Bible Study with Jairus – Leviticus 24
Leviticus 24 begins with the Lord commanding Moses to let the Israelites bring olive oil to him to make the lamps burn continually (which Aaron is in charge of doing). The Lord also instructed him to put the twelve loaves of bread on the table of pure gold and as well as some pure incense on the bread to be presented as food offering to Him. Every Sabbath, the breads shall be changed before Him.
The second story is about the son in the tribe of Dan of Israel, who is married to an Egyptian, who blasphemed the Name of the Lord with a curse. In the end, the Lord commanded Moses to let the Israelites stone him to death.
After this story, the Lord enacted a law regarding murder. It is as follows:
17 “Anyone who takes the life of a human being is to be put to death. 18 Anyone who takes the life of someone’s animal must make restitution—life for life. 19 Anyone who injures their neighbor is to be injured in the same manner: 20 fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth. The one who has inflicted the injury must suffer the same injury.” (NIV, Leviticus 24:17-20)
What is the relationship between these three stories? What is this chapter trying to say?
First of all, one of the questions that we have to consider is why the Lord immediately established the law at the trial regarding the punishments for murder after the son blasphemed the Name of the Lord. My insight is that in the eyes of God, murder is as serious as blaspheming His name. Because man is created in the image of God, the dwelling place of God is with man, and our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, whoever hurts the temple of God, will be hurt by Him.
We started discussing the death penalty and trial in our Bible study. This passage in Leviticus 24 is often used as one of the arguments for those who support the death penalty. But there is also a lot of debate in the United States regarding whether or not there should be a death penalty.
I remember when I was a reporter in Los Angeles, I was covering an event. There was a murderer who turned to God in repentance in prison and has become a role model for youth street gangs. He helped many youth street gangs to repent and believe in the Lord. So when California Governor Schwarzenegger approved his death sentence, it caused a lot of controversy. In one of the events, I interviewed a group of Christian pastors who protested against the death penalty sentence for this man. One of the pastors at the event said that God did not apply a death sentence to Cain, the first person to commit murder. God even prevented others from killing Cain and put a mark on him. Anyone who killed Cain would suffer vengeance seven times over. The pastor’s words left a deep impression on me.
Those who advocate the use of death penalty believe that this is the clear provision of the Word of God in Leviticus 24. They believe that without the death penalty, it’s difficult to deter people from committing crimes. But those who oppose the death penalty believe that even those who have committed crimes are created in the image of God. They also need opportunities for forgiveness and redemption.
Though the death penalty is a topic of much discussion, that’s not the focus of this chapter. Is there a direct or indirect relationship between it and the lamp that Arron had to burn continually in the tabernacle?
I think there is a direct relationship. Let’s see what kind of relationship they have.
Proverbs 20:27 (NIV) tells us that “the spirit of man is the lamp of the Lord.” If you regard man as a tabernacle, then the spirit inside is the lamp of the Lord. The work of the high priest Aaron in the sanctuary of the Old Testament is also the royal priesthood in our New Testament today. It is through continually praying, repenting, and purifying ourselves “fan into flames the spiritual gift God” (2 Tim 1:6) just as letting the lights on the golden lampstand in the sanctuary in the Old Testament burn continually.
We know that the burning lamps on the golden lampstand are from the oil of the pressed olives, and the olive oil represents the Holy Spirit, but the Bible clearly tells us, “ whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior” (NIV, Titus 3:6). In other words, the Holy Spirit has always existed. But if Jesus Christ had not borne our sins and endured those crushing blows on the cross, the Holy Spirit wouldn’t be able to pour out abundantly on us.
And Ephesians 2:18 (NIV) tells us, “For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.” “Him” here refers to Christ. Through the salvation accomplished by Christ, we can come to the Father through Jesus in the fellowship the Holy Spirit.
So what the Lord commanded Moses to let Aaron do is actually a picture of our fellowship with the Holy Trinity in the New Testament.
The human spirit is created by the Lord. It’s where the Spirit of God dwells in us, and also the lamp of the Lord. This lamp enables us to maintain fellowship with God, receive illumination from Him, enables us to live a holy life, and prevents us from committing sin.
We know that the Old Testament is a foreshadow of the New Testament’s reality. So here, Leviticus 24 is a very good picture representing the reality of the New Testament.
As Christians we should always pray in the spirit to keep our spiritual light shining before God. We often have very little time to pray because we get so busy with our daily lives, so our prayer life is slowly neglected. There is a famous spiritual man who said, “No fixed time of prayer is no life of prayer.” I think this really makes sense because we live in the flesh. If we don’t offer our bodies and set a specific time to pray, it will be difficult to maintain a life of prayer.
I think this is why the Lord let Moses take the fine flour and bake twelve loaves of bread on the table of pure gold before the Lord. Each of the breads uses two-tenths of an ephah, six in each stack. The breads were to be placed before the Lord each Sabbath, and then it was given to Aaron and his descendants to eat. I think these 12 breads represent the people of God or the body of Christ. Because twelve is the number of tribes of Israel, the fine flour also represents human nature, so I think this is what Romans 12:1 says, “to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice” (NIV). If we don’t continually fan our God-given Spirit into flames, or offer our bodies through the cycle of the weekly Sabbath (or the cycle of the Lord’s day in the New Testament), it’s difficult to maintain our fellowship with God in the spirit.
There are Christians who initially receive salvation but if they don’t fellowship with other believers or attend church, they will have a very difficult time maintaining a strong testimony in the spirit. Offering our bodies as a living sacrifice is crucial.
We must know that our soul is very precious. In order to redeem our soul, Jesus was willing to give his life. It only takes a moment to receive salvation, but then our spiritual life must continue to grow and our body must also be constantly offered as a living sacrifice. The salvation of our souls should undergo changes over a lifetime to reach maturity.
This is a spiritual picture of the New Testament that the Lord commanded Moses at the beginning of Leviticus 24.
A series of problems will arise if we can’t maintain constant fellowship with the Lord, if we gradually stop fellowshipping with Him because of sin and worldly influence, and if the lamp in our spirits is not lit up. We should work as priests and let our lights shine in front of God every week and every day. Then we’ll be able to get closer to Him.
When a person slowly moves away from God and neglects to take care of the lamp inside of him (our spirit), he will sin and fall. The son of the Egyptian father and the Israelite mother is a picture of this.
First, the law of God stipulates that the Israelites were not allowed to marry the Gentiles. So, the Israelite mother had already violated this law. The light in her spirit had already been dimmed to a certain extent. By marrying an Egyptian, her son would be part of an environment that makes it easy to fall away and be distant from God.
How can people commit such a serious sin? It is because the lights inside of them have long been dark. They lose God’s presence, morality and even basic humanity.
We know that many Christians experience these things. Before they are saved, lying, stealing, greed or harmful words and deeds don’t bother them. But after they get saved, they find that they can no longer do the things they used to do and say. If they do it, they feel very uncomfortable. After a couple times, they realize that they can’t participate in those things anymore. What’s the reason behind this?
One of the reasons is we are born again by the Spirit of God. The light of the Lord shines brightly within us. The things that we were doing in the darkness before didn’t bother us but under the illumination of the Lord’s lamp, it can’t be done anymore.
So the main reason of the fall of man (committing sin and the decline of morality) is due to the fact that the light inside of him is dark. But God is the God of salvation. God’s intention for the high priest to continually light the lamps in front of Him represents Christ, our High Priest, who intercedes for us every day in heaven. This intercession will bring change to you sooner or later – from death to life and from darkness to light. One day, we will be saved and become a child of God. We will also begin to learn to serve as a priest. Continuously learning to be the lamp of God is to intercede for sinners around us, let the Holy Spirit work in them and light their lamps.
Our intercession to God in this way, brings the people around us to salvation, letting the light inside of them (which is their spirit) come alive.
It seems that the Israelite mother’s son was punished severely. But the judgment is not the aim, salvation is. Through this judgment, God is able to show the later generations that if they don’t pay attention to lighting up the lamp inside of them and if they constantly turn away from Him, the result will be tragic.
For example, we know the tribe of Dan was not numbered in Revelation chapter 7 among the 144,000 and this was often counted as a proof that the tribe of Dan was cut off. But Revelation 21:12 mentions that on the twelve gates of the New Jerusalem were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. From there we can speculate the tribe of Dan was eventually recovered and saved. How did this happen? We don’t exactly know but we can see some traces from the story in this chapter.
Judgement may come upon the tribe of Dan and its descendants. Paul says during his trial “for I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance.”（Philippians 1:19）Will this principle work for the tribe of Dan in the Old Testament? When the tribe of Dan was facing the difficult moment of being cut off, would this turn out to be their deliverance by the mercy of God? I believe so. I believe the judgement in this chapter reveals to us a hidden stream that God has been dealing with the tribe of Dan and eventually the name of Dan will be still written on the door of the New Jerusalem.
Again, judgement from God is always a means but not a goal. The goal is salvation as God is love and he wants to redeem us no matter how far we have fallen. If our light has been dim and we have sinned against God, judgement may come upon us but it’s also an opportunity for us to repent and rekindle the light within us. This is called The Gospel. It happened to the tribe of Dan and it will also happen to anyone who falls but chooses to repent.
Isaiah 61:1-4 says,
The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion– to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor. They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations.
The Tribe of Dan was almost cut off and seems like they were burnt to ashes but God will “bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes” in the end. Let’s turn back to God and repent of our sin and light up the lamp within us. This lamp surely will restore us to receive this crown of beauty instead of ashes.