The Christ Church Wednesday Bible Study Group is studying of the Old Testament book of Leviticus. The key to the book of Leviticus is found in verses 45 and 46 of chapter 11.
Leviticus 11:44-45 NIV I am the Lord your God; consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am holy. Do not make yourselves unclean by any creature that moves along the ground. I am the Lord, who brought you up out of Egypt to be your God; therefore be holy, because I am holy.
The most important structure in the camp of Israel was the tabernacle, the sanctuary where God dwelt and where the priests and Levites served Him. The tabernacle contained two distinct parts the Holy of Holies which contained the Ark of the Covenant, with its cherubim-covered mercy seat and the Holy Place which contained a gold lampstand or candlestick, a table, on which lay the showbread. The Menorah holding seven oil lamps and the golden altar of incense.
These are the notes to Session 21 where we begin the study of chapter 24.
In chapter 24, the Lord gave Moses instructions concerning three holy things: the holy oil for the lampstand, the holy bread for the table, and the holy name of the Lord, which all the people were to honor.
There was the Sabbath Day. Then seven feasts.
There were 7 feasts they are
Weeks (Pentecost happens then)
Day of Atonement
The first four feasts happen in rapid succession as do the final three which all happen in about one month.
Passover was the beginning of the Jewish religious year.
The final three feasts were celebrated in the seventh month.
The Feast of Trumpets was held on the first day of the seventh month and ushered in the new civil year (Rosh Hashanah, “the head of the year”). Passover was the first day of the religious year.
Each year, the grown males of the nation had to appear before God to celebrate three specific feasts: Passover and Unleavened Bread, Firstfruits, and Tabernacles.
Exodus 23:14-19 NIV “Three times a year you are to celebrate a festival to me. “Celebrate the Festival of Unleavened Bread; for seven days eat bread made without yeast, as I commanded you. Do this at the appointed time in the month of Aviv, for in that month you came out of Egypt. “No one is to appear before me empty-handed. “Celebrate the Festival of Harvest with the firstfruits of the crops you sow in your field. “Celebrate the Festival of Ingathering at the end of the year, when you gather in your crops from the field. “Three times a year all the men are to appear before the Sovereign Lord. “Do not offer the blood of a sacrifice to me along with anything containing yeast. “The fat of my festival offerings must not be kept until morning. “Bring the best of the firstfruits of your soil to the house of the Lord your God. “Do not cook a young goat in its mother’s milk.
The most important structure in the camp of Israel was the tabernacle, the sanctuary where God dwelt and where the priests and Levites served Him.
The main source describing the tabernacle is the biblical Book of Exodus, specifically Exodus 25–31 and 35–40. Those passages describe an inner sanctuary, the Holy of Holies, created by the veil suspended by four pillars. This sanctuary contained the Ark of the Covenant, with its cherubim-covered mercy seat. An outer sanctuary (the "Holy Place") contained a gold lamp-stand or candlestick. On the north side stood a table, on which lay the showbread. On the south side was the Menorah, holding seven oil lamps to give light. On the west side, just before the veil, was the golden altar of incense. It was constructed of 4 woven layers of curtains and 48 15-foot tall standing wood boards overlaid in gold and held in place by its bars and silver sockets and was richly furnished with valuable materials taken from Egypt at God's command.
The veil divided the tabernacle proper into two parts, the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies.
The Holy Place measured 30 feet long, 15 feet wide, and 15 feet high. On the front of the tabernacle tent was a beautiful veil made of blue, purple, and scarlet yarn, hung from five golden pillars.
In the Holy Place were three pieces of furniture: the golden altar of incense, the table of presence bread, and the golden lampstand. As the priest faced the incense altar, the table would be to his right and the lampstand to his left.
In this chapter (24), the Lord gave Moses instructions concerning three holy things: the holy oil for the lampstand (Lev. 24:1–4), the holy bread for the table (vv. 5–9), and the holy name of the Lord, which all the people were to honor (vv. 10–23).
1. THE HOLY OIL (24:1–4)
Leviticus 24:1-4 NIV The Lord said to Moses, “Command the Israelites to bring you clear oil of pressed olives for the light so that the lamps may be kept burning continually. Outside the curtain that shields the ark of the covenant law in the tent of meeting, Aaron is to tend the lamps before the Lord from evening till morning, continually. This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come. The lamps on the pure gold lampstand before the Lord must be tended continually.
Since there were no windows in the tabernacle, it was necessary to have light in the Holy Place so the priests could see as they ministered there.
Of course, Jesus is the light and only through Him can we see and appreciate spiritual things.
John 1:4, 9 NIV In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.
The golden lampstand provided that light. It was hammered out of pure gold and made into one piece with a central shaft and six branches; pure olive oil fueled the lamps on the branches.
Exodus 25:31-40 NIV “Make a lampstand of pure gold. Hammer out its base and shaft, and make its flowerlike cups, buds and blossoms of one piece with them. Six branches are to extend from the sides of the lampstand—three on one side and three on the other. Three cups shaped like almond flowers with buds and blossoms are to be on one branch, three on the next branch, and the same for all six branches extending from the lampstand. And on the lampstand there are to be four cups shaped like almond flowers with buds and blossoms. One bud shall be under the first pair of branches extending from the lampstand, a second bud under the second pair, and a third bud under the third pair—six branches in all. The buds and branches shall all be of one piece with the lampstand, hammered out of pure gold. “Then make its seven lamps and set them up on it so that they light the space in front of it. Its wick trimmers and trays are to be of pure gold. A talent of pure gold is to be used for the lampstand and all these accessories. See that you make them according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.
Each morning and evening, when the high priest burned incense on the golden altar, he was to care for the lights on the lampstand to make sure they would continue to burn. Special golden instruments were provided for pulling up the wicks from the oil and trimming them.
This commandment about the lampstand emphasized two essentials: (1) the people of Israel had to provide the olive oil regularly, and (2) it had to be beaten and pure.
Exodus 27:20-21 NIV “Command the Israelites to bring you clear oil of pressed olives for the light so that the lamps may be kept burning. In the tent of meeting, outside the curtain that shields the ark of the covenant law, Aaron and his sons are to keep the lamps burning before the Lord from evening till morning. This is to be a lasting ordinance among the Israelites for the generations to come.
There was a method of extracting olive oil by heat but beating or crushing the olives and straining out the impurities produced the best olive oil. And the God of Israel deserves the absolute best.
2. THE HOLY BREAD (24:5–9)
Leviticus 24:5-9 NIV “Take the finest flour and bake twelve loaves of bread, using two-tenths of an ephah for each loaf. Arrange them in two stacks, six in each stack, on the table of pure gold before the Lord. By each stack put some pure incense as a memorial portion to represent the bread and to be a food offering presented to the Lord. This bread is to be set out before the Lord regularly, Sabbath after Sabbath, on behalf of the Israelites, as a lasting covenant. It belongs to Aaron and his sons, who are to eat it in the sanctuary area, because it is a most holy part of their perpetual share of the food offerings presented to the Lord.”
Not only were the people to bring the pure olive oil for the lamp, but also they were to bring the fine flour out of which twelve loaves of bread were baked each week. These were put on the golden table each Sabbath, and then the old bread was given to the priests to eat.
These loaves were treated like a meal offering, complete with the frankincense.
Leviticus 2:1-4, 11 NIV “ ‘When anyone brings a grain offering to the Lord, their offering is to be of the finest flour. They are to pour olive oil on it, put incense on it and take it to Aaron’s sons the priests. The priest shall take a handful of the flour and oil, together with all the incense, and burn this as a memorial portion on the altar, a food offering, an aroma pleasing to the Lord. The rest of the grain offering belongs to Aaron and his sons; it is a most holy part of the food offerings presented to the Lord. “ ‘If you bring a grain offering baked in an oven, it is to consist of the finest flour: either thick loaves made without yeast and with olive oil mixed in or thin loaves made without yeast and brushed with olive oil. “ ‘Every grain offering you bring to the Lord must be made without yeast, for you are not to burn any yeast or honey in a food offering presented to the Lord.
On the Sabbath, when the loaves were replaced, the priest would take a “memorial portion” from a loaf, add the frankincense, and burn it on the altar along with the daily burnt offering. The priests could then eat the old loaves, but they had to do it in the Holy Place.
What did this symbolize? Only the priests (the tribe of Levi) were allowed in the Holy Place, but the other tribes were represented there in two ways: by the jewels on the high priest’s garments.
We talked about the High Priest’s garments when we talked about his ordination in chapter 8, but the garments were described in Exodus 28.
Exodus 28:9-12 NIV “Take two onyx stones and engrave on them the names of the sons of Israel in the order of their birth—six names on one stone and the remaining six on the other. Engrave the names of the sons of Israel on the two stones the way a gem cutter engraves a seal. Then mount the stones in gold filigree settings and fasten them on the shoulder pieces of the ephod as memorial stones for the sons of Israel. Aaron is to bear the names on his shoulders as a memorial before the Lord.
and by the twelve loaves on the table.
The table was called “the table of shewbread”, or as in the NIV Presence.
Numbers 4:7 NIV “Over the table of the Presence they are to spread a blue cloth and put on it the plates, dishes and bowls, and the jars for drink offerings; the bread that is continually there is to remain on it.
And the loaves were called “shewbread”, which can be translated “bread of presence.”
Exodus 25:30 NIV Put the bread of the Presence on this table to be before me at all times.
God was present with His people, and they were in His presence in the tabernacle. Oil from the people fed the lamp that gave the priests light, and the bread they ate each Sabbath came from flour given by the people. The twelve loaves reminded the priests that all the tribes were represented before God and were God’s people.
We expect to find oil and incense in the Holy Place, but not bread. The presence of bread in the tabernacle assures us that God is concerned about the practical things of our lives and that there’s no such thing as “secular” and “sacred” in the Christian life. It was this “presence bread” that David and his men ate when David was fleeing from Saul.
1 Samuel 21:1-6 NIV David went to Nob, to Ahimelek the priest. Ahimelek trembled when he met him, and asked, “Why are you alone? Why is no one with you?” David answered Ahimelek the priest, “The king sent me on a mission and said to me, ‘No one is to know anything about the mission I am sending you on.’ As for my men, I have told them to meet me at a certain place. Now then, what do you have on hand? Give me five loaves of bread, or whatever you can find.” But the priest answered David, “I don’t have any ordinary bread on hand; however, there is some consecrated bread here—provided the men have kept themselves from women.” David replied, “Indeed women have been kept from us, as usual whenever I set out. The men’s bodies are holy even on missions that are not holy. How much more so today!” So the priest gave him the consecrated bread, since there was no bread there except the bread of the Presence that had been removed from before the Lord and replaced by hot bread on the day it was taken away.
Matthew 12:1-8 NIV At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry and began to pick some heads of grain and eat them. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to him, “Look! Your disciples are doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath.” He answered, “Haven’t you read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? He entered the house of God, and he and his companions ate the consecrated bread—which was not lawful for them to do, but only for the priests. Or haven’t you read in the Law that the priests on Sabbath duty in the temple desecrate the Sabbath and yet are innocent? I tell you that something greater than the temple is here. If you had known what these words mean, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent. For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”
3. We talked about the instructions about the Holy oil and the Holy bread but what about then instructions about the HOLY NAME OF GOD (24:10–23)
This section starts with something that we talked about earlier which was about a blasphemer who was judged, but the narrative is an illustration, not an interruption.
The basis for obedience to the law is the fear of the Lord, and people who blaspheme His holy name have no fear of God in their hearts.
We talked about the incident of the man that blasphemed the name of God when we talked about the sanctity of judgement.
Leviticus 24:10-16 NIV Now the son of an Israelite mother and an Egyptian father went out among the Israelites, and a fight broke out in the camp between him and an Israelite. The son of the Israelite woman blasphemed the Name with a curse; so they brought him to Moses. (His mother’s name was Shelomith, the daughter of Dibri the Danite.) They put him in custody until the will of the Lord should be made clear to them. Then the Lord said to Moses: “Take the blasphemer outside the camp. All those who heard him are to lay their hands on his head, and the entire assembly is to stone him. Say to the Israelites: ‘Anyone who curses their God will be held responsible; anyone who blasphemes the name of the Lord is to be put to death. The entire assembly must stone them. Whether foreigner or native-born, when they blaspheme the Name they are to be put to death.
A quarrel that arose in the camp resulted in one of the parties cursing the holy name of God. This was not merely bad language, but speech that showed an irreverent and rebellious spirit towards God.
Let’s try to break it down a little today
Dishonoring the Name of God
Leviticus 24:10-11 NIV Now the son of an Israelite mother and an Egyptian father went out among the Israelites, and a fight broke out in the camp between him and an Israelite. The son of the Israelite woman blasphemed the Name with a curse; so they brought him to Moses. (His mother’s name was Shelomith, the daughter of Dibri the Danite.)
Every Jew knew the third commandment
Exodus 20:7 NIV “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.
So fearful were the Jews of breaking this commandment that they substituted the name “Adonai” for “Jehovah” when they read the Scriptures, thus never speaking God’s name at all. To respect a name is to respect the person who bears that name, and our highest respect belongs to the Lord.
If you remember the blasphemer was the product of a mixed marriage between an Egyptian father and a Jewish mother from the tribe of Dan, and during the fight he blasphemed the name of God. He may have cursed his adversary in the name of Jehovah or in his anger simply cursed the name of the Lord.
Of course, it’s possible to blaspheme God’s name in other ways beside swearing. Perjury dishonors God’s name,
Leviticus 19:12 NIV “ ‘Do not swear falsely by my name and so profane the name of your God. I am the Lord.
and so does stealing.
Proverbs 30:8-9 NIV Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God.
Jesus taught that our lives should be so pure that we won’t need to use oaths or vows in order to make people believe us.
Matthew 5:33-37 NIV “Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but fulfill to the Lord the vows you have made.’ But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.
Taking oaths and making vows may mean that you have something to hide.
Determining God’s will
Leviticus 24:12-16 NIV They put him in custody until the will of the Lord should be made clear to them. Then the Lord said to Moses: “Take the blasphemer outside the camp. All those who heard him are to lay their hands on his head, and the entire assembly is to stone him. Say to the Israelites: ‘Anyone who curses their God will be held responsible; anyone who blasphemes the name of the Lord is to be put to death. The entire assembly must stone them. Whether foreigner or native-born, when they blaspheme the Name they are to be put to death.
If a Jew had committed the awful sin of blasphemy, Moses would have known what to do, but this man was part Jewish and part Egyptian, and the law had nothing to say about this. Taking the wise approach, Moses put the man in custody and waited for the Lord to tell him what to do.
This is one of four recorded occasions when Moses had to seek the mind of the Lord about special problems.
One had to do with some men who had been defiled by a corpse and couldn’t celebrate Passover. The Lord permitted them to celebrate the next month.
Numbers 9:6-14 NIV But some of them could not celebrate the Passover on that day because they were ceremonially unclean on account of a dead body. So they came to Moses and Aaron that same day and said to Moses, “We have become unclean because of a dead body, but why should we be kept from presenting the Lord’s offering with the other Israelites at the appointed time?” Moses answered them, “Wait until I find out what the Lord commands concerning you.” Then the Lord said to Moses, “Tell the Israelites: ‘When any of you or your descendants are unclean because of a dead body or are away on a journey, they are still to celebrate the Lord’s Passover, but they are to do it on the fourteenth day of the second month at twilight. They are to eat the lamb, together with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. They must not leave any of it till morning or break any of its bones. When they celebrate the Passover, they must follow all the regulations. But if anyone who is ceremonially clean and not on a journey fails to celebrate the Passover, they must be cut off from their people for not presenting the Lord’s offering at the appointed time. They will bear the consequences of their sin. “ ‘A foreigner residing among you is also to celebrate the Lord’s Passover in accordance with its rules and regulations. You must have the same regulations for both the foreigner and the native-born.’ ”
One was when Moses consulted the Lord about what to do about the man that violated the Sabbath. We talked about that a few weeks ago and it was a capital crime too.
Numbers 15:32-36 NIV While the Israelites were in the wilderness, a man was found gathering wood on the Sabbath day. Those who found him gathering wood brought him to Moses and Aaron and the whole assembly, and they kept him in custody, because it was not clear what should be done to him. Then the Lord said to Moses, “The man must die. The whole assembly must stone him outside the camp.” So the assembly took him outside the camp and stoned him to death, as the Lord commanded Moses.
The third concerned the inheritance of the five daughters of Zelophehad whose question made it possible for Jewish women to inherit their father’s land.
Numbers 27:1-11 NIV The daughters of Zelophehad son of Hepher, the son of Gilead, the son of Makir, the son of Manasseh, belonged to the clans of Manasseh son of Joseph. The names of the daughters were Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milkah and Tirzah. They came forward and stood before Moses, Eleazar the priest, the leaders and the whole assembly at the entrance to the tent of meeting and said, “Our father died in the wilderness. He was not among Korah’s followers, who banded together against the Lord, but he died for his own sin and left no sons. Why should our father’s name disappear from his clan because he had no son? Give us property among our father’s relatives.” So Moses brought their case before the Lord, “What Zelophehad’s daughters are saying is right. You must certainly give them property as an inheritance among their father’s relatives and give their father’s inheritance to them. “Say to the Israelites, ‘If a man dies and leaves no son, give his inheritance to his daughter. If he has no daughter, give his inheritance to his brothers. If he has no brothers, give his inheritance to his father’s brothers. If his father had no brothers, give his inheritance to the nearest relative in his clan, that he may possess it. This is to have the force of law for the Israelites, as the Lord commanded Moses.’ ”
Moses was humble enough to admit that he didn’t know everything and had to ask the Lord what to do. God instructed Moses what to do. The offender must be brought outside the camp where the entire assembly would stone him, for blasphemy was a capital crime in Israel. In other words, the same law that applied to the Israelites also applied to the resident aliens (the “strangers” or “sojourners”) who lived among the Jews. Even the “strangers” were not to blaspheme the name of the God of Israel.
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