Tag Archives: Promises

Warning: What You Promise the LORD, Is the LORD’S!” (Leviticus 26-27)

Devotional reading assignment – Leviticus 26-27

Inviting the nation to obey His laws and keep His commands (26:3), the Lord promised to bless the land and make it fruitful (26:4-10).  Reminding Israel His promise of blessings was conditioned on their obedience, the LORD warned His judgments for their sin and disobedience will be seven times greater (26:18, 21, 24, 28).

Why “seven times” greater?

Because one dare not trifle with the LORD’S laws and commandments nor despise His grace. Disobey His law and reject His favor, and you not only face the consequences of sin, but the greater judgment for rejecting His grace (26:25-39). Having heard and received the commandments, the people of that generation were warned to not trifle with the LORD, but to obey Him.

The LORD warned Israel and it would come to pass…reject His law and commandments and a host of judgments would befall the nation: Pestilence (26:25), famine (26:26), cannibalism (“eat the flesh of your sons, and the flesh of your daughters” – 26:27-29), cities wasted, places of worship abandoned (26:31), and exile from the land (26:33-39).

Leviticus 27 concludes our study of Leviticus and reminds us the LORD holds sacred the vows we make to Him (27:1-2). Whether young or old, a covenant vow to the LORD is a serious and sacred matter (27:3-8).

A full discussion regarding the LORD’S tithe is found in Leviticus 27:9-34.

The LORD required a tenth of the livestock, both clean and unclean, be brought to the sanctuary (27:9-13).  The clean was dedicated to the LORD while the value of an unclean beast was established and sold to support the sanctuary (27:11-12).

An important lesson is the matter of an owner redeeming or purchasing that which he had dedicated to the LORD but desired to retain.

To purchase what one dedicated to the LORD (examples include beasts, a house, crops of a field) required a priest establish its monetary value. For an owner to claim what he dedicated to the LORD required paying not only its value, but one-fifth part more to redeem (27:13, 15, 19).

The summary of this “value plus one-fifth more” is expressed in this:

Leviticus 27:30-31 – “30  And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land, or of the fruit of the tree, is the LORD’S: it is holy unto the LORD. 31  And if a man will at all redeem ought of his tithes, he shall add thereto the fifth part thereof.”

The lesson for Israel was, whatever one dedicates to the LORD is sacred and His alone.

Refuse to give the LORD His part and you forfeit His blessing. If you change your heart and desire to keep what you have dedicated to the LORD, He requires not only its value, but also one-fifth more.

What about you, have you kept your vows to the LORD?

Have you forgotten the vows you made to Him, whether publicly or privately? Do you remember the decision you made to surrender your life to Him? Could your struggles be related to this principle; your failure to fully give all you have vowed to the LORD?

Ecclesiastes 5:4-54  When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for he hath no pleasure in fools: pay that which thou hast vowed. 5  Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay.

Remember, what you vow to the LORD He will not forget!

Romans 12:1-21  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.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Christ died For You, but is He Your Savior? (Leviticus 16-17)

Daily reading assignment – Leviticus 16-18

* This is the first of two devotionals for today’s scripture reading.

The opening verse of Leviticus 16 remind us of a tragedy that occurred in Leviticus 10 when Nadab and Abihu, the two eldest sons of Aaron, “offered strange [foreign] fire before the LORD, which He commanded [charged] them not” and were slain for their sin (Leviticus 16:1).

The high priest (16:2), representing Israel before the LORD, was only to enter the “holy place within the veil before the mercy seat” once a year on “the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month” (16:29).

This Day of Atonement, known as “Yom Kippur” or the “Sabbath of Sabbaths”, is the most holy day on the Jewish calendar. This was the day the high priest offered sacrifices for his sins, his household, and for the sins of the nation.

Several spiritual truths are found in Leviticus 16. The first is a reminder the high priest and his household were sinners themselves and in need of blood atonement (16:3-14).  The high priest dared not take lightly the “holy place” beyond the veil where the Mercy Seat representing the throne of God was located. Before he ministered as a representative of the nation, the high priest was instructed to offer sacrifices for himself and his household.

After ceremonially washing and girding himself in the holy garments of the high priest (16:4), Aaron chose two goats and a ram he would later offer for the sins of the nation (16:5).  The first sacrifice on the Day of Atonement was a young bull the high priest offered as a sin offering for himself and his household (16:6, 11-14).

Two goats were chosen for the Day of Atonement; one would be sacrificed for the sins of the nation and the other serve as a scapegoat (16:5).  After casting lots to determine the goat the LORD would have sacrificed as a sin offeringfor the nation (16:7-10), its blood was sprinkled on the mercy seat (16:15) and a young bull was next sacrificed on the altar before all the congregation (16:18-19).

 

The “live goat” that was spared was the scapegoat (16:5, 20-21). With the congregation looking on, the high priest placed his hands on the head of the scapegoat and confessed the sins of the nation.  Symbolically bearing the sins of the nation, the scapegoat was then led out of the encampment and set free in the wilderness (16:22). The blood and remains of the goat, ram, and bull that was sacrificed were then removed from the camp and burned in the wilderness (16:27).

Guidelines for sacrifices continues in Leviticus 17. The prohibition of slaying animals for sacrifice any other place than the tabernacle suggests the possibility the people might have been tempted to offer blood sacrifices to false gods (17:3-7) and the punishment for idolatry was excommunication (17:4, 9).

Eating blood was forbidden (17:10) with the explanation “the life of the flesh is in the blood” (17:11a), “for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul” (17:11b).

The LORD had chosen blood as the means of expiation (i.e. atonement) for man’s sin. The LORD warned Adam his sin would be punishable by death and so it follows the shedding of blood is a representation of death.

Modern science has proved what the LORD revealed to Israel thousands of years ago… “the life of the flesh is in the blood” (17:11a).  I marvel at what our blood reveals about us. Our very life and being is in our blood. Our genetic profile, ancestry and health are all contained in our blood!

Why do we not offer sacrifices for our sins today?

We no longer follow the pattern of blood sacrifices for sins because Jesus Christ’s death on the cross was the sum of all sacrifices ever offered (Hebrews 9:24-28 ).  The author of Hebrews writes,

Hebrews 9:27-28 – “27  And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: 28  So 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.”

Will you believe and trust Jesus Christ as your Savior, the substitutionary sacrifice for your sin?

1 John 5:13  13 These 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 2020 – Travis D. Smith

God’s Call to Holiness (Leviticus 14-15)

Daily reading assignment – Leviticus 14-15

The infectious nature and potential spread of leprosy in the midst of Israel’s encampment was a serious matter. Fifty-nine verses were devoted to leprosy in Leviticus 13 and today’s scripture reading continues with an additional chapter of fifty-seven verses (Leviticus 14).

Leviticus 13 addressed the examination of the leper and preventive measures should leprosy be present.  Leviticus 14 provides the prescribed procedures and sacrifices should one be deemed healed of the disease (14:1-8). After following the commanded practice for purification, the leper was pronounced clean and restored to the fellowship of his family and nation (14:9-32).

Leprosy was the physical disease God chose to illustrate the infectious danger of sin among his people. (Leprosy is portrayed as a punishment for sin in Numbers 12:9-10 and 2 Chronicles 26:19).

Sixteen times leprosy is described as “unclean” in Leviticus 13.  Leprosy affected the tissues and nerves; eventually causing the extremities to rot and decay.  It so mutilated the body it was an agonizing ugliness.

Leviticus 15 addresses various physical ailments that would arise among the people.

The LORD imparted to Israel laws that were not only functional, but also insured the health and welfare of the nation. Israel was unaware the guidelines Moses gave to them from the LORD were an evidence of His loving care for them.

Modern science has demonstrated the disease laden nature of bodily fluids (described in Leviticus 15as “a running issue”) and the danger of coming in contact with the bed linens and garments of one who is ill (15:4-7). We do well to continue to observe the procedures Israel was instructed to follow.

Leprosy and disease have been the plague of humanity since the Fall of man; however, there is an even greater pandemic called Sin.

Atheists and liberals would have you believe man is born innocent and his environment (i.e. home, society, religion) is the cause of societal deprivations.

God’s Word reveals at the heart of man’s problem is a problem of the heart.

The Lord declared to Jeremiah, “the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9).   Paul, equating sin to a physical ailment writes, “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 15:19-20a).

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Sinning against another is a sin against God! (Leviticus 5-7)

Daily reading assignment – Leviticus 5-7

Today’s study in the book of Leviticus continues its exposition and explanation of the sacrifices required for sin; each reminding us sin is an offense against the LORD and “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).

Various sins are identified in Leviticus 5 and the prerequisite sacrifice for each sin. Leviticus 5:1 speaks to the sin of failing to speak truth and thus concealing the sin and crime of another (perhaps in a judicial sense where one is called to testify as a witness).  Similar to our own court system where one is asked to swear to “tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.”

Cleanliness is urged and contact with the carcass of a dead beast was forbidden under the Law. Unlike ancient Israel, today we understand the health risks of being defiled (infected) by a dead animal and why the LORD forbade it (5:2-3).

Inconsiderate, thoughtless words and conversation is also condemned and sacrifices were required of all who swore and spoke with haste (5:4-13).

The Trespass Offerings is the subject of Leviticus 5:14-6:7. You will notice a principle of “restitution plus one-fifth.” Why?

Saying “I’m sorry” is not enough in God’s perfect justice system.

The first sin demanding a trespass offering plus “one-fifth” is spiritual misappropriation: A sinner taking that which another dedicated to the Lord.

For instance: A priest might fall prey to embezzling…taking for himself what another had offered as a sacrifice.  Such a sin demanded not only restitution, but also giving one-fifth more above what was taken (5:14-16).

Other sins demanding sacrifice and restitution were lying and dishonesty (6:1-2), finding another’s property, but concealing the fact (6:3), and violently cheating one of his property.  All sins committed with foreknowledge required not only sacrifice, but also restitution above what was pilfered (6:4). Similar to an assessment of loss and damages in the American Judicial System.

Laws concerning burnt offerings are expressed in Leviticus 6:8-13.  Reminding us the believer is to be ever in a spirit of prayer, we read: “The fire shall ever be burning upon the altar; it shall never go out” (6:13)

Leviticus 7 – The “trespass offering” and the “peace offering”

The “peace offering” served as a sacrifice of thanksgiving for God’s grace and provision (Leviticus 7:11-21).  The sacrifice of oxen or cattle is prescribed accompanied by offerings of “unleavened cakes…unleavened wafers…and cakes mingled with oil, of fine flour, fired” (Leviticus 7:12).  The portions of the “peace offering” not consumed by the fire were given to the priests for their consumption.

Remembering the blood was a testament to the punishment of sin, the “fat of the beast” and “blood” portions of the offerings were not to be eaten (Leviticus 7:22-27). Blood was not to be consumed because it was the means and object of atonement (Leviticus 17:11; Hebrews 9:22).

Consuming the “fat of the beast” or the “blood” necessitated a sinner “be cut off from his people” (7:25, 27); a punishment that could extend so far as death.

What have we learned?

Sinning against someone requires not only sincere confession, but “restitution plus” may be necessary to make them whole and restore fellowship.

Have you sinned against someone and not sought forgiveness?  Without confession and restitution for the harm you have caused, your broken fellowship may follow you to your grave.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Old Testament Sacrifices: What They Teach Us About God’s Character (Leviticus 1-4)

Daily reading assignment – Leviticus 1-4

Having introduced the Book of Leviticus in an earlier post, we turn our attention to today’s scripture reading, Leviticus 1-4.

Leviticus 1-3 states what God required of Israel in voluntary, sacrificial offerings and serves as a lesson for 21st century believers:

God demands His people be a holy, sanctified people.

Preacher and author, Warren Wiersbe writes in his “Be Series” on the Book of Leviticus:  “Leviticus tells New Testament Christians how to appreciate holiness and appropriate it into their everyday lives. The word holy is used 91 times in Leviticus, and words connected with cleansing are used 71 times. References to uncleanness number 128. There’s no question what this book is all about.”  [BE Series – Old Testament – The Bible Exposition Commentary – Pentateuch]

The Old Testament sacrifices were a figure, a type of which Jesus Christ was the perfect, complete, “once and for all” sacrifice for our sins (Hebrews 10:10).

The first offering in Leviticus is the “burnt offering” (1:1-17). The children of Israel were to bring to the Tabernacle “a male without blemish” (1:3); placing “his hand upon the head” of the bull, sheep or goat, the worshipper identified with the animal’s death as the substitutionary sacrifice for his sin (1:4-5, 10, 14-15).   The sacrifice was then killed and the priest would take the blood and sprinkle it on the altar (1:5, 11).

The second sacrifice is the “meat (meal) offering” (Leviticus 2).  Known as an oblation (meaning “gift” or present); the “meat offering” was a non-blood offering that consisted of grain (“fine flour”), oil and frankincense (2:1).  The priests were to take a portion of the “meal offering” for their families and the rest was to be offered as a burnt offering (2:10).

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

Unlike the earlier sacrifices that were voluntary, Leviticus 4 introduces us to the “sin offering of ignorance (or error)that was mandated by the Law.  Notice the sin offerings of ignorance descended from the greatest offering, being that of a young bull, to the least costly, a female goat or sheep.

The sin committed by a priest (4:1-12) or the corporate sin of the congregation (4:13-21) demanded the sacrifice of a “young bullock without blemish” (4:3-4, 13-15).  Because it was a sin offering, the priests and their families were not to take a portion of the “young bullock” to be consumed by their households.

A “ruler”, a head of a tribe, was to sacrifice a “kid of the goats, a male without blemish” (4:23). The “common people” were to sacrifice the least valued sacrifice, “a female without blemish”, either a lamb or goat (4:27-35).

I close highlighting the “without blemish” standard the LORD required of sacrifices in His Law.  Sacrificial offerings were to be of the highest quality; however, I am sure the temptation was as it is today, to give the LORD something, but not necessarily the best.

The apostle Paul had the same standard in mind when he challenged believers to “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” (Romans 12:1-2).

The LORD required of sacrifices the best and He requires no less of His people today. Holy, sanctified, set apart…Acceptable, pleasing and conforming to the will of God is His standard for His people.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Imagine: The People Gave Too Much! (Exodus 36-38)

Daily reading assignment – Exodus 36-38

Imagine being a part of a congregation in which the hearts of the people are so stirred to give and serve the LORD that the pastor must demand, “Please, stop giving! You have given too much already!”

Such is the spirit of a people when they are “wise hearted…stirred…willing…and willing hearted” (Exodus 35:10-29). The offerings given by the people for the Tabernacle and its furnishings exceeded the need, and Moses “restrained” them from giving any more (36:5-6) for they gave “too much” (36:7).

Because the Tabernacle would serve as a constant reminder of the LORD’S presence in the midst of Israel, God gave Moses precise details for its design and furnishings (review Exodus 26).

Beautiful curtains embroidered with cherubims are described for the interior of the Tabernacle (36:8-13).  “Curtains of goats’ hair” were to be spun and overlay the boards of the Tabernacle’s exterior (36:14-34).

The veil that would serve as a divider between the outer Holy Place and the sacred inner Holy of Holies is also defined (36:25-38). The construction and dimensions of the Ark of the Covenant (37:1-9), representing God’s heavenly throne in the midst of His people, is stated (note – Psalm 80:1; 99:1).

The Ark was to be transported by means of “staves” (i.e. rods) slid into rings when Israel moved during her sojourn in the wilderness (37:3-5).  Gold overlaid the whole of the Ark, including the “mercy seat” upon which two cherubims faced one another with wings outstretched (37:7-9). The angels reflected the purity and holiness of God’s throne of judgment.

Exodus 37:10-29 itemizes other furnishings employed in the Tabernacle, including a table overlaid with gold and gold dishes, bowls, spoons, an elaborate candlestick, and an “altar of incense”.

Exodus 38:1-20 gives the design of an “altar of burnt offering” and the vessels of brass to be used in offering sacrifices (38:1-8).  The arrangement of the outer court of the Tabernacle (including its construction, curtains, and rings on which they hung) is given in exacting detail (38:9-20).

Exodus 38:21-31 might appear as minor, inconsequential information on first reading; however, the names of men recorded here serve as a lasting memorial and reminder:

The LORD honors those who faithfully employ their talents and skills to serve Him (38:22-23).

Are you using your time and talents to serve the LORD?

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

What Does God Require? – Honesty, Integrity, Fairness, Truth, and Holiness (Exodus 22-24)

Daily reading assignment: Exodus 22-24

The agricultural nature of ancient societies meant one’s livestock were an essential part of a man’s livelihood and the well-being of his family (21:33-36). The negligent injury or theft of oxen or sheep was a serious crime requiring compensation (22:1-4), as was damage to a man’s crops (22:5-6).

God’s law requires honesty and integrity.

Personal responsibility and liability were important issues among God’s people and fair compensation for losses, whether by theft or neglect, was mandated (22:7-15).

As an illustration, consider a farmer who borrows another man’s ox to work his field; however, while in his care the ox is injured or dies.  Under such a circumstance, the borrower was debtor to the lender and under obligation to “make it good” (22:14). In other words, repay or replace.  The exception is when the owner of the ox is plowing a man’s field “for his hire” (22:15).

Borrow or rent another’s property or goods, you were under obligation to make whole any damages or loss suffered by the lender. 

Other moral and societal issues addressed in Exodus 22 include rape (22:16-17), witchcraft (22:18), bestiality (22:19), and idolatry (22:20).  In the matter of borrowing and lending, the LORD demanded fairness. Charging excessive interest was condemned knowing it imposed an unnecessary hardship on the poor (22:25-27).

Exodus 23 – God’s Law Concerning Slander and False Witnesses

Acknowledging God is Just, it follows He demands His people be fair (23:1-2), good neighbors (23:3-5), and just in matters of law making no occasion for lies and distortions of the truth (23:6-8).

In a culture that is given to the drive for success at all costs, the thought of a Sabbath Day of rest, let alone a Sabbath Year dedicated to the LORD, is foreign (23:10-12).  For Israel, the Sabbaths, feasts, and offerings of the first and the best fruits of one’s labor to the LORD were a constant reminder that all a man had was an exercise of God’s grace and loving benevolence (23:13-19).  Exodus 23 concludes with God’s promise to protect and bless Israel as they journey through the wilderness (23:20-33).

Exodus 24 – Moses Enters Into the Presence of the LORD

Concluding today’s devotional commentary, you and I are privy to a glorious moment as Moses, his immediate leadership, and seventy elders are invited by the LORD to draw near to the mountain (24:1-4). After reviewing God’s covenant with Israel, the people pledged to obey the Lord’s law and commandments, sealing their vows with the blood of sacrifices (24:5-8).

As the “glory of the LORD” shrouded Mount Sinai, Moses was invited to ascend the mount and “come near the LORD” (24:2) where he received the law and commandments he was to teach the people (24:9-15).  Moses was alone on the mount for six days and on the seventh day we read, The LORD “called unto Moses out of the midst of the cloud” (24:16). Forty days and nights would pass before Moses descended the mount (24:18).

What was Israel doing in Moses’ absence while the “glory of the LORD” appeared to be a “devouring fire” on the mount?

We will take up that question in Exodus 32.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith