Introduction: Welcome to Expound, our weekly worship and by verse study of the Bible. Our goal is to expand your knowledge of the truth of God as we explore the Word of God in a way that is interactive, enjoyable, and congregational.
Skip Heitzig: And we're back with Expound, verse by verse through the Bible. Turn in your Bibles to the Book of Leviticus, your favorite, chapter 15. Let's pray.
Lord, the songs that we have sung remind us of your presence with us, as well as our need for you. We're reminded, Lord, by the very truths that we have proclaimed, that we, we rely upon you on a daily basis, that we ask the Spirit of the living God to fall afresh upon us in our understanding of truth and our application in our lives, that you would shape us, mold us, and use us.
We're instructed, Lord, in your Word on how to relate to you, as well as how to love and relate to one another. So settle our hearts, we pray just now, as we receive you in a new way, as we worship you by the willingness to listen to what the Bible teaches—that in and of itself is an act of worship. We are saying that God speaks, and I need to listen. And so, Father, speak, your servants hear, in Jesus' name, amen.
I will confess to you that some chapters of the Bible are a blast to teach. You look forward to going over them. There are certain topics that the Bible presents, like the resurrection—if you're going to teach on the resurrection, you're just in great territory—or the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. Certain topics that stand out, certain chapters that are winsome and wonderful: Isaiah 53; John, chapter 3; Psalm 23, Genesis 22; there's so many.
But then there are other chapters that you'd rather avoid. Well, they're just not as fun. And we happen to be in one, as you will see by looking at the first couple of verses: "The Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying, 'Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: "When any man has a discharge from his body." ' "
We won't even finish the verse, and we're already going, yuck! It's not something that you would typically think of discussing nor having a meeting over, and yet here we are. We find ourselves engaged in the very truths that we wouldn't normally be centered or gravitated around.
To me that's the delight of being an expository church, is that you are confined to what the Bible says. And when you go through the Scriptures chapter by chapter, verse by verse, you cover all that is important to God all that is revealed. You can't ride a hobbyhorse. You can't talk about the same subject over and over again; you are confined to how the text navigates the truth. You find whatever is on God's heart, in its context, and the level of its importance, depending on how much he wants to repeat himself.
But since we haven't been in Leviticus awhile because of the holiday season, it's good to refresh our memory on a few things. The first deals with the whole issue of why are we studying this book? Why do we read the Torah, the first five books of Moses, especially Leviticus, especially this chapter?
Well, here's why: In the New Testament it says that "all Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable." If I'm to believe that text, "all Scripture," then I have to confess that chapter 15 of Leviticus is profitable. In fact, the entire script of the Book of Leviticus "is given by inspiration of God and is profitable."
Studying Leviticus will do a number of things for you. First of all, it will unlock other books of the Scripture that will remain locked unless you have a working grasp, at least, of the contents of this book. You won't understand Hebrews without understanding its background which comes from Leviticus. You really won't understand the New Testament temple worship and all that is mentioned even in the Gospels or Acts in reference to the Jews being in the temple, unless you have a working knowledge of this book. So, the Book of Leviticus unlocks other books of Scripture, number one.
Number two, this book unveils to us the presence of God in every aspect of life. As I read this book, one of the things that I am confronted with over and over again is God gets in my face and says, "I want to be a part of that part of your life, as well as that part of your life—every part." He intrudes into the bedroom, the bathroom, and the boardroom. He wants to weigh in on what he thinks about personal hygiene, and human sexuality, as well as worship. So it unveils the presence of God in every part of my life.
A third thing it does is it will undo stale patterns of worship. We all get used to doing certain things a certain way, and when somebody changes the certain way we do things, we don't like it. We're human. But suddenly in this book we're confronted with the very dynamic system of worship that would have changed, even for ancient Israel, the way they always did things.
As the drama of redemption is seen before them as part of their worship system, they would see blood coming out of the throat of animals, and animals being burned, and the smell of that flesh being consumed—all to approach God; very dynamic. So it will undo stale patterns of worship.
Finally, it will underscore the holiness of God. It is a key theme of the book. One hundred fifty two times the word holy or holiness or sanctify is seen in the Book of Leviticus. So it, it'll underscore the holiness of God. The Hebrew word haqqodes: unique, separate, holy, is seen in this book.
Now again, by way of review, Leviticus keeps you in the same location. It opens up at foot of Mount Sinai; it closes at the foot of Mount Sinai. When you open the book and when you close the book, you haven't changed places. It was all given in one geographic location.
The first ten chapters—and we've already gone through so many of the chapters. We're already in chapter 15. The first ten chapters are vertical chapters; it's all about my worship of God. But beginning in chapter 11 through 15, it changes from vertical to horizontal; now I'm dealing with how I hang out with and relate to people. So, the first ten chapters, vertical; the next few chapters, horizontal; our worship of God, our walk in the world.
The first seven chapters were all about sacrifices. Do you remember them? There were five that were given: the burnt offering, the grain offering, the peace offering, the sin offering, the trespass offering. So as I read those chapters, I'm confronted with a principle, a truth: I need a sacrifice. That's what those chapters tell me, I need a sacrifice. If I'm going to approach God, I can't just barge in; I have to come with a sacrifice. That's the first seven chapters.
Eight, nine, and ten, we're still deal, dealing vertically. As I read those chapters, another principle is revealed to me: I need a priest. I need a go between. I need a representative, somebody who can represent me before God. I can't just come in by myself with a sacrifice; a priest has to bear the sacrifice for me.
But beginning in chapter 11, and we're in this section now in chapter 15, we're dealing on the horizontal level. So we've been dealing with what foods you can eat, chapter 11, kosher and unkosher. What is put in my body, that's chapter 11.
Chapter 12, what is produced by my body: children. When children are born, how do I deal with them before the Lord? But chapter 15, as I mentioned, is the "yuck" chapter. You go, "I, I thought we've already done the yuck chapter. Wasn't that chapters 13 and 14? You know the whole leprosy thing." Yeah, that was pretty bad, but can I just say, you ain't seen nothing yet.
Here's the difference between the last couple of chapters that we have already read and the one that you and I are about to read. Leprosy is something that is obvious. Everybody would know it. Oh, yes. It starts small and insignificant, and you are probably the first one to realize it. But then pretty soon it is so obvious that everyone knows it, and you are ostracized from your community, unless chapter 14 becomes your reality and you are cleansed. This is the law of the leper in the day of his cleansing. If by an intervention of God, or natural causes that God brings into play, you are cleansed, wonderful. That's the law of the leper in the day of his cleansing. But again, leprosy is obvious, everybody will know about it.
The bodily discharge chapter, this one, this is private. These are things no one would know except for you. And yet, and yet, God is interested in it. God writes laws about it. Again, God intruding himself into virtually every area of my life. And it tells me that I have a public, as well as a private world. So do you.
You have a reputation, but you also have a character, as we mentioned Sunday. Your reputation is what people look on the outside and think you are, your character is who you really are when nobody is looking. You in private, is it the same as you in public? Because God is concerned with the private as well as the public.
David in Psalm 19 had a very interesting prayer. Have you ever prayed this? Lord, cleanse me from secret faults. Guard me from presumptuous sins. Deal with that part of my life that is private so that I'm clean before you from the secret faults.
And again, Psalm 51, same author, David. He said, "For you desire truth in the inward parts," the inward parts. The damning thing about religion is it deals so often with the outward, and doesn't really deal with the inward. You can get by treating superficially your life, by going through the motions, going through the rituals. "Yeah, I paid my tithes, I went to church, gave the sacrifice," or whatever your religious background inclined you toward. God isn't interested in that. He's interested in the heart, always.
And so to Isaiah and through that prophet, he said to his own people, the children of Israel, " 'What purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices,' saith the Lord.'I hate your feast days. I hate the sacrifices you bring.' "You go, "Wait, wait, wait, stop, stop, stop. You're the one who started the sacrifices and the holy days. Why do you say you hate them"? "Because your heart's not in it. You say one thing and you do another."
"You desire truth in the inward parts," and this chapter has that overarching principle. So don't get too bogged down in the puss and the discharge, but get to the principle behind the puss. Yuck!
"The Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying, 'Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: "When any man has a discharge from his body, his discharge is unclean." '"Now, that's a general rule, but as these verses unfold, it would seem, and I underscore "seem," because you can't always be sure. I've read all the different opinions and commentaries. It seems that in the next several verses we are dealing with discharge that comes from venereal disease. And I say that because an offering, a sin offering, will be required for it. Not all of these discharges is that true, but for this one it is.
" 'And this shall be his uncleanness,' " verse 3, " 'in regard to his discharge—whether his body runs with his discharge, or his body is stopped up by his discharge, it is his uncleanness. Every bed is unclean on which he who has the discharge lies, and everything on which he sits shall be unclean. And whoever touches his bed shall wash his clothes and bathe in water, and be unclean until evening."
"'He who sits on anything on which he who has the discharge sat shall wash his clothes and bathe in water, and be unclean until evening. And he who touches the body of him who has the discharge shall wash his clothes and bathe in water, and be unclean until evening. If he who has the discharge spits on him who is clean,' " boy that's cruel, " 'then he shall wash his clothes and bathe in water, and be unclean until evening. Any saddle on which he who has the discharge rides shall be unclean."
"'Whoever touches anything that was under him shall be unclean until evening. He who carries any of those things shall wash his clothes and bathe in water, and be unclean until evening. And whomever the one who has the discharge touches, and has not rinsed his hands in water; he shall wash his clothes and bathe in water, and be unclean until evening."
"'The vessel of the earth,' " the clay pot, in other words, " 'that he who has the discharge touches shall be broken, and every vessel of wood shall be rinsed in water. And when he who has the discharge is cleansed of his discharge, then he shall count for himself seven days for his cleansing, wash his clothes, and bathe his body in running water; then he shall be clean.' "
These are individuals that have running sores that could be contagious. You can see the concern. If you have some contagion in your body, and you spit on somebody, it could be carried in the spittle. If you're drinking from a vessel, or you grab somebody else's glass from across the table who has been drinking, you know, his water, or diet coke, or whatever, and you put it to your lips—which again would be cruel. Well, it'd be offensive to spit on somebody, or take their vessel and get your germs on it, especially if you have a contagious disease. So these are the laws that govern that.
Now, what you have just heard, apply that to sin. Imagine what sin is like to God. God views sin like a running sore, like running puss. And he sees the sin of mankind in need of being cleansed. There's a repeated phrase over, and over, and over again in the verses we have just read: "washed with water," or "cleansed with water." So, you have an issue of contagion, you have a medical condition, wash it with water.
What's interesting is how long ago this was written. Years before we had what was discovered, really, a few hundred years back at, at the latest, and that was that water is good when it comes to washing away disease for surgical procedures. Up to that point, doctors did not believe that was true. They believed in bloodletting. You'd let a person bleed out, and you apply different things. But the idea of taking clean water and washing wasn't even brought into medical practice until more recent years, the last couple of centuries.
Way back then in the Law—of course, God knew these things, and he talked about the washing of water. Now, we have a parallel, if we are comparing these laws, with the spiritual laws of redemption, and being cleansed from sin. Isn't it interesting that the Bible declares the Word of God as something that cleanses you like water? Jesus said, "Now are you clean by the word that I have spoken unto you."
The Book of Ephesians, chapter 5, speaks of "the washing of the water by the word," the cleansing of the Word of God. "How shall a young man cleanse his way?" asked David, "By taking heed according to your word."
Verse 14, " 'On the eighth day,' " this is now after the seven day cleansing has passed, " 'he shall take for himself two turtle doves or two pigeons, and come before the Lord, to the door of the tabernacle of meeting, and give them to the priest. The priest shall offer them, the one as a sin offering and the other as a burnt offering. So the priest shall make atonement for him before the Lord because of his discharge.' "
This is the reason why the previous verses probably are referring to a venereal disease, because you will notice that a sin offering is required for the discharge. A sin offering, if you remember back from our chapters previously, it was the confession of my sin. It was the admission that I had done something wrong before the Lord. And the sin offering simply proved that. The burnt offering was the consecration of myself, the sin offering was the confession of my sin, and both of these are brought into play with these discharges.
So what a great combination, blood and water. The blood of redemption, the washing of the water by the Word. We could ask a simple question, we could ask it every time we meet: Why are we here? Are we here because we're bored? Are we here because, "Well, it's a down night; there's nothing great on TV. I can kill on hour or two, go to that place over on Osuna."
No, you're here, I believe, because you believe that the work of God is done by the Word of God. That you actually grow, you grow in the grace and in the knowledge of Jesus Christ by studying the Scriptures, by doing what we're doing now. You are washed and cleansed by the Word of God. By the way, this kind of cleansing by the Word, we gotta do it all the time. "Oh, I do it once a week." You got to do it every day.
First thing I do is get up in the morning and open my Bible, with a cup of coffee, of course, but open the Bible. I want to be washed. I want to be cleansed. You remember at the Last Supper when Jesus took his garments, laid them aside, got a basin of water, washed the disciples feet? He comes to Peter, and Peter goes, "Oh, no. You're not going to wash me." "Peter, if I don't wash you, you have no part with me." "Well then, Lord, just give me a whole bath. You know, dunk me under—head, hands, everything." Jesus said, "Peter, if you've already been cleansed, you don't need another bath; basically, you just need your feet washed."
There's a principle there. I've been cleansed from all my sin when I was saved, but I walk in this world and my feet get dirty, so to speak. And I need my feet cleansed by the washing of the water with the Word. That's the principle Jesus got across to Peter, and I think it's underscored here in principle form.
Verse 16, "'if any man has an emission of semen,' " I can hear a pin drop, " 'then he shall wash all his body in water, and be unclean until evening. And any garment and any leather on which there is semen, it shall be washed with water and be unclean until evening. Also, when a woman lies with a man, and there is an emission of semen, they shall bathe in water, and be unclean until evening.' "
Now, this does not refer to the discharge brought on by a venereal disease, but the normal activity within marriage. No sin offering is required. No sin has been committed. The Book of Hebrews says the marriage bed is undefiled. A husband and wife were designed by God to enjoy. It ought to be pleasurable. It's not defiling, it's wonderful, it's fulfilling. Sex is not dirty, God invented it.
But as we have often said, and it bears repeating, that which has been God given, must always be God governed. If it's not God governed, then that which is clean becomes dirty. Now you could ask a simple question: "Okay, so, if you're not unclean, why does it say they are unclean until evening?" That's an interesting question, because they're not bringing a sin offering, and they're not waiting seven days. But because there has been a discharge, this couple is unclean until evening.
I can only put it this way, this is how I figure it: even the most normal, natural God given things are tainted by sin because we live in a sinful world. That's why Paul in Romans 8 said we groan, all of "creation is groaning," waiting to experience the full redemption as children of God. Even the best things in life aren't the way they were originally intended to be before a fall. So they're unclean until evening.
Now verse 19 through 24 is another discharge, but this is the issue of blood that comes from the menstrual cycle of women monthly. "'If a woman has a discharge, and the discharge from her body is blood, she shall be set apart seven days; and on whoever, whoever touches her shall be unclean until evening. Everything that she lies on during her impurity,' " or that is the menstrual cycle, " 'shall be also unclean; everything that she sits on shall be unclean."
"'Whoever touches her bed shall wash his clothes and bathe in water, and be unclean until evening. And whoever touches anything that she sat on shall wash his clothes and bathe in water, and be unclean until evening. If anything is on her bed or on anything on which she sits, when he touches it, he shall be unclean until evening. And if any man lies with her at all, so that her impurity is on him, he shall be unclean seven days; and every bed on which he lies shall be unclean.' "
This is the normal cycle. This is the woman's menstrual cycle, the flow of blood. No offering is given, but she is separated for seven days. Interesting, in fact, some would say appalling. "What's up with this?" we would inquire, "Why would a woman going through a monthly cycle be, every month for a week, treated like a leper, separated from everyone as if unclean?"
Well, as harsh as it sounds, it was to be a monthly reminder to everyone of the fall and what the fall brought. It brought separation between people and God, and people from people. And by the way, you say, "Well, why do we need to be reminded of that so often?" Because we forget it so often. The world is tainted with sin and impurity, hence the need for Jesus to come and cleanse us once for all.
So a reminder of the fall, a reminder of the separation that comes from the fall, and I think a good practice is seen for within a marriage. It, it is in one sense God saying to the guys, "Give your wife some space." You're able to be with her, you're able to be intimate with her and enjoy her, but during this time there's a separation. Leave her alone. Give her some space. So that when you come back together it will be even more enjoyable. This pattern was worked out on a monthly basis because of the cycle.
Now, in verse 25 we have a chronic flow, perhaps, related again to a venereal disease. We've been dealing with the men, now again with the women. "'If a woman has a discharge of blood for many days, other than at the time of her customary impurity, or if it runs beyond her usual time of impurity, all the days of her unclean discharge shall be as the days of her customary impurity. She shall be unclean.' "
In other words, she is perpetually as a leper. " 'Every bed on which she lies all the days of her discharge shall be to her as the bed of her impurity; and whatever she sits on shall be unclean, as the uncleanness of her impurity. Whoever touches those things shall be unclean; he shall wash his clothes and bathe in water, and be unclean until evening."
"'But if she is cleansed of her discharge, then she shall count for herself seven days, and after that she shall be clean. And on the eighth day she shall take for herself two turtle doves or two young pigeons, bring them to the priest, to the door of the tabernacle of meeting. Then the priest shall offer the one as a sin offering and the other as a burnt offering, and the priest shall make atonement for her before the Lord for the discharge of her uncleanness' "
This is an abnormal flow of blood, a long standing issue of blood lasting weeks or even more. It seems to refer to a venereal disease, because once again, a sacrifice is required because of it. Now, here is where reading this gives us insight into the New Testament. Remember I said when we read Leviticus; it unlocks other sections of Scripture? So we're reading through the Gospels—Matthew, Mark, Luke, and we come to a very interesting story. I'll read it to you out of the gospel of Luke.
A woman comes to Jesus having a flow of blood for twelve years. Remember the story? Jesus is on the way to the house of Jairus, the leader of the synagogue in Capernaum. The crowd is around him, pressing in on him, and as he's following the ruler of the synagogue. A woman comes up, touches the hem of his garment.
Here's the story: "Now a woman," this is Luke, chapter 8, "having a flow of blood for twelve years, who had spent all her livelihood on physicians and could not be healed by any," that happens every day, by the way. "Came from behind and touched the border of his garment. And immediately her flow of blood stopped. Jesus said, 'Who touched me?' When all denied it, Peter and those with him said, 'Master, the multitudes throng and press you, and you say, "Who touched me?" '
"But Jesus said, 'Somebody touched me, for I perceived power going out of me.' Now, when the woman saw that she was not hidden, she same trembling; and falling down before him, she declared to him in the presence of all the people the reason she had touched him and how she was healed immediately. And he said to her, 'Daughter, be of good cheer; your faith has made you well. Go in peace.' "
She had been in a continual state of uncleanness for twelve years because of a vaginal hemorrhage, the very thing we're reading about in the Book of Leviticus. Because of that, she had been put out of society. She obviously believed in the power of Jesus' touch.
Here's probably what happened: she had seen Jesus touch people, and she saw the effect, cause and effect. He touches people, people are better. "I bet it will also work in reverse. If I touch him, I'm going to be cured. It's in the touch." So she set up the hem of Jesus' garment—that little tasselled garment that Jewish males wore with the blue fringe. She set that little tasselled garment as the point of contact to release her faith.
There wasn't anything magical in the garment. I'm sure if it had been found it would have been cut up in millions of pieces, and then said to perpetually grow over time so that they'd be all over the world, and that there's magic in it—a relic of sorts. It was just a plain piece of cloth. There was no inherent miraculous power in the hem, but it was touching Jesus' body.
And she said, "I'm going to touch the hem of his garment. And I believe when I do, I'm going to be healed, because that's Jesus." She had faith in Jesus, not in the garment. The hem of the garment was simply a point of contact to activate, to release, her faith. So as soon as she touched it, "I know it's going to happen. I know it's going to happen." Boom! It happened.
And Jesus said, "Somebody touched me." He could tell the difference between the crowd pressing him, touching him, and the singular touch of faith: "For I perceived power going from me. Daughter, be of good cheer; your faith has made you well." So here we see the Book of Leviticus acted out in the New Testament. She's under the law, she's a Jewish woman, she is ostracized from society, and now she's healed.
Verse 31 of Leviticus 15, "'Thus, you shall separate the children of Israel from their uncleanness, lest they die in their uncleanness when,' " notice this now, " 'when they defile my tabernacle that is among them.' "
I wrestled with that verse as I went through it. It's one thing to have a bodily discharge, a private, personal malady, but now God brings my personal malady and mixes it into the congregation of worship, saying, " 'When they defile my tabernacle that is among them. This is the law for one, who has a discharge, and for him, who emits semen and is unclean thereby, and for her who is indisposed because of her customary impurity, and for one who has a discharge, either man or woman, and for him who lies with her who is unclean.' "
So as I wrestled with this, I have some thoughts about it. These issues that we're dealing with don't just defile personally, but because I'm a part of the congregation as they were, they defile corporately. So I see that God is concerned about my body, be he's also concerned about his body, the church, the body of Christ. My personal physical body, and what the Scripture calls the "temple of the Holy Spirit," the body of Christ; he's concerned about both.
You see this isn't just about hygiene, but by introducing the verse that we just read, it's about fellowship. My personal matters, my personal sin, can affect everybody else. Really? Is that even possible? Is that true, and is that sustained by other portions of Scripture? Huh, huh.
Remember the story in the Book of Joshua? As they were coming into the land to inherit it, crossing over the Jordan River, and there was a guy—you know, they had been told, "Look, every time we take over a city, all of the spoil goes to the Lord. You can't keep it for private remuneration."
But there was a guy named Achan, and Achan, A C H A N, Achan saw a beautiful Babylonian garment. And he thought, "You know, what's one garment? I mean, I love the colors, I love the material." He was a fashionisto. He thought, "This would look so good. My wife will be so impressed. This garment, I couldn't get it anywhere else. It's not on sale anywhere. I'm just going to take it for myself."
In doing that singular, personal, private sin, the entire children of Israel was brought under the judgment of God. The congregation suffered because of his sin. So you know the story. He had to be taken out and he was stoned, because he lied and he stole, tried to cover it up. So Achan, A C H A N, was aching, A C H I N G, that's the moral of the story.
So here again, here's the principle: It's not just about hygiene, it's about fellowship. Listen to this: 1 John, chapter 1, "If we walk in the light as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us from all sin." You know, we can't just talk about our personal relationship with Jesus. We love to do that as evangelicals. "It's all about my personal relationship with Jesus," to the exclusion of everybody else in the church, in the body of Christ.
Your personal relationship with Christ doesn't mean you can just live a private life and not have that private life affect everybody else. God sees the congregation as defiled or enriched because of your personal private practices. "Walk in the light as he is in the light," you're cleansed from sin and you have fellowship with one another.
Now, we have time to get into, at least in part, chapter 16; it is a hallmark chapter. It is, I would say as, as many commentators will say, the center, the central focal point of the Book of Leviticus. In fact, many rabbis will refer to this chapter, because it talks about Yom Kippur, the "Day of Atonement," that's what this chapter is all about.
The Day of Atonement is like the highest, holiest day of the Jewish year. It's so important that throughout time Jewish rabbis will simply call it hayom, or yoma, which means "the Day." The Day, not just a day, it's the Day; seventh month in the Jewish calendar, on the tenth day. Now what that means is that Yom Kippur this year, 2013, will be September 13, which falls on a Friday. So Friday the thirteenth of September will be Yom Kippur. It's actually fitting as we read the description of it in this chapter.
Chapter 16 of Leviticus is the Isaiah 53 of the Torah, the five books of Moses. Yom Kippur, Day of Atonement, Yom means "day," Kippur means "cover" or covering. It's when sins were covered. Now mark that, sins were covered, not erased, not eradicated, not taken away—they were covered. The Old Testament pointed toward the time when "their sins and their iniquities I will remember no more," and there wouldn't be the need of weekly, daily, monthly, yearly, sacrifices and festivals, but until then, they're just covered.
The writer of Hebrews—remember, I said you need Leviticus to understand Hebrews. The writer of Hebrews, pointing back, says those sacrifices of sheep, bullocks, etcetera, could never take away sin. This is about having them covered. Now verses 1 through 7 is about the preparation of the priest; verses 8 through 19, the preparation of the place, the tabernacle; verses 20 through 34, the preparation of the people—that's how the chapter is divided.
Now, there's something that we have touched on, we've talked about, we've mentioned, and I, I, I just want to underscore this. We have in the Old Testament types, shadows, foreshadowing of New Testament truths, especially of Jesus Christ. You're familiar with that. In Colossians it talks about festivals. We're reading about one right here. New moons and Sabbaths which are shadows of things to come, but the substance is Christ. These are shadows, the substance is of Christ.
Now, if you're, if you're looking down, and suddenly you see a shadow of a person overtake you, you can tell, whoa, it just got darker. When you see a shadow of a person, you know that there's a person to cast the shadow. You don't look down at the shadow and have a conversation with the shadow, because that's not the substance. The substance is the person. The substance is Christ. These are shadows, all of the festivals that pointed to Christ.
That's why we read in Luke 24, when Jesus was walking with those two disciples on the road to Emmaus, it says, "And beginning at Moses." H'm, Moses. Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy—that's the five books that Moses wrote. "Beginning at Moses and all of the prophets, [Jesus] expounded," or explained, "to them in the Scriptures all the things concerning himself." I'm sure, I'm confident he went through the Day of Atonement, the idea of the scapegoat, the shedding of the blood, the sprinkling of the blood, the different offerings in Leviticus, the different festivals and how they pointed to him, what the prophets said, how he was mentioned in the psalms, etcetera—so we're dealing with the shadow.
"Now the Lord spoke to Moses after the death of the two sons of Aaron, when they offered profane fire before the Lord, and died." Remember when that was? That was chapter 10 of this book. Nadab and Abihu went in, offered profane fire, we talked about that; they died.
So now God will tell them this, "The Lord said to Moses: 'Tell Aaron and your brother, tell Aaron your brother not to come at just any time into the Holy Place inside the veil, before the mercy seat which is on the ark, lest he die; for I will appear in the cloud above the mercy seat.' "
So this chapter opens up with a warning for Aaron and subsequent high priests that will come through his lineage: "Look, guys, you just can't pop in and hang out with God any time you feel like it. If you try that, you'll die." Fair warning. High voltage! Don't touch! Explosives! You know, the signs are there. He's putting the sign out. Why? Because we're told in Exodus 25, "I will meet with you, and speak with you from above the mercy seat, which is on the ark between the wings of those two angels, the cherubim. I'm going to hang out there. My presence will be there and I will speak to you there."
So God promised to be with them and dwell among them above that ark on the mercy seat. So they can't just come in any time they feel like it to the visible, glorious, presence of God, lest they die.
As I'm thinking about this, I, I think about the casualness with which some believers talk about God. Have you ever had the conversation with someone, and you can tell they don't have a real deep relationship with the Lord when they talk about "the man upstairs." "Hey, dude, you know, I talk to the man upstairs." Oh really, that's what he is to you, the man upstairs? Bringing God down to this low level human familiarity, rather than realizing, yes, I have a personal, intimate relationship with God through Jesus Christ.
However, there needs to be a holy familiarity. I have to recognize the holiness of God. I'm in the presence of the living God. Yes, I can come boldly now. Yes, this is Old Testament, and I'm in the New Testament, but there ought to be a Holy familiarity. I'm in the presence of God, not the man upstairs, the living God.
So, the rules are given generally now for Aaron and his sons. Now can I refresh your memory to what we're dealing with? We're dealing with the ark, that's mentioned, the tabernacle. If you were to approach the tabernacle, just try to visualize this as I tell it to you. You would see from a distance a fence that's seven feet tall. Most of us couldn't look over it unless we were to jump very high. Seven feet tall, the front of it would be seventy five feet wide, the depth of it would be one hundred fifty feet deep. That's the measurements of the outer court of the tabernacle.
There was only one approach to God, one door, one place where you could enter and exit, even as Jesus said, "I am the door. I am the way." There's only one approach, one door to God: Jesus. If you were of the right lineage, you could be in the courtyard. And if you were in the courtyard you would see in front of you a laver, a basin for washing, a brass altar where sacrifices were being made. And on the far side of that one-hundred-fifty-by-seventy five-foot courtyard, you would see a tent like structure. [photos shown on large screen]
Oh, great. These are, these are pictures, by the way, that I shot when I lived—no, I'm just kidding. When, when they, they have a mock of it in the Judean Desert in Israel. Okay, so in the distance you can see the blue veil, and you can see the tent structure. That structure, the tent structure, is fifteen feet wide by forty-five feet deep, divided into two rooms. The first room is the biggest room; its fifteen feet wide by thirty feet deep, that's called the Holy Place. The room behind it separated by another veil is the Holy of Holies, that's a fifteen foot cube, fifteen by fifteen foot cube.
Inside the Holy Place you would see—that's inside the Holy of Holies, but inside the Holy Place, you would see to the right hand side, if you were a priest, you'd walk in and you would see in front of you a table with bread on it. Twelve loaves of bread, showbread it's called, representing the twelve tribes of the children of Israel.
To your left you would see a menorah, a seven-branched candlestick and in front of you another altar, smaller, made out of gold, not brass, the altar of incense. And then behind the veil as you've already seen, they've showed you behind the veil, is the ark of the covenant which no one in Israel saw except the high priest once a year on this day, Yom Kippur.
And he didn't even really see it, because the whole place has to be filled with smoke God said, incense, a cloud had to cover it. So it was a misty view. He would see through a glass darkly, so to speak. He wouldn't get the full picture. God said, "You better fill that place with smoke, lest you die."
So through elaborate washings and sacrifices, the high priest could go once a year for a short period of time into that room. Why? To sprinkle blood on top of the seat called the mercy seat of that Ark of the Covenant. Now, inside that ark, and that ark is a box forty five inches long, twenty seven inches deep, and twenty seven inches tall. The lid is called the mercy seat, solid gold. Must've weighed a ton, and in these days would have been worth a fortune and then wood and gold cherubim covering it. Inside that box was the two tablets of the Law, accuse me, were the two tablets of the Law, the Law of Moses that were brought down from Sinai, the second ones that God inscribed.
Verse 3, "'Thus Aaron shall come into the Holy Place.' "Now, notice in your Bible, look at it carefully. See the word "Place," is it italicized? That's because it's not there. When you see an italicized word in your text, it's inserted by the translators. They're trying to give you what they feel is the best sense of the sentence. It just says, "The Holy." Haqqodesh, "the Holy." And it probably refers to especially the Holy of Holies, but the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies, that tent structure; because you, he is going to eventually end up there.
"'Aaron shall come into the holy: with the blood of a young bull as a sin offering, and a ram as a burnt offering. He shall put the holy linen tunic and the linen trousers on his body; he shall be girded with a linen sash, and with the linen turban he shall be attired. These are holy garments. Therefore he shall wash his body in [pure] water and put them on.' "
Now, now wait a minute. You're reading this, I hope, going, "I, I'm a bit confused, because back in Exodus 28 we were given the specifications of the garments of the high priest, and they weren't this." Right? The high priest had very colorful, ornately decorated, finely prescribed garments with a breastplate representing the twelve tribes, and a turban, a crown, with a plate on it that said, "Holy to the Lord."
But here he is given plain garments. In fact, the garments here on the Day of Atonement, not only were they not the typical high priest garments, they weren't even the typical priest garments. They sound like the typical garments of a servant. Do you get the picture? The high priest on the Day of Atonement lays aside his beautiful, glorious, ornamented garments, and takes upon himself the garment of a servant.
The truth in Philippians: "Who, being in the form of God, or thought it not robbery to be equal with God, made himself of no reputation," or poured himself out to the last drop, "and took upon himself the form of a servant, coming in the likeness of men," as a sacrifice.
That's seen also in picture form at the Last Supper. And supper being ended, John 13:1, supper being ended, Jesus rose from the supper, laid aside his garments, girded himself with a towel and a basin of water, and assumed the position of a servant washing the feet of his disciples. Again, these monumental types, and shadows, and prefigurings of Christ. On this Day of Atonement the high priest wore that. H'm, I think a verse that sums it all up: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." Verse 14, "And the Word became flesh." Now he's in the form of a servant. Now he comes like a man and a woman.
" 'And he shall take from the congregation of the children of Israel two kids of the goats,' " two young goats, " 'as a sin offering, and one ram as a burnt offering.' "Now watch these two goats." 'Aaron shall offer the bull as a sin offering, which is for himself, and make atonement for himself and his house.' "
Now there's five animals that are used on the Day of Atonement. Two are for Aaron and his household, a burnt offering and a sin offering. A bull for the sin offering, a ram for the burnt offering—that's for Aaron. That's for his household, because unlike Jesus our High Priest, this high priest is a sinner.
And again, remember I said you have to understand Leviticus to understand the Book of Hebrews, right? Now, here's a passage out of the Book of Hebrews, chapter 7, speaking of Jesus: "For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens; who does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for his own sins and then for the people's, for he [Christ] did once for all when he offered up himself."
Let's just suppose that we were Moabites, all of us, and we Moabites on the Day of Atonement were up in the mountains close to the camp, and we're all looking down at the camp. We're, we're seeing this whole thing unfold, this guy dressed in white garments and going in, that strange structure called the tabernacle.
And a shepherd walks by, an Israelite shepherd going down toward the camp. And we go, "Hey, wait a minute. Come here. What is that thing down there, that, that weird contraption?" "Well, that's called a tabernacle. That's where God, the God dwells. That's where God will meet with mankind, in the tabernacle."
And so we go, "Wow! We'd like to go." And, and maybe, I'll speak first, "I want to go." And he would say to me, "You can't go. You have to be an Israelite to get there." And I say, "Oh, man. I wish I were an Israelite. I could go in there." And he goes, "Oh, no, no, no, no. You just can't be an Israelite. To get in that structure, you have to be an Israelite of the tribe of Levi. The other tribes can't do it, only the Levites can."
And so again, we go, "Oh, bummer. I wish I would have been an Israelite. I wish I were of the tribe of Levi." And he goes, "Oh, but not only that, you have to be an Israelite of tribe of Levi, and you have to be in the family of Aaron." "Oh man, this is getting more complicated," we say. "Boy, I'd love to meet with God. I wish I were an Israelite of tribe of Levi, of the family of Aaron."
And he goes, "Oh, no, no, no, no. Not only do you have to be an Israelite of the tribe of Levi, of the family of Aaron, you have to be the oldest male in the family of Aaron to be called the high priest to go in there. To go in that tent beyond the courtyard, that inner tent, you have to be a high priest." "Man! I wish I would have been an Israelite, tribe of Levi, family of Aaron, oldest male in his house to be a high priest. Because if I were," we say to that Israelite, "I would go and meet with God every day. In fact, three times a day I'd be in there."
He'd go, "Oh, no, no, no. Contraire, even the high priest can only go in there once a year for a short time with elaborate washings and sacrifices or he will die." Now all hope of ever meeting with God are gone from our thinking. It's very narrow, is it not? Narrow is the way that leads to eternal life, and very few will find it. How grateful we are for our Lord Jesus Christ who has taken away the religious system and given us access to God, to the blood of the cross, but even still, it's a narrow way. You have to believe in Jesus or there's no hope. You might as well as be a Moabite thousands of years ago in the wilderness, hanging your heads, and saying, "There's no hope."
Jesus offers hope. He came as the sacrifice and the High Priest, offering himself, dying, resurrecting, ascending to the throne, the real tabernacle in heaven. In other words, he did all the heavy lifting. "It's so hard to be a Christian." What!? "Well, yeah, people don't like me." Okay, whatever. When was the last time you sweat drops of blood? Isn't that what the Bible says? You have not striven against sin unto blood like Jesus did. He did all the heavy lifting.
You know what you have to do? Believe, trust, entrust or surrender your life to him. He did all the work. He accomplished all that for us. You can't accomplish anything for him. So in this new covenant, because our High Priest offered his own blood, and he was a perfect sacrifice, lived the perfect life we could never live, died the atoning death on the cross, resurrected from the dead to help us conquer death, giving us, promising us eternal life if we believe in him. So all you have to do, all anybody has to do, an American, a Catholic American, a Muslim from Pakistan, any person anywhere in the world, is trust in Christ. He's made it easy for everyone. He's made heaven accessible for everyone.
People say, "Well, it's such a narrow way. And you Christians make it so hard saying 'Only people who believe in Jesus go to heaven.' "That's true. That's what we say. I'm glad you got the message, because that is the truth. However, it's not that you can't go; it must mean that you won't go. You will reject that message. Because he's saying, "You can come, but you have to believe. You have to turn from your past, from your sin. You have to turn to me and let my work for you be enough."
And that's why people will reject the narrow way. They want the broad way. Jesus said, "Narrow is the way that leads to life, broad is the way that leads to destruction," and most people will walk that way, that's their preference. They'd rather go along with the crowd. It's safe. You want to be a real countercultural person? Be a Christian.
Father, we are out of time, but this could be just the right time for some. This could now be the moment in time when they're about to meet God face to face, so to speak, for the first time in reality, by the confession of their sin, and the repentance of it, the turning to Jesus as their Savior. So as we're closing the service with prayer, a call out to you. If you've never really personally received Jesus as your Savior, then you are not saved. If you are not saved, you will never go to heaven. I don't care how nice you are, sincere you are, or otherwise religious. God has made a way for you to be saved, to be in his heaven. He alone has the keys. He can let in anybody he wants, and keep out anybody he wants.
But the Bible says he doesn't want anybody kept out. He is "not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." So he offers it to you and says, "Do you want it? You can have it. I've done all work, all the heavy lifting. I did the killing, or the dying, the sacrificing. You can trust in my finished work for you, and I'll make you a child of God, I'll forgive your sins, and I'll give you heaven when it's all over.
As we're closing this service, as we're praying and our heads are bowed, if you want to take God up on his offer, I want you to raise your hand so I can see your hand. I'll acknowledge you and I'll pray for you as we close this service. You raise your hand up. Your saying yes to God, I'm surrendering to him. Just keep it up for just a minute. God bless you, and you, and you to my right, toward the middle. Anyone else? You raise that hand. Raise it up high.
Maybe you need to come back home to him. Maybe you've wandered away from him and your life is so empty. You want the hope of heaven rekindled, you raise your hand up. God bless you. Anybody else in this moment? Make it your moment. And you, right toward the aisle in the middle, in the back, a few more of you.
Father, we thank you and we pray that this would be a night of new beginning for so many here, and watching this webcast, or listening on the radio. Do a work of transformation, that's your business, that's your job, in Jesus' name, amen.
Would you stand please? Ryan and the band is going to sing a final song. And as they sing this song, if you raised your hand, and I saw, by the way, hands go up around the auditorium. I want you to get up from where you're standing, I want you to find the nearest aisle, I want you to stand right up here where I'm going to lead you in a prayer to receive Christ as your Savior, your High Priest, your sacrifice, once for all.
Jesus called people publicly, he called them publicly, and I'm calling you in the same manner as Jesus, publicly. You come and be unafraid to stand for him right here. If you raised your hand, don't put this off, you come and affirm your faith, and your walk, and your love for him. Come forward. Come now.
I often find that there's one, or two, or three, or five more that are standing there and they know, they know, they need to do this, but for whatever reason, human nature, the sinful nature, the enemy of our souls tries to keep us back from that. You will be much better off and feel much better when you just raise the flag of surrender: "Lord, I'm done fighting you. I'm done running from you. I'm done going it my way; I want to do it your way now." As we sing this one more time, give you—those few—that opportunity. If you are in the family room or the balcony, just come on into the main auditorium through the doors or down the stairs. Come and give your life to Christ. Come and enjoy his life, his offer.
Now what we've just been singing, "I Surrender All," I'm going to give you that have come forward the opportunity to do, to surrender all. That's what you're saying in coming to Christ. You're surrendering yourself. You're giving your life back to the God who gave you life to begin with. You're simply saying, "Lord, I can't do it alone. I need your help. I need you living in me." And so I'm going to lead you in a prayer that is inviting Christ to come into your heart, your life. As I pray this prayer out loud, I'd like you to pray it out loud after me, saying these words from your heart to the Lord. He's ready to receive you and welcome you. Let's pray.
Lord, I give you my life. I'm a sinner. Please forgive me. I believe in Jesus that he died for me that he shed his blood for me, and that he rose from the dead. I turn from my sin. I turn my life over to you. Fill me with your Holy Spirit, and give me your power to live for you every day, in Jesus' name, amen.