Leviticus 7: Holiness… Seriously.

Chapter 7 gives us further details of handling sacrifices. One specific instruction caught my attention today:

What does this tell me about God:

  • God is serious about his holiness.

Verse 20 describes how a person would become “cut off” from the people for eating the fellowship sacrifice while being unclean. At first, it seems like a small offense in my mind. Unpacking the concept of God’s holiness helps me grasp it better. God is serious about his holiness. Many authors are promoting the idea that God is all loving, and somehow his grandfatherly nature of love equals complete acceptance of anyone, regardless of their sin. We see in Leviticus that God is not just “all loving,” rather He is also “all holy.”

His love initiated creation of humanity. His holiness demanded separation from humanity when Adam and Eve sinned. His love made a way for redemption, His holiness required payment for sin in order to achieve it (through sacrifices in the Old Testament and Jesus’ death in the New Testament). His love accepts us as children upon our faith in Jesus, His holiness walks us through the process of sanctification during our time on earth. Both attributes work together and show us the greatness of God: certainly not a being I could have imagined in my daydreams.

How can I live in light of this:

  • I should be grateful that Jesus made it possible for me to be holy, and therefore able to approach God.

It was imperative that the Israelites respect the requirements set by God regarding the sacrifices. A person who understands his uncleanliness would dare not approach fellowship with the holy God. Similarly, we must maintain consciousness that we, too, were enemies of God. Our sin separated from God, and only through payment of that sin (by Jesus), can we have connection, friendship, family-relationship with Him. In light of God’s holiness and Jesus sacrifice, Paul reminds us to:

“work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.  For it is God who is working in you, enabling you both to desire and to work out His good purpose.” Philippians 2:12-13

This verse describes the walk with God as work: God’s work in us and our working out His good purpose. If an Israelite of Leviticus’ day approached God’s table without meeting the requirements for holiness, he would suffer banishment. Because the consequence was so great, I would guess this didn’t happen very often. We too should live with understanding of the weight of Jesus work to make us holy, and participate with humility in the work towards sanctification.

Other thoughts or questions:

  • Interesting: there are 3 types of fellowship offerings mentioned in chapter 7: a sacrifice to give thanks, a sacrifice to commend a vow one had fulfilled, and a sacrifice of freewill to God.

I am noticing more often how my knowledge of the New Testament is popping up as I study Leviticus. If this is one of your first books of the Bible to study, I applaud you. My husband is currently studying Leviticus and Numbers, at the same time as studying the book of John and Revelation. We are both energized by the correlative truths in scripture, the “then and now” comparisons, and the appearance of grace throughout each verse. If you have the time and attention to detail, try tackling a New Testament book at the same time as your study in Leviticus.

Did anything else pop out for you during your reading of Leviticus 7? Feel free to leave a comment.