Friday, February 04, 2011

New Year: Lev 20-22 for Feb 4

One way to look at Leviticus so far is that it specifies part of the job of the redeemed nation. This is the nation whom God sanctifies: "I will be sanctified among the sons of Israel. I am the Lord who sanctifies you, who brought you out from the land of Egypt, to be your God; I am the Lord." (Lev 22:31-33).

We see the early understanding of sanctification in these chapters, that it applies not only to what we would call "moral" law, but to what we would call "ceremonial" law. "So you shall keep My commandments, and do them; I am the Lord" (22:31). (Not only does this summary follow a ceremonial rule in the previous verse; it follows two whole chapters, which followed the mainly "moral" rules of chapter 20).

Don't forget the symmetry. God sanctifies Israel. God sets them apart. He brought them out from the land of Egypt. God also says to them that He will be sanctified among them. He will be set apart by them. The content provided by these chapters is example of how such things are to be done. Part of what it means that God be sanctified among them is for them to use the best they have, of the things being commanded to be offered. Animals. And the offerers. No defect in the presenters or the presented for the major sacrifices. This sets God apart. All the while, God of course sets them apart (22:32-33).

This is not just proper ceremony, but proper ethics. We wonder at the ceremonial / moral distinction, whether it was made. How could it have? Properly keeping each was necessary not to "profane" (22:32) God's holy name. The contrast of the sacred (sanctified) and the profane originates here, that it is their obligation not to profane God's holy name. In dealing with Him, things are set apart. God, on His part, in dealing with them, is setting them apart. The story, as it has developed so far, shows God setting them apart. The rules, as they have developed so far, show how they are to set Him apart.

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