“You must be holy.”
1. How can the book of Leviticus help us?
JEHOVAH expects all of his servants to be holy. Even though holiness is mentioned throughout the entire Bible, this quality is most often referred to in the book of Leviticus. Understanding and appreciating this book will help us to know how we can be holy.
2. What do we find in the book of Leviticus?
2 Leviticus, written by Moses, is part of “all Scripture” that is “beneficial for teaching.” (2 Timothy 3:16) Jehovah’s name is mentioned about ten times in each chapter of this book. Understanding Leviticus will strengthen us to avoid doing anything that would dishonor God’s name. (Leviticus 22:32) The phrase “I am Jehovah,” which is repeated many times in this book, should remind us to obey God. In this article and the next, we will discover valuable treasures found in Leviticus, which will help us to be holy in our worship to God.
3, 4. What did the washing of Aaron and his sons represent? (See opening picture.)
3 Read Leviticus 8:5, 6. Jehovah appointed Aaron to be Israel’s high priest, and his sons were to be priests for the nation. Aaron represents Jesus, and Aaron’s sons represent anointed Christians. What did the washing of Aaron mean? Did it mean that Jesus needed to be cleansed? No. Jesus was sinless and “without blemish.” (Hebrews 7:26; 9:14) However, after Aaron was washed, he represented Jesus, who is clean and righteous. So, what does the washing of Aaron’s sons represent?
4 The washing of Aaron’s sons represents the cleansing of those who are selected to be priests in heaven. Is this cleansing connected with their baptism? No, because baptism does not wash away sins. Instead, baptism is a symbol of a person’s dedication to God. The anointed are cleansed “by means of the word,” so they must apply Christ’s teachings fully in their lives. (Ephesians 5:25-27) In this way, they are holy and clean. But what about the “other sheep”?
Jehovah is pleased when he sees that all of his people are clean and united
5. Why can it be said that the other sheep are cleansed by means of God’s Word?
5 Aaron’s sons did not represent the “great crowd” of Jesus’ other sheep. (Revelation 7:9) Yet, the other sheep too become holy and clean by means of God’s Word. When those with the earthly hope put faith in what the Bible says about the power of Jesus’ sacrifice, they are motivated to worship Jehovah “day and night.” (Revelation 7:13-15) The cleansing of the anointed and the other sheep is continual. As a result, their conduct remains clean at all times. (1 Peter 2:12) Jehovah is pleased when he sees that all of his people are clean and united as they obey and loyally follow their Shepherd, Jesus!
6. Why must we examine ourselves regularly?
6 What does the fact that Israel’s priests had to be physically clean mean for us today? Many people with whom we study the Bible notice that we are neat and clean and that we also keep our places of worship clean. In addition, those who want to worship Jehovah must have “a pure heart.” (Read Psalm 24:3, 4; Isaiah 2:2, 3.) So we must serve Jehovah with clean minds and hearts as well as with clean bodies. We need to examine ourselves regularly. At times we may find that we need to make major changes in order to be holy. (2 Corinthians 13:5) For example, a baptized person who views pornography should ask himself, ‘Am I proving myself holy?’ He should then get help to stop this wicked practice.
PROVE YOURSELVES HOLY BY BEING OBEDIENT
7. What example did Jesus set that was similar to that of the priests mentioned at Leviticus 8:22-24?
7 When Israel’s priesthood was installed, the blood of a male sheep was put on the right ear, thumb, and big toe of High Priest Aaron and his sons. (Read Leviticus 8:22-24.) The way the blood was used illustrated that the priests would obediently carry out their duties. In a similar way, Jesus, as High Priest, set a perfect example for the anointed and the other sheep. He listened to God’s guidance, he did Jehovah’s will, and he followed a holy way of life.
8. What must all of us do?
8 As Jehovah’s worshippers, all of us must follow the example of Jesus, who kept his integrity to God. We must strictly obey God’s guidance found in the Bible and in this way avoid “grieving God’s holy spirit.” (Ephesians 4:30) Be determined to make “straight paths for your feet.”
We must strictly obey God’s guidance found in the Bible and in this way avoid “grieving God’s holy spirit”
9. What did three brothers who have worked closely with members of the Governing Body say, and how can their statements help you to be holy?
9 Let us examine the words of three brothers who for many years have worked closely with members of the Governing Body. One brother mentioned: “While this has indeed been a unique privilege of service, the close association has from time to time revealed that, although spirit anointed, these brothers are imperfect. Yet, one of my goals over the years has been to be obedient to those taking the lead.” The second brother said: “Such scriptures as 2 Corinthians 10:5, about ‘obedience to Christ,’ have helped me to be obedient and cooperate with those taking the lead. This is obedience from the heart.” The third brother said: “Loving what Jehovah loves and hating what he hates, as well as constantly seeking his guidance and doing what pleases him, means obedience to his organization and to those he is using to advance his purpose for the earth.” This brother remembers the example of Nathan Knorr. Brother Knorr, who became a member of the Governing Body, accepted what was said in the 1925 Watch Tower article “Birth of the Nation,” even though others questioned it. Such obedience truly impressed the brother. Meditating on the words of these three brothers can help you to be obedient to God and remain holy.
HOLY OBEDIENCE TO GOD’S LAW ON BLOOD
10. How important is it that we obey God’s law on blood?
10 Read Leviticus 17:10. Jehovah commanded the Israelites not to eat “any sort of blood.” Christians are also commanded to abstain from the blood of humans and animals. (Acts 15:28, 29) It is painful for us to imagine doing anything that would cause God to reject us and remove us from his congregation. We love Jehovah and want to obey him. Even if our life is in danger, we will not give in when those who do not know or care about Jehovah demand that we disobey him. We know that some will make fun of us for refusing blood, but we choose to obey God. (Jude 17, 18) What will help us to be determined not to eat blood or accept a blood transfusion?
We love Jehovah and want to obey him
11. Why can we say that Atonement Day was more than a ritual?
11 What Israel’s high priest did once a year on Atonement Day helps us to understand how God views blood. Blood was used only for a special purpose. It was used for forgiveness of sins so that the Israelites could have a peaceful relationship with God. The blood of the bull and the goat was sprinkled in front of the cover of the ark of the covenant. (Leviticus 16:14, 15, 19) By means of that blood, God would forgive the sins of the Israelites. Jehovah also said that if a man killed an animal for food, its blood was to be poured out on the ground and covered with dust, because “the life of every sort of flesh is its blood.” (Leviticus 17:11-14) These commands were not unimportant rituals. Hundreds of years earlier, God had prohibited Noah and his descendants from eating blood. (Genesis 9:3-6) What does this mean for Christians?
12. How does Paul connect blood with forgiveness?
12 The apostle Paul explained that blood had the power to cleanse when he wrote: “According to the Law nearly all things are cleansed with blood, and unless blood is poured out no forgiveness takes place.” (Hebrews 9:22) But the value of animal sacrifices was temporary. Paul mentioned that these sacrifices reminded the Israelites that they were sinners and that they needed a greater sacrifice to remove their sins completely. The Law was “a shadow of the good things to come, but not the very substance of the things.” (Hebrews 10:1-4) So how would forgiveness of sins be possible?
13. What does Jesus’ presenting the value of his blood to Jehovah mean to you?
13 Read Ephesians 1:7. Jesus died as a sacrifice for all humans, and this has great meaning for those who love him and his Father. (Galatians 2:20) Yet, it was what Jesus did after his resurrection that saved us from sin, as illustrated by what happened on Atonement Day. When the high priest went into the Most Holy, it was as if he entered into God’s presence. There, the priest presented the blood of the animals to God. (Leviticus 16:11-15) After his resurrection, Jesus entered into heaven and presented the value of his human blood to God. (Hebrews 9:6, 7, 11-14, 24-28) We are grateful that we can have forgiveness of sins and a clean conscience because we have faith in the blood of Jesus’ sacrifice!
14, 15. Why is it important to understand and obey Jehovah’s law on blood?
14 Perhaps now it is clearer to you why Jehovah commands us not to eat “any sort of blood.” (Leviticus 17:10) Do you understand why blood is so sacred to God? Blood represents life. (Genesis 9:4) No doubt you will agree that we should view blood the way God does and that we should obey his command to abstain from it. The only way we can have peace with God is to have faith in Jesus’ ransom sacrifice and understand that blood is very precious to our Creator.
15 Any one of us may unexpectedly have to decide whether or not to accept a blood transfusion, blood fractions, or medical procedures that involve blood. So it is important that you pray to Jehovah, do research, and make a firm decision before an emergency happens. Then you will have the confidence to abstain from blood. We would never want to make Jehovah sad by accepting something that he condemns! Today many doctors and others encourage us to give our own blood with the hope of saving lives. But as God’s holy people, we know that Jehovah has the right to say how blood should be used. To him, “any sort of blood” is sacred. So we must be determined to obey his law on blood. We can also show him by our clean conduct that we value the blood of Jesus’ sacrifice. Only his blood makes forgiveness of sins and everlasting life possible.
We must be determined to obey God’s law on blood
WHY JEHOVAH EXPECTS US TO BE HOLY
16. Why must Jehovah’s people be holy?
16 When Jehovah freed the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, they were told: “I am Jehovah, who is leading you up out of the land of Egypt to prove myself God to you, and you must be holy, because I am holy.” (Leviticus 11:45) Jehovah expected the Israelites to be holy because he is holy. And Jehovah expects the same of us today. The book of Leviticus makes this absolutely clear.
17. How do you now feel about the Bible book of Leviticus?
17 No doubt you have benefited from our discussion of some points from Leviticus. Very likely, you appreciate this book of the Bible much more and better understand the reasons why we must be holy. Still, what more can we learn from Leviticus? How can this book of the Bible help us to worship God in a clean way? We will discuss this in the next article.