Monday, February 19, 2024

           In Leviticus 17, there is a prohibition given to Israel against eating blood.  The reasoning is simply revealed in Leviticus 17:2 as “this is what the LORD has commanded.”  God makes the rules—true with ancient Israel and still true today.  God is the Creator and Maker of all things—including the standards, measurements and expectations for holy living.  As the Creator, the standards are His to set.  A bit further in Leviticus 17 we read, “I will set my face against any Israelite or any foreigner residing among them who eats blood, and I will cut them off from the people. For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life. Therefore, I say to the Israelites, ‘None of you may eat blood, nor may any foreigner residing among you eat blood. Any Israelite or any foreigner residing among you who hunts any animal or bird that may be eaten must drain out the blood and cover it with earth,’” (17:10-14).  God declared that there was a reason for this prohibition.  It was not just a rule for the sake of rules. 
            The key phrase is this, “it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life.”  Ancient Israel routinely performed sacrifices to cover and atone for its sins.  A countless number of animals lost their lives in sacrifices for the sins of the nation.  But if you look at that key phrase a little closer, you see the word “atonement.”  Atonement refers to the covering of sin.  We understand the work of Christ at the cross to be the decisive act of atonement.  His blood covered our sinfulness and rebellion against God and His righteous ways.  Paul wrote about atonement, “Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation” (Romans 5:9-11).  A few critically important truths stand out for us to see.
            First, we learn that we are justified, or declared not guilty, by the blood of Christ at the cross.  We can be set free from sin because Christ covered our sins and gave His life for them through the shedding of His blood.  Atonement for sin and reconciliation with the Father are made possible only through the finished work of Christ at the cross.  The sacrifices that Israel practiced were preludes to the ultimate and final sacrifice at the cross where Jesus freely shed His innocent blood to save us. 
            Second, not only are we reconciled to the Father through the Son, we are also saved from the wrath of God.  Jesus took the penalty that we should have taken and died the death we should have died.  We are protected from and spared the wrath of God.  We do not suffer the full anger of God for our sinfulness and disobedience.  We are spared from His justifiable rage and fury. 
            Third, we have a story to tell.  We can boast about what God has done for us and we can boast about His greatness and power.  We can let those who might be lost and struggling in the darkness of life know that there is hope and freedom in Christ.  The words of Leviticus remind us that even in the wilderness when Israel was roaming around God still had a plan and future in mind.  He knew where He was taking Israel and ultimately the world.  The words of Leviticus lead us to a pathway or highway that runs directly to Calvary and the cross of Christ.  There is no departure or diversion.  Paul wrote in Galatians 3:24, “So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith.”  Some translations read “schoolmaster” instead of “guardian.”  No matter the specific wording, the message is the Law prepared us for Christ.  The ancient sacrifices prepared the way for Christ.  The blood of animals prepared the way for the sinless blood of Christ.  Knowing God through the Law prepared us to know Him through grace. 
            When you read the rich stories, commands, prophecies and plotlines of the Old Testament, please understand that the things of the Old Testament are leading us to Bethlehem, the cross, the empty tomb and finally the second coming of Christ when He returns to touch earth again with His feet.  Someone has said that the New Testament is in the Old Testament concealed and the Old Testament is in the New Testament revealed.  God made the world for His glory but sin quickly entered and changed everything.  In Genesis 3:15 we find the first prophecy of Christ.  In Genesis 12:1-3, we find the universal plan of God to bring forth the Savior promised in Genesis 3:15.  God planned to raise up the nation of Israel from the one man Abraham.  And from that one nation and man, there would emerge the Messiah, Jesus the Christ, to save the world and reconcile what had gone astray.  When you read the words of Leviticus and even other Old Testament books, think about what these books are pointing toward and revealing to you.  The answer is usually Christ!  Have a great day.  Remember you can share our worship any time at    

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