Thursday, May 8, 2014

Leviticus 16

   I have recently discovered the incredible benefits of waking up early, using an exhaustive concordance (I use THIS one but hope to get a paper version soon), of only reading a little at a time because you want to study it*, and of reading the same verse in different translations.** Because of this, this will be a long post so I'm splitting it into thought sections. The section titles will be bigger so you know where the splits are. This will be on Leviticus 16 (as you may have gathered from the post title!:)) and I would recommend reading the whole thing first.

Leviticus 16:1-2

   Every word of the Bible has been made available to us for a purpose, although I'm not always sure exactly what the purpose of all the words is. "After" would seem to be one of those meaningless words. I mean, obviously God gave Moses the message for Aaron AFTER the death of his sons. That was six chapters ago! But after looking at it a little bit I decided that the only reason the word was in there was to emphasize the fact that it was after. And I think that these words reveal a compassionate, tender, understanding side of God. Obviously it was necessary that Aaron know how to avoid death so the warning served a clear purpose, but why wasn't he just told that with the rules? Well, if your two sons just died doing their job (albeit not well), how would you feel about continuing that job? Probably a little scared that you too would mess up or get lazy. I think that God's clear instructions to Aaron about how not to die, served to comfort as well as inform. After Aaron knew exactly how to avoid the fate of his two sons, I would be willing to bet that his scared fear vanished only to by replaced by awe fear. And how much better is it be to face God with you knees bowed instead of knocking!

Fun Facts:

  •  According to THIS interlinear translation, mercy seat is translated directly from Hebrew as "propitiatory shelter". It is derived from the word propitiate. THIS is the link to the definition and if you click on conciliate it gets even cooler!
  • I think it's kinda cool how God is covering the thing that represents His mercy/atonement/"propitiativeness." It seems a little symbolic, like the area of our lives where He is most often relating with us is mercy and forgiveness. (since he is relating to the people most closely in the most holy place)

Leviticus 16:4

   I love how God talks to Moses about Aaron's priestly garb and says, "These are sacred garments, so he must bathe himself in water before he puts them on." Whenever they OT talks about the sacred clothes that they wore when interacting with God, I'm always reminded of Ephesians 6:10-18 where it talks about the armor of God. I've always connected the OT and NT by thinking that the same things are done in both except that they are done physically in the OT and spiritually in the NT (not every time of course but generally speaking). I feel like this is a extension of that connection. Because Aaron's garments were sacred, he must cleanse himself before putting them on. The same is true for us. When we let the armor of God fall away from us, we sin. But it's not like we can successfully slap it back on as soon as we notice it's gone. We must first cleanse ourselves through confession, repentance, and forgiveness before we are in a position to wear something so holy and full of God.

Leviticus 16:7-10; 15-22

   For some reason I was really struck by the two goats, especially the second one. I love that the people's sins are confessed verbally before they can be sent away. I love the way that the scapegoat is driven into the wilderness where it can't find its way back. I love the way that there is a man chosen to drive away his sin and I think that in this post cross era, God has chosen all of us to be that man everyday. We don't have to wait a year to confess our sin and let God help us drive it far away, we can do it everyday. A lot of times, we'll have to go a little into the unknown (wilderness) ourselves when driving it away but because we are following God's command, we will not get lost! 

Fun Facts:
  • Jesus took on the role of both goats
  • The first goat is to make peace with God for the ways they have wronged Him (appease) and the second was to prove to the people that God has forgiven them and their sin is far away (at least the sin on that goat! :))
  • Lots of times people will do activities where they "drop their sins" into a lake and have them float away with a balloon. I'm sure that someone has taken credit for these cool ideas but really, the original version of this was God's goats!
  • In the hebrew translation, the wilderness is called the land of severance. I thought this was cool because it emphasizes that the sin has really been take away from them. That it is completely apart from who they are (although it wasn't permanently severed until JC)

Leviticus 16:13

   In verse 13 some translations use "testimony" in the place of "Arc of Covenant." I looked it up and the original translation says "testimony" but both are used. I think that the two different names are so cool! Both names for the same object present the said object as proof for God's promise that He is real and on their side! And that's exactly what it is, proof of the Promise!  

Leviticus 16:29

   When I was reading this verse I found it really interesting how to "deny yourself" was the equivalent of fasting and not working. In the interlinear bible I discovered that the direct translation says "humble your souls." Humility is the mark of a Christian (check THIS out for confirmations!) so it's only natural that, as Christians, we'd want to "humble our souls" since that is the part of us that we should take the most care of. Now, the Jews in the OT humbled their souls through fasting and refraining from any type of work but those two things aren't always the best idea in today's time. In the OT (and much of the NT as well) fasting was a form of worship and a way to deny oneself in order to put God first. In today's time it would be all to easy to fast with the focus on ourselves by keeping something like weight loss goals or self righteousness in the back of our mind. If we ever fast for external reasons, our souls shall not be humbled but inflated and that's all we'll ever get (Mathew 5:16-18). Doing no work in today's time must be fully understood as well. It doesn't just mean not doing office work, it includes cooking and dishes and laundry and email and everything in between and the point is to dedicate the day to God so it is pointless to fast and do no work if you spend the day on pinterest and playing boardgames. Honestly I'm not so sure if I could do either one successfully right now and until I know that my heart's in the right place and I won't be skiving off on any of my responsibilities. However, even if those aren't the most practical ways to humble our souls and deny ourselves, there are ways we could serve, times we could spend praying, and money we could give to God's people that may do the job in a way more suitable to our lives and where we are in our walk. 
Seeing as fasting was the equivalent of denying oneself, what you could do to deny yourself for God's sake is what will work to humble your soul. Of course I'm mainly speaking for myself so anyone of y'all reading this may be in a place where fasting and not working would be perfectly suitable and practical. If this is your case, go for it! 

*I used to excuse myself from spending "too much time" Bibleing because I "didn't want to forget all the stuff I was learning." Now, God is teaching me that He'll strengthen my memory but I shouldn't read to much at once or I'll be late for school if I actually study! :)
**You are probably already aware of this but if you need a certain translation you can use Bible Gateway's translation bar thingy.

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