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Leviticus 17:10-16

Taught on | Topic: Blood | Keywords: Blood, sacrifice, Christ, sin, ritual, atonement, kosher, communion

Does the blood really matter? Lamb after lamb, endless sacrifices every year, blood poured out for the sins of the people? Yes! God makes a big deal about blood and He forbade eating it because the life is in the blood. We examine the stark contrast of endless sacrifices with the one sacrifice that made all the difference—the blood of the Savior poured out once for all. And through communion, we celebrate the sacrifice Jesus Christ made for us all.

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2/6/2013
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Leviticus 17:10-16
Leviticus 17:10-16
Skip Heitzig
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Does the blood really matter? Lamb after lamb, endless sacrifices every year, blood poured out for the sins of the people? Yes! God makes a big deal about blood and He forbade eating it because the life is in the blood. We examine the stark contrast of endless sacrifices with the one sacrifice that made all the difference—the blood of the Savior poured out once for all. And through communion, we celebrate the sacrifice Jesus Christ made for us all.
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03 Leviticus - 2012

03 Leviticus - 2012

As the Israelites camped before Mount Sinai, the Lord gave them His law, and the people gave a promise that they would obey it. But because God knew they would not be able to keep their promise, he instituted offerings and sacrifices to make atonement through the shedding of blood.

The book of Leviticus, written by Moses, details the sacrificial system of the nation of Israel, including the shedding of the blood of an innocent animal, which showed the seriousness of sin.

In his comprehensive, verse-by-verse study of Leviticus, Skip Heitzig shows how central this book is to our understanding of the atoning sacrifice of Christ, and how the theme of this book is the pure worship of God.

Visit expoundabq.org for more information on this series.


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Detailed Notes

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  1. Introduction
    1. Leviticus is probably not your go-to book in the Bible for comfort
    2. It's a book that you may get stalled in on your quest to read through the Bible
    3. In ancient times, the Jews began teaching their children in Leviticus; pure laws of God
    4. In the chapter 17 and the rest of the book, we are in the holiness code
      1. Holy
      2. Wholeness
      3. The way to happiness is holiness
        1. Happiness is never found by direct pursuit
        2. Happiness is a byproduct of holiness
        3. When you seek to please the Lord rather than yourself, there is a joy that permeates your life
    5. Big picture of studying the Bible from Genesis, Exodus, and Leviticus
      1. Genesis-condemnation for sin
      2. Exodus-redemption from sin
      3. Leviticus-sanctification from sin
    6. Leviticus is a bloody book
      1. Shows the awfulness of sin
      2. Shows the graciousness of God in covering sin
      3. The New Testament tells us that the wages of sin is death (see Romans 6:23)
      4. Offerings prescribed
        1. Burnt offering
        2. Grain offering
        3. Peace offering
        4. Sin offering
        5. Trespass offering
        6. Bulls
        7. Goats
        8. Lambs
        9. Pigeons
        10. Turtledoves
    7. Big truth of chapter 17: blood is sacred
      1. They were in danger of adopting the worship system Egypt
        1. Killing animals at will
        2. Sacrificing to Egyptian gods and goddesses
      2. God wants them to be different, holy, complete
  2. Blood makes atonement for the soul, the life of the flesh is in the blood
    1. Blood
      1. Don't eat it
        1. Ancient people ate the blood of animals in order to take on the characteristic traits of that animal
        2. UK has blood pudding; congealed blood
      2. Nathan Heitzig bit his tongue nearly in half; a basin of blood
      3. Blood is the life fluid; the average human has 12 pints
      4. To shed blood is to end life
      5. Required to cover sin
      6. Blood is mentioned in the Bible 424 times in 357 verses
    2. Kosher, drain the blood
      1. Meat bled
      2. Shechita, the law of making meat kosher
      3. Approach an animal with dignity, respect, and compassion
      4. Judaizers thought the gentile believers should keep all the kosher laws and regulations (see Acts 15 and Galatians 2:14)
    3. Blood diseases were more prevalent then
    4. Sanctity of life (see Hebrews 9:22)
    5. Current trend in churches is to not mention the blood
      1. Nobody wants a bloody religion
      2. Feminist theologian, Dolores Williams said, "I don't think we need a theory of atonement at all. I don't think we need folks hanging on crosses and blood dripping and weird stuff."
    6. God makes a big deal about blood
      1. The penalty for sin is death
      2. Nothing but death can atone for sin
      3. If you want to atone for your own sins, then don't accept Christ
      4. If you don't want to die for your own sins and go to hell (the punishment), then receive Christ
    7. Atonement principle taught in the book of Genesis
      1. Adam and Eve sinned
      2. "In the day that you eat of it you shall surely die" Genesis 2:17
      3. They didn't die physically, they died spiritually
      4. They tried to cover themselves
      5. God killed animals, took the skins, and covered them
    8. Blood atonement
      1. Sacrifices in Exodus
      2. Sprinkling of blood on judgment seat turned mercy seat in Leviticus
      3. Jesus, the lamb of God in the New Testament (see John 1:29)
    9. Eating what dies naturally or killed by beasts
      1. Clean animals that died without being slaughtered in a kosher manner
      2. Not properly drained
      3. Unclean for a period of time
      4. Penalty is not as great
    10. Jesus said, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day" (John 6:53-54).
      1. Shocked people—got their attention
      2. He's not saying to be cannibals
      3. He's not talking about the wine and bread literally becoming His flesh
      4. It meant to behold and believe in Him (see John 6:40)
      5. True life can only come by Christ's death—His atonement for our sin
  3. Closing
    1. Distinguishing mark of the Old Testament sacrificial system was that it was done over, and over, and over again
      1. Tedious
      2. Endless
    2. The covenant that we enjoy
      1. Once for all time
      2. Do this in remembrance of Jesus, Jesus did it for you (see Luke 22:19)
    3. Six hours one Friday, by Max Lucado
      1. Normal Friday
      2. The six hours that Jesus hung on the cross
      3. The Lamb of God, one sacrifice for all time
    4. Take the elements
      1. Don't look at them, look through them—like a pair of glasses
      2. Lenses by which you view life, God, your future
      3. Charles Spurgeon said, "We are never more near to God than when we view Him through the lens of these elements"
      4. Justin Marbury and Jarrett Petero pray for the elements


Hebrew terms: שחיטה; shechita, the ritual slaughter of mammals and birds for food according to Jewish dietary laws
Publications referenced: Six hours one Friday, by Max Lucado
Figures referenced: Dolores Williams, Max Lucado, Charles Spurgeon
Cross references: Genesis 2:17, Luke 22:19, Acts 15, Romans 6:23, Galatians 2:14, Hebrews 9:22

Transcript

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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: We're going to be tonight looking at a portion of Scripture in Leviticus, chapter 17. There are seven verses that I moved over quickly and wanted to save them for this evening. And it's by design, I didn't really want to get into chapter 18 yet, especially with communion. It's just not a great it's not a conducive chapter for the Lord's Supper as it forbids sexual relations with one's father and mother, and aunt and uncle, and brother and sister, and homosexuality, and bestiality, it just there's certain portions that just don't fit when you're doing the Lord's Supper.

And yet, the last seven verses of Leviticus, chapter 17, fit perfectly as a devotional together so we'll recap that, and then we'll take the Lord's Supper together as you have the elements for you there. Well, let's pray together.

Father, our voices have filled this place, our praises, the anthems that were articulated in words that came from our hearts. But we feel, Father, that we simply joined in a small amount with the anthems in heaven by ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands of the angelic hosts who are singing before your throne now, and have been, and will be; and the praise that is going on by those saints that we have loved who have gone before us and are in your presence.

But, Lord, we gather to remember. We come to take these elements that Jesus gave to us on the night that he was betrayed. And, Father, we pray that you would fill this place, fill us in this place, with your Holy Spirit. Give us what we need. Give our hearts, our minds, rest, direction, instruction, exhortation. You know what we need better than we know what we need.

And so we look to you as always, and in the remaining time that we have—at least in studying your Word together for the next few minutes before we take these elements—we pray that you would focus, direct the thoughts of our mind, our hearts, that we might properly meditate having already prepared for taking the Lord's Supper together. And now we meditate upon these things in Jesus' name, amen.

I've said it before that if you ask the average Christian what your favorite book in the Bible is, it probably wouldn't be Leviticus. You don't go to it often for comfort. It's probably not the source of your life verse in Scripture. There may not be lots of underlines in your Bible in the book of Leviticus, like say in the book of Psalms, or in the book of Romans.

And it's one of those books, and we've said this before too, that after you make your New Year's resolution to finally read through the whole Bible, this go round, you make it through Genesis and you're going great. And Exodus, the first part you're going great; the second part you get a little bogged down. But then you hit Leviticus and you start [speaking slowly] slowing down and thump, the record stops. You get bogged down in the minutia of the laws and the rules and the regulation.

But I just want to remind you that in ancient times the ancient Jews began teaching their children the Bible using the book that we are now studying, the book of Leviticus. You go, "Well, that's kind of weird. That's kind of hard. Why?" Because they said children are pure, and those who are pure should occupy themselves with pure things, pure worship, the pure laws of God. And since purity of worship is outlined in this book, they started providing their children with a basic understanding of it early on. I find that fascinating.

In the seventeenth chapter, as we mentioned last time, we are in what is called the holiness code, the holiness code. Because the word holy appears fifty two times beginning in chapter 17 throughout the rest of the book. Holy, a word that means distinct, different, separate. In fact, I'd like you to start thinking of being holy, H O L Y, as having wholeness, W H O L E, that word whole. Wholeness: to be whole, to be complete, to be well rounded. To be holy with an H is to be whole with a W H O L E, complete, well rounded.

The way to happiness is through holiness. Jesus spoke about an abundant life. Now I know that in our law, our Constitution, we are given the right to pursue happiness—life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The thing is, however, happiness is never found by direct pursuit.

A person who searches for happiness is never a happy person; they're moping around. "Well, what's wrong?" "I'm looking for happiness." They haven't found it yet. You'll never find happiness by looking for happiness. Happiness is a by product of holiness. When you seek to please the Lord rather than yourself, there is a joy that permeates your life that nothing really can describe, no words can describe, and nothing can contain.

Now, if I wanted to give you a big picture of studying the Bible from Genesis, Exodus, and Leviticus, I'd put it to you this way: The book of Genesis talks about condemnation for sin. Gods makes the first couple on the earth, sin is introduced, they get banished from the garden, God begins his rescue operation in the early chapters, people are raised up from different parts of the Middle East, migrate into the Promised Land—all as a part of the rescue operation. But Genesis in relationship to sin is about condemnation for sin.

The book of Exodus is redemption from sin as God delivers them out of Egypt, brings them through the wilderness, and promises them a new land free from the past, free from slavery. And it's the slavery that was due to their sin.

The book of Leviticus is sanctification from sin. It's the holiness part. It's one of the key themes of the book of Leviticus, as we mentioned, and actually one of the key themes of the whole Bible.

Another key theme in this book, and it's highlighted in our studies tonight, is blood. Eighty eight times the word blood is used in the book of Leviticus. And you start reading the early chapters and you discover this is a bloody book. And what's going on? Well, there's sacrifices going on. Why? To deal with sin.

So Leviticus immediately shows you the awfulness of sin. You look at the bloody carcass of an animal, and you are saying, "This is what sin does. It makes a bloody mess out of things." And while it shows the awfulness of sin, at the same time it shows the graciousness of God in dealing with sin, in covering sin through these animal sacrifices.

Now, the New Testament puts it this way, "The wages of sin is death." And so there's death, and there's blood, and there's animal sacrifice throughout the entire book. Five offerings, we've already seen them in the early chapters of the book: the burn offering, the grain offering, the peace offering, the sin offering, the trespass offering; offerings of bullocks, offerings of goats, offerings of lambs, offerings of pigeons, offerings of turtle doves; depending on what you could afford, and depending on what sacrifice was given.

But the big truth of chapter 17 was the truth we started looking at last time beginning in verse 10, the value of blood. That blood is sacred. And if you remember last time we gathered together, we said that the children of Israel had just freshly come out of Egypt, and they were in danger of emulating, copying, the ways the Egyptians used to worship their gods by killing animals at will wherever they found them, by sacrificing in various places to those gods.

Whether it was Heqet the frog goddess, or Apis the bull god, or Ra the sun god, or Geb the earth god—all of these various gods and goddesses that were worshiped and served with blood and with sacrifice. So God wants them to not be like the Egyptians, from whence they came; nor like the Canaanites, where they were going; but to be very different, holy, distinct, whole, complete, sold out to him.

So verse 10, " 'And whatever man of the house of Israel, or of the strangers who dwell among you, who eats any blood, I will set my face against that person who eats blood, and will cut him off from among his people. For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.' "

One of the key verses in all of Scripture are, is the verse we just read: "The life of the flesh is in the blood." You don't eat blood. I'm looking at you going, "Not a problem. Never been tempted."

But did you know that in ancient times people would eat and drink the blood of animals? Because it was their superstitious belief that whatever characteristic trait that that animal had if you drank its life blood, or ate the blood, that you would take on that characteristic trait: the strength of an ox, you drink ox blood; the hunting prowess of a lion, you drink the blood of a lion; the freedom of a gazelle, the speed of a jaguar, you take the animal's blood. And it was thought that that would be transmitted into you, and you would have part of that characteristic in your own body.

I've been to places over in the U.K. where they eat this stuff called blood pudding. Now, just to set the record straight, it's a misnomer, it's really not a pudding. It's congealed pig's blood, and a portion of an intestine that is sewed together, and you cook it, and yum, yum. [laughter] Whatever! Now, again, we hear that and we go, "That's so gross." I mean, most of us can't even stand the sight of blood. It, it weakness us, or it sickens some people to see it.

I remember years ago when my son was quite young, and I came home in the afternoon, and I opened the door, and as soon as my wife heard the door open she said, "Skip come in here." It was over in our dining room and it took me by surprise. I thought, you know, first thing I thought was, "Am I in trouble?" [laughter]

So I went over there and she was holding a basin, and my son was standing next to her, and his tongue was stuck out, all the way out. And underneath the tongue was a basin almost filled with blood. And my son had been playing in the front yard and on a neighbor's wall, and he was climbing the wall and he jumped off. But as he jumped off he had his tongue between his upper and his lower set of teeth.

So when the impact of his legs hit the ground and transmitted the energy all the way up into the head, it just almost sliced the tongue completely off. So she just said very peacefully, "Come here, please." And I looked at the blood, and I looked at the tongue, and my son in seeing that much blood, he was just shaken by it, sick by it.

But he wanted me to promise him that he wouldn't need any stitches. That's why I was examining his tongue. "I don't need stitches. I'll be fine, huh dad?" I said, "Oh, no. Your tongue might fall off if we don't get stitches."

Blood is the life fluid of the human being. The average adult human being has twelve pints of blood. But also there's an efficacy in the blood for atonement, because it does signify life. To shed blood is to end life, and that was required for sin. And a substitute was allowed under the old covenant and under the new covenant so that those of us under the curse of sin and dominion of sin could escape it by something or someone else dying in our place.

So that is why blood is such a prominent topic in the book of Leviticus, not only in the book of Leviticus, in the Bible in its entirety. Blood, if you were to look it up, at least in my version that I'm reading, from the New King James, it is mentioned 424 times in 357 verses. It is a book of blood. "The life of the flesh," key principle, "is in the blood."

Verse 12, "Therefore I said to the children of Israel, 'No one among you shall eat blood, nor shall any stranger who dwells among you eat blood.' Whatever man of the children of Israel, or of the strangers who dwell among you, who hunts and catches any animal or bird that may be eaten," that is a clean animal, "he shall pour out its blood and cover it with dust."

Because of this verse and others like it in the Law, in the old covenant, in the Old Testament, because of this over the years the Jews have sought to go through a proper ritual of bleeding, draining the blood from an animal. Because of this verse, to ensure that the meat was fitting or proper.

The word is kosher; kosher simply means fitting or proper. For the meat to be fitting or proper, a.k.a. kosher, it has to be bled a certain way. And the Hebrews called it Shechitah (Shechita), you can even look that up if you want to when you get home on Google. You go, "I can't even spell that." Shechitah is how to make meat kosher, how to bleed an animal.

And according to Shechitah, the law of making meat kosher, you had to approach an animal with dignity, respect, and compassion it said, before you kill it. And the idea was, according to Shechitah, is that the trachea, the esophagus, the carotids, the jugular vein, and the vagus nerve were all cut with a sharp knife with one instantaneous action.

The blood pressure would immediately drop, the blood would be drained, the animal would, of course, die—that is all according to Shechitah because of what we're reading here. Don't drink the blood, drain the blood. The life is in the blood. It's to be regarded as sacred, and it is used for atonement. So it is to, all of life is to be regarded as sacred.

Now, let's fast forward to a principle, this principle in the New Testament: In the book of Acts when there were Jewish people for the most part comprising the church, all people back in the early church were Jewish. But then the gospel started getting out to the Gentiles, up in Antioch, up in Syria, and then a little bit further.

And because non Jewish people were coming to know the Lord, there were a group of people in Jerusalem known as Judaizers. These were people who thought Gentiles should be keeping kosher laws and keeping all of the regulations under the old covenant the Jews kept. And there was a big heated argument in Acts, chapter 15, about that.

And Paul even in Galatians says he rebuked Peter over this very issue, "Why do you who, as a Jew, aren't even keeping all of the laws, why are you trying to compel Gentiles to do what you nor our forefathers have ever been able to keep?" "Nevertheless," the counsel in Jerusalem said, "so that we don't stumble our Jewish brothers, let's command the Gentiles that they abstain from things polluted by idols, from fornication, from things strangled, and from," what? "From blood."

Because they knew of Gentile practices, and some of those practices would just, like, put the Jews over the edge. "Let's not hinder their faith. Let's not stumble them by this practice. So let's tell them that, 'Just go ahead, serve the Lord, but abstain from sexual immorality, from things strangled, from blood, as well as things that are sacrificed to idols.' "

Now, as we're reading Leviticus, understand a couple of things. Number one, blood diseases among animals were far more prevalent in ancient times than they are today with modern rules, regulations, farming, etcetera. So high on the agenda for God was the health of his people.

Number two, in fact, I would really put this as number one, is the sanctity of life as seen as the way they would treat blood, because blood is to be expiatory or used for atonement, and because the life of the flesh is in the blood. That's why Hebrews 9:22 says, "Without the shedding of blood there is no remission." That's why in Judaism blood was a big deal. That's why in Christianity blood is a big deal.

But we live in a day and age in which there are trends within churches that are saying, "Don't mention the blood. Take out songs that deal with the blood. Nobody wants a bloody religion. That's antiquated, that's outdated, that's adversive to the modern thinking.

One very radical, liberal feminist theologian by the name of Delores Williams said, and I quote, "I don't think we need a theory of atonement at all. I don't think we need folks hanging on crosses and blood dripping and weird stuff," close quote.

But here's why God makes a big deal out of blood: because the penalty for sin is death, nothing but death can atone for sin. The penalty for sin is death, nothing but death can atone for sin. So if you want to atone for your own sins, then don't except Christ. Don't receive his work on the cross on your behalf. If you don't want to die for your own sins, and you don't want to go to hell—because that is the punishment as God deals with sin not atoned for by his Son's blood, it is a punishment that lasts forever—then you receive Christ.

The life of the flesh is in the blood. Now, that principle is actually taught way before Leviticus. It's taught in the book of Genesis when Adam and Eve sinned. Actually, before they sinned God said, "In the day that you eat of it," that tree, "you will surely die." They ate of it. They didn't die physically. They died spiritually, but they didn't die physically. But what did they do? They ran and they hid, and they took—what? to hide themselves. Fig leaves.

They sewed themselves fig leaves and put it around them. They did it themselves. They were trying to cover themselves by their own works or their own righteousness. What did God do? Killed animals, took the skins of animals and covered them. Well, the only way you can get skins of animals to cover you is to kill an animal and skin it. So the death of an animal, bloodshed, was prominent in Genesis.

And then we follow it through with the sacrifices all the way through Exodus, and the Day of Atonement when we saw last week in chapter 16 the sprinkling of the blood on that judgment seat, which was then turned into a mercy seat in the tabernacle. And then when Jesus came on the scene, of course, he was the fulfillment as John the Baptist his cousin pointed to him and said to the crowd, "Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world."

Verse 14, "For the life of the flesh is in the blood. Its blood sustains its life. Therefore I said to the children of Israel, 'You shall not eat the blood of any flesh, for the life of all flesh in its blood or is its blood. Whoever eats of it shall be cut off.' And every person who eats what dies naturally or what was torn by beasts, whether he is a native of your own country or a stranger, shall both wash his clothes and bathe in water, and be unclean until evening."

These were clean animals that died without being slaughtered. They might find them torn by beasts or some animal that died naturally. And in those days meat wasn't eaten very often. It was a good source of protein, but it was, it was not part of the daily diet. And so when, when flesh died it was conserved, and if somebody ate it, they would be unclean.

They wouldn't be cut off, because they didn't deliberately violate the law by killing it wherever they wanted to, but because it hasn't been drained by blood properly. There still is a—not a punishment, but there's sort of a lay back. They're unclean for a period of time so that they could eat that and then be readmitted into the community after their ritual washing. But, you know, everything was used. This is the roadkill, basically, and how it was used for food.

"But if he does not wash them or bathe in water, then he shall bear his guilt." But the, the penalty wasn't as great because the life had departed from the animal, and you're just simply respecting the animal's life, though you can use it for food.

Now, here's what's interesting: In Leviticus you will not eat blood, you will not drink blood, you will be cut off if you do. We come to the New Testament and Jesus in John 6 verse 54 said this, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day."

This shocked people when Jesus said that. It was intended to shock people; that's why Jesus said that. He was getting their attention. He was not saying that they should become cannibals and literally drink the fluid from his veins or eat his skin. I don't think he was talking about communion as the Roman Catholic church talks about transubstantiation that the elements of the wine and the bread literally become the body and blood of Jesus, because Jesus said that. In fact, I know that's not what Jesus meant. I know exactly what Jesus meant because the same text that says that tells me and you exactly what he meant.

It meant to eat his flesh and drink his blood, to behold him, and to believe in him, to place your faith in him. Let me read to you another portion, another verse from that same chapter, and listen to how similar it sounds except for the first part: "Everyone who sees the Son and believes in him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day."

In one verse he says, "If you eat my flesh and drink my blood, you have everlasting life, and I will raise him up at the last day." Now he says, "If you see, behold, and believe, you have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day." He's using a strong metaphor of eating his flesh and drinking his blood, which is tantamount because the other text says so to believing in Jesus Christ. He's speaking of his body and blood because that is the price of your redemption. It would mean his body being torn apart on a cross, and his blood being shed for you and for me.

If you believe that him doing that is enough, you have everlasting life, and you will be raised up at the last day. He's simply saying, "True life can only come by my death." And you entering into that intimacy of relationship, because to eat and to drink meant to share intimacy in those days. You become one with the person. But it means to behold and to believe in Jesus.

Now, as we bring this to a close and we're about to take these elements, one of the things you must remember, and it's important to remember every time you take communion, one of the distinguishing marks of the Old Testament sacrificial system is that it was repeated over and over, and it never ended.

You couldn't do one sacrifice and now it's done. There was always another, and another, and another, and another lamb, and more blood, and more sacrifices, and more rituals, day after day, year after year. Yom Kippur, the sprinkling of blood, every single year. "Without the shedding of blood there's no remission."

So there was this tediousness to it, an endlessness to it. Whereas the covenant that you and I enjoy is something that was done once for all time, never to be repeated, simply to be applied, entered into, and enjoyed. To be reminded of: "Do this in remembrance of me," not "Do this every day so your sins can get, you know, re expiated, re atoned for." "Do it in remembrance of me. I'm the one who did it for you."

I conclude with this story from Max Lucado in one of my favorite books that he wrote called Six Hours One Friday. Here's a portion of a story: "To the casual observer, there was nothing unusual about these six hours. To the casual observer this Friday was a normal Friday." Of course, the six hours he is speaking about are the six hours Jesus was hanging on a cross.

"Six hours of routine. Six hours of the expected. Six hours. One Friday. Enough time for a shepherd to examine his flocks. Six hours from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Six hours filled with, as all hours are, the mystery of life."

"The bright noonday sun casts a common shadow for the Judean countryside. It's the black silhouette of a shepherd standing near his fat-tailed flock. He stares at the clear sky, searching for clouds. There are none. He looks back at his sheep. They graze lazily on the rocky hillside. An occasional sycamore provides shade. He sits on the slope and places a blade of grass in his mouth. He looks beyond the flock at the road below."

"For the first time in days the traffic is thin. For over a week a river of pilgrims has streamed through this valley, bustling down the road with animals and loaded carts. For days he has watched them from his perch. Though he couldn't hear them, he knew that they were all speaking a dozen different dialects. And though he didn't talk to them, he knew where they were going and why. They were going to Jerusalem. And they were going to sacrifice lambs in the temple for the Passover."

"The celebration strikes him as ironic. Streets jammed with people. Marketplaces full of the sounds of the bleating of goats and the selling of birds; endless observances. These people relish the festivities. They awaken early and they retire late. They find a strange fulfillment in the pageantry. Not him. What kind of God would be appeased by the death of an animal? Oh, the shepherd's doubts are never voiced anywhere except on the hillside. But on this day, they shout."

"It isn't the slaughter of the animals that disturbs him. It's, it's the endlessness of it all. How many years has he seen the people come and go? How many caravans? How many sacrifices? How many bloody carcasses? But memories stalk him. Memories of uncontrolled anger, uncontrolled desire, uncontrolled anxiety. So many mistakes. So many stumbles. So much guilt. God seems so far away. Lamb after lamb, Passover after Passover. God seems so far away, and he says, 'I still feel the same.' He turns his head and looks again at the sky, and he asks, 'Will the blood of yet another lamb really matter?' "

Well, not of the lambs that he was watching, but of the Lamb that very hour being sacrificed on a cross five miles away in Jerusalem; that Lamb would matter. That's the once for all. That's where the endless sacrifices are done. That's why we celebrate, and it was so fitting to fill this place with anthems of celebration and worship. It's once for all.

So we're going to take these elements. Charles Haddon Spurgeon suggests that we don't look at them as much as we look through them—that is, he says, "Use the elements of communion like you would put on a pair of glasses if you need them." You don't look at the glasses; you put them on to look through glasses.

Let the, let the bread and the juice become your lenses by which you view life, lenses by which you view God, lenses by which you view your future. Charles Spurgeon said, "We are never more near to God than when we view him, view heaven, through the lens of these elements."

We're going to take the elements and I'm going to ask Justin Marbury to pray for the bread, and then I'm going to ask Jarrett Petero, a newer pastor on staff, a friend of ours from California who moved here with his family, to pray for the juice, and then we will take it together as we do.

Justin Marbury: If you haven't already, go ahead and peel off the top of your cup, the top layer. Take out the little cracker. Let's pray. Father, we hold in our hands this cracker that represents your body as Skip said that was torn, that was pierced, that was broken for us. And, Lord, when we think about what you did on the cross, and, and we think about the repetitive nature of the sacrifice of the lambs year after year, day after day, and then we think about the ultimate sacrifice that you made, Lord, I immediately think about my sin, and that it was for me personally.

And each of us here who have been forgiven because of what you did on the cross and what your body was sacrificed for, we have been forgiven of our sin personally. We thank you for that, and we join together celebrating and remembering you in your body broken for us. And so now we take this in remembrance of that, in Jesus' name. Let's take it together.

Jarrett Petero: If you go ahead and peel the top cup. Let's pray. Father, as we hold this cup in our hand and we think about how your life was broken so that we would be made whole, and as your blood was poured out so we would be filled and made holy, we thank you for that.

We thank you that your Son, Jesus Christ, died for our sins. Lord, we pray that as you examine our hearts this evening that you would wash us clean, that we would be white as snow. And, Lord, we do, we also celebrate as we look forward to your soon return, and do this in remembrance of you. We declare not only your death, but your resurrection, and your soon coming for the body of Christ, and we pray this in Jesus' name, amen.

Additional Messages in this Series

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10/3/2012
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Leviticus 1-4
Leviticus 1-4
Skip Heitzig
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Message Summary
The book of Leviticus may not be your favorite book in the Bible—it's full of rules and regulations, and bloody, messy sacrifices. But all Scripture is inspired by God, and through our study of Leviticus, we gain a better understanding of temple life in the New Testament and unveil God's presence, undo shallow patterns of worship, and reveal God's holiness. As we begin our study of the book of Leviticus, we learn the rules and reasons for the burnt offering, the grain offering, the peace offering, and the sin offering.
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10/17/2012
completed
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Leviticus 5-7
Leviticus 5-7
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Message Summary
In Leviticus 5-7, the laws of the offerings are given. We discover how God deals with the very real issue of sin. There must be a sacrifice in order for atonement to take place. Through our text, we see the only system of religion that God gave to man and how that system was fulfilled in Jesus Christ.
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10/24/2012
completed
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Leviticus 8-9
Leviticus 8-9
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Worship involves both sacrifice and service. Through this study, we uncover the first congregation in history and how God commanded Moses and the people in worship and dress. These Levitical instructions are a guideline for how God desires us to be cleansed from our sins, clothed in humility, consecrated for Him, and devoted to service.
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10/31/2012
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Leviticus 1-9 Review
Skip Heitzig
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The book of Leviticus is the instruction book for the priests, the Levites. In Leviticus 1-9, we learn the need for a sacrifice and the need for a priest. We discover how God's instructions in Leviticus point to Jesus Christ. There must be a sacrifice in order for atonement to take place and we need a priest to represent us before God. In the New Covenant, Jesus is our High Priest and we Christians are a royal priesthood. Through Jesus, we can go to God on our own behalf and on behalf of others.
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11/7/2012
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Leviticus 10-11:23
Leviticus 10-11:23
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God is concerned for the details of our worship, our health, and our very lives. As demonstrated through the profane fire of Nadab and Abihu, our worship must be based on sacrifice. And, the dietary restrictions show us God wants us to be good stewards of our bodies. As we consider our text, let's remember that while we are no longer under the Law, there are principles here that, when applied, lead to an acceptable worship of God and a powerful witness to the world.
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11/28/2012
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Leviticus 11:24-13:59
Leviticus 11:24-13:59
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God instructed the children of Israel about what they could and could not eat, how a woman was to be purified after childbirth, and how to deal with diseases of the skin. As we consider this text in Leviticus, we discover that God is concerned about every detail of our lives as well. He wants to have a daily personal relationship with us, and He wants us to be holy and set apart for Him—separate from the world.
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12/5/2012
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Leviticus 14
Leviticus 14
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How do the Levitical laws for cleansing leprosy or a house with a plague apply to our lives? In this study, we learn that we are all infected with a virus—the sin virus. Like the lepers of the Old Testament, our means of becoming clean is blood. As we consider this text, we'll learn important symbolism that will help us discern not only physical but also spiritual cleanliness.
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1/9/2013
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Leviticus 15-16:6
Leviticus 15-16:6
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Although the book of Leviticus may not seem exciting or relevant to our lives today, we need to remember that all Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for our instruction (see 2 Timothy 3:16). God is not just concerned about the outward, but the inward life—those secret things that may defile us and His church. As we consider this text, we learn that our private sin affects not only us, but everyone.
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1/30/2013
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Leviticus 16:7-17:9
Leviticus 16:7-17:9
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God is concerned about us and about our sinful condition. As we consider our text, we discover the parallels between the sacrifice and the scapegoat on the Day of Atonement and Jesus' sacrifice and atonement at the cross.
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2/13/2013
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Leviticus 18:1-19:18
Leviticus 18:1-19:18
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In Leviticus 18:1-19:18, God gives His ordinances for sexual morality and the moral and ceremonial laws. We discover that God wants His people to be distinct, separate, holy—set apart from the world. We keep His ordinances and we love one another because He is the Lord, He is holy.
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2/20/2013
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Leviticus 19:17-21:12
Leviticus 19:17-21:12
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God calls us to be different from the world—a holy priesthood. In this text He lays out the His moral and ceremonial laws, His instructions for administering capital punishment, and His regulations for the priests. And we are reminded that while our outward actions may appear holy and righteous before men, God sees what is in our hearts.
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2/27/2013
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Leviticus 21:13-22:33
Leviticus 21:13-22:33
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The priesthood is not a trivial thing. In this text, the expectations for the priests' conduct is laid out. Just as the sacrifices brought to the Lord were to be perfect—without blemish—the priest was to be perfect in conduct and ability. God prescribes the worship that He requires—worship that is pleasing to Him.
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3/6/2013
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Leviticus 23
Leviticus 23
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Charles H. Spurgeon once said, "Our happy God should be worshipped by happy people; a cheerful spirit is in keeping with His nature." In this text, we consider the festivals and feasts prescribed for the people to celebrate and publicly worship God throughout the year. The Sabbath was a weekly observance; it was a gift of rest for God's people. Passover commemorated the deliverance from Egypt; and it was prophetic of future deliverance through Jesus Christ. These feasts were special times set aside to remember God—to rejoice in His provision and His care.
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3/20/2013
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Leviticus 24:1-25:34
Leviticus 24:1-25:34
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God is an interactive God. He chooses you—picks you before the foundation of the earth. Then He allows you to choose Him. And, It doesn't end there: He gives you gifts that you can use to serve Him and one another. In this text we see that God provides for the priesthood through the people of Israel and learn that Jesus is our kinsman redeemer—He was related, willing, and able—to buy back the title deed to the earth.
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3/27/2013
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Leviticus 25:35-27:34
Leviticus 25:35-27:34
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Holiness is the overwhelming theme of Leviticus: God is holy and he wants us to be holy. These final chapters of the book reveal God's heart in caring for the people and the land. We see His conditional and unconditional covenants and we understand the heart of sacrifice.
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There are 15 additional messages in this series.
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