Genesis Through Joshua- Leviticus: Cleanliness and Holy Living

Structure of Leviticus
1-7 Sacrifices
8-10 Regulations for Priests
11-16 Regulations of uncleanness and cleanness
17-25 General regulations for holy leaving
26 Blessing and cursing
27 Regulations of Vows

Basic Content
1) 11-16 Rules for Cleanliness
2) 17-25 Holiness Regulations

1) Rules for Cleanliness
i) The Contents relationship to the Context
1-10 Sacrifice and the Priests.
These chapters deal with specifics of holiness.

11-25 deals with how living become acceptable as worship. We are looking at holy living and cleanliness. Our concerns have broadened as Leviticus progresses.

ii) Cleanliness
10:10 we get 4 words: holy, unholy, common, and unclean.
3 things are holy 1) God, 2) clean persons devoted to God, 3) clean things devoted to God

Common things are not holy. These things can be clean or unclean. If clean they can be used in worship even though they are not holy. An unclean thing cannot be brought before the Lord.

Through purification something unclean can become clean. It then needs to be dedicated to become holy.

iii) Literary Structure
11-15 speaks about cleanliness and uncleanness in foods, childbirth, skin disease, mildew, and bodily discharges.

11:1-8 earth animals
11:9-12 water creatures
11:13-23 flying creatures
If you eat an unclean animal you become unclean until evening.

12:1-8 deals with skin diseases
Sacrifices to be made v6-8

13:47-59 specific regulations regarding mildew.

15 deals with bodily discharges. These aren’t just female discharges. Male discharges are also a sign of uncleanness.

iv) Why was God concerned about all of this?
Physical health concerns- pork is can be bad if not cooked well
Symbolic reasons
To separate Israel from Pagan practises

The Israelite audience would have immediately understood many of the regulations given.

The passages are not saying that particular inanimate objects/diseases are in themselves bad.

v) The Day of Atonement: Lev 16
This day happened once a year on the 10th day of the 7th month for fasting. The people gathered in Jerusalem for a Sabbath day

The ceremony:
A burnt offering of a bull or ram takes place.
The blood from a bull or ram is sprinkled on the ark
A scapegoat is chosen (by lots). The priest lays hands on the goat and the goat leaves to go into the wilderness.
Cleansing and sacrifice of a bull and a ram

This was done for the cleansing of Israel as a whole nation.

9:11-28 the day is a foreshadowing of Christ. The sacrifices in the OT were an illustration of the day when Christ died

2) Holiness Regulations: Chapters 17-25
Holy = ‘to be separated’ or ‘to be devoted’
The morally unclean are taken out of the world and are made clean by being dedicated to God.

What made Israel holy? The practises of the Israelites made them holy. God was teaching Israel how to be different from their neighbours.

In chapter 25 we see two events: Sabbath years and jubilee years.

i) 25:1-7 = the Sabbath years. No planting, nature produce only, servants were to be freed (Exodus 21:2), and debts cancelled (Duet 15:1-11).
This year forced Israel to trust in God. The Israelites were to know that their lives were not dependent on their own efforts but dependent on the work of God. Rest for the land had environmental benefits.

ii) 25:8-17 = the day of Jubilee, the 50th year.
In this year the Israelites were to regain lost property. The Israelites were to celebrate God’s provision.
25:10 there is proclamation of liberty in Israel.
In Isaiah 61 the year of Jubilee is used to refer to a specific event in the future. The promise is of release from exile. Jesus quotes this passage in Luke 4:18-19. We receive our permanent inheritance through Christ.

Meaning of the Text
1) The Original Application
Israel was to think about the matter of cleanliness for the purpose of observing the purification rituals for cleanliness in tabernacle worship.

2) Our Application
NT people do not follow these rules. We do observe the symbolism to be acceptable before God. We need to be purified. No one will see God without holiness. The outward things of the world can defile us. We need to be separate from the world. Christ teaches the regulations of Leviticus to us.


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