Leviticus 21-22

“If you present a peace offering to the Lord…you must offer a perfect animal. It may have no defect of any kind.” 22:21

Perfect animals represent God’s holy nature and foreshadow the completely perfect life Jesus sacrificed, free of any spot or blemish of sin.

What are the conditions of the sacrifices you offer up to God?

Do you sacrifice time for him or offer up whatever is left over in your day?

Do you budget giving into your finances, or only offer up what spare change you have?

Do you work hard for him when you serve others or the church, or do you half-heartedly get involved when you have to?

True worship involves sacrificeas we recognize God’s holy nature and offer up the best of what we have to him.

“I am the Lord who makes you holy. It was I who rescued you from the land of Egypt, that I might be your God. I am the Lord.” 21:32-33

Praise the God who rescued us from the wilderness and makes us holy. How deserving he is of all we have!

-Carly

Leviticus 19-20

I love how the LORD charges in with a straight-shooting decree in 19. A “listen up” retelling of the Ten Commandments, in a different order, surrounded by more precepts.

Of course you can guess which ones I gravitate towards:

“And you shall not strip your vineyard bare, neither shall you gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the Lord your God.” (19:10‬)

Don’t hoard your goods for yourself, leave some for others. Sharing is caring.

“When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.” (19:33-34‬)

People are people, treat everyone with equal respect no matter where they came from. Love as you love yourself. Even if you have a low self esteem I bet you manage to feed and clothe yourself for the most part.

“You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.” (19:18‬)

It’s easy to hold a grudge, but it’s a horrible waste of time! Do as Elsa says! Let it go!

Love your neighbor as you love yourself. Wow. If you ever wonder what being a Christian should look like, or wonder what it means to follow Jesus, like the Pharisee in Luke 10, look no further than this sentence (paired with loving God with all your heart, soul, mind, strength … because there’s not one without the other).

I’ve spent enough time being annoyed with people; stewing as I await vindication. Let me tell you something, if I learned anything working in that refugee camp in Greece it’s this: there’s no time to waste on grudges. There’s no benefit to keeping good things for yourself. Everything is better shared and forgiven. Just like we shouldn’t have idols, lie, steal, murder, etc.

Let’s not put up with that nonsense, like we don’t sacrifice our children to Molech. All God’s commands are smart, good and right.

-Bethany

Leviticus 17-18

There are some verses in these chapters that have me asking “did this really have to be spelled out for people?”. Who is drinking blood and making sexual advances towards their mom?

This is what I treasure about the Bible: it tackles everything. Obviously there are modern-day issues that might not be specifically mentioned, but God’s Word covers the root, if not the specifics, of all sin.

The more familiar I become with the Old Testament, the less anyone’s behavior really shocks me. There is nothing new under the sun, including the ways that sin warps our minds. This should (oddly) comfort you. The ways you fall short are not new or surprising to God. He is ready to forgive, redeem and reconcile you to him. Don’t let your sinful desires isolate you away from him! Satan wants you to feel alone, disgusting, unforgivable. God wants you to know that hey, not only does that not really surprise me, but I anticipated that and have provided a way out for you.

The best parents are the ones you can freely communicate to and who freely communicate their unconditional love back to you. God is Good Father and unconditionally loves us. Bring your sin to him, even when you’re in the middle of it. He desires for his people to be set apart, not blurring into the rest of our broken, fallen culture.

-Carly

Leviticus 15-16

The sanitation laws continue. These have saved countless lives throughout history.

I like how matter-of-fact chapter 15 is. It’s not shaming, it’s just life. Women are going to menstruate, men are going to have seminal emissions, anyone can experience a discharge. This isn’t a choice, it isn’t a transgression, but it does make us unsanitary.

The LORD makes a way for us to become clean again. He restores us. This is the same with sin. There’s no exemption for the person who maybe happened to not sin during the Day of Atonement sacrifice, it’s just life. Sin is presupposed. Even Aaron has to go through several cleansing hoops before offering the sacrifice for others. God made a way.

So why, after being cleansed, do we hold on to shame? The LORD wants us to get back into the game, not mope on the sidelines, feeling disqualified.

The Day of Atonement was vital for Israel to co-exist with the LORD.

“This shall be a permanent statute for you: in the seventh month, on the 10th day of the month, you shall humble your souls and do not work, whether the native, or the alien who sojourns among you; for it is on this day that atonement shall be made for you to cleanse you; you will be clean from all your sins before the Lord. (16:29-30)

An annual reminder of humility.

  1. We need to be cleansed
  2. It can’t happen in our own power
  3. The LORD cleanses us.

Christians keep this tradition alive through Good Friday and Easter celebrations as well as taking part in the Lord’s Supper.

However, it must be kept alive in the way we daily live. Do I humble myself and recognize my need for redemption? Do I rely on the power of God for righteousness or do I think I can manage it on my own? Do I live in victory, knowing Christ has given me His righteousness and forgiveness of sins, or do I let myself be slowed down by lingering shame?

Let’s let impurity be impurity. Not more or less than it is.

“So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:36)

-Bethany

Leviticus 13-14

“These are the instructions regarding skin diseases and mildew.”

Well, that was informative and fun! Two entire chapters on skin conditions and the spreading of various rashes and diseases. Here we read more about how God protects and prepares Israel holistically. He is teaching them what to eat, what not to eat, and even giving them sound medical advice to protect them from the spreading of disease.

Leprosy is mentioned often in the Bible. I looked it up a bit and the disease is sad and disgusting. It starts out harmless and painless, it even numbs the area it infects. It slowly spreads and eventually your face is deformed, your teeth fall out, the cartilage in your ears and nose collapse until your appearance is unrecognizable. Sound familiar?

Reminds me of the sneaky, slow and life-taking consequences of sin. Harmless at first as it slowly, but surely, sucks the life out of you.

Jesus loved lepers. He had mercy on them, healing them of their diseases (Matthew 8 & Luke 17). He’s not afraid to reach out and cleanse us of our mess, even when it rots our bodies and disfigures our appearances. He gave those people a way out, by physically healing them, and he offers a way out of our spiritual illness as well.

These chapters left me thankful that God cares about our quality of life, our health and the qualifications to spend time with him. His relational heart towards us is exposed even in the discussion of open sores and mildewed clothes.

 

He calls us to be good stewards of the bodies we’re given, spiritually and physically, and spells out pretty clearly how to do that throughout his Word.

How are you prioritizing your physical health? 

How are you protecting your spiritual health? 

 

-Carly

Leviticus 11-12

I love these chapters! At first pass, they may seem ridiculous, restricting, nit picky, but years of science and history will prove them trustworthy.

Let’s start with the animals.

“This is the law regarding the animal and bird, and every living thing that moves in the waters and everything that swarms on the earth, to make a distinction between the unclean and the clean, and between the edible creature and the creature which is not to be eaten.” (11:46-47)

Notice how the LORD creates two categories: clean vs unclean, edible vs not to be eaten.

There are similar qualities between the animals which are deemed clean and edible: Chew cud and cloven hoof, fish with fins and scales. Not only are these animals historically not responsible for spreading disease, they’re also not ranked among the more intelligent animals. You can sneak up on them, slit their throats, making them pass out first, and kill them humanely.

There’s no humane way to kill a dolphin, they’re clever. That’s one reason why they’re in the “do not eat” list. Pigs are both purposed for eating trash (making them unclean/semi-toxic to eat since our bodies take so long to digest them), and they’re also smart enough to scream the entire time they’re being slaughtered. It’s horrifying.

So we come away with two basic reasons for the animals found on these lists:

  1. God loves us
  2. God loves animals

Moving on to uncleanliness after birth. This is both about hygiene and mandatory mother-child bonding.

The LORD had a lot to prepare Israel for in order to train them to be different from the Canaanites. One huge hurdle was the widely accepted worship of Molech, which centered around child sacrifice. Over and over, the LORD commands Israel not to do this, but as we know… being told not to do something isn’t a huge motivator for us humans.

What, then, is the LORD’s first line of defense against His people offering their children to be sacrificed?

A mother who just bonded with that baby is isolation for 1-2 months.

This also helps us understand why it’s one month for a boy and two for a girl. Little girls have always been more vulnerable to this sort of thing. People love those baby boys but baby girls were historically disappointing. So the LORD has the mother bond with them twice as long.

Granted, these explanations are only a small peek into God’s “why’s”, but I hope they teach us a few things: He’s smarter than us. Plus, He’s God, and shouldn’t that be enough to trust Him?

His laws are seeped in love, because He is love. He’s not trying to ruin our fun, he’s trying to not let fun ruin us.

What are some of your “whys”? Ask God for His revelation and do some research!

-Bethany

Leviticus 9-10

Poor Aaron. He loses two of his sons right before his very eyes (and receives blunt advice instead of comfort from Moses, yikes).

“I will display my holiness through those who come near me. I will display my glory before all the people.” 10:3

This story of God striking someone dead as a direct result of their sin feels similar to the story of Uzzah in 1 Chronicles 13. It stings a little bit and seems harsh. Aaron’s son were disobeying the law mentioned in Exodus 30:9, which specific forbids what they did and it cost them their lives. Some commentators assume that they were drunk and careless, since they had previously been feasting. Either way, they were prideful and hasty in the presence of God. Our holy God, who is righteous in his actions to quickly punish sin.

The legalist in me wants to use this verse as a scare tactic. To highlight the justice and fury of God and shame myself out of sinning or becoming prideful. But a story like this should humble us, not shame us. It’s an important reminder to revere and honor his holiness by showing obedience. I don’t claim to fully understand this story, or even be fully comfortable with it. I think being completely comfortable with God’s holiness is to underestimate him. We will not be able to follow every single rule correctly all the time. He is abundant in his grace and mercy, and his son Jesus has covered us well in our shortcomings. But we can be expected to remain humble and repent. Don’t let your pride get away from you. Don’t try to wear your identity to protect yourself from the consequences of sin. Pastor’s kid? Long-time Christian? Missionary? Doesn’t matter. These were Aaron’s sons, related to Moses, and they didn’t get a pass.

Where do you let pride creep in?

What identity do you cling to? 

 

-Carly