Leviticus 17 & 18
Chapters 17 and 18 mark a dividing place in the book of Leviticus. Chapters 1-17 are sometimes known as the Basis for the Divine-Human Relationship. That means that the rules and code for how man was to approach a Holy God were laid out – hence the emphasis on sacrifices and cleanliness. Chapters 18-27 are going to focus on the way to live daily for a Holy God. We will find practical ways the Israelites were to live out their devotion to God. We will see that God makes no distinction between the secular and the sacred – all of life is to be lived for Him. Because the two chapters are so different from each other, let’s look at them separately.
Leviticus 17 – The Life is in the Blood!!
This chapter gives the regulations against the consuming of blood. The Israelites were not to eat meat that did not have its blood drained – doing so was to result in being cut off from the community. This seems a little gross to talk about in 21st century first-world United States where all our meat comes packaged in nice containers at the store, but for the Israelites this was serious consideration and work. This was not a new concept…if you remember, God introduced this idea after the Flood in Genesis 9. Blood was to be treated reverently as it was the symbol of life. It was sacred as it was the means through which atonement was made for one’s life (Lev 17:11).
Haven’t you wondered why we keep referring to references to Christ as the Scarlet Thread? Well, here it is! Jesus had to shed his blood for us – it was the way for our atonement and redemption! Hebrews 9:22 gives further insight – “all things are cleansed with blood and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” Only the Blood of Christ was sufficient to pay for all sin for all time. This must be understood or the death of Christ seems merely gory rather than absolutely necessary.
If you are interested…there is a great Bible Study by Jennifer Kennedy Dean called The Life Changing Power of the Blood of Christ where she asserts that the suffering and crucifixion of Jesus was necessary to drain his blood thus satisfying the Law here in Leviticus 17. check it out at http://www.prayinglife.org/
It must be understood that God demanded blood sacrifice in order to understand the necessity and efficacy of the death of Jesus Christ. The blood of Jesus cleanses and removes the stain, scar, mildew of sin. Ephesians 1:7 says that through his blood we have the forgiveness of sins. I am glad to have this passage in the admittedly tedious book of Leviticus to help me understand what Jesus did for me on the cross. I am so grateful for the sacrifice of Jesus whose blood pays for my sin for all time. It is a finished work!
Just read it for today. Tomorrow you can check out the blog for thoughts on chapters 18 and 19 since they are related. Key thing to remember as you read: these laws were never intended to be the basis of salvation!
Father God, thank you for your amazing provision of Atonement through the lifeblood of the Son. Forgive me for skipping over the “bloodiness” of the cross because it makes me queasy - it is wholly sacred to you. Thank you for your Holy Word which helps me understand your great plan and the meaning of the death Jesus.