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Leviticus 12

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Book of Leviticus Chapter Twelve
Commentary by Pastor Ron Beckham

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Childbirth

What would the world be like without women? Certainly less than it is now. Men are supposed to be the strong ones, but inside, where it counts, wives, mothers, sisters, and all other titles given to them—it is the women who, in times of trouble and over the long haul, are often the ones we can rely on. In Genesis 2:18, "the Lord God said, "It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him" (NKJV). The word "helper" in that verse is from two Hebrew words that meant to "rescue," to "save" and "be strong." It is true that in Genesis 3, the woman was the leader in humanity's fall. He was the docile follower. And it's very interesting that when the curse fell on humanity through these two, the follower was placed in charge of the leader. This short chapter in Leviticus focuses on a key role of women, childbirth, and we are to remember in that context, the words of the curse in relation to the woman in Genesis 3:16—"I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; in pain you shall bring forth children; your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you." Many women have been jealous in relation to the dominance of men, and far too many men have become proud and arrogant instead of simply loving and comforting the woman God has placed into their lives.

This chapter is especially important because it's an important part of a prophesy that God would and did appoint a woman of Israel to become the mother of the Messiah, the Christ, the Anointed One, the Savior who died for us all. His act reaches forward and backward in time, extending to the furthest ends of the earth, to the family of Aaron and Moses and to the rest of us, including you and me. And a woman was chosen to bear Him. We are to see that every childbirth is an act of holiness in the sight of God because our precise entry into the human race is important, but also this is a prophetic signpost that His Son would come into humanity as the ultimate atonement in giving His blood for our sins. Verses 1-2: "Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 2 'Speak to the sons of Israel, saying: ‘When a woman gives birth and bears a male child, then she shall be unclean for seven days, as in the days of her menstruation she shall be unclean." Menstruation involves the shedding of blood, and Leviticus 17:11 makes it clear that "the life of the flesh is in the blood...it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul."

Life for life, death for life, the innocent for the guilty, blood for redemption. God wants our attention and our hearts. Not only was Messiah birthed into humanity with the blood that accompanies the entry into what we call life, but this is the One "who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood" (Revelation 1:5). A woman of Israel was to bear Him, one who was acquainted with and would respond, along with her husband, to the prophetic teachings of this chapter in Leviticus. In Verse 3 of this chapter we read, "On the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised." The Messiah would be of Israel, He was to be a male and without sin, worthy to be the Sacrifice who redeems those who will have faith in Him. As it says about Him in 2 Corinthians 5:21, "He made Him who knew no sin, to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." Circumcision is a symbol of sin cut away, pointing to the worthy Jewish Messiah who would die for the sins of the world.

The time of the mother's purification in Verse 4, relates to humanity's problem that all are born in sin. The exception is Jesus Christ, who, unlike the rest of us, never did anything wrong. The ceremonial acts were the same, but this Child was holy. The law in Verse 4 for the mother of newborn baby boys is this: "Then she shall remain in the blood of her purification for thirty-three days; she shall not touch any consecrated thing, nor enter the sanctuary until the days of her purification are completed." Mary, Jesus' mother, and Joseph, his step-father, had faith in the Lord and respected the Levitical Law. Jesus was properly circumcised on the eighth day (Luke 2:21) and "when the days of (Mary's) purification according to the law of Moses were completed, they brought (Jesus) to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord" (Luke 2:22).

Here's Verse 5 of this chapter: "But if she bears a female child, then she shall be unclean for two weeks, as in her menstruation; and she shall remain in the blood of her purification for sixty-six days." As we saw in Luke 2:22, Jesus was taken to the Temple in Jerusalem. The Law continued to exist, but just like the heavenly original replaces the earthly copy, the tent was replaced by the temple and the parents of Jesus responded properly to these verses in Leviticus. The longer time in Verse 5 in relation to the birth of a female child is that, unlike the girl, the boy child underwent the rite of circumcision, a parable of Christ and His righteousness, imparted to those who believe (Romans 2:25-29).

Verses 6-8: "When the days of her purification are completed, for a son or for a daughter, she shall bring to the priest at the doorway of the tent of meeting a one year old lamb for a burnt offering and a young pigeon or a turtledove for a sin offering. 7 Then he shall offer it before the Lord and make atonement for her, and she shall be cleansed from the flow of her blood. This is the law for her who bears a child, whether a male or a female. 8 But if she cannot afford a lamb, then she shall take two turtledoves or two young pigeons, the one for a burnt offering and the other for a sin offering; and the priest shall make atonement for her, and she will be clean." Again, a prophesy of the Messiah and His Sacrifice was presented over and over in differing forms as these offerings in Leviticus were given by priests for the people in the wilderness tent. In this instance, the prophesy is that the Messiah, the Christ, the Anointed One, would enter humanity as part of a poor family. If we were sending Him, we might well choose a wealthy setting, wherein money could be given to the poor and medical treatment could be extended to those in need. But when the Messiah did come, we find the offering for Him in Luke 2:24, a quote from Leviticus 12:8—"a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons." God doesn't need our money. He wants our hearts, and so the Son was sent in a lowly estate, recognizing that all of us are in a lowly position and have need of Him. We are to see our lack, and through faith, receive God's Solution to our need.

Two aspects of Jesus' ministry are shown in the death of these innocent animals. One of the two pigeons or turtledoves was a burnt offering. Jesus utterly gave His life for us in dying for our sins. Nothing was left of His life—He gave it all for us. And the second was a sin offering. He died for the sins of the world—for your sins and mine. We can look at a young pigeon and understand that it is an innocent creature, without sin. Pigeons and turtledoves are not under God's Law and are innocent of it. Jesus, born under the Law, was the Innocent One who kept the Law. He fulfilled it. Romans 8:10 informs us that "love is the fulfillment of the law" and Jesus Christ has certainly loved—and does love—you and me.

Lord, please forgive my sins and heal me. I love You and just like a child is birthed into this world, please birth me into Your Kingdom. I trust in You. I praise Your Holy Name. In Jesus Name. Amen.

Ron Beckham, Pastor
Friday Study Ministries

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"While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8)
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