Monday, June 23, 2008

Leviticus - The Grain Offering

We are just two weeks into our study of the book of Leviticus at Regeneration. I preached Sunday night on Leviticus 2, 6:14-23.

This is a text written for a worshipping community—the camp of Israel. It basically lays the groundwork for a grain offering where the worshipper and the worshipping community thank YHWH for (1) delivering them from Egypt, (2) entering into a covenant relationship with them, and (3) forgiving them of sin (in the burnt offering, which we studied last week). The worshipper and worshipping community demonstrate commitment to the covenant relationship. For better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, whether in sickness or in health, they are committed to YHWH (who is already committed to them).

It also lays the groundwork for the camp of Israel to be a place where each member of the camp was involved in meeting the needs of the other members. The priests mediated between the worshipping community and YHWH. They met the people's need for worship. The worshipping community, in turn, met the priests' need for daily bread. It is a beautiful picture.

My notes were rather lengthy, so I'm just going to link to them (rather than post everything here): They were thrown together rather hastily, but hopefully you can still get the idea.

And here are my PowerPoint slides, if you're into that sort of thing:

There ya go . . . comment away!

Monday, June 16, 2008

The Burnt Offering

These are my notes from our first message on Leviticus. They are a bit rough but hopefully you get the idea.

  1. Context and Purpose of Leviticus
    1. Its place in the Pentateuch
      1. After establishment of Covenant and before arrival in the promised land
      2. Order of Offerings is conceptual for ease of memory not order they were performed.
      3. Holy God is present among his people and they should live in a way that reflects his holiness
    2. Purpose
      1. A manual for worship. Application for today - "How should we arrange our lives in the presence of the Holy God who comes to us in the person of the Holy Spirit?" (Felix Chingota, African Bible Commentary, Zondervan: 2006, p. 129)
      2. Its about personal, priestly and community holiness
      3. Lev. 19:2 "Be holy for I am holy."
    3. Interpreting the Old Testament
      1. 2 Tim 3:16
      2. Matt. 5:17; John 5:46
      3. Find the principal behind the instruction, how it is fulfilled through Jesus, and then comes application.
    4. Animal Sacrifice
      1. It may seem strange to us but it was a common practice back then. There were no groceries stores so if you wanted meat, you had to slaughter the animal and naturally ANE people would dedicate it to their gods.
      2. I would like to submit that we all make sacrifices, primarily with our time and money. We too, offer things to people or the ideals we care about in order to have a better relationship with them or be at peace with the world we live in.
      3. Uniqueness of Israel's sacrifice
        1. Similarities with other cultures - very broadly speaking, they were offered in order to have a relationship with a deity.
        2. Differences
          1. no other culture did it by fire
          2. other cultures often did to read the future via the entrails of the animal
          3. Everyone in Israel had access to the "manual" for sacrifice, other cultures only allowed the priest's to see their sacred texts
          4. It was something they were to be defined by, God "called" them, Lev. 1:1.
          5. It needed to be costly (2 Sam. 24:24)
          6. Part of the covenant bond with Yahweh and their unique perspective on holiness (more on that later in the series)
    5. The Burnt Offering was Corporate
      1. Worshipper and the priest involved
      2. A very active participatory service, quite unlike many church services today!
      3. Whole of animal was consumed by fire (minus the skin) and thus representing total devotion to God
      4. This is the most common offering, done every day and the fire was never to go out (Lev. 6:8-13). Application: Worship should be continuous.
    6. The need for Fellowship with God
      1. Since God is holy it is important to distinguish between what is clean, unclean, holy, and common. Things that can become unclean can be contagious and endanger the whole community. Something must be cleaned prior to be consecrated to the Lord, and thus made holy.
        1. ANE people believed that impurities could create an environment for the demonic (OT Bible Background Commentary)
        2. Again, more to be discussed on this later.
      2. Sin causes death and disorder and God's community is a safe-haven from a world of sin.
        1. Sacrifices bring reconciliation with God and cleansing to the community
        2. God is holy and since he saved his people, and us, it is necessary to live in accordance with our covenant with him. Lev. 26:46
        3. The whole community is in jeopardy if a person's sin is not dealt with properly. This is part of the reason why Ananias and Saphira were struck dead in Acts 5.
        4. Many other judgment upon God's people in the Old Testament that resulted in the death of some reflect this idea as well. Something must die or the community will cease to exist
        5. Application: churches can die as a result of sin in the community that is not confessed and repented of
      3. The Burnt Offering is about restoring relationship with God
        1. Sin angers God and you cannot approach him without dealing with your sin. Illustration - similar to how ways in which you have a heart a friend of family member that you ignore can be a barrier in the relationship. It becomes the elephant in the room.
        2. God is not some angry deity but someone who cares about having an appropriate relationship with him that does not demean his character and identity.
        3. Lev. 1:4 - the offering was done to make atonement for one's sin
          1. the animal became the person's substitute
          2. it was their ransom and paid the penalty for their sin and thus could result in further consequences of sin being avoided.
        4. Lev. 1:9,13,17 - an aroma, pleasing to the LORD
          1. it shows our devotion to him and desire to be in relationship with him.
          2. The offered their best male cattle which made a huge statement about their desire to be reconciled to God.
          3. Those with less money could offer less costly animals
          4. This appeased and satisfied God's anger. Our worship pleases him and he loves it and he never rejects us coming to him in humility.
        5. Noah offered a Burnt Offering in Gen 8:21 after the flood and God promised he would never destroy human-kind with a flood again.
        6. God's people cannot live in sin and expect God's presence to be among them. They are incompatible and cannot expect his favor.
    7. Jesus is the Burnt Offering
      1. Mk 10:45; Heb 7:27; Jn 1;29; 3:16; 1 Pet 1:18-19
      2. We are a holy nation, a kingdom of priests and we should be holy as God is holy. Eph 5:1-2; 1 Pet 2:9-10
    8. Application
      1. We are reminded of the seriousness of our sin and Christ's sacrifice. It is not just my sin or your sin. It is not a private matter but a public one. Your sin affects the community of God's people and must be dealt put to death.
      2. Jesus gave himself as our high priest and we worship him and offer our praises to him with our full devotion continually.
      3. Forgiveness of sins and reconciliation to God must be prior to true worship
      4. Our worship incorporates everything we do. Our work, our relationships, everything we think, feel, say, and do. Our offerings are not merely mental acts but represent the entirety of our being.
      5. Worship in the work of the church should be participatory. This doesn't mean everyone should teach or lead worship, but somewhere you should be involved in God's activity through the local church in your community. Their are no spectators in the kingdom.
      6. Worship shouldn't be cheap, but costly. That is, not half-hearted or obligatory. The burnt offering was of one's one free will.

Those are my basic notes. Feel free to comment. Many things in here are the result of my study from various sources, Old Testament IVP Background Commentary, African Bible Commentary, NICOT commentary on Leviticus by Wenham, and Encountering the Old Testament. There are several interpretative issues in here and if you have studied, it is probably obvious which side I came down on, primarily the propitiation component of the Burnt Offering.