This week’s teaching is the 1st Parsha of Leviticus and is called Va’yikra. (“And He called”).
The end of Exodus shows what Israel can do when they submit to God and do what he says. They took on the project of building God’s house and furnishing it with gusto. Then God comes to dwell among them, showing his glory as he enters the tabernacle! That’s Exodus 40. It would be nice if the story ended there and the Bible said, “Then they all lived happily ever after.” But that will not be the case.
Leviticus is known as the instructions of the priest and begins with the way of worship and ends with the way of holy living. God wants both.
People want God’s power to help them, but on their terms. This will not happen. Why? God is God! He is not an idol that people can manipulate and invent their own ways of worshipping and separate themselves from whenever it is convenient.
God is God! He is holy and enters a relationship with you because He loves you, and desires you to know and love him; but NOT on your terms and by your own standards. You can’t have a partial relationship with God where you do what HE wants over here, but do whatever you want somewhere else.
God’s calling and choosing are not partial or controlled by you. God never says to you, “Not my will, but your will be done!” Leviticus shows us who is the Creator and who is the worshipping creature, called by God to become like God.
Why talk about sin at all when we have so much good news to give? Let me offer two answers – a common sense answer and a theological answer.
The common sense answer is – in order for the good news to be good, it must have something to measure it against. For good news to be good there has to be a bad news. Sin is the bad news.
The theological answer is that sin is the cosmic problem. It is the reason for the existence of the good news. Without the sin recorded in Genesis 3, we don’t have Genesis 4 through Revelation 22. The Scriptures tell the story of how God deals with the problem of sin. We need to remember how bad sin really was in order to understand how blessed we are in the Messiah. For that reason, we talk about sin.
When you read Leviticus in the light of how Exodus ends, the book becomes less about law and more about how to live before a gracious and holy God. The first three chapters of Leviticus introduced sacrifice as the means of atonement and reconciliation to God. In chapter 1, the burnt offering atones for sin; in chapter 3, the fellowship, or peace offering reconciles your relationship with Adonai. Only one more thing is needed – purification. God is God!
There are 3 things the sacrifices show:
1) There is a substitution taking place in the sacrifice – the animal dies in the place of sinner. You will find that in Leviticus 4:13-15
2) The killing of the sacrificial animal is not the central point. The central focus is what is done with the blood of the sacrifice, because it reveals the nature of the sacrifice – purification.
For sin to be fully dealt with, it must be eliminated from the sinner – in particular, where it has uncovered into the presence of God and His holiness. The presence of the sinner, even in seeking atonement, defiled the Tabernacle.
3) The removal of the rest of the animal. The part that was not burned upon the Altar of Sacrifice represents the removal of the pollution of sin from the camp. It is a declaration that the camp is clean and the Tabernacle is once again purified and a fitting dwelling for the presence of God.
As you move through Leviticus pay special attention to a fundamental God-principle set before you at every turn; a principle that is the opposite of traditional doctrinal-based church teaching: this principle states that God divides, elects, and separates. He makes distinctions and draws boundaries. God is God!
Due to the distance the modern Church has slowly put between itself and the actual words of the Holy Scripture, we mistakenly cry out for unity at any cost, as though uniform agreement to a man-made doctrine is Godly. Today the body of Messiah seeks widespread unity above all else. This unity is accomplished by consensus, conformity, and tolerance.
Throughout Genesis and Exodus we have seen God dividing light from darkness, evil from good, truth from deception, chaos from order, and Israel from everyone else.
When you examine the sacrificial system you see these same kinds of divisions and distinctions established between clean and unclean, holy and profane, divine and fleshly, priestly and common. Ritual purity, sexuality, and diet all divides into the acceptable and the UN-acceptable. We learn that the UN-acceptable is not tolerated by God. Those who act out the unacceptable will be excluded from membership in the group called “His people” - Israel. God is God!
Leviticus gives the Priestly worldview. Why is that important? It is because we have been declared priests. As a disciple of Yeshua, you are a priest of the Kingdom of God who’s Lord and High Priest is Yeshua. This is a label, which most people take allegorically or symbolically, and not really as a literal PRIEST
As royal priests, we have direct access to the presence of God. We are empowered by Him to carry out all of our priestly duties. What are these duties?
- To serve the people… Priests sacrificially serve others. We serve without any expectation to be served in return.
- To intercede on behalf of others… When we intercede in prayer, we are “intervening” on behalf of someone else. We do this every time we enter into spiritual battle for a loved one. We intercede for their healing, their restoration, or their salvation. It’s too easy to allow our prayer live to become self-focused.
- To offer spiritual sacrifices… Hebrews 13:15-16 tells us to lift up sacrifices of praise to God.. Now we have the duty of offering spiritual sacrifices to our Father by surrendering all we have to Him.
- To share the priesthood with others… We are not alone in our priesthood. We get to share our duties with all those who are part of the Kingdom of God. We cannot forget our most crucial “duty” as a priest… leading others into the Kingdom.
- To live set apart… The Levites were the chosen priests of Israel who were set apart to perform the priestly duties assigned to them. They often led a much different life than the people they served. We are also called to be holy and set apart for God.
- To proclaim God’s goodness… As royal priests, we have the right and duty of proclaiming the Good News to the world. I Peter 2:9 reads “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light”
- To spend time in the presence of God… This final “duty” feels more like a perk than a duty. Not only can we boldly approach the Father, but the Bible calls us the temple of the Holy Spirit.
The priesthood is a position of status, one that should never be taken lightly. God is God!
So, are you a Kingdom Priest?