February 18, Leviticus 16-18

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16 The Lord spoke to Moses after the death of two of Aaron’s sons when they approached the presence of[a] the Lord and died. The Lord said to Moses: “Tell your brother Aaron that he may not come whenever he wants into the holy place behind the curtain in front of the mercy seat on the ark or else he will die, because I appear in the cloud above the mercy seat.“Aaron is to enter the most holy place in this way: with a young bull for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering. He is to wear a holy linen tunic, and linen undergarments are to be on his body. He is to tie a linen sash around him and wrap his head with a linen turban. These are holy garments; he must bathe his body with water before he wears them. He is to take from the Israelite community two male goats for a sin offering and one ram for a burnt offering.“Aaron will present the bull for his sin offering and make atonement for himself and his household. Next he will take the two goats and place them before the Lord at the entrance to the tent of meeting. After Aaron casts lots for the two goats, one lot for the Lord and the other for an uninhabitable place,[b][che is to present the goat chosen by lot for the Lord and sacrifice it as a sin offering. 10 But the goat chosen by lot for an uninhabitable place is to be presented alive before the Lord to make atonement with it by sending it into the wilderness for an uninhabitable place.11 “When Aaron presents the bull for his sin offering and makes atonement for himself and his household, he will slaughter the bull for his sin offering. 12 Then he is to take a firepan full of blazing coals from the altar before the Lord and two handfuls of finely ground fragrant incense, and bring them inside the curtain. 13 He is to put the incense on the fire before the Lord, so that the cloud of incense covers the mercy seat that is over the testimony, or else he will die. 14 He is to take some of the bull’s blood and sprinkle it with his finger against the east side of the mercy seat; then he will sprinkle some of the blood with his finger before the mercy seat seven times.15 “When he slaughters the male goat for the people’s sin offering and brings its blood inside the curtain, he will do the same with its blood as he did with the bull’s blood: He is to sprinkle it against the mercy seat and in front of it. 16 He will make atonement for the most holy place in this way for all their sins because of the Israelites’ impurities and rebellious acts. He will do the same for the tent of meeting that remains among them, because it is surrounded by their impurities. 17 No one may be in the tent of meeting from the time he enters to make atonement in the most holy place until he leaves after he has made atonement for himself, his household, and the whole assembly of Israel. 18 Then he will go out to the altar that is before the Lord and make atonement for it. He is to take some of the bull’s blood and some of the goat’s blood and put it on the horns on all sides of the altar. 19 He is to sprinkle some of the blood on it with his finger seven times to cleanse and set it apart from the Israelites’ impurities.20 “When he has finished making atonement for the most holy place, the tent of meeting, and the altar, he is to present the live male goat. 21 Aaron will lay both his hands on the head of the live goat and confess over it all the Israelites’ iniquities and rebellious acts—all their sins. He is to put them on the goat’s head and send it away into the wilderness by the man appointed for the task.[d22 The goat will carry all their iniquities into a desolate land, and the man will release it there.23 “Then Aaron is to enter the tent of meeting, take off the linen garments he wore when he entered the most holy place, and leave them there. 24 He will bathe his body with water in a holy place and put on his clothes. Then he must go out and sacrifice his burnt offering and the people’s burnt offering; he will make atonement for himself and for the people. 25 He is to burn the fat of the sin offering on the altar. 26 The man who released the goat for an uninhabitable place is to wash his clothes and bathe his body with water; afterward he may reenter the camp. 27 The bull for the sin offering and the goat for the sin offering, whose blood was brought into the most holy place to make atonement, must be brought outside the camp and their hide, flesh, and waste burned. 28 The one who burns them is to wash his clothes and bathe himself with water; afterward he may reenter the camp.29 “This is to be a permanent statute for you: In the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month you are to practice self-denial and do no work, both the native and the alien who resides among you. 30 Atonement will be made for you on this day to cleanse you, and you will be clean from all your sins before the Lord. 31 It is a Sabbath of complete rest for you, and you must practice self-denial; it is a permanent statute. 32 The priest who is anointed and ordained[e] to serve as high priest in place of his father will make atonement. He will put on the linen garments, the holy garments, 33 and make atonement for the most holy place. He will make atonement for the tent of meeting and the altar and will make atonement for the priests and all the people of the assembly. 34 This is to be a permanent statute for you, to make atonement for the Israelites once a year because of all their sins.” And all this was done as the Lord commanded Moses.

Forbidden Sacrifices

17 The Lord spoke to Moses: “Speak to Aaron, his sons, and all the Israelites and tell them: This is what the Lord has commanded: Anyone from the house of Israel who slaughters an ox, sheep, or goat in the camp, or slaughters it outside the camp, instead of bringing it to the entrance to the tent of meeting to present it as an offering to the Lord before his tabernacle—that person will be considered guilty.[f] He has shed blood and is to be cut off from his people. This is so the Israelites will bring to the Lord the sacrifices they have been offering in the open country. They are to bring them to the priest at the entrance to the tent of meeting and offer them as fellowship sacrifices to the Lord. The priest will then splatter the blood on the Lord’s altar at the entrance to the tent of meeting and burn the fat as a pleasing aroma to the Lord. They must no longer offer their sacrifices to the goat-demons that they have prostituted themselves with. This will be a permanent statute for them throughout their generations.“Say to them: Anyone from the house of Israel or from the aliens who reside among them who offers a burnt offering or a sacrifice but does not bring it to the entrance to the tent of meeting to sacrifice it to the Lord, that person is to be cut off from his people.

Eating Blood and Carcasses Prohibited

10 “Anyone from the house of Israel or from the aliens who reside among them who eats any blood, I will turn[g] against that person who eats blood and cut him off from his people. 11 For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have appointed it to you to make atonement on the altar for[h] your lives, since it is the lifeblood that makes atonement. 12 Therefore I say to the Israelites: None of you and no alien who resides among you may eat blood.13 “Any Israelite or alien residing among them, who hunts down a wild animal or bird that may be eaten must drain its blood and cover it with dirt. 14 Since the life of every creature is its blood, I have told the Israelites: You are not to eat the blood of any creature, because the life of every creature is its blood; whoever eats it must be cut off.15 “Every person, whether the native or the resident alien, who eats an animal that died a natural death or was mauled by wild beasts is to wash his clothes and bathe with water, and he will remain unclean until evening; then he will be clean. 16 But if he does not wash his clothes and bathe himself, he will bear his iniquity.”

Prohibited Pagan Practices

18 The Lord spoke to Moses: “Speak to the Israelites and tell them: I am the Lord your God. Do not follow the practices of the land of Egypt, where you used to live, or follow the practices of the land of Canaan, where I am bringing you. You must not follow their customs. You are to practice my ordinances and you are to keep my statutes by following them; I am the Lord your God. Keep my statutes and ordinances; a person will live if he does them. I am the Lord.“You are not to come near any close relative[i] for sexual intercourse; I am the Lord. You are not to violate the intimacy that belongs to your father and mother.[j] She is your mother; you must not have sexual intercourse with her. You are not to have sex with your father’s wife; she is your father’s family. You are not to have sexual intercourse with your sister, either your father’s daughter or your mother’s, whether born at home or born elsewhere. You are not to have sex with her. 10 You are not to have sexual intercourse with your son’s daughter or your daughter’s daughter, for they are your family.[k11 You are not to have sexual intercourse with your father’s wife’s daughter, who is adopted by[l] your father; she is your sister. 12 You are not to have sexual intercourse with your father’s sister; she is your father’s close relative. 13 You are not to have sexual intercourse with your mother’s sister, for she is your mother’s close relative. 14 You are not to violate the intimacy that belongs to[m] your father’s brother by approaching his wife to have sexual intercourse; she is your aunt. 15 You are not to have sexual intercourse with your daughter-in-law. She is your son’s wife; you are not to have sex with her. 16 You are not to have sexual intercourse with your brother’s wife; she is your brother’s family. 17 You are not to have sexual intercourse with a woman and her daughter. You are not to marry her son’s daughter or her daughter’s daughter and have sex with her. They are close relatives; it is depraved. 18 You are not to marry a woman as a rival to her sister and have sexual intercourse with her during her sister’s lifetime.19 “You are not to approach a woman during her menstrual impurity to have sexual intercourse with her. 20 You are not to have sexual intercourse with[n] your neighbor’s wife, defiling yourself with her.21 “You are not to sacrifice any of your children in the fire[o] to Molech. Do not profane the name of your God; I am the Lord. 22 You are not to sleep with a man as with a woman; it is detestable. 23 You are not to have sexual intercourse with[p] any animal, defiling yourself with it; a woman is not to present herself to an animal to mate with it; it is a perversion.24 “Do not defile yourselves by any of these practices, for the nations I am driving out before you have defiled themselves by all these things. 25 The land has become defiled, so I am punishing it for its iniquity, and the land will vomit out its inhabitants. 26 But you are to keep my statutes and ordinances. You must not commit any of these detestable acts—not the native or the alien who resides among you. 27 For the people who were in the land prior to you have committed all these detestable acts, and the land has become defiled. 28 If you defile the land, it will vomit you out as it has vomited out the nations that were before you. 29 Any person who does any of these detestable practices is to be cut off from his people. 30 You must keep my instruction to not do any of the detestable customs that were practiced before you, so that you do not defile yourselves by them; I am the Lord your God.”

Let the first two verses of chapter sixteen sink in for a minute.  Aaron has lost two of his sons because they approached the presence of the Lord.  God makes sure Aaron understands something: You come to God on His terms, not on your own.  This is a mistake many even today make.  They approach God on their own terms instead of His.  Jesus is the way to God. In John 14:6 Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”  That is the only way to approach God today.

But here is even better news: Hebrews 4:14-16 says, “14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens—Jesus the Son of God—let us hold fast to our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in every way as we are, yet without sin. 16 Therefore, let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in time of need.”  We can approach God with boldness because of the grace shown us through Jesus and His once for all atonement.

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