google-site-verification: google3e8cc4742c5fd8a2.html Sermon - A God of Joy and His people - Part 2
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A God of Joy and His people

Part 2

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2. Life worship -Leviticus 18v1-5; 19v9-18

In our first part, we looked at the ceremonial cleansing of God's dwelling place. Now Leviticus moves to the matter of personal & communal holiness and moral impurity.  Repeatedly in this book, God has frequently said "Be holy, for I am holy".  The ancient nation of Israel was to be an obedient example to the whole world, a unique concept or paradigm if you like!  God was present with them and they were to be His light in a dark world.  The people of Israel were to live a life that reflected the holiness of God!  God desired obedience over sacrifice!

Be Holy!

Holiness was to be a moral attribute of ancient Israel, much the same as it was for the holy God who dwelt amongst them.  In chapter 18, we see at least 3 characteristics of this relationship!

Firstly there is the call to be loyal to God!  God's laws were not be obeyed slavishly but to obeyed joyfully and with effervescent vigour!  God is speaking to those He is in an intimate relationship with and He wants them to be observably loyal by being like Him - holy!

Secondly there is the call to be different! Different from the surrounding countries and cultures!  Ancient Israel was to have a national distinctiveness that truly was to have separated them from the surrounding cultures such as Egypt Ancient Israel was to live a life so radically different that people around them would notice! They were to be separate from the worlds around them in lifestyle and worship!  . Their God was a personal God who dwelt with them. God's presence with them was to affect every aspect of life, on both a national and individual level.

Thirdly, their whole life was to be worship! Worship wasn't to be just for the Sabbath, feasts and ceremonies - it was to be their lifestyle.  God's regulations affected such ordinary things as relationships, diet, clothing, social justice, social welfare, environment and work.  Their whole lifestyle was to be an act of worship, and not just on the Sabbath.  Who knows best what humans need - humans or the God who created them? By being obedient, they would have life to the full - a life of blessing and peace!

Lets look at an example. Chapter 19 which was read to us, starts off with taking care of the poor and the daily necessity to eat!  That was how God was going to provide for the poor - through the farmer not harvesting everything! To leave some food unharvested was to be a symbolic act of worship, a thanksgiving and a visible sign of trusting in God to supply!  It was holiness in action - a generous holiness if you will!

Good Neighbours!

This section is summed up in Leviticus 19:18, "love your neighbour as yourself". So, for an ancient Israelite, to love his neighbour would mean not stealing, lying, deceiving, blaspheming, cursing, being unjust, slanderous, filled with hatred or endangering!  A good neighbour would be a person of integrity, not seeking to exploit others in any way.  A good neighbour would administer justice and be observably filled with love.  Does that remind you of something that was said in the New Testament?

How to read Leviticus today?

So what is the best way for us in the 21st century to read these ancient laws of Leviticus? Is it just to simply ignore them or are we to slavishly follow them?  Perhaps the best way is to simply let Scripture interpret Scripture and see what the New Testament says about the Leviticus laws.  Take for instance the food laws.  We know in the New Testament that all food is now permissible, whereas under the Old Testament, certain foods were not permitted to be eaten.  In the New Testament, the Apostle Peter had a dream in which all food was declared clean!

It is also wise, not to see them as merely a list of "not do" statements, but also as "do statements".  Rather, we should see them as a love letter from a God who wants to save His people from distress and anxiety in order to give them a life of peace, unity, health and a joyful life in all its fullness.

All these laws were to lead ancient Israel to be a holy nation. Holiness was about being set apart for a purpose and making wise, conscious decisions about what was right or wrong.  It involved being obedient to God and keeping His decrees and regulations.  Being holy, involved having a lifestyle, which was contrary to the cultures surrounding them.  To be holy was a lifestyle choice of worship, to reflect their holy God.

They were called to be loyal! Called to be distinct! Called to worship!  What has all this got to do with us? Where does the Day of Atonement and these laws fit into the life of a Christian in the 21st century?  We will take a look in the third part in al little while!

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Continued in Part 3

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