SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
- This chapter begins with God commanding that sacrifices not be made in or outside the camp, but instead be presented at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting to the priest. It seems (at least part of) the reason was because by making sacrifices where they were not supposed to, the Israelites were falling into the pagan practices of the neighboring Canaanites. God was trying to protect his children from bad influences.
- Verse 7 says that in taking part in another religion the Israelites were "prostituting themselves."
- In verses 10-16 we read about the blood of animals. From the opening chapters of the Bible (see Genesis 9:4) God has been telling us that the life of a creature is in the blood. Blood is the symbol of life, a sacrifice required the shedding of blood, and here God commands the Israelites to treat blood with respect.
- Again, these rules of the old covenant (about what is allowed and not allowed to be eaten) no longer apply to those who live in the new covenant.
SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
- Just as in the Old Testament, we learn in the New Testament that the shedding of blood is necessary. Hebrews 9:22 says, "Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness." But in the New Testament we learn that the blood of animals could never truly purify people, only the blood of a person could, and that person would have to be perfect. This is why Jesus was the only, and necessary, one who could sacrifice for us (see Hebrews 9:11-28).
- Verse seven's talk of the Israelites "prostituting" themselves helps us to understand that what we believe and put our faith in is not just intellectual. It's about our hearts; about relationship and intimacy. When we turn from God it is adultery, and when we give our hearts to something else, we prostitute ourselves.
NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
- Are you prostituting your heart to something or someone other than God? Do you compromise or ignore what God says just to give into the demands of a certain person? Do you find yourself neglecting your relationship with God for the sake of something else that consumes your thoughts or time? Does your drive to succeed in your career cause you to push God away from being a priority? Take time today to assess your relationship with God, and start implementing changes to make him the top priority he deserves to be.