Read Leviticus 12
Purification After Childbirth
12 The Lord said to Moses, 2 “Say to the Israelites: ‘A woman who becomes pregnant and gives birth to a son will be ceremonially unclean for seven days, just as she is unclean during her monthly period. 3 On the eighth day the boy is to be circumcised. 4 Then the woman must wait thirty-three days to be purified from her bleeding. She must not touch anything sacred or go to the sanctuary until the days of her purification are over. 5 If she gives birth to a daughter, for two weeks the woman will be unclean, as during her period. Then she must wait sixty-six days to be purified from her bleeding.
6 “‘When the days of her purification for a son or daughter are over, she is to bring to the priest at the entrance to the tent of meeting a year-old lamb for a burnt offering and a young pigeon or a dove for a sin offering. 7 He shall offer them before the Lord to make atonement for her, and then she will be ceremonially clean from her flow of blood.
“‘These are the regulations for the woman who gives birth to a boy or a girl. 8 But if she cannot afford a lamb, she is to bring two doves or two young pigeons, one for a burnt offering and the other for a sin offering. In this way the priest will make atonement for her, and she will be clean.’”
At first glance much of what we see in Leviticus looks like rules and regulations for the Israelites to follow (and more specifically, the priests). The book, however, is an unfolding of the divine-human relationship that became manifest on Sinai. This chapter continues to instruct the people how to deal with sin and impurity so that the Lord can dwell in their midst.
This chapter, on its surface, talks about rules surrounding the time after childbirth when a male child is born (v. 1-4) and circumcision, a female newborn (v. 5), and the length of time the mother is unclean and how to atone at the end of that time (v. 6-8). Going deeper, this chapter is more about having a mediator for one’s sin. From the perspective of the context of the book (within the Pentateuch) Moses has become the mediator between the people and the Lord, and the text outlines how the priests become the mediator in addition to Moses.
We see in Luke 2:22-24 that Jesus’ family still followed these rules, and as a poor family offered only a pair of turtledoves at birth. This part of His life story tells us much about who He was and what He came to give us as a living sacrifice. F.B. Meyer, the 19th century English minister said this about this passage and Jesus’ (and Mary and Joseph’s) obedience to the Law:
“What a glimpse into our Master’s humiliation! He owned the cattle on a thousand hills, yet He so emptied Himself that His parents were compelled to bring the poorest offering the law allowed. He stooped that we might rise; emptied Himself that we might be full; became poor that we might be made rich; was made human that we might be made Divine.”
Jesus became our mediator, and took away the rules surrounding our having to “do something” to earn atonement for our sins. We are simply saved by grace, and what a wonderful testimony we have thanks to Jesus.
- How can we give over areas of our uncleanliness, where we can “let go and let God”?
- What is your testimony when it comes to telling how Jesus atoned for your sin, and gave you abounding grace?
- What ritual do you have that is keeping you from God?
Make this your prayer today in response to the lessons from Leviticus:
Heavenly Father, how I praise and thank You for the cleansing blood of Jesus Christ. Thank You that He was the sacrifice for my sin and that You act on my account as my heavenly High as the full and final payment for all my sin and the sin of the world. Thank You for what the book of Leviticus helps me to understand what Christ has done for me. It is so wonderful to know that by grace through faith in Him, my sin has been forgiven, once and for all. The power of sin in my life was defeated at the Cross, and the presence of my sinful nature will be finally gone forever when I see Him face to face. Thank You, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
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