“If his offering is a burnt offering from the herd, he shall offer a male without blemish. He shall bring it to the entrance of the tent of meeting, that he may be accepted before the Lord. He shall lay his hand on the head of the burnt offering, and it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him.”
Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.
We begin Leviticus today! Leviticus is actually a continuation of Exodus. The setting of the entire book takes place at the base of Mt. Sinai after the Israelites have erected the Tabernacle and its court. Leviticus is difficult, simply because the unfamiliar rituals and laws sound foreign to our modern ears. But there are several valuable reasons to study Leviticus…
- Leviticus teaches “that Israel is sinful and impure. On the other hand, it describes how to deal with sin and impurity so that the holy Lord can dwell in the people’s midst” (ESV Study Bible, pg 211, Theme).
- The sacrificial system of Leviticus points forward to – and has been fulfilled by – Christ.
- Many of the moral requirements listed in Leviticus reflect the kind of moral conduct that is pleasing to God today.
- Leviticus can help the Christian develop a godly framework for justice.
With these purposes in mind, let’s begin our 11 day trek through Leviticus :-)
Leviticus 1-3 begins to detail the types of offerings the priests and people make to the Lord. Leviticus 1 describes the burnt offering. The burnt offering was the most costly of the offerings because the whole animal was burned on the altar. In addition to the priests’ daily duty of giving the burnt offering to the Lord both in the morning and evening, the people could also bring a burnt offering for the purpose of petition or praise.
Leviticus 2 describes a grain offering. A grain offering was simply an offering of flour with oil, spices and salt. The offering could be cooked or uncooked. Typically a grain offering wasn’t brought alone – but was offered alongside another offering, such as a burnt or peace offering.
And finally, Leviticus 3 describes a peace offering. This offering resulted in peace between the offerer and God. The ritual symbolized a communion meal between the offerer, officiating priest and the Lord. Only a portion of the offering was burned and the rest of the animal was consumed by the offerer and priest.
It is tempting to discount Leviticus’ relevance because we know the entire sacrificial system has ceased. We no longer have to bring burnt offerings to the Lord. Christ’s “once and for all” sacrifice is sufficient for eternity! But we learn more of God’s character as we walk in the steps of our forefathers who lived before Christ. These rituals graciously gave the people a way to deal with sin until the promised Savior came.
In Matthew, we read more of Christ’s words describing the end of the age. There are varying interpretations of Jesus’ words depending on your end-time theology. I think there are two important applications we can learn from today’s passage.
- We do not know when Christ will return.
- In the interim, we are to wait well.
Jesus gives four parables on how to wait for his return. What do we learn from each of these parables?
- Matthew 24:43-44. The thief comes at an hour you do not expect. Therefore, we must be ready for Jesus to return at any time.
- Matthew 24:45-51. The faithful servant obeys his master even when he is not present and is greatly rewarded! The foolish servant ignores the master and does as he pleases. His fate is dreadful.
- Matthew 25:1-12. Half of the virgins were prepared and ready when the bridegroom came. The other half were not and missed him. We are each responsible to be ready for his return.
- Matthew 25:14-30. We are all given talents, and we are all called to be faithful with those talents.
The Israelites were waiting for Christ to come. We are waiting for Christ to return. The Lord’s expectations were the same for the Israelites as they are for us today. Wait well. How do we wait well? By obeying the Lord’s commands and being faithful with all He has given us!