A DEFINITION OF SIN

The next couple of posts will focus on sin, what it is and its effect on Creation. These posts will attempt to integrate and synthesize a wealth of information into a smaller 700 word article. Books upon book have been written on sin and its adverse impact on a beautiful world. Countless volumes could be written on it and have been. Sin affects everything. It changed the world and us as creatures. We deal with its affects daily. Each day there is something in our lives that is vying for the throne of our hearts. There is sin that has lingered and festered in our lives for years. It has reminded us of our brokenness. It is a reminder of our almost constant rebellion against God.

Sin is the opposite of our holy and perfect God. This post will briefly introduce our topic and provide a working definition. The next post will show sins effect on Creation and how we respond or recognize our own sin and the awesome work of Christ in His perfection. There is much to be said on this topic, but little space and little time. Continue reading

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Concluding thoughts on the Year of Jubilee

Today, we wrap up our series on the Year of Jubilee by offering some concluding thoughts. In brief, to summarize what we have discussed these past few posts and point to the great and magnificent work of Christ. It is a great reminder of the freedom and joy we believers can experience in our Mighty Deliverer

Conclusion

While the Year of Jubilee may not have been practiced, there are many aspects of this year that the modern believer can glean. It is a time when the Israelites were called to trust God that He would provide for all their needs. Jubilee is not only a reminder for the Israelites that the land belonged to Yahweh and the Israelites were the stewards, it is a reminder for the modern believer as well that all that we have belongs to God. The Christian is to trust God, obey His will, be good stewards, and rejoice in the freedom of God’s grace and redemption through Jesus Christ. The believer may be called to practice a leap of faith much like the Israelites with the Year of Jubilee, but the Christian can be sure that even in uncertainty and trials, they can confidently trust in a faithful God. Jubilee reminds the believer even when we are not faithful, God always is because He cannot deny Himself (2 Tim 2:13). The Year of Jubilee’s “main feature was the solemnity which shewed them to be separated from other nations to be a peculiar and holy nation to God; nay, the renewal of all things had reference to this, that being redeemed anew in the great Sabbath, they might entirely devote themselves to God their Deliverer.”[1]

The Year of Jubilee typified the spiritual rest all believers enter into through Christ. He eased the burden of worldly care and labor enabling and encouraging the believer to live by faith. Just as the fruits of the land for Jubilee were enjoyed in common, so the salvation brought about by Christ is a common salvation to be enjoyed by all. Jubilee exemplified a Christian’s redemption from the service of sin by the grace of God in Christ who sets a believer free (John 7:32). As the Year of Jubilee was an expression of a resounding shout of joy and freedom, so Christians can rejoice in the liberty provided by Christ.

[1] John Calvin and C.W. Bingham, Commentaries on the Four Last Books of Moses…, 451.

Bibliography

Barker, P. A. “Sabbath, Sabbatical Year, Jubilee.” In Dictionary of the Old Testament: Pentateuch. 696-706. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2003.

Babcock, B. C. “Jubilee, Year of.” In The Lexham Bible Dictionary, edited by J.D. Barry and L. Wentz. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2012.

Bergsma, John Sietze. The Jubilee from Leviticus to Qumran: A History of Interpretation. VTSup 115; Leiden: Brill, 2007.

Bloom, Jon “Lay Aside the Weight of Restless Work.” Desiring God. 2013. Accessed 23 November 2014. http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/lay-aside-the-weight-of-restless-work.

Brand, C., Draper, C., England, A., Bond, S., Clendenen, E. R., & Butler, T. C. Eds. “Festivals.” In Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary. Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2003. Logos Bible Software.

Bruno, Christopher. “’Jesus is Our Jubilee’…But How? The OT Background and Lukan Fulfillment of the Ethics of Jubilee,” JETS 53/1 (2010): 81-101.

Calvin, J., & Bingham, C. W. Commentaries on the Four Last Books of Moses Arranged in the Form of a Harmony. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2010.

Constable, Thomas. Notes on Leviticus. Internet. Accessed 22 November 2014. Available from http://soniclight.com/constable/notes/pdf/leviticus.pdf.

Easton, M. G. “Jubilee,” In Easton’s Bible Dictionary. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1893. Logos Bible Software.

Gnuse, Robert. “Jubilee Legislation in Leviticus: Israel’s Vision of Social Reform,” Biblical Theology Bulletin 15:2 (1985): 43.

Hamilton, Victor P. Handbook on the Pentateuch. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2005.

Henry, Matthew. “Leviticus 25.” In Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Complete and Unabridged in One Volume, 181–182. Peabody: Hendrickson, 1994.

Keil, C.F., and Franz Delitzsch. “The Pentateuch.”  Translated by James Martin. In Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament. Vol. 3, N.p. 1865; Reprint. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2011.

Lindsey, F. Duane. “Leviticus.” In The Bible Knowledge Commentary: Old Testament, edited by John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck, 163-214. Wheaton: Scripture Press Publications, Victor Books, 1985.

Manser, Martin H. “Year of Jubilee.” Dictionary of Bible Themes: The Accessible and Comprehensive Tool for Topical Studies. London: Martin Manser, 2009. Logos Bible Software.

Merrill, Eugene. Everlasting Dominion: A Theology of the Old Testament. Nashville: B & H, 2006.

North, Robert. Sociology of the Biblical Jubilee. Rome: Pontifical Biblical Institute, 1954.

Sailhamer, John H. The Pentateuch as Narrative, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1992), 361.

Schiffman, L. H. “Jubilee.” The HarperCollins Bible Dictionary (Revised and Updated), edited by Mark Allan Powell. New York: HarperCollins, 2011. Logos Bible Software.

Wenham, Gordon J. “The Book of Leviticus.” In New International Commentary on the Old Testament Series. 239-334. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1979.

A Visual Synthetic Chart of Leviticus

In the past few posts, we have discussed the key themes to Leviticus and I showed how I would breakdown the book by sections. For this post, I want to provide you a visual tool of what my synthetic chart of Leviticus looks like. This will hopefully provide greater clarity on the two previous posts. Note, will many charts and outlines there are some small and minor variances, so others may see something different than I do.

First, at the top of the chart is the theme. This is a very short and concise statement on the book, almost think of it as a headline. Second, the Message Statement. This can come from the thematic outline that we did not too long ago. Basically, this expands the headline into a complete sentence about the books main message. To go with the message statement, we include the key verse for the book that supports our theme and message statement. For this example, since our theme was holiness, I used Leviticus 20:26 which says, “You are to be holy to me because I, the Lord, am holy, and I have set you apart from the nations to be my own.”

Next, we try to break down the book into sections. These are the parts of the book that seem to go together, are continuous and do not touch on a different topic. For this book, we have seven different sections. As part of the sections, we want to do another message statement. This time we don’t have to include a key verse, but we do want to provide a good summary sentence that captures the main idea for that particular section.

Next, are the subsections which are the various different parts that make up the whole of that section. Many times this will be the paragraph headings in your Bible. With this, you will be able to focus on one certain topic and see how the other parts of that section all ties together. The next part of the synthetic chart is the verses that make up that subsection. Within that paragraph or subsection, the writer will pull together the ideas that make up that subsection. Think back to diagramming a sentence in your grade school days, this is essentially diagramming a subsection. For example, if we look at the first subsection under section 1 (Laws concerning offerings and sacrifices), which is titled “laws of burnt Offerings”, we see there are two parts to this. There is Moses being called by God, and God describing the burnt offering. Yet because they are cohesive, they are part of that subsection. This is one of the hardest things for me to do because I don’t always see a very clear distinction, or I think something should be a subsection on its own. This takes a lot of practice but will be very beneficial in seeing how the book ties together. Part of this, is also providing paragraph titles in your own words for that section of verses. This will help to see what those verses talk about and provide a short headline that describes that section.

Finally, the last phase of the synthetic chart is the various themes that are seen throughout the book. Not every chapter and verse will have the same theme and not every theme will be in all the chapters and verses.  This tool provides a way to see the various themes throughout the book, where they appear and the frequency at which they appear. To do this, simply identify a theme for a particular passage, and note it under the paragraph titles and verses that are above. For example, Holiness seems to be predominant in chapter 2, verses 1 to 3 and verse 10. So we note it under the two verse sections that make up chapter 2. But, the Atonement them goes from chapter 4 to chapter 6 verse 7, so we have a long section that is noted under all of those verse sections. Part of doing the subsections, verses and paragraph titles is to help one see the themes that keep surfacing.

This is a very tedious and laborious process, but it is one that is so beneficial. It can really take your Bible study and community group teaching/Sunday school teaching to another level. This is a really great practice for getting more out of your Bible reading and helps to provide understanding to what you just read. Here is what the chart will look like:

synthetic chart of leviticus

 

Dividing the Book of Leviticus

In this post, we will continue to look at the different divisions within the book of Leviticus. This will describe my viewpoints as to why book can be divided into the various sections. This will make more sense when I post the full synthetic chart in the next post. This post is to provide reasoning and research as to why I have divided the book as such and what other commentators or authors have said.

The reasoning for dividing the third section entitled, “Laws of Purity”, between chapters eleven and fifteen are because this section mainly focuses on what God describes as clean and unclean. This is God’s call for the Israelites to be pure before Him with God detailing the cleanliness of creatures, purification after childbirth and skin infections.

The fourth section details the “Day of Atonement”, following the NAC and NBD, I choose to not include the Day of Atonement in the “Law of Purity” section because it seems to require its own section based on the information.[1] While it does talk about purity and cleanliness from sin in the atonement sacrifices, the chapter that is rich with information differs just enough from the previous section that it did not fit. At the same time, I did not feel it belonged in the next section because that focuses on holiness and the Holiness Code that it appeared to have a more singular focus on just the Day of Atonement.

The Laws of Holiness,” which is the fifth section, covers the chapters from the Holiness Code (17) to the Sabbath year and Year of Jubilee (25). The main sources I relied on for this section break was the NAC and the Holman Concise Bible Commentary which did not include chapter 26 in this section.[2] This division occurs mainly because the theme of this section is for the people of Israel to be holy just as God is holy.

The sixth section, “Blessing and Curse,” focuses mainly on obedience and the consequences of Israel’s actions. Commentaries seem to be split on whether this section stands alone or is part of the previous section. I choose to separate it as its own division since its main focus is obedience and the blessings or curses the people will receive for their disobedience. That is not to say that obedience is not part of holy living, but to include it in the previous section does not appear to do this chapter justice.

Similarly to the previous section, the final section, “The Law of vows and Tithes,” does not fit with the previous chapter. This section mainly focuses on the vows and tithes that the people do in regards a variety of different objects. This section introduces regulations that were not previously mentioned or suggested in Leviticus. “It is a simple fact that the laws in Lev. 27 are fundamentally different from the subject matter in the chapters that precede it, for these laws cover voluntary things.”[3] Since this section is so different from the previous and the rest of the book, I kept it separate.

The book of Leviticus can be divided up into different ways with some differing over the divisions of chapters 16 and 26, but overall Leviticus speaks to the reader to follow the Lord and be holy. While some may agree or disagree with these divisions, from my research, it appears to me that this is a logical way of outlining the book of Leviticus.

[1] Rooker,  Leviticus 79. Gispen, “Leviticus, Book of” 683.

[2] Merrill, The Pentateuch 37.

[3] Allen P. Ross, Holiness to the Lord: A Guide to the Exposition of the Book of Leviticus (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2002) 487.

Bibliography

Gispen, W. H. “Leviticus, Book Of.” Edited by D. R. W. Wood, I. H. Marshall, A. R. Millard, J. I. Packer, and D. J. Wiseman. New Bible Dictionary. Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1996.

Hamilton, Victor P. Handbook on the Pentateuch: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Book House, 1982.

Ross, Allen P. Holiness to the Lord: A Guide to the Exposition of the Book of Leviticus. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic, 2002.

Merrill, Eugene H. “The Pentateuch.” In Holman Concise Bible Commentary, edited by David S. Dockery. Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1998.

Rooker, Mark F. Leviticus. Vol. 3A. The New American Commentary. Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2000.

Walvoord, John F., and Roy B. Zuck, Dallas Theological Seminary. The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures. Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985.

Leviticus: A deeper look

In the next few posts, we will take a deeper look into the book of Leviticus. This exercise will take the outline that was discussed in a previous post and develop a further breakdown of the book. The synthetic chart is used to divide the book into sections that seem to be similar. This grouping will be helpful in the overall study of the book as well as seeing what the author’s focus is.

There is probably not that much attention paid to Leviticus but as one dives deeper into the study of this book, the beauty and majesty of God can be seen. Leviticus displays God’s holiness and His desire for His children to be holy. He will take measures to protect His holiness from the unholy Israelites.

SYNTHETIC CHART OF LEVITICUS

Leviticus expresses God’s holiness and His requirements for Israel’s holiness; it provides guidelines for the means by which God provides atonement for sin through sacrifice. Leviticus, which refers to the “book of priests” or “that which concerns the priests,” provides instructions for Aaron and the priests to keep the people of Israel holy just as God is holy.[1] The overall burden of the Book of Leviticus was to communicate the awesome holiness of Israel’s God and to outline the means by which the people could have access to Him.[2] Leviticus is a literary expression of God’s desire that His holiness be reflected in the life of His covenant people Israel.[3]

The main themes that I noticed throughout the book of Leviticus were holiness, atonement and sacrifice. First, the holiness of God and His call for the Israelites to be holy because God is holy. Next, the offering of sacrifice was the foundational act the Israelites utilized to worship God through obedience to the sacrificial guidelines God provided. Finally, the reconciliation between God and His people by the shedding of sacrificial blood as a substitute so that the Israelites may be declared clean, pure and redeemed.

Major Divisions in Leviticus

The major divisions of Leviticus can be broken down into seven major sections. Some commentaries and authors divide into five or six sections, but in an effort to maintain the integrity of chapter sixteen (The Day of Atonement) and chapter 26, I have decided to let them stand alone instead of grouping them with other chapters. Although, the New Bible Dictionary also suggests dividing the book of Leviticus in this manner.[4]

The first major section focuses on chapters one through seven and is titled, the “Laws Concerning Offerings and Sacrifices.” The reason for this division is because this section mainly focuses on the sacrificial offerings which include the Burnt, Grain, Peace, Sin and Guilt. The rest of this section, Leviticus 6:8-7:38, mainly involve the instructions for Aaron in making the sacrifices. Some have suggested that Leviticus 6:8-7:38 should be included in the next section on priestly ordination, but I agree with Victor Hamilton who states, “Leviticus 6:8-7:38 is not only a supplement to the information given in 1:1-6:7, but also specific instructions to the priests concerning their obligations in the sacrificial ceremonies.”[5]

The second major section, “Ordination of the Priest,” involves chapters eight through ten. The main idea of this section is the ordination of the priesthood and sacrificial system and the consequences for failing to follow God’s holy guidelines. There are three main subsections involved in this, of particular note is the death of Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu, who did not follows the requirements that God had laid forth. This section was specifically for Aaron and his sons and did not fit in the sections before or after.

[1] M.F. Rooker, Leviticus, vol. 3A (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2000) 23.

[2] Eugene H. Merrill, “The Pentateuch” in D. S. Dockery (Ed.), Holman Concise Bible Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1998) 37.

[3]F. D. Lindsey, (1985). Leviticus. in J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, vol. 1 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985) 172.

[4] See W. H. Gispen, “Leviticus, Book Of,” Edited by D. R. W. Wood, I. H. Marshall, A. R. Millard, J. I. Packer, and D. J. Wiseman. New Bible Dictionary (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1996) 683.

[5] Victor P. Hamilton, Handbook of the Pentateuch: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy (Grand Rapids:Baker, 2005)  251.

Key Themes of Leviticus

This is a very brief, high-level overview of the book of Leviticus. It is designed to break down the book into sections that are easily distinguishable and provide a guide for Bible Study and improve memorization of a book.

First, we want to look at exactly what is a theme and provide a definition for it. Next, in order to reinforce our understanding of a ‘theme’ in a Biblical interpretation way, it is beneficial to form a personal definition of the word and how it is important.

As one goes through a book of the Bibles, in this case Leviticus, several themes can typically be seen. Sometimes, this can also be influenced by what is happening in a persons life and those particular ideas keep coming up. For Bible reading, the Spirit will guide and lead the reader and as they are open and listening to His leading, there will be several ideas, themes, topics that will keep coming up. There are times that the Spirit is working in us to get our attention. In general, these themes will make be fairly clear as they keep coming up in the text.

After the themes have been identified, it is good to develop a simple and concise message statement about that book. Essentially, a headline for the book. This simple, short statement will be much easier to remember than trying to think of all the different topics or events that occurred.

Finally, develop a working outline for the book. This helps in teaching Sunday school classes, adult community groups and is very beneficial for personal study. This will help in breaking the book into manageable sections to see the message the Author/author was conveying to the reader. Furthermore, this will bring greater clarity and understanding about the book and its themes.

KEY THEMES TO LEVITICUS

First, using 3-4 sources, define the meaning of “themes” (words repeated). Second, explain the importance of themes for Biblical interpretation.

  1. Theme is defined as “a particular subject or issue that is discussed often or repeatedly” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary). It is also defined as “a unifying or dominant idea, motif” (“theme,” Dictionary.com). In reference to biblical interpretation, it is the “The outstanding and abiding truth (theological proposition, big idea) of the passage” (Dr. Bailey’s BE101 class notes Spring 14).

Thus, a personal definition of theme is the main subject, concept or idea that is repeated and therefore conveys the overarching motif.

  1. Themes are an important part of the Biblical interpretation because the reader takes the observations, interpretations, and applications to provide a simple and concise statement and correlate a theme to one’s life. The most reliable guide to knowing and interpreting what a story is about and what the writer wishes the reader to know is through the use of themes by means of the principle of repetition (“How to Read the Bible as Literature and get more out of it”, Leland Ryken, 1984, p. 59). Authors use themes to reinforce the key ideas or concepts that they want the reader to know. Identifying the themes and how they relate to one another in the text is a helpful tool to understanding its meaning.

Third, Identify key themes in Leviticus. (people are not themes.)

  • Holiness – The holiness of God and His call for the Israelites to be holy because God is holy.
  • Sacrifice – The offering of sacrifice was the foundational act the Israelites utilized to worship God through obedience to the sacrificial guidelines God provided.
  • Atonement – The reconciliation between God and His people by the shedding of sacrificial blood as a substitute so that the Israelites may be declared clean, pure and redeemed.

Fourth, formulate a message statement for the whole book. Fifth, develop that message in a concise working outline (with chapter and verses).

  1. Leviticus expresses God’s holiness and His requirements for Israel’s holiness; it provides guidelines for the means by which God provides atonement for sin through sacrifice.
  2. Outline of Leviticus
    1. God provides a way for Israel to approach Him by the atonement of their sins to become holy and pure through sacrifice (Chaps. 1 – 16).
      1. God provides guidelines for the laws of the sacrificial offering system for Israel and the priests to worship and be restored to Him (Chaps. 1 – 7).
      2. The ordination of the priesthood and sacrificial system and the consequences for failing to follow God’s holy guidelines (Chaps. 8 – 10).
      3. God establishes laws of purity and the Day of Atonement to cleanse and atone for Israel’s sins (Chaps. 11 – 16).
    2. God’s requirements for Israel to be holy just as He is holy through the setting forth of conditions for holiness (Chaps. 17 – 27).
      1. The Holiness Code enacted by God to protect His holiness from Israel’s sin and provide ways for Israel to be holy just as God is holy (Chaps. 17 – 25).
      2. The covenant blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience to the requirements of holiness (Chap. 26).
      3. The guidelines for vows and tithes that are to be set apart to the Lord (Chap. 27).