Consecrated Unto Thee
Consecrated unto Thee
And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to all the congregation of Israel and say to them, You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy.
It is a great calamity just how overlooked and neglected the book of Leviticus is. Many will read Genesis and learn about God’s great faithfulness to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. They will read the Exodus story wherein they are transported back in time thousands of years to the age when God’s people were suffering under the oppression of the Egyptians, yet God remembers his people and intervenes to deliver them. Then Leviticus follows and is ready to be mined for the great truths of God: His transcendent holiness, His divine forbearance, His grace He extends to bring a sinful people near to Himself, and a call of obedience to them. Let us not make the mistake of overlooking this book, rather let us seek to extract the deposits of Gospel gold from its ancient pages and in so doing deepen our well of knowledge containing the faithfulness of our God, so that we may have more to grasp onto in our quest for obedience to “The Monarch of the universe” (Sproul, The Holiness of God, 1998).
Exodus 40:34-35 says, “Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud settled on it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.” Moses was the head of the Israelites, he represented them before God, and we see in these verses that when God’s glory dwelt in the tabernacle, Moses could not enter into His presence. In the first verse of Leviticus, we are told that “The LORD called Moses and spoke to him from the tent of meeting…” Note here that God is speaking to Moses from the tent, God called Moses, they did not speak together in the tabernacle. Now if we fast forward to the very beginning of Numbers, the book which follows Leviticus, it begins in a similar manner, yet there is a key difference. Numbers 1:1 says, “The LORD spoke to Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, in the tent of meeting…” The difference is that on this occasion, God and Moses are speaking together inside the tent of meeting. This being the case, something must have changed between the end of Exodus and the beginning of Numbers which allowed Moses to come into the presence of God in the tent of meeting, and that is what the book of Leviticus is all about.
Throughout this Old Testament book, the theme of the Holiness of God is continually reoccurring:
11:44 “For I am the LORD your God. Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am holy.”
19:2b “You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy.”
20:7 “Consecrate yourselves, therefore, and be holy, for I am the LORD your God.”
20:26 “You shall be holy to me, for I the LORD am holy and have separated you from the peoples, that you should be mine.”
21:8b “He shall be holy to you, for I, the LORD, who sanctify you, am holy.”
22:31b-32a “I am the LORD. And you shall not profane my holy name…”
Leviticus 16:16 (emphasis added) “This he shall make atonement for the Holy Place, because of the uncleanness of the people of Israel and because of their transgressions, all their sins.” This problem of sin, which scripture makes us ever aware of, was the factor which disabled Moses and the Israelites to come before God, and it is the factor which does the same for us today. God is holy and without sin, people are not holy and bathed in sin. Due to the magnificence, the perfection, the raw power, and the unmatched, untamed, sheer holiness of The Lord our God, any impure being, dead in their sins, may not come before God without being wholly consumed and put to death.
In The first 7 chapters of Leviticus, God relays to Moses instructions concerning burnt offerings, grain offerings, peace offerings, and sin offerings. In Chapters 8-10, God gives instruction concerning the consecration of Aaron and his sons as priests who would act as mediators between the people and God, presenting the offerings of the Israelites before God in the manner instructed. Chapters 11-15 are instructions from the Lord pertaining to purity. These include what animals may be eaten, how to handle childbirth, how to handle diseased individuals, laws for cleansing houses, and laws about bodily discharges, again, all of which focused on the purity of the people. Chapters 18-20 focus on moral purity, speaking to the way in which sexual relations are to take place, among other things. Next, we see a higher standard of purity given for the priests in chapters 21-22 followed by instructions for ritual feasts in chapters 23-25. Lastly, through chapters 26 and 27 God makes clear what the blessings for obedience would be as well as what the punishments for disobedience would be. If you noticed that I skipped chapters 16 and 17, that is because those chapters tie together 1-15 and 18-27. In those two mid-book chapters, God gives instruction for an annual Day of Atonement. Because of the Israelites sin, payment for their debt of transgressions was required by God. As the high priest, Aaron was instructed by God to sacrifice a bull for himself and his family first, then a goat for the sin offering for the people, followed by the sending of a second goat carrying the sin of the people off into the wilderness never to return. The Day of Atonement was an annual ritual through which the sins of the Israelites were covered, and God enabled a sinful people to draw near to Himself.
Now how does all of this relate to us, to our understanding of the Gospel of Jesus Christ? Let’s take a look at a few passages. Romans 3:20 says, “For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.” Hebrews 7:18-19a says, “For on the one hand, a former commandment is set aside because of its weakness and uselessness (for the law made nothing perfect).” These things being said, two things must be noted: the first is that the law is unable to save, and the second is that the law makes clear the reality of God’s punishment of the sin from which we need saving. In other words, the law shows us just how hopeless the attaining of perfection (necessary to be in a right relationship with God) is for us which is why the second half of Hebrews 7:19 is so relieving, “but on the other hand, a better hope is introduced, through which we draw near to God.” What is this hope? we desperately need it! Romans 3:23-25 “for all have fallen short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.” This is the new covenant, this is the new hope delivered to us, that out of love for His creation, and a great zeal for His own glory, God sent His Son Jesus Christ, who came willingly, to be put to death in our place as the final atoning sacrifice, taking up His role as “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”
Hebrews 10:1-10 (emphasis added)
For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near. Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, since the worshippers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have any consciousness of sins? But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said, “Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body you have prepared for me; in burnt offerings and sin offerings you take no pleasure. Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will, O God, as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.’” When he said above, “You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings” (these are offered according to the law), then he added, “Behold, I have come to do your will.” He does away with the first in order to establish the second (covenant). And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once and for all.
The entire book of Leviticus is the account of God setting a nation apart unto Himself: 20:26 “You shall be holy to me, for I the LORD am holy and have separated you from the peoples, that you should be mine.” Despite the relationship-severing sin that the Israelites were stooped in, God desired a relationship with them, and by His grace, made a way for them to draw near, to be a people set apart. This account is a foreshadowing of what was to come: The atoning work of Jesus Christ through which Jesus took on our unrighteousness and the punishment for it and gave us His perfect righteousness, positioning us as set apart from all, and Justified before the Father.
Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour, And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” And some of the bystanders, hearing it, said, “This man is calling Elijah.” And one of them at once ran and took a sponge, filled it with sour wine, and put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink. But the others said, “Wait, let us see if Elijah will come to save him.” And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit. And behold, the curtain of thee temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split.
For the Israelites God made a way to be in His presence, yet their sin was not eternally atoned for. Now, God has made a way for us to be Justified in His sight: through the death of Jesus Christ in our place, by grace we may be saved through faith, completely and eternally forgiven of all sins, brought from death to life, all because of the atoning sacrifice of The Savior, Jesus Christ.
Lord let your name be praised for eternity because of your Holy name and the sacrifice that You willingly became in order to make a way for sinful people to draw near to Your Holy presence!
This week, I am not going to guide you to a specific book or passage wherein to find Jesus. No, this time I want you to go on a “Savior search” of your own, seeking to find Christ somewhere you have yet to do so. Challenge yourself to write something like this concerning the passage you choose, and if you’d like, email it to Grace Nation Ministries and we will read it through!