“A Lesson in Drawing Near” (Series: Five on Five)
Scripture: Leviticus 9:1-7; 22-24
The book of Leviticus seeks to answer a question fundamental not only to Israel but to all humanity: How can a holy God dwell among unholy people and how can unholy people draw near to a holy God? Plagued with this question, humanity has sought to provide its own solution. The first is humanism – to deny that humans are evil by nature but instead to affirm our innate goodness. If people aren’t that bad, then the problem isn’t so severe. The second is atheism – to deny that God exists at all. If there is no God in the equation, then there is no “problem” to solve. The third is religion – to create a belief system or worldview by which we, on our own, can reach God or attain forgiveness or assuage our conscience. Religion is a way for you to bridge the gap between God and sinner. But the ultimate solution isn’t found in anything man provides but in what God provides.
God gave Israel the book of Leviticus to answer their dilemma. By providing the institutions of a priesthood and a sacrificial system, by the sacrifice of animals to atone for man’s sins, God could finally dwell among sinners and sinners could draw near to God. If Moses, Israel’s leader and mediator, couldn’t approach God on his own merit, there is no way any Israelite could. Every last person needed the solution God provided through the instructions in Leviticus. This is why the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Old Testament) is organized to highlight Leviticus as the focal point. Leviticus provides the good news the Israelites so desperately longed for and needed.
But Leviticus was always meant to be temporary. God intended Leviticus to point forward and foreshadow a greater reality to come. Eventually God provided the final solution to humanity’s problem with the good news of Jesus Christ. Jesus came to be the final high priest and the once-for-all sacrifice. Just as God’s fire consumed the animal sacrifices offered to him, Jesus was consumed by God’s fire of judgment on the cross. As a result, those who now approach God through Jesus Christ will never be consumed. This means those in Christ can now draw near to God with assurance and confidence.
Christians who trust in Jesus can and should draw near not only when they feel worthy and acceptable but precisely in the moments they feel unworthy and unacceptable. This is because the right to draw near is given by Christ, not found in themselves. God invites his people to draw near to him, giving them access into his holy presence. This is a privilege Christians should seize so that they boldly approach him in prayer and in worship.
Suggested Group Discussion Questions
- What are your thoughts on and impressions of the book of Leviticus? Have you read it before? Did you enjoy it? Why or why not?
- Can you share any generalizations you have or have heard about Leviticus? How do you think people understand the book and its purpose? Try to summarize its purpose in your own words.
- What are some common obstacles and reasons it’s difficult to draw near to God? When do you feel it’s most difficult to come near to him? When is it easier to draw near to him? How do we practically draw near to God with greater assurance and confidence?
- Doxology: Express how this sermon helps you understand, appreciate, and worship Jesus more. In what ways has the gospel become more alive to you having read this passage and heard this sermon?
- Response: Formulate a one-sentence prayer that’s informed by the passage and the sermon. This prayer should articulate what you desire to walk away and how you want God to apply it in your life. Have a few people share what they came up with.