Reading through the books of Leviticus and Numbers we can find ourselves getting lost in all the details of Judaism. Judaism, that body of belief which God gave to Israel to protect them as a nation, to prepare a path from Jesus would emerge, and to prove our inability to save ourselves.
Wading through the details of this ancient faith I find it helpful to step back and look for themes. Details hold importance in our faith. We are people of the Book, we know the value of Logos, we treasure each and every word. A common phrase, “The devil is in the detail”, actually came into popular usage after an earlier proverb, “God is in the details”.
However, sometimes when swamped with information it can help to step back and see the big picture. Then, we can draw closer again and see the individual elements.
Like putting together a puzzle. Sometimes we look away from the seemingly indistinguishable pieces and look at the picture on the box.
Going through Leviticus and Numbers I find it helpful to sometimes set aside the individual pieces, and look at a theme.
This morning I am thinking about the themes of sacrifice and rest.
Over and over again we see Israel commanded to make a sacrifice, and then rest. Particularly during the feasts you read of a sacrifice commanded and then a rest required. You see these solemn assemblies where they could undertake no servile work.
Sacrifice. Then rest.
As with many paths we must watch for a ditch on either side when it comes to worship.
Some want to worship without sacrifice. They want a relationship with God that costs them nothing but gives them everything. Unlike David in 2 Samuel 24:24, they want to offer something to God in word only. Their only goal is rest. Ease. Drowsy praise which may stir the body and emotions but leave the spirit and will untouched.
Others know nothing of the rest God offers. Their worship is laborious. They carry the self-made burden of constant labor with no respite for their souls. They eye pleasure of any kind with suspicion and see their sacrifice and suffering as having a merit all of its own.
In truth, we must sacrifice and rest.
We sacrifice. We do our part in bringing our wills and desires into submission to God. We offer to Him the sacrifice of our praise, the words of adoration from joyful hearts. We serve our brothers and sisters in Christ. We witness of Jesus to the lost.
We rest. We know that our praise to God, service to others, and witness to the lost, flows from a place of rest, they do not earn rest. We can rest because we are at rest. We have the peace of God because we have peace with God.
Israel saw only a shadow of both sacrifice and rest.
We know both much more fully.
We all await a perfect rest when we enter the presence of God.
We all can only express and enjoy our sacrifice and rest because of the perfect sacrifice of Jesus and the sanctified and sanctifying rest He gives.
But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before, this is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin.Hebrews 10:12-18
When Jesus offered himself as a sacrifice on Calvary, He paid a price in full that means we can now enjoy rest.
Rest from the effort to earn forgiveness.
Rest from the burden of sin.
Rest from anxiety about the future.
There is a sacrifice and rest for the believer to offer and enjoy.
But it flows from the sacrifice and rest that Jesus provides.