I Promise – Leviticus 25-27

Read Leviticus 25-27

On October 28, 2012, Hurricane Sandy destroyed everything Aiman Youseef owned – his home, his van, and even his business. He pulled his mother from their flooded living room by an extension cord in an act of quick thinking. His dog, Samson, swam for half a day before he found him. And while his home was valued for more than $300,000, he didn’t have flood insurance and he missed a payment to his insurance company. He received nothing for his pain and tragedy.

This final chapter in the book of Leviticus concerns making vows. We pledge allegiance to the United States or we say our wedding vows. Sometimes people make commitments to God. But sometimes we make a vow to God just as Aiman did after Hurricane Sandy. Because he was able to save his mother and family from the mess of the hurricane, he promised Jesus that he would dedicate one full year to doing nothing else but helping others. So on the very spot where his home once stood, Aiman Youseef set up a tent to feed other victims of Hurricane Sandy for more than a year.

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Congratulations to those who have reading all of Leviticus with our church family. Reading 27 chapters of laws is tough! Few of us will read through 27 pages of American jurisprudence. Again, I call it the “Bermuda Triangle” of Bible reading because a number of people enter into it but very few exit. Yet, you have done it! You have completed reading one of the most difficult books in all of the Bible.

Holidays or Holy Days? – Leviticus 22-24

Read Leviticus 22-24

Like the American calendar with our holidays of Labor Day, Memorial Day, and Independence Day, the ancient calendar of Israel celebrated special holidays. Yet, the holidays you read about in Scripture today had less to do with patriotism and more to do with gratitude and worship. Remember, these are not empty rituals, but important reminders to God’s people to honor and worship God.

The Festival of Firstfruits is described in Leviticus 23:9-14. The Passover, or the Festival of Unleavened Bread, occurred in the spring at the time of harvest. During the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the people took the first part of the harvest and waved it before the Lord in gratitude. They then gave an offering to the Lord as an expression of thanks for the harvest that was yet to come. This ceremony was the Festival of Firstfruits, and the people observed it during the Festival of Unleavened Bread.

The second festival was the Festival of Weeks, or Pentecost, and it was a special time set aside to give thanks to God. This special time was marked off counting 49 days (7 weeks) after the Festival of Firstfruits as described in Leviticus 23:15-22. The next day was designated the Festival of Weeks. The purpose of Pentecost was to celebrate God’s gift of the harvest that the people had gathered by that time. Just as you are thankful for a paycheck, a farmer is grateful for the harvest. The holiday reminded everyone that the harvest was God’s because He truly owns the land.

The Holiness of God – Leviticus 20-21

Read Leviticus 20-21

The word “holy” or “holiness” occurs eighty-seven times in Leviticus. Holiness is the book’s overarching theme. The second half of Leviticus, from chapter 17 onward, is sometimes called the Holiness Code because it details how the Israelites were to live as God’s holy people. Leviticus 19:2 gives the underlying command and motivation: “You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy.” While Leviticus was written for us, it was not written immediately to us. The Lord gave Israel commands to govern her life as a nation, and these commands served a variety of purposes. Some were intended to remind the people that they were separate from the nations and belonged to the Lord. At every meal and with every change of clothes they would have a reminder: God is holy and you should be holy.