As I continue to read through the book of Leviticus, it’s made me wonder why exactly the Lord covered all the bases. Today I had the privilege of reading chapters 14 and 15, which are about bodily discharge, semen, and a woman’s time of menstruating. Fun times. I sort of laugh as I remind myself that I serve the God of all creation. None of this is gross to Him and He knows the best way to handle these situations in order for cleanliness to be present. It left me with the question: what does this have to do with anything???
cleanliness next to godliness?
Maybe cleanliness really is next to godliness! I jest, but as I pondered the life of the Israelites at the current time, they weren’t living in permanent homes. They did not have the luxury of running water, proper disposal of waste of any kind, and all the things that come with living outside in tents. We enjoy tent camping, but this would be extreme tent camping! We know the Lord knew they would be wandering the wilderness for 40 years, so I think that there was a sense of keeping yourself physically clean and healthy in these lists of rules. After all, God promised to make a great nation out of Abraham. If they didn’t not really care for their bodies in a way that would promote physical health, what would become of them? God knew physically, what they needed to do to remain healthy, clean, pure. From mold issues, to skin diseases, to a woman’s period- the Lord is giving specific instructions for His people to obey.. for their own good.
Greg and I discuss often what we read since we are reading together. Can you imagine trying to keep the whole law? Imagine how concerned you would need to be with remaining clean? Did I touch something unclean? Is this mold in my house? What is this on my skin? Do I need the priest to come and examine this? Oy. The striving to abide by the law would have been greater than I. think we can even imagine! Greg reminded me of how true Paul’s words in Romans are.
So then, as through one trespass there is condemnation for everyone, so also through one righteous act there is justification leading to life for everyone. For just as through one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so also through the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. The law came along to multiply the trespass. But where sin multiplied, grace multiplied even more so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace will reign through righteousness, resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.Romans 5:18-21
The law multiplied the sin. As God continued to give very detailed and specific instructions, it is clear to the reader that no one could keep the whole law perfectly. There would be a constant reminder of personal lack. I can not gain salvation and so, must bring a sacrifice to the priest for the sins I have committed. You would never forget that you couldn’t measure up to the standard God set. Perfection. The daily sacrifices would be a constant reminder that everyone is falling short of the glory of God.
holiness of God
I ask a lot of questions, and in my reading this morning, it was no different. With eyes wide, I was saying to myself, “Why is all of this in the Bible?” God is good and doesn’t leave the people without an answer to all of these issues he addresses.
“You must keep the Israelites from their uncleanness, so that they do not die by defiling my tabernacle that is among them.”Leviticus 15:31
Why is God so concerned with the obedience of the people? His own holiness. They were not to enter the tabernacle unclean in any way. It would defile the dwelling place of the Lord that was in their midst. He is instructing Moses and Aaron to instruct the people to be obedient to all the commands given. The Israelites were to be a people set apart from all other nations. They were to act different, think different, live different. They were called to be holy, as He is holy (Leviticus 11:44, 45). The Israelites were to look nothing like the pagans that surrounded them.
What in the world does that have to with us who follow Christ today? Everything. Maybe not the specific laws themselves. We’ve certainly come along way when it comes to physical health and cleanliness, haven’t we?? Yet, one thing remains: the holiness of God. As I pondered God’s holiness, the way it would have always been in the face of the Israelites because of their failing to keep the law, it just made me wonder if we take God’s holiness as seriously as they did. As seriously as God wants us to take it.
Do we come before the Lord with clean hands and a pure heart? (Psalm 24:3-4) Are we concerned more with personal happiness than personal holiness? Am I looking for the Lord’s blessings or to find joy in being obedient to Him? Is my sin every before me, not to condemn me, but to remind me that it is by grace through faith in Christ alone, that I am saved? (Ephesians 2:8-9) Do I forget that my righteousness is as filthy rags?
The Israelites needed to come to God with a holy reverence, awe, fear, knowing He alone is holy and that He demanded their own holiness to be in His presence. Unlike the Israelites, we don’t have to strive for it, work for it, carry the weight of the law, because Christ came to fulfill the law, break the chains of sin and death, give us freedom. I hope we don’t forget what we have been saved from. The law came and increased our sin.
But the sweet grace of our Savior came to abound greater than our sin, resulting in eternal life for all who would put their faith, hope, trust, their very lives, in surrender to Him. What a price He paid for our freedom, the perfect, sacrificial Lamb of God. The only One who could bring holiness to us. May our lives reflect the holiness of the God we serve.