Tag Archives: holiness

Leviticus 27:22-34

Scripture: from verse 29

No person who has been sentenced to die, and thus unconditionally consecrated, can be redeemed; he must be put to death.

Observation:  Something that was unconditionally consecrated was holy to Adonai; it could not be redeemed or sold or otherwise un-consecrated.  This included people sentenced to death for crimes against God or the community.

When we were discussing God’s commanded wholesale slaughter of various people groups in the Old Testament, my mom once pointed out that God wasn’t necessarily condemning them all.  He was simply making it so He could deal with those people individually.  By preserving His plan for His people, He made it possible to offer grace to those people through Yeshua, the culmination of that plan.

What we see is not all there is.  Executing criminals also meant putting them in God’s hands, where they could be dealt with with perfect justice and perfect love.

Obviously today we don’t go around stoning people.  But we can acknowledge that God is dealing with people and we can’t always see it.  Sometimes we are called to leave others to Him.  We want to teach and correct and remind and push, but that may not be what we’re called to do.  Other people are also holy to God, and we should let Him deal with their faults in His time and in His way.

And the truth is that we too are condemned to die.  We were dead in our sin (Eph 2) and had no hope.  We are unconditionally consecrated to God.  And we cannot be sold or transferred, because we are especially holy to Him.  He has plans for us.

Application:  Trust God to be teaching others.  Let Him teach you.

Prayer:  Yeshua, thank you for making it possible for me to have grace.  Thank you for making me holy.  Help me to trust your plans.  Amen.

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Leviticus 22:1-16

Scripture: from verse 9

The cohanim must observe this charge of mine… I am Adonai, who makes them holy.

Observation:  The passage orders that any priest who is unclean (whether because he had sex, or touched a bug, or interacted with an unclean person) is not allowed to eat the holy food until he is clean again.

I doubt that God structured this so that His priests would starve, but it was still a pretty stringent regulation.  It doesn’t seem fair that they would be cut off from their jobs so frequently.

But God was the one who made them holy in the first place.  The sacrifices belong to Him, not to them.  He could insist on holiness because He was the one giving it.

Humans aren’t holy.  We don’t belong in God’s presence.  We can’t survive it.  That’s why Yeshua became our holiness – our wisdom and our righteousness and our redemption are all Him (1 Cor 1:30).  We have nothing except what He gives us.

Praise God He gives it freely.

Application:  Look to Messiah to be your righteousness.  There’s no other way in.

Prayer:  Yeshua, thank you so much for being my holiness.  Thank you for saving me when I was beyond help.  Help me to remember that you are my covering, and all I have to do is seek your face.  Amen.

Leviticus 19:19

Scripture: by special request:

Don’t let your livestock mate with those of another kind, don’t sow your field with two different kinds of grain, and don’t wear a garment of cloth made with two different kinds of thread.

Observation: Normally with a commandment this bizarre, we look at the context (the type of rules it’s grouped with) for clues.  In this case, the surrounding verses are a complete jumble, so that’s no help.

So why do we do these things?  Why do we interbreed our livestock and produce and mix fibers in our clothing?  Usually it’s because we hope the result will have the advantages of both and the defects of neither.  We hope to be able to pick and choose the things we like.

While this probably isn’t a problem when applied to consumables, it’s a very big problem if we apply that attitude to God.  There’s plenty of people who try to pick and choose the aspects of God that they like.  There’s even people who combine multiple religions, keeping the nicest holidays and traditions from each one.

But God doesn’t work that way.  He is Himself, unchanging and indivisible.  We don’t get to pick the bits of Him that we like and ignore the rest.  He won’t let us.

We don’t get to have it all our own way.  We don’t get to be in control all the time.  And I think this law, arbitrary as it is, was meant to remind people of that: God is Himself and there is no changing Him.

Application:  Don’t try to mold God into the box you’d like Him to be in.  Celebrate differences instead of rejecting them.

Prayer:  Father, I am sorry that I am not big enough to see you properly.  I am sorry that I expect you to act the way I want you to.  Help me to remember that doing things your way is far more sensible than doing things my way.  Thank you for being Yourself.  Amen.

Leviticus 21:13-24

Scripture: verse 17

None of [Aharon’s] descendants who has a defect may approach to offer the bread of his God.

Observation:  Men of the priestly families who had congenital deformities or major health problems weren’t allowed in the sanctuary.  They were still allowed to eat the things set aside for priests to eat, but they didn’t participate in formal worship.

This wasn’t fair.  It still isn’t fair.  Today God would get hit with all sorts of lawsuits for discriminatory practices.

But the fact is, God discriminates against all humans.  For being sinful.  For having lied or gossiped or been prideful or resentful.  None of us measure up.

The point of the formal worship laid out here is not to make humans good.  Its point is to remind humans that God is holy and they are not.  It’s there to remind us that we can’t be good.

But Yeshua didn’t come for humans that were good.  Like a doctor, He comes for those who need Him (Mark 2).  The tired and the hungry and the poor and the sick.  The sinners.  He came for us.

Application:  Stop worrying about whether you measure up.  You don’t.  But He does.

Prayer:  Yeshua, thank you for coming for me.  Thank you for covering me with your righteousness.  Help me to trust you too make all things new.  Amen.

Leviticus 21:1-12

Scripture: verse 12

He may not leave the sanctuary then or profane the sanctuary of his God, because the consecration of the anointing oil of his God is on him; I am Adonai.

Observation:  The High Priest was not allowed to go into mourning for anyone, not even his own parents.  He wasn’t even allowed to attend the funeral.  (Regular priests were only allowed to mourn immediate family.)  For him to do so would dishonor God.

Yeshua later told His followers that they needed to love Him more than their parents and family in order to be His followers (Luke 14).  When He said it, that was literally true – following Yeshua meant traveling around the country with Him – but even today that is the level of commitment He asks of us.

This is harsh.  It’s not easy, and it seems inhuman.  Which isn’t exactly surprising, since God is holy and different and other.

But there’s another time when we leave our parents: marriage.  Genesis 2:24 says that a man leaves his father and mother to be united to his wife, so that they can be one flesh.  And it’s true that if a married person puts their parents before their spouse, the marriage falls apart.

Like marriage, following Yeshua demands a complete shift in priorities and perspective.  It involves leaning new ways of living and new routines and new values.  It isn’t easy.  But like marriage, it’s worth it.

Application:  Don’t be surprised when God’s priorities are different from yours.  Ask Him to help you understand instead of rejecting His ideas entirely.

Prayer:  Yeshua, thank you for loving me enough to claim me.  Help me to learn to live with you and walk closely with you.  Amen.

Leviticus 18:1-16

Scripture: from verse 3

You are not to engage in the activities found in the land of Egypt, where you used to live; and you are not to engage in the activities found in the land of Caanan, where I am bringing you…I am Adonai your God.

Observation:  The chapter is about sexual practices, mostly forbidding incest.

Humans do what other humans do.  We’re designed to do it, actually – it’s one of the things that makes civilization possible.  If all our friends jump off a bridge, we usually do so as well, which is not a bad thing if the bridge is on fire or the water is nice for swimming.  Our actions, our thought patterns, our moods and even our eating habits are influenced by those around us.

As I said, this isn’t actually a bad thing.  It allows us to make use of others’ experiences and pool our knowledge so we avoid certain kinds of mistakes.  The internet has allowed this sort of herd instinct and collaboration to happen even faster and wider, and that sort of crowdsourcing has produced some remarkable things.  (Admittedly it has also produced some real duds as well, but such is life.)

But God is other.  God is different.  God doesn’t do what other people do.  And He doesn’t want His people to do what other people do – at least not unthinkingly.

God designed us to collaborate and work together.  But humans are broken.  We’re flawed.  And the flaws come out in our collaborations, just as everything else does.  If we want to be holy, we need to watch not just our own actions, but also the trending actions of those around us.  Because if we aren’t aware of what others are doing, we’ll do the same things without even thinking about it.

This isn’t easy to notice, either.  If our culture is filled with an activity or an attitude, we tend to forget that it’s part of our culture.  We think all humans take vacations, or want to be thin, or gossip about others.  And that isn’t necessarily true.  We need to ask God for His perspective, so we can see where we are making false assumptions.

Application:  Keep an eye on yourself.  Be willing to be different.

Prayer:  Holy Spirit, thank you for enabling me to follow God’s word.  Help me to be holy, and to see where I need to be different in order to be holy.  Help me see the activities of my culture as just part of my culture and not an integral part of being human.  Help me to have the perspective to see things the way you do.  Amen.

Leviticus 14:1-32

Scripture: verses 6 and 7

As for the live bird, [the priest] is to take it with the cedar-wood, scarlet yarn and hyssop and dip them and the living bird in the blood of the bird slaughtered over running water, and sprinkle the person to be purified from the tzara‘at [leprosy] seven times. Next he is to set the live bird free in an open field.

Observation:  The rituals for purifying someone from leprosy have got to be one of the most elaborate sets of rituals in Leviticus – certainly it seems more complicated than consecrating the priests did.  This is the first ritual, done after the priest has examined the person and determined that he is clean again.

We see numerous symbols of purification and preservation here.  Cedar wood was probably used then, as it is now, to keep critters away from clothing.  Isaiah 1 promises that our scarlet-dyed sins will be as white as snow.  Hyssop is a purgative, as mentioned in Psalm 51.  Running water was used for washing, and the live bird was freed after being dipped in sacrificial blood.  (Incidentally, I would not want to try dipping a live, healthy bird into blood.  That seems like something that would go horribly!)

But what gets me is that these things don’t make the person who had leprosy clean.  He still has to spend another seven days outside his tent (though he can be inside the camp) and then offer more sacrifices before he is truly clean.  These things are the promise of being clean.

We aren’t given purgatives and bleach so we can make ourselves perfect.  It doesn’t work that way.  God gave us those things as a picture of what He offers.

Living clean and doing good things and being generous to others and all the good things we do are not things that make us holy.  God gave us those things to be a picture of His grace and His will.  But if we spend all our time looking at the picture, we’ll never accept His offer.  We’ll never be clean.

There’s only one way to be clean: through the sacrifice of the Lamb.  Everything else is just a promise of what’s to come.

Application:  Don’t spend all your time and energy on the picture.  Claim His blood and His gift.  Seek His face.  See the rest for what it is: a set of useful tools and helpful pictures, but not salvation.

Prayer:  Yeshua, thank you for being my Lamb.  Thank you for making me clean when nothing else could.  Help me not to get distracted by things that don’t work.  Amen.

Leviticus 10:1-11

Scripture: from verses 9 and 10

Don’t drink any wine or other intoxicating liquor… so that you will distinguish between the holy and the common, and between the unclean and the clean.

Observation:  This was an order given to the priests: when they were in the tent of meeting being priests, they were to be sober.  It was given after two of Aaron’s sons performed a ritual not instructed by God and got killed for their efforts.

It is not easy to distinguish between the holy and the common.  It wasn’t then and it isn’t now.  From this distance, Aaron’s sons were doing something thoroughly stupid – but from their point of view, it was doubtless an obvious and holy thing to do.  I don’t know if they were drunk, but at least they weren’t paying attention.

So we need to pay attention.  We need to be aware that God’s plans are not our plans, and He may have different intentions for our plans than we do.

Application:  We are called to be holy.  That means that we have to let God use our time and energy in ways that may not seem obvious.  It means that we need to be aware that God’s glory can show up whenever and wherever He wants it to.  It means we need to look for His plans, not follow our own.

Prayer: Holy Spirit, thank you for filling my life.  Thank you for making things holy that were once common.  Thank you for making me holy.  Help me to follow your plans.  Amen.

Leviticus 9:1-11

Scripture: verse 6

This is what Adonai has ordered you to do, so that the glory of Adonai will appear to you.

Observation:  The classic human religious tradeoff is that humans have to do x, y, and z, and their god will be happy with them and make them rich.  This verse is God’s version.

For one thing, we are commanded to be holy.  Not good enough, not doing enough good things to outweigh our bad things.  Holy.  We can’t be holy, so (thankfully) God has arranged for a Substitute to take all the not-holy.  But our lack of holiness requires blood and death.

We can’t make up for the not-holy.  It has to be taken away.

And once we are made holy, we aren’t necessarily promised health and wealth and happiness.  God does provide those things, but He is selective about what He gives us.  If a time of sickness or poverty will be better in the long run, that’s what He provides.  He’s a wise father, not an indulgent babysitter.

But.  We are promised the presence of His glory.  Once we are made holy, we get to see our God face to face.  We get to ask Him questions and get answers.  We get to tell Him things and have Him comfort us.  We get to see His glory.

Nobody else promises that.

Application:  According to the authors of Happy Money, people who buy experiences are happier for longer than people who buy things.  So we have a choice.  We can spend our time and energy pursuing things like wealth.  Or we can experience the glory of Almighty God.

Prayer:  Yeshua, thank you for being my Substitute, for taking my not-holy on yourself.  Thank you for being my ticket into God’s presence.  Help me to rest in His glory instead of being anxious over my own concerns.  Amen.