Leviticus 16: Jesus’ Second Coming – the Day of Atonement

Leviticus 16 is a special chapter which is not the most mysterious, but rather should be the most well known in every Jew and Christian’s heart.  The sacrifices themselves witness to this truth, this “Day of Atonement”, and yet, this chapter comes straight after the death of Aaron’s two sons, Nadab and Abihu as the first verse indicates.

Why is chapter 16 not placed right after chapter 10, so chapter 10 flows naturally onto chapter 16?  I think it has very much to do with the significant placement of the Day of atonement in the book of Leviticus to show a particular progression, from uncleanness to holiness.  The first 16 chapters has been spent explaining the meaning of the sacrifices and the procedure for each type of person/group; followed by the ordination and the preparation of the priests, then Nadab and Abihu’s death, which seems to be sandwiched insignificantly between the deaths of the sacrifices and the animals.  Then, chapters 11-15 speaks of the type of flesh which is edible and which is not, in the form of the three categories of ‘holy’, ‘clean/common’ and ‘unclean’.  Chapter 16 comes as the only example which represents everything that came before it and ties everything that comes after it.  It is like a centrifugal force of Leviticus: the preceding and consequent chapters circle around this day of atonement.  To focus on Nadab and Abihu’s death now is most relevant, because the Day of Atonement is a day of OUR holiness, a day of OUR sanctification as well as a day of the sanctification, a renewal, of the entire universe – however, not because of our extra offerings (especially not that of Nadab or Abihu as history showed!) but because of Jesus’ eternal offering.

Thus, chapter 17 until 27 fittingly begins to speak of not only cleanness, but holiness for the congregation of Israel.  We’ve seen what cleanness and uncleanness is, and a glimpse of holiness between chapters 8 to 10.  But now, we see the nation becoming sanctified and the commandments for that, between chapters 17-27, AFTER the Day of Atonement in chapter 16:

Chapter 1-15: Teachings on how to become clean from being unclean, and only the priest is sanctified

Chapter 16:  Teachings on how nothing we do can actually make ourselves sanctified.  The Day of Atonement preaches an atonement once and for all.

Chapter 17-27:  Teachings on how to become sanctified from being clean.

1.  Jesus’ ascension (Leviticus 16)

(a) The Most Holy Place

The High priest, Aaron, dare not enter the Holy Place inside the veil (referring to the Holy of Holies, because the Angel is referring to the mercy seat on the ark of covenant, which is in the Most Holy Place), so that he may not die (v.1-2).  This is quite important, given the importance of Aaron having just seen the death of his two sons for giving an alien/hostile/strange offering.  Thus, whatever offering should take place in this chapter is the one offering that can take the mere mortal into the Holy of Holies, as opposed to being destroyed.

As stated, we already understand the meaning of the Most Holy Place as the small cubic room inside the Tabernacle, and the Holy Place as the room with the table of shewbread, golden lampstand, and the altar of incense.  The ark effectively acts as the throne room, with the mercy ‘seat’ whereupon the Father sits; then the Table and the Lampstand respectively represent Son and Spirit.  Altar of incense is our prayers (Revelation 8:4) – and so this altar is in the middle of the three pieces of furniture, to show how the Trinity takes our prayers very seriously.

There is a veil between the ark, and the two other pieces of furniture representing the persons & and altar of incense which is very close to the veil.  This veil, sown with cherubim represent the time when the angel with a flaming sword that turned every direction prevented Adam and Eve from entering the Garden from the east entrance.  Therefore, whenever the High Priest enters the Most Holy Place (or Holy of Holies), it is symbolic of a re-entrance to where God had resided (since the garden was also called the “garden of God”, implying that the garden AND heaven were united in a way we cannot perceive except spiritually and theologically today).  Jesus’ work on the cross and his entrance to the third heaven is exactly what the High Priest’s entrance into and work in the Holy of Holies preaches, and we will be working through that now.

(b) The Holy Garments

Aaron must then take a bull from the herd for a sin-offering, and a ram for a burnt-offering, whilst he puts on holy garments (holy linen coat, with linen undergarment on his body, with linen sash and linen turban).  He shall wash himself with water before putting on these holy garments (v.3-4).

Something should be said about linen:

In Deuteronomy 22:11, it states that “You shall not wear cloth of wool and linen mixed together”.  Why?  What is the great significance of this material?  Why the purity of this material?

Then, in Jeremiah 13:1, the LORD said to Jeremiah to buy linen loincloth and put it around the waist without dipping it in water.

Once more, in Ezekiel 9:3-11, 10:2 – calling to the “man” clothed in linen with a writing case at his waist who places a mark on people who should not be struck dead, akin to the Passover.  Ezekiel 16:1-14 – that Jerusalem is wrapped in fine linen, a proverbial method of showing God’s covenant faithfulness and sanctification of Israel. The connection between linen and wool is again made in Ezekiel 44:17 – that when they enter the gates of the inner court, they shall wear linen garments… have nothing of wool on them, while they minister at the gates of the inner court.  The faithful Levites who kept charge of the LORD’s sanctuary when the Israelites went astray wore such clothing to signify purity, who happen to be wearing the same clothing as the High Priest Aaron on the Day of atonement (c.f. Ezekiel 44:17-18).  The garments were literally holy – v.19 suggests that if they wore the garments outside the holy chambers, the holiness would have been trasmitted to the people! And how fitting it is in Ezekiel 44:23, that the faithful priests shall teach the LORD’s people the different between holy and common, unclean and clean.

Daniel 12: a man clothed in linen who is Christ (c.f. Daniel 12:8 – the Hebrew used for ‘my lord’ is Adoni – this is the sovereign lord, which CAN refer both to a divine and a human lord; it would however, be quite odd to call an ‘angel’ lord as the angel is a servant and by no means sovereign over anything).

Finally, John interprets the meaning of the linen: Revelation 19:8 – ‘”it was granted her to clothe herself with the fine linen, bright and pure” — for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints”.  But who is the perfecter and founder of the faith of the saints, so the saints can even do such righteous deeds?  In Christ alone (Hebrews 12).

(c) The offerings and the “Scapegoat”: the important procedure

He shall take two goats, one of which is to be determined by lot to be a sacrifice; the other to be a scapegoat, v. 5-10.

He shall offer a bull for himself and for his family v.6 and v.16 – this is preceding any other sacrifice, and this is an atonement for his household for cleansing (as a sin offering for themselves) before he can approach the tabernacle and complete his priestly duties.

Following this, v.7-10 explains the nature of the two goats: Aaron will cast lots over the two goats, one for the LORD and the other for “Azazel”.  The goat for the LORD is what the lot falls on; this is a sin offering for the congregation of Israel.  Contrarily, the other goat on which the lot fell for “Azazel” shall be presented alive for the LORD to make atonement.  Afterwards, this goat will be sent away into the wilderness to Azazel.

And now, he shall do this in order:

(i)  Kill the bull for himself and his family; (v.11)

(ii)  provide sweet incense (representing the prayers of the saints – Revelation 8:4) (v.12-13)

(iii)  v.14 – he shall take the blood of the bull and sprinkle it in front of the mercy seat on the east side, and in front of the mercy seat with his finger seven times.

(iv)  Then he shall kill the goat of the sin offering for the congregation of Israel and bring the blood inside the veil and do the same as with the blood for the bull (v.15).

(v) The four procedures above is explained as atonement for the Holy Place, because of the uncleanness of the people of Israel, their sins and transgressions (v.16)

(vi)  This step is extremely important:  NO ONE may be in the tent of meeting from the time he enters to make atonement in the Most Holy Place until he comes out.  I will be covering this in the next section, under “Awaiting His return”.

(vi)  Then he shall go out to the altar before the LORD to make atonement for the altar, and put the bull and the goat’s blood on the horns of the altar sprinkled with his finger seven times.  The altar is thus cleansed and consecrated from the people of Israel’s uncleanness.

(vii)  AFTER all this symbolic procedure, THEN Aaron prays over the scapegoat, the goat for Azazel, and lays his hands on the head of the goat whilst confessing the iniquities of the children of Israel.  After this,the goat shall be permitted to escape to the wilderness (v.20-22).  This is ended with v.22 which states that: “the goat shall bear all their iniquities on itself to a remote area, and he shall let the goat go free in the wilderness“.

(viii)  Then v.23-28 is a reverse procedure of taking off the linen holy garments, leaving it in the Most Holy Place, and cleansing himself with water in a holy place and put on his common garments and offer burnt offering for himself and the congregation.  All the offerings are systematically burnt up outside the camp, with skin, flesh and dung burnt up with fire.

(ix)  This is a statute forever, in the seventh month, 10th day.  This is a day of no work, either the native or the stranger who sojourns with the Israelites (v.29).

(x)  It is a Sabbath of solemn rest (v.31) – again, it is a statute forever.

Christological reading of the offerings & Scapegoat

We already understood from Exodus and established that the mercy seat, which represents the throne of the Father, is in the Holy of Holies, which represents third heaven; and this is contrasted to the Holy Place which represents the spiritual church with the furniture of the table of shewbread (Christ), with the golden lampstand (the Spirit) and the altar of incense (the prayers of the saints in the middle of the Trinity).

The importance of cleansing not only the people of Israel as an annual cleansing, but also the cleansing of the tabernacle again marks something of new creation: like the mildew which grew on buildings and clothings, the LORD wishes everything to be renewed.  This is especially true of the tabernacle which is in the midst and not in the outskirts of the people of God!  For the LORD to be present before them, the work of the blood of cleansing as sin offering must be done for the tabernacle to also be cleansed.  This is the same blood which cleanses man – thus, the message of the same blood cleanses and renews not only men, but also physical creation. It is important that the blood is sprinkled on the east side, for we have discussed the implications of the east side – being the only exit and entrance of the Edenic Paradise represented once more in Ezekiel 43:2-4, the only entrance where the Glory of the LORD entered the New Creation.  The blood sprinkled on the east is representative of the new opportunity to enter the renewed kingdom of God.

We shouldn’t forget also that the 10 Words of God on Mt. Sinai are placed within the ark, as well as the budding of Aaron’s staff (but that will be later).  It is important to see that God’s holiness manifested in the law is tied up with the blood of the goat.  To be surprised that the Messiah did not come as a literal king, but as a person who beared the offence of society and would shed blood on the world’s behalf is to forget the profound imagery provided by the Angel and the High Priest.

Therefore, the renewal of the tabernacle in entirety, with the blood on the east side of the mercy seat, and the cleansing of the altar of sacrifice, shows the RENEWAL of the tabernacle AND the altar of sacrifice: the cleansing of the two holy symbolisms of both Jesus Christ and the New Creation of the New city of Jerusalem, where heaven and earth join.  Zion, where the LORD will commune with the completely sanctified spiritual Israelites.

Let’s not forget that during this period in the Holy of Holies, the cloud on the ark is actually an indication of the presence of Christ – the Angel of the LORD (Colossians 1:15).  Anytime the congregation of Israel meets with “God” is a meeting with the Son, whose role is to present the works and the thoughts of the Father.  He is inextricably tied to the Father’s works (John 6:38), making Christ’s identity mysterious.  What are his own works?  What are his OWN intentions?  Indeed, his OWN intentions IS to obey the Father completely – and it is shown here, by his presence, instead of his Father’s on the ark.

The offerings, unsurprisingly point to Christ – but the bull offering for the priest simply shows that the priest himself is sinful.  Yet, Christ need only offer himself and need not die for his own sins; rather, it is quite important that he dies for the sin of the others, whilst the human priest must acknowledge his own incapability of removing others sins without dealing with his own first.  In the same way, how can a Christian preach the gospel if he isn’t himself made righteous?  And only in Christ are we righteous.  The ‘ascension’ of the high priest, wearing linen representing the ‘righteous deeds of the saints’, is the same ascension of Christ in Acts 1-2.  You may ask why the ‘holy garments’ here is so simple compared to the ordination in Leviticus 8-10; it is because there is a renewal of all things on the Day of Atonement (as if the priestly ordinations prior to the Day of Atonement were merely ‘mock-offerings’, and a warm-up, a teaching tool, to this one day.  Indeed – the Old Testament law came only for a temporary period to teach them about the gospel, and many believed the gospel through this teaching tool.  Yet, Christ had come to fulfill what they had already perceived by the power of the Spirit, and so the offerings all year round effectively leads people to look forward to the ‘great cleaning’ of the Day of Atonement which only happens annually.  For us, Christ still remains in the Most Holy Place to this day.

In this sense, the goat, the scape goat, is sent out with the sins of Israel and our sins are removed as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12).  It is important to note that the two goats were taken from the community (v.5) because they represented the community; in the same way, Christ was taken as man, as partaker of our community, to be sacrificed for us.  Thus, the goat that died for us is the goat which represented Calvary; but the goat which is sent off into the wilderness is the epitome of “evil” and the “way of the devil”, which is why it is effectively ‘banished’ to outside the camp.  The wilderness has always been seen as a place of ‘desolation’ and representative of no communion with God.  Hence, the significance of Hagar, Mt. Sinai, and the covenant of the Mosaic law being made at Mt. Sinai (Exodus 20; Galatians 4) implies the existence of the law merely to magnify the transgressions.. yet the law is completely undergirded by the gospel (Genesis 12 preceding Exodus 20) which is the meaning of the statute forever which ends this chapter of Leviticus (Leviticus 16:33-34).  I would go as far as to say therefore, that the goat of sacrifice is the Second Adam, Christ; but the scapegoat, is the first Adam, in whom we sinned as an entire human race.  It is only right to make this connection, because of the two creatures sacrificed being the same type of goat, taken from the same community; and both Adam and Christ bore the same human flesh, albeit the latter was sinless, but the former bore the sins of the community and was banished to the wilderness to the east of the Garden in Genesis 3.

It is quite important also to look at the significance of the term Azazel, which seems to be omitted in the KJV.  The Hebrew is עזאזל (the English being almost a literal translation from Hebrew: “aza’ zel“, and the LXX rendition is αποπομπαιω (apopompaiow) and αποπομπαιου στησει in v.10 which are both hard to translate.  There is no indication that the LXX sees “Azazel” as a figure, a person, like Satan or a fallen angel – rather, it is implied in the LXX that “Azazel” is like a high cliff, or even just a magnification of the word ‘wilderness’.  In the Hebrew, there is no indication of the distinction between ‘scapegoat’ and Azazel – it is as if both as tied together inextricably. Adam Clarke has this to say about the term:

“azazel, from עז  az, a goat, and אזל  azal, to dismiss; the dismissed or sent away goat, to distinguish it from the goat that was to be offered in sacrifice. Most ancient nations had vicarious sacrifices, to which they transferred by certain rites and ceremonies the guilt of the community at large, in the same manner in which the scapegoat was used by the Jews.”

Whatever merit there is to compare Jewish rites with other religions, it is clear that the other ‘religions’ and cultural practices are merely mock-ups of the true sacrifice of the great exchange of imputed sin and righteousness which is clearly shown in the Day of Atonement.  This begs the question: did the Jews know it clearly?  I hope so, otherwise they are no better than their Egyptian counterparts who have similar, but unChristian cultures in the time of Moses.

Perhaps the spiritual understanding of the scapegoat is offered in Zechariah 3:1-10 –

Zec 3:1-10  Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him.  (2)  And the LORD said to Satan, “The LORD rebuke you, O Satan! The LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is not this a brand plucked from the fire?”  (3)  Now Joshua was standing before the angel, clothed with filthy garments.  (4)  And the angel said to those who were standing before him, “Remove the filthy garments from him.” And to him he said, “Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with pure vestments.”  (5)  And I said, “Let them put a clean turban on his head.” So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him with garments. And the angel of the LORD was standing by.  (6)  And the angel of the LORD solemnly assured Joshua,  (7)  “Thus says the LORD of hosts: If you will walk in my ways and keep my charge, then you shall rule my house and have charge of my courts, and I will give you the right of access among those who are standing here.  (8)  Hear now, O Joshua the high priest, you and your friends who sit before you, for they are men who are a sign: behold, I will bring my servant the Branch.  (9)  For behold, on the stone that I have set before Joshua, on a single stone with seven eyes, I will engrave its inscription, declares the LORD of hosts, and I will remove the iniquity of this land in a single day.  (10)  In that day, declares the LORD of hosts, every one of you will invite his neighbor to come under his vine and under his fig tree.”

The significance here is that Satan is present, and is rebuked symbolically by Jerusalem, our nation.  The choice of Jerusalem is of course the choice made in Christ; for Jerusalem is the elect only because Christ is the elect one in whom Jerusalem as a new nation resides.  Joshua, as High Priest in the book of Zechariah, bears the same Hebrew name as Jesus – and he therefore works as a twofold prophetic witness to Christ’s work on the cross and through to ascension.  The rebuking of Satan is a prophetic picture of the rebuking of the goat, whilst the blood of the first goat is offered to cleanse the uncleanness of both man and creation.  It wouldn’t therefore be far-fetched to say that the goat in some sense is offered to go back to Satan, the first liar, deceiver and murderer, just as the filthy garments are left behind immediately after the LORD’s rebuking of Satan.  This is true symbolism of ridding ourselves of our filthy rags which smell of Satan, and wearing the new clothes from God which is aromatic of Christ.

Finally, the significance of the Sabbath ending the Day of Atonements (v.31-34) is indicative of looking forward to the 8th day of Christ’s circumcision on the cross.  The 8th day of New Creation.  This significance of ‘day’ cannot be underplayed – neither should we overlook the significance of this Day of Atonement as part of the seventh month of the Jewish calendar, the month of Tishrei and the 10th day of Tishrei.  In Jewish history, “Tishrei” is the month where Adam and Eve were created, and they consider the 1st day of Tishrei to be day six of creation.

Following this, on the 10th day of Tishrei in Moses’ time is the day when the Second Tablets, the second set of Ten Words were given to Moses.  This is extremely significant: if the 10th day of Tishrei is when the second set of the Ten Words, which were different from the first (the first set pertained strictly to the land; the second set looked beyond that!), then the Day of Atonement isn’t just any other day.  It is both a Sabbath, looking forward to the 8th day; and this 8th day is shown in the giving of the second set of 10 words, looking forward to the fulfillment of the promise of Genesis 12 instead of Exodus 20.

2.  Awaiting His return

So, we understand the work of the priests as completely re-enacting the patterns of heaven on earth.  Hebrews 9 was written with a detailed explanation of this truth, which would not have escaped Moses’ and Aaron’s knowledge either.  It is worth quoting the chapter from v. 11-28 with some emphasis:

Heb 9:6  These preparations having thus been made, the priests go regularly into the first section, performing their ritual duties,
Heb 9:7  but into the second only the high priest goes, and he but once a year, and not without taking blood, which he offers for himself and for the unintentional sins of the people.
Heb 9:8  By this the Holy Spirit indicates that the way into the holy places is not yet opened as long as the first section is still standing
Heb 9:9  (which is symbolic for the present age).
According to this arrangement, gifts and sacrifices are offered that cannot perfect the conscience of the worshiper,

The meaning here is quite important: the first section is still standing – and that is the present age.  We are STILL in the age where the veil is unbroken; and the veil is merely broken spiritually, but we are still removed from the Holy of Holies where Christ is now, until his second coming.

Heb 9:10  but deal only with food and drink and various washings, regulations for the body imposed until the time of reformation.
Heb 9:11  But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation)
Heb 9:12  he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.
Heb 9:13  For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh,
Heb 9:14  how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.

Again, the emphasis is on the tent of meeting being a copy of the greater representation NOT of this creation.  Something which cannot be made with human hand.

Heb 9:15  Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant.
Heb 9:16  For where a will is involved, the death of the one who made it must be established.
Heb 9:17  For a will takes effect only at death, since it is not in force as long as the one who made it is alive.
Heb 9:18  Therefore not even the first covenant was inaugurated without blood.
Heb 9:19  For when every commandment of the law had been declared by Moses to all the people, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people,
Heb 9:20  saying, “This is the blood of the covenant that God commanded for you.
Heb 9:21  And in the same way he sprinkled with the blood both the tent and all the vessels used in worship.
Heb 9:22  Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.
Heb 9:23  Thus it was necessary for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these rites, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.

Remember: the blood of the covenant shown in the Old Testament, in the form of the blood of goats and bulls and rams is merely symbolic of the blood necessary to purify the symbolic furniture and tent of the Godly tent of meeting not of this creation.

Yet, it is important to ask a few questions: how then, was Moses saved by the Spirit and by Christ, if Christ had not already died?  If the Spirit was not already given?  I find it quite troubling when people answer that the Old Testament saints were saved by another way, but Hebrews 9 states it quite clearly.  “This is the blood of the covenant that God commanded for you”.  The law only came temporarily, from Moses onwards; the law clearly did not save them.  Not only did the law not save them, but Moses did not need to trust in the sacrifices as a peripheral trust in Christ.  No – Moses trusted in Christ directly.  Without that, he would not have understood the sacrifices.  In the same way, we would not have come to understand the spiritual truths of the Mosaic law if the covenant to Abraham was not made prior to the law, which is merely for a temporary period.

If the tabernacle, which came only temporarily, represented an eternal truth which cannot be described fully, then also the blood of the covenant represented an eternal truth of Christ Jesus, whether he had already fulfilled his work on the cross and had given the Spirit already or not.  How did Oholiab, the architect of the tabernacle have the Spirit if Christ did not die, resurrect and ascend to give the Spirit?  How can Moses, in Deuteronomy, ask the Israelites to have their hearts circumcised except by the Spirit?  Such are the important mysteries of God’s being in becoming, and the mystery of Revelation 13:8.

Heb 9:24  For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf.
Heb 9:25  Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own,
Heb 9:26  for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.
Heb 9:27  And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment,
Heb 9:28  so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.

Finally, Christ need NOT offer himself repeatedly.  This is where the Catholic Eucharist entirely fails, because of the doctrine of transubstantiation which teaches that Christ is continually offered!  The point of the day of atonement is that it is done symbolically annually, which is taken to mean once and for all.  Christ’s work need not depend on our re-enactions, but Christ’s work was done before the foundations of the world!  v.27 – as it is appointed for man to die once, so Christ will appear a second time NOT to die again, nor to deal with sin, but to save those who are waiting.

Transubstantiation?

Not only this, but let’s meditate on the importance of Christ in the Holy of Holies now.  He is not WITH US now.  His meaning in Matthew 28, that he is with us to the end of the ages, is in terms of access by the power of the Spirit.  Christ, very much, still resides in third heaven.  To assume that the Eucharist, the Sacraments, physically and manifestly brings Christ down to us is nigh-heresy (c.f. J.C. Ryle’s “Five English Reformers” who were martyred when they spoke against this Papist doctrine).  Rather, we are taken back to Christ in its symbolism.

In the significance of sacraments, we must remember it in three parts: the sign, what it signifies, and the connection of the two.  In what way, therefore, is the consecrated bread and wine the body and blood of Christ?  The Catholic view of bread and wine is physically changed into the body and the blood.  Much thanks to Paul Blackham’s study notes from his series on the Biblical Frameworks on the Sacraments for these three broad-stroke views within the Reformed view of communion:

Zwingli

He is most extreme in the sense that there is no bodily presence of Christ in the elements of the Eucharist.  The bread and wine were literally mere symbols of the body and blood of Christ.  When it states that “this is my body”, it is really”this represents my body”.  The meal is a remembrance that the LORD was here – so Matthew 28 means His Spirit is with us.

Calvin

Calvin wanted to distinguish from Zwingli, though he basically believed also that there is no physical presence of Christ in the Eucharist.  But he also stated that the Eucharist was more than a ‘mere commemoration’, for Calvin believes that Jesus is located in one place, at the right hand of the Father in third heaven.  He, therefore, cannot be bodily present in the Eucharist.  Yet, also, because of his divinity, he can be present in all places at once, filling the entire universe.  In this way, Christ is not present with us in any real sense, but his influence by the Spirit is with us.  I personally take to this view, because it balances between Jesus’ divinity and humanity, as well as relate the role of Christ to the Spirit as the parakletos, the Helper whilst Jesus is not ‘here’ (John 14:16).

Luther

Now Luther thinks this is all ridiculous and his proof-text is Ephesians 4:10 – “He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all heavens, in order to fill the whole universe”.  How can Jesus fill the whole universe if He is located simply in one place, at the Father’s right hand?  Calvin and Zwingli are essentially saying that Jesus’ human nature is in one place, while his divine nature is everywhere.  But Luther could not separate Jesus’ humanity with his divinity, and said instead he’s “rather drink blood with the Papists than wine with these fanatics”… and paraphrasing him, if Christ is not clothed in our humanity, then he would be ‘nothing to do with us’.  Thus, Christ was omnipresent in BOTH divinity and humanity (1 Corinthians 15:44).

Luther’s position is therefore a bit more nuanced in answering to Matthew 28:20 “surely I am with you always”.  This is not like Rome’s position because for Luther, the bread and wine remain the same and they do not become the body and blood of Christ.  We take the blood and body of Christ with the bread and wine, and thus take the LORD’s Supper seriously (1 Corinthians 11:27-30).

While there are further things to be said about Calvin’s and Luther’s position, as opposed to Zwingli’s overly-spiritual tangent on the Communion, I think Calvin’s position holds more water here.  Whatever the merit is on both sides, we can see that the Papist position does injustice to the once and for all concept of Christ’s work for us; and I believe all three reformers would agree that Christ’s filling of the universe and taking the blood to the throne room is the cause for this discussion to break away from the Papist view of the Eucharist, and remember that Christ has not yet manifestly returned to us yet.

We are waiting for the High Priest to return

And so, we are still in the stage of Leviticus 16:17 – we are still waiting for his return.  Are you?  Some people complain that he has spent too long a time in the Holy of Holies – that he should return now.  Indeed, having that desire is not sinful, since we ARE looking forward to Christ’s second advent!  Yet, to also ‘complain’ and not wait patiently is to misunderstood his work for us.  2 Peter 3 is poignant on this point:

2Pe 3:1-18  This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder,  (2)  that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles,  (3)  knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires.  (4)  They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.”  (5)  For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God,  (6)  and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished.  (7)  But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.

The significance here is that the “word of God” (v.5) is the source of creation – and the subsequent destruction of that creation and a renewal of the world is a direct prophecy of our times today.  We are, as Peter explains, in the ‘in-between’ time of the Word of God creating the world, and the oncoming renewal of creation by fire.  The scoffers in Noah’s time asked where the punishment is?  Where is the Christ?  And the scoffers in our times ask the same question.  As inevitable as the flood was, and as much of a surprise it was in Noah’s time, the fire, the Resurrection Day will come as a surprise to the scoffers today.

(8)  But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.  (9)  The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.  (10)  But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.  (11)  Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness,  (12)  waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn!

The LORD is still working to this day for the salvation of many.  V9 is great: “that all should reach repentance“.  This, coupled with Romans 16:7, displays that we were not ‘pre-elected’.  Rather, the Elect One, is Christ – and by partaking in Christ, in his work on the cross, then we also are taken up with Christ.  We are the elect only because he is the elect one; we are righteous because he is the definitive righteous one (Psalm 1).  So, it is important to remember that we are waiting for Christ’s return, but should not ‘rush’ him – he is not slow to fulfill his promise, that all should reach repentance.  His bringing of his blood to the Holy of Holies and awaiting his own return is his expression that as many people as possible should reach repentance.  Do you have that sort of love for your neighbour, or do you care only for your own salvation?  If the latter, what kind of Jesus are you believing in?  Not the Jesus of the Bible for sure.

The ending words of 2 Peter are especially relevant for this post on the Day of Atonement.  Meditate of these words well, and look to Christ even more so:

(13)  But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.  (14)  Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace.  (15)  And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him,  (16)  as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures.  (17)  You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability.  (18)  But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.

Leviticus 16: Jesus’ Second Coming – the Day of Atonement

Leviticus 11-15: Holy, Clean and Unclean

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

1.  Food (Leviticus 11)

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

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

4.  Bodily discharges (Leviticus 15)

Intro:  What is Holy, Clean and Unclean?

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

Holy

Clean

Unclean

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

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

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

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

1.  Food (Leviticus 11)

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

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

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

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

(a)  Edible Animals on Earth (v.2-8 )

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Detestable and edible insects (v.20-25)

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

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

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

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

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

Then for the swarming things:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

14:33-57 – Disease in buildings

There are also several refrains in these two chapters:

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

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

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

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

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

Leviticus 13:  Different Skin Diseases on both Humans and Clothing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

13:23  Of the burning boil

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

13:40-41  Of the bald head

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

13:59  Conclusion relative to the foregoing particulars

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

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

Leviticus 14:1-32  The Cleansing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Leviticus 14:33-57 Disease in Buildings

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

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

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

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

4.  Bodily discharges (Leviticus 15)

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

Male bodily discharges (15:2-18 )

Female bodily discharges (15:19-30)

Long term discharge (15:2-12)

Menstrual cycle (15:19-23)

Cleansing by sacrifice (15:13-15)

Sexual intercourse (15:24)

Temporary discharge (15:16-17)

Long term (15:25-27)

Sexual intercourse (15:18 )

Cleansing by sacrifice (15:29-30)

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

Leviticus 11-15: Holy, Clean and Unclean

Leviticus 8-10: Jesus, our only High Priest

We have covered the significance of the sacrifices, and just in how many multitude of ways they provide a 3-D rendition of the spiritual truth of Christ Jesus, in front of the tabernacle, which is also a physical manifestation of the truth of the heaven in relation to earth and the church of the Sent One.

From chapters 1-7, we have seen just how crucial the details are behind the sacrifices.  We have seen the intricacies, the types of animals, the ways the animals are cut, the way the blood is either drained or thrown onto the altar sides or horns… and the person at the center of all these sacrifices at large are the priests.  Thus, these next three chapters I will turn to understand the importance of the priests which we have touched upon in the previous 7 chapters.  One interesting thing to note is this: the sacrifice is a type of Christ, and the heart-circumcised Jews knew that in the OT.  The high priest is also a type of Christ.  Try meditating on the picture of a high priest sacrificing an animal – and both priest and animal are types of Christ and imagine the implications of Christ’s work on the cross.  I will be working through that in the latter part of this post.

1.  The Sanctification of Jesus Christ with the anointing of the Spirit (Leviticus 8 )

2.  The acceptance of Aaron’s offering (Leviticus 9)

3.  The Death of Aaron’s two sons – Nadab and Abihu (Leviticus 10)

1.  The Sanctification of Jesus Christ with the anointing of the Spirit (Leviticus 8 )

The first few verses sums up the chapters ahead:

1(A) The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 2“Take Aaron and his sons with him, and(B) the garments and(C) the anointing oil and the bull of the sin offering and the two rams and the basket of unleavened bread. 3And assemble all the congregation at the entrance of the tent of meeting.” 4And Moses did as the LORD commanded him, and the congregation was assembled at the entrance of the tent of meeting.

Thus begins the detail about Aaron and his sons.  We knew from Exodus 4 that Aaron is going to be Moses’ assistant, chiefly his mouthpiece because of Moses’ ‘uncircumcised lips’ (i.e. speech problem); but slowly, Joshua exchanged the role with Aaron as his chief disciple and assistant, whereas Aaron became Moses’ helper, his peer – from bearing Moses’ arm during the fight against the Amalekites through Yeshua/Joshua’s victory.  Throughout Exodus, Moses’ work is inextricably tied with Aaron’s work – as if they were nigh inseparable.  Moses’ presence and faith in Christ is the picture which dominated the book of Exodus, until Exodus 28 points towards Aaron and his sons as the priests of the to-be-built tabernacle.  Now, the time has come, and Aaron is the prophesied high priest.  Yet, without Moses, Aaron’s work would not have occurred.  Moses therefore plays the role of the Christ in the Old Testament: the Christ who physically saves as the Angel, and as the LORD who brought them out of Egypt.  But in the New Testament, our Christ fulfills the meaning of that physical salvation by completing the true spiritual salvation by the blood.  So what if the Israelites are saved from the Egyptians?  They will still fall into idolatry.  It is the salvation by the blood of Christ which he brings into the room of the Holy of Holies which clinches that peace between us and the Father.  Moses – the type of OT Christ, the Rock, the Saviour, the type of the one who brought the Israelites out of Egypt, the land of no Jesus; Aaron – the type of NT Christ, the Lamb, the High Priest, the type of the one who emphasises that the physical exodus is only true if we are circumcised via the spiritual exodus to new Jerusalem (Galatians 4).  Make no mistake: the OT and NT are tied together; we are born under the Old Covenant so we can turn to the New.  And under both instances, we turn from law of Christ to the gospel of Christ – Christ is at the centre of both typologies of Moses and Aaron.

So, when we look at Aaron, we actually understand Christ better as he presented himself in the NT.  So often I hear that NT Christ sheds light on OT sacrifices; but that is not true.  If anything, without the OT, NT means nothing; however, with the OT, we can more of less shape the gospel save understand the fullness of the time in which Christ will come.  But the Israelites at this point already have a good grasp of the fundamental offerings, the mediator-nature of their Yahweh, and most definitely a visible concept of the Holy Trinity.  The NT is just a time of fulfillment (NOT ‘special’ revelation, for the entire OT is already special revelation of Christ); the OT is one of prophecy awaiting Christ who has already been specially revealed as Angel (Genesis 16, Exodus 3), as Lamb (Genesis 22), as animal sacrifice (Genesis 3), and now as High Priest.

So how can Aaron and co. be sanctified (i.e. set apart) for the LORD’s work?  How can they be holy?  This is different from being clean, as I hinted in the previous post.

The process of sanctification, of being set apart as Holy for the LORD, follows some procedure.  Adam Clarke sums it up nicely (and I put in the bracketed numbers to help you navigate):

(1)  Moses is commanded to consecrate Aaron and his sons, Lev 8:1-3.

(2)  Moses convenes the congregation; washes, clothes, and anoints Aaron, Lev 8:4-12.

(3)  He also clothes Aaron’s sons, Lev 8:13.

(4)  Offers a bullock for them as a sin-offering, Lev 8:14-17.

(5)  And a ram for a burnt-offering, Lev 8:18-21.

(6)  And another ram for a consecration-offering, Lev 8:22-24. The fat, with cakes of unleavened bread, and the right shoulder of the ram, he offers as a wave-offering, and afterwards burns, Lev 8:25-28. The breast, which was the part of Moses, he also waves, Lev 8:29.

(7)  And sprinkles oil and blood upon Aaron and his sons, Lev 8:30.

(8 )  The flesh of the consecration ram is to be boiled and eaten at the door of the tabernacle, Lev 8:31, Lev 8:32.

(9)  Moses commands Aaron and his sons to abide seven days at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, which they do accordingly, Lev 8:33-36.

Let’s quickly decipher them.  Moses, in this picture, is like the OT Christ baptizing the NT Christ – the reason I say that is because the New Testament picture provides that of John the Baptist baptising Jesus (Matthew 3:15), when Jesus began his public work as the Anointed One (“Christ” is the greek for the Hebrew term “Messiah/Mashiyach”, meaning “Anointed One” or the “Consecrated One” -משׁיח c.f. Psalm 132:10).  This explains why, in verses 4-12, Moses convenes a congregation (Hebrew: edah, meaning assembly, the Hebrew equivalent for ekklesia, church, in the NT) of Israel before the consecration of the High Priest.  The direct parallel is also shown in Matthew 3, when the church of Israel witnesses Jesus Christ being consecrated for his ministry as THE Anointed One, the High Priest fulfilling all righteousness.  More on this when we speak of the anointing with the oil as the third step of the ritual.

The establishment of the ministry of the Anointed One

The reason I make the typology of Moses as John the Baptist and as role played by Christ in the OT is twofold.  Firstly, John the Baptist is the very last prophet of the Old Testament prior to the first advent of Christ – and every prophet is merely a typology of THE chief prophet (Deuteronomy 18:15), THE chief messenger – Christ.  As Moses is playing the role of prophet, his role right here parallels the image of John the Prophet and Baptizer of Jesus.  Jesus as the Anointed One is now being portrayed by Aaron, the now consecrated High Priest, in front of the assembly/ekklesia/church of Israel.  Secondly, is the way I play with the name “Moses”, which means “drawn out of the water”.  How much more fitting is it therefore for Moses to baptise Aaron with the water for washing, drawing from the water of the Spirit (as represented by the oil later) after being kept alive by being drawn out out of the waters of punishment?

This is followed closely by the clothing of the priests AFTER the washing as the second step.  The clothing of the priests I’ve largely covered in the commentary in Exodus.  Primarily, the significance is to tie the burden and the hearts of the Israelites to this one High Priest – the stones on his shoulders and on his breastplace continually remind him that he is standing as the mediator between the Father and the church.  He is stepping temporarily into the shoes of Jesus.

The third step is the important ritual of anointing with oil.  v.10 reveals that Moses consecrated the tabernacle first, before consecrating Aaron and his sons.  1 Samuel 16:13 –

Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers. And the Spirit of the LORD rushed upon David from that day forward. And Samuel rose up and went to Ramah.

This shows just how important the Spirit is to any ministry.  Without oil, representing the Spirit, the work of the High Priests are in vain (1 Corinthians 2; 1 Corinthians 12).  Thus, the truth of the Spirit resting on Jesus, the Messiah, the Anointed One, is strengthened clearly in the picturing of oil everywhere (Isaiah 42:1-4, 61:1-3; Luke 4:14-21).  The oil comes again later in v.30.

The offerings in the preparation of Aaron & his sons

In v. 14-17, Aaron and his sons put their hands on the head of the bull as sin offering.  The bull, which “absorbs” the sin of Aaron and his sons is then destroyed away from the camp, so as not to threaten the purity of the camp or the Tent.  This “Great Exchange” of imputing our sins to Christ and his sins to us is spoken of in Romans 3 and 2 Corinthians 5:21 –

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Just is the essence of true Christian justification: we aren’t just made into a blank slate with the Father solemnly approving our entrance into heaven.  No no, much more!  We are actually pleasing in the Father’s eyes so long as Christ is our captain, and we are in Him, the true Noah’s ark!  The Father now looks on us like how he looks on his eternal Son!

Now that the altar is purified, the preparation of the priests is completed, to which we turn to the burnt offering for the atonement of their sins.  The first sin-offering cleansed them; and now, the burnt offering puts them in a position of pleasure before the LORD (refer back to 2 Corinthians 5:21) through the necessary substitute death of the animal sacrifice.  This anger of the LORD being soothed, the fellowship offering from v.22-29 takes the next stage.  First and foremost, all the offerings mentioned in these verses are forms of fellowship/peace offering (so they do not break-away from the 5-types of offerings in chapters 1-7, as if they are a sixth or seventh type of offering).

The reason why fellowship offering is so important is because it represents table fellowship with the LORD, so that we can eat with the Father and not only with the Incarnate Son (c.f. Last Supper).  Without the prior sin and burnt offering, this fellowship offering could not occur: this once against focuses on the truth of the importance of Jesus’ work on the cross before we can come before God as pleasing aroma of Christ and enjoy fellowship with Him.  Often, I have heard a simple phrase of “God is love” or “God is grace” – as biblical as the former is (1 John 4:16), the phrase is often taken out of 1 John’s context.  God is love through the propitiating blood of Jesus Christ.  God is love because of the propitiating blood of Jesus Christ.  Too often “Christ” and “blood” and “sacrifice” and “propitiation” is taken out of the picture, and we see a God who isn’t ‘judgmental’, but simply a God who is nice and loving – and this has caused the reason of so many heresies like contemporary pop-Marcionism: the OT God is full of wrath, the NT God is full of love.  Both the LORDS spoken of in OT and NT are Jesus Christ (yes, even the Old Testament usage of “LORD”, for who has known the Father without firstly knowing the visible Son of God (Luke 10:22)), and the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are all angry at sin, yet the work of the cross fully deals with our punishment on the tree, and that is no blind grace – it is a true and legally justified salvation by grace.

One interesting difference is however found in the ordination/consecration (in the KJV) offering (v. 22-24).  The blood is applied on the priest’s lobe of the right ear, thumb of the right hand, and big toe of the right foot.  The right hand side is often seen as more important throughout Scripture (Genesis 48:14; Exodus 15:6; Deuteronomy 33:22; 1 Kings 2:19; Job 40:14; Psalm 16:8, 18:35; Ephesians 1:20), whether as a blessing on the next generation or as a powerful and protective force.  Jesus himself sits at the right hand of God, and many times people take refuge in the right hand of God, which depicts the power, protection and refuge of Jesus Christ.  Thus, the blood on the right hand side displays a full-allegiance not only to “God”, but to the right hand of God, Jesus Christ.  This right-hand side smearing of blood is practised later in Leviticus 14 on a leper, who through doing so is restored to full fellowship with God.  The priest is thus similarly cleansed and accepted into table fellowship with the Trinity.

The conclusion of the ordination ritual

The ordination ritual thus comes to an end with oil in v.30, covering the priests and their clothing once again.  The oil thus begins and ends as bookends for the offerings and depicts a clear message of what the Anointed One will do for spiritual Israel.  When priests are therefore engaged in their work, we will definitely think – “this, also, is what the Anointed One will do!”  This is far more profound than the shy provision of oil for prophets and kings: the priest is completely covered in the Spirit!  Psalm 133:2 –

“It is like the precious oil on the head, running down on the beard, on the beard of Aaron, running down on the collar of his robes!”

This section of Psalms presents some deep theology: the precious oil on the head of Aaron runs down his beard to the collar of his robes and later covering his clothing.  So also: the Spirit on the head of Christ, runs down to his body, the church, and through the work of the Consecrated and Anointed Priest – the work of the Great Exchange of imputing our sin to him and his righteousness to us so we can have table fellowship with the LORD – is then the church manifested by the firstfruits of the Holy Spirit to come to new life.

When these rituals are completed, Aaron and his sons are given the offerings to eat at the entrance of the tabernacle, and so these prototype mediators stand between the LORD and His assembly, eating the LORD’s meat whilst in the priestly clothing representing the church.  This is very similar to the eating and drinking before the LORD in Exodus 24, the table fellowship with the seen Jesus.  Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu are now re-experiencing that wondrous moment in the thickness of the clouds of Mt. Sinai, on the border of the cloud of darkness and pillars of fire – the boundary between heaven and earth, between east of the garden of Eden and the Garden itself.

The final five verses of Leviticus 8 finishes the ritual of the priests:

31And Moses said to Aaron and his sons, “Boil the flesh at the entrance of the tent of meeting, and there eat it and the bread that is in the basket of ordination offerings, as I commanded, saying, ‘Aaron and his sons shall eat it.’ 32And what remains of the flesh and the bread you shall burn up with fire. 33And you shall not go outside the entrance of the tent of meeting for seven days, until the days of your ordination are completed, for it(U) will take seven days to ordain you. 34As has been done today, the LORD has commanded to be done to make atonement for you. 35At the entrance of the tent of meeting you shall remain day and night for seven days, performing what the LORD has(V) charged, so that you do not die, for so I have been commanded.” 36And Aaron and his sons did all the things that the LORD commanded by Moses.

Thus, if the priests fail to eat of the remainder of the flesh, the pronouncement of judgment on the sinful flesh, it shall be burnt with fire – a picture of the true punishment via the lake of fire (Revelation 21).  This is mildly preached when Jesus ate the fish (Habbakuk 1:14 and Genesis 1 – the fish and sea creatures have no life in them, c.f. my post on Genesis Day 2 and 5), as a pronouncement of judgment on the mindless fish – the unsaved men.

And unsurprisingly, the seven days focus takes us back to the creation of the world in 6 days, and sabbath on the 7th.  This picture of creation of heaven and earth completed in 7 days is a foretelling of the re-creation of the world also told in the symbolic 7 days through the priestly work of Christ.  From the 8th day, the work of re-creation has already begun, just as Christ was resurrected on the 8th day (c.f. Genesis 17 circumcision, and Christ rising again on the 8th day AFTER the Sabbath on the 7th day, a picture of the new work of re-creation of heavens and earth, taking into account the symbolic second set of 7 days).  Hence, we move onto the 8th day in Leviticus 9.

A final note on the ordination is the question of whether modern-day ordination has similar significance.  Yes and No – Yes, in the sense that (as I will later cover in Leviticus 10), the ordination of these high priests is akin to the ordination of ministers and pastors.  They are given a highly responsible role of stewarding the sheep in the Shepherd’s stead, though of course, aligning to the Shepherd’s teachings.  The pastoral epistles such as Timothy and Titus were not written for any laymen, just as the 70 elders of Israel were chosen with specific character qualities.  However, the ordination of Leviticus 8 is not the same as the ordination of ministers at the same time – because the ministers are not made “holy” because of the ordination.  Rather, the holiness is one which all Christians inherit by the power of the Spirit.  We are to be a kingdom of priests (Exodus 19:6), not a kingdom of laymen and minority of priests!  The message spoken of here is a message of us taking on the nature of Christ through his propitiating and cleansing work of his own blood and the waters and oil of the Spirit.  In that sense, today’s ordination of ministers does not make them any more “holy” than the time that they were, when they first came to Christ prior to their ordination.  Therefore, a minister’s state of ‘holiness’ is no more than the state of ‘holiness’ that we are given by the power of the Spirit in whatever ministry we are anointed to perform.

2.  The acceptance of Aaron’s offering (Leviticus 9)

The significance of the 8th day shouldn’t be downplayed.  You should feast your eyes on Bullinger’s Numbers in Scripture’s chapter on the number 8, and here is just a small excerpt which is by no means enough to show the parallel of 8th day and new creation:

EIGHT BY ITSELF:  It is 7 plus 1. Hence it is the number specially associated with Resurrection and Regeneration, and the beginning of a new era or order.

When the whole earth was covered with the flood, it was Noah “the eighth person” (2 Peter 2:5) who stepped out on to a new earth to commence a new order of things. “Eight souls” (1 Peter 3:20) passed through it with him to the new or regenerated world.

Hence, too, circumcision was to be performed on the eighth day (Gen 17:12), because it was the foreshadowing of the true circumcision of the heart, that which was to be “made without hands,” even “the putting off of the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ” (Col 2:11). This is connected with the new creation.

The first-born was to be given to Jehovah on the eighth day (Exo 22:29,30). But RESURRECTION is the great truth which is signified. Christ rose from the dead on “the first day of the week,” that was of necessity the eighth day.

So what happens on the 8th day is of serious importance to the understanding of God’s work of re-creation.  Adam Clarke’s commentary comes in useful again, with my edited numbering and extra notes in italics:

(1)  Aaron is commanded to offer, on the eighth day, a sin-offering (bull calf) and a burnt-offering (ram), Lev 9:1, Lev 9:2.

(2)  The people are commanded also to offer a sin-offering (male goat), a burnt-offering (calf and a ram, a year old without blemish), peace-offerings (ox and a ram), and a meat-offering (I think A.Clarke meant grain offering – mixed with oil) , Lev 9:3, Lev 9:4. They do as they were commanded; and Moses promises that God shall appear among them, Lev 9:5, Lev 9:6.

(3)  Aaron is commanded to make an atonement for the people, Lev 9:7. He and his sons prepare and offer the different sacrifices, Lev 9:8-21. Aaron and Moses bless the congregation, Lev 9:22, Lev 9:23.

(4)  And the fire of the Lord consumes the sacrifice, Lev 9:24.

The centrality of the verses above drives on two verses:  “so that the (Glory of the) LORD may appear to you”.  Part (1) relates strictly to Aaron and sons (with sin and burnt offerings), but part (2) involves the work of Aaron and sons for the congregation of Israel, which doesn’t just involve sin and burnt offerings, but also fellowship and grain offerings as fellowship and dedication to the LORD respectively.  Everything that priest has done is to involve themselves and to involve the congregation so that their own sins and the congregations’ sins are tied to these sacrifices, imputed onto them, and so that the LORD may appear to them.  This may sound odd, given that they were ALREADY witnessing the glory of God as a pillar of cloud and fire in the tabernacle!  No – what is meant here is the significance of these sacrifices in ORDER to meet with God.  They cannot just expect to dwell with Jesus, given their sinful nature (including the priests, who are after all only acting as the True Priest who is entirely sinless).

Lev 9:22  Then Aaron lifted up his hands toward the people and blessed them, and he came down from offering the sin offering and the burnt offering and the peace offerings. 23 And Moses and Aaron went into the tent of meeting, and when they came out they blessed the people, and the glory of the LORD appeared to all the people. 24 And fire came out from before the LORD and consumed the burnt offering and the pieces of fat on the altar, and when all the people saw it, they shouted and fell on their faces.

This chapter ends on a high note – the work of re-creation, on the 8th day, is powerfully shown through the sacrifices made – and the “glory of the LORD appeared to all the people” as the High Priest lifted his hands to bless the people (an image of Melchizedek, who is Jesus, the Sent One who blessed Abraham the model of faith – Romans 4).  This “glory of the LORD” of course is no mere glory, for who has seen God except the visible person Jesus Christ (Colossians 1:15)?  Sometimes I hear people today saying things like “I saw God’s glory”, which they usually mean as “I felt the intimacy of God today”.  However, in Scripture, to see God’s glory is to actually see Him – not just to feel the intimacy, but to see Him with the eyes of our hearts, when a particular mystery in the fullness of Christ is revealed by the Spirit.  Can you see the glory of God through the music of a worship song?  Sure.  Can you see the glory of God through a pastor praying for you?  Indeed. Only if both take us back to Jesus Christ, and not because we feel like we are being loved.  It is important to distinguish the feelings from the fact of God’s revelation to us, for often the feelings of a compromising Christian precede that of fact: and this leads to all types of spiritual troubles in store for them.  Let the true glory of God, Jesus Christ, reveal more of the truth of his work on the cross for us, so we worship Him with more reverence.

The picture of fire coming out from before the LORD and consuming these offerings is one of acceptance of the people, while simultaneously pronouncing judgment on the now sinful animal sacrifices.  This rejoicing is bittersweet – they live, because of the death of another; yet, our rejoicing in Christ is not bittersweet – he will not only die on the cross, but will live and ascend to bring us up again to the new heavens and earth as fully righteous and not just a blank slate.

3.  The Death of Aaron’s two sons – Nadab and Abihu (Leviticus 10)

Although the last chapter ended optimistically, it is no mistake that Moses chose to juxtapose the glory of Aaron’s work, prophesying Jesus’ completed work on the cross starting from the 8th day (after Sabbath), with the decadence of the examples of Nadab and Abihu.

Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it and laid incense on it and offered unauthorized fire before the LORD, which he had not commanded them.  (Lev 10:1)

Because of this “unauthorised” fire, v.2 goes on to say that Nadab and Abihu were immediately consumed by the LORD’s fire.  What a horrific image: one moment, the church of Israel is rejoicing, because Aaron and his sons went through the steps with a mixture of solemnity (of imputing their sins onto the sacrifice), and joy (of the imputation of righteousness onto them); and another moment, Nadab and Abihu fail to remember these important steps to God’s love and are consumed!

Let’s decipher ‘unauthorised’ fire first.  In the KJV, this is “strange” fire.  The LXX translates this as “αλλοτριον” (from the lexical root allotrios), meaning strange, alien or hostile.  This is different from the “heteros”, also meaning strange but more akin to “different”, used in Jude 7 referring to different flesh.  While I understand the cultural and semantic distinctions between LXX greek and NT greek, the context helps us understand that this strange fire is very different from ‘strange flesh’ which refers in the latter part to angelic flesh.  This strange fire, however, is unauthorised as the ESV translators put it: it is alien, and it is most importantly hostile.

If we just read the narrative, the message is quite simple: both the sons of Aaron took his censer and put fire in it and literally gave a hostile offering before the LORD.  Of course, they did not think it was hostile – but the LORD did, hence His reaction in v.2.  Paul Blackham notes that some people have read v.8-9 of chapter 10 and came to the conclusion that Nadab and Abihu are drunk, though I agree with him that actually, this seems not so feasible since chapter 10 follows immediately after chapter 9.  There is no indication of a time gap, especially v.12-16, explaining how the food offerings haven’t yet been consumed.  Since v.3 follows on from v.2, the judgment on Aaron’s sons, it would perhaps give the best explanation of why Nadab and Abihu were punished:

“This is what the LORD has said, ‘Among those who are near me I will be sanctified, and before all the people I will be glorified.'” And Aaron held his peace.

Moses’ explanation is straightforward: without committing to the right steps to salvation, committing ourselves to God’s glory through Jesus Christ, our prayers and desires are unheard.  This is extremely important: for we remain under wrath outside of Jesus Christ (John 3:16-18 ) – and so Nadab and Abihu show just how they were under judgment, if they provide unauthorised offerings.

But surely Nadab and Abihu were just adding to the offerings?  No – it isn’t that simple.  The significance of the entire sacrificial system, the priestly ordination, is that it is the LORD’s commandment.  He has ordained salvation to be wrought in an extremely specific and detailed way, and any subversion or alteration of it is to preach one thing: that we know it better than the LORD.  That we can take or add from the word of God (Revelation 22:18 ).  Some can even go as far as to say that what Nadab and Abihu were doing is a great example of works-salvation:  it is as if Aaron’s sons felt that the sacrificial offering through Jesus Christ is not enough, and they have to add their own to justify themselves.  Either way, the LORD is furious that we would want to alter, or add onto the salvation of Jesus.  HE is our rock, HE is our righteousness – not our unauthorised and hostile offerings which has no bearing on our justification before Him.

v.3-6 is a sad image of Nadab and Abihu’s relatives carrying the two brothers’ corpses out, while Aaron their father holds his peace.  Nadab, whose name means “generous”, and Abihu, whose name means “he is my father” (possibly referring to God), is carried out by their relatives Mishael (“who is what God is”) and Elzaphan (“my God has protected”), sons of Aaron’s uncle Uzziel (“my strength is God”).  I find it, however, quite touching how they still refer to Nadab and Abihu as brethren (in the KJV, and “brother” in the ESV), and carry them with their coats still covering them – though it is indeed a solemn reminder that the physicali clothing is not what makes them holy; the physical robes of “righteousness” still needs to be true spiritually.  Moses tells Aaron and his sons not to bewail the death of Nadab and Abihu; instead, the house of Israel will now mourn for Nadab and Abihu.

Why can’t Aaron and his sons mourn for his eldest and 2nd eldest son?  Because they are still anointed with the Spirit:

And do not go outside the entrance of the tent of meeting, lest you die, for the anointing oil of the LORD is upon you.” And they did according to the word of Moses.(v.7)

This corresponds to what Jesus taught in Luke 14:25-26 – if you do not hate your parents, your wife, your brothers and sisters, your sons and daughters compared with God, then you cannot approach Jesus.  This is the intense devotion to the living God, and the mark of the Spirit on Aaron and his sons is a mark not merely of cleanness, but holiness.  God isn’t asking us to hate our human family; rather, he is teaching us to respect his authority even above the authority of our family.  If Aaron mourned, then he is akin to those who Christ are condemning in Luke 14.

Then v.10-11 implies that Aaron and his sons do not have the mere job of managing the sacrifices: they also have the duty to teach the people the meaning of the sacrifices.  How fitting it is that Moses is reminding Aaron of such a duty, after his two sons have died because they failed to understand the statute fully.  I think this is a crucial verse: so often we practise baptism, communion, sacraments, marriage and many signs of God’s grace to us, but we fail to understand its meaning.  This is why we have denominations preaching damaging lies like works-salvation, believer’s baptism, inter-faith or homosexual marriages.  They fail to remember what Scripture taught about these practices, and looked upon the physical truth and bound their subjective spiritual definitions to it.  The story of Nadab and Abihu is profound: it is telling us to listen to God, and rest on Christ alone as the definer of our faith.

v.12-18 then sees Moses asking the sons of Aaron to do as they were told and ensure that the remains of the sacrifice are dealt with as already told.  The key word in v.16, is diligent.  Moses is not half-hearted, and the message again is especially poignant after the death of Aaron’s two sons.

v.19-20 sees Aaron admitting his mistake in failing to serve the LORD properly, but there is a mark of humility and repentance in his actions: “If I had eaten the sin offering today, would the LORD have approved?”- indeed, the LORD would approve, as Moses stated.  Aaron was inwardly and spiritually mourning as the Father of the two sons, and just like those who fast because they mourn for the days of Jesus’ return (Matthew 9:15), Aaron’s fasting is a mark of his love for his two sons.  Thus, the difference between Aaron’s mistake and his sons mistake is quite significant: the former is one who continually feared and revered God and acknowledged his mistake.  However, the latter represents two people who impudently and rashly entered His presence with hostile sacrifices even though they should already know the statutes well.  Thus, the responses from the LORD are proportional and appropriate.  Here is Matthew Henry on Aaron’s repentant heart:

Moses charged the fault upon Eleazar and Ithamar (Lev_10:16), but it is probable that what they did was by Aaron direction, and therefore he apologized for it. He might have pleaded that this was a sin-offering for the congregation, and if it had been a bullock it must have been wholly burnt (Lev_4:21), and therefore why not now that it was a goat? But it seems it was otherwise ordered at this time, and therefore he makes his affliction his excuse, Lev_10:19. Observe, (1.) How he speaks of affliction: Such things have befallen me, such sad things, which could not but go near his heart, and make it very happy. He was a high priest taken from among men, and could not put off natural affection when he put on the holy garments. He held his peace (Lev_10:3), yet his sorrow was stirred, as David’s, Psa_39:2. Note, There may be a deep sense of affliction even where there is a sincere resignation to the will of God in the affliction. “Such things as never befel me before, and as I little expected now. My spirits cannot but sink, when I see my family sinking; I must needs be heavy, when God is angry:” thus it is easy to say a great deal to aggravate an affliction, but it is better to say little. (2.) How he makes this an excuse for his varying from the appointment about the sin-offering. He could not have eaten it but in his mourning, and with a sorrowful spirit; and would this have been accepted? He does not plead that his heart was so full of grief that he had no appetite for it, but that he feared it would not be accepted. Note, [1.] Acceptance with God is the great thing we should desire and aim at in all our religious services, particularly in the Lord’s supper, which is our eating of the sin-offering. [2.] The sorrow of the world is a very great hindrance to our acceptable performance of holy duties, both as it is discomposing to ourselves, takes off our chariot-wheels and makes us drive heavily (1Sa_1:7, 1Sa_1:8 ), and as it is displeasing to God, whose will it is that we should serve him cheerfully, Deu_12:7. Mourner’s bread was polluted, Hos_9:4. See Mal_3:14.

Leviticus 8-10: Jesus, our only High Priest

Genesis 33-35: Jacob – man-fearer

1.  “For I have seen your face, which is like seeing the face of God” – Jacob flatters Esau (Gen. 33)

2.  Dinah defiled and revenge enacted (Gen. 34)

3.  Jacob renamed… again – the drink offering and the oil (Gen. 35:1-15)

4.  The Pillar of Rachel (Gen. 35:16-29)

1.  “For I have seen your face, which is like seeing the face of God” – Jacob flatters Esau (Gen. 33)

There is something disappointing about this chapter.

After seeing Jacob clinging onto Jesus in the end of chapter 32, you would think that he need not rely on his own methods to appease Esau.  But he does – and this is the first challenge God has laid before him.  Jacob had just prevailed, and is renamed Israel which means God strives!  God fights for Jacob!  Jacob has also seen God face to face (v.30)!

But in chapter 33, the very first thing he does, after he sees Esau, is divide the children among Leah and Rachel.  The common refrain is this… “…bowed down”.  The bowing down occurs 7 times in v. 3, once more in v. 6, twice in v.7.  There is a lot of bowing – this is either an act of reverence or an act of fear.  To really get a feel of what is going on, let’s read what Jacob says.  He calls Esau “my lord” (v.8, 13, 14, 15), four times in a matter of less than 10 verses.  So we have four ‘my lords’ and ten ‘bows’ and one more flattery which says that his brother’s face is like seeing the face of God (v.10).  What blasphemy!!!  Indeed, Jacob had seen the living God face to face as to honour Him by calling the place of struggle Peniel (“the face of God”) – but to immediately call Esau his lord, and to say that he looks like God?!   We now know the bowing, the ‘my lords’, and the other flatteries were no result of genuine compassion.  Rather, they are words of flattery which do not build up the body, and work from Jacob’s scheming heart again!

That’s not the end of it.  Esau offers to go with Jacob and his party to Seir, the country of Edom (Genesis 32:3).  But Jacob lies to Esau – firstly he says that his children are frail, that the nursing flocks and herds are a care to him (v.13); then he says that there is no need for Esau’s men to stay behind (v. 15).  Now that Esau and his party has gone, Jacob is free to do as he wishes, and decided to journey to Succoth (v. 17), building himself a house and made booths for his livestock.  This clearly isn’t merely a place of rest – it is a place where he will be for at least quite a while.  Jacob is, yet again, avoiding Esau; and he, yet again, fails to trust in the LORD who proclaimed that Esau shall serve Jacob (Genesis 27:40).  What Jacob could have done, is tell Esau to join him, instead of having Esau tell Jacob to go to Edom!  But Jacob, the man-fearer, fails to remind Esau of the promised land Canaan.  He lets Esau go, and instead goes back to Canaan without having his brother serving him by his side in Canaan.

Jacob finally rests at Shechem, the same place that Abraham had passed through in Genesis 12:6.  Is the prophecy going to be fulfilled yet?  No – again, Jacob remembers what Abraham may have said to his descendants about God’s prophecy in Genesis 15:13.  The four hundred years between the book of Genesis and Exodus has yet to occur.  Although Jacob worships God by erecting an altar in Canaan and calling it El-Elohe-Israel (“God, the God of Israel”) – he had failed to convince his brother.  Rather, he folded in and failed to rule and guide his brother to Canaan.

2.  Dinah defiled and revenge enacted (Gen. 34)

This theme is carried across again in this chapter – the theme of Jacob the man-fearer.  This time though, the ‘fear’ has passed down to his son.  The chapter is horrific – it tells of the story of Dinah, Jacob’s only daughter, being raped by Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite, who was the prince of the land.  He may have truly loved her – but his expression was also truly confused.

Jacob had heard about the rape already, possibly through Hamor, but kept his peace about the whole situation until his sons returned.  Hamor is sincere about the marriage – “the soul of my son Shechem longs for your daughter.  Please give her to him to be his wife.  Make marriages with us” (Genesis 34:8-9).  Perhaps Jacob kept his peace, knowing that his children would be furious about this event.  Indeed – Israelites and Canaanites must not bond, for it will compromise the gospel message of Christ marrying the Christian Church.  But something heretical is offered here – Hamor is asking Israel to join to Canaan.  Surely there is something odd – isn’t it meant to be Canaan joining Israel, if Israel is the chosen nation to preach the good news of Jesus Christ?!

This is materialised in the abuse of the holy sacrament of circumcision (Genesis 17:12-13) which was also for foreigners.  Why?  So that the foreigners are also marked with this trust in Christ Jesus, that the blessings from the Father are given through the mediatorial offering of Christ’s blood and the water of the Spirit.  So the circumcision, the mark of pain, the mark of cutting of Christ’s flesh, would remind them of their faith.  But no – this sacrament is completely turned on its head; rather, it is now manipulated as a part of a deceitful plan, whereby the Canaanites don’t even have faith in Christ.  Rather, the circumcision is made so that Israel will dwell with the Canaanites, rather than vice versa!  The circumcision is negated of its meaning, but turned completely into a ‘business’ transaction!  How horrifying!  And such is the case of the abuse of infant baptism today; the refusal of people joining “Catholic” or “Christian” schools if the infant is not already baptised, or even special privileges following the completion of certain sacraments.  No – these sacraments have always been about God’s faithfulness to us (Romans 3), and nothing less!  We are set apart for Christ, not set apart for a holy club, or even any club!

And this is the mark of the man-fearer — even though Simeon and Levi did not ‘appear’ to fear man, they became hypocrites.  In return, they killed all the males, and stole their flocks, herds, donkeys, wealth, little ones, wives… what tragedy!  And yet, this is the chosen nation through which God will proclaim Christ.  Yes, as Karl Barth rightly put – the very evidence of God lies in the very existence of Israel to this day.  How can such a nation, with such a horrible track record, be chosen by God?  Naturally, we come to the conclusion that it isn’t down to the nation’s credentials; but it is down to their God’s credentials.

Love thy neighbour and thy enemy… but they could not even do that.  Simeon and Levi seemed not to even repent of what they did (Genesis 34:31).

3.  Jacob renamed… again – the drink offering and the oil (Gen. 35:1-15)

“Arise, go up to Bethel and dwell there.  Make an altar there to the God who appeared to you when you fled from your brother Esau”.  Again, we see the Father speaking of Jesus as “the God who appeared” to Jacob.  God protects the sons of Jacob during this period by striking terror on the cities around them (v.5) – such is the provision of God!  Jacob is probably unaware of it, though he may have wondered why his journey through Canaan was peaceful, despite the vengeful massacre Genesis 34.

Interestingly, prior to God re-iterating the blessing he made to Abraham and Isaac (v.11-12), he renamed Jacob as Israel again.  The name, from he who cheats to God strives.  From struggling against God to clinging onto God’s righteousness.  Jacob responds favourably with a drink offering on a pillar of stone and poured oil over it, in prophecy to Isaiah 53:12, our LORD Christ who poured out his life unto death, so that we can be gifted with new names which speak of Christ as well (Revelation 2:17).  And the oil is a representation of the anointing of the Holy Spirit.  We have, in these short verses from 9-15 the appearance of Christ (v.9), and his work expressed (v.14) on the Pillar of Stone, in Bethel, “the House of God”.  Jacob had all this head knowledge, but he still failed to obey and trust in the LORD entirely.

4.  The Pillar of Rachel (Genesis 35:16-29)

Rachel’s death definitely worths a mention – it is quite a sad account.  She dies from giving birth to Benjamin, the final and 12th son of Israel.  And she dies on the way, from the House of God (Bethel) to Bethlehem, the birthplace of Christ:

2[a](A) But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah,
who are too little to be among the clans of(B) Judah,
from you shall come forth for me
one who is to be(C) ruler in Israel,
(D) whose coming forth is(E) from of old,
from ancient days. (Micah 5:2)

There is again a re-establishment, after Benjamin’s birth, of the 12 tribes of Israel.  Now the 12 tribes of Israel are complete and all born – and they are now the object of the next part and section of Genesis.  The previous generation has gone, and Abraham and Isaac have yet to physically see their descendants inheriting the true Promised Land.  Jesus had re-established the blessing he had made to Abraham and Isaac, now to Jacob (renamed as Israel).  Israel, the nation and people for whom God fights and strives, now has 12 tribes.  The 12 tribes who will usher the world, as the spiritual forefathers of all those in Christ, ushering the age of the Gentiles and Jews shown by the ruler to be born in the little town of Bethlehem Ephrathah — this ruler whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.  Isaac had striven for his church, Rachel – and the 7 years had felt only like a few days to him.  Now Rachel has passed away – his church has fall asleep; but the 12 tribes live on – and it all culminates on the path to Bethlehem.  The Pillar of Rachel, the Pillar of the physically dying Church, looks forward to the path set on the O Little Town of Bethlehem – and meanwhile, the last act before her falling asleep is an act of giving new life, as the church should be continually doing.

Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth. – Malachi 2:15

These 12 tribes were the original 12 apostles, and the Pillar of Rachel, the only “pillar” built for a person, as opposed to being built for God, is a testimony to the work that will be done in Bethlehem and which the 12 tribes are striving towards in long expectation – and the fulfillment of the prophecy is spoken of the death of Rachel’s children at the hands of Herod in Ramah (in Arabia according to Justin Martyr in his dialogue with Trypho chapter LXXVIII):

15Thus says the LORD:(AL) “A voice is heard in(AM) Ramah,
lamentation and bitter weeping.
(AN) Rachel is weeping for her children;
she refuses to be comforted for her children,
(AO) because they are no more.” (Jeremiah 31:15)

Genesis 33-35: Jacob – man-fearer