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Leviticus--Our High Priest
Leviticus means "relating to the Levites". The Levites are one of the 12 tribes that make up the nation of Israel. When Moses led the people out of Egypt, God chose the tribe of Levi, and set them apart, to be the spiritual leaders for the Hebrew children. Leviticus address the whole congregation of Israel; but, adds specific instructions that the Levites were to obey and do as commanded, especially in regards to the temple rituals, the specific sacrifices and offerings and legal practices within the church.
Moses was of the tribe of Levi, as was Aaron (obviously). Moses, through the instructions given by God, appointed Aaron, his brother, as the first High Priest. Leviticus is sectioned out in five distinct parts; within the content of this blog, I hope to give a clearer description of the ordination of Aaron and the other priests.
These first seven chapters concern the laws of the sacrifices; the types of offerings, the reasons for the offerings, and instructions that the priests had to follow in regards to each offering.
The following were the types of offerings offered as sacrifices unto God:
- The Burnt Offering: This was the for an individual to seek personal atonement.
- The Grain Offering: These offerings were to be made without yeast.
- The Fellowship Offering: These offerings were offered as a way of giving thanks or as a way of avowing an oath.
- The Sin Offering: Leviticus 4:1-2--"The Lord said to Moses, 'Say to the Israelites: "When anyone sins unintentionally and does what is forbidden in any of the Lords commands--" ' "
- The Guilt Offering: Leviticus 5:14-15--"The Lord said to Moses: 'When a person commits a violation and sins unintentionally in regard to any of the Lord's holy things, he is to bring to the Lord as a penalty a ram from the flock, one without defect and of the proper value in silver, according to the sanctuary shekel. It is a guilt offering.' " It should be noted that the laws for the sin offering and the guilt offering were the same (Leviticus 7:7).
It was also instructed that no person was allowed to eat the fat of the cattle, sheep or goats; the penalty for such was to be cut off from the community.
For each sacrifice given, there was a portion set aside that was allotted to the priests.
The chapters detail the ordaining of Aaron, the [first] High Priest, and his sons, the [first] priests. These regulations were to be upheld and followed for every subsequent priest that followed through all the generations to come.
- We learn that Moses anointed Aaron with oil to consecrate (to set apart as holy) him.
- Moses then slaughtered and sacrificed a bull the sin offering on behalf of Aaron and his sons. Then there was a ram presented and slaughtered as a burnt offering.
- Another ram was presented and slaughtered for the ordination of Aaron and his sons. The blood of this second ram was put on Aaron's right ear lobe, his right thumb and the big toe of his right foot. The same was then done for each of Aaron's sons.
- The next step was the sprinkling of oil and blood from the altar onto Aaron and his garments and on his sons and their garments.
- After seven days, on the eighth day, Aaron and his son scarified another sin offering and another burnt offering for themselves, and then one for the people as a whole. He also brought the grain offering and the fellowship offering.
In chapter 10, there is a judgment on Nadab and Abihu, two sons of Aaron who did not follow the regulations of the priests as set by God. The offered an unauthorized fire before the Lord and fire came out from the presence of the Lord which consumed and killed them.
These five chapters talk about what was considered clean and/or unclean, and how each instance was to be handled for purification purposes.
Chapter 11: Clean and unclean food. This chapter details all kinds of animals that were either clean or unclean for the Hebrew children. Animals with split hooves AND chewed the cud (swallowed food that cattle, sheep, goats, etc. bring back up from the first stomach to chew again slowly a second time) were allowed. Pigs were not allowed because though it has a split hoof, it does not chew the cud. Rabbits were not allowed because though it chews the cud, it does not have a split hoof. There were certain creatures in the waters that were allowed or not allowed; if a fish or creature of the waters had scales AND fins, it was allowed. There was a plethora of birds that were considered unclean. Again, some bugs were allowed and some were not. Any flying bugs that walked on all fours were unclean; those that had jointed legs for hopping on the ground were clean (locusts, grasshoppers, etc.). Along with the list of clean or unclean animals were some dos and don'ts in case these animals happened to get into your cooking ware or personal belongings. It was the responsibility of the people to know and be able to distinguish what was clean, and could be eaten, and what was unclean, and could not be eaten (Leviticus 11:47).
Chapter 12: Purification after childbirth.
Chapter 13: Regulations about infectious skin diseases; Regulations about mildew. This chapter lists out what is considered an infectious skin disease or how to tell if something has mold and/or mildew on or in it.
Chapter 14: Cleansing from infectious skin diseases. Cleansing from mildew. This chapter tells what the individual should do, and what and when a sacrifice should be made, for infectious skin diseases and mildew/mold.
Chapter 15: Discharges causing uncleanness.
The Day of Atonement
Once a year, the high priest, starting with Aaron, was to bathe himself completely and then don very specific priestly garments. First he was to gather a bull for the atonement for the sins of his own household. Then he would select two goats; one would be used as a sacrifice unto the Lord and the other would be used for the scapegoat. Next, he would conduct the sin offering for his household using the bull, and then he would offer the sin offering for the whole of the Israelite community using the goat. When the slaughter of his bull for his household was complete, he had to put incense on the fire before the Lord so that the smoke from the incense would conceal the atonement cover above the Testimony; this was done because it meant death to look directly upon the Lord. After sprinkling the bull's blood on the atonement cover, he would then slaughter the goat for the sin offering for the people, doing with it as he did for his own sin offering. When the sacrifice for the atonement of the sins were done, he would lay his hands on the second goat's head and confess upon the goat all the sins that were sacrificed for and atoned for, then the goat would be sent away in the desert, thus making the goat the scapegoat. After everything had been accomplished, Aaron, or the high priest at the time, would have to bathe yet again and re-dress in his regular garments. There would then be the burnt offering for himself and for the people.
There were additional rituals and regulations for the man who had to release the goats as a scapegoat into the desert to wash and cleanse himself, as well as for the man who took the hides and carcasses of the bull and goat of the sin offerings outside the camp to burn them up.
God was very specific about this being done. Leviticus 16:34--"This is to be a lasting ordinance for you: Atonement is to be made once a year for all the sins of the Israelites."
These next ten chapters of Leviticus are prescriptions for practical holy living. There are 11 such prescriptions...
- Sacrifices and Food
- Sexual Behavior
- Being Neighborly
- The Committing of and the Punishing of Sins
- Rules for Priests
- Rules for Eating the Sacrifices
- The Various Festivals
- Rules of the Tabernacle
- The Years of Sabbath and Jubilee
- Blessings for Obedience and Curses for Disobedience
This last chapter involved redeeming gifts dedicated unto the Lord. It is giving back to God what He has blessed us with. If God has blessed you with an income, you need to tithe. God has given each of us a life; are we using our time wisely and giving back some of our time for the service and worship of our King? Are we willing to consecrate our lives, or the lives of our children, to the service of the Lord? Each one of us has something that we can give back to the Lord.
One Final Note
Hebrews 4:14--"Therefore, since we have a great High Priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess."
We no longer have to take an animal to a high priest at a holy temple for that high priest to make intercession for us through the sacrifice of the animal for the atonement of our sins. We have THE High Priest who was THE sacrifice for our sins. John 3:16--" 'For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.' " Jesus came. Jesus was as a lamb led to the slaughter. He came voluntarily and He came obediently to the will of Abba, Father. He became a sacrifice so that no longer would we have need of an earthly intercessor. Every need we have need of, every sin we sin, every fear we fear; we are given full privilege to take straight to Jesus. Praise God!
In Numbers, He's the fire by night.
At the start of Numbers, a census is taken of the whole of the Israelite community These numbers are then categorized and set up in an exact precision according to the what the Lord wants and wills.