The Book of Leviticus, Part II
So today, we’re going to continue surveying the Book of Leviticus, CHAPERS 10-12.
WE ENDED LEVITICUS PART I, with a survey of the 5 types of offerings in CHs. 1-6: the burnt offerings, the meat offerings, the peace offerings, the offerings for unintentional sin, & the trespass offerings.
I also covered the lawful provision for priests in ch. 7, the consecration of priests and the holy garments, such as the ephod, the breastplate, & the urim and thummim in ch. 8, and in chapter 9 God’s glory appeared to the children of Israel in the tabernacle & …
… Fire proceeded out from the presence of God and devoured the whole burnt sacrifice on the altar.
And while this caused the fear of God to descend down into the camp, God was pleased with the Israelites and accepted their offerings.
It was an acceptable sacrifice unto the LORD.
CHAPTER 10 deals with the death of Aaron’s two sons, Nadab & Abihu, the priests of the tabernacle.
CHAPTER 11 deals with the food & dietary laws and restrictions.
CHAPTER 12 covers purification of a mother after childbirth, and we see parallels with this with the birth of Jesus and the purification of Mary.
Let’s turn to Chapter 10 & read v. 1 & 2.
So beginning in Chapter 10, we see that the same fire which devoured the burnt offering, now devours two of the priests, Nadab & Abihu, Aaron’s sons.
Of course, Aaron was the High Priest, and so Nadab & Abihu would have been the next in line in succession of becoming the High Priests of Israel.
But the same fire that consumed the burnt offering now consumes Nadab and Abihu, because their offering profaned the tabernacle of God.
So the question is: WHAT WAS THE “STRANGE FIRE” that the sons of Aaron offered?
Turn back to EXODUS 30.
As we see last time, Leviticus refers back to Exodus when the instructions and building of the tabernacle was given to Moses. We read about the holy garments in EXODUS 28.
So these books are closely aligned, it’s a continuation in the narrative of the first five books in the Bible, which in fact at one point, were one book, written by Moses.
Exodus 30 describes the GOLDEN ALTAR OF INCENSE.
The altar, the Bible says, was made of “shittim wood” and overlaid with pure gold.
Exodus 30: “1 And thou shalt make an altar to burn incense upon: of shittim wood shalt thou make it … 3 And thou shalt overlay it with pure gold …”
What is SHITTIM WOOD? This was wood from the Acacia tree which grew in the Sinai desert.
And this is a side-point, but if you look up SHITTIM in the Bible, everything from the ARK of the Covenant to the TABLE OF THE SHEWBREAD to the TABERNACLE WALLS & the PILLARS were made of SHITTIM WOOD.
And it was all overlaid with pure, solid gold.
- LOOK AT EXODUS 30:6-9.
We see that the ALTAR OF INCENSE, that Aaron’s son were later responsible for, was placed inside the sanctuary of the tabernacle near the vail which separated the inner sanctuary from the outer sanctuary.
There were two compartments inside the sanctuary of the tabernacle.
And this will become important later, as we get to the chapter 16 dealing with the once-a-year blood atonement.
But, basically, you had the outer sanctuary with the table of showbread and the candlestick and the altar of incense and you had the inner sanctuary (where the ark of the covenant and the mercy seat were, which overlaid the ark), and you had a vail which separated the two …
… And the ALTAR OF INCENSE was stationed just outside vail.
And there is a lot of symbolism regarding the incense, but practically speaking, it covered up the fleshy smell of the animal sacrifices and made the tabernacle smell more pleasant and sweet.
And it also symbolizes the prayers of the Saints unto God.
And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne.
4And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel’s hand.
Psalm 141:2: “Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.”
And in Exodus 30:7-8, God instructs MOSES TO BURN THE INCENSE inside the tabernacle day and night, continually.
7 And Aaron shall burn thereon sweet incense every morning: when he dresseth the lamps, he shall burn incense upon it.
8 And when Aaron lighteth the lamps at even, he shall burn incense upon it, a perpetual incense before the LORD throughout your generations.”
Our prayers and worship are ascending up to God forever.
And so because the altar of incense served a very specific & holy function, any aberration & any perversion from the specific instructions could be serious enough to lead to chastisement or death.
- 9 continues: “Ye shall offer no strange incense thereon, nor burnt sacrifice, nor meat offering; neither shall ye pour drink offering thereon.”
Exodus 30:34-38 also lists the ingredients for the incense that was to be burned.
READ EXODUS 30:34-38
Notice that the Bible says using the incense in the wrong way would result in that person being “cut off” from his people.
So we see that Nadab & Abihu were “cut off” by God Himself for offering strange fire inside the tabernacle.
- Now the word “STRANGE” as in “STRANGE FIRE” also had certain connotations that went along with it.
Consider that the 1st TIME that the word “STRANGE” is used in the Bible, it is associated with “STRANGE GODS” in GENESIS 35:2.
The 1st time a WORD appears in the BIBLE, it often defines the meaning of that word throughout the Bible.
GENESIS 35:2 says: “Then Jacob said unto his household, and to all that were with him, Put away the strange gods that are among you, and be clean, and change your garments:”
So we see that STRANGE is cognitively associated with false gods.
That’s the KEY to understanding what Aaron’s sons had really done.
They had used holy incense of God in worship of STRANGE, false gods.
9 There shall no strange god be in thee; neither shalt thou worship any strange god.
And so it was no light reason why they were killed.
God was establishing the ordinances and regulations for tabernacle worship that set Israel apart from all other nations.
LEVITICUS 10, starting at v. 3 – 7.
God tells Aaron & his remaining sons not to publicly mourn Nadab and Abihu, because what had happened was righteous in His sight.
He tells them not to uncover their heads nor rend their clothes … to rend is to tear … and was a public display of mourning among the Israelites.
He says not to do this, but to CONTINUE MINISTERING in the service of the LORD inside the tabernacle.
- Moses commands Aaron & his remaining sons to take their portion of the offerings and to eat it “beside the altar”, “in the holy place”, because it is their “due”.
- It was that portion that was meant for the priests that we talked about last time from Leviticus 7.
But in v. 16, Aaron and his sons refused to eat it … they burnt the whole offering, without consuming their portion.
READ LEVITICUS 10:16-18
And Aaron answers Moses in v. 19-20.
What exactly transpired here? Basically, Aaron says … Look, today I’ve lost my sons …
… And if I were to eat the offering, it wouldn’t have been accepted in God’s sight.
… BECAUSE IT WOULD HAVE BEEN DISINGENUINE.
It wouldn’t have been offered from the heart, but done out of compulsion.
But Moses accepts his answer, and Aaron is not disciplined for disobeying the ordinances.
This reveals something very important:
One the one hand Nadab & Abihu were struck dead for disobeying the ordinances and offering strange fire …
… but as I showed that was in worship of false gods inside the tabernacle. Their heart was not right with God.
One the other hand, Aaron also breaks an ordinance, but his motives were entirely different: it was so that he could be sincere in his worship of God.
God is not interested in empty ritual.
1 Samuel 15:22: “And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as greatdelight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.”
Now, normally the intent of our hearts should coincide with obedience to the LORD, with His laws … we’re blessed when we obey God’s commands.
But you can’t isolate the mechanics of all the sacrifices and ordinances from genuine worship, otherwise you have dead, empty ritual.
6 Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire; mine ears hast thou opened: burnt offering and sin offering hast thou not required.
7Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me,
8 I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart.
Paul quotes Psalm 40 in Hebrews 10, speaking of Jesus, fulfilling the sacrifices & offerings in Himself.
16 For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering.
17The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.
Aaron and his sons were worshipping God with a broken spirit and a contrite heart … and that was acceptable in the sight of God.
MOVING ON TO LEVITICUS, CHAPTER 11
Ch. 11 deals with food & dietary restrictions … list of “clean” and “unclean” foods.
So let’s first look at it at face value & then we’ll examine the New Covenant perspective.
Turn to Leviticus 11:1-3
There are 2 requirements for animal to be clean in this passage:
- “Whatsoever parteth the hoof, and is clovenfooted”.
This is describing the same thing: animals that have a hoof that is split in two, such as a goat, cattle, sheep, elk, deer, ox, the gazelle, antelope, etc.
- Animals that “cheweth the cud”.
Both of these characteristics have to be present.
Now farmers & ranchers automatically know this.
Chewing the cud is when an animal, such as a cow or a goat takes food in its mouth …
… they chew it, swallow it, and then its regurgitated back up again from their stomachs to be chewed a second time.
You may have heard that old saying, “chewing the cud, meaning someone who ponders over and reflects when speaking.
As in Mark tends to chew the cud before he answers …
In animals, it’s a part of the digestion process in animals like cattle, goats, sheep, deer, etc.
- And so the THE PIG or SWINE, for example, was excluded from the “clean list”, even though pigs are clovenfooted, they don’t chew the cud …
- We see this explained in Leviticus 11:4-8.
- And so the CAMEL is excluded, the CONEY is excluded.
Anyone know what a CONEY is? The best guess is they look like a cross between a GOPHER & a RABBIT, and are found in rocky regions of the Sinai desert.
They’re mentioned also in
Proverbs 104:8: “The high hills are a refuge for the wild goats; and the rocks for the conies.
Proverbs 30:26: “The conies are but a feeble folk, yet make they their houses in the rocks;”
The HARE is also excluded, which is from the same genus or family as a rabbit.
And SWINE, which is PIG, is listed in the “unclean” category.
That’s why orthodox Jews & Muslims today don’t eat pork. They both follow the Levitical Law of Moses to this day, at least when it comes to food.
- 9 gets into sea creatures, and basically, the only types that were considered “CLEAN” were MOST fish, with a few exceptions.
READ v. 9-12.
So the criteria here is that sea creatures must have both FINS & SCALES.
This excludes creatures like the squid, eel, octopus, sea urchin, basically all the crazy stuff at the sushi counter …
also dolphins, whales, & sharks are excluded, so there goes that shark taco (since they have fins but no scales).
Shrimp, crawfish, lobster, crab, mussels, & oysters are also excluded.
- Other fish that don’t have scales, include catfish and swordfish.
Now, it’s interesting that some scientific studies claim that fish with fins and scales are equipped with a digestive system THAT PREVENT the absorption of toxins …
… While bottom dwellers like catfish have digestive systems that are DESIGNED TO ABSORB toxins & waste from the bottom of the water.
Shrimp & lobster are also crustaceans and are designed to naturally absorb toxins from their surroundings.
They are also a part of the arthropod family of sea creatures, which on land include insects such as cockroaches & spiders. That just their genus.
That’s why you’ll sometimes hear shrimp referred to as the “cockroach of the seas.”
And we’ll get to the health implications in a minute, and whether that applies today.
- Finally, we get to “fowls”, which are flying creatures.
Look at Leviticus 11:13.
… In the Bible, “fowls” doesn’t only refer to birds, but all flying creatures …
… Such as insects that fly, like grasshopper or locusts (which are listed among the “CLEAN” FOWL).
Let’s read v. 13-23.
This calls to mind John the Baptist, who’s diet consisted of locusts and wild honey in Matthew 3:4: “And the same John had his raiment of camel’s hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey.”
Further down in Leviticus 11, the Bible also lists all animals as UNCLEAN that “goeth upon his paws” (in v. 27), like cats, or dogs, or bears …
… and in v. 29, “the creeping things that creep upon the earth”, like the “weasel, and the mouse, and the tortoise” …
In v. 30, the “ferret, the chameleon, and the lizard, and the snail (no escargot back then), and the mole”.
And God calls all these unclean foods “AN ABOMINATION”.
In all, the word “abomination” is used 10 times in Leviticus 11!
… Because these foods are associated with the “UNCLEAN”.
Now all of this can give you pause. And make you wonder, “Do I really want to eat a bottom-dweller”? And I don’t blame you if you don’t.
We have freedom in Christ.
The problem begins when one sides begins to condemn another over issues that are meant to be personal convictions under the New Covenant.
Romans 14:20: “For meat destroy not the work of God. All things indeed are pure; but it is evil for that man who eateth with offence.””
But the final purpose of the CLEAN & UNCLEAN list of foods was to set God’s people apart from non-believers, to sanctify them, to consecrate them, to make holy, to “make a difference”, the Bible says, “between the unclean and the clean” (Leviticus 11:47).
Leviticus 20:25, later on in the book:
Ye shall therefore put difference between clean beasts and unclean, andbetween unclean fowls and clean: and ye shall not make your souls abominable by beast, or by fowl, or by any manner of living thing that creepeth on the ground, which I have separated from you as unclean.
- This was allegorical of God’s people being set apart from the unbelieving gentiles around them.
All the lists are summed up by the last 3 verses in Leviticus 11:45-47.
READ LEVITICUS 11:45-47.
Now, all of this is explained in the NEW TESTAMENT, which is our final authority on matters of the LAW.
Remember, the LAW was fulfilled in Jesus Christ Himself.
We see this most clearly reflected in Book of ACTS, CHAPTER 10 …
… in the passage about Peter the apostle & Cornelious the Roman Centurion.
ACTS 10:1-35 PETER AND CORNELIOUS
16 Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days:
17Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.
14 And when he had called all the people [unto him], he said unto them, Hearken unto me every one [of you], and understand:
15 There is nothing from without a man, that entering into him can defile him: but the things which come out of him, those are they that defile the man.
16 If any man have ears to hear, let him hear.
17 And when he was entered into the house from the people, his disciples asked him concerning the parable.
18 And he saith unto them, Are ye so without understanding also? Do ye not perceive, that whatsoever thing from without entereth into the man, [it] cannot defile him;
19 Because it entereth not into his heart, but into the belly, and goeth out into the draught, purging all meats?
20 And he said, That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man.
21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders,
22 Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness:
23 All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.
1 Timothy 4:4-5:
4 For every creature of God [is] good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving:
5 For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.
MOVING ON TO THE FINAL CHAPTER TODAY, LEVITICUS 12.
Leviticus 12 covers the purification laws for women after they have given birth.
It’s such a short chapter, 8 verses, let’s just read it.
Leviticus 12 describes how a woman is unclean after giving birth for a set period of time …
… 1 week for a male child before circumcision plus an additional 33 days for a total of 1 month of ceremonial uncleanness …
… & 2 weeks for a female child plus an additional 66 days for a total of 80 days.
- So the time is exactly double for a female v. a male.
WHY? There a lot of theories and conjecture which vary …
But the simplest, most Biblical answer isn’t sensitive to modern sensibility, which is that God was placing pre-eminence over the man v. the woman, because of the woman’s transgression in the Garden of Eden, with the man being placed in a position of leadership.
This doubling of the time would signify that.
As we see in 1 Timothy 2:
13 For Adam was first formed, then Eve.
14And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.
15Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.
Leviticus 12 is also important because it shows that Mary the mother of Jesus, though blessed among women, had sin.
One of the false teachings of the Roman Catholic church is to elevate Mary to a position of deity.
They call this the IMMACULATE CONCEPTION, meaning that Mary was born in an immaculate or perfect state, without the taint of sin or the inherent sinful nature.
There are many verses that prove this false, including Luke 1:47 where Mary says: “And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.”
… because of course, if you have no sin, you have no need of a Savior.
But one of the passages in the Bible that definitively proves that Mary was human with all that comes with being human is found in Luke 2, which goes back to Leviticus 12.
21 And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb.
22And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord;
23(As it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord;)
24And to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.
So we see that Mary followed the Levitical Law of purification, because she was not the IMMACULATE SINLESS MOTHER OF GOD, but the human mother of Jesus, with a human nature.
So next time, we’re going to cover Ch. 13-17, which includes some of the laws of leprosy and various diseases (don’t worry, we’re not going to look word for word at leprosy laws, but we will look at some examples of Jesus’ healing lepers and how this really is a prelude to Christ’s cleansing of our sins in the ONCE-A-YEAR blood atonement).
So a lot of Part III is going to be cover the importance of the BLOOD SACRIFICE OF JESUS.
Which is very important to understand, because understanding the BLOOD helps to defeat every false works-based gospel in existence, once you understand that you are SAVED only by faith in the Blood of Jesus.