Leviticus 7:1–38

Third Avenue Baptist Church

Louisville, KY

Leviticus 7:1–38 — Leviticus Series

November 14, 2021

Let’s open with prayer. Our Father, we’re just so thankful You give us the opportunity, once again, on this morning, brisk air, beautiful foliage, reminder, not only of the changing of the seasons, but of our own temporality. Father, recognizing that we, too, are like these leaves Father, we pray to receive as much of your Word as we may until that day when we see You face to face. And we pray this in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen. 

So, as we’re studying Leviticus and we are studying the law as it was given to Israel in preparation for Israel’s arrival in the land of promise, as we are looking word by word and line by line through this amazing book in which we see a yearning for Christ that we immediately recognize. We have seen it in so many different aspects. First of all, just in the sense of sin and guilt, it brings about the necessity of the entire sacrificial system, and then of the holiness of God and the sinfulness of humanity that cries out for some remedy. There has to be some rescue and that rescue cannot come from the human center. The rescue has to come from God Himself. Is there anything I can do, guys? Is there anything here? Okay. 

The yearning for atonement actually becomes very clear, as we saw as we got to chapters five and six, where the priest makes atonement. And there’s the promise of an atonement, a peace with God, the problem of our sin and our guilt being removed. That raises the issue of the guilt, and, as it turns out, the guilt is not just a subjective experience of feeling and perceiving one’s sinfulness. It is the actual objective reality that our sin creates this affront to God that He cannot accept. But we see it over and over again because it happens over and over again, the sacrifices. 

By the time you get to chapter seven in Leviticus, we have the recognition that this is the daily life of Israel. This is the center of the daily life of Israel. The daily life of Israel is largely consumed in the process of these sacrifices. And you say, well, this is where the Levitical priesthood. Yes. But notice who’s bringing all these animals to the Levitical priests and notice how the preparation, the actual conducting of these sacrifices is going to require the attention of the people. And there are certain sacrifices in which all the people are called to draw near. We’re going to see one of those this morning in chapter seven.

We’ve also seen, and this is perhaps the greatest theological insight thus far as we’re going through Leviticus. We’ve also recognized that for all of the atonement that is promised, for all of the effect of the sacrifices, for all of the sin that is dealt with here, nothing is dealt with permanently, and the priest needs a priest. And that’s also going to become more clear. 

Now, we have chapter seven before us, and after that, of course, chapter eight. Chapter eight’s a decisive break in the book of Leviticus. So, after chapter eight, that is starting with chapter eight, we will be looking at instructions directly to the priesthood, which means that even as God called to Moses and spoke to Moses, this is instruction for all of Israel. And that includes chapter eight and what follows. This is not just given for the priests. It’s not a secret knowledge. 

Something else is really important. There is no secret priest book in Judaism. There is no secret preacher book in Christianity. Now that needs to be understood because over against the various priesthoods of paganism, there is almost universally—and I don’t think I actually need the ‘almost’—there is practically universally, a secret meaning, a secret code, a secret cultus known to the priesthood and not known to the people. That’s a part of the priesthood’s powers, a part of the priesthood’s stewardship is that they know things. They have access to truths. They know ancient books, ancient writings, ancient authorities. They know how to read ancient stones. Whatever it is, they have knowledge that the people don’t have. 

Have you noticed that that’s not true of Israel? I mean, have you noticed that in Genesis and in Exodus, and we’ll see it everywhere in Scripture. But in other words, it doesn’t just come to us in Leviticus, but it comes to us in a big way in Leviticus, because we recognize how different this is than a traditional priesthood. A traditional priesthood is not only set apart, it is a cult unto itself. And what it does is the cultus, and the priesthood is usually entered by some form of initiation in which you enter as a novice and as a novice, you are taken into the mysteries in an ever deeper way.  

You see this in Buddhism, for example, in most of its classic forms. But even in ancient paganism, such as the Canaanite religions, there’s every reason to believe that the priests knew things that the people were never to know. That is just not the case in Israel. The law is given to Israel. The law is not given to the priest. There are instructions to the priest in the law given to Israel, but every single member of the covenant people has equal access to God’s Word, equal access to these instructions. Now, as you fast forward in biblical history, then you go to a couple of things that become very clear in the New Testament, and especially in the writings of the apostle Paul, because he will say, “At various times there is a mystery, but it’s the mystery we proclaim to you.” So, in other words, it’s only a mystery to the unbelieving world. 

The gnosis, the epistemological tribal reality, is the entire people. The gnosis is given to the entire people, not just to the priesthood. This sets Israel apart. And not only that, it’s a public book, which means even though the knowledge is given to Israel as a part of God’s covenant gift, it’s shared with others. The Torah was not something secreted away. It eventually became known. And of course, we have a relationship to it in which we speak of it in terms of Old and New Covenant, Old and New Testament. This gets back to the fact that, as the reformers had to make very clear, based upon the clear verdict of the Holy Spirit led earliest church, based upon the teaching of the apostles, based upon what they had received from Christ, all of Scripture belongs to the church. The church is accountable to all of Scripture.

But as we are in Leviticus, coming to chapter seven, this is the continuation, and indeed the conclusion, of the opening section of Leviticus, about the nature of the sacrifices, the nature of the offerings. In chapter seven, verse one, we read, “This is the law of the guilt offering. It is most holy.” Now wait just a minute! In the previous chapter, we had details about the guilt offering. Yes. And so, one of the things that we will find is that there’s, it’s not just the repetition. A lot of this language by now is quite familiar to us. It is also the fact that there are different questions answered in different portions of Leviticus. Who—that is, who is to do this? The priest, in one case the high priest. Who is to do this? When is it to be done? Well, when the sin happens, when the sin happens, when someone’s expressing thanksgiving, et cetera. The how is very important. 

Chapter seven says in verse two, “In the place where they kill the burnt offering, they shall kill the guilt offering, and its blood shall be thrown against the sides of the altar. And all its fat shall be offered, the fat tail, the fat that covers the entrails, the two kidneys with the fat that is on them at the loins, and the long lobe of the liver that he shall remove with the kidneys. The priest shall burn them on the altar as a food offering to the Lord; it is a guilt offering. Every male among the priests may eat of it. It shall be eaten in a holy place. It is most holy.”

Now, remember that we have this, this kind of concentric set of circles, and the innermost circle is the Most Holy Place. So, as you think about even the geography or the topography of the temple. But this is also related to Israel’s own identity and experience—there’s a ‘holy’. Then there’s a ‘most holy’, in the New Testament often referred to as the Holy of Holies. Well, when you see the phrase ‘most holy thing’, that means particularly set apart. Now, that also means that Israel is issued a particular warning, lest Israel handle most holy things in a way that is unworthy. 

In verse six, “Every male among the priests may eat of it. It shall be eaten in a holy place. It is most holy. The guilt offering is just like the sin offering; there is one law for them [both]. The priest who makes atonement with it shall have it. And the priest who offers any man’s burnt offering shall have for himself the skin of the burnt offering that he has offered. And every grain offering baked in the oven and all that is prepared on a pan or [in] a griddle shall belong to the priest who offers it. And every grain offering, mixed with oil or dry, shall be shared equally among all the sons of Aaron.” 

So again, a lot going on here. But in the sin offering and the guilt offering, which we are told follows one law, so it is one pattern. The priest who performs a sacrifice, eats the meat of the sacrifice—that is allowed to him. And remember, that’s a restricted amount of the animals, we shall see. What’s also important here is that the skin of the animal sacrificed is given to that priest. 

These skins are very, very important. You’ll remember in the book of Genesis when Adam Eve in their embarrassment, after they ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they made—you got to love the Geneva Bible in its modesty—they made ‘aprons for themselves’. And they did make aprons for themselves, but they were made out of leaves. They were not going to be very substantial. And remember, after the Lord confronted them in their sin, a part of the Lord’s care for them after their rebellion and sin was to make coverings for them out of skins of animals. And so, this use of skin shows the fact that that nothing in the animal was left without a purpose, nothing, and that the skin had value in it tangibly. It went to the priest who made the atonement. 

The grain offerings would last longer. It’s the other thing that comes up about the meat offerings. And you’ll notice that it appears that right then the priest who deserves to eat of the meat, eats of it. And it’s because meat spoils, it’s because meat is perishable. You do it right here. You do it right in the view of the people.

The grain offerings are a bit different because the grain offerings will last longer, and they are shared with the other priests. The one who officiates at the offering has the first fruit of the offering, but shares it then equally among all the sons of Aaron.

Verse 11, “And this is the law of the sacrifice of peace offerings that one may offer to the Lord. If he offers it for a thanksgiving…” So that’s reason number one, thanksgiving. “…then he shall offer with the thanksgiving sacrifice unleavened loaves mixed with oil, unleavened wafers smeared with oil, and loaves of fine flour well mixed with oil. With the sacrifice of his peace offerings for thanksgiving he shall bring his offering with [the] loaves of leavened bread. And from it he shall offer one loaf from each offering, as a gift to the Lord. It shall belong to the priest who throws the blood of the peace offerings. And the flesh of the sacrifice of his peace offerings for thanksgiving shall be eaten on the day of his offering.” There again, the meat to be eaten immediately. “He shall not leave any of it until the morning. But if the sacrifice of his offering is a vow offering or a freewill offering…” That’s the second. “…it shall be eaten on the day that he offers his sacrifice, and on the next day, what remains of it may be eaten.” So that would be what remains of the animal that wasn’t eaten, still allowable to eat on the second day, but as you shall see, not on the third. 

Verse 17, “But what remains of the flesh of the sacrifice on the third day shall be burned up with fire.” So, first day you may eat it. Second day, if any is left over, you may still eat it. Third day, no! Now notice what comes next. In verse 18, “If any of the flesh of the sacrifice of his peace offering is eaten on the third day, he who offers it shall not be accepted, neither shall it be credited to him. It is tainted, and he who eats of it shall bear his iniquity.” So again, there’s a there’s judgment here. These laws are not merely suggestions. This is not the etiquette of sacrifice. This is the law of sacrifice. These are instructions. If these instructions are taken lightly, then basically the entire sacrifice is invalidated. 

Now, again, we just can’t help fast forwarding, fast forwarding to the fact that, on the cross, Jesus was both priest and offering. He’s our Great High Priest who offers Himself. And He offers himself in such a way that it was a perfect sacrifice. It was received as a perfect sacrifice. So, it was actually the first perfect sacrifice, which means to say, when you look at the danger here of even making an error in the offering and the sacrifice being basically invalidated, you recognize that this is a clumsy, clumsy thing. It’s a hit or miss thing, not because of God’s character, but because of the human character, those carrying it out. Not only their character, but their competence. You get a slippery priest, you’re going to have guilt. First of all, upon the priest himself. 

Now, the holiness code becomes more clear as we look at verse 19. “Flesh that touches any unclean thing shall not be eaten.” And remember, there are a lot of unclean things. If a clean thing to be sacrificed touches an unclean thing, it becomes unclean. “It shall be burned up with fire. All who are clean may eat flesh, but the person who eats of the flesh of the sacrifice of the Lord’s peace offerings while an uncleanness is on him, that person shall be cut off from his people. And if anyone touches an unclean thing, whether human uncleanness or an unclean beast or any unclean detestable creature, and then eats some flesh from the sacrifice of the Lord’s peace offerings, that person shall be cut off from his people.” 

Now ‘cut off from his people’. What does that mean? That is an incredibly strong word of judgment. This doesn’t sound like something for which there can be a remedy. Let me tell you, it may be worse than you think. Look at Exodus, chapter 31. Look at verse 14. “You shall keep the Sabbath, because it is holy for you. Everyone who profanes it shall be put to death. Whoever does any work on it, that soul shall be cut off from among his people. Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the Lord. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day shall be put to death.”

So, there it appears that there is at least a connection between the death penalty and being cut off from your people. But we need to be careful. It is a parallelism here. In other words, we’re not told that being cut off from the people is being put to death. We’re told that someone is to be put to death, who is a Sabbath breaker, but then it’s explained that such a person is to be cut off from his people. Now, capital punishment would certainly do that, but so would exile. And what we can only describe in the Old Testament as a, an exile from the covenant, being cut off from the covenant, it appears, just put it in context, that that is what is contemplated in Leviticus. And this will show up elsewhere when someone is cut off from his people. And if there is a death penalty, that’s invoked, it applies. 

But there are cases in which we have the language, ‘He shall be cut off from his people,’ where it does not appear that there is any death penalty, but rather one is basically excommunicated, is the best way to put it. That would be our closest at hand term for this. It would be someone who is now exiled, cut off from the covenant and from the covenant people. 

The point of course we see here in Leviticus, is that getting the sacrifice wrong endangers, not only the sacrifice, but it slanders God and it mal priests. It is an injury for the entire people. And as we have seen, sin and guilt are real objective categories. They are real obstacles between us and a holy God. They are an affront to God’s majesty and His holiness. They are an objective barrier between God’s covenant people and Himself. The sacrifice is the way that that barrier is removed. As we see in these sacrifices, for a time God’s wrath will be held back, for a time. But that ‘for a time’ is very important because that’s how the covenant people existed. 

And that’s also how we exist. We are not under the mediation of a priest who performs repeated sacrifices. That sacrifice is once for all. For us, before a time is not awaiting the great sacrifice, because that’s already taken place. For us, the ‘for a time’ is in this time awaiting the glorification that is to come. It’s one of the things we have to remember is that Christ’s atoning work purchased our glorification. We are not yet glorified, but no more sacrifice will take place. 

In the horizon of Israel’s just endless sacrifices until, until again, logically, logically, and we see it in the text going all the way back to Moses—in fact, going all the way back to the promise to Abraham—it’s there that something’s going to have to bring a conclusion to this. Someone’s going to have to finish this. He is, we speak of Christ as the ‘author and finisher of our faith,’ but for the temporal horizon of Israel for so long as their generation shall come, it’s daily what we are seeing here. 

In verse 22, “The Lord speaks to Moses, saying, “Speak to the people of Israel, saying, You shall eat no fat, of ox or sheep or goat. The fat of an animal that dies of itself and the fat of one that is torn by [the] beasts may be put to any other use, but on no account shall you eat it. For every person who eats of the fat of an animal of which a food offering may be made to the Lord shall be cut off from his people.” There it is again. “Moreover, you shall eat no blood whatever, whether of fowl or of animal, in any of your dwelling, places. Whoever eats any blood, that person shall be cut off from his people.”” 

Now again, I think I told someone that, you know, there have been people who have heard this or read this text and been afraid to order their steak in a restaurant anything but well done. That is not what’s being referenced here. And as a matter of fact, in the slaughter of beef or of meat, the bleeding of the animal, the blood is removed. There’s still some in the flesh, but the actual circulatory blood is removed. So, what’s the background here, what’s the problem? Well, let’s just say we have foreground, and then we have long foreground. In the immediate foreground, and in the background to this, are the pagan sacrifices, pagan priests, because blood has been recognized, even in the most animistic cultures, as being of importance to the cultus. Now, this is explained, of course, in the Scripture where we are told that in the blood is the life. Just think of a text like Genesis 9:4, the life is in the blood. 

If you’re trying to find the mystery of life, which let’s just say you’re an ancient people, you’re cut off from any form of direct, special revelation. You have the general revelation, you’re made in God’s image, you’re in a place where you do not know Torah, you do not hear the revelation of God, and you’re trying to figure out what life is all about. It doesn’t take you long to figure out that life is in the blood. Life is in the blood to the extent that if someone loses blood, they die. Life is blood to the extent that all the creatures that we would consider as animal creatures, even like unto us, there is blood. The life is in the blood to the extent that, if you have someone who’s cut and the blood is spurting out, when the blood stops pulsing, the person is dead. 

Now, if you take the life is in the blood in a pagan way, you literally mean the life is in the blood, which is one of the reasons why you will find, you know, in ancient cultures in Central and South America, especially with human sacrifice. And you look at the reason for the human sacrifice. There’s an impulse. We’ve got to have some kind of blood sacrifice, it needs to be as innocent as possible, which is why so many of these are children. Found also in Canaan. Remember, the purpose here is to prepare the Children of Israel for entering Canaan, while not becoming Canaanites. And a part of what the Canaanites are doing, particularly in sacrifices to Molech, is they’re sacrificing their children. 

Some years ago, an archeologist came to Southern Seminary for a conference and was speaking about modern archeological finds, and mentioned that so many of them actually, in the ancient near east, have been completely accidental. In other words, there’s certain tells or mounds where people know we ought to dig there and see what’s there. There are certain civilizational spots, you could just say Jericho or other places, not to mention Jerusalem, or we know we know what this place is. And we know, as you dig down stratum by stratum, you’re going to find all kinds of interesting materials. 

But other things have been found elsewhere, especially in the ancient Near East, nearly entirely by accident. One of them came in Syria, very close to the Golan Heights, which means very close to Mount Carmel, you know, headed in that direction, very close to Israel. And what was found was a dumping place of dead bodies. And the dead bodies had been sacrificed and burned. And the dead bodies were all of children, about ages four and under. All of them had been clearly sacrificed in some kind of sacrificial system. They’d been killed and their bodies burned. But what was noted about this, this horrible find was that what was shocking is that the main leg bones in all of these skeletons had been broken, and it was so that the children could not crawl out of the fire. 

And you look at that and you go, “Oh!” This blood sacrifice, in a pagan sense, makes the sacrifice and the priesthood the focus, and this blood, the idea that life is in the blood. You know, the priest would smear themselves with blood and there would be orgies of blood. That’s not what you see here. In fact, the detailed instructions given to the priests in Leviticus are such that there is no confusion between the sacrifice that God has ordered and the pagan sacrifices, and the eating of blood is a part of this. 

Notice that Israel’s not just all, “No, it’s not a good idea to eat blood.” No, it’s not that. They are told, “You shall not eat blood. If you eat blood, you are cut off again.” We think the best meaning of that would be an exile cut off from the covenant. That’s how threatening such a confusion would be. 

And by the way, it’s also fat. You’re not supposed to eat the fat. And the fat is not the blood. You know, we don’t have a sacrifice of fat. But it just shows you again, that God’s holiness code is very detailed and every part of it is useful. And what God says about the fat is, “You can use it for a lot of things. You can’t eat it.” And so, the fat could be reduced to oil, it could be reduced to grease, it could be used for polish, it could be used to light a lamp. It could be used for all kinds of purposes. Can’t be used for just outright human consumption.

Verse 28, “The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the people of Israel, saying Whoever offers the sacrifice of his peace offerings to the Lord shall bring his offering to the Lord from the sacrifice of his peace offerings. His own hands shall bring the Lord’s food offerings. He shall bring the fat with the breast, that the breast may be waved as a wave offering before the Lord.”” Now remember a wave offering is symbolically a way of demonstrating the purpose of the sacrifice. And remember, one of the central purposes of the wave offering is thanksgiving. It could be also to vow a vow. 

I was a telling group about having Eta Linnemann speak at Southern Seminary. It’s a long story—I won’t tell you how I introduced her, and she didn’t come. But she was one of, she was Rudolph Bultmann, the great liberal New Testament scholar in Germany, fountain head of theological liberalism. Eta Linnemann was his first female doctoral student and became very, very famous as a liberal biblical scholar. She didn’t believe the Bible was the Word of God. She was a Bultmannian. She never married.  

And Professor Linnemann, toward the end of her life, went on a retreat with and ended up and being in a hostel in Germany, run by German pietist ladies. And she became a Christian toward the end of her life. She was a professor of New Testament. She didn’t believe anything. And then she became a believer. And then she had a problem because she’s got all these books, she’s been publishing all these years. And now she’s a Christian and she actually believes the Bible’s the Word of God. And so, she actually wrote a very interesting letter to the German academy saying, “Please disregard everything I’ve ever written.” And she wrote two books defending the inerrancy and infallibility of Scripture.

And so, she was still alive. I wanted to bring her to Southern to speak. And, you know, sure was a wonderful thing to have Professor Linnemann come. It was wonderful, but it was very German. And I will just tell you that I introduced her to banquet only to discover that German professors do not speak while people are eating. And you’ll hear me tell this again, sometime when it’s appropriate to the event, but she just said, “I dos not speak to chewing peoples.” And she was a teutonic lady professor. Yes, okay. 

But the students, and of course had all these students, all these wonderful seminary students who had come to hear Professor Linnemann, and they’re also polite and so kind, and they don’t want to do anything improper, and they don’t want to laugh at this professor, but she was as German as German could be. And it comes down to this, this particular passage, because she would just say at full voice, she was so excited about this. You believe this is the Word of God. Now it wasn’t just, and she said, “And Abraham wowed a wow before the Lord.” And she just repeated it over and over again. And I’m sitting up there on the platform, looking at these students who are going, “Abraham wowed a wow before the Lord.” And sure enough, so I’ll never, I just promise you once you’ve heard that, you can never unhear it. “Abraham wowed a wow!”

If you do vow, a vow, a wave offering is an appropriate way. And again, it’s shown before the Lord. It is a wave in the sense that it’s held up. And yet we have more about the wave offering that comes up here. If you do, then you’ll notice that the central thing here is the breast. “He shall bring the fat with the breast, that the breast may be waved as a wave before the Lord.”

Now, what is it about the breast? Well, here’s an interesting thing and I have no great explanation for this. It’s just, it just is. And that is that the prime parts of the meat in ancient Israel were identified as the breast and the right thigh. Now, if you go into your butcher shop and talk in terms of the right thigh, I don’t think you’re going to get a whole lot of comprehension. But that was how it was defined. Now, other parts of the meat may be eaten. other parts of the animal may be consumed, but the prime pieces were the breast and the right thigh. 

The point here is that the wave offering, if you’re doing this because you vowed a vow, you’re doing this because you are expressing thanks to the Lord. Or you’re doing it as the church would call it later, ‘unbidden’. In other words, there’s no requirement to do it. You just feel an urge to do this, this wave offering it under the Lord. Then you bring the prime parts, no inferior parts. If you really are moved to do this, you’re moved to do it rightly. 

“The priest shall burn the fat on the altar, but the breast shall be for Aaron and his sons. And the right thigh you shall give to the priest as a contribution from the sacrifice of your peace offerings.” So, not the left thigh. And again, I don’t know if it’s just the historic distinction between left and right that is reflected in Scripture, but it’s the right thigh. 

“For the breast that is waved and the thigh that is contributed I have taken from the people of Israel, out of the sacrifices of their peace offerings, and have given them to Aaron the priest and to his sons, as a perpetual due from the people of Israel.” So, in other words, this is just ongoing. So, for long as Israel under this covenant shall exist, God has given to Aaron, to the Levitical priesthood, to the Aaronic priesthood with Aaron at the very top, and to the priests, they’re given these prime pieces of meat as a ‘perpetual due’. 

“This is the portion of Aaron and of his sons from the Lord’s food offerings, from the day they were presented to serve as priests of the Lord. The Lord commanded this to be given them by the people of Israel, from the day that he anointed them. It is a perpetual due throughout their generations. This is the law of the burnt offering, of the grain offering, of the sin offering, of the guilt offering, of the ordination offering, and of the peace offering, which the Lord commanded Moses on Mount Sinai, on the day that he commanded the people of Israel to bring their offerings to the Lord, in the wilderness of Sinai.” 

So, so much has transpired here. We are seven chapters through Leviticus, and we have seen now most of the rules concerning the sacrifices. Notice how they’re listed here, just for helpful summary at the end, set out for us—burnt offering, grain offering, sin offering, guilt offering, ordination offering, peace offering. 

Now back on Mount Sinai, when the Children of Israel were told to bring their offerings, they were just offerings. But now there are all these different kinds of offerings. The fulfillment of every single one of them, all of them and all of them together and more, is Christ. So, once again, we are struck by the fact that in Israel, there was a singularity of priesthood, but there was an endless multiplicity of sacrifices. And in Israel, it was a priesthood that was through Aaron, to Aaron’s sons and descendants, and then beyond them to the tribe of Levi and the Levitical priesthood. So, it was an exclusive priesthood. If you were in other tribes, you were not a priest. If you were not of Aaron’s seed, then you’re not Aaronic. Still, multiple priests, one priesthood, multiple priests. We have a singular Priest, and the sacrifice is a singular sacrifice. 

So, there is more to come in Leviticus, but at this point, we have the great satisfaction of knowing that even as Israel is saved here for a time by these sacrifices, even as God’s wrath is held back for Israel for a time by these sacrifices, the reality is, look at the language like ‘perpetual do’. Look at the repetition. 

You know, you look at this and you recognize that when we speak of our, say week, we think of our week, we as Christians. There are Christians who think of their weekly schedule differently than we do. There are those who might be in a very highly liturgical church, say Anglican, high church Anglican, and they may begin every single day with the morning offices or matins. And they may go all the way through even song in the evening, if they are in an order, they may actually do the hours following in prayer, day by day by day. 

But nonetheless, what we are looking at, if indeed this is a Christian church, if it is a Christian practice, then we are looking at the fact that if something of that is missed, let’s say that the building suffers a problem and people can’t meet together for the meeting, or it can’t happen by some kind of obstacle. Norice no guilt remains, no guilt remains, cause these are not sacrifices. These are services of prayer. These are times of Bible reading. It’s just extremely different.  

For Israel, an interruption in the sacrificial system meant that guilt remained. Now, this just leads to all kinds of things that we will see as we fast forward in biblical history, including what it meant for Israel to be carried off into captivity. Or what it meant for Israel, and remember, this is now in the background, for Israel to have been captive to Pharaoh in Egypt. So, Israel is in the unusual and frightening position of recognizing that, if its infidelity leads it to be separated from this tabernacle, separated from its priesthood, its priesthood unable to function, then the sin just builds up and the guilt just increases, which by the way, shows again, God’s mercy. Helps you to read the prophets, helps you to read Jeremiah, for example, helps you to understand Nehemiah because how is it that God’s going to allow this people back because their sin and their guilt is ever more immense. 

By the way, one other thing, and I just want to mention this very clearly. The early church recognized, and the book of Hebrews is the quintessential representation of this, the early church recognized, based upon the teachings of Christ himself and then the teaching of the apostles, that the ‘once for all’ nature of the sacrifice of Christ meant that whatever the church does, whatever the church does in worship, whatever the church does in preaching, whatever the church does just in talk, we must be extremely careful about sacrifice language. 

If we are going to use sacrifice language, it has to be for ourselves. It has to be only in the sense of Romans chapter 12 in which Christ’s people are called to be ‘a living sacrifice’. But there can be no other kind of sacrificial language. We’ve got to reserve that now all for Christ. Is that really clear? We have to reserve that all for Christ. Well, you know, what sacrifice must be made for the forgiveness of our sins? That sacrifice was made. That sacrifice was accepted. Not only did Christ die on the cross as a Great High Priest, He was resurrected as the very Son of God by the Father. That sacrifice received and blessed in full. Any confusion of that, thus, is a deadly confusion.  

Now I want to fast forward to the 16th century. In the 16th century, let’s just look at Martin Luther, just to take one example. So, let’s just take the seminal reformer in the 16th century. Martin Luther, when in 1517 he posted those 95 theses. And again, we don’t know exactly how they were posted, but, by tradition, on the Wittenburg door. But we do know they existed to the extent, and they were published to the extent, that the Archbishop of Mainz has them and has to decide what to do with them within days of Luther having posted them. And that’s a matter of the church’s record. 

But you’ll notice that Luther didn’t go after the Mass. Luther doesn’t go after the very center of the Catholic Church’s cultus. He just assumed that, as a monk, or better described a friar, as an ordained priest of the church, he just, he just received that. 

But as he begins to come to terms with Scripture, we see Luther forced into what can only be considered boxed alleyways from which there’s no escape. And that’s how Luther gets to so many of the doctoral insights of the Reformation. When he’s involved in a disputation and he’s accused of trusting the Scripture rather than the Magisterium, rather than the Pope, Luther says, “Yeah, that’s actually what I’m doing.” And then when he’s pressed further and further, it’s the Scripture, and the Scripture, and the Scripture, and Luther gets the hard way to the fact that it’s Scripture alone, by the fact that in his argument, he’s got nowhere else to go. 

The same thing with justification. Luther doesn’t begin, what we would call the Reformation, by understanding the faulty doctrine of justification in the Roman Catholic Church. But the more he is taken into the world of Scripture, and the more his argument has to be based just in Scripture, and the more Scripture has to become his soul doctrinal authority, the more he recognizes that it’s not faith and anything. And again, it’s just then the process of, with his life on the line, you just have to, all of a sudden, realize it’s this or nothing. By the time he gets to Worms with Scripture, “Here I stand, I can do to other, God help me.” 

But he got to the Mass, and he got to the Mass. And you think of his writing on what he called The Babylonian Captivity of the Church, speaking of the Catholic Church. And he gets to it, and he gets to it with the recognition that the Catholic Mass is a sacrifice. He was taught this. He was taught the central theology of the Mass is that it is a sacrifice. So much so that Christ is crucified again. So much so that by transubstantiation, what is there on the altar, called the tabernacle, is a vessel for holding what is claimed to be the transubstantiated body of Christ crucified again. 

And that’s why Luther responds with this complete abhorrence of the Mass, where he says, “You can have the Mass, or you can have Christ, but you cannot have both, for Christ died once.” And He doesn’t sit on an altar. He certainly doesn’t sit on thousands and thousands of altars in bits and pieces. Christ, and Christ whole, and Christ alone, reigns with the Father. And the sacrifice is done. And it is a slander to say, any sacrifice is needed, or any sacrifice can add a thing to what Jesus accomplished and which Jesus concluded with the words, “It is finished.” 

So, I just want to leave you with that as, when we’re next together, we’ll look at chapter eight and the actual instigation, installation of the priesthood. It’s just so encouraging to me to think of not just what we do when we’re together here at Third Avenue Baptist Church, but what we don’t do. 

Do you notice something? There’s no mess for us to clean up after the service. There’s no blood spattered all over this place, and it’s not because it’s not necessary. It’s because it’s been done. So that should get us ready for worship.  

It’s been a privilege to be with you looking at these first seven chapters of Leviticus. We’ll be turning a chapter, as in a whole section of Leviticus, when we’re together next. 

Let’s pray. Father, we’re just so thankful for all You’ve given us in every single word, every syllable, every sentence of Scripture. Father, we ask to read all of Scripture in order that we may know Christ, in order that we may know Him more fully, follow Him more faithfully, and see your Gospel displayed in Him more gloriously. Father, we pray this in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.