Sunday, 27 February 2011

Thoughts on the Levitical Laws

We'll be looking more at the Day of Atonement (ch16) and Israel's Festival Year (ch23) at the Biblical Thinking Forum Sessions in March and April respectively, so will not repeat myself here.

We must be wary not to fall into the trap of thinking that all these laws are drawn up by God for Israel on the basis that they are the best or most efficient way to do life. This often true, but not always. There's nothing wrong with eating pork, and it's no worse/better for you than lamb (so long as you cook it properly).

The point of these laws was that God wanted to keep before the eyes of his people 1) their calling to be his treasured possession and to be separate and distinct from all the other nations on the earth. and 2) to show them what Messiah would do when he came to redeem the whole creation.

Here are some thoughts on the Levitical Laws (mostly from James Jordan) for you to have a chew on:

Saturday, 26 February 2011

Bad Priests & Blasphemers

Whilst trying to slash our way through the legal jungle that is Leviticus, we come across two “clearings” that give our shoulders a bit of relief – kind of. I say kind of, because whilst the death of Aaron’s sons (ch 10) and the stoning of the blasphemer (ch24) are hardly palatable to our 21 cent Western mindset, they are more interesting and easier for us to think about than the lists of laws thus far.

So what do we make of these two incidents? Do we go with the pop psychology view that says God is like a Col. Kaddafi, unpredictably destroying others as a way of covering up his own acute sense of inadequacy? Or is there more going on here?

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Four "Interesting" Things From Web

Have been away/busy with other things, will make some more general comments on Leviticus soon, I hope! :-S  In the mean time, here are four pearls mined from the murky sea of banality that is the world wide web.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Drawing Near Through Christ

David & Mephibosheth
Observations on Leviticus 1-4

Chronologically, Leviticus appears to start before the end of Exodus, because the Tent of Meeting is still in operation and the Tabernacle has not been set up.

God's people, once a family, is now a nation and so there is specialisation of roles (judges and priests) amongst the people to help make things clear and enable them to run more smoothly and efficiently. Leviticus is the book that enables that transition.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

From Slavery to Sabbath

Observations on Exodus 38-40

For more on the High Priest's breastplate, click here.

Exodus began with God's people in bondage to slavery, it ends with God's people enjoying God's Sabbath rest - his gracious presence in their midst, gathered around a new creation (the Tabernacle).

The Father will not go up with them from here to the land of promise due to the incident with the golden calf, but the Son, the Angel of the LORD, the one in whom is the eternal name of the Father, the one who is the Glory of the Father, will go with them and he comes to dwell in the midst of the camp above the Most Holy Place in the Tabernacle.

Monday, 14 February 2011

Sabbath and Spoils

Observations on Exodus 35-37

Jordan says that given that the Israelites are on the move and not at home, it's unlikely that this somewhat extreme prohibition (capital punishment) on work during the Sabbath referred to a bit of DIY, or even their jobs as that most of them weren't able to practice their trade during the trek up to the land of promise anyway!

Sunday, 13 February 2011


Taking two days worth of readings today with observations on Exodus 32-34. There's a lot here and this will by no means be comprehensive.

In the garden of Eden, God withdrew from Adam and Eve to see if they would follow him wholeheartedly. When he came back, he found them scratching around trying to cover their shame. So here, God and Moses withdraw up the mountain. The people decide that Moses is spending too long up there with God and so decide to take matters into their own hands. They ask Aaron to make them gods to go before them, just like Moses and the Angel in the Cloud had before.

Friday, 11 February 2011

New Treasures from the Store House

Observations on Exodus 30-31

Again will let Matt do the talking.

Suffice to say that the creation of the Tabernacle (ch25-31) is similar to the Genesis creation:
  • There are seven Then the Lord said to Moses... mimicking the And God said... of Genesis 1 (the first one is ginormously long)
  • The Spirit who hovered over the waters at creation, brings about this new creation through Bezelel and Oholiab.
  • It finishes with Sabbath rest. God  is "refreshed" from fellowship with his people. Interesting turn of phrase, don't you think? I wonder what's going on there?
God is on the move, producing new wonders at every turn.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Take Two Bottles into the Shower? Yes I Doodley-Do!!

Observations on Exodus 27-29

Am busy so will let old brother Matt help you out today.

Suffice to say: notice that the in the one ceremony of consecration, two distinct, but complementary things happen to the priests - cleansing and anointing.

I increasingly believe this ordination of Aaron and his sons is the paradigm for our understanding of New Testament conversion.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

The Meeting Place

Observations on Exodus 24-26

Before Moses and the elders can ascend the mountain, before the Book of the Covenant can be read, there must be sacrifice. Man cannot approach God or respond to his gracious initiation outside the shedding of blood.

70 is the number of the world, and this picture of the 70 Israelite elders, led by Moses - the priest king of Israel up the mountain to God is a picture of how Jesus leads the nations of the world into the presence of the Father.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Preparing the Way

Observations on Exodus 21-23

Remember that all these laws are in some way or indeed many ways, vehicles for illustrating the Triune God and his Gospel as revealed in Jesus Christ. Those laws that seem harsh or petty to our modern ears are there because God wants to show us something of what he is about and what he is up to in history.

Monday, 7 February 2011

Interesting Motivational Video

As this video shows, once you get above a certain level of income. Purpose is more important to people than profit:

The Marriage of Promise

Observations on Exodus 19-20

Having ransomed the people out of Egypt. God will prophetically perform a marriage ceremony where through the giving of the law, the Father will bind himself and the Son - the great Angel of the Covenant - to the people. (Ezekiel 16 is useful to help frame this chapter). The Father will come down and officiate the ceremony. Moses - the priest-king of Israel will represent that to the people.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Protection and Provision from the Rock Who is Christ

Observations on Exodus 16-18 See also Paul's observations here.

How easy it is to romanticise the "good old days." The Israelites quickly forget how harshly they were treated in Egypt. But it is deeper and darker than mere nostalgia, the reason they romanticise their slavery is because they have lost sight of the promise of God to bring them into a good land. All the miraculous provision of God in the past, the history and testimony of his faithfulness, is quickly forgotten. When you've lost sight of the promises of God, slavery to sin looks like an attractive proposition. How quick the human heart is given to wandering foolishly off the paths of grace.

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Baptism of Water and the Spirit

Observations on Exodus 13-15

I'll let this post written last year do the bulk of the work. Suffice to say that God's people pass through the salt water of the Red (symbolic of blood) Sea. Here is a picture of baptism passing through the judgement of death to new life. No going back. Just as God closed the waters of the Red Sea so that there was no going back for the Israelites, so in baptism there is a sign and a seal placed on all those whom God is renewing.

Friday, 4 February 2011

The Face Off of the Firstborns

Observations on Exodus 10-12

10:1-2 reminds me of this

Hail destroyed the early harvest. Locusts would destroy the later harvest - that which was missed by the hail.

The first triad of plagues began with the destruction of the Nile, the last plague in the third triad was the blotting out of the sun. Both of these were gods of the Egyptians. The plagues are not only a total destruction of the Egyptian physical world, but a total destruction / humiliation of their spiritual one too.

Pharaoh attacks the bride again telling Moses that he can go worship his God with his fellow men, but the women stay put. Who knows what he would have done had Moses accepted this compromise deal. Moses was no pragmatist - he stuck with what God had spoken - total exodus.

Does God harden Pharaoh's heart in the sense that whether he likes it or not, Pharaoh is a puppet in the hand of the almighty? That's certainly how it reads on the surface. Not an easy question to answer. The mystery of human iniquity and the overarching totality of God's sovereignty are deep things indeed. My starter would be that God gives Pharaoh up to greater hardness of heart as a response to Pharaoh choosing to flout the decrees of the living God - Let my people go! Whoever you are, wilful and deliberate disobedience of God is deeply dangerous idea to play with.

And so we come to the final plague - the super plague - The judgement of the firstborn. In the Bible "firstborn" is significant in that it is related to pre-eminence (in the family) and inheritance (of a double portion). In the previous nine plagues, God had destroyed the world of the Egyptians, but in time they would recover. This final plague would strike at the heart of their future hope and declare to them that outside the people of God they have no lasting inheritance, they would be utterly cut off.

Of course the Israelites are no saints. Before a holy God they stand just as compromised. But God gives them a sign. The perfect lamb slaughtered, whose blood was painted on the door frame, would be the substitutionary means by which the Israelite firstborn would escape death (Egypt) and enter into an inheritance of life (the Promised Land).

Unleavened bread - a sign that the old order of Egypt was passing away and that one must do everything they can to quickly escape was also part of the deal. (Using "yeast" is a bad translation and blinds you from the deeper significance / symbolism going on here, but I'll save that for another post.)

This was a picture of how God would provide his firstborn - his one and only son, his true heir, as a way of escape for the Israelite firstborn after which, he would bind them with cords of love for ever. The Patriarchs were promised Messiah through the blood sign of circumcision. The now great nation that had flowed from the loins of the Patriarchs was promised Messiah through the blood sign of Passover. God is on the move.

So Pharaoh cracks and drives them out in anger. They plunder the Egyptians (payment for the years of forced labour) and begin the pilgrimage to the place God has appointed. Note that there are many non-Israelites in this crowd of people (12:38). Those gentiles (including Egyptians) who put themselves under the cover of the Israelites would enter into the same blessings as them.

All those who bring themselves under the cover of God's "firstborn" - Jesus Christ will inherit eternal life.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Slowly Crushing the Serpent's Head

Exodus 7-9 So the face off begins and Pharaoh will become more stubborn and calloused in the process. No one will be able to say God negotiated them out of Egypt, it will be nothing short of a power encounter between the Serpent and the Lord and their representatives Pharaoh and Moses.

Make no mistake, Satan will never give up those he has in his clutches, he will not be negotiated with nor coaxed, nor incentivized. Nothing short of a raw power encounter from the living God will defeat him!

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

It's All About God's Timing

Exodus 4-6 To confirm his purpose, YHWH - the covenant keeping God gives Moses some miraculous signs. These aren't any old hocus-pocus-oooo-aahh signs, but symbolic of how God will vindicate his name as he 1) redeems his people from being wedded to the serpent and 2) makes them clean and fit for service and being close to his heart 3) avenges the blood of all those babies tossed into the Nile.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011


Having tried to comment on everything last month, I am forcing myself to give up the self-imposed expectation of commenting on everything and will focus on the main OT reading. I need to keep it all manageable so as to avoid becoming a baggy-eyed grump!

Exodus 1-3 Genesis finished with that happily ever after feel. Exodus opens and our jolly symphony, hits a minor transition. Just as the life of the human race opens with a Fall, so too, this second book opens with one. God's people have forsaken the living God and started worshipping idols. So God gives them over to slavery under the Egyptians. Having been the head of the Egyptian nation, they have become the tail.