Reading Through Leviticus
Just a few moments ago, I was reading Leviticus chapter 8, where the priest put blood on the lobe of his ear, on right thumb, and big toe. I wondered, what is that all about?
When you look at background commentaries, you learn that smearing or dabbing rituals in Ancient Near Eastern cultures focused on entrances as a means of cleansing from impurity, and also a means of protection from sacred contagion. In other words, the ear represents what goes into your mind (what you hear); your thumb represents what you do; your foot represents the path on which you walk. The priests had to be sacred in all their ways.
This reminded me of surgery, because during surgery doctors and nurses don masks, put on gloves, and of course operate in a sterile environment. They also sterilize all of their surgical instruments, and wash their hands with soap and water and antibacterial agents.
Now, medicine prior to the age of scientific enlightenment was not always cautious. Nurses would wipe the blood off their hands after tending to one patient and then go on to the next. They simply did not grasp the power of the germ.
We’re often in a similar condition. We fail to grasp our utter depravity in light of the holiness of our Creator. Therefore, Leviticus is instructive, it’s an eye-opener. Through civil and ceremonial laws, ancient Israel had to cleanse themselves before the presence of an altogether holy God.
Today, of course, we’re no longer bound by these kinds of types of shadows. Christ is the substance and he has fulfilled the shadow, and therefore Leviticus serves as but a reminder of just how great a debt had to be paid so that we might be reconciled as unrighteous creatures to an altogether righteous God. When we read Leviticus, it’s difficult for us to grasp the symbolism, but it is powerful, and I think one thing that we have to grasp as Christians living in the 21st century is that the chasm between God’s righteousness and our sin is an unbridgeable chasm.
I also think that apart from recognizing this, we sometimes fail to recognize just how much we have been forgiven, just how great our debt really is, and just how great a sacrifice our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ made on our behalf.
So, as you read through Leviticus and look at the types and shadows of substance, consider Jesus Christ, who came to one day lay prostate in the pool of His own blood before His creation so that we might be reconciled to Him for a time and for eternity.
How great a salvation we have been given! How great an inheritance we have been promised! How great a hope we look forward to—a new Heaven, a new Earth, no more death, mourning, crying, and pain.