Introduction: Welcome to Expound our weekly worship and verse by verse study of the Bible. Our goal is to expand your knowledge of the truth of God as we explore the Word of God in a way that is interactive, enjoyable, and congregational.
Skip Heitzig: Lord, we do believe this is your truth, it is your Word that you have, as Peter said, "given us all things that pertain to life and to godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us by glory and virtue." Then Peter told us to we should "add to our faith."
And one of the reasons we've gathered tonight is to do precisely that, to add to the knowledge base of our faith, the working knowledge of who you are in your personality, and how you relate to people, and what principles that we find in nascent form, even some of these that are outdated principles that have been fulfilled by the new covenant.
We see an overarching principle that transcends time, and culture, and covenant, and works its way even in some form into the new covenant. And for that we rejoice, and we earnestly desire to see what those principles might be. So teach us, may your Spirit be our instructor tonight as you break the bread, the meal of Scripture to our hearts, in Jesus' name, amen.
Shortly after I was saved, I wanted to serve. I think it's the natural progression. I see that in so many of you. You're saved, you learn, and after a while you just don't want to sit in the dugout, you want to get out on the field. You want to have a few balls come your way, and have the chance to get up at the plate and bat that ball around the field. And I think the Christian walk is similar to that. We're saved, we grow, we want to serve.
And that was my journey, my story. And the first way that I began serving was by leading worship. I played guitar, I played bass, and so I was able to join some of the worship teams, the worship bands that were in our church. And then after a while I was able to lead Bible studies, little home Bible studies in the Southern California area.
One of them was in Garden Grove. Now Garden Grove was with traffic in those days, oh, about thirty minutes from my house in Huntington Beach. So I would get in my car with my Bible, having studied, and I would drive to Garden Grove in a home, and just a bunch of people, thirty to forty people, just in a home fellowship, teaching the Scripture.
I remember leaving the Bible study one night with an intense desire to serve the Lord more. And I was thinking about my future, my future. I want to serve the Lord in my future. And as I was contemplating what that might mean—I've told you the story before, but I love to revisit it.
I was driving down Beach Boulevard, and off to my left I saw a sign in a newly being built office plex where they were trying to in advance rent out the space to businesses so they could come up with all the necessary funds to finish the project. It was half built, but this huge sign that said, "Available Now." Now, when my eyes saw that, I was saying, "Lord, what must I do to serve you and to be used by you?"
And as I prayed, and I was—I can be distracted when I drive. I probably shouldn't confess that. But I, I remember just then looking up after I said, "What must I do?" And it said, "Available Now." So I just sort of took that as: "Okay, you want me to be available now." Now, I, I just was wondering what would the Lord have in store for me in the future, and he says, "Just be available now."
Well, it's late at night, the Bible study has ended, I'm driving home, and after the fellowship it must be about ten o'clock in the evening. Park my car, walk down to the sand on the beach, climb up a lifeguard tower, and I start praying: "Lord, I'm available right now. I don't exactly know what that means, but I want to serve you, and I want to be used by you, and here I am available now." I kept saying that.
Just then I heard this crunching sound underneath the lifeguard station. And I put my head and looked under, and there was this guy eating a bag of Cheetos under the lifeguard station, which I thought was odd. I guess nobody else does, but for me at 10:30 at night, a Cheeto-eating man underneath a lifeguard tower with a guy on top of him saying, "Lord I'm available now," can only mean one thing. Climb down the ladder and witness to that Cheeto-eating individual, which I did, and I led him to Christ that night. And then I said, "Hey, can I have a Cheeto?" No, I didn't say that. [laughter]
But it was just one of those little instances in my own personal life where the Lord was telling me, "Instead of dreaming so far ahead of the game, if you want to be in ministry, then just serve. You don't really need a position or a title, just do something. Just serve and be available right now, right where you're at."
Well, that really not only charged me up after leading a person to Christ—and by the way, when you personally lead someone to Christ after witnessing, there is nothing greater than that. There's no greater experience on the earth, in my opinion. I was on a high, and that put within me a confidence that God would lead me into the future.
And through a series of circumstances shortly after that I felt called to move from the West to the East, so I came to Albuquerque. That was "back East" to me. That's what I told all my friends. I said, "I'm moving back East." You know, eight hundred miles from the coast, that's, that's way far East. And so I picked up my belongings, put them in my truck.
A few weeks before that I asked Lenya May Farley to be my wife; she said yes. I didn't hear her say yes, but when it finally dawned on me that she said yes, then the gravity of the fact that I'm getting married and moving was an enormous thing. But we came out here specifically to start a home Bible study, and to see if the Lord would grow that up into a fellowship, into a church.
Now, I've told the story before, and I like to teach it to people in a Shepherds School, that's what we've called it in the past, a ministry environment training young men who want to be pastors. And I like to tell them that your success as a pastor in the future is directly proportional to three things.
Number one: your passion to learn. If you're going to be in the ministry, if you're going to be a pastoral minister, you have to be passionate about learning truth. Not passionate about teaching truth, passionate about learning truth, learning the Scripture. Once you're passionate to learn it, you'll be passionate and it'll show when you teach; a passion to learn.
Number two: power to serve. You need by the Holy Spirit a gifting of God, a power to be able to serve God's people. You have to have the gift of teaching, it has to be a proven gift, people will grow, the work, the fellowship will grow. The passion to learn, power to serve, and then I would add a third, especially to someone going into the pastoral ministry, to young men: a partner to share. You need a partner who feels as called as you do to the ministry; otherwise you're going to have problems.
I'll never forget a man who came into my office one time and was convinced God had called him to be a missionary to the Philippines. Now, I've been to the Philippines, and it's lovely, and I can understand how easy it is to feel a calling to the Philippines. I mean, the coconuts, and the mangos, and the palm trees, and the wild monkeys, and all the cool things that make life really grand are there.
He was convinced he was to go to the Philippines. So as he was telling me his journey and his story I said, "Tell me about your wife." And he stopped and he paused, he hung his head, and he goes, "You know, she doesn't quite feel as strongly about going there as I do." I said, "Define 'not as strongly.' " He said, "She doesn't want to go at all."
And so I looked at him and I told him point-blank, "You are not called to go to the Philippines until your wife feels and senses and is convinced by the Lord in her spirit that she is as called to go as you are. That may happen; I pray that it does. You can pray that it will, but until it does, you don't go. You see that as a yellow light. It's not a green light, it's not a red light, it's a yellow light. Slow down. Get ready to stop. Get ready to go, perhaps. But until she senses that call, don't go."
Because in the ministry, as we mentioned last week in our study even in Leviticus with these regulations of the priesthood very stringent for the priests, even more stringent for the high priest, life is going to be difficult.
And for wives in ministry, I've watched this for years, there is a tremendous pressure. They often feel left out. They often feel neglected. They often feel unappreciated. And so she needs to have that same sense that you do. And my wife, one of the reasons I was so attracted to her is she felt called to be a pastor's wife and wanted to see a church start somewhere. So with that joint calling we moved back East. [laughter]
Now, I'm sharing that because we're getting into a portion of Leviticus, chapter 21, where we left off last week that talks about the wife of the priest. For the priest in the Old Testament the privilege to serve brought with it powerful responsibilities. They had to be head and shoulders above the people. They weren't morally better, but they had to have a stringent accountability.
So verse 13, " 'He,' " the priest " 'shall take a wife in her virginity. A widow or a divorced woman or a defiled woman or a harlot—these he shall not marry; but shall take a virgin of his own people as wife. Nor shall he,' " now watch this, " 'profane his posterity among his people, for I the Lord sanctify him.' "
The priests' private life had to be a pure life. And the wife of the high priest, her private life also had to be a pure life. Why? So there would never be any question about the paternity of the future priests, of the future generation. So nobody would question, "Hey, how do we know you were really born into that priest's family? After all, we heard that your mother was a loose woman morally." So she had to maintain the highest kind of morality before they were married. He was to take a wife who was a virgin.
Now in the New Testament a wife is a partner with a husband, and in ministry she's a ministry partner. You see, when Paul gives the list for those in ministry, 1 Timothy, chapter 3, says, "If anyone desires the office of a bishop, he desires a good work." But then he gives a list of things that must be fulfilled before that man is ready or able to minister in that capacity. And these are stipulations that are not applied to everyone else in the church, but in service they have to have a higher level of accountability, a higher level of responsibility.
One of the things it says of the bishop, the minister, the elder, that he should be the husband of one wife, or literally a one-woman man, to be totally devoted to one woman, to have eyes for only one woman, to be totally in covenant with that one woman, a one-woman man single hearted in devotion—that is so important in ministry.
Now we're talking about priesthood, but I'm making a correlation with New Testament ministry. It is so important because as I mentioned, and I've read a lot of polls, I've done a lot of research into this, many pastors' wives feel unappreciated by the congregation, or they feel left out of ministry, of things that are happening, because of their husbands' busyness.
It is possible that men in ministry can make an idol out of ministry. Oh, they say, "I'm serving the Lord," but really they are serving their status, their importance, their ego, and you can have ministry widows, so to speak. They're married to the minister, but they don't really feel like it.
And he always has the trump card, you see, it's unfair. You know, he can say, "I want you to be totally devoted to me and back me." And then if she says, "Honey, I need help." "I can't, I'm serving the Lord. Corban, you know, this is dedicated to God. I have no time for you, I'm always serving the Lord, always praying, and always studying."
And I remember having this discussion early on in my marriage as our ministry was growing. And my wife and I had to sit down and have a long talk. And she said, "You know, it's unfair; the odds are stacked against me. If I want any of your time, any of your attention, any of your care or devotion, all you have to do is pull out the ministry card and it like trumps everything." And so we had to figure out how to level the playing field. That I would be devoted to ministry, the Lord, but devoted to her where she felt secure by my love to her as I serve the Lord, and she was a partner alongside of me.
Now, I mentioned last week about sixteen hundred ministers that leave the ministry every month; 80 percent of these ministers' wives, 80 percent say they wish their husband would've picked a different profession other than the ministry. And many of those wives, said this study that I read, will divorce their husbands; that's the kind of pressure.
So you can understand how the high priest and the priesthood of Aaron, the Levites, but especially the high priest, would have these stringent kind of separation, values, that would be different from the separation of the children of Israel and their requirements.
Verse 16, "And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 'Speak to Aaron, saying: "No man of your descendants in succeeding generations, who has any defect, may approach to offer the bread of his God. For any man who has a defect shall not approach: a man blind or lame, who has a marred face or any limb too long," ' " that is, one limb longer than the other, disproportionate.
" ' "A man who has a broken foot or a broken hand, or who is a hunchback or a dwarf, or a man who has a defect in his eye, or eczema or scab, or is a eunuch. No man of the descendants of Aaron the priest, who has a defect, shall come near to offer the offerings made by fire to the Lord. He has a defect; he shall not come near to offer the bread of his God.
" ' "He may eat the bread of his God, both the most holy and the holy; only he shall not go near the veil or approach the altar, because he has a defect, lest he profane my sanctuaries; for I the Lord sanctify them." ' And Moses told it to Aaron and his sons, and to the children of Israel."
There are twelve physical abnormalities that are listed in the verses that we just read. Obviously God wanted a very high degree of quality among the priesthood. Now, a little FYI, a little story for you. During the intertestamental period—do you know what period that is? It's between the Old and New Testament, intertestamental period.
Around 40 BC there was a Hasmonean ruler named Antigonus who had the ears of the high priest Hyrcanus II, had his ears cut off, because he knew this law in the Bible. And he wanted to make sure that Hyrcanus II would be perpetually disqualified from the priesthood. A mean thing, a rotten thing, well, to do to anybody, to cut off their ears. But to do that to him knowing that that would bar him from the priesthood perpetually was something that he did as a punishment.
Here's the deal: just as the animals that were sacrificed had to be without blemish, so the one who offers the sacrifice also had to be without blemish. Here's one of the reasons, I'm going to give you a few, I believe.
Number one, visible things exert a strong impression on people's minds. The impression that God wanted the children of Israel to have in seeing the priest was the idea of wholeness, they are capable, they are whole. And there's a quality that God demands in his worship and in the offering of his sacrifices.
Now, here's something you should know: a physical defect did not bar that individual from the donations that were given for the priesthood, or eating at the priest's table and being sustained by the priesthood. Notice verse 22, says, "He may eat the bread of his God, both the most holy and the holy." This is not a judgment on the person's worth, this is not a judgment on the person's dignity, and certainly anyone with any physical handicap should never be regarded as a second-class citizen. This is merely for technical reasons, for sacrificial, ceremonial, sacerdotal purposes, for the offering of the sacrifice had to be pure and the one that would offer it also had to be pure.
Number two, being a priest was no easy task. You had to lift animals. You had to lift them to quite a height. It, it, it meant that you had to have physical strength. You had to have a certain kind of build. You had to have good eyesight, the ability to hear. So all of the things that are listed would preclude a person from serving. They're just obviously not qualified by nature, by birth, by how God allowed them to be born, to exercise the ministry of a priest.
It doesn't mean they can't do something else; they just can't be a priest. When we get to the New Testament, there's nothing that keeps anyone from serving no matter who we are, no matter what abnormality we might have, and we all have abnormalities, all of us. We all have some handicap. We all have certain things we're not good at. But every one of you, every Christian believer, every single born-again child of God has an enablement by the Holy Spirit, a gift of the Holy Spirit, or a set of gifts by the Holy Spirit.
I advise that you discover how God made you naturally and how God gifts you supernaturally. Certain people naturally have a propensity, a proclivity toward doing certain things, and then on top of that you are supernaturally gifted by a spiritual gift. So God will put the super in your natural. Be yourself, find out how God made you, who God made you, find out what spiritual gifts you have, and function in that.
You may not be called to public ministry (i.e. singing or preaching). If you have a horrible voice, if you can't hold a tune in a bucket, and yet you say, "I really feel like God has called me to be a worship leader." Okay, it's not, it's not beyond the realm of possibility. Moses said he couldn't speak and God used him as a spokesperson. But I highly doubt that God is calling you to be a worship leader, unless I see some miraculous enabling come out of it.
I don't know, maybe you put a guitar and all of a sudden, "Ahhhh," the heavens open up and you know [laughter]. But if you're going to be a singer, you at least have to have a good voice. There are exceptions, you know, Bob Dillon, you know, he made it. But, but it was for other reasons than his voice; it was his writing ability. Master at poetic writing.
When Charles Spurgeon wrote a book, and I commend it to anybody who wants to be in pastoral ministry, it's called Lectures to My Students, he speaks about the voice of the minister. And if the minister doesn't have a preaching voice, and in those days there were no PAs, so Spurgeon had to address a large auditorium with just that deep, loud voice that he had.
And so he would tell his young ministers, "Don't make too much out of the voice, but don't make too little out of the voice." And if God hasn't given you a good voice for preaching, then don't aspire to that kind of ministry, aspire to some other kind of ministry. And so there were these things that precluded the priest from serving in this capacity.
Now, let me throw out another reason why we have such a level of physical perfection among the priests. The sacrifice, the lamb had to be perfect, the priest had to be perfect. Who do both of them speak of? Jesus Christ. He is the perfect High Priest. He's flawless. He has no blemish as the representative for you before God. Jesus said in the New Testament, "I always do those things that please the Father." You and I can never say that; Jesus can, he's the perfect High Priest.
Also, he is the perfect sacrifice. First Peter, chapter 1, says, "He is a Lamb without spot and without blemish." So both the priest and the sacrifice speak in a forthtelling kind of a way of Jesus Christ, the perfect Priest, and the perfect Lamb. Now, again, in the New Testament physical perfection is not a requirement, moral and spiritual maturity are, First Timothy, chapter 3.
Now, Leviticus 22 will emphasize physical purity; and that is, the priest was not to touch holy things if he touches any other thing. I'll give you the explanation and you'll see as we go. "Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 'Speak to Aaron and his sons, that they separate themselves from the holy things of the children of Israel, and that they do not profane my holy name by what they dedicate to me: I am the Lord.' "
" 'Say to them: "Whoever of all your descendants throughout your generations, who goes near the holy things which the children of Israel dedicate to the Lord, while he has uncleanness upon him, that person shall be cut off from my presence: I am the Lord." ' " Now here's what you're going to discover in this chapter: any priest, any of the sons of Aaron, any in the Levitical priesthood who want to minister to the Lord in this calling, in this capacity, cannot do that duty in a haphazard or sloppy manner.
The way it's done, the manner in which it's done also has the purest of qualifications. You can never treat sacred things as if they were common things. So there would have to be a constant evaluation: "Am I fit? Can I do this?" And an accountability with the rest of the priests: "Am I fit? Can I do this? Am I clean? Have I touched anything that is unclean that would keep me from ministering in this capacity?"
Now there's a principle that I believe takes us into the New Testament. In 1 Corinthians, chapter 11, Paul says, "If we judge ourselves, we will not be judged." But then he continues, "If we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world." So as believers we are to judge ourselves, our actions, our thoughts, our behavior. If we do that, if we monitor our own holy behavior, then God doesn't have to chasten us, spank us, reprimand us, because we're so concerned ourselves about: "Am I pleasing the Lord? Am I walking? Am I doing this right? Is this what he would want?"
Verse 4, " 'Whatever man of the descendants of Aaron, who is a leper,' " not a leopard, not an animal, a leper. Just want to make sure you get that. " 'Or who has a discharge, shall not eat of the holy things until he is clean. Whoever touches anything made unclean by a corpse, or a man who has had an emission of semen, or whoever touches any creeping thing,' " or perhaps any creepy person.
"But any creeping thing by which he would be made unclean, or any person by whom he would become unclean, whatever his uncleanness may be—the person who has touched any such thing shall be unclean until evening, and shall not eat the holy things the holy offerings unless he washes his body with water. And when the sun goes down he shall be clean; and afterward he may eat of the holy offerings, because it is his food."
Now what is this thing that we keep reading about: "When the sun goes down"? It's because when the sun goes down, it's now tomorrow. The Jewish day begins not in the morning, but at night. Where do we get that from? From Genesis when God created the heavens and the earth, he says, "And evening and morning were the first day." It didn't say, "And morning and evening." Evening first, followed by morning was the first day, and evening and morning were the second day, and evening and morning the third day.
So the Jewish day begins at night, that's why Sabbath begins Friday night when the sun goes down, ends Saturday night when the sun goes down. So when the sun goes down, it's now the next day. So technically today, right now, is tomorrow. [laughter]
" 'When the sun goes down he shall be clean; and afterward he may eat the holy offerings, because it is his food. Whatever dies naturally or is torn by beasts he shall not eat, to defile himself with it: I am the Lord.' " So see, once again, the private life of the priest must match the public service of the priest. The public service is he's representing holiness and a holy God, and so there has to be this level at which he lives.
"'They shall therefore keep my ordinance, lest they bear sin for it and die thereby.' "Now just notice this, " 'they shall therefore keep my ordinance, lest they bear sin for it and die thereby, if they profane it: I the Lord sanctify them.'" The rabbis explain this verse as verse "death by the hand of heaven," divine chastisement; death by the hand of the heaven.
Can you see that there wasn't a long line of people saying, "I want to be priest; I really want to be in that kind of ministry"? No you don't. Cuz if you're not the right person, or if you don't do it right, God may kill you. So priesthood was not a trivial thing. Remember a few chapters back those two characters, sons of Aaron, Nadab and Abihu? They offered profane fire before the Lord. What did God do? Killed them.
You're going to read when we get to the book of Numbers, if the Lord doesn't come back before then, in chapter 16 there's a priest by the name of Korah, and another one named Dathan, and another one named Abiram. Just call them Korah and Company. Korah and two hundred and fifty other men, leaders, go up to Moses and say, "Moses, you know, you're not, like, the only one that God speaks to. You're not, like, the only guy. The Spirit of God rests upon all of us. We don't need you."
Moses said, "Meet me outside in the morning, and Aaron is going to come as well." So they get out there the next day and he says to Korah and the two hundred and fifty, "Tell you what, if you die by natural causes then you're right, there's nothing unique about me and I'm not God's chosen. But," Moses said, "if the Lord were to do a new thing, and the earth were to swallow you and your two hundred and fifty up, and you were all killed, then I guess the Lord has spoken through me." So he said, "Deal!"
I'm paraphrasing just a bit. I don't think you'll find "deal" in the text, except in the NSV, the New Skip Version. [laughter] But they agreed to it. The earth opened up and they were slaughtered; they were killed.
You read further on in the Old Testament there's a priest by the name of Eli. He has two sons who are corrupt, Hophni and Phinehas. His son, his dad Eli doesn't correct them until it's too late; they already had a corrupt nature. They were very flippant about the way they treated the priesthood. They sinned against the children of Israel. In fact, it says in the text, 1 Samuel, "They were corrupt and they did not know the Lord."
So, as time went on, shortly after that, the Philistines attacked the children of Israel, four thousand died in a battle. The children of Israel knew they were going to lose more battles, the Philistine incursion was strong. And so the children of Israel said, "Let's bring the ark of God from Shiloh into our camp, because that's a symbol of God's presence. If we have the ark of the covenant," you know, I mean, Indiana Jones even saw the value of that. "If we had the ark of the covenant in our camp, surely we would defeat the enemy."
So they brought the ark of God into the camp, another battle ensued, they lost the battle, the ark of the covenant was captured by the Philistines—I almost said Philippines—by the Philistines (accidently, of course). And it says, "And Hophni and Phinehas were killed."
So this is all this principle: death by the hand of heaven. Verse 9, " 'They shall bear sin for it and die thereby, if they profane it.' " When you get to the New Testament, here's where it gets a little dicey. You get to the new covenant, because you're going, "Whew! Boy, I'm glad we don't live in the Old Testament, man. Wow!" When you get to the New Testament, death by divine causes is not unknown in the early church.
You remember Acts, chapter 5, there was a couple who pretended that they were giving more than they gave, Ananias and Sapphira? And they brought the money, laid it at the apostles' feet. And Peter said to Ananias, "Why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit? Behold the men who are going to carry your dead body out." And he just keeled over, died, and they took him out and buried him.
His wife came in a little while later and Peter says, "Now, let me just ask you a question. Did you sell your land for this price?" "Oh, yes, we did." Okay. "Why have you and your husband both agreed to lie to God?" And he said, "Look, here's the young men who carried your husband out, they're going to carry you out." Whoosh, she fell over, died, and they buried her.
And then it says this, "And great fear came upon all the church." Boy, I imagine it would. I mean, I would be scared, wouldn't you? I'd be scared that the next time I'm in a church service and I dare sing, "I surrender all," if I haven't surrendered all—whoosh, boom! There's going to be the catchers in the service to take my body out.
You go, "Well, that's just an isolated incident." Well, you're correct, it is. But then there's that pesky little text in 1 Corinthians 11 which talks about the communion table, and not treating the communion supper in any light kind of a manner. And Paul writes these words, "For this reason there are many weak and sick among you and many have died." Weak and sick and dead because of the way they treated the communion.
Now, it could be that was the beginning of a new covenant, the beginning of that new dispensation, and God was making a demonstration of purity. But nonetheless, it leaves open that possibility of death by the hand of heaven. And perhaps that is why when the church, the early church, disciplined errant believers in the New Testament, if somebody was unrepentant and they were living in flagrant sin, there was a method of church discipline.
You go to the brother, if he doesn't do anything about it, you bring with you another brother, another witness, another sister, and you confront that person. And if the person doesn't repent of their sin, you take it before the church or could be representatives of the church, I believe, leadership. If there's no repentance, Jesus said you cast him out, you treat him like a heathen and a tax collector. You put him out of the church; you excommunicate him.
And perhaps that is what Paul meant when he wrote 1 Corinthians 5 verse 5, "To deliver such a one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus." In other words, if the Lord were to do this like he did with Ananias and Sapphira, it doesn't mean they were unsaved. It doesn't mean that they were consigned to hell. It doesn't mean that they were condemned.
It could be done as an act of divine mercy to destroy the flesh so that they can't continue to sin, that they're spirit may be saved to the day of Christ; implying that sometimes if God does intervene and supernaturally take a life like that, it's an act of severe mercy. And so this is severe mercy for the priesthood mentioned here.
Verse 10, " 'No outsider shall eat the holy offering; one who dwells with the priest, or a hired servant, shall not eat the holy thing. But if the priest buys a person with his money,' " uh-oh, " 'he may eat it; and one who is born in his house may eat his food.' "
I say uh-oh because people read this and go, "Oh, my goodness, slavery in the Bible.' " Yes and no. It was an indentured servant, number one. And the only way it could happen is if a person was so poor that they couldn't pay off their debt, they couldn't maintain the property inside their tribal allotment.
They would become an indentured servant in order to pay off their debt. So a contract was drafted up and the contract was kept by the master and by the indentured servant. But what I want you to notice about this verse is that the indentured servant is to be treated like a family member.
If that priest buys a person with his money, the contract has been signed, he or she becomes an indentured servant, he may eat it; and the one born in the house may eat the food. You treat the servant just like you would treat somebody born in your house, like a family member. It's quite lovely really how God was taking care.
" 'If the priest's daughter is married to an outsider, she may not eat of the holy offerings.' " Now, we're uncertain as to whether the outsider means a Gentile, or a nonpriest. " 'But if the priest's daughter is a widow or divorced, and has no child, and has returned to her father's house as in her youth, she may eat of her father's food; but no outsider shall eat it.' "
So keep in mind this is the portion of the sacrifices that the people would bring to the tabernacle, and a portion would be given to the priest for their daily sustenance. That's how they lived, was the meat of the animals that were sacrificed.
Verse 14, " 'If a man eats the holy offering unintentionally, then he shall restore a holy offering to the priest, and add one-fifth,' " 20 percent, " 'to it.' " So if someone, a priest, or somebody in the priestly family ate of this food at the inappropriate time, he has to make restitution.
"'They shall not profane the holy offerings of the children of Israel, which they offer to the Lord, or allow them to bear the guilt of trespass when they eat their holy offerings; for I am the Lord who sanctifies them or I the Lord sanctify them.' "
Now, let's quickly also read down to verse 24, these are the conditions of the sacrifices that are offered. So there's conditions for the priesthood, there's conditions for the wife, there's conditions for the offerings, the sacrifices, there's conditions for the manner, and the timing, and what you touch and not touch.
It all leads me to a principle and what I like to call an "irreducible minimum." And I think that is a transcendent principle. The worship that God accepts is the worship that God prescribes. The worship that is acceptable to God is the worship that has been prescribed by God.
So a person cannot make up something: "Well, my picture of God and my view of God is that he or she is this or that, and I kind of think it's okay to worship God by this or by that." You don't have the prerogative, because last time I checked, you're not God.
Only God who has all power and created all things can say, "This is who I am, I've made you, and this is what I want from you." He has that prerogative. The worship that God accepts is the worship that God prescribes. Now, that is a principle found in the Old Testament, found in the New Testament.
Jesus said to the woman at the well of Samaria, "The time is coming, woman, when neither in this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, shall men worship; for the Father is looking for those who will worship him in spirit and in truth." And we've done a whole message just on what that means, so I'll forgo that at this point.
"The Lord spoke to Moses, saying," verse 18, " 'Speak to Aaron and his sons, and to all the children of Israel, and say to them: "Whatever man of the house of Israel, or of the strangers of Israel, who offer a sacrifice for any of his vows or any of his freewill offerings, which they offer to the Lord as a burnt offering—you shall offer of your own free will a male without blemish from the cattle, from the sheep, or from the goats.
" ' "Whatever has a defect, you shall not offer, for it shall not be acceptable on your behalf. Whoever offers a sacrifice of a peace offering to the Lord, to fulfill his vow, or a freewill offering from the cattle or the sheep, it must be perfect to be accepted; there shall be no defect in it. Those that are blind or broken or maimed, or have an ulcer or eczema or scabs, you shall not offer to the Lord, nor make an offering by fire of them on the altar to the Lord." ' "
There couldn't be natural deformities, nor could there be any kind of broken bones, bruises, or cuts. No inherent flaw, no acquired flaw is the idea. " ' "Either a bull or a lamb that has any limb too long or too short you may offer as a freewill offering, but for a vow it shall not be accepted. You shall not offer to the Lord what is bruised or crushed, or torn or cut; nor shall you make any offering of them in your land." ' "
The Jewish rabbis took the verses that we have just read as a principle to include all of the things that were used in tabernacle and later on in temple worship: the oil, the wine, the flour, the wood. There could be no worms in the wood. Couldn't be eaten. It had to be the best wood, the best oil, the best flour—all the best ingredients because they said the Lord deserves the best. No broken animals, no defective animals.
The last book in the Old Testament is what? The last book in your Old Testament is . . . Malachi. In chapter 3 of Malachi the children of Israel failed at the very verses we just read. They called God their Father, and so God in that chapter says, "You know, a father and a son, a son respects and obeys his father." But then this is what he says, he says—this is Malachi, chapter 1, and I'm beginning as verse 6.
"If I then am the Father, where is my honor? If I am the Master, where is my reverence? Says the Lord of hosts to you priests who despise my name. You say, 'In what way have we despised your name?' Because you offered defiled food on my altar. But you say, 'In what way have we defiled you?' Because you say, 'The table of the Lord is contemptible.' And you offer the blind as a sacrifice, is it not evil? When you offer the lame and the sick, is it not evil? Offer it then to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you favorably? Says the Lord of hosts."
By the time Malachi was written, by the time Malachi was prophesying, the children of Israel had come back from the Babylonian captivity, had been in the land for a hundred years, life is good, there's a temple going, the rituals are kicking back up, they're feeling really good about it. But these people were living far from God and their worship had degenerated.
They weren't giving lambs without spot and without blemish, but blind and lame and broken. They were giving the castaways, the castoffs to the Lord. They were, in effect, doing what the New Testament tells us not to do: "Having a form of godliness but denying the essence or the power thereof." Giving the castoffs to the Lord: "Here's a broken lamb, let's give that to God. Let's offer this thing; we can't eat it. Let's just give what's busted up to God."
Now is that any different than: "Honey, this old piano we've had, the strings are broken, it's not really working, it's out of tune, we've had it for generations, the finish is off—let's give it to the church." No, that's not to be how it is. Or, "These clothes are beat up; let's give them to your friend." Why don't you just go out and buy them a new suit of clothes? Give them the best.
The Jewish rabbis used to have a tradition; listen to how cool it is. They said, "Whenever you do anything, any gift to God, or any gift for charity for somebody else, should always be the best. Should be the best." I wish that were a Christian tradition. Let's give God the very best in our worship, the very best.
So when God says, "Would you give this to your governor?" It's interesting, we get so detailed, paranoid, punctilious about paying our taxes; do we do the same in our tithes and our offerings? Would you give that to your governor?
Verse 25, " ' "Nor from a foreigner's hand shall you offer any of these as the bread of your God, because their corruption is in them, and defects are in them. They shall not be accepted on your behalf." ' "
Let me just say something before we move on, move out, and close this evening together. It's not about the amount at all, it's about the heart. Right? And we know that, we know it's really about the heart. But let me define what that means about the heart. I believe, and you tell me if you agree, there has to be some sacrifice in our giving. It's gotta hurt a little bit. It's gotta to be a sacrifice.
When David was looking for a place to build a temple for the Lord, he went to the threshing floor of Araunah and he asked him to buy it. And the guy who owned it (I won't even say his name again) said, "David, what's it for?" He goes, "I'm going to build a temple, a house for God." He goes, "Oh, man, you can have it." David said, "No, I want to buy it." "No, this is for God. You can have it." David said, "I will not sacrifice to the Lord that which costs me nothing. I've got to feel it. I've got to feel the pinch. I'm giving to God; it's part of the sacrifice that I give."
Now, in the New Testament there is no specified amount. But Paul says, "Not grudgingly nor of necessity; God loves a cheerful giver." It's about the heart, but it should be a sacrifice of the life as reflected by the heart.
"And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying," verse 26, " 'When a bull or a sheep or a goat is born, it shall be seven days with its mother.' " I was arrested by that this week as I read these verses. " 'And from the eighth day and thereafter it shall be accepted as an offering made by fire to the Lord.' " There's a tenderness in God toward his creatures, these animals.
" 'Whether it's a cow or ewe, do not kill both her and her young on the same day.' " There's a respect of nature, a reverence for the natural order similar to other laws in the Old Testament. For example, remember Exodus 23, "You shall not boil a kid of the goats in its mother's milk."? There has to be a reverence for the natural order.
Deuteronomy, chapter 20, there can't be an indiscriminate chopping down of trees when you take over an area. God says, "Don't chop down all the trees. Don't just indiscriminately in an unrestrained manner denude the landscape." Deuteronomy 22, "You shall not take a bird with its eggs."
So, it's a beautiful reminder to us that we are stewards of God's creation. And so when we get into this whole thing of: "Should we protect the environment? Well, it's a gift of God; we should be concerned with it. Now, we shouldn't worship it. I don't like the bumper stickers that talk about Mother Nature and "respect your mother." She's not my mother. I have a heavenly Father; this is his creation. Now, it's a gift, and I'm a steward of that gift. And these principles show me the kind of heart and tenderness that God has toward this creative environment that he's given us.
Verse 29, " 'And when you offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving to the Lord, offer it of your own free will.' " not because you have to, but because you want to. Not because you have to, but you . . . want to. Jesus came and offered his life not because he had to, but because he . . . wanted to.
You go, "He wanted to?" Yeah. The book of Hebrews says, "For the joy that was set before him he endured the cross despising the shame." He gave it of his own free will. He didn't have his life taken from him, he gave it freely.
" 'On the same day it shall be eaten; you shall leave none of it until morning: I am the Lord. Therefore you shall keep my commandments, and perform them: I am the Lord. You shall not profane my holy name.' " Now, just so you know, we're closing with these last two verses, we're not going to, as you see, get into chapter 23 tonight.
But verse 32 has been called by the Jews "Israel's Bible in little," because there's two principles that are working side by side. Number one, a warning against profaning God's name, and then the encouragement to honor God's name.
" 'You shall not profane my holy name.' " Chalal shem in Hebrew, profane the name. " 'But I will be hallowed among the children of Israel,' " qodesh shem, to make holy God's name. " 'I am the Lord who sanctifies you, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: I am the Lord.' "
So, the principle is that all of my life should be guarded so that nothing tarnishes the truth or the name of my God. Now, just think about this principle as we close. If this were to be our life-governing principle (if you're looking for a life verse or life-governing principle, I've got one for you) so that nothing, not only that I do, or think, or say, tarnishes God's reputation or tarnishes the name of Christ, but what I do and say proclaims, enhances, enlarges, his reputation.
It's what Paul meant in the book of Philippians when he said, "That I might magnify Christ," or the Lord God, "in my body, whether by death or by life." Have you ever thought about that? How can you magnify the Lord in your body (to make large)? How can you make the Lord any larger than he is?
Simple, to most people God is very small and distant and aloof and not even existent. You come into their lives, into their picture, and you share with them, and you show them by your lifestyle how wonderful God is. And now they get a picture of God through your life. It's like you're a magnifying glass, and you enlarge the reputation, the glory of God.
It's the same principle when Paul talked about us "spreading the fragrance of Christ in every place." I love that. I love a fragrance. Somebody walks in a room [sniff]: "Oh, what is that you're wearing? That's awesome."
Now, there's sometimes you might walk in a room and it's like: "Oh, my goodness! That dude put on like the whole stinkin' bottle of cologne, and it's like not even good cologne. It just . . ." Okay, anyway. [laughter] You, you want to give off a fragrance of the Lord, magnify the Lord.
I'll close with one of the sayings of the ancient rabbi's, quote: "The Jews should remember that the glory of God is entrusted to his care. A single Jew's offense can bring shame on the whole house of Israel." And a single Christian's offense can bring shame on the whole church of God. If one member suffers, we all suffer. If one member is honored, we're all honored. So we're honored, moreover, Christ is honored when you spread the fragrance of his majesty and you make large his personality by your life and my life. Let's pray.
Father, we thank you that though these ancient laws have long been disregarded as the Jews have no temple, have no priesthood, have no king; at the same time we're dealing with in the new covenant, the New Testament, the fulfillment of the old in Christ our High Priest, in Christ the perfect sacrifice, done once and for all, and now we are a kingdom of priests, a holy nation. And the Bible says we are to offer sacrifices of praise. Lord, I pray that by our sacrifices you would be honored, by our lifestyle you would be magnified, in Jesus' name we pray, amen.