Leviticus: it’s simply not good enough…

Cover to Cover

Reading: Leviticus 20:1-22:33

Focus: Leviticus 22:17-33

I used to have a violin teacher in high school, a Russian violin teacher, who was never satisfied with my progress (catalysed by my lack of practice and apathetic attitude towards her). Without fail each week she would have an episode, “No, no, no. Not like that! (*insert unintelligible Russian*) Like this! Like this!” or something of similar effect. Suffice to say, while I progressed, it was simply not good enough for her. (When you realise that we had students in the Melbourne Youth Orchestra, with calibre that high…you just can’t compare.)

While it’s not entirely a direct parallel, the expectation for the sacrifices made to God in ancient Israel were expected to be without defect, deformity, blemish or injury—in short, faultless. In some sense, as one thinks about it, it is not necessarily the condition of the sacrifice that seems at stake. The reason comes down to the heart of the person making the sacrifice, for in closing God says the following (22:31-33):

Keep my commands and follow them. I am the LORD. Do not profane my holy name. I must be acknowledged as holy by the Israelites. I am the LORD, who makes you holy and who brought you out of Egypt to be your God. I am the LORD.

As such, it would seem that what is at stake is that the people of God recognise and acknowledge who their God is, and that He is holy, who makes them holy. Going all the way back to Cain and Abel, why was it that Cain’s offering was rejected? It would seem that Cain failed to acknowledge who God was and offered a heart, not produce, less than satisfactory (cf. Heb. 11:4). If God didn’t demand for faultless sacrifices, then how long would it be before His people started shortcutting the system and bringing any old sacrifice to the altar? The demand for faultless sacrifice sought to keep people in check, that they would always remember who God was and what He had done for them.

Yet, what equivalent do we have today? What are our sacrifices and offerings? The old system has been done away with. The well-known passage comes to mind:

Therefore, I urge you, brothers [and sisters], in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
(Romans 12:1-2)

Each one of us been given gifts and talents by God, this is our sacrifice and our offering. With minds transformed, we offer ourselves, holy and pleasing, to God’s purposes. As we do so, to remember the grace and mercy given to us that we might freely live this life we have been blessed with. To not neglect or despise what we have been given, but offer them in wholehearted gratitude to the One who made us, to the One who is holy and makes us holy—makes us good enough for His glory.

Next Reading: Leviticus 23:1-25:55