- “God loved the birds and invented trees. Man loved the birds and invented cages.” _Jacques Deval
Leviticus 21:23 (NKJV) “…only he shall not go near the veil or approach the altar, because he has a defect, lest he profane My sanctuaries; for I the LORD sanctify them.’”
Leviticus 21 is a tough chapter. The politically correct crowd would run aghast from the room if they heard it read at church and to be honest I find it disheartening myself. The essence is that any priest with a physical defect could not serve before God and the people.
For example, two of the most revered pastors of the Fort Mill Church of God – “One-eyed” Johnny Childers and George Alford, could not have served as pastors under the Levitical system. Both of these men had obvious physical defects. Pastor Childers’ is obvious – he was blind in one eye, and Pastor Alford (who I worked for and revere highly) had one leg much shorter than the
What is God trying to teach us here? Does God not love people who have physical defects? Of course He does. Even a casual reader of the Bible will understand that. But God is teaching us is that anytime we presume to represent God we are in reality representing Jesus, the true priest of Heaven and earth. Jesus is the epitome of perfection both morally and physically. There is no defect in Him and those representing Him must reflect that.
The Levitical system shows however that it is impossible for a mere man to really be able to represent Jesus. Before the priests could even begin to represent the people before God they had to constantly offer sacrifices for their own sins, just to keep God from killing them! And then in the case of today’s bible lesson, no matter how many sacrifices a priest may have made if he had
physical defects he could not approach the altar of God.
Bottom line, God is showing us just how impossible it is for us to live up to His perfect standard. For all of us, even our best efforts fall far short of the standard and glory of God (Romans 3:23). There is really no way we can live up to Peter’s admonition to be a holy nation and a royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:9). Do you want the truth? The truth is that it is impossible to measure
up to the standards of God with perfection. You will never get it completely right. You can’t do it; it is impossible.
In walks grace. God knew that even Adam and Eve in their perfect condition would fail. That is why He made provisions even before the universe was created for grace to be available. That “provision” is Jesus Christ (all honor and praise be to Him both
now and forever!!!). He took your place. He became your perfection. He atoned for your sins and defects (paid the penalty). All you have to do is believe this; to have faith in Jesus’ atoning work at Calvary (Hebrews 4:2-4).
That is why Paul wrote, “I have been crucified in Christ” (Galatians 2:20). Have you ever thought about it, you can’t crucify yourself; somebody else has to crucify you. Bottom line, if you hope to be at peace with God and yourself you must realize how impossible it is for you to measure up and you must – like a little child – go running to the all-sufficient and perfect Savior, Jesus Christ. In Him you have life, hope, peace…and rest.
I hear you asking, “What does all this have to do with Sabbath living?” It has everything to do with Sabbath living (reflect carefully on Hebrews 4). The seventh day, which we call “Sabbath” was God’s grace given. It was his way of saying that you do not have to keep working and working and working. It was his way of saying that you can rest. Sabbath is a weekly reminder that all your efforts, labor and works are good, but what really brings peace and rest is God’s grace.
Should Christians work to please God? Certainly! It is as natural for a Christian to want to live a holy life as it is for light to shine. But at the end of the day (and week), what will bring you rest and give you hope of pleasing God is the work that He did at Calvary. Accept that in faith. Lay down your heavy burdens, put up your tools and rest.
I’ve gotten a little “long-winded” this morning. But these devotionals are not just for you, they are for me. And as a man who is
called upon on a daily basis to represent God and yet who is full of defects and apt to fail and fall, I needed this devotional myself. Thank God for Sabbath! Let it forever be a reminder of God’s grace given even when we did not earn it.
Resting in grace,