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The Bible In A Year: Day 38

Leviticus 1-4
Psalm 3

We’ve come to the book of Leviticus and it can be quite tedious to get through, but we have to remind ourselves that everything in scripture has a mean and purpose. The meaning for all these regulations in Leviticus is that it’s the consequence the people have to suffer through for their worshiping of the Golden Calf.

Saint Justin Martyr makes the observation in his Dialogue With Trypho chapters 19-23. He points out how the laws and regulations surrounding every aspect of life came after the golden calf. When further rebellions in the wilderness come later, there will be additional punitive measures taken by God.

The first chapter of Leviticus lays our the rules regarding burnt offerings. How to offer them, what to offer, when to offer it, and what is to be done with the animal offered.

The second chapter concerns the ways a cereal offering is to be made. God also allows the priests to keep a share of certain offerings as their pay, and the cereal offerings are one of these. They take the flour or cakes, or unleavened bread and burn a portion on the altar as a sacrifice, and the rest they keep to eat for themselves.

The third chapter is about peace offerings, while it is similar to the previous chapters, it makes a very interesting rule at the end about fat. The fat of an animal was almost always burned on the altar, while the meat may be burned or given to the priests in many cases (depending on what type of sacrifice).

The reason for this would on the surface seem to be practical, after all fat is just solidified oils, and oil is very flammable. It just makes sense to add the fat to the burning wood on the altar to make the fire hot enough to consume the other parts that are also being offered. But at the end of chapter three God tells Moses that all the fat belongs to the Lord.

This doesn’t mean the fat that’s marbled through a good ribeye, or the cap on a brisket, in Hebrew the word is helev and is usually called suet in English. Suet is the fat from around the vital organs of an animal and is prized in baking and cooking, and in many cuisines it is a delicacy added to dishes. This type of fat is the exact same word “helev” used by pharaoh when he tells Joseph that his family will have the fat of the land in Egypt. Essentially it is the best part of the animal, and it is an vital part of the animal in that it protects and cushions it’s organs, much like blood is considered the life force of the animal. So the eating of blood and the innards fat is prohibited to the people.

Then we finish out the Leviticus readings today with regulations and procedures surrounding various types of sin offerings and how they are to be performed. All of these offerings prefigure Christ and his ultimate sacrifice on the cross. And that is another reason why there’s so many different kinds, for so many different situations, they show that the precious blood of Jesus, spilled for us on Calvary, cleanses us of all these different types and kinds of sin. He covered all the variables.

Tomorrow’s Readings:
Leviticus 5-6
Psalm 35
Mark 5

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