February 25, 2024, Message by P. Kevin Clancey

“Who have I in heaven but you? Besides you, I desire nothing on earth. My heart and my flesh may fail, but God, you are the strength of my life and my portion forever.”

25 Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. 26 My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (Psalms 73:25-26, ESV)

I want to thank you, Jesus, for your word. I want to thank you for the book of Leviticus. And Lord, I want to thank you that you, as an all-good and all-holy God, have not cast us off but actually desire to dwell with the sinful people and make provision for that.

I thank you. In the Old Testament, you began to show your people what that provision would look like ultimately, and that we now live under that provision. Because of your son Jesus, we can say with full confidence what the psalmist wrote thousands of years ago,

“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me. Bless his holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits. He forgives all your sins. He heals all your diseases. He redeems your life from the pit, and he crowns you with love and compassion. He renews your youth like the eagles, and he satisfies you with good things.”

1Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! 2 Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, 3 who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, 4 who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, 5 who satisfies you with good (Psalm 103:1-5, ESV)

Tonight, we bless the Lord, O my soul. We thank you for the great salvation we have in Jesus Christ.

We thank you, God, that you throughout history have demonstrated that you want to dwell with your people, and that throughout all eternity, you will be our God, and we will be your children. It’ll be good. God’s people said, ‘Amen.’ Alright, Leviticus.

I’m gonna do an overview of the whole book tonight, and interestingly enough, my scripture reading, I’m not gonna read all 27 chapters to you. Somebody say, “Hallelujah.” I’m going to read two verses, and neither one of them are in Leviticus. They are actually the parentheses to Leviticus, Exodus 40:35 and Numbers 1:1. And here’s what these verses say, and you’ll see why I read these in reference to Leviticus in just a moment.

Exodus 40:35, Moses could no longer enter the tabernacle because the cloud had settled down over it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.

35 Moses could no longer enter the Tabernacle because the cloud had settled down over it, and the glory of the Lord filled the Tabernacle. (Exodus 40:35, NLT)

Numbers 1:1, a year after Israel’s departure from Egypt, the Lord spoke to Moses in the tabernacle in the wilderness of Sinai on the first day of the second month, and on that year he said.

1 A year after Israel’s departure from Egypt, the Lord spoke to Moses in the Tabernacle in the wilderness of Sinai. On the first day of the second month of that year he said, (Numbers 1:1, NLT)

And that’s as far as I want to go, because the point I want to make is, as we studied last week, as we looked at the tabernacle, that the tabernacle is God saying, ‘I want to dwell in the midst of Israel.’

And all those pieces of furniture and all those things in the tabernacle that all the way point to Jesus also are the conditions for God to dwell among his people and lead them in the wilderness to the promised land.

God wants to dwell with his people, and at the end of Exodus, when the tabernacle is built, the holiness of the Lord is so profound that Moses can’t get into the tabernacle. Exodus 40:35, Numbers 1:1, after Leviticus, Moses speaks to the Lord where? From in the tabernacle.

What does that say about the book of Leviticus? It worked. It worked.

Alright, so here’s the deal. The book of Leviticus is about holiness. It’s about God being holy and people being sinful, and the two do not mix.

Don’t think of God’s holiness just as this kind of moral indignation and wrath. That’s not it. God’s holiness is his bright, incredible, fiery glory that is 100% good, and if you approach it 100% sinful, if you approach it casually, if you approach it in disregard and flippancy, if you approach it unclean, morally or ritually unclean, you’re impure, you’re dirty, it’s like trying to fly into the sun without your sun suit, if such a thing could exist. You would be consumed. And so, how is it?

God’s desire is: “I want to be your God, and I want you to be my people, and I want to be right in the middle.” Remember how the camp was laid out, right? In the middle of the camp is the tabernacle. The Levites are around the tabernacle, and then the tribes are divided into four groups: one to the east, one to the west, one to the north, one to the south of the tabernacle.

God’s right in the middle of Israel, and the fire by night and the cloud by day. And when the fire and cloud lift, they go, and God is right there with them. How is it then that a holy God, this unapproachable light, can exist in the middle of a stiff-necked, rebellious people without them being consumed?

And Leviticus says this is how. This is how.

Now, the structure of Leviticus is very similar. Remember the lamp stand in the tabernacle? Anybody got that picture in mind? How many lights in the lamp stand in the tabernacle? Bueller? Seven.

Thank you. Outside, two more, two more, and then one in the middle. Now, we’re Westerners, and we think linear. So we read Leviticus 1 through 27 as if it’s a progression. That’s not how Leviticus is laid out.

Picture that candle again. Picture that lamp stand again. That’s how Leviticus is laid out. What do I mean by that? The first section of Leviticus corresponds and leads to, not the second section, the last section. The second section corresponds with the sixth section.

The third section corresponds with the fifth section, and right in the middle is the Day of Atonement. That’s how Leviticus is laid out. It’s a Hebrew book, all right? It’s not a Greek book. Greeks are boop to boop to boop. Here’s proof of it.

Read through Matthew’s gospel, a very Hebrew gospel, and it is written thematically, and it has five sections. Why? Five books of the Torah. And it is not chronological. It’s thematic.

Matthew tells stories about Jesus that make his point: point number one, point number two, point number three, point number four, point number five. Mark is the gospel for people with ADHD. It’s Peter’s gospel. “And then this happened, and then there was a rabbit, and then it was blah, blah, blah.” All right, it’s the gospel of immediately.

John is the philosophical, lofty gospel of the logos, and eternal life, and light, and life, and the great I am. And Luke comes along as a good Greek, the only Greek author of the New Testament, and goes, “Oh, my goodness.”

Theopolis. As many have set out to write an account of the Gospels, I thought it good that someone write an orderly account. A good Greek. This is what happened first. This is what happened second.

Here’s the point. If you want to get the closest to the chronology of Jesus, read Luke. All right? But, Luke is the only Gentile author in the Bible. And so, they’re Hebrew books. And so, the structure of Leviticus is important in understanding Leviticus.

So, let’s get to the first two candles. Leviticus chapters 1-7 and Leviticus chapters 23-35. These are the rituals.

The rituals performed to help Israel be holy and God to dwell in their presence. The first seven chapters are all about the offerings. Chapters 1-7 are about the offerings. There are five offerings. And the offerings basically are divided up in two ways. All right? You have the grain offering. You have the fellowship offering. Those offerings say, “Thank you. Thank you, God, for food, for abundance, for houses, for land we did not occupy before that we now occupy, for cities we did not build. Thank you, God, for your provision.”

Thank you for delivering us out of Egypt. Thank you, God, for making us your people. They’re thank you offerings.

The other three offerings, guilt offering, sin offering, restitution offering, burnt offering. Those offerings are offerings for atonement. They atone for our guilt. They atone for our sin. They atone to make restitution.

Those offerings where the blood of an animal is shed as a substitute for the guilt of the people of Israel.

And then, that blood is applied on the day of atonement. It’s applied to the holy of holies, but otherwise, it’s applied to the altar, and that blood then makes atonement as a substitute. That poor animal had to give his life because somebody punched his neighbor in the face. But you know, before we feel like that’s unfair to the animals, just the other day, an animal had to give its life so I could have a cheeseburger. I’m just saying, you know, it’s better that you’re a human.

Alright, so that’s what the offerings are about, basically thank you, and I’m sorry, and I need to be made right with God. And those offerings are performed by the priest. We’ll get to the priest next. Those offerings are performed by the priest so that God can remain in the presence of his people.

The last section of Leviticus, chapters 23-25, actually there’s chapters 26 and 27 which are simply Moses telling the people, giving them a pep talk saying, now do this.

If you do this, you’ll be blessed. It’s kind of a prelude to Deuteronomy. If you do this, you’ll be blessed; if you don’t, it won’t go well with you. But Leviticus 23-25 are about the feasts, and they’re basically seven feasts, and then if you add to that the regular observance of the Sabbath, it kind of makes eight. And so, you have the Sabbath, the Passover, the Unleavened Bread, First Fruits, and then the Feast of Ascension. Fruits, weeks, or Pentecost, trumpets, Day of Atonement, and tabernacles.

The first thing you want to notice about the Feasts is the first four Feasts all center around the Spring Harvest. And the last three Feasts all center around the Autumn Harvest. Again, what are we saying? We’re saying God promised to bring us into a land flowing with milk and honey, and He has done it.

And this is where these Feasts is actually where we get our modern conception of what? What do you think? Holidays. Holy Days. Holy Days. Alright? These are Holy Days. They’re not meant to be a burden on the people.

They’re meant to be a feast, a celebration. Now, for many of us, you know, maybe Thanksgiving or Christmas or Easter has become a burden. You know, you’ve got the family coming over and Uncle Harry’s going to get drunk and he really likes Biden, and Uncle Phil really likes Trump and he’s going to get drunk, and it is not going to end well. And you know, maybe your family’s got that kind of dysfunction. But the idea behind a holiday isn’t for there to be dysfunction and fights.

The idea is, a holiday is to be a day of rest, a day of food, a day of celebration, a day of family, and God gives them a lot. God gives them a lot. The only people who make up more holidays than God is the U. S. government, alright?

And so, just holy day after holy day after holy day to give thanks for the abundance that God has promised to pour on His people of Israel. And what are these about? These are about to turn people’s attention to what? God is in our midst.

How do we know? Look at our crops! They’re incredible. Look at our bellies. They’re full. Let’s wave some grain. Let’s blow some horns. Let’s have a camp out for a week. We’re going to all gather together and give thanks to God.

And so that’s where we get our concept. That’s why we have Thanksgiving. That’s why we have Christmas. That’s why we have Easter in the church. That’s why we have Pentecost. And then we have national holy days.

I think there are too many holidays. However, I think we should get rid of a few.

And I think we should add one particularly, and it’s coming up in about a month, and that is opening day of Major League Baseball season. I think everybody should be able to go to a ball game on opening day, and instead of turkey, we all eat hot dogs. And that would be an awesome holiday, I think.

Anyway, holy days. So these are the two outside lights, the rituals and the feasts, the things we do. You think, well, we’re, you know, and every culture back then practiced rituals and feasts. Israel is not unique.

What’s unique is about the message and the meaning of the rituals and feasts they practice. They sacrifice bulls, sheep, goats as a substitute for human sacrifice, and the pagans down the street are burning their kids to Moloch. So, it’s different.

What does different mean? The theme of Leviticus is holy. Israel, you’re going to be different.

And for those of you watching on youTube, Jamie and Sophia just came in, but they ducked under the camera so you wouldn’t see them. Trying to be sneaky. Trying to be sneaky.

And you don’t have to worry about that as like any kind of public shaming, because I check our youTube numbers, and there are only going to be four people who are going to watch this. And chances are, three of them are already in this room. So you don’t have to worry about it. To that one loyal person who’s watching out there, God bless you. All right. So those are our feasts. Those are our offerings. The two middle lights, the two next lights, they’re about the priesthood.

Chapters 9 through 10 and chapters 21 through 22 talk to us about the priest. I grew up Catholic, and so when I think of a priest, I think of Bing Crosby, the bells of St. Mary’s, and little orphans gathering around. He was teaching them how to play baseball and giving wise and godly counsel.

I grew up in the Catholic Church, going to communion and having this guy strangely dressed, giving me this wafer. I was going into the small little confessional, you know, and doing all the things, and that’s what I think of as a priest.

That’s not what these guys are. These guys are not that. These guys are butchers. They kill thousands upon thousands of animals and perform religious rituals. If anybody here is glad we’re in the new covenant, it’s me. I like this job. I wouldn’t do that job. I wouldn’t do that job.

Well, I would if I was of the tribe of Levi. They didn’t have a choice. Why? Because they’re holy. When we say the priests are holy, we don’t mean they are morally more better.

We don’t mean that the tribe of Levi is morally better than the tribe of Judah. In fact, we see many examples in the book of Numbers, Leviticus, and Exodus where the tribe of Levi wasn’t better. But they’re holy because what? They’re set apart. They’re different. They’re ordained for the priesthood.

Only the tribe of Levi could serve. Not just anybody. You know, some little kid can’t just say, “I feel religious. I feel like I just love to be a part of that.” Nope, you’re Judah. you’re a part of the army.

You’re not a part of the priesthood. That’s your call. That’s what you’re called out to do. So, they are holy for this task. Now, Aaron’s sons are a great example of what happens to an unholy people in the presence of a holy God. They blatantly, casually, ignoring the commandments of God, walk into the holy place and the holy fire of God consumes them. Boom. Listen. It’s not God’s fault. He’s not a bad God. If you jump out of an airplane without a parachute, that’s not God’s fault. God said, “Don’t do this.”

It’s dangerous. I want to be among you, but here’s how it works. Oh, we can get in there. We’re a tribe of Levi. No. You are set apart for the task, and then you must do the task. you’re holy.

How does this apply to us? Guess what? you’re set apart and holy. Who lives in you? Jesus, Holy Spirit. What spirit? The unclean spirit? No, we cast those out of people. The clean spirit, the Holy Spirit. You have a call.

Somebody once told me, you know, I got ordained and somebody just, you know, kind of smugly said, ‘I don’t believe in ordination.’ And I said, ‘I do.’ ‘Oh, so you think you’re more special than us?’ ‘No, I think every Christian is ordained at their baptism. Every Christian is ordained at their baptism. What does that mean? You are set apart unto Jesus Christ for a particular life and ministry that God has called you to.’ I think there are certain people in the body of Christ that God has called to word, sacrament, and order.

The church has deemed that those responsibilities are so crucial that we don’t want that person having to find other employment, so we’ll set apart resources to provide that person the time to do word, sacrament, and order. But that doesn’t make that person more special.

In fact, typically in my experience, the people who do that, God has set apart for that because they’re unqualified to do any other work. They have no marketable skills.

So, I just want to say thank you for, you know, keeping my wife and I in food and housing and all that.

All right, the priests were required, in chapters 21 and 22, to live with moral integrity in their jobs. They were called to moral integrity. Why? you’re serving a holy God in the holy place. Remember, half of holiness is morality. We’ve come to believe that all of holiness is morality, but it’s not true. Half of holiness is morality. The second half of holiness is set apart with a particular call in a particular cultural setting.

And so that’s the priest. you’re called to moral integrity, and you’re called to ritual holiness.

If you read through Leviticus, you know, all the hard parts of reading through Leviticus, you know, oh, the priest has got to wear this, and they’ve got to wash this many times, and then they’ve got to do this, and then they’ve got to wash again. They’re always washing. They’re always doing this. Because why? It represents to us cleanliness or ritual holiness set apart to God, to be in his presence. By the way, how many of you struggled reading through Leviticus? Anybody? Okay, yeah. Yeah. So here’s the deal.

When I was 10 years old, I made a commitment to read through the whole Bible. I wasn’t born again. I don’t know why this, you know, maybe God, there was something in my life that God was saying, ‘Hey, I’ve called you to be this. You know, let’s get started, son.’ And so, my dad had a Living Translation, and I figured that’s probably going to be the easiest one to read through. So, I got my dad’s Living Translation and I read through Genesis.

I read through Exodus, and it’s the book of Leviticus that defeated me. That’s as far as I got at ten years old. About halfway through Leviticus, I said, “I can’t do this.” All right. I just read it again, studied for this sermon. And you know what? I just posted this on Facebook. As a matter of fact, here’s what I posted on Facebook: “I love Leviticus.” I didn’t. I heart Leviticus. Sorry, I’m just not that emoji of a guy. I love Leviticus. I love Leviticus because it is because we’re supposed to be different.

We’re supposed to be that we have a calling in our life. Did I tell this story a week ago about Dan, Meredith, and I going to this restaurant? No. Yes. Thursday night to Otts and Stevan. Yeah.

So, my friend and I, Dan Merritt, he picked me up from the airport and we went to a restaurant. And we both like to smoke a cigar. And this restaurant had a little cigar club in it. But first, we ate. Everything was fine in this restaurant until we were about halfway through our meal.

And then, much to our surprise, karaoke night began. And we thought, oh, karaoke, that’ll be fun. Somebody will get up there and sing these cute little pop songs. We knew in the… No, it was gross. Every song was sexual innuendo piled on top of sexual innuendo. And it wasn’t subtle. I’m not going to repeat the lyrics because we’re holy and…

And here’s the thing, I am not a self-righteous prude, okay? Go back to the point, I’m in a restaurant about to go into a cigar bar, all right? I am not a prudish Christian.

And Dan and I both looked at each other, and here’s what we said. We both had the same exact thought, “I’m so glad I’m a Christian.” It makes a difference, people. It makes a difference. If that’s what people’s life is, work all week, and then go get liquored up and sing gross karaoke. I’m glad that’s not my life. I’m glad I’m holy. I’m glad I’m holy.

So priests, be set apart. What makes us as Christians? What ritual makes us clean? We have moral integrity, but what ritual makes us clean? There you go.

You whispered loud enough to get the right answer. Yeah, with the authorities. Actually, Karen, studies have shown that it’s baptism. The experts at the CTC, the Center for Theological Control, have said that it is baptism.

All right, let’s get to the inside lights, the final inside lights. This is where I got bogged down in Leviticus. Clean and unclean, clean and unclean, clean and unclean, clean and unclean. Again, two sections on clean and unclean. First, what ritually purifies us, and second, what morally purifies us.

So, the first section: no contact with reproductive bodily fluids, not having contact with anybody with skin disease, not touching mold and fungus, don’t touch dead bones, and don’t eat certain foods. All of those, except the last ones, show us that ritual purity is all of those things relate to death. All of those things relate to death, and God is a God of life.

Now, if you did any of those things in Israel, here’s where we get lost. We think that that’s a sin. No, it’s not a sin to touch a dead body.

It’s not a sin to touch dead bones. It’s not a sin to come into contact with reproductive fluids. It’s not a sin to touch somebody with a skin disease, but it makes you unclean. So, you have to go outside the camp, perform certain rituals and functions to become clean again because what the Bible is telling us there is it’s telling us God is a God of life, not death.

Now, there’s two takeaways for us in that. We’re a people of life, not death. We live in a culture of death. We do not celebrate violence.

We do not celebrate blood and gore. We do not celebrate the killing of the unborn. We do not celebrate the devaluing of life based on our culture’s perception of a person’s worth, old or in some way disabled.

That all life is sacred, created in the image and likeness of God, and so we’re a culture of life, not a culture of death. But here’s a difference.

In the Old Testament, this movement of God dwelling among its children is in its infant stage, and in its infant stage, there needs to be protection.

Don’t touch that. Careful of that. That’s contaminating. What happens in the New Testament? Jesus comes along, it’s like, “Oh, don’t touch a leper.” Yeah, well, I’m gonna do that right now.

What’s the difference? Has God changed? No. Skin disease still represents death. What’s the difference? Life is here. Life is here. We’re still a culture of life, but now we’re no longer afraid of death. We conquer it.

Now we’re no longer unclean spirits. Stay away, stay away. See, one of the mistakes… Here’s the art of raising Christian children in a secular culture.

When they’re young, you protect them from the evils of the culture. Our kids are not going to watch gory, sexually, you know, laced movies when they’re at home at ten years old. Heck no. We’re going to protect our kids from that kind of world.

We’re going to guard their minds and their hearts when they’re vulnerable and soft. But ultimately, we are not raising children that need to be protected from the world. Ultimately, we’re raising children that the evil of this world needs to be protected from. Because our kids have Holy Ghost and life.

And so, our primary job is not to protect ourselves from getting unclean. Jesus has done that for us. Our primary job now is to go take Jesus into the world with a scrub brush and clean it up. And I don’t mean self-righteous, morally saying, “Oh, don’t do that,” and “We got to do this,” and “We got to do that.” I mean making born-again Christians, people. It’s changed hearts who change the world. Right?

You can’t, you know, people say, “you can’t legislate morality,” which in one sense is a ridiculous statement.

All morality, all legislation is about legislating morality. All right? The people who want to pass Green New Deal stuff, that’s about legislating morality. They believe it’s the moral thing to do, not to pollute the earth and destroy the earth, and we’re going to legislate that into existence. We might, some might disagree with if that’s really what we ought to do, or if that’s really, if the science really backs whether that’s true, or whatever, but they’re trying to legislate morality. When a non-Christian says, “you Christians are just trying to legislate morality.”

It’s like, well, so are you. We’re all trying to legislate morality. But ultimately, we Christians also know that’s a losing fight. An outward code never makes holy people, which is why Leviticus is in the end of the story, by the way. Leviticus is a pointer.

All right. So what’s the eating of clean and unclean animals about? Well, again, Israel, you’re going into this pagan world of all these demonic gods and all these horrible religious practices and rituals. And you’re going right in the middle of them. And you’re going to be my people.

And they’re going to be all around you. And their girls are going to be pretty. And their men are going to have impressive farms and barns. And you’re just going to want to cohabitate with some of them and start hanging out and intermingling. Don’t do it. They will corrupt you. Why? you’re still infants. You won’t corrupt them with your.

If they want to come and be a part of who our culture is, you are to welcome them. But you are not to let their culture infiltrate your culture.

Now, there are two things that separate people on the planet today. They’re very practical things. Every missionary in the world knows this. Language, number one. What’s number two? Food, which is a part of culture, right?

The missionary creed, where he leads me, I will follow. What’s the second part of that? What they feed me, I will swallow. I tell you, and everybody here can attest to it. If you’ve gone to another culture, they grow stuff. They eat gross stuff. You know what? It’s just gross. Why is it gross? Not because there’s.

Anything wrong with that food? It’s holy. Different. Israel, we want your food to be holy, and we want the food of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Termites, you know, whoever, we want their food to be gross to you. And we want, and I want your food to be like, eh.

Now, what does Jesus come and do about the, again, grown up, the movement’s grown up, we now take the gospel into the world, eat everything because you’re going to have to spread my gospel. Eat everything. You need everything.

Now you don’t have to eat everything, but you can. You can eat monkey brains. You ate pig brain? That’s why you’re so smart. Studies have shown that’ll increase your IQ by 10%. What? Yeah, the CTC. The experts at the CTC. All right. So, I mean, I’ll tell you what, man. I went to the middle of Africa and we went, one Sunday, we went deep into the jungles, man. We went, it was quite a ride. We’re bouncing along in this Jeep and we’re just having the time of our lives.

Woo, we’re in Africa, you know, and we’re flying down there and we go to have this church service. They’re auctioning off chickens, and the men and the women are sitting on separate sides. It’s a complete wild cultural experience. Then they sit us down for lunch.

Well, you know what? Here’s the deal. We are rich Americans, and these are poor Africans. They sacrificed to put food in front of us. Buddy, you better eat it. And I’m not opposed to goat, but that was the worst goat anybody could ever have prepared. It was gross.

And the guy in front of me wouldn’t eat it. And I thought, ‘But man, you got to.’ It kind of felt like a moral obligation. I’m a picky eater. I am high on the scale of picky eaters. And I just thought, ‘I got to choke this down.’

So, I’m eating it, get one piece down, get two pieces down, third piece. It just says, ‘Nah, what are you doing, bro? We ain’t doing any more of this.’ It’s just right there.

So, there’s this tea they have, and it’s a real sweet tea.

And I think, well, that’ll wash it down, right? And I get that sweet tea, and the minute the aroma of that tea hit my nose, exact opposite effect. That goat launched. Vroom. I closed my mouth just in time. I think it hit the back of my teeth so hard, I probably chipped a tooth.

I’m like, what am I going to do? There’s not enough rice on this plate to cover the goat, you know? And God bless the U. S. of A.

Out in the deepest, darkest of Africa, they bring out a case of Fanta sodas marketed by Coca-Cola. And I’ll tell you what, that sweet tea did not work, but that Fanta orange soda got the rest of that goat down, baby. I know there were no free refills. These are poor people, so I had to margin my soda. I couldn’t just guzzle the whole thing down. But I got that goat down. Now, I’ve got to tell you, goat got redeemed.

I went to Haiti and had goat, and the people there, whoever prepared it, they knew how to prepare it. It was delicious. And Haiti was also the place, by the way, foods that are gross to us in particular cultures, Haiti was also the place I ate cat. All right? And I had cat. And all I want to say, Sophia, is it was purr-fect.

I want to apologize to my friend, Crumb the Cat, who intercedes for me. All right. The second part of clean and unclean, this is the part we jive with.

Finally, we get to the holiness we know about, moral purity. All right. What does Leviticus say about moral purity? It has three big themes. Care for the poor. Care for the poor. All right. Iko was asking me, “What part of the Leviticus code do we carry over? What part, you know?” We carry over all the principles, but this is the one we carry over the most specifically. This is the one that still kind of has closer than any other one-to-one correspondence. All right, and so here’s the deal.

Jesus told one man, because this man needed to hear this, that he needed to sell all he had and give it all to the poor. Jesus can still be telling people that today. I don’t, he’s not telling me that, but here’s what Jesus, I know here’s what Jesus is telling all of us. Give to the poor.

Some of your resources have to go to alleviate the sufferings of those who are poor. Now, I got news for you. The Firehouse Church, you give to the Firehouse Church, we give to the poor.

We have missionaries around the world, some who work at an orphanage and a feeding ministry in the Dominican Republic. They get money from us every month.

We have missionaries in Ghana, West Africa, that we support, who then support the poor, but we support the poor also. We’ve given money, I think recently, we’ve given money to, was it Kitsap Rescue Mission in December? Kitsap Rescue Mission in December.

This month, in February, we’re giving money to Value Unconditional, a ministry in Kansas City that works with bringing healing and restoration towards sexually traumatized, sexually abused, and trafficked women.

Next month, March, we’re giving money to Kitsap Homes of Compassion. They actually buy houses here in Kitsap County and house homeless people. They help to rebuild lives by getting people off the streets and into shelter. They begin to start, you know, building up some time off the streets so they can work on their resources and work on, you know, beginning to build a more functional life.

And so, just by giving to this church, you’re giving to the poor, but you can do more than that.

I know many of you do, and so do I. I mean, you can’t walk around in the streets without encountering the poor. I don’t recommend giving every street person money. I don’t think that’s a wise choice in most cases.

But I do recommend that we can’t, on the other hand, just like, oh well, they’re just living that way because of their choices. Jesus wouldn’t do that. Jesus loves people, he helps people, and we ought to at least help people.

In fact, Christians have done this all over the world, and still do it all over the world. If you go anywhere in the world and there is a well that’s been dug so that people can have clean drinking water, studies have shown and experts have told us that there’s a 90 percent chance that that was done by Christians.

All right, this is a little inside joke going on here, but there is a really strong chance that that was done by Christians to do that. So, we ought to care for the poor.

The ways to do that are, I mean, different times at Christmas, we’ve had different projects. We’ve dug a well in Haiti. We’ve done that. What’s the ministry? Project Angel Tree, where we provide gifts for kids who have a parent who’s incarcerated, and the single parent can’t really afford to get them Christmas gifts. We’ve done that.

In fact, we can do that next Christmas. If somebody will head it up, we’ll do that next Christmas. There’s just a variety of ways. We do it, you do it. I’m just saying that Christians, we have a responsibility.

We will always have a responsibility to care for the poor. The second part is sexual morality. Sexual morality. So, here’s the rule. All right. I might need to say it twice because it’s so complicated. One man, one woman, till death do them part. Whoa, wait. Let me write that down. One man, one woman, till death do them part. All right. I’ve done it!

Never been with another woman. You know, in high school, I kissed a few, but you know, but the real deal, one. And not until we were married. And never since.

So, I am sexually moral and pure. And then Jesus comes along and says, “If you’ve lusted in your heart, Jesus! Oh, nuts! Nuts!” Well, how often? Because in my sophomore year of high school, it was 7,000 times a day. That was an exaggeration, but it’s closer to 5,472. We’ve all failed in this.

Does that mean we just, so what the culture does, right? It’s because we’ve all failed. The culture just lowers the bar. So then we don’t feel like hypocrites. There are only two kinds of people in the world.

Hypocrites and people who’ve lowered the bar. If you haven’t lowered the bar, you haven’t lived up to it. And so, in a sense, you’re a hypocrite. You don’t live up to your standards.

People say, “I can’t go to church and be with all those hypocrites.” Why not? There’s room for one more. You know, come and join us.

So here’s the deal. You don’t lower the bar. You go to the throne, and we’ll talk about this in a second.

You go to the throne where you find mercy for your failing and grace to do better the next time. That’s what you do. Well, how long do you do it? As long as it takes. What if I feel like I’ll never get better? you’re listening to the devil.

How do I know? Because I read my Bible. It says, “He who will perfect the good work that he has begun in you.” Well, I don’t feel very perfected right now. you’re listening to the devil.

God didn’t say He will make you feel like you’re being perfected every second. He just promised this: “I will perfect the work I have begun in you.” Listen, dear ones, there’s only one way to lose this battle. Quit.

There is always an infinite supply of grace and mercy. There’s an infinite supply. You cannot lose if you do not quit.

And by the way, there’s great help in revealing your secrets. There’s great help in revealing your secrets. Secrets have power over us. It’s the power of shame.

When we step out of our shame and say, I’ve done this, I struggle with this, and then somebody else says, oh, really? Okay, me too. Or me not like that, but like this. And all of a sudden that thing’s out of the closet and it becomes smaller. It’s like, let’s walk together in this. And God, you will make us clean. Final area of moral purity, justice in your dealings. your yes is yes. your no is no. you’re a straight shooter. you’re a person of integrity.

If you say you’re going to buy something for a certain price, you buy it for that price. If you say you’re going to sell something for a certain price, you sell it for that price. You don’t have, you know, they talked about jig scales, bad scales, you know, and so they could up the price. You don’t lie to people. You don’t manipulate people. You are honest and integrous in all your dealings.

I’ve already told you, you know how to tell a liar, right? They say this, “swear to God,” that’s a liar.

Because if you’ve got to take an oath, you’re a liar. Here’s an honest person. “I’ll do that.” Yeah, I’ve had dealings with you before, and you’ve batted 100%. What you said you were going to do, you did. All right?

Have moral integrity, have justice. Don’t over punish an offense. You know, when you’re a parent, whatever discipline you bring your child ought to be, it ought to be a consequence for the offense, not an over consequence, and on the other hand, not an under consequence. All right?

You don’t, you don’t do your children any favor by being their best buddy. I have found that if you discipline kids justly, fairly, and lovingly, they actually respect you and end up liking you later in life. You know?

I have a daughter who likes us a lot right now because we provide free babysitting, and I remember one time her saying, “I’m not gonna talk to you people. You make me so mad I’m not gonna talk to you. I’m gonna go in my room and not talk to anybody.”

She stormed off to her bedroom and decided not to talk to anybody. I turned to my wife and I said, “All in favor say aye.” That’s the best idea she’s had in half an hour. That’s what I was thinking a long time. “Why don’t you go to your room and not talk to anybody? That would be good.”

Anyway, now we get along marvelously, and she has children who throw temper tantrums sometimes, and I laugh. All right, justice. All right, the middle light.

Chapter 16, the day of atonement.

It’s the big, why is it in the middle? It’s the biggie. It’s the one Leviticus is trying to point our attention to, right? It’s the climax. The climax doesn’t come at the end. That’s linear. The climax comes in the middle. It’s the center. It’s the point. The day of atonement.

This is the day where the high priest not only goes into the holy place, he goes into the holy holies. But he can’t go into the holy of holies until he has made a sacrifice for himself, and then he goes in with a sacrifice for the people.

And central in this day of atonement are two goats. One goat is killed for the sins of the people. He’s a substitute. He’s an atonement for the sins of the people.

The other goat, the priest lays his head on that goat and sends him out into the wilderness, out to Ezeziel, who is a demonic spirit, and says, “Here, this is where all this sin belongs, out here with you.” And that goat then is a ransom for Israel’s sins.

And so people say, “Do you believe in substitutionary atonement? Or do you believe in the ransom theory of atonement?” And I say, “Yes. Yes. And also the moral influence.” They’re not incompatible. They don’t cancel each other out. They’re different facets of the same diamond.

And so, the day of atonement, listen, they had the burnt offering, the guilt offering, the sin offering. But you know what? God knew that didn’t cover it all. Israel knew that didn’t cover it all. And so, this is the coverall.

And we go back to Exodus 40:35. Moses could not get into the tent of a holy God. Numbers 1:1, after the institutions of the Levitical laws have been put in place, Moses meets God in the tabernacle.

And dear ones, I want to tell you this point. We went through Hebrews.

Remember, we went through Hebrews a year ago. What did Hebrews say? Hebrews says, dear ones, everything in Leviticus is a picture of the heavenly tabernacle and the holy of holies where our high priest, Jesus, comes into the Father after offering the perfect sacrifice himself.

Listen, first century Jews, before the temple was destroyed, practiced these rituals. Not perfectly, but they practiced them. So the Romans, not these, but they had, you go and tour, you know, the ancient Middle East, temples everywhere, temple of this God, temple of that God. Every religion had a temple. Every religion had priests.

Every religion offered sacrifices. So, you’re a Gentile, first-century Christian, and somebody says, “What, what? You believe in Jesus? Well, where’s, where’s your temple of Jesus?”

“Oh, Jesus is the temple.”

“Huh? Well, where’s the priest?”

“That would be Jesus.”

“Well, where’s your sacrifice?”

“We have the trifecta, Jesus.”

And here’s what I want to tell you. For thousands of years, Israel slit the throat of bulls, sheep, and goats, and gallons upon gallons upon gallons of blood was shed in the tabernacle and in the temple.

And all of the accumulated blood of all those sacrifices and all the burnt offerings that went up to heaven, and all the sprinkled blood of the priest on the mercy seat, is infinitely less effective than one drop of the blood of Christ. It worked. Because now, not only can Moses go in the tabernacle, but Hebrews 4 says he was like us in every way, but without sin. And he’s our great high priest.

And therefore, we can approach the throne, the mercy seat of God, and we will not be consumed by his holy fire. Why?

Aaron’s son did not. They weren’t prepared to go into the holy place. We’re prepared. The blood of Jesus, the righteousness of Christ, the cleansing of our baptism. We are prepared to step into the holy place. And what do we find there? Read it for yourself. It’s in Hebrews 4:16, but I’ll just tell you we find mercy and grace.

God wants to dwell with his people. This is a picture and a beginning, and it partially works. Moses can get in. Not everybody can get in, but Moses can get in. The high priest can get in.

This is a picture of what’s to come. And for all eternity, we will dwell with a holy God. He will be our God, and we will be his people. And here’s the great thing. We’ll be holy. We’ll be holy. In fact, here’s the promise. We’ll be like him. That’s how holy we’ll be. We’ll be like him. Isn’t that good?

Christian worship is about three things. And Leviticus tells us all three. Christian worship is about thankfulness. The feasts, a couple of the offerings, it’s about thankfulness. Look at what God has done for us.

Israel, he’s brought us into a land full of milk and honey. Christians, he’s forgiven all my sins and given me his Holy Spirit. Thankfulness.

All right, we practice thankfulness tonight. We sang songs. God, you’re so good to me. We sang songs and praised him and thanked him for his grace and goodness.

Second, worship is about remembrance. So much, right? The feasts. What are the feasts about? Remember. Remember I brought you out of Egypt. Passover. Don’t forget. Do the Passover. Why? Remember.

Well, we’re about remembrance. Remember me.

But not only that, I just read out of a book. Do you know how old this stuff is I read tonight? 3,000 years old. Remember what God did 3,000 years ago. That has practical application to your life in Paul’s bowl, Washington, Yom Kippur, in the 21st century. Remember.

Why do you come on a weekly basis? So you don’t forget. Let me tell you something. You will forget. If you stop coming to church, you’ll forget. If you stop coming to church, you’ll become a knucklehead. A ninny hammer.

I was with a young man yesterday, and I’m not going to tell you his name. You know him. Some of you know him. He didn’t go to church anymore. And he didn’t want my advice, and I wasn’t going to give it. But if he’d asked for my advice, I’d have given it to him.

I said, “you’re a dishonest person.”

He said, “No, I’m not. I think. What do you mean?”

I said, “Well, years and years ago, I baptized you. And in your baptism, you made a promise. Will you be Christ’s church by your prayers?”

I don’t know if he’s keeping that promise. He might be praying for the church. your presents? He’s not keeping that one. your gifts? I don’t know if he’s giving. your service? I don’t think he’s serving.

You made a promise. Keep that promise. Keep that promise. Oh, but pastor, the church is less than perfect. So are you. So what? There are mean people there. Yeah, you’re probably one of them. So what?

Go to church. Be the church. Remember. Week after week, remember. And then atonement. Atonement.

On the night that he was betrayed, he took bread and said, “This bread is my body which is given for you.” And in the same way after supper, he said, he took the wine, gave thanks to his father in heaven, and said, “This is my blood which is shed for you. Why? Atonement. For the forgiveness of sins. Do this in, what? Remembrance of me. And be what? Thankful. Right here. Right here.”

And so, dear ones, I invite you. God dwells not just among you. Jesus Christ’s work is so powerful, God dwells in you.

So, not only is he the temple, but together we’re the temple. I mean, you’re just a rock, and I’m just a rock, but we’re the temple, we’re living stones of the temple.

So, it’s all, what’s that Matthew Redmond song? This is a holy moment now?

Listen, every time you come up and, I just want to say this, I know I talk long, and you endure it. I just want to say this. I love the casual church.

I grew up in a liturgical church, and the problem with the liturgical church that I grew up in is, I didn’t get it. All it was was ritual, but the ritual had no meaning for me.

And so, I was attracted to the dress down, talk about Jesus, come as you are church. Obviously, I still am. But I think we can make the mistake of missing, in our casual dress and casual songs and joking around, I think we can make the mistake of missing the holy presence of God.

If Jesus were to walk through that door right now, not veiled as he was in Galilee, but as he revealed himself to his buddy John in the book of Revelation, what happened to John when he saw Jesus revealed in his glory? He didn’t want to say, “J-Dawg, what’s up man?” No. He was on the floor.

Look at, we would just be, we’d be, you know? And that Jesus, glorious, fiery, bronze, Jesus, eyes like fire, hair like wool, that Jesus says, “eat at my table.” This is a holy moment now. Come and eat.