Summary: The Levitical sacrifices reveals the demands of God, and hence the character of God. At the heart of the sacrifices, we can learn 3 truths: God is approachable, sin is removable, and life is redeemable.
The Book of Leviticus is a book that many of us would not like to read, but it is the first book that a Jewish child has to study.
• Reading through it helps us understanding of WHO God is and how man can approach Him.
• The sacrifices and rituals reveals the demands of God, and hence the character of God. He is holy and righteous, and yet gracious enough to make Himself accessible to us.
There are FIVE sacrifices mentioned in the beginning of the book – namely burnt offering (dedication), grain or meal offering (thanks), fellowship or peace offering (express vow or gratitude), sin offering and guilt or trespass offering (wrongdoings).
Let’s read a portion from Leviticus 4:27-31.
The stipulations are not human efforts in trying to please an angry God, but an open door given for man to approach Him and respond to Him.
• God is not against them but FOR them.
• It was God who, in the first place, saved them from slavery in Egypt.
• It was God who initiated a covenant relationship with them, to bless them and not harm them.
So the rules were given to guide them into a right relationship with God and a right living before God.
• They were not given as means for Israel to gain God’s favour. They had already gained His favour, on the basis of His covenant with Abraham.
• The sacrifices provided a way for Israel to connect with a holy God. The rules facilitate communion with God, and not hinder it.
There is no other way because man can never steps into the holy presence of God and live. This is the heart of the sacrifices.
GOD IS APPROACHABLE. He made it possible. He made Himself accessible.
Sin is a problem but God has a way to deal with it. We can overcome it.
• Don Moen has this song “God Will Make a Way” where there seems to be no way. It talks about God helping us IN life, to guide us and show us the way.
• Leviticus tells us of God making a way for us to GET to Him, showing us the way to DRAW NEAR to God.
When an Israelite comes before God, he comes with a sacrifice. He lays his hand on the animal, and transfers his guilt onto his substitute. We call it the scapegoat.
• Done in faith, this act puts his sin onto the sacrifice and the animal is punished in his place. God accepts the sacrifice as a payment for his sin and forgives him.
For Israel, this is what they need to do each time they approach God.
• The sacrifice is imperfect because the one bearing their guilt is an animal. It is limited in scope because it has to be repeated each time they come.
• But Israel knows, and mankind knows, that sin needs to be resolved for man to connect with God.
The message is clear: God makes Himself accessible by providing man A WAY.
• God makes it possible because He wants you to connect with Him.
• God will not turn anyone away. That’s the last thing He will do.
No matter how sinful you may think you are, God wants you to come back to Him.
• Don't fear God, even when you sin. God already knows it and has actually provided you a way out. You cannot surprise God.
• Remember, His door is always open. Jesus opens it, once and for all time.
• The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom (Mark 15:38). God did it, so that you and I can step in.
• So step in. Treasure your time with God. Prioritize your Sunday Worship. God delights to see you.
This leads me to the 2nd truth. At the heart of the Leviticus sacrifices we see that:
SIN IS REMOVABLE. A price can be paid. You can bring a scrapgoat.
Sin is real but sin can be dwelt with. It is serious but it can be resolved.
• Sin is debilitating, but it cannot destroy you. Sin cannot stop us from God, for good.
• When Israel trust God and do what God says, their sin is forgiven.
The unclean can become clean. Contaminated condition can be purified, infectious disease can be made whole again.
• Hence the emphasis on the clean and the unclean in this book.
There is a dual thrust here, regarding what is clean and unclean.
• One is about hygiene. The rules are given about cleanliness likely because of the desert environment they live in.
• Look at what is happening in Africa with the Ebola virus and we understand.
• The commands are necessary when you have a huge crowd staying so close together in the wilderness.