God Demands Holiness for His Ministers!

Monday, July 31, 2017

Daily reading assignment – Leviticus 22-24

The opening verses of Leviticus 22 remind 21st century ministers and believers that God sets forth the highest ideals for those who minister before Him on behalf of His people.  I understand the context of Leviticus 22 is in its immediate application guidelines for the priesthood; however, we find enduring principles for those who serve the LORD.

The first, priests (identified as Aaron and his sons) were to treat as sacred the sacrifices brought to them by the people (22:2).  The work of continually offering sacrifices might have easily become routine for priests and, rather than treat their duties as a sacred responsibility, a sense of doldrums and lethargy might set in that would treat the offerings as less than holy.

There is also a danger of failing to take account of one’s spiritual standing before the LORD (22:3).  Samuel’s rebuke of Saul’s pretentiousness in offering sacrifices echoes this same principle when we read, “…Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams” (1 Samuel 15:22).  The people bringing sacrifices might not have known the priest ministering before them was merely going through the motions; however, the LORD knows the heart of those who serve Him and requires holiness.

A third example of treating the priesthood with less than the holiness God demanded was a laxness in who might share the portions set aside for the priest and his immediate family (22:10-16).  In other words, the heart of a priestly father might be to give a portion of meat to family members and guests who did not qualify to partake of the portions God set aside for priests and their families.

Finally, sacrifices offered to the LORD were to be of the highest standard (22:17-32).  Like those who offer the LORD less than a tithe, there was the temptation to offer animals for sacrifice that were deformed, ill or injured.  God’s standard was “there shall be no blemish therein” (22:21).

After reminding Israel they were to keep the Sabbath Day holy (23:1-3), Leviticus 23 identifies various feast days Israel was to observe as a nation during the calendar year: The Passover (23:4-14); the Feast of Pentecost (23:15-22); the Feast of Trumpets (23:23-32) and the Feast of Tabernacles (23:33-44).

A spiritual crisis is recorded in Leviticus 24 when the son of Israelite woman whose father was Egyptian is guilty of cursing and blaspheming the name of the LORD (24:10-11).  Having broken the third commandment, “Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain” (Exodus 20:7), the offender was imprisoned while Moses sought the LORD’s will in the matter (“the mind of the LORD” – 24:12).

Exemplifying the great offense committed by the blasphemer, the LORD directed Moses to put him to death.  Those who were witnesses to the man’s sin identified him as the offender by placing their head on his head (24:14). Recognizing the severity of the offense, the children of Israel carried out God’s judgment and stoned him to death (24:23).

Friend, we live in an age of Grace; however, God’s demand that His people be holy is no less.   Reflecting on Leviticus 20:7, “Sanctify yourselves therefore, and be ye holy: for I am the LORD your God”, Peter wrote to the 1st century church: “But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; 16  Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:15-16).

Pastors and teachers who fail to live above reproach and take the high road when it comes to so-called “gray areas” in life are a leprosy in the 21st century church.  Projecting an ideology of being “real” and approachable, our pulpits are sacrificing holiness and embracing carnality and our church members are following the same.

1 John 2:15-17 – “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
16  For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.
17  And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.”

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith