Tag Archives: Devotional

The Leper, and the Portrait of Sin (Leviticus 13-14)

Scripture reading – Leviticus 13-14

Our study of that which the LORD declared as “unclean” continues with the focus upon poor souls who were afflicted with leprosy. The ancient scourge of leprosy is the subject of Leviticus 13-14.

Known today as “Hansen’s Disease” (HD), leprosy is a bacterial, infectious disease, and is treatable, even curable in the 21st century. In ancient times, it was a dreaded disease, that inevitably led its victims to isolation from society, and assigned to leper colonies where they would eventually die.

Leviticus 13 – Laws and Regulations for Leprosy (A symbol of sin in the Scriptures.)

Since ancient times, Egypt has been infested with leprosy, and its traces followed the children of Israel out of that country. The LORD, continuing His commands regarding the “unclean,” required Moses and Aaron to address, diagnose, and exclude lepers from the tribes of Israel (Leviticus 13:1-59).

The LORD directed Moses and Aaron in the steps required to protect the people from the spread of leprosy. It was essential that the disease be properly diagnosed.

Often beginning as no more than a rash, or boil, the disease could eventually produce dreadful, open sores, and decaying flesh. The advanced stages of the disease would find the leper with rotting limbs, clothes soiled and rent as an outward sign of mourning. Lepers were to wear a napkin over their mouths, and to cry out, “Unclean, unclean” (13:45), to any who approached, warning others they were carriers of the disease.

Leviticus 14 – Guidelines for Ceremonial Cleansing of the Leper

Should the leper be miraculously healed of the disease, there were ceremonial steps, and sacrifices prescribed to insure the legitimacy of the healing and the purification of the leper.  After following the prescribed rites for purification, the leper was deemed clean by the high priest, and restored to the fellowship of his family and nation (14:9-32).

Spiritual Application – Leprosy was the physical disease God chose to illustrate the infectious nature of sin among his people.

Consider the number of times leprosy was described as “unclean” in Leviticus 13 (13:3, 8, 11, 14, 15, 20, 22, 25, 27, 30, 36, 44, 45, 46, 51, 55, 59).  Leprosy was more than a skin issue of the outward man. Leprosy would inevitably affect the tissues, nerves, and body extremities would rot and decay.  Leprosy could so scar the body that it was an unbearable ugliness.

Leprosy’s effect on the body, served as a spiritual portrait of sin’s effect on a man’s soul.

Modernists would have us believe man is born innocent, and his environment (i.e. home, society, religion) is the cause of his societal deprivations.  The Scriptures, however, declare “the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9). Paul likened sin to a physical ailment and wrote, For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing” (Romans 7:18).

Jesus taught His disciples, “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: 20  These are the things which defile a man”  (Matthew 15:19-20).

The ancients had no cure for leprosy. The leper in Israel prayed for a miraculous healing, a divine intervention, one that would be verified by the examination of the high priest, and followed by sacrificial offerings (Leviticus 14).

The same is diagnosis is true for man’s plague of sin and wickedness. Humanity has no cure for sin and depravity. In the same way there was no cure for leprosy without the LORD, there is no cure for a sinful soul without turning from sin, and accepting Jesus Christ as Savior. In the words of the prophet Isaiah,

Isaiah 53:4-5 – “Surely he [the Messiah, Christ] hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. 5  But he [the Messiah, Christ] was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.”

I invite you to confess that you are a sinner, a spiritual leper in the eyes of God. Believe in your heart that Jesus is the Christ, the perfect, sinless Son of God; and that He died on the Cross for your sins, was buried, and raised from the dead.

1 John 5:1313These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

The Distinction Between the Clean and Unclean (Leviticus 11-12)

Scripture reading – Leviticus 11-12

* The Scripture reading prior to today’s devotional was Leviticus 10-11. I limited the focus of the previous devotional to Leviticus 10. This devotional commentary will cover Leviticus 11 and Leviticus 12.

Distinction Between Clean and Unclean Meats (Leviticus 11)

Leviticus 11 delineates for us the distinction between the meats the LORD deemed clean and unclean for His people to consume. God instructed Moses and Aaron regarding the beasts the children of Israel could eat, and those they were forbidden to eat (Leviticus 11).

Israel was to be distinct from the other nations. While the heathen would eat all manner of flesh, the children of Israel were to limit their diet to what the LORD deemed clean: Large beasts that were “clovenfooted, and cheweth the cud” (11:3) included ox (i.e. beef), sheep, goat, and deer (Deuteronomy 14:4,5).

There were beasts the LORD classified as unclean, that did not “chew the cud,” and others did not “divide the hoof (11:4-8). Examples of beasts that were forbidden, included the camel (11:4), “the coney” (believed to be a rock badger, 11:5), “the hare” (similar to the rabbit, 11:6) and “the swine (pig or boar), though he divide the hoof, and be clovenfooted, yet he cheweth not the cud; he is unclean to you” (11:7).

Fish with fins and scales were permitted (11:9); however, any creature of the water that lacked fish and scales were considered “an abomination” and not allowed (11:11-12).

The Hebrew word, “fowl” (11:13, 20) describes anything that is winged and flies. We notice there were numerous predatory fowl, and scavengers of carrion (vultures), that were labeled unclean, and forbidden for consumption (11:13-19). Leviticus 11:20 describes “fowls that creep, going upon all four,” believe to be a reference to winged insects (flies, wasps, and bees).

Some swarming winged insects were permitted in the Hebrew diet, and they are described as “every flying creeping thing that goeth upon all four, which have legs above their feet, to leap withal upon the earth” (11:21). These insects have jointed legs, and their larger hind legs allow them to leap. Among those that may be eaten were locusts, beetles, and grasshoppers (11:22-24).

All beasts, clean or unclean, that died as the course of nature, or by violence, were not to be eaten (11:24-25). Horses, asses, dogs, and all other beasts with paws (lions, tigers) were deemed unclean and were not to be consumed. In fact, touching them would make one ceremonially unclean (11:26-28).

Other animals labeled as “creeping things that creep upon the earth,” and were forbidden for human consumption: “the weasel, and the mouse, and the tortoise after his kind, 30And the ferret, and the chameleon, and the lizard, and the snail, and the mole” (11:29-30).

Kitchen vessels (pots, and pans) that came in contact with unclean animals were declared unclean (11:32-36). Vessels of wood, raiment, or skin that came in contact with unclean animals were to be cleaned in water, and not used until even (11:32). Vessels of clay that came in contact with unclean beasts, were to be broken and discarded (11:35). Snakes that slithered on their belly were unclean (11:41-43).

Why such attention to dietary restrictions?

There are several reasons that could be cited for the LORD’S declaration, and distinction between clean and unclean beasts. Long before man could peer through microscopes, and see the prevalence of dangerous bacterium in meats, the Creator knew those meats that are harmful to man. To prevent the consumption of meats that would cause illness, disease, and death, the LORD declared them unclean.

The LORD, who is Himself holy, commanded His people: “sanctify yourselves, and ye shall be holy; for I am holy: neither shall ye defile yourselves with any manner of creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. 45For I am the Lord that bringeth you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: ye shall therefore be holy, for I am holy” (11:44-45).

Leviticus 12 – The Purification of Women

Leviticus 12 moves the focus from unclean beasts, to unclean persons, and instructs women regarding ceremonial purification following childbirth (12:1-8).

A woman who had given birth was considered ceremonially unclean, and was to be separated from the sanctuary until her days of purification had past (12:1-2). A woman who had given birth to a son, was deemed ceremonially “unclean” for seven days, during which time she and her son would be separated from the family (12:2c). On the eight day, she would take her son to the priest to be circumcised (12:3). Her days of purification were numbered thirty-three days, during which time she would remain at home (12:4).

A woman who gave birth to a daughter (12:5), was separated from her family, and considered unclean for two weeks. She would remain at home for sixty-six days for her purification.

When a mother’s days of purification, and isolation were fulfilled, she would come to the sanctuary, and depending upon her means, bring either “a lamb of the first year for a burnt offering, and a young pigeon, or a turtledove, for a sin offering, unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, unto the priest” (12:6).

The sin offering was a confession of her unworthiness, the burnt offering her sacrifice of gratitude and thanksgiving, acknowledging God’s mercies in bringing her through the pangs of childbirth (12:7-8).

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

“Strange Fire” (Leviticus 10-11)

Scripture reading – Leviticus 10-11

After consecrating Aaron as high priest, and his sons to serve as priests, the LORD affirmed the priests of Israel, with “a fire…and consumed upon the altar the burnt offering and the fat: which when all the people saw, they shouted, and fell on their faces” (9:24).

Leviticus 10 – Tragedy: The Sin and Deaths of Two Sons of Aaron

Incredibly, the exhilarating moment we considered in Leviticus 9:24, was followed soon after with a great tragedy: “1And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the Lord, which he commanded them not. 2And there went out fire from the Lord, and devoured them, and they died before the Lord” (10:1-2).

The exact nature of Nadab and Abihu’s sin was not revealed; however, we understand it was an act of willful disobedience that the LORD would not tolerate. They had “offered strange fire…which [the LORD] commanded them not” (10:1c), and He consumed them with a fire of judgment (10:2).

I am reminded of the principle, “unto whom much is given, of him shall be much required” (Luke 12:48). The sons of Aaron had violated their privilege to serve on behalf of the people, and draw near to the LORD in His sanctuary, thus God rejected them.

Imagine the sorrow that took hold of Aaron’s heart when he learned two of his sons had disobeyed the LORD, and been slain by the fire of His judgment.

Moses warned Aaron, “This is it that the Lord spake, saying, I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me, and before all the people I will be glorified. And Aaron held his peace” (10:3). Aaron, because he represented the people before God, was forbidden to mourn outwardly, lest his sorrow appear to contradict the LORD’s judgment (10:3c).

Moses commanded “Mishael and Elzaphan, the sons of Uzziel the uncle of Aaron” (10:4), and cousins of Aaron’s sons, to remove their bodies from the Tabernacle, and carry them outside the camp. Aaron, and his surviving sons, Eleazar and Ithamar, were cautioned a second time that they were not to show outward signs of mourning, “lest ye die, and lest wrath come upon all the people: but let your brethren, the whole house of Israel, bewail the burning which the Lord hath kindled” (10:6b).

Instead of mourning, Aaron, Eleazar, and Ithamar, were reminded they had been anointed to serve the LORD, and were not to leave their duties in the Tabernacle (10:7).

Perhaps an indication of why Nadab and Abihu had sinned against the LORD (10:1), Leviticus 10:8-11 states a prohibition that the LORD’s priests were not to imbibe wine or strong drink in their ministry. Knowing alcohol can distort a man’s judgment, and compromise him morally, the priests were to “put [a] difference between holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean” (10:10).

Leviticus 10:12-15, rehearsed the laws that regulated the conduct and duties of priests, and the sacrifices they were to offer to the LORD for the nation.

Leviticus 10:16-20 – A Sin of Omission

We find Moses seeking the “goat of the sin offering” that the LORD had commanded be set aside for the priests (10:16). Moses discovered that Aaron’s surviving sons, Eleazar and Ithamar, had failed to set aside, and eat a portion of the offering the LORD had commanded be eaten by the priests.

Moses confronted Eleazar and Ithamar, demanding, “17Wherefore have ye not eaten the sin offering in the holy place, seeing it is most holy, and God hath given it you to bear the iniquity of the congregation, to make atonement for them before the Lord?” (10:17) They had failed the LORD (10:18), and not treated as holy that which God required. Instead, they had taken the flesh of the sin offering, and burned it outside the camp.

Aaron, assuming responsibility for his sons’ failures (10:19), bemoaned his sorrow for the things that had befallen him and his family (10:19). Moses, when he heard the words of his brother, sympathized with him, and “was content” (10:20).

A Lesson Concerning “Strange Fire”

Some could argue, Nadab and Abihu might have had good intentions for offering incense in the LORD’S sanctuary! However, we must remember, their intent or motivation was not the issue. They had chosen to come to the LORD apart from His command, and offered a “strange fire” that He refused.

I fear there is a lot that is done in churches, and under the guise of worship, that is a “strange fire” to the LORD. Strange doctrine, strange preachers, and strange music abound in churches. When the goal of worship leaders is to be exciting and entertaining, as opposed to hallowed and holy, they become the purveyors of “strange fire.”

You see, when we come to the LORD, we must come not on our merit, but on His terms. We are to be imitators of Christ, not imitators of the world (1 Peter 1:14; Romans 12:2).

1 Peter 1:15–1615But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; 16Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

The Aaronic Priesthood: Consecration and Dedication (Leviticus 9)

Scripture reading – Leviticus 9

With seven days of consecration completed (Leviticus 8:33-36); on the eighth day, Moses summoned “Aaron and his sons, and the elders of Israel” (9:2). Aaron, chosen by the LORD to be Israel’s high priest, was commanded by Moses to prepare to offer sacrifices for himself and his sons.

The first sacrifice Aaron would offer was “a sin offering, and a ram for a burnt offering, without blemish” (9:2). Before offering the LORD sacrifices for himself and his sons, Aaron was instructed to command “the children of Israel” to take “a kid of the goats for a sin offering; and a calf and a lamb, both of the first year, without blemish, for a burnt offering; 4Also a bullock and a ram for peace offerings, to sacrifice before the Lord; and a meat offering mingled with oil” (9:3-4).

The sacrifices were the condition required for Aaron, his sons, and the people to be in the LORD’s presence (9:4b, 6b). The people, having brought what the LORD required, gathered “before the tabernacle of the congregation: and all the congregation drew near and stood before the Lord” (9:5).

Moses then commanded Aaron, “Go unto the altar, and offer thy sin offering, and thy burnt offering, and make an atonement for thyself, and for the people: and offer the offering of the people, and make an atonement for them; as the Lord commanded” (9:7).

Take a moment, and reflect on why Aaron was commanded to offer sacrifices for himself and his sons.

With the congregation looking on, Aaron “slew the calf of the sin offering” for himself and his sons who would serve as priests. The “sin offering” left no doubt that Aaron was himself a sinner, and the congregation witnessed him slaying the calf as a substitutionary sacrifice for his sin.

Aaron’s sons then brought the blood of the calf to him, “and he dipped his finger in the blood, and put it upon the horns [corners] of the altar, and poured out the blood at the bottom of the altar” (9:11). The choice parts of the calf, “the fat, and the kidneys, and the caul above the liver of the sin offering,” were “burnt upon the altar; as the Lord commanded Moses” (9:9-10).” As commanded in Leviticus 4:11-12, the flesh and the hide of the “sin offering,” was burned outside Israel’s encampment. Aaron also slew, and offered “a ram for a burnt offering, without blemish” (9:2b, 12-14).

As God’s High Priest, Aaron Offered Sacrifices as Israel’s Mediator (9:15-21)

Having fulfilled the command to offer sacrifices for himself and his sons (9:1-14), Aaron then offered up four sacrifices for the children of Israel.

He took and slew “the goat, which was the sin offering…and offered it for [the sins]” of the people (9:15). He then offered “the burnt offering” that was “a calf and a lamb, both of the first year, without blemish” (9:3b, 16). The third offering was “the meat [lit. meal or grain] offering,” and it was burned on the altar as a sacrifice of praise and gratitude (9:17) on behalf of the nation.

Finally, as a symbol of communion with the LORD, Aaron “slew also the bullock and the ram for a sacrifice of peace offerings, which was for the people” (9:18a). As with the other sacrifices, “Aaron’s sons presented unto him the blood [of the peace offerings], which he sprinkled upon the altar round about” (9:18b).

As Israel’s high priest, Aaron invoked God’s blessings on the nation, and “lifted up his hand toward the people, and blessed them, and came down from offering of the sin offering, and the burnt offering, and peace offerings” (9:22).

I believe Leviticus 9:23 chronicles the duties of the spiritual leader of Israel were transferred from Moses, to Aaron as the high priest. Moses and Aaron entered the Tabernacle, and when they “came out, and blessed the people…the glory of the Lord appeared unto all the people” (9:23). His accepting the sacrifices, was powerfully manifested when “there came a fire out from before the Lord, and consumed upon the altar the burnt offering and the fat: which when all the people saw, they shouted, and fell on their faces” (9:24).

Moved with fear, joy, and thanksgiving, the people humbled themselves, fell to the ground, and worshipped the LORD.

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

The Holy Calling of the Pastor\Shepherd (Leviticus 7-8)

Scripture reading – Leviticus 7-8

Leviticus 7 introduces us to the “trespass offering,” a sacrifice that was identified with an individual’s sin. 

In his Bible Exposition Commentary (BE Series) on the Pentateuch, pastor and author Warren Wiersbe writes concerning the trespass offering:

“The sin [burnt] offering and the guilt [trespass] offering were very much alike and were even governed by the same law (7:1-10). Generally speaking, the guilt offering was for individual sins that affected people and property and for which restitution could be made, while the sin [burnt] offering focused on some violation of the law that was done without deliberate intent. The trespass offering emphasized the damage done to others by the offender, while the sin offering emphasized the offender’s guilt before God. The priest would examine the offender and determine which sacrifice was needed.”

The peace offering, an offering for the purpose of acknowledging God’s grace and giving Him thanks, is described in Leviticus 7:11-21.  The sacrifice of oxen is prescribed, and accompanied by offerings of “unleavened cakes…unleavened wafers…and cakes mingled with oil, of fine flour, fired” (7:12).  The portions of the peace offering not consumed by the fire were given to the priests for their consumption.

The “fat of the beast,” and “blood” portions of the offerings were not to be eaten (7:22-27). The specific portions of the “fat of the beast” that were forbidden was described in Leviticus 3:3-4, 9.  The blood of sacrifices was not to be consumed, because it was the means of atonement (17:11). The penalty for consuming the “fat of the beast,” or the “blood” was to “be cut off from” the congregation (7:25, 27).

Leviticus 8 – The Priesthood

Leviticus 8 established the Levitical priesthood, and consecrated Aaron and his sons to serve as priests before the LORD on behalf of the nation (8:1-5).  Each step of the ordination was detailed, beginning with a ceremonial washing of Aaron and his sons with water (8:6).

Aaron, as the high priest, was distinguished by his clothes (8:7-9). Exodus 28, and Exodus 39, already gave us a detailed description of the garments of the high priest, including his breastplate (8:8), upon which was mounted twelve precious stones, referred to as “the breastplate of judgment” (Exodus 28:30), and upon which were engraved the names of the Twelve Tribes of Israel.

As an act of dedication and consecration to the LORD, anointing oil was sprinkled upon the Tabernacle, its implements, the altar, and the laver (where the priests washed their hands and feet). As the high priest, anointing oil was poured out upon Aaron’s head, serving as an outward testimony of his sanctification (8:10-12).

Remembering that the high priest, and his sons who served as priests, were sinners, Aaron and his sons laid their hands upon a “bullock (or Ox) for the sin offering,” and thus identified with the young bull’s death as an offering for their sins (8:14-17).  A ram was then brought as a “burnt offering,” and its blood was applied to Aaron and his sons, “upon the tip of their right ear, and upon the thumbs of their right hands, and upon the great toes of their right feet” (8:23-24).

For seven days, Aaron and his sons remained at the tabernacle as Moses offered sacrifices, and consecrated them to the LORD as priests (8:31-36). On the eighth day, Aaron and his sons began to minister before the LORD, and offered sacrifices on behalf of the nation (Leviticus 9:1-24).

I close today’s devotional, reminded of the great duty borne by those who minister for the LORD to God’s people.  While the offering of sacrifices is no longer required, Jesus Christ being our substitutionary sacrifice and high priest (Hebrews 7:25-28); God has nevertheless called, and ordained men who are set apart to spiritually shepherd His people. The work of the pastor as the shepherd of the church is described in 1 Peter 5:2-4.

1 Peter 5:2-4 – Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; 3  Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. 4  And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.

Such is the great calling of the pastor. He is to be a teacher, shepherd, and spiritual leader, in word and example.

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

No Such Thing as a Secret Sin! (Leviticus 5-6)

Scripture reading – Leviticus 5-6

Leviticus 5:1-13 – Trespass Offerings

Continuing our study of the various sacrificial offerings, we come today to a study of “Trespass Offerings” for particular offences. Referred to by some as “Purification” offerings, we consider three sins which required “trespass offerings.”

The first offense that required a trespass offering was for a sin of omission. When a man was tried for failing to keep an oath, it was required of one who was witness to his failure to come forward and bear witness. Failure to come forward and bear witness was a sin, and a sacrifice was required to atone (5:1).

Touching the lifeless carcass of a beast was an unclean act, and an offense (5:2), and even if done in error, a man was guilty until he offered a trespass offering for his sin (5:3).

The third offence was to swear an oath, and fail to keep it. Such was a sin and required a trespass offering (5:4-5).

Three different trespass, or purification offerings, might be offered to atone for a sinner’s guilt (5:6-13). The economic means of one guilty of a trespass dictated the amount of that which was offered. A man of wealth that had committed a trespass would be required to bring “a female from the flock, a lamb or a kid of the goats, for a sin offering; and the priest shall make an atonement for him concerning his sin” (5:6).

A man who did not have the financial means to offer a lamb or goat, might bring “two turtledoves, or two young pigeons, unto the Lord; one for a sin offering, and the other for a burnt offering” (5:7). The blood of the sacrifice would be sprinkled on the altar, and declared a “sin offering” (5:9).

Should a man be so poor he was unable to bring the lesser trespass offering (“two turtledoves, or two young pigeons, unto the LORD”), he could “bring for his offering the tenth part of an ephah of fine flour for a sin offering; he shall put no oil upon it, neither shall he put any frankincense thereon: for it is a sin offering” (5:11).

Leviticus 5:14-6:7 – Reparation Offering

Unlike the trespass offerings, a reparation offering was required when a man failed to give of that which the LORD required. An example would have been the failure to give a tithe, or an offering of first-fruits. To make amends to the LORD, the sinner was required to not only offer “a ram without blemish out of the flocks” (5:14-15), but an additional sacrifice described as “the fifth part thereto, and give it unto the priest” (5:16).

Giving a “fifth part” more meant that the reparations sacrifice was equal to 120% more than what the Law required.

Much more might be discussed in the matter of trespass offerings and reparations; however, this I will leave for another time (Leviticus 6).

What was the LORD teaching His people?

He was teaching the need of having a sensitive conscience, and an appreciation of one’s responsibility to the LORD. After all, there is no such thing as a secret sin!

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Sacrifices for Sins of Ignorance (Leviticus 4)

Scripture reading – Leviticus 4

Our study of sacrifices continues today with the sacrifices that were to be offered for a “sin through ignorance against any of the commandments of the LORD” (4:1). Such a sin was not a willful violation of the Law and ordinances, but an oversight, unintentional defilement that was nevertheless a sin.

Leviticus 4:1-12 examines the sacrifices a priest was instructed to offer when he was guilty of sinning through ignorance. Leviticus 4:13-21 addresses the sacrifices that were to be offered for the sins of the whole nation. The “elders of the congregation,” acting on behalf of the people, would “lay their hands upon the head of the bullock before the Lord: and the bullock [would] be killed before the Lord” (4:15), thus identifying with the animal that was slain, and its sacrifice for their sins.

Should a leader of the people sin, Leviticus 4:22-26 details the ceremony and sacrifice that was to be offered to atone for his sin.

Not to be overlooked were the “common people,” ordinary citizens of Israel who, like the priests and leaders, would find themselves guilty of “sin through ignorance” (4:27). When such a sin would come to one’s knowledge, the “common people” were instructed to “bring his offering, a kid of the goats (or a lamb, 4:32), a female without blemish, for his sin which he hath sinned” (4:28). As with other sacrifices in which the sinner was instructed to identify with the animal that was to be slain for one’s sin, the penitent sinner would “lay his hand upon the head of the sin offering, and slay the sin offering in the place of the burnt offering” (4:29).

The priest, acting as the mediator, would take the blood of the sacrifice, put the blood on the “horns” or the corners of the altar, and then “pour out all the blood thereof at the bottom of the altar” (4:30). Taking the fat of the sacrifice and burning it upon the altar, it was declared a “peace offering…and atonement” for the sinner, whose sin was forgiven (4:31).

I close today’s brief reading, reminding believers we no longer offer sacrifices for sins, because Jesus Christ is not only our high priest (Hebrews 9:11), but He is also our “once and for all,” substitutionary sacrifice (Hebrews 9:12, 14). While His death on the cross, and shedding of blood, fulfilled the demands of the law for a perfect, sinless sacrifice, yet we are responsible to confess our sins one to another and to a Holy God.

Christ offered Himself as our Mediator, “that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance” (Hebrews 9:15).

Hebrews 9:2828So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.

Copyright 2021– Travis D. Smith

Old Testament Sacrifices, and What They Teach Us About God’s Character (Leviticus 2-3)

Scripture reading – Leviticus 2-3

Having introduced the Book of Leviticus in an earlier post, we turn our attention to today’s Scripture reading, Leviticus 2-3. The first sacrificial offering described in Leviticus was the “burnt offering” (1:1-17). It consisted of an animal that was sacrificed for sin, “a male without blemish,” and either a bull (1:5), sheep or goat (1:10), or a fowl, either a turtledove or young pigeon” (1:14).

Leviticus 2 – The Law of the Meat Offering

Leviticus 2 introduces the second sacrifice, the “meat offering,” but a better translation would be “meal” or grain offering. “The “meat offering” was a non-blood sacrifice, and consisted of raw grain (“fine flour”), oil, and frankincense (2:1). Also known as an oblation (meaning “gift” or present), it was a voluntary offering of which the priests would take a portion for their families, and the rest was offered as a burnt offering (2:2-3).

There was also a “meat offering” that consisted of bread baked in an oven (2:4), cooked in a pan (2:5-6), or made in a frying pan (2:7). A portion of those offerings were also to be used by the priests for their households (2:8-10).

The meat or meal offerings were never to be offered with leaven (which is a symbol of sin in the Scriptures), or honey, perhaps because flour baked with honey will spoil and sour (2:11).

There was also the “oblation of the firstfruits” (2:12), which was a voluntary offering of faith. Sacrificed to the LORD, the first-fruits of the harvest was a testimony of faith in His continued provision (2:12-16).

Leviticus 3 – The Law of the Peace Offering

The third offering was a “sacrifice of peace offering” and was a blood offering.  Unlike the “burnt offerings,” the “peace offerings” could be male or female; however, the standard, “without blemish,” applied and the priests would have inspected the offerings to insure they were acceptable sacrifices (3:1, 12).

There was the offering of the herd, either a bull or heifer, or the offering of the flock, a lamb (3:6-7), or a goat (3:12). As with the “burnt offering,” the worshipper would “lay his hand upon the head of his offering, and kill it at the door of the tabernacle” (3:2, 8, 13).  The priests would then sprinkle the blood of the sacrifice on the altar, and burn it on the altar (3:5, 11, 16).

In conclusion, consider the LORD’S standard for sacrifices: “without blemish” (3:1, 6).

Sacrificial offerings were to be of the highest quality.  I am sure the temptation for some was as it is today, to give the LORD something, but not necessarily the best.  The apostle Paul had the same “without blemish” standard in mind when he wrote:

Romans 12:1-2 – “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2  And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

The LORD required the best in sacrifices, and He requires no less of believers today.  Our lives are to be “holy, acceptable unto God” (Romans 12:1). Holy, sanctified, set apart and dedicated to the LORD.  Acceptable, pleasing and conforming to the will of God.

Anything less is unacceptable!

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

An Introduction to Leviticus (Leviticus 1)

Scripture reading – Leviticus 1

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Our chronological Scripture reading schedule brings us to the Book of Leviticus, the third book of the five books of the Old Testament known as the Pentateuch. Leviticus is as its name implies, a book that directed the Levites in their priestly duties. Worship, offering of sacrifices, festivals, and matters of the Law are all addressed in Leviticus.

The following is a brief outline of the Book of Leviticus: 1) Leviticus 1-7 presents the laws that were to be followed in sacrificial offerings. 2) The consecration, and ministry of the Aaronic priesthood is the topic of Leviticus 8-10. 3) The distinction between animals deemed clean and unclean is the subject of Leviticus 11-15. 4) Leviticus 17-25 serves as a reminder that the holiness of God demanded the same of His people when they approached Him in worship and offering sacrifices. Remember, the sacrifices specified in Leviticus were a prefigure of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God. He was the perfect, complete, “once, and for all” sacrifice for our sins (Hebrews 10:10).

The LORD Ordered the Starts and Stops of Israel. (Exodus 40)

The LORD’S glory, whose presence was signified in a cloud that descended, and “covered the tent of the congregation,” had “filled the Tabernacle” (Exodus 40:34). The cloud was a visible testament to the LORD’S presence in Israel. In the day, the cloud rested upon the Tabernacle. At night, God’s presence was seen as “fire…in the sight of all the house of Israel” (Exodus 40:38). Reminded that the LORD, not man, dictated the starts and stops of His people, “when the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the children of Israel went onward in all their journeys: 37But if the cloud were not taken up, then they journeyed not till the day that it was taken up” (Exodus 40:36-37).

Leviticus 1 – The Laws and Ordinances for Burnt Offerings

The LORD, having filled the Tabernacle with His glory (Exodus 40:34), “called unto Moses, and spake unto him out of the tabernacle of the congregation, saying, 2Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, If any man of you bring an offering unto the Lord, ye shall bring your offering of the cattle, even of the herd, and of the flock” (Leviticus 1:1-2).

Guidelines Concerning Burnt Offerings (1:1-17)

The first offering required in Leviticus was the “burnt offering,” and it was to be “a male without blemish,” and either a bull (1:5), sheep or goat (1:10), or a fowl, either a turtledove or young pigeon” (1:14). These, the children of Israel were to bring to the courtyard of the Tabernacle. Placing their “hand upon the head” of the sacrifice, the worshipper identified that animal’s death as the substitutionary sacrifice for his sin (1:4-5, 10, 14-15).

The sacrifice was then killed, and processed as described by the law. The priest would then take the blood of the sacrifice, and sprinkle it on the altar (1:5, 11). Flaying, and cutting the animal, the priest would lay the pieces on the fire of the altar (1:12-13).

I conclude today’s study with a word of exhortation.

Many 21st century believers dismiss an Old Testament book like Leviticus, supposing it has no application to their lives. Don’t make that mistake. If believers examined their worship in light of the precepts, and principles derived from the Commandments, Laws, and Ordinances, much of today’s carnality would be eradicated.

Leviticus 26:3-4, 12 – “3If ye walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments, and do them; 4Then I will give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit…12And I will walk among you, and will be your God, and ye shall be my people.”

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Half-hearted Worship is Unacceptable to the LORD! (Exodus 39-40)

Scripture reading – Exodus 39-40

As we conclude our study of the Book of Exodus, one fact on which we should reflect is the LORD’s detailed descriptions that were part of planning a place for worship and sacrifice to Israel’s God.

Several recent chapters in our study (Exodus 25-40) were almost entirely devoted to the features of the Tabernacle, the Ark of the Covenant and its Mercy Seat, the Lampstand, the Altar of Incense, the Table for the bread, and various implements within and without the Tabernacle. The LORD also provided Moses specific details for the Courtyard, its Brazen Altar, and the fount that would serve the priests as a washing station for their hands and feet.

Exodus 39 – The “Holy Garments” of the High Priest

An earlier chapter (Exodus 28) gave us the design of the “holy garments” that were to be made, and worn by Aaron, the brother of Moses, and the man whom God had chosen as His high priest. Exodus 39 records the design of the priests’ garments becoming a reality when we read, “1And of the blue, and purple, and scarlet, they made cloths of service, to do service in the holy place, and made the holy garments for Aaron; as the Lord commanded Moses” (39:1).

The stunning colors of the high priest’s “holy garments” are given (39:1-2), as well as the breastplate embedded with twelve precious jewels, each engraved with the names of one of the Twelve Tribes of Israel (39:8-14).  A description of the bindings of the breastplate is given, as well as, other articles of clothing that were worn by the high priest (39:15-31).  Fastened to his turban was a plate of gold engraved with the words, “Holiness to the LORD” (39:30-31).

Exodus 40 – “The End,” is Only The Beginning!

The LORD commanded, “2On the first day of the first month shalt thou set up the tabernacle of the tent of the congregation” (40:1). Moses was to oversee the assembly of the Tabernacle, its implements, and to dedicate the high priest, his sons, and the garments they were to wear in the priests’ office.

After insuring all was done “as the LORD had commanded” (39:43), Moses dedicated the work (40:33), and the outward manifestation of God’s approval was “a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle” (40:34)!

I conclude inviting you to consider not only was the place of worship important in every detail, but so was the preparation, and dedication of those who served as the LORD’s ministers. Moses, Aaron, and his sons were commanded to ceremonially wash their hands and feet “when they came near unto the altar,” and served as the intercessors for God’s people (40:30-32).

Thirteen times we read the phrase, “as the LORD commanded Moses” in Exodus 39 and Exodus 40.

That phrase reminds me that half-hearted preparation for worship is unacceptable to the LORD. Our God is holy, and those who serve Him should reflect His character in their lives, service, and worship.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 – “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which isin you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? 20  For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.”

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith