You did it!!! You made it through the Book of Leviticus. Before we leave this book there are a few more rules and commandments God will leave His people with. Let’s begin with the three holies in chapter 24…the holy oil for the lampstand, the holy bread for the table and the holy name of the Lord which the people were to honor.
We begin with the holy oil. As we have talked before there were three parts to the tabernacle. There was the outer courtyard where the brazen altar and the bronze laver were kept. Behind a curtain was the holy place. This space contained the altar of incense, the lampstand, and the table of showbread. Showbread here can also mean the bread of the presence. There were no windows here so the light from the golden lampstand was all the light the priests had to perform their duties in the holy place. This lampstand was hammered out of 75 pounds of pure gold and it held seven lamps that were kept burning by olive oil. Every morning as the high priest tended to the altar of incense, he also tended to the lamps on the lampstand, so the light never went out. The Israelites had to supply the oil though it is unclear where they got the olives to do this as they wandered in the wilderness. When we see oil used for anointing it is always a reference to the Holy Spirit who anoints people for God’s service. This oil was used strictly for burning.
The lampstand can symbolize several different things. Some believe it symbolizes the Word of God which is the light God gives us in this dark world. We see in Psalm 119 that God’s word is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. Those who do not believe can neither see or understand the light or the Word of God. No one outside the holy place could see this light from the golden lampstand. For me this is a reminder that those of who do see the light are called to share it with those who don’t. When we cannot see this light, we cannot see what we are doing. That means we cannot serve effectively. The Lord called Israel to be light amid the pagan nations, but His people chose not to share Him with others. In order for us to shine for others, we have to shine first in His presence. And Jesus is the light of the world, a light that shines in the darkness that the darkness cannot overcome.
Next comes the holy bread. Again, we see a picture of Jesus who called Himself the bread of life. Not only did the people bring oil, but they were also instructed to bring finely ground flour. Given the directions, the loaves that would have been made would have been huge. Their size remains a mystery but the twelve loaves would have had to fit on the table of showbread. There would have been two stacks of six each with the sacred incense on the table as well. It was most likely in two smaller containers placed either on top of the bread or next to it. This bread was made once a week and changed out on the sabbath. A portion of the bread would be burned as an offering to the Lord along with the incense. The rest of the bread would have been eaten by the priests in the holy place. Only the priests who were from the tribe of Levi were allowed to eat this bread, but all twelve tribes were represented…one loaf for each tribe. So, a couple of thoughts here. We pray give us this day our daily bread. Sometimes we need physical bread for our bodies. Other times we need spiritual bread for our souls. Either way, we look to the Lord for our needs. The other thing is this. We would expect to find incense and oil in the holy place...but bread? It is common, ordinary. But that is a reminder that God is concerned with every part of our lives…common and holy.
The third thing is the holy name of God. The story of the young man seems somewhat random, but it serves a purpose. We are reminded once again that we are called to be obedient to the laws and commands of the Lord. Those who use His name in vain, who blaspheme His holy name have no fear of God in their hearts. Many of the Jews were so fearful of breaking the third commandment…you shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain…that they used different names for God. Names like Adonai…Lord, or Jehovah. This way they never even spoke God’s name. In the story the blasphemer was the product of a mixed marriage. Because of this, this boy may well not have grown up learning the fear of the Lord. Even in Moses day people who were in marriages with unbelievers created problems. The New Testament calls this being unevenly yoked. We do not know the offense exactly, but God is serious about people misusing His name. The rest of the third commandment is…The Lord will not hold Him guiltless who takes His name in vain. Once again, the consequences were harsh. This is the first time we see death by stoning. The next time you use the Lord’s name in vain, whether it His full name or omg, remember the story about this young man. At that time taking the Lord’s name in vain was a capital offense.
We read about the law of the sevens…seven years and a year of rest and seven times seven years and a year of jubilee. This was a time to let the land rest, to release people who had sold themselves as slaves, and returning the land to its original owners. Chapter 26 is a list of the good things in store for Israel if they were obedient to the Lord and what happens if you aren’t. The last chapter deals with redeeming what is the Lord’s. In reality everything is the Lords, but these are specific things. Some of the things we have read seem very foreign to us. The punishment seems harsh and the rules seem never ending. God simply wants His people to be obedient. That hasn’t changed for us. God still demands obedience. But it is always comes with the knowledge that He loves us.
In His Grip
Pastor Matt W