There were numerous sorts of pandemics and plagues in human history. According to History.com, the earliest recorded pandemic occurred during the Peloponnesian War in 430 BC. But that is because they did not read Exodus 7-11 about the Ten Plagues that happened in 1446 BC and 1 Samuel 5 when the pandemic of hemorrhoids struck the Philistines some time in 1060 BC.
The same plague that happened during Peloponnesian War passed through Libya, Ethiopia and Egypt; it crossed the Athenian walls as the Spartans laid siege. About two-thirds of the population died.
Justinian Plague, which happened in 541 AD, first appeared in Egypt, then through Palestine and the Byzantine Empire, it spread throughout the Mediterranean. This pandemic took about 50 million people, 26 percent of the world population. Causing a massive economic struggle, it created an apocalyptic atmosphere that spurred the rapid spread of Christianity.
The Greatest Pandemic Ever
So far, SARS-CoV-2 (Covid-19) took 2,403,462 souls of people worldwide. You may call it pandemic if you wish but with a mortality rate near 2%, I prefer a more appropriate term for that – seasonal flu, influenza with complications.
Anyway, no matter how you call it, it must not divert our main focus from the greatest plague ever – SIN. And here is my question for you, how do you fight this disease? We are in the middle of a pandemic called godlessness! What personally do YOU do to stop it?
God commands, take The Whole Armor of God and go on the battlefield (Ephesians 6:10–18).
In this weekly insight, I would love us to look into Leviticus 15-16 & Matthew 27:1-26. Please, take your time to study these verses by yourself, with your family or study group.
Also, you might be interested in what was last week. Please, check our previous weekly insight – The Establishment And Destruction Of The Temple.
Previous chapters. The last weekly insight we left off in Leviticus chapters one through six, about God’s Laws of Sacrifices. Leviticus 6:7-7:36 is the detailed summary of what God commanded to Moses, which is condensed into two verses at the very end, in Leviticus 7:37-38. The main focus is on the proper handling, eating and disposal of the offerings.
Leviticus 8:1-10:20 is the establishment of the priesthood. Here is the chain of events 4:
- The book of Exodus (Exodus 35-40) ends with the construction of the Tabernacle.
- Leviticus 1-7 provides the instructions for sacrifices in the Tabernacle.
- Chapter 8 gives records of the installation of the priesthood.
- Leviticus 9 describes the first service in the Tabernacle of the congregation.
- And chapter 10 reports the first incident of disobedience of God’s ordinance during sacrifice (Leviticus 10:1-2).
Leviticus 11:1-15:30 rules the laws about cleanness and uncleanness. It starts in Leviticus 10:10-11 by defining the difference between holy and unholy, clean and unclean 4:
- Chapter 11 deals with the matter of food. It describes the clean animals, thus are acceptable to eat and those that are unclean, hence are not acceptable to eat. It summarizes in Leviticus 11:41-47 with the definition of the purpose of such dietary law.
- Leviticus 12 is the shortest chapter in the book, and it deals with the cleanliness and purification after childbirth.
- Chapters 13 and 14 provide regulations and instructions regarding the cleanliness of a body, garment and homes. It summarizes the law of leprosy (fungi, skin diseases and infections) in Leviticus 15:54-57.
The Laws About Bodily Discharges
Leviticus 15. In this chapter, the ultimate doctor, healer and creator of our bodies gives to the children of Israel a prescription for separation and sanctification in the situation of unclean bodily discharges.
A little excursus. God ordained the act of procreation. Moreover, He blessed people to be fruitful and multiply their seed: first, in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 1:28); then Noah and his sons (Genesis 9:1); and, finally, through God’s covenant and promise to Abram (Genesis 12:1-3 and 13:14-16).
The laws of unclean bodily discharges provide the guidelines for those who were ritually unclean concerning human sexual organs. Thus, it demonstrates God’s concern for holiness, including the areas of human sexuality.
Moreover, the instructions regarding cleansing would give the Israelite nation an absolute advantage while in the land of Canaan. The godless and ignorant nations of Canaan and other surrounding tribes abused God’s gift of their fertility. But these instructions that the priests received from God through Moses and Aaron were the powerful weapon against those nations.
And while the laws of unclean bodily discharges instructed Israelites to keep their bodies clean and healthy, the real aim was spiritual purity and holiness of God’s people.
Leviticus 15:31-33 summarized the purpose of the laws of unclean bodily discharges: Thus you shall keep the people of Israel separate from their uncleanness, lest they die in their uncleanness by defiling my Tabernacle that is in their midst.
The Day of Atonement
Leviticus 16. Chapter 16 of the book of Leviticus begins with a reminder about the death of two sons of Aaron, as recorded in Leviticus 10:1-2. God carefully instructs Moses how to prepare the high priest for the Day of Atonement, in this case, Aaron. Obedience is everything in this ritual.
The preparation was a meticulous process. The high priest had to come at the specific time and bring the proper sacrifice for himself and his house. Also, the high priest was to bathe his entire body before starting the ritual of atonement. After the bathing, he was to wear a holy garment reserved for such occasion and select the proper animals.
For the Day of Atonement, God required the two goats. The one was to make a sin offering and the other as a scapegoat (Leviticus 16:7-10). The fate of the first one was to be killed, as per the Law of Sin Offering, but the second one – presented alive before the Lord.
1. Atonement for the Priest:
First, according to God’s instructions to Moses, before the high priest could make an atonement for the sins of the people, he had to make an atonement for himself and his house (Leviticus 16:11-14).
2. Atonement for the Tabernacle:
Then, as described in Leviticus 16:15-19, the high priest should kill the goat, previously selected for the sin offering. Thus, the high priest had to make an atonement for the holy place, because of the uncleannesses of the people of Israel and because of their transgressions.
3. Atonement for the People:
Finally, after the sanctification of the high priest and the Tabernacle of the congregation, the high priest had to bring the live goat (Leviticus 16:20-28). That was a scapegoat who had to bear upon him all their iniquities unto a land not inhabited.
The purpose of the Day of Atonement:
The purpose of the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) is evident. Two vital functions of life (eating and working) ceased to compel the worshiper to focus on their spiritual realities of life. Of course, sorrow was essential for those who approached God on that day. That was a day of mourning, praying, fasting and repentance 7 (Leviticus 16:29-34).
I do not want to go too much into details. Therefore, I suggest you read Leviticus 16 along with Matthew 27 – this is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The High Priest
Matthew 27:1-26. In the previous chapter, while praying in the garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36-46), Jesus got arrested. One of His disciples, Judas Iscariot, betrayed his Master (Matthew 26:47-56). Judas sold Jesus Christ for thirty pieces of silver to the high priests. Definitely, those were looking for an opportunity to accuse the Messiah.
At the end of chapter 26 and the beginning of chapter 27, Matthew presents us with two accounts of betrayal and remorse (Matthew 26:69-75 and Matthew 27:3-10). Likely, Matthew may have included it here to contrast acts of Judas and Peter 7.
The Repentance of Judas Iscariot
Judas, when he saw that they condemned Jesus, repented (metamelomai) himself and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the high priests and elders. Perhaps, Judas may have sought forgiveness from the high priest and elders (Matthew 27:3-4).
Judas had genuine metamelomai, though before men, not before God. He never repented in his heart. Moreover, he could not live with this sin in his heart and, eventually, hanged himself (Matthew 27:5).
The Repentance of Simon Peter
Peter, on the other hand, denied Jesus three times. He rejected any connection with Christ on all three occasions when people recognized him. Although Peter publically had denied Jesus Christ, in Matthew 27:75, we can see that he had repented heartedly.
Eventually, Peter had remembered the words of Jesus (Matthew 26:34). That was the point that brought Peter to himself and melted his heart, and he burst into tears of godly sorrow. A serious reflection upon the words of the Lord Jesus will be a powerful inducement to repentance 2.
The Sin Offering and The Scapegoat
Finally, after Pilate has finished questioning Jesus, he brought him to the Jews, who have already gathered around in the court (Matthew 27:11-26). Using terminology from Leviticus 16:8, Pilate cast lots upon the two goats. But unlike in Leviticus, Jesus Christ is both sin offering and scapegoat for all sinners.
Although Matthew 27:25 bears a record of terrible words from Jewish people who were gathered on the trial. Still, human culpability for Jesus’ death rests upon the Jews and Gentiles, then, at that time, who conspired against Him (Mark 10:33-34; Acts 4:27-28), not upon all Jewish people forever 7.
Insights Into The Scriptures
Leviticus 15 is a perfect example of God’s high standards regarding human holiness and purity. Even though men and women have unintentional (natural) issues with their bodies, and still, God requires them to be holy and pure, especially in the presence of God’s glory.
Such an example made me realize that the repercussion of disobedience to God and transgression of His commandments far more severe. Sad to say, but we have earned every single muscle pain and headache. Moreover, no wonder why thousands of people worldwide are dying every day from various diseases.
Thence, God commanded his people through Moses to “keep the people of Israel separate from their uncleanness, lest they die …” (Leviticus 15:31)
However, the solemn rituals of the offering of sacrifices and the blood of innocent animals could not rend the veil that shut men out from God. The Day of Atonement declared that entrance into the presence of God was barred to the sinners.
The efficacy of Jesus’ work
The entire way from the Brazen Altar and up to the Mercy Seat was blood-sprinkled. Without the veil, the blood was precious; but it was within the veil that its preciousness was fully revealed. The great factors within the veil were the blood and incense. The one expressed the fragrance of the Person of Christ, the other, the efficacy of His work 6.
Thus, the Day of Atonement is better to view as a day of purgation that removes from the camp and the sanctuary all ritual impurities and moral faults that had accumulated at the sanctuary and among the people in the previous year.
In this sense, sins were expiated. The propitiation awaited the final sacrifice of Messiah who offered himself without blemish as High Priest and sin offering 6 (Hebrews 9:11-14) – washed away our sins once and for all.
- Through transgression of God’s Laws men not just died spiritually but also caused physical afflictions and mortality of the body.
- But the Lord God cares about His people’s physical and spiritual wellbeing.
- In order to be in the presence of God’s glory, the worshiper has to be perfect, pure and holy.
- But death comes to all of us righteous or wicked, clean or unclean (Ecclesiastes 9:2) because there is none righteous, no, not one (Romans 3:10).
- Thus, the only way to be in the presence of God’s glory is by the perfect sacrifice of the High Priest and through the blood of the Lamb, the Lord Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:7; Hebrews 10:4; 1 John 1:7; Hebrews 6:1; Luke 1:74).
If you have not yet accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior, why not now!? Please, do not wait until it is too late! Embrace God’s Grace, Mercy and Love now – Accept Jesus Now!
Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.
The Lord’s Prayer: Matthew 6:9-13
Study Materials Used:
- The Henry Morris Study Bible – KJV
- The Matthew Henry Study Bible – KJV
- The MacArthur Study Bible – ESV
- ESV Study Bible
- Hebrew-Greek Key Word Study Bible KJV
- The Complete Bible Commentary – George Williams
- The Moody Bible Commentary – a one-volume commentary
- Studies in the Sermon on the Mount by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones