I) Leviticus 24-27
A) The Lamp: Oil lamps are the only source of light in the Holy Place. The layers of skins and fabric were far too thick to allow in any sunlight. Oil in the Bible is often representative of the Spirit of God. Think about what this says about the way to the Holy Place / Salvation. Jesus said, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.” John 6:44.
B) The Bread: This bread had yeast – that is leavening – and represented the twelve tribes in the presence of God all the time. This was only to be eaten by the priests, but David once had some. Jesus brings it up to combat the legalism of his critics, 1 Samuel 21:6; Matthew 12:4.
C) Blasphemy: This is one of the things Jesus was accused of. The precise words are not shared with us, so it was left up to interpretation. Blasphemy would be saying anything untrue about God, or using his name as a curse. What does it say about a society that has these kinds of things as a regular part of their conversation?
D) The Land Sabbath: The land was to rest every seven years. What have we learned about the benefits of this practice for the land? How would this be an exercise of faith for the nation? Notice God’s promise to provide abundantly to get them through, Leviticus 25:21.
E) The Year of Jubilee: God wanted to preserve the place of the tribes in the land. How could this be very helpful to the poor among the people?
F) Slavery Laws: The laws concerning slavery made some important distinctions between Israel and other nations. There was always hope for those in slavery.
G) Blessings for obedience and punishment for disobedience: Notice the turn at Lev. 26:40! The covenant that God made with the Israelites concerning the Promised Land was bilateral – meaning two-way; and conditional – meaning certain behaviors were required in order to keep the covenant.
H) Special Vows: A provision for special vows and keeping them.
II) Numbers 1-7
A) His own people: Notice God’s great concern for the details of the lives of his people. He is at the center of the camp. Notice the Levites special position among the people. How does this speak of believers who are called a “kingdom of priests”? Levites are not involved in the census for fighting men.
B) Chronology: It’s possible that the accounts of Numbers and Leviticus are overlapping, and are not presented strictly chronologically for the sake of organizing the material.
C) Nazirite Vow: Numbers 6:1-21 detail the rules for a special kind of vow undertaken by Samson, Samuel, and John the Baptist. They were all lifetime Nazirites, but the vow could be just for a temporary time. This was also a prefiguring of the holiness of Christ, Hebrews 7:26. Christians to this day observe various kinds of fasting as a form of worship to foster devotion to and dependence upon the Lord.
III) Hebrews 9-13
A) Covenants: When the New Testament speaks of the “Old Covenant,” it is generally speaking of the covenant with Israel that they broke and which has been nullified. (Hebrews 10:9) The covenant with Abraham however, is not nullified, but is fulfilled.
B) True versus copy: A contrast is given between the earthly holy places and the “heavenly” true holy places. From this part of Hebrews, we are shown that the tabernacle, the temple, the equipment, and services performed with them were all shadows or types of Christ whose identity and work fulfill them.
C) The superiority of the Christ: This is really the emphasis of the whole letter. Christ’s sacrifice was better – offered in the true heavenly holy place. His priestly ministry was better – eternal and sinless. His covenant is better – the old one depended on the faithfulness of the people and the priesthood, but the new one on the faithfulness of Christ. Hebrews 10:19-25 shows how superior this is.
D) Don’t lose your assurance: Hebrews 10:26-31. If we go on sinning after ‘coming’ to Christ, we lose all assurance of salvation. In reality, to turn from Christ is a greater sin than all other sins because his blood paid the price for all other sins. At this point, the author reminds his readers of their former service for the cause of Christ, Hebrews 10:32-39, and encourages them to not shrink back or “throw away our confidence.” In Hebrews 10:39, he again expresses his confidence that these are genuinely converted people. See Hebrews 6:9-10. This letter makes it clear that our good works are not the cause of our salvation, but are certainly key for proving the genuineness of our faith, and giving us some assurance. The letter ends with a discussion of discipline and the proper response – good faithful works. 12:3-13:17. Doing these good works brings the confidence to say Hebrews 13:6.
E) The hall of faith: Hebrews 11 shows clearly that even Old Testament eternal salvation was a matter of faith. How were Old Testament people saved? The same way we are: By grace through faith! Furthermore, it is very clear that all true faith comes with works. Notice how each example is presented with the work that proved the faith. (See Heb. 12:14) This should serve as a guide to how we read the lives of those in the Old Testament. While not perfect, as we are not perfect, their faith in the promises of God resulted in their actions. BTW: What is Samson doing here?
F) The encouraging crescendo: Hebrews 12:1-2, surrounded by the witnesses, lets drop the burdens of sin and run the race – looking to Christ, the ultimate example of faithfulness! See also Philippians 3:7-14. How did Jesus look to the cross with Joy?
G) Discipline: Hebrews 12:3-17 discusses discipline of the Father for his people. This passage alone is sufficient to dismantle the false teachings of the prosperity gospel preachers. Christians suffer – but it has a reason – our improvement! This begins with Jesus’ example of suffering – and try to remember how Paul connects our suffering to the suffering of Jesus! 1:24; 2 Cor. 1:5. The end of this letter flows from faithful examples, through discipline, through warning, through encouragement toward good works, to a tender closing.
H) Homework: Read (aloud if you dare) in one sitting Hebrews 9-13 with feeling. Try to capture the passion of the author and the flow of thought.
A) Psalm 81: Notice how God’s plea to His people Israel in this Psalm relates to the encouragements used in the book of Hebrews to avoid shrinking back and failing to enter the rest.
B) Psalm 112: Would it be right and proper to ask God to increase your fear of Him? I think so. Look at the tremendous benefits.
C) Psalm 64: Remember, revenge belongs to the Lord, but we can certainly pray for it!