This week, in our Pentateuch class at the Ambassador Bible Center, we began our in-depth study of the book of Leviticus. Leviticus is a book that focuses on how to honor and worship God in true holiness. And in reading this portion of Scripture, the words that the Lord said in Leviticus 10:3 have been continually resonating in my mind. He said, "By those who come near Me I must be regarded as holy; and before all the people I must be glorified."
Jesus Christ, who was the God of the Old Testament, made His laws, statutes and judgments very clear to Israel. When the children of Israel sinned—which was and is a serious offense to God—they had to atone for their sin and any other thing that had defiled them. They had a covenant with God and only a very lengthy and particular process of atonement could restore the breaking of it.
Under the Old Covenant and the order of Aaron, the priests, who offered sacrifices to God, would have to be ritually consecrated for seven days and then bring a burnt offering, sin offering and peace offering to God for the children of Israel (Leviticus 9).
Because sin is nothing but disrespect to the loving God, the purpose of the sacrifices gave a strong message. Sin requires death; it is not permitted in the presence of God, and a sacrifice made is the only way to be reconciled to Him. This system of atonement that was given by God was a great act of mercy for a sinful people. It was an act so great that when "the glory of the Lord appeared to all the people, and fire came out from before the Lord and consumed the burnt offering . . . all the people saw it, they shouted and fell on their faces (Leviticus 9:23).
And if this wasn't enough, God the Father took His mercy even further and offered His Son. Jesus Christ Himself came in the flesh, to live a physical, pure and sinless life so that He could be offered as a sacrifice for sinners that He loves. His sacrifice brought more than atonement, it made possible the forgiveness of sins. In Hebrews 7:26-27 we are told, "For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens; who does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the people's, for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself."
God wants to be near to us—but we need to regard Him as holy. What He says is right and what He defines in His law cannot be taken half-heartedly. Meditate upon the magnitude of His mercy and the sacrifice He made. And remember; to God belongs all glory.