Apr 05 2008

3- Q. & A. ON GENESIS, THE BOOK OF LEVITICUS Part 1

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SHORT NOTES ON THE BIBLE (3)

Q. & A. ON GENESIS

Question:

Is there any contradiction between modern science and the Bible regarding creation of the universe and the human race?

Answer:

1- In its essence, the Holy Bible is the word of God. It was written by the inspiration of God to His holy men to inform mankind about their relation to God from the beginning to everlasting eternity. Its writing began 35 centuries ago and continued until the first century A.D.

2- The first chapters of Genesis which talk about creation of the universe and mankind were not written to the specialized modern scientist, but were written to briefly inform all people, regardless of their intellectual sophistication and throughout all centuries, that God is the creator of all things.

3- Moses, the writer of Genesis does not talk about the simple primitive living creatures and the beginning of biological life, but he tells us in simple language about the final results of the process of creation. Whether this process happened over millions of years or a few seconds, this would not change the fact that God is the creator of everything.

4- It is important to notice that Genesis mentions that at first plants were “brought forth” (Gen 1:11,12 : Grass then trees) and then different animal groups in their evolutionary sequence: sea fish, winged birds, creeping things and beasts of the earth (Gen 1:20-26).

5- It is also important to notice that modern science does not say that the present man was a monkey, but it says that he developed from earlier more primitive forms. This is not contradictory to the Holy Bible which tells us about the beginning of the relationship between God and the intelligent mankind.

6- The words of the Bible, “the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground” (Gen 2:7), may be interpreted as saying that the human body contains the same elements of the earth. Similarly, it says that God created birds and beasts “out of the ground” (Gen 2:19).

7- The creation of Eve from Adam’s “rib” means the participation of Adam and Eve in one body, as interpreted by Adam “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh” (Gen 2:23), and means also their equivalence despite any biological differences.

8- It is important to notice that the interpretations of the Church fathers and exegetists of the Bible do not completely agree regarding the first three chapters of Genesis. Some of them take it literally, while others tend more towards the symbolic interpretation of some aspects.

9- Both Science and Faith in the Bible are important activities of the human soul. The “warfare” between them usually results from the lack of mutual understanding between individuals responsible for these two essential activities. For example, a Bible scholar may be scientifically illiterate but pretends to be knowledgeable and despises scientists, or a specialized scientist may have no spiritual experience and therefore talks sarcastically about spiritual matters. In fact this “warfare” is mostly an artificial myth. In many instances we see specialized scientists that are devout believers in the Bible who do their best to reveal the harmony between the Bible and science, or theologians and ascetics that love science and knowledge and see in them a revelation of the glory of God and a sort of worship.

10- In some instances, the conflict between science and the Bible may be the result of the imperfection of our present state of scientific knowledge or the inaccurate interpretation of the words of the Bible, especially if we take into consideration the difficulties of translation. It can be concluded that there should be no conflict between true science and the Holy Bible.

THE BOOK OF LEVITICUS

The Third Book Of The Torah (Pentateuch)

Leviticus and its Relation to Other Books of the Torah:

Genesis presented to us the events of creation and the fall of mankind. Also, it presented the establishment of a covenant between God and His creation as a step in the unfolding of the plan for the salvation of mankind.

Then the book of Exodus presented to us the picture of mankind under slavery, exemplified in the people of Israel. Also, it showed how God heard the cry of His people and acted to save them. Finally it shows the exodus of Israel (mankind) from slavery so that they can offer a true worship. The book of Exodus ends in the building of the Tabernacle, its consecration and its filling with God’s glory amidst His people, where the human being has reached the highest possible level of closeness to God and existence in His presence according to the Old Testament.

Before the book dwells on the events of the 40 years in the wilderness, it was necessary to give the people a special power of grace by which they can continue their trip to promised land (The kingdom of God). Therefore, the main topic in Leviticus is “the liturgical (collective or public) worship” where the rites declare God’s holiness, so that the people walking with God should become holy too (i.e. sanctified):

“I am the LORD your God; consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am holy.” (Lev 11:44)

Thus, the main spiritual subject of the book is sanctification (consecration). The book emphasizes that sanctification is the foundation of the relationship between God and His people (chapters 1-16), and sanctification is the secret of the daily life as shown in the relations between a person and his brother (chapters 17-27).

The Elements of Sanctification in the Book Of Leviticus:

The book of Leviticus offers five principal elements of sanctification. These will be mentioned briefly here, and will be discussed in more detail in the “subjects of the book”.

1. Worship: Animal sacrifices, because blood is an atonement (recompense) for one’s self. The rites of sacrifices included laying the sinner’s hand on the head of the sacrifice and confession of his sins (repentance)

2. Priest: He is a mediator between God and man (in the Old Testament). The priest is the one that offers the sacrifice (offering). The ordinance requires the priest’s purification before he can offer a sacrifice.

3. Place of Worship: Where the sacrifice is offered.

4. Keeping the Commandments: By following the ordinances of purification and sanctification.

5. Rejoicing: Rejoicing in the Lord and thanking Him through observance of feasts and offerings.

Leviticus in light of the New testament:

It appears initially that the book has no place in the New Testament because the animal sacrifices, the ordinances of purification and the Levitical priesthood have ceased. But St. Paul in his Epistle to the Hebrews revealed to us, by the Holy Spirit, the connection of Leviticus through all its rites, with the New Testament. Thus, the numerous types of animal offerings are just different aspects of the offering of Christ on the cross. And the repetition of the various offerings is because of their insufficiency for sanctification which is accomplished only through the blood of Jesus Christ. And the presence of God among His people in the tabernacle is symbolic for the true communion (participation) of the believers in the body of Christ (the Church). In summary, the book of Leviticus tells us about “a copy and shadow of the heavenly things” that Moses saw (Exodus 25:9,40 and Hebrews 8:5) but our Lord Jesus admitted us with Him by his blood to the “heavenly things themselves” (Hebrews 8:2, 9:23).

Subjects of the book:

1. Sacrifices (Chapters 1-7) 2. Priesthood (Chapters 8-10)

3. Legal Purity (Chapters 11-15) 4. The Day of Atonement (Ch.16)

5. The Law of Holiness (Ch.17-22) 6. The Jewish Feasts. (Ch.23-25)

7. The Law of Giving: Votive offering, firstborn and tithe (Ch.26-27)

1. Sacrifices (offerings), (Chapters 1-7).

* Sacrifices are means to establish a relation between God and man.

* The sacrifice is the contract of this relation and its blood is the sign of the covenant between God and man (Genesis 15:6-10).

* The sacrificed animal should be a clean animal (could be eaten) and should be without a blemish – pointing clearly to the sacrificial Christ: The lamb without a blemish (John 1:29).

* Because the animal sacrifice could not fully represent the sacrifice on the cross, several types of sacrifices were needed to represent the various aspects of the cross as shown in the following table:

Offering

Aspect of the cross

Detailed features

1- Burnt Offering

Obedience (Phil 2:8)

The presenter lays his hand on the sacrifice, all of it is burnt, and none of its flesh is eaten.

2- Sin Offering

Lifting of sins of man against man.

The presenter confesses his sin. It is burnt outside. Only priests eat from this offering*.

3- Guilt / Trespass Offering

Lifting the sin of man against God.

It is burnt outside the camp, and only priests are allowed to eat from it*.

4- Peace Offering

Our union with Christ in the cross.

Presented after sin offering. Its meat is eaten representing our participation in the Eucharist.

5-Cereal Offering (Korban)

 

Represents Christ’s incarnation, his life and ministry (before the cross), in which he fulfilled all righteousness by obeying the commandments as the representative of all mankind.

Cake is made of fine flour (Christ is the grain of wheat) on which oil (Holy Spirit) is poured, representing the Divine body that Christ took from the Virgin Mary through the Holy Spirit. Incense is added to the flour cake representing prayers and struggle in service.Salt is added to represent the incorruption of the body of Christ. It is put in fire to represent the sufferings in Christ’s ministry before the cross. Part of the cake is burnt and the rest is eaten by the priest (only+) representing his participation in the ministry of Christ, the true high priest.

 

 

* Eating of the offering by the priest represents his participation in carrying the sins of the people.

+ It should be made clear that the Cereal offering (korban) is not a representation of the offering of the Eucharist of which the people have the right to partake.

(To be continued in the next “Short Notes”)

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Saint Mark’s Orthodox Fellowship urges you to study the Bible and encourage others to do the same. Please feel free to make any copies from these notes and distribute them to your relatives and friends. The fellowship welcomes any questions, comments or additional references, whether for publication in these “Short Notes” or in private correspondence.

Write to us: PO Box 6192, Columbia, MD 21045.

 

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