by Pastor David Groendyk
The very end of the previous chapter explained how blemished priests were not allowed to offer sacrifices but that they were still allowed to eat of the sacrifices. Verses 1–9 of today’s chapter explain under what circumstances those certain priests couldn’t even eat of the sacrifices: ritual uncleanness. All of these ritual uncleannesses have been described earlier in the book. None of these are new. But the principle is reinforced that impurity cannot mix with purity. The profane cannot mix with the holy. The sinful cannot mix with the perfect. Trying to approach God in your uncleanness will result in you being cut off from God and killed (vv. 3, 9).
Not only must you be clean in order to partake of the food of the sacrifice, but you must also be a true member of the priest’s family (vv. 10–16). Priests had no way of making a living outside of their service to God, and so it was their right to be provided for through these offerings. What made you part of the priestly family? Either purchase or birth. No guests or hired workers were considered family. It’s not hard to see the parallels for Christians. The only way for people today to be able to partake of the holy things of God is to be brought into the family of God. Our one true high priest, Jesus Christ, has both purchased us by his blood to be slaves unto him (1 Cor. 6:19–20; Rom. 6:17–19), and he has also caused us to be adopted into the family of God so that we can now call God ‘Father’ and Christ ‘brother’ (Rom. 8:14–17; Gal. 4:4–5). You have a right to the holy things of God. You have a right to fellowship with God. Praise God for the work of Christ!
The last part of the chapter (vv. 17–30) deals with the perfection of the animal itself. Earlier chapters stressed the necessity for a blemish-free animal, and here we have listed some of the specific blemishes that disqualified an animal. One of the underlying principles at work here is that if the animal that is acting as a substitute has any sort of blemish itself, then when it is killed, it is dying for its own imperfection. The animal must be perfect in order to ensure that it was dying for the person’s sins not its own. This is why we stress Christ’s perfect life. Not only does his perfect obedience mean that he dies for our sins rather than his own, but it also means that he can give us the perfection that he earned. Praise God for Christ’s full obedience!
The explicit reason for God giving all of these commands to holiness is so that God’s own name would be sanctified (v. 32). As we heard in the sermon this past Sunday, it is God’s own glorious name that is magnified when we grow in holiness and obey him. Ultimately, we listen and obey God not for our own sakes but for his sake. God is honored and glorified when we take our holiness seriously. Pray that God would help you keep your eyes fixed on his glory and that he would help you desire his glory more.