Reasonable Response

Today I want to talk about what a reasonable response to the mercy of God looks like. The portion of today’s portion is Leviticus 7:37-38. It reads: This is the law for the burnt offering, the grain offering, the sin offering, the restitution offering, the ordination offering, and the fellowship sacrifice, 38 which the Lord commanded Moses on Mount Sinai on the day He commanded the Israelites to present their offerings to the Lord in the Wilderness of Sinai.

These two verses conclude a section dealing with instructions for the Levitical priests concerning the Mishkan or Tabernacle offerings (Lev. 6:8-7:38). The main theme in this section is who may eat what parts of these offerings and where they can be eaten. These directives comprise the specific laws God prescribed for the handling of these offerings.  And in the big picture of things, what we have here are regulations which underscore the privilege and responsibility of leading the Israelites in corporate worship.  And we should note that the worship culture in view here did not equate spontaneity and lack of preparation with spirituality, but rather they were focused on conformity with this divinely mandated expression of devotion which required following the Lord’s injunctions to the letter.

Also, these commands contributed to the overall purpose of the sacrificial system in the Mishkan – namely drawing people close to God.  And basically that process involved “moving” from the realm of the “unclean” (tamei) to the “clean” (tahor), and from the clean to the realm of the “holy” (kadosh). And so again what we have here is a concluding summary of the laws which regulated how the priests were to conduct themselves in relation to the offerings described in the immediate preceding context (Lev. 6:8-7:36).

Now retrospectively, from the vantage point of the New Covenant, all the Old Covenant repeated sacrifices and the temporary Aaronic priesthood, ultimately point to Messiah’s once-for-all sacrifice and eternal Melchizedekian priesthood (cf. Heb. 5—10). This is because the concept of reconciliation is tied to the atoning sacrifices, and the concept of mediation is tied to the intervening priesthood, and the concept of holiness is the object of reconciliation.

Here’s where I’m going with this: Since God gave mercy, we give our lives. Listen to Rav Sh’ual explain the rationale behind his direct appeal for dedication in Romans 12:1: Therefore I exhort you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a sacrifice– alive, holy, and pleasing to God– which is your reasonable service.

Here’s the deal with the appeal: We need to reach the point in our Messianic journey when in recognition of all that God has done for us, paying the supreme price so that we can be redeemed, we make a conscious intentional decision of personal presentation in the sense of offering up our bodies as a living holy playing for an audience of One sacrifice!  Messiah made an offering for our reconciliation, now we must make an offering for our consecration.  And notice here that in contrast to the Levitical system, our sacrifice is to be a living sacrifice!  We keep on living after we’ve made this dedication. This is not the slain sacrifices of the Old Covenant system. Is that significant? Absolutely! Living sacrifices can, and often do, wiggle off the altar! We struggle and stray hoping God will look the other way. So we need to repeatedly, and continually be saying, “Lord I give you all of that I am, and all that I ever hope to be, to use as you see fit; because in light of all that You are, and all that You’ve done, and all that you continue to do and will continue doing;  this, is my reasonable response to Your mercy!”

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