|BIBLE STUDY SERIES #275, 276 and 277|
23 February, 1997
By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.
We began this series of Bible Studies several years ago with God's Call to Abram in Genesis 12. Since then, our studies have followed the accounts found in the Book of Exodus and the first part of the Book of Leviticus. The series has brought us, in successive Scriptural passages, down the generations of Abraham's descendants. We have seen how God has led the lives of Isaac, Jacob (Israel), and the descendants of Jacob as they entered Egypt to escape a famine and later emerged from bondage in that land. The tribal nation has of late been assembled at the foot of Mount Sinai, where Moses is receiving and relaying to them the Commandments and instructions of The Almighty God, Yahweh or Jehovah, their national husband.
During the last month we have examined Leviticus 16, which tells us of the national obligation of those Israelites to observe, once a year, the Day of Atonement, a necessary covering of the sins of the nation and each of its citizens. A covering did not expunge the sin, but prevented God's official observance of it, which would have involved immediate punishment. The actual culminating sacrifice, of which the sacrifices made through the years of Old Testament times on the Day of Atonement were only a foreshadowing, was to come with the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on Golgotha. As we, of the British-Israel-World Federation continually assert, the present-day descendants of those ancient Israelitish tribes are in the main found under the new designation of Anglo-Celto-Saxon and kindred peoples, and, although generally unaware of their origins, they none-the-less have, through the centuries, become generally attached to the Christian Faith, which we see as containing the continuation of the Old Testament injunctions, prophecies and commitments; being a New Covenant made with the progeny of the same people who had participated in the Old Covenant. Thus there is a continuous thread of attachment between the Israelitish practice of old-time and the commitment of their modern day descendants who look to Christ for their Salvation.
The next section of Scripture in our ongoing studies is in Leviticus and starts with chapter 17. In the Commentary by Keil and Delitzsch, Chapters 17 to 25 are grouped. This group of chapters is headed "Laws For The Sanctification Of Israel In The Covenant Fellowship Of Its God." A sub-heading, which is applied to Chapters 17 to 20 reads "Holiness Of Conduct On The Part Of The Israelites." Here, their Commentary makes an opening statement as follows: "The contents of these four chapters have been very fittingly summed up by Baumgarten in the following heading: 'Israel is not to walk in the way of the heathen and of the Canaanites, but in the ordinances of Jehovah,' as all the commandments contained in them relate to holiness of life."
As we now approach Leviticus 17, we find here a chapter which draws the focus of attention to a most significant and important matter; that of the prohibitions and stipulations regarding blood. Before we begin the reading of Leviticus 17, I think it will be profitable for us to consider a more general reference section found in The New Bible Dictionary.
The New Bible Dictionary, item "Blood" contains some useful thoughts which I might bring before you now. It says: "The point chiefly to be determined is whether 'blood' in biblical usage points basically to life or to death. There are those who hold that in the sacrificial system of the Old Testament 'blood' represents life liberated from the limitations of the body and set free for other purposes. The ceremonial manipulation of blood on this view represents the solemn presentation to God of life, life surrendered, dedicated, transformed. The death occupies a subordinate place or even no place at all. On this view 'the blood of Christ' would mean little more than 'the life of Christ'. The evidence, however, does not seem to support it. In the first place there is the statistical evidence. Of the 362 passages in which the Hebrew word 'dam' occurs in the Old Testament, 203 refer to death with violence. Only seven passages connect life and blood (seventeen refer to the eating of meat with blood). From this it is clear enough that death is the association most likely to be conjured up by the use of the term. Then there is the lack of evidence adduced in support of the life theory. Exponents of this view regard it as self-evident from such passages as Lv. xvii. 11, 'the life of the flesh is in the blood'. But the scriptural passages can just as well be interpreted of life yielded up in death, as of life set free. It is undeniable that in some places atonement is said to have been secured by death, e.g. Nu. xxxv. 33, 'for blood it defileth the land: and the land cannot be cleansed (lit. atoned) of the blood that is shed therein, but by the blood of him that shed it'. See also Ex. xxix. 33, Lv. x, 17. The Old Testament, then, affords no grounds for the far-reaching statements that are sometimes made. Atonement is secured by the death of a victim rather than by its life. This carries over into the New Testament. There, as in the Old Testament, blood is more often used in the sense of death by violence than in any other sense. When we come to the blood of Christ there are some passages which indicate in the plainest possible fashion that death is meant. Such are the references to being 'justified by his blood' (Rom. v. 9; parallel to 'reconciled...by the death of his Son' in verse 10), 'the blood of his cross' (Col. i. 20), the reference to coming 'by water and blood' (I Jn. v. 6), and others. Sometimes the death of Christ is thought of as a sacrifice (e.g. the blood of the covenant). But a close examination of all these passages indicates that the term is used in the same way as in the Old Testament. That is to say, the sacrifices are still understood to be efficacious by virtue of the death of the victim. 'The blood of Christ' accordingly is to be understood of the atoning death of the Saviour."
Let us read from the passage found in Leviticus 17, beginning at verse 1. We shall not have time to study the whole chapter today, but we can make a start on it, leaving the remainder for our next study. As we read, I shall insert comments from recognised sources, and possibly also thoughts of my own, which I trust will be helpful in making clear some concepts contained herein.
1. And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
2. Speak unto Aaron, and unto his sons, and unto all the children of Israel, and say unto them; This is the thing which the LORD hath commanded, saying,
A note in The Companion Bible draws attention to the fact that in this Book, Jehovah "spake" at thirty-five sundry times, and in ten divers manners. Sometimes it was to Moses alone, sometimes to Moses to speak "to Aaron", "to Aaron and his sons", "to the priests, the sons of Aaron", "to Aaron and his sons, and to all the children of Israel," and so forth. On this occasion, a Companion Bible note remarks that the latter usage, "and to all the children of Israel" seen here in verse 2, "is the first occurrence of this phrase" (in the Bible). It is helpful to note exactly to whom, and through whom, Jehovah makes known His Law, on various occasions. Let us now pick up the text to see what it is that Jehovah desires Moses to tell these people.
3. What man soever there be of the house of Israel, that killeth an ox, or lamb, or goat, in the camp, or that killeth it out of the camp,
4. And bringeth it not unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, to offer an offering unto the LORD before the tabernacle of the LORD; blood shall be imputed unto that man; he hath shed blood; and that man shall be cut off from among his people:
5. To the end that the children of Israel may bring their sacrifices, which they offer in the open field, even that they may bring them unto the LORD, unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, unto the priest, and offer them for peace offerings unto the LORD.
6. And the priest shall sprinkle the blood upon the altar of the LORD at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and burn the fat for a sweet savour unto the LORD.
7. And they shall no more offer their sacrifices unto devils, after whom they have gone a whoring. This shall be a statute for ever unto them throughout their generations.
8. And thou shalt say unto them, Whatsoever man there be of the house of Israel, or of the strangers which sojourn among you, that offereth a burnt offering or sacrifice,
9. And bringeth it not unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, to offer it unto the LORD; even that man shall be cut off from among his people.
The Companion Bible gives at this point a most important note for clarification. It explains that this Law and the Law recorded in Deuteronomy 12:15 and 21 are not at odds, when each is read in its context. Note here that the context shows us that this passage is concerned with sacrifices made in unlawful places. The killing of animals for food "in thy gates" when at a distance from the sanctuary is the subject of Deuteronomy 12, and so there is no contradiction in these two passages.
The setting for these words is the wilderness of Sinai, and the Israelite camp which will surround the position of The Tabernacle in that arid setting. We will learn more next week about this matter of blood, and how it is used in symbolic ways by these tribes, so recently emerged from Egypt, and still much entangled with their former religious influences in that land.
May I, for this week, leave this thought with you. Many who descend today from these same Israelites and are now identified as the generally Anglo-Celto-Saxon and kindred peoples, are similarly entangled with false gods and religious practices and superstitions. Those among us who are aware of our Christian commitments should, as Moses did, hold their brethren, who are thus entangled, before The Throne of God in prayer that enlightenment may come to them, even as it did to the Israelitish Tribes so long ago.
2 March, 1997
By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.
We began this series of Bible Studies several years ago with God's Call to Abram in Genesis 12. Since then, our studies have followed the Biblical accounts in Exodus and Leviticus, down the generations of Abraham's descendants Isaac, Jacob (Israel), and the descendants of Jacob as they entered Egypt to escape a famine and later emerged from bondage in that land. Assembled at the foot of Mount Sinai, Moses is receiving and relaying to them the Commandments and instructions of The Almighty God, Yahweh or Jehovah, their national husband.
In recent broadcasts we have been examining Leviticus 16, which describes The Day of Atonement. The actual sacrifice, of which the sacrifices made on the Day of Atonement were only a foreshadowing, was that of Jesus Christ on Golgotha. As we, of the British-Israel-World Federation continually assert, the present-day descendants of those ancient Israelitish tribes are in the main found under the new designation of Anglo-Celto-Saxon and kindred peoples, and generally of the Christian Faith; a continuous thread of attachment between the Israelitish practice of old-time and the commitment of their modern day descendants who look to Christ for their Salvation.
We are now studying Leviticus 17, which we started to examine last week. This chapter deals with the commandments of Yahweh, (Jehovah), The Almighty God, regarding the matter of blood, a subject which would have greatly concerned Moses in the wilderness of Sinai as the people had only recently emerged out of the idolatrous land of Egypt, and many held to the practices which they had learned there, among which, it seems, was the offering of sacrifices with blood to various gods and satyrs. Yahweh, (Jehovah), The Almighty God, is in this chapter giving His Law to counter the religious tendencies prevalent among many who had so recently emerged from Egyptian bondage. We had arrived at verse 10, where we pick up today's reading.
10. And whatsoever man there be of the house of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn among you, that eateth any manner of blood; I will even set my face against that soul that eateth blood, and will cut him off from among his people.
11. For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.
12. Therefore I said unto the children of Israel, No soul of you shall eat blood, neither shall any stranger that sojourneth among you eat blood.
13. And whatsoever man there be of the children of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn among you, which hunteth and catcheth any beast or fowl that may be eaten; he shall even pour out the blood thereof, and cover it with dust.
14. For it is the life of all flesh; the blood of it is for the life thereof: therefore I said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall eat the blood of no manner of flesh: for the life of all flesh is the blood thereof: whosoever eateth it shall be cut off.
In the Deuteronomy 12 passage, the same stipulation, rigorously forbidding the consumption of the blood within the flesh, is enjoined to Israelites. For those who consider themselves to be "New Testament Christians" for whom the Old Testament contains no obligation, I will read the words of the Council found in Acts 15. These words were spoken in regard to "Gentiles", that is to say, in regard to those who were descendants of the Northern Tribes of ancient Israel whom the Assyrians had deported. Remember that these had been told by God, as recorded in Jeremiah 3:8, "And I saw, when for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorce...". Thus, during the period of their being "set aside", or "divorced", God's Law was not a part of their religious observance. However, to them, James applied these words (Acts 15:15-16) "...as it is written, After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up:.. ." From these words we can see that these particular "Gentiles" (nations) were descendants of those ancient Israelite tribes.. In verse 19, James continues: "Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God: But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood." So the strictures of God through Moses, in regard to avoidance of blood were considered by the early Church to be of sufficient importance that it must be transmitted as a priority to those descendants of ancient Israel.
15. And every soul that eateth that which died of itself, or that which was torn with beasts, whether it be one of your own country, or a stranger, he shall both wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the even: then shall he be clean.
16. But if he wash them not, nor bathe his flesh; then he shall bear his iniquity.
The New Bible Commentary, under the heading "The Place Of Sacrifice And The Sanctity Of Blood. xvii. 1-16" says that: "It has been customary in critical circles for many years to treat xvii-xxvi as a distinct section and to call it 'the Holiness Code'. To do this destroys the close connection which clearly exists between chapters xvi and xvii and also between chapter xvii and the manual of sacrifice in chapters i-vii. Whatever may be said of xviii-xxvi, chapter xvii clearly belongs to what precedes. It may properly be regarded as supplementary, but a climactic supplement or conclusion to the first part of Leviticus. Since the day of atonement exhibits in a superlative degree the significance of sacrifice in the life of the covenant people, and points out the unique sacredness of the blood in that on this one day the sacrificial blood is brought into the holiest place and sprinkled on the ark of the covenant itself, to obtain the remission of all the sins of all the people, it is appropriate that in this next chapter the two aspects of sacrifice which specially concern all the people should be particularly emphasized. The introductory formula is specially impressive. Notice that it is all-inclusive as well as being very emphatic. This is the thing which the Lord hath commanded (2; cf viii. 5, ix. 6). What man soever there be of the house of Israel (3). The universal application of the law now to be declared is specially emphasized (cf. verses 8, 10, 13). Killeth (3), the same word as occurs in i. 5, where it is used of the slaughtering of the animal which has been brought for sacrifice. The reference here is to the domestic animals which were regularly used for that purpose. They are to be brought to the door of the tabernacle and offered as peace offerings. This served both to gratify the desire of the people to eat flesh and also established the proprietary right of God, more particularly in those animals which were so often offered to Him in sacrifice. It had two further aims: to prevent eating blood (10ff.) and also to prevent the sacrificing of these animals in the open field (5); which is at once defined as offering them to 'he-goats' (RV) or satyrs, an act which was not only idolatry (xix. 4, xxvi. 1, 30) but was accompanied by orgiastic rites (7). Cf. Ex. xxxiv. 15f.; Lv. xx. 5f. This indicates that such idolatrous practices were common among the Israelites at the time of the Exodus, having been learned by them in Egypt. The worship of Pan flourished, as we know, in ancient Greece and Rome. Consequently this law was not primarily a requirement that the Israelites sacrifice these animals to the Lord as peace offerings instead of simply devouring them anywhere they pleased, but rather that they offer them to the Lord instead of sacrificing them to the 'he-goats'. It is the substitution of an act of true worship for one of idolatry and license. And it shows plainly how deeply the sojourn in Egypt had influenced the life of Israel. This shall be a statute for ever (7). In its negative aspect, the prohibition of eating with the blood and of idolatrous practices, this statute was irrevocable under the Mosaic dispensation. On its positive side it was later modified by Moses to accord with the changed conditions which would result from settlement in the land. (Dt. xii. 20-24), changes which affected the letter without changing the spirit of the law. The difference between Leviticus and Deuteronomy here shows clearly that the former preceded the latter and not vice versa. Verses 8, 9 refer more particularly to a 'killing' which is intended to be an act of worship. This is indicated by the specific reference to burnt offering in addition to sacrifice (i.e. of peace offerings; see verse 5), since no part of the burnt offering was used as food. I...will cut him off (10). Usually the passive is used (see verses 4, 9, 14 and vii. 20, 21, 27). Here, as in xx. 3, 5, 6, the stronger form is used. This has been understood to mean that the cutting off is to be an act of God. The sacredness of the blood is taught very early. Although in other respects unlimited, the permission given to Noah regarding the eating of flesh was qualified by the words 'But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat' (Gn. ix. 4). Here the fact is repeated three times that the life of the animal is in the blood (11, 14); and it is to be regarded as sacred because God has made it the means of expiation for sin by requiring that it be presented upon His altar. Consequently, even in the case of animals not suited for sacrifice, the blood must be treated reverently. It must be poured out upon the ground and covered with dust (13; cf. Dt. xii. 16n.). Verses 15, 16 make a further exception. If a man eats flesh with the blood ignorantly, not realizing the way in which the animal had died (this must be the meaning), he shall bathe himself and be unclean until the evening. It is noteworthy that while for the modern Jews the ritual of sacrifice has lost all meaning, they still adhere strictly to the requirement concerning eating with the blood. Blood is still sacred for them as the symbol of life and the sacredness of life, but not for the reason so emphatically stated in the Old Testament - its connection with atonement for sin. A strict Jew will eat only kosher meat, i.e. meat 'rightly' and 'properly' prepared."
May these aspects of God's Law make a contribution to your further understanding of God's Word in the days ahead.
9 March, 1997
By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.
Our ongoing series of Bible Studies, began several years ago with God's call to Abram, to leave his kindred and his father's house, and to go out to a new land. We have followed the Scriptural account of the enlarging family through a number of generations, and we have seen how Abraham's progeny, Isaac, Jacob (Israel), and the children of Israel went down into Egypt to escape a famine and later emerged from bondage there with great wealth through the miracles of The Exodus and under the leadership of Moses.
We followed the story onward in successive Scripture passages, through the Books of Exodus, and, of late, Leviticus, as the Children of Israel, now gathered at the foot of Mount Sinai, have agreed to become the national "wife" of Yahweh (Jehovah), The Almighty God.
We, of the British-Israel-World Federation, find their descendants today in the generally Anglo-Celto-Saxon and kindred peoples of the world, and so we consider the relationship of Israel so long ago to Yahweh (Jehovah) to be our own continuing relationship, carrying forward the many prophetic marks which are not displayed by any other large group of nations.
As we read the Scriptural account, we find those ancient Israelites are receiving through Moses, the laws which they are to follow in this new capacity as a national wife to their God. We had arrived at Leviticus 17 on the last Bible Study, and now we are approaching, in Leviticus 18, some injunctions concerning those relationships which must be kept free of incestual complications.
Before we begin our reading of Leviticus 18, I might make use of The New Bible Commentary introduction to this section of Scripture which, under the heading "Sins Against The Moral Law xviii. 1 - xx. 27" and the sub-heading "a. Prohibited degrees and sensuality (xviii. 1-30)" states: "The introduction (1-5) is very impressive. The Lord's people are to keep His commandments. Their standards are not to be determined by the practices of Egypt where they were in bondage or of Canaan which they are to possess. The statutes and ordinances of their God are to be their sole standard of conduct; and the reward of obedience is life (cf. Dt. xxx. 15-20)." I shall read that Deuteronomy 30 reference at this point to amplify the Commentary statement. It reads:
15. See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil;
16. In that I command thee this day to love the LORD thy God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments and his statutes and his judgments, that thou mayest live and multiply: and the LORD thy God shall bless thee in the land whither thou goest to possess it.
17. But if thine heart turn away, so that thou wilt not hear, but shalt be drawn away, and worship other gods, and serve them;
18. I denounce unto you this day, that ye shall surely perish, and that ye shall not prolong your days upon the land, whither thou passest over Jordan to go to possess it.
19. I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:
20. That thou mayest love the LORD thy God, and that thou mayest obey his voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto him: for he is thy life, and the length of thy days: that thou mayest dwell in the land which the LORD sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.
The New Bible Commentary continues: "The sanction is: I am the Lord your God (2). That the 'abominations' about to be described were practised in Egypt, and even among other cultured nations of antiquity, is a well-known fact. Modern marriage laws are largely based on the limitations stated in this chapter. But they have not seldom been made more strict than the law requires."
Let us now read from today's Scripture portion. The Companion Bible, incidentally, heads the notes to this chapter "Unlawful Connections." Let us, then, read Leviticus 18 starting at verse 1, with the usual insertion of comments as we proceed.
1. And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
2. Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, I am the LORD your God.
The words "The LORD your God" distinguish the author of these Laws as Yahweh, Jehovah, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, not some Egyptian or Canaanite god.
3. After the doings of the land of Egypt, wherein ye dwelt, shall ye not do: and after the doings of the land of Canaan, whither I bring you, shall ye not do: neither shall ye walk in their ordinances.
4. Ye shall do my judgments, and keep mine ordinances, to walk therein: I am the LORD your God.
5. Ye shall therefore keep my statutes, and my judgments: which if a man do, he shall live in them: I am the LORD.
The Companion Bible has a note at this verse which explains the meaning of "he shall live in them" as "he shall live by them to life eternal."
6. None of you shall approach to any that is near of kin to him, to uncover their nakedness: I am the LORD.
Here, The Companion Bible notes that the absence of the words "of the house of Israel" indicates that the strangers are included in this law, and also, that "near of kin", in the Hebrew is "the remainder of his flesh" i.e. his own flesh (or relatives).
7. The nakedness of thy father, or the nakedness of thy mother, shalt thou not uncover: she is thy mother; thou shalt not uncover her nakedness.
8. The nakedness of thy father's wife shalt thou not uncover: it is thy father's nakedness.
9. The nakedness of thy sister, the daughter of thy father, or daughter of thy mother, whether she be born at home, or born abroad, even their nakedness thou shalt not uncover.
10. The nakedness of thy son's daughter, or of thy daughter's daughter, even their nakedness thou shalt not uncover: for theirs is thine own nakedness.
11. The nakedness of thy father's wife's daughter, begotten of thy father, she is thy sister, thou shalt not uncover her nakedness.
The Companion Bible notes that "father's wife" in Hebrew, always means one's "step-mother."
12. Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy father's sister: she is thy father's near kinswoman.
13. Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy mother's sister: for she is thy mother's near kinswoman.
14. Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy father's brother, thou shalt not approach to his wife: she is thine aunt.
15. Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy daughter in law: she is thy son's wife; thou shalt not uncover her nakedness.
16. Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy brother's wife: it is thy brother's nakedness.
This was the law to which John the Baptist had directed the attention of King Herod, and for this John the Baptist was put in prison, and later, beheaded at the demand of the damsel [Salome], as recorded in Matthew 14:1-12. That account states the matter in these words:
1. At that time Herod the tetrarch heard of the fame of Jesus,
2. And said unto his servants, This is John the Baptist; he is risen from the dead; and therefore mighty works do shew forth themselves in him.
3. For Herod had laid hold on John, and bound him, and put him in prison for Herodias' sake, his brother Philip's wife.
4. For John said unto him, It is not lawful for thee to have her.
5. And when he would have put him to death, he feared the multitude, because they counted him as a prophet.
6. But when Herod's birthday was kept, the daughter of Herodias danced before them, and pleased Herod.
7. Whereupon he promised with an oath to give her whatsoever she would ask.
8. And she, being before instructed of her mother, said, Give me here John Baptist's head in a charger.
9. And the king was sorry: nevertheless for the oath's sake, and them which sat with him at meat, he commanded it to be given her.
10. And he sent, and beheaded John in the prison.
11. And his head was brought in a charger, and given to the damsel: and she brought it to her mother.
12. And his disciples came, and took up the body, and buried it, and went and told Jesus.
It may seem to people today that these Old Testament Laws are not of any effect either because of the general sophistication which refuses to accept any Biblical injunctions as valid truth, or because they have been told that the Law was nailed to the Cross so it is useless to study it now because it would confuse people! However, if one takes an approach to Biblical study which involves identifying correctly the present-day players on the world's stage, the prophecies come to life, the meaning and application of the laws is validated and they are re-instated as a rule of life. Particularly is this the case when we read Christ's words of Matthew 5:17-19 where He clarified the fact that every jot and tittle of the Law was to continue so long as heaven and earth exist, and be observed and proclaimed by those who would desire to be called great in the kingdom of heaven.! That is a subject which might form a point of meditation for the coming week.
We shall take up further of this chapter 18 of Leviticus on our next programme.
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