Don’t Be Just Like Everyone Else

“I am the Lord your God. You must not do as they do in Egypt, where you used to live, and you must not do as they do in the land of Canaan, where I am bringing you. Do not follow their practices.” (Leviticus 18:2-3, NIV)

Leviticus 18 is the most extensive treatment of sexual ethics in the Bible, and it begins with God telling the Israelites not to do what the cultures around them were doing. As Mark Rooker points out in The New American Commentary, “it was in the sexual realm particularly that the Israelites were aware of their differences with the Canaanites.”1

I recently spoke with a pastor who was ranting about how Christians today are too concerned with legislating sexual relationships between consenting adults. He said, “It’s time to get out of the bedroom and into the streets. We need to stop worrying about what people do in the privacy of their bedrooms and start serving the poor, feeding the hungry, and loving the lonely.” But I think Leviticus 18 demonstrates that not only does God care about the poor, He also is concerned with what we do in the privacy of our bedrooms.

The church today is in a similar position as the nation of Israel was a few thousand years ago. It is in the sexual realm, particularly, that Christians are aware of our differences with the surrounding culture. The Bible clearly teaches throughout its pages in both testaments that marriage is a lifelong commitment between one man and one woman, and any sexual relationships outside of marriage are sinful.2 As unpopular as it is, that is the standard to which God calls us, and perhaps the greatest opportunity we have to be set apart from the world.

As we pursue a holy life, we must remember to show grace and love to those around us–especially to people who have not given their lives to Jesus. Jesus regularly interacted with people, including prostitutes, who were involved in lifestyles and sexual practices that violated God’s Word. Yet, Jesus treated them with love, even while inviting them to repent and live a different way. Let us, like Jesus, be known for our love as well as our purity. If you struggle with sexual sin, please seek help. This is one area where we need the accountability and encouragement of a brother or sister in Christ in order to win the victory.


  1. Mark F. Rooker, Leviticus, vol. 3A, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2000), 240.
  2. See also Gen. 2:24; Matt. 19:3-6; Rom. 1:27; 13:9; 1 Cor. 5:1-5; 6:9-11; Heb. 13:4.
  3. Photo by salvatore ventura on Unsplash.

Prepare to Meet Your Maker

The Lord said to Moses: “Tell your brother Aaron that he is not to come whenever he chooses into the Most Holy Place behind the curtain in front of the atonement cover on the ark, or else he will die. For I will appear in the cloud over the atonement cover. This is how Aaron is to enter the Most Holy Place…” (Leviticus 16:2-3, NIV)

The Most Holy Place was the inner sanctuary of the Tabernacle, where the Ark of the Covenant was kept and where God made His invisible presence visible. This was sacred space, and it could not be entered into willy-nilly. For a human being to be in the physical presence of the LORD God Almighty was no small thing! Aaron, the high priest, had to go through a strict ritual cleansing to enter the Most Holy Place. He had to bathe, wear certain clothes (even special underclothes), and sacrifice a bull for his own sin before he could enter into the Most Holy Place to offer the sacrifice for the people of Israel. Once Aaron was done making the sacrifices for the people, he was to change out of the clothes, bathe again, and offer another burnt offering for himself.

Thank God that Jesus is a better sacrifice, that His blood is superior to that of goats and bulls, and that through His death on the cross He won access for us to come directly into the presence of God–to “approach the throne of grace with boldness” (Hebrews 4:16)! Because of Jesus’ death on the cross, we’re not going to die when we come before the LORD, we can approach Him with boldness like a small child who runs up to their Daddy, grabs onto his legs, and says, “Pick me up, Daddy!”

And yet, as beautiful as this is, the challenge from Leviticus this morning was to remember that for a human being to stand in the presence of the Most High God is no insignificant matter! If there is one mistake we Evangelicals make (and there are many), it is that we often don’t take the worship of God seriously. We think of Jesus as our homeboy and are so familiar with God we risk losing the reverence we should have toward Him. When we come to church on Sunday morning, we are coming to literally meet our Maker.

If you were going to meet the President of the United States, the Queen of England, a Prime Minister, Emporer, or another world leader, what would you do to prepare yourself? Most of us would look in our closets for appropriate clothes to wear. We’d shower, shave, get a fresh haircut, clip our fingernails, and brush our teeth. Before being ushered into the presence of the very important person, we’d be searched. We may have a background check done on us. The point is, you don’t just walk into the President’s office or the Queen’s palace willy-nilly.

God is not just a VIP, He is the VIP, the Most High. Are you ready to meet your Maker this Sunday? My prayer is that this week we will get a glimpse of the power and majesty of God, and remember that while God has called us friends, He is still the King of the Universe. Humility, confession, and repentance are appropriate as we prepare to worship Him together next Sunday.


Photo by Cristina Gottardi on Unsplash

Be Holy​

“I am the Lord your God; consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am holy. Do not make yourselves unclean” (Leviticus 11:44, NIV).

Ever read something in the Bible, scratch your head, reread it, and ask God, “Why did You include that in Your story?” That’s precisely what I think every time I read Leviticus 11, the chapter with all the dietary laws for ancient Israel–clean and unclean animals; eat this, but not that; etc. Why would God give these laws to His people? (I think it’s worth noting that the concept of clean and unclean animals goes way back before Leviticus. Remember, God gave Noah instructions about clean and unclean animals on the ark. Additionally, other ancient near eastern peoples also had regulations about clean and unclean animals. So this wasn’t just dropped out of the sky in Leviticus 11).

Many ideas about clean and unclean animals have been offered over the years, but not a single one has much evidence in Scripture to support it–not even the favorite view of conservative evangelicals: that some animals were unhealthy for eating, and since the Israelites didn’t understand modern science and medicine, God made the unsafe, unhealthy animals “unclean.” The fact is, modern science and medicine don’t show that the unclean animals in Leviticus 11 are less healthy or safe for eating. And, if this really were the rationale, we’d have to assume that God no longer cares about our health, since in the New Testament all these dietary laws were lifted and we can now enjoy bacon and shrimp without becoming unclean.1

As I was having coffee with the Lord this morning and discussing this passage with Him, He said to me:

Do I need to give a practical reason in order for My children to obey Me? Is it not enough to say that since I am holy, I desire My children to also be holy?

God told us the why behind the commands in Leviticus 11–so that the Israelites could consecrate themselves and be holy because their Father in Heaven is holy. How the various clean and unclean animals and dietary laws factored into that, and why God changed it in the New Testament, we may never know. But the principle my Father impressed upon my heart this morning was this: God is holy. As His children, we are to be holy. And when He speaks, we listen and obey even if we don’t always fully understand the practical, pragmatic reason behind it. God doesn’t give commands needlessly, but neither did He tell us to obey Him only when it makes sense to us. Obedience is part of our holiness.

My prayer for this week is that we will experience the holiness of God and that it will inspire us to strive to be holy, as our Father is holy.


1. Mark F. Rooker, Leviticus, vol. 3A, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2000), 172.

2. Photo by Nick Karvounis on Unsplash

Better is One Day

“Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked.” (Psalm 84:10, NIV)

You may be wondering why I’m writing from Psalm 84 when I said a few weeks ago I was going to work through Leviticus. No, I haven’t given up on Leviticus (again)! In my study of the third book in the Bible, I came across this great quote from L. Michael Morales:

“Entering the house of God to dwell with God, beholding, glorifying and enjoying him eternally, I suggest, is the story of the Bible, the plot that makes sense of the various acts, persons and places of its pages, the deepest context for its doctrines. For this ultimate end the Son of God shed his blood and poured out the Spirit from on high, even to bring us into his Father’s house, in him, as sons and daughters of God… The primary theme and theology of Leviticus (and of the Pentateuch as a whole) is YHWH’s opening a way for humanity to dwell in the divine Presence.”1

What a great (and I think accurate) perspective of Leviticus! The primary theme isn’t the Law or all the regulations concerning sacrifices and offerings. The main point of the book is how we can dwell with God. All the other things drive toward that end. This brought to mind Psalm 84 and one of my favorite songs to sing in worship. I’ve linked it below.

My prayer for this week is that you will enjoy some time in the personal presence of God, even if it’s just for a few moments while you listen and maybe sing along with the song below.


1 L. Michael Morales, Who Shall Ascend the Mountain of the Lord?: A Biblical Theology of the Book of Leviticus, ed. D. A. Carson, vol. 37, New Studies in Biblical Theology (England; Downers Grove, IL: Apollos; InterVarsity Press, 2015), 21–23.

Sin Against a Neighbor

The Lord said to Moses: “If anyone sins and is unfaithful to the Lord by deceiving a neighbor…” (Leviticus 6:1-2a, NIV)

In a court, lying to the judge will get you into big trouble because you’re not just lying to the judge, you’re lying to the State. Similarly, being disrespectful, disobedient, and disruptive during court proceedings can lead to being held in contempt of court. Again, this is because the judge, the jury, and the people involved are representatives of something greater–the rule of law, the State, and society at large.

Leviticus 6 makes it clear that deceiving or sinning against a neighbor is being unfaithful to God. As one pastor put it, “Sin against a neighbor is a sin against God.” Because we are made in the image of God, when we sin against someone else, we are sinning against God’s representative on earth, which is (at least indirectly) an act of rebellion against God’s authority and rule. When I sin against a fellow human being, I deface God’s image in that person. It’s like tagging God’s home with profane graffiti.

God is concerned with how we treat one another. We are called throughout Scripture to love–in fact, Jesus said the second greatest commandment is to “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31). And Paul said that love is “the most excellent way” (1 Corinthians 12:31). Every human being bears the image of God within them. The next time I’m tempted to lose my temper or raise my voice at my wife or kids, I need to pause and imagine that I’m getting ready to yell at Jesus Christ. That’s not to say I won’t discipline my kids or have that uncomfortable conversation with a friend. But how would my tone, my body language, and my attitude differ if I were having that conversation with Christ?

My prayer for the week is that we will find an opportunity to show love for another and if we have disrespected someone else, that we will seek their forgiveness and reconciliation.


Photo by Claire Anderson on Unsplash

Unintentional Sin

“If any member of the community sins unintentionally… when they realize their guilt and the sin they have committed becomes known…” (Leviticus 4:27-28, NIV).

Sometimes we sin without even realizing it. Maybe as a new believer, we didn’t understand that a certain decision or lifestyle is sinful. Or maybe as a mature Christian, we sin without even thinking about it. Or sometimes, our sin isn’t unintentional. Sometimes even those of us who follow Jesus choose to disobey.

In the sacrificial system laid out in the Book of Leviticus, there is a distinction made between intentional and unintentional sin. What many of us don’t realize, however, is that Leviticus has no sacrifice available for willful, intentional sin. All of the “sin offerings” in Leviticus are for unintentional sin. Thankfully, Christ’s sacrifice is superior to that of bulls and goats, and His blood can even cleanse us from our rebellious hearts!

This phrasing in Leviticus 4, however, is interesting. If someone sins unintentionally, when they realize their guilt, they should come to offer the sin offering. How much unintentional, unrealized sin is in my life? Sin can hinder our relationship with God and our effectiveness in ministry–even sin we’re not aware of!

My prayer for the week is that of David in Psalm 19:

Who can discern their own errors?
Forgive my hidden faults.
Keep Your servant also from willful sins;
may they not rule over me.


Photo by Hunter Newton on Unsplash

A Whole Burnt Offering

“[T]he priest is to burn all of it on the altar. It is a burnt offering, a food offering, an aroma pleasing to the Lord.” (Leviticus 1:9, NIV)

Leviticus is both an interesting and a tedious book! Many times in my life I have started off January with a goal to read the whole Bible in a year. I generally have no trouble with Genesis–it’s filled with fascinating stories! Exodus is a mix of stories, laws, and instructions. It’s not quite as sensational as Genesis, but I still get through it. But I have been bogged down in Leviticus and gotten off-track from my read-the-Bible-in-a-year-plan on multiple years. While I’ve slogged all the way through Leviticus a few times, I’ve never read it devotionally, so I’ve decided to slow down and listen to God speaking to me in this overlooked book of the Bible!

Leviticus has a lot of historical-cultural context that is important for understanding the book. So, as I read it devotionally, I’ve also decided to read Leviticus: An Exegetical and Theological Exposition of Holy Scripture by Mark Rooker, part of The New American Commentary series.

Leviticus begins with describing the procedures for the whole burnt offering. This is when a bull, sheep, or dove would be slaughtered and burned whole on the altar as an act of worship to God. These offerings were made in the Tabernacle every morning and evening! Additionally, anyone in Israel could bring a burnt offering at any time simply to honor God and show their devotion to Him. This whole burnt offering was a little different than other offerings because the whole animal would be burned on the altar. With most other offerings and sacrifices, only part of the animal was burned on the altar. The rest would be eaten by the priests and/or the people making the offering.

The burnt offering was an offering of worship and devotion. Burning it whole symbolized that a person’s whole heart was devoted to God. As I read the first chapter of Leviticus, I felt challenged by the Lord: is my heart fully devoted to Him? How often do I come to worship on Sunday and sing half-heartedly? While I’m thankful that I don’t have to slaughter and burn a bull just so I can come and worship God, I sometimes take for granted how easy Jesus has made it for us to approach the throne of God. May we never come before Him flippantly or carelessly!

My prayer for this week is that we will remember the sacrifice of Christ, be thankful He has opened the door for us to come to the Father, and worship God with hearts that are fully devoted to Him.


Photo by raquel raclette on Unsplash