In the last post we began to looking at some of the myths about the Law and the 5th Dispensation. We saw that the rules of the Law were not meant to repress the Israelites, but were intended to show them the optimal way to live and prosper and to make them good ambassadors to usher in the advent of the Redeemer.
But there are other aspects of the Law beyond health and moral conduct that gives rise to another myth – the myth that the Law is religion.
If it walks like religion and quacks like religion…
Much of the Law details a multitude of rituals, sacraments, and festivals. The rules around these activities are very detailed, exacting, and strict. Take for example, the “sin offering”:
And if any one of the common people sin unwittingly, in doing any of the things which God hath commanded not to be done, and be guilty;
if his sin, which he hath sinned, be made known to him, then he shall bring for his oblation a goat, a female without blemish, for his sin which he hath sinned.
And he shall lay his hand upon the head of the sin-offering, and kill the sin-offering in the place of burnt-offering.
And the priest shall take of the blood thereof with his finger, and put it upon the horns of the altar of burnt-offering; and all the blood thereof shall he pour out at the base of the altar.
And all the fat thereof shall he take away, as the fat is taken away from off the sacrifice of peace-offerings; and the priest shall burn it upon the altar for a sweet savor unto God; and the priest shall make atonement for him, and he shall be forgiven. Leviticus 4: 27-31
Are you sure this isn’t religion?
To be honest, all this sounds a lot like religion. It seems like God is telling people to do certain activities in order to justify their wrongs.
Furthermore, why does an all-powerful God need a sacrifice? Why does killing an animal please Him? Why does its blood need to be smeared all over the place? It all seems a bit macabre.
Without the right context, it’s easy to see how all these rules can make God look no different than any other petulant, ancient “rage-god” demanding arbitrary obeisance from his fiefdom lest he rain down fire and crickets upon them in his wrath (ok, that’s maybe not the most vivid description of wrath, but I really hate crickets).
Is this myth true? Is God basically that creepy omnipotent kid from the Twilight Zone? Are the sacraments demanded by the Law a form of religion?
The answer is no. And this is proven by understanding the purposes of both religion and the Law.
Here’s the difference
Religion is actions initiated by man (NOT God) in order for man to justify himself. The Law comes from God, and merely doing the activities of the Law does not offer justification.
The purpose of the Law is to prepare the world (through Israel) for the coming of the Redeemer. So how do the rituals of the Law accomplish this?
The ritual and the sacraments of the Law symbolize the vital aspects of the Redeemers advent and purpose. Doing the sacraments of the Law is essentially acting out the work of the Redeemer. It’s a divine dress rehearsal!
What is the Redeemer’s work? From what we’ve learned so far, the Redeemer will be a man with perfect blood, who will sacrifice that blood on behalf of Adam’s fallen offspring (us), resulting in us gaining life and being reconciled to God.
Now let’s look again at the sin offering from the passage above. It requires:
- A blemish free (perfect) animal (a goat in this case, but lambs and bulls are also used)
- The animal is killed (sacrificed)
- Its blood is taken by the priest before the alter
- The priest puts blood on the horns and base of the alter
- The animals fat is burned which God enjoys
- The sin is forgiven
How does this all fit together?
We learned previously that “life” is in the blood. The “perfect” animal represents perfect blood. The perfect blood is sacrificed. The priest is the mediator between God and man. The priest represents One who has the authority to come before God on man’s behalf. The alter represents God. Horns are a Biblical representation of ruling authority. Thus the mediator between God and man placed the perfect blood on that authority, and then pours it at His feet. Fat is generally seen as excess and denotes the richness, luxury, and comfort (pride) of man. Its burning (being destroyed) is pleasing to God. This represents the humility needed when one prays – especially for forgiveness. God finds prayers sweet like incense! Finally, forgiveness is rendered, representing reconciliation with God.
And that’s just what can be found in ONE of the sacraments of the Law. All of them represent some aspect of the Redeemer and were written with the Redeemer in mind!
The way this was supposed to work, is that if the Israelites obeyed the Law, they would have acted out the work of the Redeemer thousands of times, over the 1500 years between Moses and the advent of the Redeemer. They should have known the work of the Redeemer so well, that there’s no reasonable way they could have missed Him and failed the 5th Dispensation.
But they did fail
Why? Religious brain damage! As I wrote in a previous post:
“Unfortunately certain men decided of their own volition (and convinced countless others) that rituals alone could provide justification and atonement, and they warped them into religious acts. But this was NEVER God’s intention.
As I wrote last week, the men who perverted Levitical rituals into religion are the ones whose actions led to the death of Christ. Their religion blinded them to the advent of the very person the rituals were put in place to make them aware of! See what I mean when I say religion causes brain damage?”
There is one final pervasive myth about the Law that we will conclude with. The idea that God is a repressive prude who created the Law in order to make us feel bad about things we like – especially sex. Next time…
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