Leviticus is one of my favourite books. This is a bold claim, but I believe there is depth to these rituals and offerings, that we often miss in our modern society.
The book opens with a series of offerings, each serving a different purpose. The first is the Burnt Offering. This is where a person would bring an animal; a bull, a sheep, a goat, or a dove/pigeon, and, after killing it, burn the whole body on the altar, leaving nothing left other.
This offering had nothing to do with sin, but was the first step in someone coming before God. The person would bring their animal to recognise their need for God, and as the animal was burnt with fire, and as the smoke rose, that would be the symbol for them that God was there.
Remember, God came to them in a pillar of fire and smoke. So this offering exists to show the willingness of someone coming before God and God’s presence there with them.
The second is the Grain Offering. This one is a little different. Some of the grain brought forward would be burnt on the altar, but then the rest of it would be for the priests to eat. The purpose of this offering was that it was like a shared meal.
Before the person who has come do to do business with God begins, he would “share” a meal with God, the priests eating their bit of grain, and God enjoying his bit through the aroma of what was burnt on the altar. We made a note of this theme of sharing a meal with God back in Exodus 24:9-11, when the elders of Israel ate with God as they agreed to the covenant.
The third offering is the Peace Offering. This wasn’t offering for peace, but an offering to celebrate the peace they already had. It involves the same animals as the Burnt Offering, but only burns some of the body.
The rest is used like the Grain Offering to be eaten by the priest, and this time the person who brought the offering. Again, the people share a meal with God. These two meals are to reinforce the relationship that the people had with God. We do a similar thing today in churches through communion.
We take communion together, yes to remember what Jesus has done, but also to remind us of the relationship we now have with him and with one another. While only the priest got to enjoy the Grain offering, there are no limits to which bits we get to enjoy in communion. As Christians, we are all priests in God’s eyes.
With the fourth offering, we get the first offerings that are actually anything to do with sin. Up until now, the offerings were there to affirm God’s relationship with the people. This is true of us today. God doesn’t want us to get right first and then come to him. He wants to affirm his relationship with us first, and then together we can look at the issue of dealing with our sin.
The first two sin offerings mentioned deal with the sin of the priests and the entire nation. In these cases, the blood of the sacrifice is taken into the tabernacle to re-purify it. Sin on these levels threatens the very purity of God’s dwelling place.
The second two deal with the sins of individual leaders within the community, and then your every day person. In these cases the blood was left outside the tabernacle and just used to purify the altar. These offerings are all about cleaning the contamination of sin so that people are free to come near and be in God’s presence.
These offerings, however, are only for unintentional sins. There are no offerings for intentional decisions we make to sin. In those cases, Leviticus suggests that the person be cast out of the community or killed. This is why Jesus’ death and resurrection is so much better than the sacrifices found here in Leviticus. He deals with all sin, intentional or unintentional.
This psalm is attributed to King David and falls into the category of praise psalm, specifically a thanksgiving psalm. The psalmist, potentially David, is thanking and praising God for saving them for a sickness, or from near death.
Psalm 30:1-3 - A testimony of praise
Psalm 30:4-5 - An encouragement for others to praise
Psalm 30:6-12 - The psalmists’ own experience
The psalm opens with its purpose, the psalmist with extol praise God because the Lord has heard the cries, and healed them, saving them from death.
Turning to those around them, they encourage others to praise God. He speaks to the saints, the faithful ones, telling them to give thanks. The reason they can give thanks? While God’s anger my present, and there may be weeping now, they will soon be replaced with God’s favour and joy.
The psalmist begins to share his own experience. He had made a commitment to stand with God, and then it had seemed like God had hidden his face. So the psalmist continues to hold on to God, crying out to him for help.
And he did. God turned the psalmist’s mourning into dancing, his clothes of grief into clothes of joy. Because of this the psalmist will never cease to praise God and share of his goodness.
The psalm is a reminder to us to share the good that God has done for us. We are to be honest and real about the difficult times, but then celebrate with others when God proves himself faithful.
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.
Understanding the context of your passage is always important. BibleProject always do an incredible job of breaking down each book so you can see how your passage fits into the wider story.
The Naked Bible Podcast is for those that want intense Bible study. Be warned, many will find these podcasts go too deep for them. There are four episodes, averaging an hour each, covering the introduction to the book and these four chapters.But for those that persevere this will be a rich source of teaching for you.Check the podcast out here
BibleProject have done an animated recap of Leviticus to help you fit today's passage into the overarching story of Leviticus.
Spoken Gospel outlines the book of Leviticus and point out some of the key themes, all in the medium of spoken word.
In this video, the guys at BibleProject explore the paradox that God’s holiness presents to human beings. God is the unique and set-apart Creator of all reality and the author of all goodness. However, that goodness can become dangerous to humans who are mortal and morally corrupt. Ultimately, this paradox is resolved by Jesus, who embodies God’s holiness that comes to heal His creation.
God is on a mission to remove evil from His good world, along with all of its corrosive effects. However, He wants to do it in a way that does not involve removing humans. In this video on sacrifice and atonement, the guys at BibleProject trace the theme of God’s “covering” over human evil through animal sacrifices that ultimately point to Jesus and his death and resurrection.