Book of Leviticus Chapter Six Commentary by
Pastor Ron Beckham
Verses 1-7 continue chapter 5, where relatively small actions of humanity are seen from God's point of view. Have you ever had something in your possession that belonged to someone else? Did you return it? What did you do when they asked for it? Did you lie, replying, "I don't know what you're talking about" when they asked for whatever it was? Here are Verses 1-3: "Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 2 'When a person sins and acts unfaithfully against the Lord, and deceives his companion in regard to a deposit or a security entrusted to him, or through robbery, or if he has extorted from his companion, 3 or has found what was lost and lied about it and sworn falsely, so that he sins in regard to any one of the things a man may do;'" If you find money or a wallet on the road, you can be sure it's not yours, especially when you open the wallet and find somebody else's name in it. If something is not yours, you have an affirmative duty to find the true owner. What if everybody suddenly decided to respect the rights and property of everybody else? It's unlikely, but if it did happen, the world would change in a hurry.
We are examing God's perspective on human rights (how we should treat one another), which continues into Verse 4: "then it shall be, when he sins and becomes guilty, that he shall restore what he took by robbery or what he got by extortion, or the deposit which was entrusted to him or the lost thing which he found," and note carefully that God's perspective is the only one that really matters. What have we taken that is not ours? The idea of honesty, or actually it's lack, continues into Verse 5: "or anything about which he swore falsely; he shall make restitution for it in full and add to it one-fifth more. He shall give it to the one to whom it belongs on the day he presents his guilt offering." Honest respect for other's rights is a form of love, and God expects us to act in the manner of Leviticus 19:18, urging us to, "Love your neighbor as yourself," giving back even more than we took in the process. Repayment plus an apology is essential.
Corrie Ten Boom, the concentration camp survivor turned evangelist said, "You feel guilty because you are guilty," which is a truth for us all. The Lord observed through the prophet, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick" (Jeremiah 17:8). When things go wrong for us, you and I should wonder: Is God revealing something I need to see? And when we discover the character defect He is pointing out to us, we tell Him what He already knows, in the form of confession of sin. That's what Verse 6 is all about: "Then he shall bring to the priest his guilt offering to the Lord, a ram without defect from the flock, according to your valuation, for a guilt offering," which is more than just bringing an offering—it's a public confession that you and I are sinners in need of redemption. In our case, the "priest" of these verses is our High Priest, the Lord Jesus Christ, as seen in Verse 7: "and the priest shall make atonement for him before the Lord, and he will be forgiven for any one of the things which he may have done to incur guilt." What have you and I done to displease God? Today is the day to confess our sins in Jesus' Name, and be forgiven.
The scene now shifts to God's intention for priests, which applies to us all—ordinary people of faith in the Lord are "a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation..." (1 Peter 2:9).
We don't need to wrongfully take anything from somebody else because we have been given—everything. God's priests are given explicit commands, starting in Verses 8-9: "Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 9 'Command Aaron and his sons, saying, 'This is the law for the burnt offering: the burnt offering itself shall remain on the hearth on the altar all night until the morning, and the fire on the altar is to be kept burning on it.'" In places like Exodus 24:17 and Hebrews 12:29, we find that "Our God is a consuming fire." The context in Hebrews continues into 13:1, in which we are reminded to "Let brotherly love continue." God IS dangerous, all powerful, and there's no other way to put it: He hates sin. These verses in Leviticus are the earthly parable of a heavenly original, in which we are to see that "all have sinned" (Romans 3:23), as judged by God, the One who is utterly pure and good in everything.
Since we can do nothing to demonstrate to Him how nice we are, a Sacrifice for our sins is necessary, in parable form in Leviticus and revealed in Jesus Christ. The parable continues in Verses 10-11: "The priest is to put on his linen robe, and he shall put on undergarments next to his flesh; and he shall take up the ashes to which the fire reduces the burnt offering on the altar and place them beside the altar. 11 Then he shall take off his garments and put on other garments, and carry the ashes outside the camp to a clean place." Our natural state in the sight of God is described in Revelation 3:17 as "poor, blind and naked." In Revelation 19:8, we find God's loved ones "arrayed in fine linen (which is) the righteous acts of the saints." Just like the Levitical priests were dressed in fine clothing they did not make or buy, God is dressing us appropriately in robes of righteousness we do not deserve, for purposes of His choosing. You would think the "clothing" won't fit, but He makes it happen.
Verses 12-13: "The fire on the altar shall be kept burning on it. It shall not go out, but the priest shall burn wood on it every morning; and he shall lay out the burnt offering on it, and offer up in smoke the fat portions of the peace offerings on it. 13 Fire shall be kept burning continually on the altar; it is not to go out." The perpetual "fire" of these verses is intriguing for many reasons, and one of them is in Acts 2:3—"There appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit..." The consuming fire of God is eternal, not only obliterating sin permanently, but also His Holy Spirit is upon and in us, equipping His people for eternal service with a redeeming, perpetual fire that never goes out.
While reading the next section, remember the words of Jesus in John 6:48—"I am the bread of life," and here are the words of the Lord through Moses in Verses 14-15: "Now this is the law of the grain offering: the sons of Aaron shall present it before the Lord in front of the altar. 15 Then one of them shall lift up from it a handful of the fine flour of the grain offering, with its oil and all the incense that is on the grain offering, and he shall offer it up in smoke on the altar, a soothing aroma, as its memorial offering to the Lord." Instead of turning a blind eye to the Presence of the Lord, as most people do, what if we instead acknowledge Him in everything? Our work, what we do, say and listen to—let's present it back to the Lord, recognizing that all we have and are is from Him. The "oil" is the Holy Spirit (Zechariah 4:2-6) and the "incense" is seen as the "prayers of the saints" in Revelation 5:8. Look to the Holy Spirit and pray about everything you say and do.
It seems like the further we travel into this future we call the "present," the more homeless people we encounter. Many ask for money, which the Lord will provide to them, but some of them are shy about asking, though one this morning was very bold as he strode between lanes of cars stopped at a traffic light. His efforts seemed to contain a God given boldness and he did very well indeed. And God does give what we call "spiritual" and "natural" gifts to people, such as the priests of Verses 16-18: "What is left of it Aaron and his sons are to eat. It shall be eaten as unleavened cakes in a holy place; they are to eat it in the court of the tent of meeting. 17 It shall not be baked with leaven. I have given it as their share from My offerings by fire; it is most holy, like the sin offering and the guilt offering. 18 Every male among the sons of Aaron may eat it; it is a permanent ordinance throughout your generations, from the offerings by fire to the Lord. Whoever touches them will become consecrated." How special the priests in that time and place must have felt as they ate of the unleavened bread brought to them. They didn't have to grow the grain, separate it from the husks or cook it—they just ate, and so should we accept with thanks the good that God sends to us.
These verses are about priests, a title applied to ALL who have faith in the Lord (1 Peter 2:5 & 9). That's not the way that the world sees things, but it's better to see life from God's perspective. Verses 19-21: "Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 20 This is the offering which Aaron and his sons are to present to the Lord on the day when he is anointed; the tenth of an ephah of fine flour as a regular grain offering, half of it in the morning and half of it in the evening. 21 It shall be prepared with oil on a griddle. When it is well stirred, you shall bring it. You shall present the grain offering in baked pieces as a soothing aroma to the Lord." You may or may not be an ordained minister in your lifetime, but if you have trusted in the Lord, a joyful celebration of your ministry has been celebrated in heaven. The "Bread of Life" has been offered for you, the oil of the Holy Spirit has been placed into the center of your being, and you are pleasing to God, which is what "the soothing aroma to the Lord" is all about. Notice that your ordination ceremony is a one time event, effective forever, as in Verse 22: "The anointed priest who will be in his place among his sons shall offer it. By a permanent ordinance it shall be entirely offered up in smoke to the Lord." You may change your mind, but the Lord never does, "for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable" (Romans 11:29). Ordination is not an ordinary event, even though the two words are similar, which is why Verse 23 is important: "So every grain offering of the priest shall be burned entirely. It shall not be eaten." You can run away from your call, but you won't escape because it is "burned entirely" here on earth, taken up to heaven, into the hands of God.
Have you noticed that priests and other ministers are sinners like everybody else? In the military, we were punished for infractions such as getting out of step while marching or having a wrinkle on a uniform. We were forced to run around the barracks loudly shouting "I'm a gooney bird" or be placed on K.P. (kitchen police} from 3 a.m. to midnight. The idea was to turn us into people who would obey orders and defend the country. Considering that God calls His people to lives of holiness and we fail often, it's not surprising that we need healing and forgiveness when we miss the mark. In Verses 24-25, "Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 25 'Speak to Aaron and to his sons, saying, ‘This is the law of the sin offering: in the place where the burnt offering is slain the sin offering shall be slain before the Lord; it is most holy.'" Don't forget, as we read together, that none of us, as ministers before God, are worthy to act on His behalf. We are simply outward symbols of the Holy Spirit's work in and through us.
And with that idea in mind, see Verse 26: "The priest who offers it for sin shall eat it. It shall be eaten in a holy place, in the court of the tent of meeting." How could a mere human being "eat" the sin of someone? We can't, and neither could these priests. Just like holy communion symbolizes Christ in us, this verse is a parable of Christ, "who put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself" (Hebrews 9:26). And it continues, "Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many" (Hebrews 9:28). I can't take away your sin and you can't do it either, but God can, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Verses 27-28: "Anyone who touches its flesh will become consecrated; and when any of its blood splashes on a garment, in a holy place you shall wash what was splashed on. 28 Also the earthenware vessel in which it was boiled shall be broken; and if it was boiled in a bronze vessel, then it shall be scoured and rinsed in water." To be "consecrated" is to be dedicated, set apart for God's service. We think we received the Lord, and yes we did, but also we are received by Him, for His purposes and glory. You will never be the same after saying "yes" to God. You are washed by the blood of Jesus Christ, you are an "earthenware vessel" which is broken, scoured, rinsed in living water, and made new by God Himself.
At that time and place, only males could be priests, which was itself a parable. The Old Testament contains innumerable prophesies of the Lord Jesus Christ, and one of them is right here—He would be among the 50 percent or so of humanity that are male in gender, as in Verse 29: "Every male among the priests may eat of it; it is most holy." And that's why Galatians 3:28 says "there is neither male nor female" in Christ, who had already been born male (Leviticus 9:29), in Bethlehem, of the tribe of David, and so much more. All the prophesies are fulfilled in Him. Verse 30: "But no sin offering of which any of the blood is brought into the tent of meeting to make atonement in the holy place shall be eaten; it shall be burned with fire." Leviticus 17:11 touches the nature of what this "blood" is all about, when it says, "the life of the flesh is in the blood." Jesus Christ became flesh and gave His life, His "blood," for you and me. Our sins are burned up in an eternal fire and they are gone forever. The Holy Spirit has been given, and the perpetual, cleansing, holy fire of God lives within us. We are clean, we are holy, we are His because God came and sacrificed Himself for our sins. You and I can say "yes" and be safe in Him.
Father, You have offered me the Bread of Life, the Living Water, through Jesus Christ, who gave His life, His blood for me. I say "yes" to You, Lord Jesus. I trust in You. Please forgive my sins. I am Yours. In Jesus Name. Amen.