A God of Joy and His people
Some of the words and phrases we commonly use come straight from the book of Leviticus. Words such as jubilee and scapegoat are commonly used today. And what husband hasn’t offered a form of guilt offering to his wife!
Leviticus does have important things to tell us about sin, obedience and holiness. Perhaps most importantly it tells of God dwelling with His people.
The LORD spoke to Moses after the death of the two sons of Aaron who died when they approached the LORD. The LORD said to Moses: ‘Tell your brother Aaron that he is not to come whenever he chooses into the Most Holy Place behind the curtain in front of the atonement cover on the ark, or else he will die. For I will appear in the cloud over the atonement cover.
‘This is how Aaron is to enter the Most Holy Place: he must first bring a young bull for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering. He is to put on the sacred linen tunic, with linen undergarments next to his body; he is to tie the linen sash round him and put on the linen turban. These are sacred garments; so he must bathe himself with water before he puts them on. From the Israelite community he is to take two male goats for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering.
‘Aaron is to offer the bull for his own sin offering to make atonement for himself and his household. Then he is to take the two goats and present them before the LORD at the entrance to the tent of meeting. He is to cast lots for the two goats – one lot for the LORD and the other for the scapegoat. Aaron shall bring the goat whose lot falls to the LORD and sacrifice it for a sin offering. But the goat chosen by lot as the scapegoat shall be presented alive before the LORD to be used for making atonement by sending it into the wilderness as a scapegoat.
1. Day of Atonement
The Tabernacle / Tent of Meetings
- The Offerings!
- The Blood!
- The High Priest - Aaron!
- The Scapegoat
- The people!
2. Life worship
- Leviticus 18:1-5 - Be Holy!
- Leviticus 19:9-18 – Be Good Neighbours!
3. Reading 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?
- Holy Barrier
- Holy People!
- Declared Holy!
Lets now, quickly compare the Levitical Sacrifices and Jesus’ Sacrifices!
Performed repeatedly by earthly priests who stood.
Their work was unending as they laboured on earth and their sacrifices could never take away sin.
He offered one sacrifice.
Jesus now sits at God’s right hand in power and glory with His earthly work complete.
His sacrifice achieved its goal of fulfilment and made his followers holy!
At the cross of Jesus Christ on Calvary, the Old Covenant was fulfilled and the New Covenant ushered in!
This New Covenant assures those who follow Jesus Christ have:
- Reconciled to God
- Declared right and just before God!
- Cleansed from sin!
- Free from the slavery to sin!
- Intercedes for us!
- Given the Spirit to dwell inside!
- Granted direct access to God the Father, through the Son in the power of the Holy Spirit
5. Live Holy!
As a Christian, the Holy Spirit is living inside you, changing and transforming you into the very image of the holy one, Jesus Christ. Your transformation into that image of Jesus Christ, is the greatest evidence, not only of the work of the Holy Spirit but also of you being a Christian living an obedient life to God.
As a Christian, you are no longer an enemy of God but a friend of God and belong to God! As Christians, we are to live a life of obedience to God – casting off all that hinders and seeks to stop us. And if we fall into disobedience, we can confess our sin to the Father, through the name of the Son and in the power of the Spirit and get right back up again, knowing we are forgiven – totally amazing!
As Christians, we are called to be joyfully obedient to the Lord, serving Him in every aspect of life! In doing so, our whole lives will be acceptable worship to God and not just at a Sunday meeting. Our worship is to be a lifestyle of conscious decisions, reflecting our devotion to a God with whom we are to be in a dynamic and intimate relationship with. This lifestyle will affect the way we work, rest and play!
As instruments in God’s orchestra of joy, we are to be loyal to Him – the joy giver! We are to obey with joyful, effervescent vigour and reflect a living God to a society out there, which is in darkness. They will know we are Christians by the way we act – actions of obedience to God, signified by the love we have for each other and them. Love in action by supplying people’s needs, both on an individual and church basis.
We are called to follow God and not to succumb to the temptations, which seek to mar our relationship with the God who lives inside us. Let's go willingly to obey and serve the Lord with faithful obedience!
But if you are not a Christian here tonight, then please do make yourself known to us afterwards and we would love to talk to you about becoming a Christian. While you have breath, it’s not too late to start this life of joyful obedience to a loving God and enter into a living and dynamic relationship of true Joy with Him. Don’t leave it so late that you incur God’s judgement for your sins and have everlasting separation from Him and others! God does indeed love you and He is calling you to come into a dynamic relationship of true joy with Him today. Take the opportunity today – come and follow Jesus Christ. He is calling you to respond!
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