Today we begin Leviticus Chapter 17.
For the Complete Jewish Bible, click here.
For the King James version, click here.
Leviticus chapter 17 is a relatively short chapter but its contents are pure power-packed dynamite.
This chapter will answer many questions and set the stage for much of what is going to unfold throughout the entire rest of the Bible.
That’s right, the foundational concepts introduced in this tiny chapter are that important and powerful!
So I pray that your attention and focus will be dialed in at peak alertness as we move forward.
The first thing you need to know is that just as Leviticus chapters 11-15 dealt with the subjects of CLEAN & UNCLEAN and ritual purity and impurity, this chapter plus the next nine chapters comprise that section of the Bible scholars term “The Holiness Code“.
The second thing you need to know is that up until this point in the Scriptures, most of Leviticus has been directed mainly towards the new priesthood.
However, from chapter 17, the contents are addressed to every level of Israelite society including even the non-Hebrews who live among the Israelites.
So gentile believers, heads up!
Because just as we learned when we studied about YOM KIPPUR, it wasn’t just the physical genealogical descendants of Jacob who were expected to observe God’s holy days, but ALL of Israel.
It wasn’t just the native born Hebrew who found themselves under the blessings and curses of the Mosaic Law, but also those foreigners who had enjoined themselves to Israel.
Some of you may be wondering, how in the world Israel had all of these foreigners living among them given that at this point in the Scriptures it’s only been about a year since they left Egypt?
The answer is found in the following Scripture verse:
“And a mixed multitude went up also with them;
and flocks, and herds, even very much cattle.”
I don’t know the exact figure of non-Hebrews who joined Israel when they left Egypt, but the word “multitude” implies quite a substantial number of uncircumcised folks who also picked up and left.
As a result, when YHVH is addressing lay-Israeli society, the vast majority of the laws and commands are also relevant to those foreigners who left Israel with Egypt.
Now understand that not all the foreigners became “official” Israelites so to speak.
There were many reasons why some of the Egyptians decided to leave with Israel when they hightailed it out of Egypt.
Although the majority of Israel was concentrated in the Land of Goshen in Egypt, many Hebrews also moved to other areas of Egypt (remember Israel dwelled in Egypt for four centuries).
As a result, a lot of intermarriage between Egyptians and Hebrews undoubtedly occurred.
So when the Hebrew half of a mixed marriage had to leave Egypt at the command of YHVH, the other half decided to go with him or her rather than separate.
Also consider this.
Not all of the non-Hebrew foreigners who left Egypt with Israel were necessarily Egyptians.
I’m sure there were many other people groups and tribes who just happened to be residing in Egypt for whatever reason and when they witnessed the unbelievable mind-blowing power of YHVH-a God who had such awesome control over the elements of nature, including the weather, the animal kingdom, and even death itself, that making a decision to throw in their lot with Israel was a no-brainer.
So just keep this in mind.
When we picture Israel dwelling in the wilderness, remember that a huge number of the population also included non-Hebrew folks.
This fact has direct relevance to our day.
I have said this repeatedly and will continue to say it until all gentile believers everywhere finally get it:
The ONLY WAY any physical gentile is saved is because he or she benefits from the covenants God has ONLY made with Israel.
And how do you receive that benefit that by birth is NOT yours (if you’re a gentile)?
Only by being grafted into Israel.
And this happens through your faith in the Jewish Messiah.
There is no other way and I say this as a gentile myself.
I’m not preaching some Jewish supremacy doctrine here.
Accepting Yeshua as your Lord and Savior and being grafted into Israel are NOT two separate actions.
When a gentile accepts Yeshua as his or her Lord and Savior, he or she is joined to Israel.
Or to be technically accurate, he or she is joined to Israel’s covenants.
Some may wonder, do gentiles become racial Jews when they are saved?
The answer is NO.
You are joined on a SPIRITUAL level.
For example, the Scriptures say that when you are born again, you are brought into union with Yeshua.
But obviously you are NOT physically joined to Messiah like some Siamese twin freak of nature, right?
Rather it is by means of the Spirit that you become one in PURPOSE with Messiah.
It is the exact same situation of that mixed multitude of foreigners who when they left Egypt with Israel received blessings right alongside their fellow Hebrews by the same ONE GOD OF ISRAEL.
If you’re not Hebrew, this doesn’t mean that you have to give up all your gentile traditions and customs and fully adopt Hebrew culture once you’re born again.
You don’t have to renounce your heritage.
But you do have to submit to the God of Israel and His Authority.
An UNCLEAN food is UNCLEAN no matter what culture or land you’re from.
What God has deemed a sin is a sin no matter where you grew up.
God’s eternal TORAH applies to all believers.
I hope you’re getting this principle because it is so, so important.
If what I’m saying is NOT true, if gentile believers are not grafted in to Israel and their covenants with YHVH, then yes indeed this Torah and the rest of the “old” testament Scriptures are indeed irrelevant to them.
But then I would say that the New Testament becomes irrelevant to gentile believers also because think about it, what is the New Testament all about?
It’s all about the Old Testament prophecies that predict the coming Messiah!
The Apostle Paul in his famous tome to the gentiles known as the Book of Romans makes it clear that gentiles are grafted into Israel and more importantly Israel’s covenants.
By definition, being part of Israel equals being part of Israel’s covenants.
You can’t be part of Israel apart from the covenants.
Because what makes Israel Israel are its covenants with their God whose name is YHVH.
So you had best believe that everything we are studying now in the Torah has DIRECT RELEVANCE to any person who professes Yeshua as Lord, Savior, and Messiah.
One way to make the Torah come alive in your walk with the Lord is to imagine that you are one of those foreigners who left Egypt with the Hebrew people and are now dwelling in tents with them.
However, even better, as a result of your spiritual status in Messiah, you are now a full-fledged citizen of Israel.
I reiterate, you do not have to renounce your heritage nor become a religious Jew.
But you are under obligation to live within the terms of Israel’s covenants.
It is ONLY within the covenants that God has ONLY made with Israel that the basis for atonement of sins in Messiah exists.
CONNECTING THIS TEACHING TO THE NEW TESTAMENT
“Then Yeshua said to the woman,
“I was sent only to help God’s lost sheep-
-the people of Israel.“
“There is neither Jew nor Gentile,
neither slave nor free,
nor is there male and female,
for you are all one in Messiah Yeshua.”
“But if some of the
branches were broken off,
and you — a wild olive —
were grafted in among them
and have become equal sharers
in the rich root of the olive tree,
then don’t boast as if you were
better than the branches!
However, if you do boast,
remember that you are not supporting the root,
the root is supporting you.”