Leviticus, Worship, and God’s Word

Probably no one reading this would list Leviticus as their favorite book of the Bible for devotional reading. One reason we don’t really know what to do with Leviticus is that we forget it is one part of a larger story, so that opening up to it is like turning to page 350 in a 700-page novel and expecting to understand everything that is going on. Leviticus is one crucial link in the first five books of the Bible, called the Pentateuch, so that the people first hearing and reading this book would be doing so having begun in Genesis 1:1, following the story straight through. They would have followed God beginning his redemptive work with one man Abram, and then would have followed the development of Abram’s family until they became a great nation enslaved in Egypt. And then they would have heard God say to Pharaoh in Exodus 4:23, “Israel is my son; let my son go that he may serve me.” So if we are following the Bible’s big story, we know that, in one sense, the whole purpose behind the Exodus is worship. The Lord was delivering his covenant people so that they could assemble before him and worship.

As the book of Leviticus begins, the people of Israel have come through the Red Sea, they have received the 10 Commandments, and they are still camped at Mount Sinai in the wilderness. And throughout the book of Leviticus, Moses is receiving further instructions from the Lord about how this rescued people is supposed to approach him in worship. In the first seven chapters, the Lord gives Moses detailed commands about how he wants the people to bring their offerings to him. In chapter 8, Moses ordains Aaron and his sons as priests to minister on behalf of the people. And in chapters 9-10, the Lord announces that he will appear in their midst, and he calls them to formally worship him for the first time. All of Leviticus, and perhaps all of God’s redemptive actions since the Garden, have been building up to this moment of public worship in chapter 9.

We continued our study of corporate worship on Sunday morning by studying together the story of two very different worship experiences placed alongside one another in Leviticus 9-10. The Holy Spirit gives us through Moses an unforgettable portrait of the difference between worship according to God’s Word, and worship according to man’s will. You can listen to the sermon below.

(Thank you, Devin Maddox, for helping me put the file into this smooth player!)

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About Eric Smith

Sinner saved by the grace of Jesus, husband of Candace, father of Coleman and Crockett, West Tennessean, pastor of Sharon Baptist Church, student at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
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