Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Thoughts from Leviticus 2

I elected to take a class on the book of Leviticus at seminary because of all of the books of the Bible, Leviticus is on a short list of the books that are more difficult to read or study because of the information contained and the way in which it is presented. My hope in taking this class would be to increase my understanding of the book so that I could read it and learn from it better. And while I am not currently done with the class yet, I must say that I have been very blessed by more of a thorough study of the book.

One of my tasks is to write some papers relating to some subjects of the book, and I thought that since the first five or six chapters tend are the foundation for the book and the whole sacrificial system that we see in the Old Testament, I have decided to write on four or five of the sacrifices shown there. Most recently I have been looking at the grain offering

The Component of the Offering:

While the primary component of the Grain Offering is fine flour, the offerings were additionally to include oil, frankincense, and salt. It has been noted that frankincense was not only added to give “a grateful perfume”1 to the offering, but it also acted as a fuel accelerant which aided the burning of the offering. The salt added symbolized the offering’s “durability or eternality”2 and its preservation from corruption of the thing offered and implied God’s faithfulness to the “eternal permanence of the holy covenant of salvation into which Israel has entered with God.”3 Both leaven and honey are explicitly restricted from being included in the offering. One possible reason for this is `that both of these materials are “prone to ferment and decay” and would mingle corruption with the preservative of the salt and thus “change the nature of the offering.”4 Another reason is these materials were used in offerings to pagan deities during that same time, and their omission would clearly distinguish offerings to the LORD from offerings to false gods.

Practical Application:

In some of the reading, there were comments about the ways in which this might be applicable to us, and I believe it was Rooker who noted that we might be wise to resist the incorporation of things into our worship for the same reasons that honey or leaven were not allowed into this sacrifice. So the question is in what way would we be able to apply this type of standard to our worship settings today?

Perhaps the best way that the exclusion of honey and leaven may be more applicable to today’s Christian worship that I have come up with has to do with what we bring into the worship setting. In a day and age when many churches in the United States offer their version of a risqué sermon series on sex with each seemingly trying to be more shocking than the one before it, I have many reasons to object to this on a number of levels. But one specific level can be that since the culture is so sex-centered – between the enormous industry that is Internet pornography and other adult entertainment operations – that I believe that we are embroiled in our own version of the fertility cults and religions when the ancient world worshipped Baal or Ashtoreth.

Therefore on this basis, it would be a direct application to say that we should go to great lengths to abstain from course or risqué use of sexual content in our gatherings because this is what the world already worships and we do not want to confuse worship of the Lord Jesus Christ with something that is crass and vulgar. Not that this type of subject matter should never be addressed or that it should be completely off limits, it is the way in which we address such things that, in my view, might be objectionable on the basis of the pattern seen in the grain offering’s regulations as they related to the cultures surrounding Israel.

Just a few thoughts.

Soli Deo Gloria.

1 Kellogg, Samuel Henry (1839-1899). The Book of Leviticus. In The Expositor's Bible, ed. By W. Robertson Nicoll. p 71

2 Mark F. Rooker. Leviticus. New American Commentary. Vol. 3A. Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 2000. p 98

3 Kellogg p. 75

4 Rooker p. 97

No comments:

Copyright © 2005-2010 Eric Johnson