Today in our readings, we have many opportunities open to us to discuss. I would encourage you to go back and think through the significance of each of the festivals in Leviticus 23. Many we can see celebrated by Jesus in his life (Sukkot/Booths/Tabernacles in John 7) or were key to his death (Passover). It’s an interesting connection to see how the festivals of God played a role in the life of Christ.
But, I want to direct your attention to some words repeated again and again. The sacrifices that the Jews were to give were, from 22:17-25, a male without defect. This is interesting. Why specifically this requirement. There are a number of reasons.
First, this was a costly requirement. A sacrifice of a male without defect was costly because you wanted to keep those males. Strong male goats, sheep and cows produced good babies. If an animal doesn’t have a flaw but is a physically perfect specimen, you want to make sure those genes are passed along. You don’t have to know all about genetics to know this. In the ancient world, the better the bull, the better the calf. And God was demanding that these great bulls, billies and rams be given in sacrifice to show our allegiance to him, to prove that we are willing to both give our best and trust him to provide.
Second, the words in Hebrew are interesting. “Without defect” is from the Hebrew word “tamim” (tah-meem). The word for “defect” is from the Hebrew “mum” (moom). Both of these words are interesting because they DO mean, many times, physical perfection. The Law specifies no scabs, oozing sores, broken bones, engorged or crushed parts of the animal. Tamim notes completeness and wholeness of an animal in this way; mum denotes physical imperfection. HOWEVER, both of these words also were figuratively extended to speak about the way a person acted and lived. To live a tamim life was to live a life of integrity and innocence (in Psalm 18, the psalmist calls God’s ways blameless 5 times). However, when someone lives a mum life, they are not able to look to God for help because they are morally imperfect (Zophar believes Job has a MORAL defect in Job 11:15, NASB especially).
This leads to the third reason God would command male without defect : he was preparing the way for the lamb slain from the foundation of the world. God was preparing the world for the Messiah. God chose to give the world his Son, and to redeem us from our sins “with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.”(1 Peter 1:19). When God sacrificed Jesus as the “male lamb without defect”, he was purchasing us with the most costly gift, spilling out his own blood, the blood of his one and only Son, as Paul says in Acts 20:28.
The perfect Messiah, blameless, sinless, complete, and whole, was sacrificed and died to pay for our redemption. Praise God that we stand in him redeemed.
Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Leviticus+22-23&version=NIV
Tomorrow’s reading will be Leviticus 24-25 on our 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan