Leviticus 8-10; Psalm 32
So far in Leviticus we've seen the introduction into the world of ritual sacrifices. These play a key aspect of the Israelites affirming their relationship with God. These offerings, each with a unique purpose, are not just rituals but declarations that the Israelites are committed to their God.
We started with the Burnt Offering, where an animal is entirely consumed by fire. This act isn't about sin but symbolises a voluntary approach to God. The smoke representing His presence. Following this is the Grain Offering. It was like bringing food to share with God .
Next was the Peace Offering. This celebrated and acknowledged the existing harmony the Israelites could enjoy with God.
Then came the Sin Offerings. There were exclusively for unintentional sins. They covered various scenarios like neglecting duties or accidental contamination of holy spaces.
From there we read about the priests' role in these rituals. They were to be modest in their worship, dressing appropriately. We saw how this contrasted with the rituals of the neighbouring nations that often brought sex into their sacrifices. The priests were to keep a perpetual fire on the altar, symbolising God's constant presence.
We also saw the priests also enjoy eating some of the offerings. This showed their intimate relationship with God, but was also there to model for the rest of Israel the intimacy they were being led into. These were the early equivalents of the Christian practice of communion, where all believers share in this sacred meal, united and equal before God.
The Tabernacle has been built. We’ve learnt how to do the offerings. It’s now time for those that are going to be working in God’s presence, the priests, to be prepared. The process is thorough.
First, they are washed with water. Great focus would have been made on the hands and feet. This was to make them physically clean. Their hands as they go around touching the different items in the tabernacle, and their feet as they walk on holy ground. They are then dressed in all the right clothing prepared for them.
Moses anoints Aaron with oil. This was to give him official status as High Priest. During this time, kings and priest were anointed with oil to appoint them to their roles. Then finally, offerings and sacrifices are made for Aaron and his sons to clean them of the contamination of their sin. They were washed clean physically and now they are washed clean morally and spiritually.
Moses then tells them to wait by the entrance to the tabernacle, in God’s presence, for seven days. Once the seven days are up, the people of Israel gather together and the priest make the very first offerings and sacrifices for the people.
We see mention of the sin offering, the burnt offering, the grain offering, the peace offering, and even the wave offering. The priests perform each of the offerings, and God’s presence comes before the people. After all this preparation to make sure everything is perfect, the priest have finally done their first offerings and God is pleased.
But the next chapter is a sad one. Just when you think things are looking up, two of Aaron’s sons decide to mix things up. Rather than use incense that they’ve been told to they choose their own incense.
Remember how meticulously we’ve prepared the tabernacle, everything in it, and the priests? Remember how everything has to be perfect for God's presence to dwell in the tabernacle?
Well, the two decide to do things differently and God strikes them down. It’s a sad moment. Just as the relationship between God and his people is restored, like in the garden with Adam and Eve, these two sons decide to do things their way instead of God’s way. And like Adam and Eve, the penalty is death.
What's noteworthy, is one of the rules that comes out after this happens. Aaron is told that he and his descendants are not to drink before entering the Tabernacle. It may have been the case that his two sons were drunk and that's what led them to behave how they did.
This psalm is attributed into the category of king David and falls into the category of thanksgiving, though it could also be considered a wisdom psalm.
The main focus of the psalm is the psalmist thanking God for how good it is when we confess our sins. However, it could be argued that, more than that, it is meant to be a psalm of wisdom to us, telling us to confess our sins.
Psalm 32:1-2 - Blessed are those whose sin is removed
Psalm 32:3-5 - A personal testimony or repentance
Psalm 32:6-7 - Those who don’t hide their sin can hide in the Lord
Psalm 32:8-9 - Yahweh will teach his people
Psalm 32:10-11 - The upright are glad and rejoice in the Lord
The psalm starts with the declaration that blessed are those who sins are forgiven, and no longer counted by God. The psalmist shares their experience with not confessing their sin. It was like their very bones were wasting away. They could almost feel the weight of God pressing down on them.
So the psalmist confessed their sin. They no longer tried to ‘cover’ it. Because of this, God forgave them of their sin. When we compare Psalm 32:1 and Psalm 32:5, we can see that when we make the choice not to cover or hide our sin, God covers it for us.
Reflecting on this, the psalmist then encourages everyone who is holy to confess their sin. The ‘great waters’, which we know embodies all that is chaotic, will not overcome those who confess to the Lord.
For those that don’t hide their sin, God will be a hiding place for them. He will preserve and keep them.
The psalm then changes perspective, as though God has entered the conversation. God leans in and tells the psalmist, or the reader, that he will and instruct and teach them.
This teaching won’t be a simple ‘do this, don’t do that’ like someone who leads a stubborn mule or hose. It will be a wisdom that allows you to understand what you do and make good decisions.
Returning to the psalmist, the psalm now ends in praise. The sins of the wicked will bring sorrow on their head, but the Lord is faithful and loving to those who trust in him and confess their sins to him. He will be a source of joy to him.
From this psalm, we learn the importance of repentance. While it might be tempting to try to hide our sin from God, we can trust him with our mistakes and he will lead us into righteousness and joy.
Anything you think I've missed? Maybe you've got a question that still needs answering. Send me a message over on my Instagram (@brynjoslin). I'd love to talk it through with you some more.