July 27, 2015: Daily Bible Reading with Commentary for Leviticus 22-24
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Context: Chapter 22 continues with the Lord giving Moses instructions for the priests, including how priests can be defiled though disease, diet, and contact with the dead (1-16) and discerning offerings brought by the people (17-33). Chapter 23 switches from addressing the priests to addressing the people of Israel. It briefly describes seven feasts ordained by God, as well as the Sabbath day (not all feasts are covered in this section). These feasts are discussed in more detail in other parts of scriptures. These feasts are, like many of our holidays today, designed to encourage worship and fellowship, but with a focus on the Lord God. Each feast also has a prophetic element attached to it: Passover - crucifixion and death of Christ, Unleavened Bread - the fellowship we have with Christ because of His death; Firstfruits - resurrection of Christ; Feast of Weeks/Pentecost - beginning of the church; Feast of Trumpets/Rosh Hashanah - Israel will be brought back into the land; Day of Atonement - the work of Christ upon the cross; and the Feast of Tabernacles - Israel is one again in the land (future). Chapter 24 can seem like and oddly placed chapter, not appearing to relate to the chapter before it. God charges the High Priest, Aaron, to keep the lamps burning and the people were to supply the oil to keep them burning. This kept the people actively involved, just as we are to be today in sharing Christ’s light. Chapter 24 also highlights the problems of trying to please two masters. A son of an Israelite mother and Egyptian father was a troublemaker. His parents pulled him in opposite directions, and as a result, no one was happy. The boy blasphemed the name of God, for which God sentenced him to death by stoning. This story serves to show the seriousness of the blaspheming the name of God. Today, we are often pulled in different directions by the world and by the church. We cannot serve both, but have to make a choice and stick with it!
World History: The seventh day of the week is Saturday, so why do most Christians go to church on Sunday? God rested from Creation on the seventh day and the Israelites were charged to keep that day holy. Scholars debate the reason for the change to worshipping on Sunday. As Paul taught, when Jesus died and rose again, He abolished the law, which included keeping the Sabbath (although it is still a good idea to take a day and reflect upon God’s grace in your life!). Many also believed that the early church chose to worship on Sunday because it was the day Christ defeated death and rose from the grave, the day that we were granted our deliverance from sin and eternal salvation.