Monday, October 8, 2007

Leviticus 7-8: More Sacrifice

Yikes . . . three months. Sorry 'bout that. Slowly but surely, I will make it through Leviticus!

I read chapters 7-8 a while ago, so I'm just going to write what I have in my notes, and then I'll start up again with chapter 9 next time.

Chapter 7 starts off with the guilt offering, which is "most holy." For some reason I wondered how many things in the Old Testament are "holy" and how many things are "most holy," and what the difference really is. That's all I wrote down about chapter 7.

In chapter 8, we first hear about the Urim and Thummim. Those words mean "lights" and "perfections." According to what I've heard, they were these little rocks that the priests or whoever used to cast lots and hear from God, or something. Do we really know much about them? What is the significance of their names? Unlike almost everything else in the Pentateuch, these little deals are never really explained or described, just taken as given. This leads me to wonder if they had been around since before the Exodus and therefore the Hebrews wouldn't need an explanation for them. But I don't know.

In chapter 8, Aaron and his sons have to be consecrated before they can serve as priests before the LORD. I wonder, did Moses have to be consecrated before doing anything? I mean, he was the one who consecrated Aaron, and he's the one offering the sacrifices in this chapter and earlier in the story.

My other thought, which I've been musing over for some time, is this: what was the point of the sacrifices (other than the fact that they pointed to the future sacrifice of Jesus)? Was there something the blood of certain animals that had spiritual power? That sounds silly, so I don't think so. In fact, Hebrews even says that "it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins" (10:4). And yet, that same book also says that "without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins" (9:22). As Christians, we believe the only blood that has the power to forgive sins is the blood of Jesus Christ. So what was with the animals, and why did the people have to kill them to be forgiven if the animals' blood itself was powerless?

I think it wasn't about the blood at all, not directly. The animals the Jews sacrificed were not what forgave sins nor what covered them. I think the point was to show the people what the consequence of sin is: death. It was like God was saying to them, "this should be you - but I've made another way." I guess that's why Hebrews says, "In those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins year by year" (10:3), because when you have to kill an animal because you screwed something up, you have to take it seriously. It makes you realize that God is so far removed from impurity that even one little slip separates you from Him. And it reminds you of what exactly God is saving you from, the ultimate consequence of your own actions.

Well, that's all I've got today. Next time I'll do more than two chapters.