Leviticus 8-23 Highlights
- Aaron and his sons consecrated before the Lord
- Two of Aaron’s sons, Nadab and Abihu, are killed for offering an unauthorized sacrifice
- Laws for clean and unclean animals are given
- Leprosy laws are given, as well as other bodily laws
- Day of atonement in chapter 16
- God’s holiness, and man’s response to that holiness, is described
- The command to love your neighbor as yourself is given
- Punishments are described for transgressing God’s law
- The necessities for an acceptable offering to God are given to Israel
- Feasts of the Lord, that Israel is to partake in, are described
Psalms 110, 111, 31 Highlights
- Psalm 110 speaks to the Lord being at our right hand and fighting our battles for us. God is the one who shatters kings before us, executes judgment among the nations, and shatters chiefs. This psalm is also considered a messianic psalm, meaning there is prophecy contained about the coming Messiah, Jesus. Jesus quotes psalm 110 in the gospel of Mark, chapter 12, to prove his divinity. David starts by saying, God says to My Lord. David refers to the Messiah as His Lord. And yet the Messiah is supposed to be ‘the son of David’. So Jesus asks, ‘how can this be?’ How can the Messiah be both David’s son and His Lord? There is only one answer. Jesus is the both the son of David (in the line of David) and the son of God. Jesus IS God.
- Psalm 111 speaks to the greatness of God. His works are great, full of splendor and majesty. His righteousness endures forever. He is gracious and merciful. He is powerful; his works are both faithful and just. The psalmist is listing all these great works and also our response to God – “Praise the Lord! I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart.” Verse one tells us our response to the greatness of God.
- Psalm 31 speaks to the confidence we can have in God. He is a rock and a fortress, a refuge for our souls. Because of the faithfulness we have seen in God over and over again, we can look to God and say that into His hand we can commit our spirits. We can truly trust God with the eternal state of our souls. And if that is true, we can surely trust God with our daily lives. As David is facing enemies all around him, the reproach of adversaries, and people constantly scheming against him. David’s logic is that if he can trust God with his eternal state, then he can trust God to protect and deliver him from worldly problems. God is worthy of all of our trust, because we have seen Him constantly faithful.
Hebrews 4-8 Highlights
- We are encouraged to enter into the rest that only Christ offers
- All are seen by God, and all should be convicted by His Word
- Jesus is called our great high priest, the greatest high priest
- There is a call to grow in our knowledge of Christ, as a mark of our holiness
- God’s promise is certain, from Abraham to Jesus
- Jesus is a greater high priest than Melchizedek
- Jesus is the high priest of a better covenant, in that the new covenant was bought once and for all by the precious blood of Jesus himself. Every sin of every believer was atoned for once and for all at the cross of Christ.
The book of Leviticus is filled with a good bit of law that God gives to Israel covering a wide range of topics and issues. We have seen before how God is both holy and gracious in His giving of the law to Israel. The laws given this week also point to another aspect of the giving of the law; to show Israel how to be set apart from all the nations around them. The laws about clean and unclean foods aren’t simply some arbitrary thing, but rather given to be a sign to all the nations that Israel is set apart and unique because their God is set apart, unique, and the one true God. Not eating certain foods that everyone else eats would cause people to notice something different about Israel, which should be the greatness of God.
The day of atonement was arguably the most important day for Israel. It was a day for both looking back and looking ahead. The day of atonement not only made restitution for Israel’s sins for one year, but it gave Israel a chance to look back at what God did at the Passover when a lamb without blemish was sacrificed and blood covered the door, covering Israel from the angel of death. It was also a time for Israel to look ahead as they awaited fulfillment of the promise that God would send a Savior to once and for all pay for their (and our) sin.
This day of atonement was so significant. It cleansed their sins and made them right with God for a year. It also was a picture and a foreshadowing of the coming Messiah, who would make the need for the sacrifice of animals obsolete, because the Messiah would pay for sin once and for all.
It is also neat to see that though God had a special love for His people, He did love all nations, as every man and woman is created by God and in the image of God. In chapter 19, God gives the command to love your neighbor as yourself. He doesn’t just mean Israel loving themselves. He commands Israel not to reap everything that comes from a harvest, but to leave some for ‘the poor and the sojourner’. God was commanding Israel to have care, concern, and compassion for all people. This is clearly seen again in Christ, as he came for ‘the lost sheep of the house of Israel’, but also ‘whoever would believe in Him.’
Hebrews continues with its theme of showing how ‘Jesus is greater.’ Chapter 4 begins with talking about striving to enter the rest that Christ offers. His rest is complete, because His sacrifice for us was complete. This is why the Sabbath rest commanded in the Old Testament was not complete, and God promised a greater rest to come. This rest did come, with the death of Christ. We can now enter complete rest through repentance and faith in Christ.
The author of Hebrews encourages us, in chapters 5-6, to continue to seek to grow in our knowledge and love of Christ. Without this growth, the author argues, we are in danger of falling away from the faith altogether. This is not an argument that one can lose their salvation. Rather, the argument is more that: if someone has had a religious experience, tasted in some sense the sweet truths of Christ and Scripture, maybe had a moment of “religious high”, but have no desire to leave elementary doctrines and grow in knowledge and love of Jesus, then they probably weren’t truly regenerate to begin with. The author also states that these are the hardest people to actually reach with the gospel, calling it impossible in Hebrews 6:4.
There is something to note here that is worth our attention. There are people who will at some point have had a religious moment in a church or at a camp, declared themselves to be Christians, but actually ARE NOT. This is in line with what Jesus said in Matthew 7:21: “Not everyone who says to me Lord, Lord will enter the kingdom of heaven”. Jesus says there are some who will say they are Christians, prophesied in his name, cast out demons in his name, and did mighty works in his name but he will say to them, “I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness. (7:23) The writer of Hebrews is simply looking at the people to whom he is writing and saying the same thing. If there is no desire to grow in understanding and love of Jesus, no pursuit of holiness, then the Spirit actually isn’t in those people. A changed heart by the gospel will naturally start to desire new things, desire Christ more and sin less. Christians will never be perfect, but there should be some desire for holiness.
The author concludes this section showing how Jesus is greater than any high priest, even Melchizedek. Jesus is our forever high priest, will never need to be replaced because of death, and has no need to offer up sacrifices for sin daily as other priests did, because he offered himself as a full and final sacrifice. Our high priest paid for all of our sin (past, present, and future) with his own death, making him the greatest high priest.
He is also a high priest of a better covenant because this covenant is bought and sealed with the blood of His son, not the blood of bulls and goats. The covenant of Christ is a once for all, eternal covenant that was blood bought by the Son of God on a cross, pouring out his blood for our sin.