LEVITICUS 22:1 – 24:23 and MARK 1:1–28
The primary thrust of this chapter is again on the theme of holiness. There is a renewed emphasis for the need of a separation. We mentioned earlier that holiness essentially requires two things: 1) A choosing to be holy. 2) Holiness must be tested. We saw this recently when looking at the account in the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve were tested on God’s Law. They made a choice to disobey it with some help from the “father of lies” How can we define holiness? Again, holiness can be defined in essentially two ways:
1. It is a separation from the world the flesh and the devil.
2. It is a separation unto God.
These two components can be seen in the life of Daniel. He made a choice to not defile himself with the delights from the king’s table (Dan 1:8). After separating from this pleasure Daniel, along with his three friends separated themselves unto God in prayer and fasting (Dan 1:14-15). They were proven over a period of 10 days. The number 10 speaks of the law (10 commandments) and it speaks of trials. The fruit of making this separation from the world and unto God was an excellent spirit, coupled with added knowledge, understanding and wisdom (Dan 1:17-20). This knowledge, understanding and wisdom sure proved helpful to Daniel in chapter 2 when he had to tell the KNOWLEDGE of the dream that the king had as well as the UNDERSTANDING of what it meant. We also see how Daniel applied WISDOM in the role and access he had with the king. This knowledge, understanding and wisdom sure proved helpful to Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego when they refused to conform to the herald in the worship of the idol to the king (Dan 3.) These qualities (remember these are among the 7 Spirit anointing’s) preserved and covered them when cast into the furnace. The 7 spirit anointing is a holy place anointing and there is a covering over the holy place. The Bible makes clear that those who are chosen, not just called, are those taken from the furnace of affliction (Isa 48:10). This is also seen in Joshua the high priest. (Zec 3:1-8)
Lev 22 also makes clear that the message of holiness is not to be taken lightly (vs 3). In the next chapter we will look at the Feast of Atonement. This was the most solemn but most important Feast that Israel celebrated. It was compulsory, for it was the time when God would deal with the sins of the nation and its people. It was figurative of the completed work of Christ. There was the shedding of blood at Passover but there was an appropriation of that blood within the holy of holies during atonement (Lev 16:14). There is a warning to those who refuse to appropriate this feast as seen in Lev 23:29.
Lev 23:29 For whatsoever soul it be that shall not be afflicted in that same day, he shall be cut off from among his people.
Such a person would be cut off, something would be forfeited. The message of the atonement is a CHOICE; it is an opportunity to allow God to bring cleansing. It is a picture of the New Covenant. I realize such points can sound like a broken record but this message cannot be minimised or dismissed. This tendency of coming to God on our terms does not work as seen in the offerings throughout the Book of Leviticus. The Lord is very particular as to how we can approach Him. Yes, He is our Saviour and high priest, having died on the cross. We are saved by faith in receiving the gift that the Father has provided in the form of His Son. For our part we acknowledge that we are sinners and accept Him as our Saviour. Our journey with God does require “CHOICES” on our part. These choices come when we can either CHOOSE to allow God to work within us or CHOOSE otherwise. At the Passover we are all on equal ground due to what Christ has done for us. This is our foundation of Faith. From Passover we either CHOOSE to progress in our walk or CHOOSE to plateau or turn back. This is why you will find believers on different spiritual plains. This will be further developed as we consider the 7 primary feats in the next chapter.
This chapter looks at the 7 primary feasts that Israel kept each year from the time of the Exodus. In verses 1-3 we see a reference to the time of Rest. The primary theme of the Sabbath is Rest. There are some beautiful truths concerning the meaning of Rest seen in the Book of Ruth. It helps to illustrate how Marriage serves as a type of Rest. In God’s timetable we come to know that a day is as a thousand years.
2Pe 3:8 But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
We are about at the end of the 6th day (6000 years) and there is preparation underway for the marriage of the bridegroom to become HIs bride. (The Church) The millennium (the 7th day) serves as a type of Rest. It is meant to be a time when the church ceases from their labour while co-existing with Christ during His 1000 year reign. In a true marriage the bride comes under Rest through the leadership of her husband. The husband will protect, provide and most of all love his bride. She can confidently trust in his covering. It is sad that this is not seen in many marriages today. In the Book of Ruth we have an example of Rest and Marriage coming together.
Rth 3:1 Then Naomi her mother in law said unto her, My daughter, shall I not seek rest for thee, that it may be well with thee?
Naomi understood that it was her responsibility to bring her daughter in law into rest. As this love story unfolds we see how this is accomplished. Naomi had two sons that died and she is seeking rest for her daughter’s in law.
Rth 1:9 The LORD grant you that ye may find rest, each of you in the house of her husband. Then she kissed them; and they lifted up their voice, and wept.
The turning point was when Ruth identified with her mother in law and made a CHOICE to identify with her even though it could cost her everything. It was not an easy choice and we see that Orpah CHOSE what looked to be the logical choice.
Rth 1:14 And they lifted up their voice, and wept again: and Orpah kissed her mother in law; but Ruth clave unto her.
This is what qualified Ruth. She made a CHOICE to be willing to separate from her people into an unknown. She found favour with Boaz who eventually became her husband as the kinsman redeemer. Here is another verse that substantiates Rest (Sabbath) and marriage.
Rth 3:15 Also he said, Bring the vail that thou hast upon thee, and hold it. And when she held it, he measured six measures of barley, and laid it on her: and she went into the city.
The six measures of barley represented 6 days of work and now Ruth is coming into Rest. Not just a natural Rest but Rest via marriage. We see in Ruth so many qualities that indicate keys in how we can enter into Rest with Christ in the millennium as His bride. The subject of Rest is also associated with the Feast of Tabernacles. This feast is the 7th so it has the connotation of completeness. One cannot help but be overwhelmed as to how the Bible speaks while conveying wonderful Truths in so many precious ways.
We have come to know that our Christian life is a journey that begins at Passover. A brief review of the 7 feasts helps to bring to light our journey in an applicable way.
1) Passover The first feast which was celebrated on the 14th day of the 1st month (vs5). The blood of the lamb (figurative of Christ) was applied to the doorposts. It speaks of our salvation experience. We will see later that there is an internal cleansing of the blood as we walk in the light (1 John 1:7).
2) Unleavened Bread This feast lasted 7 days from the 15th day of the 1st month. We have noted previously that at the beginning of a significant move of God there seems to be a very high standard that is upheld. We saw it with Moses regarding the truth of circumcision (Exo 4). We will see it again with Achan when he stole some items as Israel began their conquest of Canaan under Joshua (Josh 7). We see it with Uzzah when he put forth his hands to steady the Ark just prior to the establishment of David’s Tabernacle upon Mt. Zion (2 Sam 6:6-7). In the New Testament we see God quickly judging Ananias and Saphira as the early church commenced (Acts 5). As Israel made their Exodus from Egypt they were told to not have any leaven for a period of 7 days. Leaven speaks of sin and there was to be no hint of it for these seven days. This does not mean that sinning afterwards would be acceptable. This feast makes clear that sin and the flesh is to have no part in the initial move of God. Also, this feast began on the 15th day. The number 15 speaks of Divine Separation and this is the primary message that is conveyed through this feast.
3) First fruits Offering Jesus Himself is our firstfruit offering of the resurrection. He is the Firstfruits of a mighty harvest, especially in these last days. We see two offerings presented in Genesis 4. One of the offerings was given by Cain and the other by Abel. Abel took the finest of his lambs and presented it to the Lord. It was token picture of Christ as the firstfruit offering, an offering that the Father was most pleased with. Is the Lord worthy of our very best?
4) Pentecost Israel was to count 7 Sabbaths which would be 49 days. The day after (the 50th day) would find them presenting an offering to the Lord. This offering consisted of 2 loaves containing leaven that served as a first fruit offering. This is a picture of the Baptism of the Holy Ghost. The disciples were in an upper room 50 days after Passover when the Holy Spirit came upon them. They spoke in other tongues and soon experienced a new power. It is interesting to note that these loaves contained leaven. The Baptism of the Holy Ghost is not associated with holiness. It is a step that allows our walk with God to progress but it does not make us holy in of itself. The Holy Spirit begins the process of working deeper within the life of the believer which results in an awakening of the sin nature. The purpose is that we can acknowledge and confess those sins enabling us to die to self while becoming more like the Lord. The number 50 speaks of jubilee. It speaks of a message of liberty to those who are bound.
5) Trumpets This begins the last 3 feasts of the 7th month. The trumpet would be blown for three different events.
a) A call to war
b) A call to assemble to hear God speak
c) A call to move the camp forward
We can parallel this event to the time of the late 1940’s when Israel again became a nation. This was a signal that the church age was moving towards the end. It was accompanied with a fresh outpouring of the Spirit of God. It signified that God was on the move afresh.
6) Atonement This feast was also covered in Leviticus 16. It was the time when God would deal with sin. In 1973 Israel was engaged in a war which was called the Yom Kippur War. Egyptian forces attacked during the feast of Atonement. It is also known as the War of Atonement. This had great spiritual significance. It signaled that God was going to begin to deal with sin in high places. The very first government to be affected was that of the USA under President Richard Nixon. It was known as Watergate. There is an interesting account in scripture where we see a unique event taking place over the period of the last three feasts. (Trumpets, Atonement and Tabernacles also known as the feasts of the seventh month) Nehemiah chapter 8 takes place during this period. It is a time where Ezra the priest reads the Law to the people resulting in great conviction of sin. Where is his ministry taking place?
Neh 8:1 And all the people gathered themselves together as one man into the street that was before the water gate; and they spake unto Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the law of Moses, which the LORD had commanded to Israel.
I find that to be an interesting signal that God was again moving into a New Season. He ministered at the Watergate. The following years saw the heads of many governments come tumbling down due to sin being exposed in high places. In the 1980’s we saw a downfall of many religious leaders due to sin being exposed. It is continuing to this day. There is no holiness without the personal application of this feast. If one seeks to hide or cover up transgression or chooses to not allow God to dig deep into ones heart they will plateau or worse yet there sin will find them out. This is the danger of false doctrine; it presents an easier way that circumvents or by-passes the message of the Cross. The Cross must become personal. This is what the feast of atonement accomplishes. It deals with the nature of Sin as seen in the Sin Offering (Leviticus 4).
7) Tabernacles The primary connotation of Tabernacles is that of Rest. It starts and ends on the Sabbath (Lev 23:39). Solomon brought in the Ark of the Covenant into the New Temple on this Feast. There was great glory which was accompanied by the Power of God. The Bible makes clear that there will be a glory that will come to the church of the last days unlike any other outpouring. One of the names attributed to Tabernacles is the Feast of His Appearing. It is known as the Feast of Unity, the Feast of Rest, the Feast of Glory, Feast of Ingathering (Harvest), Feast of Joy (Neh 8:10) and the Feast of Restoration. In Nehemiah 8 you can see a sequence that will be mirrored in our day. There is first a calling together of the people (Trumpets Neh 8:2). You then have Ezra reading and teaching the Law resulting in the people being brought to conviction and repentance of sin (Atonement Neh 8:3-9). Once this work is completed you then have Ezra declaring that the “Joy” of the Lord shall be your strength (Tabernacles Neh 8:10-18).
The 7 feasts of the Lord indicate that the work of God is a progressive one. The church has been in the season of Atonement. It is a message that can be embraced or rejected. It is a feast that allows God to do a deep work so as to prepare the church for the last great feast of Tabernacles. Jesus made a statement during this Feast which points to our day. The Lord is speaking about our day.
Joh 7:37 In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.
Joh 7:38 He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.
In verses 1-9 the Lord speaks to Moses regarding furniture that is contained within the Holy Place. The oil for the lamps (candlesticks) was to burn continually. This refers to the 7 Spirit anointing referenced in Isa 11:2-3. Pure olive oil is the result of many individual olives being beaten down. You no longer have any identification once you become oil. A true priest will experience crushing and loss of personal identity so that he can be used of God for a greater work. In verses 5-9 you have some matters pertaining to the table of showbread. The two tenth deals for a cake speaks of a double portion. This is one of the blessings of the Holy Place. The bread speaks of the Word which must be internalized and become real. Christ became broken bread for us and we must learn to do the same for the benefit of others (John 6). The addition of pure frankincense notes the measure of suffering that will be involved. There is no gaining of Truth without suffering; there is a price to pay.
Pro 23:23 Buy the truth, and sell it not; also wisdom, and instruction, and understanding.
Did you notice that 3 of the 7 Spirits of the Lord are mentioned in the above verse? It is a Holy Place anointing.
In verse 10-23 we see the consequence of a mixed marriage. We saw a reference to this in Lev 22 where there was to be no profaning of the holy things of God. There had to be a separation, especially when you were dealing with the Holy things of God. We must allow God to remove any taint of mixture from our lives. The world we live in can make this very difficult. We must have an ability to engage and impact the world with salt yet not be tainted or influenced by it. The Levitical approach to offerings and manner of life for priests helps to establish the way and pattern.
Mark’s account is a fast moving one which demonstrates the Power of the Gospel of Christ. He immediately introduces the role of John the Baptist who preceded Christ in his ministry (vs 1-8). Close heed must be given to John’s ministry because his ministry serves as a template that will precede the 2nd coming of Christ. He is likened to Elijah due to his ministry to restore (Math 17:11-12). His primary responsibility will be to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.
Luk 1:17 And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.
Along with evangelism this needs to be one of the primary ministries in the church. Christ is looking for a bride and there needs to come forth a ministry where the axe can get to the root of sin issues in life (Math 3:10). John understood his role and ministry and was one who shone brightly for God in his limited time of earthly work. For us today, time is running out and we want to be in full alignment with our assignment for God’s glory.
Jesus is introduced in Mark’s account at the time of His baptism in Jordan. We see that Mark is a storyteller that cuts right to the chase. There is no mention of His birth and early years. He speaks of John as the forerunner and afterwards focuses upon the Lord being baptized of John. Mark then speaks of Jesus being driven into the wilderness where he is tempted by Satan and then zooms up to the time when he called His disciples. It is indeed a fast moving narrative!
The account of the calling of the “casters” and “menders” of the nets is pretty similar to what was seen in Mathew (Math 4:18-21). These are two very different kinds of ministries. You have the evangelists; the ones who haul in the fish and then you have the pastoral and mending ministries. Both are essential! We will distinguish in greater detail between these two in Luke’s gospel.
What also needs to be noted is that these men were Galilean’s. They had a nature about them that could adapt to change. How essential this would be if one was going to be following the Lord. They had the ability to become new wineskins, making them excellent candidates in being those who would walk alongside the Lord. When Jesus said “Follow Me” they had the ability to let go of that which was familiar to them (their life’s occupation) and say yes to an unknown. This was a qualifying test. How often are we faced with decisions that on the surface may be difficult to reconcile yet have an awareness that it may be God that is speaking. There is an old charismatic song that comes to mind that captures this point. Let the words of the song sink deep into our Spirit so that we too can let go and follow God.
Have your eyes caught the vision, has your heart felt the thrill, to the call of the Master will you answer I will. For the conflict of the ages, told by prophets and by sages, in its fury is upon us, is upon us today.
In verses 21-28 the Lord, along with His disciples goes into Capernaum to begin His teaching ministry. He is a teacher unlike any one heard before. He distinguished Himself from the scribes by reason of the authority in how he taught. He had control and command of situations as evidenced in delivering the man from an unclean spirit (vs 25-26). This captured the attention of people resulting in his fame spreading forth far and wide. One can only have command and authority to the extent the Word has been internalized within. This comes by way of experience, testing and times of suffering. May we be men and women of such authority.
The fast paced ministry of the Lord continues as He goes about healing and setting people free. You can see the authority that the Lord has over the demonic realm as well. It is apparent that He is getting concerned about His fast gaining notoriety. The people are hearing of the miracles and authority over demons and it is for this reason people are gathering around Him. The Lord availed Himself to the people and with great compassion was able to meet their needs. The Lord retreats to a desert place to pray and seek the face of His Father (vs 35). This was at a time very early in the morning before day break. One wonders what manner of prayer the Lord was presenting to the Father. One can also wonder what the Father was conveying to the Son. We do get a picture of the prayer life of Jesus from John 17. It provides a beautiful window to the level of intimacy between Father and Son. I would like to speculate on a few things regarding this time of prayer.
1) I feel it presents a type of Rest. Jesus had been spending much time in ministry. He was drawing crowds and the demands upon Him must have been overwhelming. Though it was very early in the morning and though He must have been tired it gave Him an opportunity to have quality time with His Father. This leads to a 2nd potential point.
2) The Father and Son agreed that the ministry must carry forward to other locations. The Lord was being such a blessing in the area of Galilee where His fame was growing yet there was the danger of being side-tracked from the ultimate purpose. This is confirmed in the next sequence of events.
Peter and the Disciples find the Lord and inform Him that the people are seeking after Him. What now is the Lord to do? He responds by saying they must go to other towns and minister (vs 37-38). Notice that he also says that this is the reason why he came. This is an important point. How easy it would be for the Lord to justify his staying in Galilee. He was being well received, His doctrine and teaching was carrying authority and the crowds continually increased. Is this not what we are looking for today? Of course! We long for such signs and wonders but we must always keep the primary objective before us. The objective is to see souls come into the kingdom; to see the signs and wonders of God demonstrated, to see healings, restoration of homes but ultimately it is for the bride of Christ to be made ready (Luk 1:17). We must have everything in balance.
I personally believe that it was in this position of Rest where the Lord prayed and was reaffirmed for the steps He was about to take. He knew He had to move on. I am amazed as to how often the theme of Rest and the Sabbath has come up in our commentary studies. It is seen once again at work here. Jesus worked hard while in Galilee and clearly made an impact. He retreated to a quiet place and found Rest in the presence of the Father. I feel it was from here where Jesus received fresh strength and direction for the next step. Jesus made a statement in John’s gospel which I feel can be applied here.
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise” (Joh 5:19).
The Lord made those statements when challenged on the subject of healing on the Sabbath. This is a noteworthy portion of scripture due to the day and hour in which we are living. I believe we are going to see a mighty ingathering of souls into the kingdom in these last days. I also believe that we will see the power of the kingdom being made manifest. It will be such a joy and blessing to be part of this last day revival. Still, we have to maintain laser like focus on the primary calling God has for us. This was the dilemma that Jesus was facing. His ministry will take a bit of a turn after he comes forth from the time of prayer with His Father. Peter and the disciples were anticipating another day of this beautiful ministry to the people but Jesus now had other plans. Jesus was receiving this fresh commissioning from a position of Rest in the time spent with the Father. Do we have such times of intimacy with God in this fast paced society? Do we have the ability to change gears if the Lord would so speak to us?
We see that Jesus went to other towns in Galilee to teach and to minister. He is again presented with a man with a need for healing. This time it was a case of leprosy. It is interesting to note what Jesus said to this man after healing him.
“And saith unto Him, See thou say nothing to any man: but go thy way, shew thyself to the priest, and offer for thy cleansing those things which Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them” (Mark 1:44).
The Lord did not want this man to share his testimony of healing openly but rather pointed him back to a Levitical truth about the cleansing of lepers. Who could blame this man for blazing abroad his healing? There seems to be an important truth that the Lord seeks to present to us. By going back to the Levitical order of the priests and how offerings were to be presented etc the Lord was looking to put things into perspective. We are not to lose sight of the reason why He came. This in no wise was meant to diminish the miracles and the displayed power of God but it must be put into right perspective. The Lord knew this man would noise abroad his healing but he uses this opportunity to make a statement for those who would take note of this account. In understanding the Book of Leviticus one needs to understand the plan and purpose of God, especially in preparing for the last days. We will understand the place for healing in light of the big picture. God has made a way of approach into the Holy of holies. God has shown the way whereby we can become holy and ultimately be part of the heavenly bride. If our focus is solely on signs and wonders alone we will miss this opportunity.
Jesus now had to retreat to desert places because there was no place to minister openly. We shall see a bit later that His message and emphasis will change and it will offend many. To be in full alignment with God in these last days requires that we learn to function from a position of Rest. The day to day demands and its circumstances will easily dictate a course for us but it could well be contrary to the Father’s plan. We need to be deliberate in seeking the Lord for those quiet times and yet being still in order to hear His voice. In that quiet place we will find a refreshing, a strength and a renewing of purpose. We will also come to know the next step that God has for us as individuals and as a church.