3 Leviticus: Is Anything Holy?
September 17, 2017
What does it mean to be HOLY?
Special, unique, sacred, not common, Godly, pure, completely whole and without blemish, the perfection of every good quality.
We ascribe holiness to God because He is not like any other. There is only one God. He has revealed himself to be all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving, all-wise, always present, always righteous, always just, unsurpassable and eternal.
This week as we come to the third stop in our Journey on Route 66, we arrive at the text of Leviticus, which is one of the least read and understood of the 66 books of the Old and New Testaments.
3 - Leviticus / Holiness
Author: Moses Date: 1445-1400 B.C.
Significant Events: Laws for Offerings, Dedication of Aaron and His Sons as Priests, Death of Aaron’s Sons, Purity Laws, Institution of Day of Atonement, Annual Feasts.
Key Verse: “Speak to all the congregation of the people of Israel and say to them, ‘You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy.’” – Leviticus 19:2
Leviticus takes its name from the people descended from Jacob’s son Levi, who were appointed by God as priests after the nation had left their enslavement in Egypt to oversee religious life and worship for all the people. In the Sinai wilderness, the Levites provided care and leadership in the tabernacle, which was a portable center for worship and offerings that was set up in the center of wherever the twelve tribes camped.
When God calls Moses up on Mount Sinai so He can give the laws of His people, He reveals the Ten Commandments that are first detailed in the Book of Exodus and then also various purity laws and practices that are recorded in the Book of Leviticus.
Leviticus is all about Holiness. Understanding who God is and how we are to respond to Him.
God sets the standards and the parameters for our life and relationships. We do not dictate to Him. He reveals what is true to us, and He allows us the freedom to respond to Him as we choose. But then God dictates the consequences of our choices.
You are free to exercise your will, but you and I are not free to control God. He is sovereign and ultimate – we are not.
Last week, as we looked at the Book of Exodus, the sovereignty of God was revealed to all of Egypt when God sent plagues upon the land until Pharaoh freed the Hebrew slaves and let the people go.
Then as the people begin their journey through the Sinai wilderness, there is a troubling event. Let’s look at this in Leviticus chapter 10:
What does this mean?
God had directed Moses’ brother Aaron how sacrifices were to be offered up in order to cleanse and express forgiveness for the people’s sin. All of these directions highlighted the seriousness that God lays upon sin and upon His relationship with His people.
Sin is at its core rebellion against God. It is preferring oneself, your own desires, your own goals, your own thoughts and feelings over God’s.
Sin is basically saying to God, “You are not God to me. I am my own boss. I make my own standards. I will find my own happiness and satisfaction. You don’t know what you’re talking about. I choose me rather than You.”
Now, there is only one God. One Sovereign. One Creator. One who is the Source of Love and all that is Good.
Understand this is the God who sent the plagues upon Egypt. The God who brought them out of slavery. The God who is miraculously providing manna on the ground every morning so that all His people have something to eat in the wilderness.
And yet, when this God who has provided all they have and has shown His power and care in mighty ways says “this is the incense you will use when you burn an offering unto Me,” Nadab and Abihu say, “Nah, we’d rather do it our own way.”
The incense that God had prescribed was frankincense. You’ve probably heard of that before. It was one of the gifts the magi brought when Jesus was born. And it was fitting because Jesus became the Greatest and Final High Priest who offered up His own perfect and sinless life as the only all-satisfying sacrifice for our sin.
Frankincense has one especially peculiar quality. It has no fragrance at all until it is burned. And then it releases a scent that is woody, earthy, sweet and fruity all at the same time.
But the smell itself is not what pleases God. Instead, what God delights in is the obedience of His people and in their petition that He will be gracious and forgiving as they look to Him.
What fragrance did Aaron’s sons use? Maybe Chanel or Gucci or Honey Smoked Barbeque. Something that they preferred.
But no matter what scent it was, the problem was that it communicated their own will over God’s. They appropriated something that was designed to communicate truth about God, and they used it instead to express their own selfishness. And these were the men that were commissioned to lead the people to know and respond to God for who He is.
In essence, Nadab and Abihu disparaged God’s holiness. And God let it be known to all that He would not ultimately tolerate an offense against His character.
This seems a very foreign story to us. We don’t burn sacrifices to God today. We don’t kill animals and offer them up.
Because all those things foreshadowed Jesus, and now the perfect sacrifice has been offered. Payment for sin has been made once for all, and by trusting in Jesus as Savior and Lord, God’s grace and forgiveness is conferred upon His people.
So the question arises – is there any relevance here?
What do you and I take away from this part of God’s inspired Word?
Aaron’s sons treated something that God had pronounced as holy in a very casual, frivolous manner. And God responded forcefully. You see this come up at other points in Scripture.
Later in the Old Testament record, in Second Samuel it’s recorded that when a man named Uzzah violated God’s law by touching the ark of the covenant, which was a sign of God’s presence among His people, God struck him dead right beside the ark.
And in the New Testament book of Acts when a married couple named Ananias and Sapphira tried to deceive their church about their generosity in an offering, God took their lives, too.
You see, what God declares as holy, we are not to treat casually or with disregard.
But one of the sins of our culture and this world’s philosophy is that nothing is really holy.
This Book (the Bible) is just the made up stories of men. It’s no different than any other book. Every day is the same – none is more
Meanwhile, God says the truth of His holiness, His purity, the perfection of every good thing is on display throughout our lives.
And then this huge declaration:
God counts those who know and respond to Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord as Holy.
You are set apart. You are infinitely valuable. You have a divine and eternal purpose. God is declaring the majesty of who He is through your life.
Here’s what I think. As followers of Christ, we need to actively resist this world’s idea that nothing is really holy. And that everything is valuable only to the extent that it pleases us.
Instead, we should hold up the holiness and the sacredness of God Himself and all the ways and means He declares His power and love and purpose in our lives.
This day, this gathering is holy. It is not like any other, for it declares that God alone is worthy of worship and praise.
When you use your time and your energy and your ability and your finances for purposes in obedience to God’s command, then those resources are holy because you are revealing that there is something more precious and valuable than just the things of this world.
Your children and your spouse and your family are holy because they are gifts from God and your relationship with them bears witness to God’s everlasting covenant with His people and the great love and provision He makes for those who are part of His family.
Your job is holy, because God has ordained work and He says no matter how you are treated, no matter the value someone else does or doesn’t place on your labor, you are working for Him and He will reward you.
Your church family is holy because these are the people called out and called together by God to love and serve and strengthen and forgive one another so that all the world will see God’s own character in His people.
I think when you really consider the ongoing, comprehensive, redemptive and sanctifying activity of God in your life, you come to understand that God has made all things to display His holiness.
And our world needs that perspective. Otherwise, people are just like Aaron’s sons, and the things that God gave to declare Himself, they use instead to satisfy their own desires. And this will ultimately end in their destruction.
Your life, your relationships, your resources, your days are ordained by God. They are to be handled with care, prized and valued and used for His divine purpose. And all these things can increase your joy as they are part of your delighting in God.
The proclamation of the seraphim above the throne of God in heaven is this:
Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty. The whole earth is full of His glory.
May this also be the expression of the way you live in each and every day so that all people may know – your God is truly God, the only One who is, and they may find fullness of joy and every good thing in Him.
“1Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu took their censers, put fire in them and added incense; and they offered unauthorized fire before the Lord, contrary to His command. 2 So fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord. 3 Moses then said to Aaron, “This is what the Lord spoke of when He said:
“‘Among those who approach Me, I will be proved holy; in the sight of all the people I will be honored.’” – Leviticus 10:1-3
“You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” – I Peters 2:9
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