Even a quick scan through the book of Leviticus proves just how much sacrifices and offerings played a part in the life of the nation of Israel. It becomes overwhelming to see the many sacrifices, offerings, and feasts that were required of the Lord by the people of Israel. Just as importantly though is the fact that God had to be extremely specific with the people of Israel. One can only wonder why they had to be taught what was right and what was wrong in God’s eyes. One would think it would be obvious, but clearly, it wasn’t. It was due to the fact that the first generation of Israelites had been held captive in Egypt as slaves. As such, through osmosis they learned Egyptian ways and their morality, which wasn’t morality at all.
Previously, we touched on the significance and amount of sacrifices and offerings highlighted in the first few chapters of Leviticus. The more you read Leviticus, the more overwhelmed you can become at the sheer number of offerings that were supposed to be observed annually with more observed every seven years and then also during the 50th year (Jubilee). It quickly becomes apparent that sin costs a great deal of money. People had to own their own herds of sheep or cattle to be able to keep up with things. In some cases, seven lambs were required to fulfill the sacrificial obligation. Is it any wonder that by the time Jesus appeared on the scene in the New Testament, He rightly called those charlatan salespeople in the Temple court “thieves” because they had created a situation that made it even more untenable for the average Israelite to be able to afford to worship God.
But let’s say a person could observe all the proper sacrifices and offerings required. The next question is could they do it with a proper mindset and heart directed toward God, or would it be too easy for things to fall into a system of simply doing things because it was required and that was it? For too many, it likely became numbing.
But as if this was not enough, God had to clearly spell out how to live before Him mirroring the morality that He required. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again. We know that salvation came to individual Israelites the exact same way it comes to us today: through faith. Without faith, it was and is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). That chapter – the Hall of Faith – proves that those in the Old Testament were justified by their faith and their faith was evident by their works. They did not earn their salvation because of what they did. Their actions proved the faith they held in their heart. It is the exact same thing for us today. Anyone who claims to be saved will naturally evidence that faith in how they live. It won’t be perfect, but there should definitely be something that tends to verify their new life in Christ. Their manner of speech, the character of their life, the way they live – all of these things will attest to the fact that salvation has come to them.
A person who claims to be saved but never changes their lifestyle, their conversation, their desires, is seen as someone who is quite possibly a hypocrite because there is nothing that substantiates their claims of being a Christian. This is why it is perfectly legitimate to critique a person’s lifestyle – their words and actions – to see whether their claims live up to reality. If not, then something is clearly wrong and we should mark them and possibly avoid them. Paul has strict words for Titus that puts him in the position of silencing those who appear to stand against Christianity. All pastors and church leaders should take Paul’s words very seriously.
But following the intense instruction regarding the sacrifices, the offerings, and the festivals to be observed by the nation of Israel, Leviticus 17...