Leviticus 9-10


John Carter – December 28, 2014 – Leviticus 9-10 – Leviticus



{A few months ago I asked Pastor Dale Garland if I could have the privilege of addressing my Hemet Valley Baptist Church Family one more time before I leave for seminary. Thank you Dale for this privilege. This moment of transition for me, my wife and my four boys comes with great happiness and great sadness. I am honored that I have the privilege to continue my Biblical Studies in a seminary setting. At the same time I am preparing to move twenty-five hundred miles away from some of my closest friends and family members.}

The cost of pursuing the spread of the Gospel is being lived out in very tangible ways in my life. My wife and I have come to see that the best way for us to spread the Gospel is for me to take the next few years and dedicate them to further study of the Biblical Languages. As my family and I prepares for this next stage in our life I want to leave each of you, my HVBC family, with a charge to live passionately for Jesus and for His Gospel.

For those of you who know me more intimately, you also know that I love the book of Leviticus. In fact my first teaching series at this Church was an overview of Leviticus. So I thought it appropriate to preach my final sermon from my favorite book and from the first book I taught here.

If you would like to follow along in your Bible please turn to Leviticus, chapters 9 and 10.

Most people familiar with this part of Leviticus are probably quick to summarize this as the day that Nadab and Abihu offered strange fire and were killed. But, I want to take the time to reorient our thinking to something much more important than the fascinating death of two men. Instead I want us to see the point of this day. I want us to see what God wanted us to see—His Glory!

In between the very foreign instructions on the first Offerings that Aaron was to perform as Israel’s High Priest, God states that with the ordination of Aaron as High Priest God was going to authenticate Aaron’s role and legitimacy of the sacrificial system with his presence; with His Glory. Verse 4 says that YHWH will appear and verse 6 says that the Glory of YHWH will appear. This is the most important thing that will happen on this wonderfully fearful day. Not even the death of two priests, even the death of the High Priests sons, should take away from the intrusion of God’s Visible Glory into the life and worship of the Nation of Israel.

For the sake of time and sanity I made a picture of what the order and purpose of the Offerings listed in chapter 9 would look like if we stood in front of the altar that day.

To ordain the priests of Israel an 8 day ritual had to be completed. Chapter 9 begins on day 8. To finalize the ordination of Aaron as High Priest and to prepare for the Glory of YHWH to be shown Aaron first had to deal with the fact that he was not perfect and a sinner. Just like the people, Aaron needed forgiveness. This was the purpose of his Sin Offering. However, unlike other Sin Offerings, his could not be eaten because he was the High Priest. So the meat had to be destroyed outside the camp of Israel. Then Aaron still needed atonement, or a covering. This was the purpose of the Burnt Offering. This Offering was to be fully consumed by fire on the altar. Although the Book of Hebrews shows Jesus as the Perfect High Priest we should understand that He was perfect because He didn’t need to offer an offering for His own sins before He could die on the cross for our sins.

After Aaron, the High Priest, was in right standing before God, he was now able to bring the peoples offerings before YHWH. First was the people’s Sin Offering. The meat of the Sin Offering would have only been consumed by males of the Levities in the courtyard of the Tent of Meeting (Tabernacle). This offering brought forgiveness to the people of Israel. Following the Sin Offering would be the Burnt Offering which was to be completely burned on the altar and would provide a covering, or atonement, for the people. The Grain Offering, or the Fellowship Offering, would then follow. This Grain Offering would be an act of unity in light of the forgiveness and covering that was just received. Only a handful of Grain was burned on top of the Burnt Offering. The rest would have been consumed by the males of the Levites in the courtyard of the Tent of Meeting (Tabernacle). Although not mentioned here, this is also where the Drink Offering would normally be presented.

Lastly, was the Sacrifice of the Peace Offering. This is the only offering to be called a Sacrifice in Leviticus. Although any of the people of Israel could eat of this Offering only the male and females of the Levites received the Wave Offering to eat in a clean place. Clean meaning ceremonially clean. The Wave Offering was the Breast and the Right Thigh of the ox and ram which was waved in front in front of the altar.

After Aaron presents these Offerings, he blesses the people, and then goes into the Tent of Meeting with Moses. After leaving the Tent of Meeting Aaron again blesses the people and then a spectacular moment happens. YHWH shows His Glory. Fire pours out of the Presence of YHWH and in an instant the Offerings on the Altar are consumed. The Burnt offering is completely consumed, and the fat of all the other offerings are no more. The people fall to their faces in worship of this Holy, and Glorious God who both terrifying and magnificent.

Here, in a single chapter, we find a precursor to the culmination of the Israelite offering system. A Build up and release of pressure in the boiler of what is to come. Some of you might take this to mean that chapter 9 is a precursor to Leviticus chapter 16, the Day of Atonement. In a sense it is. But, in light of the New Testament, chapter 9 is a precursor to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Chapter 9 is a precursor to Jesus, the Son of Man, and the Gospel.

John 1:1-2 and 14 says,

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.

14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.[2]

Without an accurate understanding of Leviticus our view of Jesus and the Gospel will always be deficient. We must take the time to appreciate the fact and worship the God who planned from the beginning to die for those who would willingly kill and despise Him. The Cross was not an accident but a destination. The Cross is Grace, Love, Mercy, Wrath, and Glory. The Cross is the preeminent symbol of the Gospel. Here, in this display of Glory, we get a foretaste of Jesus Christ Himself.

This is the turning point of this Day of Glory. It is at this point that two men attempt to come before the Living God with strange fire. These two men come before God in a manner that He did not prescribe. That is both foolish and dangerous.

As Nadab and Abihu approach the Glory of YHWH fire once again come forth. But this time instead of fire consuming the Offering, the fire consumes Nadab and Abihu. This should cause our stomach to sink. This should stir up sadness, fear, and anger. Here we see the wrath of God poured out on those who sought to approach YHWH without the proper Offering.

Deuteronomy 5:22-27 reiterates that danger of coming before YHWH.

22 “These words the Lord spoke to all your assembly at the mountain out of the midst of the fire, the cloud, and the thick darkness, with a loud voice; and he added no more. And he wrote them on two tablets of stone and gave them to me. 23 And as soon as you heard the voice out of the midst of the darkness, while the mountain was burning with fire, you came near to me, all the heads of your tribes, and your elders. 24 And you said, ‘Behold, the Lord our God has shown us his glory and greatness, and we have heard his voice out of the midst of the fire. This day we have seen God speak with man, and man still live. 25 Now therefore why should we die? For this great fire will consume us. If we hear the voice of the Lord our God any more, we shall die. 26 For who is there of all flesh, that has heard the voice of the living God speaking out of the midst of fire as we have, and has still lived? 27 Go near and hear all that the Lord our God will say, and speak to us all that the Lord our God will speak to you, and we will hear and do it.’[3]

And John 14:6 says

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

This verse in John finds its fullest understanding in light of Leviticus and Deuteronomy.

You see, we need an appropriate offering to see the Glory of the Father. And not just any offering will do. Only God Himself is sufficient to withstand the wrath of God. Leviticus 9 is not filled with arbitrary offerings to be given to an angry God. No, Leviticus is filled with images and shadows of Jesus, the Son of Man who is the Glory of God. Jesus became the perfect offering to stand in our place so that we might live eternally to enjoy the Glory of God the Father.

Although Aaron was filled with sadness at the death of his sons it was not the role of the High Priest to mourn[4]. Instead Aaron was reminded of his role to stay sober when serving in the Tent of Meeting before God so that he might not confuse the teaching that God had charged him to protect. The priests of Israel were to distinguish what is holy and common, between the clean and unclean, and they were to teach the Commands of YHWH to the people of Israel.[5]

At this point you may be asking, ‘okay John, I can see what’s going on here, BUT, what does this Display of the Glory of YHWH have to do with your charge to live passionately for Jesus and for His Gospel?’ I’m glad you asked.

Jesus said, that if you are going to say that you are a Christian then you must sign you own death warrant.[6] If you are going to claim Christ you must consider yourself a dead man walking. Not like a zombie mindlessly chasing after flesh. But like an inmate on death row walking boldly to the table where you will lay down and die. But this is not a death for crime and sin. The death we die is a death of self and Christ-less-ambition (ambition empty of Christ).

When you look at the world around you, you will see a poorly hidden fear of death. Think of the response to the Ebola outbreak. Only a handful of Americans died while thousands were dying around the world. Or think of the constant need to sanitize our hands. Or consider what things your stop doing as you get older because you are more at risk of dying. My Grandfather used to say that if he saw a penny on the ground he would toss a nickel down before bending over to pick the penny up. Why? So that it would be worth the effort. J These are all silly things but when you begin to think about more serious matters in life people are in constant fear of death. But what if the fear of death was removed? What if we all came to terms with being dead men (and women) walking?

Think about the freedom that comes with being a dead man. When you know death is certain and that eternal life is even more certain then what can harm you? What can step into your path that would cause you to stumble or retreat? The loss of a job. The loss of money. The loss of a home. The loss of friends or family. Even the loss of life or limb pale in comparison to the inextinguishable glories of eternal life in the presence of the Glory of the Father. The temporary pain is real, but the eternal life we will receive is so much more real. We don’t have to second guess our decisions to live for God. Now we can run with vigor knowing that Jesus the Christ has paved the way for the full display of the glory of the Father. We are not limited by death any longer. With Jesus the Christ as our perfect offering we are now free to live passionately for Him (Jesus) and the Gospel!

Leviticus 10:3 says,

“This is what the Lord has said: ‘Among those who are near me I will be sanctified, and before all the people I will be glorified.’”

Looking at these two chapters we come to see three viable options.

  1. Reject the Perfect Offering that God offered through His Son and face the wrath of God. This is an option and many people chose this option.
  2. Haphazardly accept the offering God has provided in HIs and live a life in fear of your own shadow. A life where you come to Church once a week, get filled up, and then go back to the status quo.

And although these are viable options I would hope that you would see the beauty of the Glory of God worth so much more than $20 dollars a and hour a week. I would much rather you see the third option.

  1. The third option is to live passionately of Jesus and the Gospel.

Not because it’s hip, or cool, or convenient – because it’s not. I want you to live passionately for Jesus and the Gospel so that you may find your fullest satisfaction. This is a satisfaction that doesn’t fade with time, but matures into something more tangible than life itself.

[1] Leviticus 9-10 – The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.

[2] John 1:1-2,14 – The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.

[3] Deuteronomy 5:22-27 – The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.

[4] Leviticus 21:10

[5] Leviticus 10:10-11

[6] Mark 8:34-38