Richard Ritenbaugh, reflecting that it is difficult to preserve something for thousands of years, points out that food, even though canned, frozen, or preserved with salt, eventually spoils, just as clothing, after 20 years of continued use, becomes thread-bare and deteriorates, and as iron which has the tendency to oxidize or rust. Absolutely nothing material lasts forever. Paper, the medium upon which we store our information, is subject to fire, water, and fungus. Realizing that the parchment upon which the precious truths of the Bible were recorded was perishable, the Masoretic scribes undertook a meticulous regimen of copying out the texts, counting each jot and tittle backwards and forwards to maintain the integrity of the text. When they finished the copy, the original was burned. Consequently, until the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the oldest surviving document only went back to the Middle Ages. The Dead Sea Scrolls, going back to the first century, confirmed the undisputable accuracy of the Masoretic texts. Another startling discovery was the Ein Gedi scroll, rescued from the charred remains of a synagogue in Ein Gedi in which everything was destroyed—except for the holy ark, which was also fire damaged. Scientists submitted the charred scroll of the first two chapters of Leviticus to an electronic 3D CT scan, making it possible to transform the original script to high definition, bright pixels. The resulting images confirms the accuracy of the Masoretic text. This document, going back to the First Century A.D., assures us that God Almighty has carefully preserved His Word.
Richard Ritenbaugh, aligning Book Three of the Psalms with the hot summer months, the Book of Leviticus in the Torah, the Book of Lamentations in the Megilloth, and Summary Psalm 148, indicates that this portion of Scripture deals with the somber theme of judgment on a people who have rejected their God and have produced a plethora of rotten spiritual fruit. Summer suggests military campaigns that have switched into high gear, a time when plowshares have been reshaped into implements of war, bringing on God's judgment on a faithless, rebellious people who should have known better. The 9th of Av, occurring this year the eve of July 25 and the day of July 26, constitutes the anniversary of the destruction of the first and second temples, bringing captivity for Israel and Judah for their overweening pride and vile sins. The major theme of Book Three of Psalms is that God wants repentance; He absolutely cannot tolerate sin. The keynote psalm, Psalm 73, describes the reaction of discouragement of a faithful person witnessing the prosperity and ease of the wicked person, while the righteous seem to be facing endless trials and harassments. When we finally see God's perspective from the tranquility of His sanctuary, we realize that the respective ends of the righteous and the wicked will be vastly different. We come to understand that not all who are in Israel are Israel, but only the ones with which God is working. The evil are currently in slippery places, destined for destruction, while God's chosen people, the Israel of God, are being groomed for a priceless inheritance. If we stick with God, we will acquire our inheritance in the fullness of time.
John Ritenbaugh affirms that Deuteronomy is the only book commanded to be read at regular intervals. Deuteronomy covers the final 70 days of Moses' tumultuous life. The rulers of Israel were to write a copy of the Law and read it on a daily basis. As members of the Israel of God, kings and priests in waiting, we need to read it continually, learning to rule others by learning to rule ourselves. The book of Deuteronomy is the heart and pulse of the Old Testament, with its words throughout the New Testament (quoted 86 times), excoriating idolatry, providing a foundation of Christian doctrine, exposing human nature, and providing an outline preparing us to enter God's Kingdom. The spiritual concepts in Deuteronomy serve as a template for the ruler's instruction book. Unlike Leviticus, Deuteronomy is not a cold, codified law, but a heart-felt appeal from Almighty God for His children to remain faithful to Him. As God Almighty skillfully engineered a massive number of our forebears, He will similarly engineer the end-time exodus for the Israel of God. Likewise we have a responsibility to remain faithful, instructing our children in God's instruction, insuring the success of God's family operation. We are to fear, love, and serve God, walking in and keeping His Commandments with all our might.
The Bible is full of symbols and types. The offerings of Leviticus, though they are no longer necessary under the New Covenant, are wonderful for teaching us about Christ in His roles as sacrifice, offerer, and priest. And they even instruct us in our roles before God too!
Richard Ritenbaugh, focusing upon a portion of Leviticus, which German higher criticism has dubbed "the holiness code," teaches that this section describes how God lives. When one approaches this section without God's Holy Spirit, the exercise becomes empty unproductive legalism devoid of real sanctification or godly character. Holiness is the quantum difference between what we are and what God is. Because God does the sanctifying, we do not become holy by following the holiness code, but we do keep and maintain what God has made holy, developing, over an entire lifetime, righteous godly character. The more we grow in Christ's image, the more sanctified we become. Christ's instructions in the Sermon on the Mount actually expanded (not did away with) the application of the holiness code.
The Berean: Daily Verse and Comment
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