Sunday, January 5, 2014

Leviticus 1

Today's reading in our daily plan is Leviticus 1. Take a moment to pray, asking God to speak to you from this passage. Then read, using the following notes and questions to help you get everything out of the passage.

SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)

  • Today we start in the book of Leviticus. This book takes place after the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and the giving of the law to Moses for them. The book concerns the formalizing of their religious practices. Some of it will feel foreign, but there is a lot of application for us, as it answers questions like: How do we get right with God? Worship God? Treat each other?
  • Moses was the person who God chose to lead and represent his people.
  • The "Tent of Meeting" was the place where God met with his people.
  • A burnt offering was offered every morning and evening for all Israel (see Exodus 29:39-42). Double burnt offerings were brought on the Sabbath (see Numbers 28:9-10) and extra ones on feast days (see Numbers 28-29). Individuals could also offer burnt offerings to worship God.
  • The bunt offering had to be a male (see verse 3) because they had greater value. The animal would typically be a sheep or goat, but the wealthy were to bring bulls, and the poor were permitted to bring doves or pigeons.
  • The animal being offered had to be "without defect." The person offering it would put his hand on it (verse 4) and its sacrifice would make "atonement" for his sins. Atonement means to erase. God was making the offer that he would erase a person's sins through the sacrifice of an animal on his or her behalf.

SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
  • What happened with the animals in the time of Leviticus set people up to understand what Jesus did.  Jesus offered himself as our atoning sacrifice. Romans 3:25 says, "God presented Jesus as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood." Verses 9, 13 and 17 refer to the pleasing aroma of the sacrifice, and we're told in the New Testament, in Ephesians 5:2, that Jesus "gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God."
  • Later, in that passage in Romans, we're told that God let Jesus die "so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus" (Romans 3:26). The idea is that if God is just (which he is), then sin must be punished. But God loves us and so wants to "justify" us. To be justified means to have your guilt taken away. So how could God be just and punish our sin, but also take away the guilt of our sin? By having something (in the Old Testament, the animal sacrifices) or someone (Jesus) take our place and be punished for us.

NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
  • How grateful are you for Jesus taking the punishment you deserved on the cross? How often do you express your gratitude? Maybe take some time right now to do that.
  • Jesus gave himself for you. What could you give to him, or for him? 1 Peter 2:5 says we are to be "offering spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God." What are some things you need to sacrifice (or sacrifice more of) for God?