Leviticus Chapter 17

In the book of Leviticus, the Lord gives instruction to the children of Israel. This portion of the law of Moses has included details about sacrifices, how the priests of Aaron were to officiate in their office, and what was considered clean or unclean. The Lord continues to give commandments and teachings to Moses as follows:

1 And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,
2 Speak unto Aaron, and unto his sons, and unto all the children of Israel, and say unto them; This is the thing which the Lord hath commanded, saying,
3 What man soever there be of the house of Israel, that killeth an ox, or lamb, or goat, in the camp, or that killeth it out of the camp,
4 And bringeth it not unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, to offer an offering unto the Lord before the tabernacle of the Lord; blood shall be imputed unto that man; he hath shed blood; and that man shall be cut off from among his people:
5 To the end that the children of Israel may bring their sacrifices, which they offer in the open field, even that they may bring them unto the Lord, unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, unto the priest, and offer them for peace offerings unto the Lord.
6 And the priest shall sprinkle the blood upon the altar of the Lord at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and burn the fat for a sweet savour unto the Lord.
7 And they shall no more offer their sacrifices unto devils, after whom they have gone a whoring. This shall be a statute for ever unto them throughout their generations.

There was only one acceptable place for sacrifices to the Lord, now that they had a tabernacle in their midst. Any sacrifice to the Lord, was to be given at the door of the tabernacle as the Lord had previously directed. In latter-days, the early saints were given similar commandment and instruction, with regard to temple work. We have been instructed on how to do baptisms for the dead, and the authority was given at first to perform those in the Mississippi river. Once the building of the temple was commanded, the Lord told the Prophet, Joseph Smith, that the saints were no longer authorized to perform baptisms for the dead in the river, but were to perform them in the font prepared in His holy temple.

Any Israelite, who chose to do otherwise, was to be cut off from the people of the Lord. The law included forbidding any sacrifices to anyone else. I have been studying ancient mesopotamia, and the act of sacrificing to all kinds of gods and rulers was extremely common among all the people of the world in that time. I am sure there was great importance for the Israelites to set themselves apart from the world, by worshipping the one true God. This feels to me like a repetition of the commandment not to worship any other Gods, or as mentioned here, devils.

8 And thou shalt say unto them, Whatsoever man there be of the house of Israel, or of the strangers which sojourn among you, that offereth a burnt offering or sacrifice,
9 And bringeth it not unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, to offer it unto the Lord; even that man shall be cut off from among his people.

Again, anyone who chose to make a sacrifice to God, and failed to bring it to the tabernacle, was to be cut off. The footnote in verse 8, references Doctrine and Covenants 132:9 which reads, “Will I accept of an offering, saith the Lord, that is not made in my name?” If someone offered me a gift, but it had my sister’s name on it, would I feel like it was a gift for me? Why then, would God accept the sacrifices prepared for someone else? He had asked that all gifts be given in a specific way and those who desired to honestly show their love for Him, would have brought those offerings to the tabernacle as He had instructed.

10 And whatsoever man there be of the house of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn among you, that eateth any manner of blood; I will even set my face against that soul that eateth blood, and will cut him off from among his people.
11 For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.
12 Therefore I said unto the children of Israel, No soul of you shall eat blood, neither shall any stranger that sojourneth among you eat blood.
13 And whatsoever man there be of the children of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn among you, which hunteth and catcheth any beast or fowl that may be eaten; he shall even pour out the blood thereof, and cover it with dust.
14 For it is the life of all flesh; the blood of it is for the life thereof: therefore I said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall eat the blood of no manner of flesh: for the life of all flesh is the blood thereof: whosoever eateth it shall be cut off.
15 And every soul that eateth that which died of itself, or that which was torn with beasts, whether it be one of your own country, or a stranger, he shall both wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the even: then shall he be clean.
16 But if he wash them not, nor bathe his flesh; then he shall bear his iniquity.

They had already been commanded not to eat blood, but they are commanded again here. Genesis 9:4 reads, “But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat.” No one of the covenant, or one who stayed among the people, was to eat blood. I find the phrase “set my face against that soul” to be one of interest. I looked up the word “against” to get a clearer understanding and the first way to define it says, “in opposition to”. This makes sense to me. The Lord would be in opposition to anyone who disobeyed this commandment. I’m pretty sure that having God against them, was not going to make their life happy and blessed. Likewise, we do not want God to be against us, either.

Blood holds the life of the body, or its mortality. God alone, is to have power over the mortality of any soul. The only use for blood, was for making atonement within the tabernacle of the Lord. Only with the blood, as with the blood of Christ, could an atonement be made for the souls of mankind. If they were to hunt animals, they were not to partake of the blood, but pour it on the ground and cover it with the dust of the earth. This reminds me of a scripture I read recently in the book of Isaiah. He was teaching of things that would happen at the time of the Lord’s second coming, when wickedness would be destroyed. In Isaiah 26:21 we read, “For, behold, the Lord cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity: the earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain.” No works are hid from the Lord. Any blood that has ever been spilt against the commandment of the Lord, is going to be known. All the works of unrighteousness will be revealed and the people will be judged for these sins against God. The reward for these works, will be an eternal separation from God. The Israelites were told here, that if an animal died on its own or by other animals, and they ate that animal, they were to wash their clothes and bathe. They would be unclean through that day. If he did not wash, or wash his clothes, he would have sinned.

Jesus-Portrait

I think the purpose of commanding the children of Israel these things, was to keep them focused on what sacrifices were really about. The world had taken sacred things and distorted them. Adam was given the first instructions about why men were to give sacrifices. In Moses 5 we read the following:

4 And Adam and Eve, his wife, called upon the name of the Lord, and they heard the voice of the Lord from the way toward the Garden of Eden, speaking unto them, and they saw him not; for they were shut out from his presence.
5 And he gave unto them commandments, that they should worship the Lord their God, and should offer the firstlings of their flocks, for an offering unto the Lord. And Adam was obedient unto the commandments of the Lord.
6 And after many days an angel of the Lord appeared unto Adam, saying: Why dost thou offer sacrifices unto the Lord? And Adam said unto him: I know not, save the Lord commanded me.
7 And then the angel spake, saying: This thing is a similitude of the sacrifice of the Only Begotten of the Father, which is full of grace and truth.
8 Wherefore, thou shalt do all that thou doest in the name of the Son, and thou shalt repent and call upon God in the name of the Son forevermore.

The Lord commanded Adam and Eve to offer sacrifice to the Lord and the angel taught Adam that this was to remind them of the sacrifice of the Son of God. God never came to any man and said otherwise. All other sacrifices were created by men, through the temptations of Satan, that mankind would turn from God and become as he is. In commanding the Israelites these things, God was reestablishing His laws, so that His people would know who to look towards for salvation and eternal life. It is a great blessing to have the fullness of the gospel on the earth today, to know why and how we can worship God and have the promised blessings in the life to come.

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I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I love the scriptures, but I am not a scriptorian. I've been told that I'm too "deep" for some, but if you are willing, I'd love to have others join me in my quest for a greater understanding of the gospel. Please feel free to leave me comments and hopefully we can help each other to learn.
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