Years ago I was privileged to know a professor and his wife who hosted young adults in their home. I remember one young lady that lived there because of this story. She was a blessing to this couple. Over the course of time a young man fell in love with her and made plans to ask her to marry him. The preparations were made, the requests of the parents were done, and much prayer went into the momentous occasion. We were all so excited for this special day to draw near. Well, the girl caught some virus and had a severe sore throat, headache, chills and fever. After several days of violently throwing up, she was in no shape to go out for a romantic dinner. We expected the event to be delayed at least for a few weeks. The young man, however, was not to be deterred. He had meticulously planned every detail. On the exact day that he planned, he came to the house, walked up the stairs and into her room with a bouquet of flowers. She was a wreck, wrinkly pajamas, hair glued to her forehead from sweat, surrounded by smelly blankets and just in case, there was a bucket nearby. She listened intently to his kind voice, then he got down on one knee. This beautiful, lovely songbird was not diminished in his eyes in any way. I don’t think he even saw the snot filled tissues on the floor or empty cough drop wrappers on her nightstand. The conditions necessary had been met and his unconditional love saw past her imperfections. All the hard work– he had done, while she rested, all she had to do was accept it. This was his perfect bride.
I’ve seen a lot of couples get together over the years. Some, you pray they make it; others, you cringe in anticipation of the troubles they will endure. This couple was a perfect picture of Gods love for His Bride. Leviticus is a book about covenant, worship and the stipulations for being Gods chosen people. His requirements, laws, and instructions detail what He expected from His chosen. They were to be HIS- alone. There are twenty-seven chapters of specific instructions. Each of these seemingly excessive regulations, give us a new picture of Gods character and the duties of His priests. R. Laird Harris points out in his Expositors Bible commentary on Leviticus, that the sacrifices all point to Christs ultimate sacrifice. He recommends reading Hebrews 5-10, in order to see the fulfillment of this book. Christ – is the High Priest and Gods full expression of true sacrifice. “No one offering however, can typify Christs many sided works, which includes propitiation, atonement, communion, consecration, worship and so much more.”
While the content may seem intense, this is the God of the Universe, retraining the slaves of Egypt, the refugees from Pharaohs world, how to start again in a world where the King lives in their midst. These are protocols for living with Royalty. It would describe His ways and heart for generations to come. Many skip over these books because they seem outdated or legalistic, but each one gives us a fuller picture of just how much God went through. They allow us to see His love. He is sacred and holy and in these difficult passages we can find out what that means in our lives. Somehow, attending an hour-long church service is our idea of “sacrificing” for the Lord or maybe missing one meal as we fast but the people called priests back in Leviticus – they had to jump through all kinds of hoops– just to be able to come to the altar. When we praise God today and it costs us, it becomes a sacrifice of praise that displays Jesus’ love.
One morning we were getting ready to have devotions, and just to be honest– I was not looking forward to reading about more rules and regulations. Some of this stuff is really gross. How could these verses impact my teens going to school? How could these words refresh my heart as I went throughout my day? Yes, sometimes we have devotions looking to receive rather than just learning Gods nature. Devotions are usually spiritual, clean, sterile. Even reading the story above is odd as we “church folks” focus on pretty and positive stuff, right? Excellent, beautiful and perfect is the norm for our likes. On that particular day I read that dwarves, the wounded, those with flat noses, the broken, blind, lame, those with oozy sores or scabs were not allowed behind the veil. They could come to God but were restricted, prohibited from drawing closer. Nothing but perfection was allowed in. Old Testament. The perfect, the pure, the flawless had hope to draw near –but not the maimed or scabby.
If you are disabled, have psoriasis, shingles, warts, herpes, acne, a bad haircut etc. these verses may discourage you. Jesus, however, identified with the “less than perfect”. He made a way that ALL could enter in. In Jesus day, He redefined perfection– telling us there is only One who is Holy. He let the people know that nothing they eat, or take in will make them unclean – only what flows out of their hearts will defile them. That is the main thing that blocks holiness. In Leviticus we are clearly told that we need to “BE HOLY, for I the Lord your God am holy” (Lev. 11:44-45). There’s also chapters about sexual sins, bad treatment of neighbors, unjust scales, slander, etc.
Hear the words of Hebrews 10:19 ” Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living Way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings…”
Ephesians 3:12, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him.
And also: Ephesians 1:6 tells us “He hath made us ACCEPTED in the beloved.”
There is no way that we can fully comprehend and understand Christs great sacrifice unless we understand all that went into that arrangement! The preparations of the groom were off the charts! Since the beginning of time, He planned them. He didn’t just get us a one-way ticket to Heaven. He didn’t just give a mental nod or ascent to us becoming His children. He did not seek a special election and get us in on a majority vote. He revealed himself to us through time and made provision thru the death on the cross so we could come, not just near –but face to face. That’s incredible. Note that the burnt offering – lit on fire, consumed, completely burned is the start of the offerings. A life for a life. Wait, …fully burned, charred, down to ashes, consumed? Sin costs and kills, it separates.
This system is not one of Hierarchy, its based on true love and doing what is right, pure. Holy is protection, its nature is set-apart and not common. It shines and it defines.
So, who can be holy? None of us. Not a single one. Not mother Theresa, not your favorite teacher, not the preacher, not a special grandma. None of us can earn it, buy it or substitute for it. There’s only one way that we can be holy and that is through the precious blood of Jesus Christ. He alone makes us holy. Huang Sabin in his commentary, The OT made simple states, “A holy life must never be attained by holy living, but a holy life must always be maintained by holy living.
What does that mean? It means that positionally we are made right with God through the person and passion of Jesus Christ. We live out that holiness not by our good deeds but by relying on His. We are set apart as priests for HIS calling and purpose – to honor God with our whole being and to thank Him for His grace. If we realize the great cost, we can live no other way but in total devotion. Truly holy made people– live holy— in honor of the One who made them holy. There’s no self-righteous stench, just a fragrant offering.
Holiness doesn’t mean going to church, reading your Bible, abstaining from smoking. Holiness comes from trading our filthy rags in for Christs righteousness. We forsake ALL other loves.
It has been interesting listening to the many opinions on the latest revivals. It refreshes our hearts – until someone compares their thoughts on “real” revival or judges the church down the street as “not quite as holy”. The gong sounds and the music fades. The enemy knows just how to trip us up. Our gaze slides down to the ground. We easily smudge our righteousness by works of the flesh – gossip, judgement of unbelievers, lying, playing favorites or partiality, stealing, etc. While God does love everyone, His standard is holiness. Thankfully, we no longer have to offer bulls, lambs. God sees the blood, the red stained blood of His son, instead of our sin. Without the blood – relationship would be impossible. We could never meet the conditions. We would be utterly rejected for being less than perfect, marred, flawed. We failed our part, yet Jesus still makes us whole.
My husband preached a sermon awhile back and said, “God has not called us to be someone else’s fruit inspector – that’s Gods’ job.” It seems when holiness comes into the conversation that many like to point to the “other guy or gal” as having flaws or faults. If our assessment is skewed or not Gods opinion– it not only harms that other person but blocks our communion with God. We are called to be short on opinions and long on love. If God went through generations of creating this pattern to save us, we would be short sighted to change it! Leviticus shows us that God has expectations so weighty we will never measure up- that’s why we need Jesus.
When Jesus comes, the broken will be received, the unaccepted become acceptable, the dwarfs will dance, the disabled will come near, the scabbed ones will become clean and ALL – ALL, can come running into His presence, accepted and beloved at His invitation, His beautiful Bride. He set the standard. That holiness cost Christ his very life. It was not cheap, for him it was deadly and painful. Let’s run to Father, fall into grace, be done with the hiding, no reason to wait… Cody Carnes sings “my heart needs a surgeon, my soul needs a friend—so I run to the Father again and again and again .”
The Lord almighty– He requires, REQUIRES that we live righteous, holy, close to God, free of sin and defilement. It’s the core of our relationship with Him. Someone once said, “fear not perfection– because no one can attain it.” Only One reached the Fathers’ opinion of perfect – the rest of us — need grace.
For those who want to be Gods royal kingdom of priests, the bar is high – rugged cross high. We must Lay down our lives and pick up (our) His cross and follow Him. That’s the only standard, opinion that matters. ALL the rules were replaced –by one longing Bridegroom, searching for His Bride. Leviticus is an outline of the Grooms vows – knowing our fragile, broken state, He fulfills the requirements FOR US. Wow. Why this law Lord? Why this offering? What should we understand of You through it?
Note that the Fellowship offerings were about relationship, meals together, communion and relationship. Community delights God. If we look at what and how He planned for His Bride— Leviticus becomes one of the sweetest books in the Bible.
Lord, we lay aside all other loves, idols, plans, opinions, judgements… clean us inside and outside. Show us your character, your nature and the great cost to secure that Love in our lives. Make us holy as you are holy. You want us for yourself- not mixed religion, not syncretistic worship, not impure love.
“Holy, there is no one like you, there is none beside you, open up our eyes in wonder and show us who you are and fill me with your heart and lead me in your love to those around me …. We look to you.” (Housefires- Build my life 2016)
Dancing in His grace,
Renae Roche 2023