Thursday, March 20, 2014

Preventing the Spread of Disease
Leviticus 7:19-27

“And the flesh that toucheth any unclean thing shall not be eaten; it shall be burnt with fire: and as for the flesh, all that be clean shall eat thereof.   But the soul that eateth of the flesh of the sacrifice of peace offerings, that pertain unto the LORD, having his uncleanness upon him, even that soul shall be cut off from his people. 

Moreover the soul that shall touch any unclean thing, as the uncleanness of man, or any unclean beast, or any abominable unclean thing, and eat of the flesh of the sacrifice of peace offerings, which pertain unto the LORD, even that soul shall be cut off from his people. “ (Leviticus 7:19-21)

Literally, anything that was likely to harbor disease organisms was considered unclean.  Food that had come in contact with things which might carry disease was to be burned.  People who were disease free could eat with everyone else, even in public settings such as the temple.  People who had a disease themselves or had come in contact with potential disease carriers were forbidden to share food in such gatherings and if unwilling to cooperate were to be isolated from other people.

“And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, Ye shall eat no manner of fat, of ox, or of sheep, or of goat.  And the fat of the beast that dieth of itself, and the fat of that which is torn with beasts, may be used in any other use: but ye shall in no wise eat of it.  For whosoever eateth the fat of the beast, of which men offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD, even the soul that eateth it shall be cut off from his people.” (Leviticus 7:22-25)

In Exodus 15:26 God had promised, “And said, If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the LORD that healeth thee.”  Most of the toxins that an animal might ingest are stored in the body fat.  By not eating the fat even of animals that rarely had diseases inimical to man, they could greatly reduce their likelihood of getting sick.   The fat could be used for other purposes, but it was not to be eaten.

“Moreover ye shall eat no manner of blood, whether it be of fowl or of beast, in any of your dwellings.  Whatsoever soul it be that eateth any manner of blood, even that soul shall be cut off from his people.” (Leviticus 7:26-27)

Dangerous concentrations of viruses and harmful bacteria are usually found in the blood.  By not eating the blood, the risk of infection by pathogens could be greatly reduced as well.  People who refused to follow these health measures were to be quarantined to prevent the spread of disease.

Wave and Heave Offerings
Leviticus 7:28-34

“And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, He that offereth the sacrifice of his peace offerings unto the LORD shall bring his oblation unto the LORD of the sacrifice of his peace offerings.  His own hands shall bring the offerings of the LORD made by fire, the fat with the breast, it shall he bring, that the breast may be waved for a wave offering before the LORD.  And the priest shall burn the fat upon the altar: but the breast shall be Aaron's and his sons.” (Leviticus 7:28-31) 

Any peace offering had to be brought personally, by the individual’s own hands.  When an animal was offered as a wave offering, they were to bring all the fat, and the breast to the Lord.  The priests then burned the fat, but they received the breast as their portion.

“And the right shoulder shall ye give unto the priest for an heave offering of the sacrifices of your peace offerings.

He among the sons of Aaron, that offereth the blood of the peace offerings, and the fat, shall have the right shoulder for his part.  For the wave breast and the heave shoulder have I taken of the children of Israel from off the sacrifices of their peace offerings, and have given them unto Aaron the priest and unto his sons by a statute for ever from among the children of Israel.” (Leviticus 7:32-34) 

The heave offering varied primarily in that the right shoulder was given instead of the breast.  Being much heavier than the breast, it was to be heaved before the Lord rather than waved.  In both cases all the fat was burned and the sacrificed portion given to the priests.  

Summary of Guidelines
Leviticus 7:35-38

“This is the portion of the anointing of Aaron, and of the anointing of his sons, out of the offerings of the LORD made by fire, in the day when he presented them to minister unto the LORD in the priest's office; Which the LORD commanded to be given them of the children of Israel, in the day that he anointed them, by a statute for ever throughout their generations.” (Leviticus 7:35-36)

These  guidelines demonstrate how the sacrifices and offerings were to be handled by th priests.  They were not given unlimited access to what was given but were assigned specific portions, as recompense for their work and devotion to God.  A major part of some offerings were to be shared by the people who offered them.  A portion of every offering was burned up for the Lord.

This provides some valuable insights as to who the offerings of the church should be used.  Some should be used to support the pastor and church workers.  In Luke 10:7, Jesus said,  “And in the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they give: for the labourer is worthy of his hire. Go not from house to house.”  The workers need to be willing to settle for what the church can provide, rather than going from church to church to raise support.  The church needs to understand that the workers deserve compensation for their work.

Those who donate need to receive some benefits from their giving, whether in the form of nice and comfortable buildings, or sharing in church dinners or even in assistance when they are struggling.  Finally, some needs to be used for ministries that do not directly benefit the local church, such as sending missionaries to other peoples.

"This is the law of the burnt offering, of the meat offering, and of the sin offering, and of the trespass offering, and of the consecrations, and of the sacrifice of the peace offerings; Which the LORD commanded Moses in mount Sinai, in the day that he commanded the children of Israel to offer their oblations unto the LORD, in the wilderness of Sinai.” (Leviticus 7:37-38)

These are the guidelines God gave specifically for the sacrifices.   However, the sacrifices are not God’s primary concern,  and  Hebrews 10:6 declares, “In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure.”    As the scribe told Jesus in Mark 12:33, “…to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbour as himself, is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.”  The offerings were just a way to make up for the people’s failure to please God in the first place.

In the New Testament, God sets a similar standard as to what is required to make up for our failure pleas him.  Just as they had to follow his guidelines to have their sins forgiven, we have to follow the guidelines in the New Testament to have ours forgiven.  God isn’t Burger King, and we can’t have it our way.

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