To start off, let’s consider these four verses from the New Testament:
- Col 2:16-17 Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.
- Much of what we will look at today are shadows of things to come, things that find their ultimate fulfillment in Christ. What I mean by shadow, is that these historical events, were designed to give us a picture of the reality that we would find in Christ.
- Heb 8:1-5 The point of what we are saying is this: We do have such a high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, and who serves in the sanctuary, the true tabernacle set up by the Lord, not by man. Every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices, and so it was necessary for this one also to have something to offer. If he were on earth, he would not be a priest, for there are already men who offer the gifts prescribed by the law. They serve at a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven. This is why Moses was warned when he was about to build the tabernacle: "See to it that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain."
- In other words, there is a reason why Moses gives us detailed instructions about the building of the tabernacle, sometimes down to the very color of the thread! And then repeats himself three times throughout the Pentateuch. Why would he do that? Because God is trying to give us an accurate picture, albeit a copy and a shadow of that which is in heaven!
- Heb 10:1 The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming-not the realities themselves. For this reason, it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship.
- 1 Cor 10:1-12 For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers, that our forefathers were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ. Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered over the desert.
- Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did. Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written: "The people sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in pagan revelry." We should not commit sexual immorality, as some of them did-and in one day twenty-three thousand of them died. We should not test the Lord, as some of them did-and were killed by snakes. And do not grumble, as some of them did-and were killed by the destroying angel. These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come.
- The main point being stressed here, is that all the events of the Old Testament were given to us as examples of what heaven is like, and what was to come, namely Christ!
- Theologians call this typology types and shadows. Types and shadows are illustrations of spiritual truths or principles that are lived out in the natural realm but point to deeper realities that find their fulfillment in the coming of Christ!
- Remember, when it comes to interpreting scripture accurately, "All meaning is context dependent!" Which is why I want to do another quick review, so the context is fresh in your mind as we go through this portions of scripture.
- In Genesis we saw the beginnings of all that life consist of. We saw how the world was created, we saw the creation of men and women, who were created in the image of God. We discovered the beginning of God's purposes as he told Adam and Eve to be fruitful, multiply and fill the earth with his image!
- We were then introduced to the serpent, who we discovered from the book of Revelation and Isaiah, was no other than Satan himself, an archangel who was in charge of heavenly worship, but then became corrupted by his own pride.
- He no longer wanted to exist to worship God, but rather wanted all to exist to worship him. So, he seduced Adam and Eve with the same lie that brought about his own downfall. That God was not as good as he said he was, and that he was holding back good things from the creation. That creation could be God's themselves!
- Adam and Eve believed the enemies lie which lead to their disobedience and rebellion, allowing sin to enter God's creation. The consequences of this sin were immediate, and were removed from the Garden of Eden.
- They were now driven by fear and shame rather than peace and joy. They were now separated from their God because of their sin. Furthermore, sin had distorted and marred the image of God within their own lives. And death had now entered the world and corrupted the entire creation.
- But we are not without hope, because we are given a promise that one day all that was lost in the Garden of Eden would be restored through one who would come and crush the head and power of the enemy.
- We then saw God begin to unfold his plan of redemption by entering into a covenant relationship with Abraham. And that through Abraham's seed, the whole world will be blessed.
- At that point we began to follow what scholars call the golden thread, the lineage of Abraham, which will climax in bringing forth the Messiah, who will restore all the things we lost when Adam and Eve chose to sin.
- In the book of Genesis, we began to follow the thread of Abraham's seed! Abraham begat Isaac, who begat Jacob, who gave birth to 12 sons who would become the heads of the 12 tribes of Israel.
- One of Jacob's sons was a man named Joseph, who God used to bring his family to Egypt, that they might be preserved when a great famine came through. In Egypt they multiplied into a great nation, so great that the Egyptians became afraid of them and enslaved them.
- For 400 years Israel cried out to God to rescue them from their bondage. God heard their cry and remembered the covenant he made with Abraham and determines to rescue them. This brings us to the book of Exodus.
- As we saw a few lessons back, Exodus is the controlling narrative of the Bible and consists of three sequential episodes:
1. The Exodus: God as sovereign King, judged the gods of Egypt and made a way for Israel to escape through the parting of the red sea! At that point, from the New Testament’s perspective, God's people emerged as a new creation, a nation whom God has adopted as his firstborn son to bring about the fulfillment of his original purposes.
2. Mount Sinai: Being delivered from the bondage of slavery was just the first step in seeing God's restorative purposes emerging! To continue the process of restoration, Israel now needed their relationship to God restored (by the establishing of God’s temple), and God’s image restored (through the giving of the law).
3. The Promise Land: Now that they have been delivered from bondage and were becoming a holy people, once again reflecting the image of God, God's messenger will show them "the way" to the promise land (a picture of Eden). A land flowing with milk and honey (i.e., God's ample provision) where the "dwelling of God is with men." Special Note: On the way, the Egyptians (gentiles) are invited to journey with them! God’s heart has always been for all the people of the earth!
- The first five books of the Old Testament written by Moses is called the Pentateuch! The books of Leviticus, numbers and Deuteronomy are now the final pieces. In them we will find insights on how God plans to bring about the completion of his restorative purposes!
- In the book of Exodus, we saw the establishing and building of Moses’s tabernacle, a way for God's people to have a relationship with God!
- Thus, the question becomes, how was this relationship to be maintained? The Israelites could not dwell forever at Mount Sinai. This is where the book of Leviticus comes into play. Building upon the revelation of God's temple that we found in the last part of the book of Exodus, Leviticus introduces us to the whole sacrificial system needed to keep their relationship with God right.
- And then God established special celebratory feasts and dates to help Israel keep their history and mission ever before them!
- In a very real sense, Leviticus is a picture window into ancient Israel's worship, where they are taught how a sinful humanity can have a relationship with a holy God!
- This becomes a vital for us today because it provides us the background, we need for grasping the significance of Christ's sacrificial death.
- The word Leviticus has its roots from the word Levites, who if you remember, was the tribe called to become priests. This is probably the reason why the Jewish people refer to this book as the law of the priests.
- So, it shouldn’t surprise us when studying the book of Leviticus, the question people often ask; is Leviticus primarily a handbook for the priests? The answer to that is no. There are too many details concerning rituals that are missing for it to be that. But rather, this book was compiled for the instruction of the congregation in matters pertaining to being the people in relationship with God!
- Meaning, that the heart of this book is the desire to see the promise that was made to the patriarchs be fulfilled, that God would enter a special relationship to them!