Sunday, March 16, 2014

Leviticus 21

Today's reading in our daily plan is Leviticus 21. 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?)

  • As we continue through the laws of Leviticus, we now come to rules for priests, to ensure their holiness. It was critical that the priests, who represented the people before God, were ceremonially clean. Why? Because God is holy (verse 8) and without holiness no one can be in God's presence (see Hebrews 12:14). (Remember though, there is now a new way of being holy - through faith in the sacrifice of Jesus. If we believe in Jesus and embrace his sacrifice for us, we are made holy.)
  • Verse 5 speaks of shave heads and beards and cutting bodies. These were all practices done in that time by people of other (pagan) religions as rituals of mourning for someone who had died. God was teaching his people that these were not practices done by his people.
  • There are a few harsh punishments for sin mentioned in this chapter. Jesus' death for us changed all this. See the post on the previous chapter (Leviticus 20) for more on this.
  • Verse 23 mentions "the curtain." This was the curtain between the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place in the temple (see Exodus 26:33). Only the priests could go into the Most Holy Place (where God's presence was believed to reside), and only if they were "clean." But this changed with the sacrifice of Jesus as well. In fact, the moment Jesus died the curtain that prevented access for normal people into the Most Holy Place was torn from top to bottom (see Matthew 27:51), symbolically opening the way for all people to come into God's presence.

SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)

  • Without holiness no one can see God, and back in the time of Leviticus, even with holiness, still only certain people could get really close to God. But because of Jesus and his death for us, we can all be holy through faith in him, and we can all come close to God.

NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)

  • You can live your life in God's presence. You can come close to God. But that doesn't necessarily mean you will. It doesn't happen automatically. God invites us in, but we have to choose it. How have you been doing in living your life close to God? What spiritual practices have you put in your life that help you to be aware of God's presence, and make you feel closer to him? What have you not been doing that you can do? Getting to be close to God is a real honor that was bought for you at a high price, don't take it for granted!