Summary: The Fourth message in the Leviticus series focuses on Leviticus 16-27 dealing with the various laws dealing with personal holiness and how Christ has provided what we need for life and holiness in himself.
Leviticus Series #4
CHCC: July 4, 2010
Well, today is July 4th, a national holiday which just happens to coincide with one of our days of worship. While we are celebrating Independence Day today, I will be taking the time to outline for you your independence from the old Levitical Law system. Believe me, you can be just as thankful for your freedom from the legalism of the law system as you can be thankful for your freedoms as a citizen of the greatest nation on the earth. By the way, your freedoms in Christ come because you are a citizen of heaven. God not only redeemed you from slavery to sin, he adopted you into his family and made you a joint heir with Christ.
Since it’s July 4 – we will focus on Freedom from trying to obey the LAW in order to be personally righteous.
I remember something that happened just after I moved to Texas from New Mexico in 1974. I was driving down a street in Alvin and was pulled over by a city policeman. He asked me if I was aware that I was driving over the speed limit in a school zone. Having just moved to Texas, I didn’t know enough about Alvin to know I was anywhere near a school. As it was, the school was about two blocks away and I had not passed by it yet. There had been a school zone sign, but I hadn’t seen it. (New Mexico school zone signs are accompanied by a yellow flashing light and cross hatching paint on the street – Texas just has a white rectangular sign and a car hiding around the corner.)
Anyway, that happened to me twice in the first month of my arrival in the state, which was enough to mess up my driving record and almost made me ineligible to drive the new church van the Arcadia Church bought for my youth ministry. The point is, that I arrived in the state ignorant of some of the laws of the State of Texas, and I paid a penalty for my ignorance of the law.
So try to imagine this: I’m driving carefully, just under the speed limit in a school zone when I see the police car light behind me and I pull over. The policeman gets out and walks up to my window with a big smile on his face and says, “Mr. Skidmore, thank you for driving so carefully at such a safe speed. You are a good man and the state of Texas just wants to show it’s appreciation by giving you this Good Driver certificate.”
How many of you believe that story? It doesn’t happen that way because the LAW only pays attention to us when we’re wrong. In the same way, the Old Testament Law only points out when we fall short.
James 2:10 points out the nature of the law when it says, “Whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.”
(Naked Gospel, Andrew Farley, p. 41)
The point is that the law had no provision for rewarding those who obeyed it perfectly (which no one ever did). It only had penalties for breaking it, and provisions for making sacrifices to make things right after sinning.
1. Laws for Personal Holiness
Leviticus 17-22 outlined various laws relating to personal holiness. These included the following:
· Ch. 17 Said the tabernacle was the only proper place to sacrifice animal offerings, then it gave various rules about not eating blood.
· Ch. 18 Listed prohibitions about improper sexual behavior
· Ch. 19 prohibited idolatry, profaning of offerings, mistreating the poor and unfortunates, and a whole list of various commands in miscellaneous categories.
· Ch. 20 addressed human sacrifices, spiritism, and another list of miscellaneous immoralities that were to be avoid
· Ch. 21-22 contained regulations concerning the priests.
· Ch 23-24 gave commands about feast days they were to celebrate (we will look at that more closely next week)
· Ch. 25 gave rules about the land they would inherit once they entered the land of Canaan (the land of promise)
· Ch 26 gave warnings against apostasy
· Ch. 27 had laws concerning gifts and endowments, and ended up with rules about tithing.
That’s quite a laundry list in those 11 chapters. There was quite a lot to remember if a person wanted to live a holy life. There were hundreds of ways a person could stray into sin and uncleanness if they weren’t careful. Unfortunately, a devout Jew would probably have to memorize the whole law in order to be able to keep it properly. Fortunately, memorizing the law was just what the priests, scribes, and Rabbis did. This made them valuable members of the Jewish community. If you had a question about a particular point in the law, the Jewish leader could explain it all to you.