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The books of Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers continue the story of how God formed the nation of Israel to play a special role in his plans for the whole world. When the Israelites were enslaved in Egypt, God came to them and worked powerfully through Moses to deliver them. At Mount Sinai, God revealed his laws to Moses, including the Ten Commandments, and confirmed his covenant with the young nation. Israel built a “tabernacle,” or “tent of meeting,” so that God could live among them. The people then traveled through the wilderness to the land of Canaan.
The boundaries between the books of Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers are not sharply drawn. The key structure throughout the books relates to the various places the Israelites stopped on their journey. Each location is noted, and the events at each one are described. The key location is Mount Sinai; the second half of Exodus, all of Leviticus, and the beginning of Numbers describe what took place there. Leviticus specifically contains the laws and regulations the Lord gave to Israel. Numbers reports how the people were organized into a fighting force and moved toward the promised land.
Numbers reaches back across Leviticus and Exodus and repeats the phrase that structures Genesis: This is the account of the family of Aaron and Moses (Num. 3:1). Appropriately, we hear this phrase for the twelfth time as the twelve tribes are being organized into a nation. Near the end of Numbers the prophet Balaam says to Israel, May those who bless you be blessed and those who curse you be cursed. This recalls God’s promise to Abraham in Genesis, I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse. These references show that together these books tell a single story of the beginning of God’s redemptive work in the world.
Leviticus 1 （ESV）
1 The Lord called Moses and spoke to him from the tent of meeting, saying, 2 “Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, When any one of you brings an offering to the Lord, you shall bring your offering of livestock from the herd or from the flock.
3 “If his offering is a burnt offering from the herd, he shall offer a male without blemish. He shall bring it to the entrance of the tent of meeting, that he may be accepted before the Lord. 4 He shall lay his hand on the head of the burnt offering, and it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him. 5 Then he shall kill the bull before the Lord, and Aaron’s sons the priests shall bring the blood and throw the blood against the sides of the altar that is at the entrance of the tent of meeting. 6 Then he shall flay the burnt offering and cut it into pieces, 7 and the sons of Aaron the priest shall put fire on the altar and arrange wood on the fire. 8 And Aaron’s sons the priests shall arrange the pieces, the head, and the fat, on the wood that is on the fire on the altar; 9 but its entrails and its legs he shall wash with water. And the priest shall burn all of it on the altar, as a burnt offering, a food offering with a pleasing aroma to the Lord.
- Pay attention to the procedure of burnt offering, the offerer and the sacrifices.
- The whole burnt offering, in which the whole animal was consumed on the altar, was the most common sacrifice of the O T. It symbolized the commitment of one’s whole life to God. Leviticus assumes that God and ancient Israel are in a covenant relationship, and that the relationship will be broken by the effects of sin and uncleanness. This sacrifice provides a possibility for restoring the relationship between people and God.
- We have responded to Jesus fully only when we dedicate our lives to the Lord. Paul wrote in Romans 12:1, “So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life – your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life – and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you”. (The Message)
- Because the death of Jesus, I was atoned, my relationship with God was restored. How then, should I take my everyday life and offer to God as a burnt offering? How do I live out God’s will and become mature every day?
Read the above translation of Rm 12:1-2. Ask for God’s help in truthfully offering my everyday life to God, not to identify with the world, but have courage and determination to live a holy and God-pleasing life.