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The Book of Leviticus is a book of good news because it teaches the forgiveness of sins through the appointed blood of atonement.  Not that the blood of bulls and goats actually takes away sins (cf. Heb 10:4), but it points us to the blood that does — that of the whole and spotless lamb Jesus Christ.  The book shows that your sins cannot be atoned through the shedding of your own blood but only through the shedding of this blood.  Offering a sacrifice was not a good work, but an ordinary means of grace.  The way of salvation is narrow and it is not people-initiated but comes from God.  All ancient peoples knew that they needed atonement, as their sacrificial systems showed, but salvation is from the Jews and in particular is from the priest-sacrifice of Jesus of Nazareth.  And His sacrifice is applied through faith.  Why did the true people of God offer sacrifices?  Because they believed the promise of God to forgive sins and now we preach the forgiveness of sins in Jesus’ name.

The nation of Israel was to be set apart as a holy nation both morally and outwardly.  The distinctions between clean and unclean animals demonstrated the distinction between the nation of Israel and the Gentiles.  While election in Christ is still good news, just as this showed the election of Israel among the nations, we are no longer set apart in such external things because forgiveness of sins is now proclaimed to all nations in Jesus Christ.  And the elect of every nation have the Spirit, setting us apart starting with our hearts.  Demands that Christians preserve a particular culture whether forty years old or four hundred years old or whatever have missed this change in what the good news looks like and because they are a man-made way of salvation are dangerous.

And the Holiness Code consists of two chiasms.  The first concentrates on loving your neighbor as yourself and the second on loving God with all of your heart and soul.  The fact that the former includes laws about loving God and the latter laws about loving neighbors shows that one cannot separate these ideas.  And yet it is very clear that the former section stresses loving neighbors and aliens with Lev 19 at the center and the latter section on loving God with the blasphemy case at the center.  And there is a chapter on sacrifices before each chiasm.  The first time dealing with sacrifices alone and the second time before the loving God section on sacrifices and priests (where the priests are described as sacrifices — need to be well and whole).  Given these and other regulations that no longer continue in the Holiness Code, the code is a portion of Scripture that is much neglected.  And yet this code is incredibly helpful in thinking through how we show our gratitude to God for the forgiveness of our sins due to the work of the priest-sacrifice Jesus Christ.  And the appendix on sacrifices and oaths is very helpful for people to contemplate today given that oaths are very lightly taken at present.

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