 (adultery), commandment 2 (no other god and loving those who love him), commandment 8 (stealing), commandment 1 (I am the God who saved you out of Egypt)…

3.  No False Report (Exodus 23:1-9) – commandment 9 (do not bear false witness)

4.  Eating with God (Exodus 24)

1.  Restitution – the Penal Judgment on the cross (Exodus 21:33-Exodus 22:16) – commandments 6 (murder) and 8 (stealing)

The last bits of Exodus 21:33-36 thus goes on to explain God’s character, and his methods of shattering the idols in our minds by going into the most intricate detail of His law.

This includes the detail of opening a pit (in Hebrew “bowr” which means cistern, but commonly used term for prison/dungeon); there is restitution for that as well.  We understand that God himself had made a dungeon, his own ‘pit’ where he holds the fallen angels.  He himself is responsible for this duty; similarly, if a man opens a pit (v.33) – he needs to be responsible for what goes in or comes out.  God is, on a macro-level, in charge of the eternal pit.

v.35-36 maintains man’s rule over animals – “if it is known that the ox has been accustomed to gore in the past” – and it is of course up to the man to regulate the animal’s character; and as the animal, as the beast’s master, anything done by the beast shall be repaid by the master, not the beast himself.  This is perhaps something quite different from how men restores things for themselves and for their beasts, whereas beasts clearly have no power to repay anything.

Exodus 22 begins on an interesting note: if a man steals an ox/sheep, and kills it or sells it, he shall repay five oxen for an ox.  Amazing!  He is to give back more.  Just as Jesus taught the disciples to forgive seventy times seven more, so also the man is taught about grace through restitution.  v.3-4 continues this theme of graceful restitution – from selling oneself if the bloodguilt is on the murderer of the thief in broad daylight; to providing double for a stolen possession (v.4); to making restitution from the best in his own field and vineyard (v.5)… full restitution (v.6) if not more is required in many circumstances.

2.  Social Justice – God’s responsibility (Exodus 22:16-31) (a mixture of commandments 7 (adultery), commandment 2 (no other god and loving those who love him), commandment 8 (stealing), commandment 1 (I am the God who saved you out of Egypt)…

Now, the commandments get increasingly mixed up.  v.16 refers to a man seducing a non-betrothed virgin/a girl of marryable age, and that he is to give a bride-price for her; or pay money equal to the bride-price for virgins even if her father refuses to let her marry him.  This is the better way to do it; not through circumcision as was the tragedy of Simeon and Levi in Genesis!  The bride-price is important as it symbolises the man’s responsibility to the woman.  For seducing the virgin, it comes with a cost!  God does not allow pre-marital relations because it shouts out pre-mature intimacy; in the same way that we have the firstfruit of that intimacy with God by the seal of the Spirit (Eph 1), so also there should be a deposit money equal for the bride-price for such unwarranted intimacy with the Church if the man should treat her as if she is his church.

v.18 is strict liability as well – you shall not permit a sorceress to live.  Is this a contradiction to the law against murder (commandment 6)?  It would, if God did not define the confines of murder; but because he did, the 10 commandments are not statements to be loosely interpreted as to allow paradoxes to arise.  This is to directly contrast two points: firstly, that the LORD’s works and miracles are not that of sorcery (let alone of Moses’ sorcery!); and secondly, that the sorcerers and sorceresses of Egypt deserve death for meddling with dark arts which is an outlet for Satan to bewilder people and distract them from the gospel.  God doesn’t want miracles to be adored; he wants miracles to point to Him. Thus, the 10 commandments must be exegetically explained by God himself!  We will come back on this in just a sec.

v.19 – again, this act of ‘adultery’ shows how a man shall not lie with a non-woman; similarly, a woman shall not lie with a non-man.  There is nothing to portray Christ and the Church in either imagery, except to show that Christ is bonding with beast; and Church bonding with beast – this is a clear heresy of subverting the hierarchical chain of God to Man to Beast, to Beast to Man to God.

v.20 -26 – this is sculpted by the 1st commandment, because the people of Israel themselves have been mistreated in Egypt; but this is no excuse for them to exact similar revenge on other people – for [the Israelites] were sojourners themselves (v. 21) in Egypt!  Why should the Israelites then do the same disgusting thing to the sojourners in their land?  God detests such hypocrisy.

v.28 – this is charged with the flair of Romans 15 – respecting authority.

v.29-30 – like Abraham’s tithing of his 10% to Melchizedek, Jesus Christ, so also we are called to sacrifice not the lowest but the best 10%.  What does it mean though “the firstborn of your sons you shall give to me”?  What does it mean “seven days it shall be with its mother; on the eighth day you shall give it to me”?  The meaning is as I’ve mentioned concerning the cross; on the 8th day Christ rose again, after the Sabbath!  Justin Martyr on the eighth day:

The command of circumcision, again, bidding [them] always circumcise the children on the eighth day, was a type of the true circumcision, by which we are circumcised from deceit and iniquity through Him who rose from the dead on the first day after the Sabbath, [namely through] our Lord Jesus Christ. For the first day after the Sabbath, remaining the first of all the days, is called, however, the eighth, according to the number of all the days of the cycle, and [yet] remains the first.

This displays that the giving of the firstborn, as well as the sign of the circumcision, both serve to provide this imagery of God the Father’s firstborn son being cut and raised again on the 8th day, the first day after the Sabbath; and same for oxen and sheep, for they too are saved (Jonah 3 – the beasts repented as well!).  Such is the significance of the 8th day.

3.  No False Report (Exodus 23:1-9) – commandment 9 (do not bear false witness)

v.1-3 is almost a reflection of Psalm 24: “Give me clean hands” when this Christological Psalm speaks of Jesus asking for clean hands from His Father in heaven. v.1-9 in general has a heavier judicial undertone, explaining the absolute solemnity of speaking the truth rather than perverting the judicial system (v.6).  It is quite clear that our God is just, and he is the one who defines this justice.

4.  Sabbath laws and festivals (Exodus 23:10-19)

Again, this is a repeat of what has already been spoken of earlier – the number seven connotes Sabbath, according to the order of the creation of the heavens and the earth (v.10-12).  V.13 re-iterates commandment 2, and then he speaks of three appointed times of the year according to the Jewish ecclesiastical calender:

(i)  Feast of Unleavened Bread: also known as the ‘Passover‘ (Pesach) in the first month (15th to 21st day), the month Nisan/Abib (v.15); the Paschal Lamb killed on the 14th, and the Paschal feast from 15th to 21st

(ii)  Feast of Harvest: 6th day of Siwan/Sivan, the third month of the ecclesiastical calender (this is also known as Shavuot/the Pentecost/Firstfruits of Wheat Harvest)

(iii)  Feast of Ingathering:  known as Sukkot, or Feast of Tabernacles (firstfruits of wine and oil) occuring from 15th to 21st of the month Tishri, the seventh ecclesiastical month

These are the three memorable days where all the males appear before God.  Unsurprisingly, these three festivals mark important dates in Scripture: the year opens with the reminder of Jesus’ death on the cross; followed by the Pentecost in the middle of the year, reminding us of the firstfruits of the Holy Spirit given to all men (Acts 2) which also occured on the Shavuot.  This being in the sixth month, on the sixth day, is the mark of man equipped and blessed by the Holy Spirit to spread the gospel, and also to be sanctified (as day six represents that of the creation of man and woman, just as the Spirit is given to all men and women.  For six days shall man labour; and so for six days shall we labour with the Holy Spirit for God’s Holy Work of salvation.  This is closely followed by the seventh month, symbolising a time of reaping of rewards, the firstfruits of wine and oil, and unlike the Feast of Weeks, this is similar to the Passover, a seven-day celebration.

Interestingly, following the Feast of Ingathering there is approximately 5 months before the next Passover… and this contributes to the seasonal cycle of Scripture – through death, comes life, and returns to death again, comes life again.  This is no Buddhist samsaric realm (as cherishable as the Buddhist anthropological view is) – rather, this is an observation of our life on earth.  Just as we are made from dust, we are given the firstfruits of new life by the Spirit; then we return to dust.  But we will rise again, breaking away from all seasons in new creation, and will eternally live in the Feast of Tabernacles where there is eternal wine and oil of gladness, where there is the eternal Tabernacling of the Lamb with us in New Jerusalem.

Perhaps there is something more I’d like to note:  Three times the male appears.  Why?

The first festival relates to CHRIST

The second festival relates to the SPIRIT

The third festival… relates to the FATHER – whom we will no longer conceive as invisible, but visible when we are given new bodies.

5.  Conquest of Canaan by the Name in the Angel (Exodus 23:20-Exodus 24)

v.20-21 speaks of the divine archangel which Philo considered to be God the Father’s chief messenger, and no doubt, Jesus is the Father’s chief and foremost messenger.  The Angel of the LORD, who has the name of GOD himself, has the power of pardoning one’s transgressions.  The Father tells Moses to relay to the Israelites that this Angel must not be disobeyed (v.22).

v.23-24 relates to the essence of all theology – v.24: “you shall not bow down to their gods nor serve them, nor do as they do, but you shall utterly overthrow them and break their pillars in pieces”.  Indeed, Christ, the angel, is the one who brings the victory – God the Father is the one who blots them out (v.23), but WE are the ones who decide to destroy the idols according to the victory won.  Is faith inactive?  Of course not!  Let’s not rely on inactive faith, but readily active response to the victory won!  Glen has written another great post on faith here.

And that fight of faith, by the victory of the cross and the power of the Spirit has explained by the festivals, shall result in the symbolic treasures of Canaan.  The land will be enlarged, the people will no longer be barren… but v.33 ends on a sombre note: “They shall not dwell in your land, lest they make you sin against me; for if you serve their gods, it will surely be a snare to you.”  So that is the truth – STRAIGHT after Moses speaks to the Father, Israel is already serving their self-made calf.  Will the Israelites ever inherit such blessings?  Surely God knows they won’t if they relied on themselves: look at what happened with the quail and manna and water, and their inability to not whine.  The irony of Exodus 24v.3: “And all the people answered with one voice and said, ‘All the words that the LORD has spoken we will do.'”  The immediate hypocrisy.

Clearly, the only way one can even do any of those things completely is in Jesus Christ alone.  What is the meaning of the law?  It is to explain that Christ alone can do these things.  What is the meaning of the law?  It is to explain God’s character, and the character of the Seed God-man.  What is the meaning of the law?  To display how utterly fallen we are, and our utter incapability of fulfilling it by ourselves, except in Christ alone.  Yet, if we understand the law, and keep the covenant undefiled by the power of the Spirit, then we will truly inherit the spiritual truths behind the blessings of v. 23-32.

Conclusion of the Law and the Gospel (for now)

This is of course a preliminary conclusion, given the next three books of the Bible elaborates on the Mosaic law.  Just a few things to point out:

(a)  The 10 commandments are essentially undergirded by the first two; without the first two, the other 8 do not make much sense

(b)  This is the reason why it is difficult to separate one law from another, to purely classify one as a law concerning ‘adultery’ and another concerning ‘theft’.  The analysis above shows that God intentionally mixes the commandments together to show that they are all undergirded by the first two truths, and cannot be pedantically analysed in themselves.

(c)  The detail given in these few chapters show God’s theological method – he decidedly smashes the pre-Christian thinking in our head, our pre-conceptions of ‘justice’, of ‘honouring one’s parents’, of social justice… and each of them speak the truth about God’s justice over evil by sending Christ to the cross

(d)  Noticeably, this justice system is one of mediation:  Exodus 21:22, and 22:8 are the more obvious examples.  There is no indication that one is to strive for restitution by themselves, and there is in some sense a mediator between two parties.  Restitution is still followed, and the punishment normally matches the crime, but where an intended crime is committed, the punishment is even greater (Exodus 22:1).  God therefore doesn’t look on the physical act, but on the heart of the person.  This system of mediation however teaches us that we do not strive for justice alone; but we need a third person for objectivity: which also means that as Christians, until the Judge comes to provide justice, we fully understand that restitution is owed to Christ when we offend him.  And any non-Christian offending us, who are in Christ, is effectively offending Christ himself.

(e)  Remember, this law so far is related to the land of Canaan.  This is what Dev has to say about the Old Covenant established on Mt. Sinai:

Now in Hebrew a covenant is something that must be sealed in blood, it can only be ‘cut’ or ‘cut-off’. Thus the ‘new’ (or ever-new, renewed) covenant, renewed time and time again with Abraham, Noah, Adam, etc, is always commemorated with a sacrifice, but the sealing blood of that covenant lies in the Lamb that was slain before the foundation of the world (Luke 22:20, Rev 13:8). The ‘old’ (or passing away) covenant, distinct from the new covenant, is then sealed on top of the Mount Sinai that is in Arabia, in the desert, outside the Promised Land (Deut 33, Gal 4), with the blood of goats and bulls (Ex 24, Heb 10). Deut 5:2-4 “The LORD our God made a covenant with us in Horeb. 3 Not with our fathers did the LORD make this covenant, but with us, who are all of us here alive today. 4 The LORD spoke with you face to face at the mountain, out of the midst of the fire”. On top of Mount Sinai, the Jews seal a wedding vow, a covenant with the law – Exodus 24:3 “Moses came and told the people all the words of the LORD and all the rules. And all the people answered with one voice and said, “All the words that the LORD has spoken we will do.”

We’ll leave it at that, until we come to the new covenant… which is not mentioned of course only in the New Testament.  The new covenant will come around as soon as Moses shatters the tablets of the law and the commandment, and the new tablets have slight alterations which really aren’t so slight.

4.  Eating with Jesus (Exodus 24)

v.4 – “He rose early in the morning and built an altar at the foot of the mountain, and twelve pillars, according to the twelve tribes of Israel”

After which he offered burnt offerings/peace offerings – half of the blood in basins, half of blood on the altar – and everyone heard the law and said they will obey (v.7).  The blood in the basin is then thrown onto the people:

“Behold the blood of the covenant that the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these words.”

Such is the blood of Christ that has been thrown on us to redeem us and to cleanse us of our sins.  The Israelites are not ignorant of this imagery, as already shown by the blood on the lentils and the doorposts in Egypt.

What happens in the next few verses is awesome: v.9 –

9Then Moses and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and(DF) seventy of the elders of Israel(DG) went up, 10and they(DH) saw the God of Israel. There was under his feet as it were a pavement of(DI) sapphire stone, like the very heaven for clearness. 11And he did not lay his hand on the chief men of the people of Israel; they beheld God, and(DJ) ate and drank.

What an amazing and humbling picture this is.  The seventy elders, Nadab, Abihu (the oldest and second oldest son of Aaron), Aaron and Moses went up to the mountain of God and effectively SAW God.  Remember John 1:18 – no one has revealed the Unseen God except for the seen God Christ himself.  They saw the sapphire stone, the throne in heaven!  (Ezekiel 1:26, 10:1).  They ate and drank before JESUS!  This is truly prophetic of what we will be doing with God in New Jerusalem, that we will be eating and drinking with Him at the wedding feast (Matthew 22).  And what a fitting time it is to establish this wedding feast, when the wedding vow was entered between God and the Israelites (when Moses read the Covenant out to the Israelites, whereupon they responded in Exodus 24:3) – and after the wedding vow of course comes the wedding feast on the holy hill.

Finally, the LORD tells Moses to seek him after six days of the cloud covering the mountain (v.15), and going in on the seventh day (v.16); Moses lasted there for forty days and forty nights neither eating bread nor drinking water (Genesis 7:12; Numbers 13:15; Deuteronomy 9:9; Jonah 3:4; Mark 1:13).  This pattern of forty-days and forty-nights is not only seen as a time of testing, but it is seen as also a time of anticipation – and either victory or destruction results from these forty days and forty nights.  Indeed – will Israel be judged for their obedience in Christ?  Or will Israel turn away and worship other gods?  Will Jesus ascend to the higher throne, the holy hill?  Or will he buckle to Satan’s temptation by just the bow of His knee?

Joshua

Perhaps an important though small detail to note.  Moses chose Joshua as his assistant (Exodus 24:13).  Joshua who later conquers Canaan.  Joshua who won against the Amalekites.  Joshua who later meets the Angel of the LORD.  Joshua, whose name was given by Moses (previously it was Hoshea) at the Conquest of Canaan.  Joshua, whose Hebrew name is Yeshua.

Exodus 22-24: The law and the gospel

Genesis 42-44: Refiner’s Fire

1.  “That we may live and not die”  (Genesis 42)

2.  Joseph and his brothers, the covenant people (Genesis 42:19- 43:34)

3.  The testing of the eleven (Genesis 44)

The problem with the Joseph story is that too many people read it as many different things; some have read it as prosperity gospel (the blessings given to Christians); some have read it as an elevation of the Christian himself (e.g. Joseph placed in a high position).  Others have read it negatively – that Joseph’s testing is unnecessary, perhaps mean.  Or perhaps Joseph is imperfect, which is why he may be harbouring negative thoughts towards his brothers.  However, these are all very non-Christological interpretations, and they do not serve to edify the body of Christ if we read this story as a swansong of the Old Testament How-To Guide to becoming rich, becoming noticed, or becoming important.  It is, as I have been trying to maintain consistently, about Christ.

1.  “That we may live and not die”  (Genesis 42)

The first thing we have mentioned about Joseph since Chapter 37 is how the dream he prophesies speaks not only of himself temporarily, but eternally of Christ – how all the stars, moon and sun point to Christ.  Joseph is a type of Christ.  Which means that as bread-giver in a time of famine, we have a picture of Christ giving bread in a time when the Word of God has not appeared to the Israelites for 400 years.  It is a time of wilderness, of famine, and a time when people desire, nay, are desperate for the Living Bread.  Jacob wisely tells his 11 sons not to look at one another (v.1) for aid; rather, look to Christ, who dwells in Egypt, a land outside his home.  Look at The Christ, who tabernacled with men temporarily outside of his home-place with his Father and Spirit.  He is the one who will give the Living Bread and Water in this famine.

Benjamin

But not all are sent – only 10 are sent, whilst the last one is kept at home.  The reason why the last son, Benjamin, is kept at home is only partially explained, for Jacob feared that harm may happen to Benjamin.  One may immediately assume it is to do with Benjamin’s youth – but remember that it has been at least 9 years since Joseph has been sold as a slave to Egypt – not only that, but by now Benjamin has already 10 sons (Genesis 46:21).  2 of the 9 years wer spent in prison, 7 spent gathering the food, and then, somewhere during the latter 7 years when the famine had spread over all the land, Joseph then opened all the storehouses and sold to the Egyptians (Genesis 41:56-57).  This wasn’t merely a local famine – this is a global famine, and I would imagine that a famine spreading over all the earth would not be immediate.

If it isn’t because of his youth that he is prevented from visiting Egypt, then what might it be?  It is possible that it has to do with Joseph and Benjamin being his only second-born son after Rachel’s death, the first love of his life.  Look at how Jacob addresses him in v. 38 – “My son shall not go down with you, for his brother is dead, and he is the only one leftOnly one?  What about the other 10!?  Again, this is similar to how God spoke to Abraham concerning Isaac, his “only son” despite Ishmael’s earlier birth.  Ishmael, who was born of a servant who belonged to the wilderness was merely given birth by the will of man.  So, it is similar with most of the other brothers; but through Rachel, Jacob’s first love, is Jacob given two sons against the barrenness of Rachel, much like the barrenness of Sarah.  We were given Isaac by such a miraculous birth beyond scientific comprehension; and again, we were given Joseph and Benjamin also against scientific comprehension.    In any case, at this point it is mere extrapolation but keep this mind in point.

Custody for 3 days

Here again, we see a glimpse of the future fulfillment of Scripture: The brothers were kept in custody for 3 days, after which he says “Do this and you will live, for I fear God”.  In the same way, on the 3rd day on Mt. Sinai, the 10 commandments and the Law was given to Moses, after they have already been saved.  What is the meaning of Joseph’s expression – “Do this and you will live, for I fear God”.  Is it conditional?  The phraseology is odd – what does “Doing this” have anything to do with “God”?  It is as if the one who gives the commands right now is a representative of God before them.  This, in fact, is very similar to Christ’s commandments in the New Testament – do this and you will liveLove me with all your heart, your mind, your soul… and you will live.

So also, on the third day, we will rise up.  But will we be struck down in our second death, or will we go on to ascend?  We can only have eternal life in the interim of the End Days if we choose to look on Christ, and let faith be a tool of such an expression.  Look at Hosea 6:

1“Come, let us(A) return to the LORD;
for(B) he has torn us, that he may heal us;
he has struck us down, and(C) he will bind us up.
2After two days(D) he will revive us;
on the third day he will raise us up,
that we may live before him.
3(E) Let us know;(F) let us press on to know the LORD;
(G) his going out is sure as the dawn;
he will come to us(H) as the showers,
as the spring rains that water the earth.” (Hosea 6:1-3)

The narrative of these last chapters of Genesis make us assume that Joseph had already decided the fate of these brothers.  He had already decided to obey God and let Him fulfill his dreams.  Look at v.9 – “And Joseph remembered the dreams that he had dreamed of them”.  Indeed, he isn’t going to condemn even the father and Benjamin who weren’t even involved in the treachery of selling him as a slave?  In which case, these 11 men, and their father Israel, already had salvation offered to them – but the question is, will they take it?  Will they show the fruit of their desperation, of their search for the living bread?  Will they be even so much as willing to bring another brother as a witness to their truth?  This is why Joseph says, “do this and you will live”.  Examine the fruit of the Spirit as a mark of your salvation.  Examine the desperation for the living Word in your heart, and you shall live eternally with Jesus in new creation.

2.  Joseph and his brothers, the covenant people (Genesis 42:19- 43:34)

Notice the effect Joseph has on the people.  They are convicted – and they want to live.  v.20-21 of Chapter 42 shows their confession – they have truly repented before the LORD Christ.  “…’bring your youngest brother to me.  So your words will be verified, and you shall not die.’  And they did so.  Then they said to one another, ‘In truth we are guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the distress of his soul, when he begged us and we did not listen.  That is why this distress has come upon us.’  Reuben is the first one to reveal his heart.  He was the one who had been slow in his obedience… yet he had eventually expressed his anger against their collective sin.  Like Peter, he regretted what he had done; he regretted taking part with the wicked. His regret is fully expressed in Chapter 42v.37, to exchange his sons for Jacob’s two sons from Rachel.

What is interesting is the little detail about Joseph speaking in the Egyptian tongue, whilst the Israelites spoke in their own linguistic dialect.  The parallel I find is the apparent ‘misunderstanding’ between the two parties; we think our Christ does not understand us, because of his supposed elevated position.  But he does, and he understands our dialect, our hearts very well.  And our LORD is not a merciful pushover; he takes what is dear to us to make a point – so much as to take our kin (v.24 chapter 42).

Yet, upon the way, he provides us with the necessary resources to respond to his commands.  He gifts us with the necessary finances to fulfill His commands.  It is all from Him – the manna, the water from the Rock, the Tree of Life, the Bread of Life, even the very gold and silver used to make the Tabernacle.v.28: “At this their hearts failed them, and they turned trembling to one another, saying, ‘What is this that God has done to us?'” Indeed, I find it unclear here whether they are pleasantly surprised or genuinely frustrated.  Either way, Joseph still awaits their obedient response as an expression of their love for their brother Simeon; love for their father Jacob; love for their brother Benjamin – such love which has been seriously lacking from their birth (Simeon and Levi’s sin against Shechem; the brothers collectively hating and scheming against Joseph; Judah’s disobedient attitude in bonding with a prostitute).  Joseph’s actions have put them in their rightful position, and now they remember and realise their sins; indeed, so much as to respond in desperation.

The fact that Joseph is placed in a position to know the family better than the brothers assume creates a very good foretelling of Jesus’ omniscience in partnership with the Father and the Spirit.  From knowing how many husbands an adulterous wife has to knowing the heart of the rich man, Joseph knows and probes the family of Jacob to the point of their conviction and confession.  Such truth and knowledge penetrates, bone, soul and marrow (Hebrews 4:12).

But it seems that they had delayed in going to save their kin.  They actually took their time to eat the grain given by the LORD through Joseph, and still delayed in returning to save Simeon!  Then at this point, Jacob’s name reverts to Israel – and this is a sign of his obeying God again.  He tells him to take the honey, gum, myrrh, pistachio nuts, and almonds.

A land flowing with milk and honey; pistachio nuts and almonds being the edible type of Seed; but myrrh?  Myrrh, gold and frankincense was given to Christ – two of which are used for anointing, one of those two being an anointing for death (which is myrrh, representing the death of Christ Jesus).  I doubt this is a common gift given to the living LORD of the land. (Chapter 42:30).

Bread, water and the Wedding Feast

What a surprise then for them to see that Joseph, the lord of the land, would give them water and wash their feet a la Christ with his disciples and truly caring for the beast of the last (Genesis 1:28; Chapter 43:24).  There they were, eating the Bread which they desired at noon, at the height of God’s righteousness Psalm 37:5-6:

5(J) Commit your way to the LORD;
(K) trust in him, and he will act.
6(L) He will bring forth your righteousness as the light,
and your justice as(M) the noonday.

So also, our God will eat with us (Matthew 22) at the great wedding feast in the city that has no night and where the true light of noon will be the Lamb Himself.

When Joseph returns to his chambers to weep, his brothers do not see it.  In the same we only have a glimpse of God’s love for us, God’s faithfulness, and God’s tears for us.  We know, in part, through the glory of the Scriptures, of God’s true love.  But will we stand in his chambers, dwell in his tabernacle and Holy of Holies behind the veil to see his face, and bask in his true glory and love?  Not yet.

So the brothers are amazed at each other as they sat before him, firstborn and youngest according to their age (v. 33), but Benjamin’s portion was greater than any of theirs.  There, however, was no jealousy – instead, they drank and were merry with him.  They may sit at different positions around the table, but they are all in communion with the lord of the land.  So also, let us be children in faith, let us be little children in the Spirit (Matthew 11:25, Matthew 19, Luke 22:26), like Benjamin who is the youngest (though by no means physically young) but most prone to be hurt in this world.  This is fulfilled in the spirit of breaking the tradition of the ‘right of the firstborn’ – for Joseph fully understands that the LORD does not differentiate between the physically old and young reprobate, but fully depends upon the old and young in Christ.

3.  The testing of the eleven (Genesis 44)

Now, Joseph tests the eleven brothers, just as the risen Christ tested the eleven apostles.  They had the temptation to place the blame on someone else, but Judah laid his heart before Christ.  He laid honesty before Christ.  And he offered himself self-sacrificially for his brother.  Judah has made a full metanoia from his Chapter 37 phase.  He is now willing to be a SERVANT.  This is a fulfillment of dream of Joseph – and now Judah is prepared to be a servant of Joseph.

Conclusion

These three chapters have been very colourful in painting the picture of the brothers of Joseph, at least some if not all of them having a changed heart through this experience.  The famine has created the conviction of sin; their inability to look to each other for aid; so they look to God for the living Bread; whereupon the cost of taking up the cross of the living Bread is that they lay their life down to take it up again – all of which Reuben and Judah (as we know) have come to experience as true Christians refined by the disciplinary and consuming fire of the LORD.

Genesis 42-44: Refiner’s Fire