Naso: Be A Living Sacrifice
Updated: Jan 19, 2020
Focus: Leviticus 21-22
Hello wonderful human.
I want to revisit a little something we discussed when we first cracked open the book of Leviticus. It’s pertinent to our study again, especially for these first two chapters of ‘Emor’.
The fact I’m referring to is the often ignored but basic fact that these 2 chapters pertain to the priests of Israel. Herein, we read of the burial laws for the priests, who priests can and can’t marry, physical defects which would prevent a priest from prescribing over sacrifice; laws about the priestly portions and so on. These 2 chapters are all relevant info for the day to day lives of the priests and they’re not really practically relevant for the laity. Yet, here we are, the laity, nay; the average Jo, and we have this document in our hands describing in excruciating details the inner workings of the priesthood and tabernacle.
For a moment, I want you to sit back and understand that you, Mr and Mrs Average, are not allowed to perform the tasks of the priests, you are not allowed to walk into the holy place and you would never lay eyes on the Ark of the Covenant within the holy of holies. It is off limits to you and approaching in an unfit and unqualified manner would get you killed. So, yeah.
Yet this book is in our hands and whilst we all have the desire to walk into the holy of holies and talk to God directly we cannot. Yet the book in our hands illuminates these ‘mysteries’ for us.
So, what I want to point out to you firstly is simply that. The mystery is revealed and the priesthood is laid bare for us to know. Where we came from; Egypt, is another story.
The book of the dead; first, what’s the book of the dead? Well, if you think of the book of the Dead as the Bible for Ancient Egyptians then I suppose that’s good enough. It’s basically a document that pertains to the religious system of Ancient Egypt, or at least an important facet of it, the afterlife.
In actuality, there isn’t a specific book of the dead. Let me explain for a moment. In Ancient Egypt, old kingdom times (a long time ago), the pyramids were built, the Pharaohs started tomb building and both were done with the intention of facilitating the Pharaoh’s journey into the resurrection. The resurrection in Ancient Egypt, at least originally, was only for the Pharaoh. In his tomb he took what he needed in the afterlife, hence the jewels and great finds of Egyptology which gave us Indiana Jones, whereas for you and I, the afterlife was unattainable. We were just left with Indiana Jones.
On the walls of the tomb, within the pyramids, the Pharaohs had ancient texts and spells which were meant to help secure the Pharaoh’s entrance into the afterlife. In time, as Egypt declined and rose, the people managed to get their hands on these texts and thought that just maybe these same blessings and spells would help them get into the afterlife. In time, these spells were placed on the coffins of Ancient Egyptians. Later, similar blessings and spells were written down. If you couldn’t afford a tomb or a coffin with the hieroglyphs then you would purchase a scroll with the spells on them; aka, a book of the dead. In actuality there isn’t just one book of the dead but many texts written about the Temples of Ancient Egypt and many variations of the books of the dead.
Before it became wide spread in the New Kingdom (towards the latter end of three thousand years of history), the book was only available to royalty and priests. One quote of their book says;
‘Do not show (the text) to anyone, not to your father, not to your son: it is for you alone’
- Milgrom (Leviticus Vol. 1 P. 142)
Other cultures were similar. An ancient Mesopotamian text states that people were not only banned from seeing the rituals within the temple but also its documents which described their rituals;
‘This ritual that you perform, only the qualitifed person shall view it…the informed person may show this tablet to the informed person. The uninformed shall not see it, it is forbidden…’
- Milgrom (Leviticus Vol. 1 P. 142)
Even in the New Kingdom of Egypt your average Jo had to pay, if he could, to get his hands on ‘their’ book.
So when the ‘priestly code’ begins with;
Leviticus 1:1–2 (NKJV)
Now the Lord called to Moses, and spoke to him from the tabernacle of meeting, saying, 2 “Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘When any one of you brings an offering to the Lord…
Or when you read in the laws of the priests;
Leviticus 21:24 (NKJV)
24 And Moses told it to Aaron and his sons, and to all the children of Israel.
Sit back and smile. We left Egypt in the dust; and so, the book that can truly promise the afterlife is in your hands for all to read.
Polemic against Egypt
Whilst we may not care much for Egyptian history, our ancestors here lived it and its influence had a large impact on how they would have perceived and engaged in their new way of life.
Take for example, the laws here for the priests, they largely speak about a priests contamination with death and for the most part prohibits it. Contrast this to Egypt’s obsessions with death and entrance into the afterlife. Death was all over their religious practices and their priests played a significant role in the burial processes (including mummifications) and preparation of the recently deceased person’s tomb.
The Torah severs the connection from the priests with death;
Leviticus 21:1 (NKJV)
And the Lord said to Moses, “Speak to the priests, the sons of Aaron, and say to them: ‘None shall defile himself for the dead among his people
It places even more stringent prohibitions on the High Priest;
Leviticus 21:10–11 (NKJV)
10 ‘He who is the high priest among his brethren, on whose head the anointing oil was poured and who is consecrated to wear the garments, shall not uncover his head nor tear his clothes; 11 nor shall he go near any dead body, nor defile himself for his father or his mother;
We can understand the focus on life in Torah; it’s another thing to see it through Ancient Israelite eyes having left the cults of the dead behind. Our priests stood for life and the revealed light of God; the world’s systems stood for concealed mystery, darkness and death. The Torah here is creating a whole new perception of the priesthood that existed nowhere else.
Our polemic against Egypt helps us understand some of the other matters in this portion better.
One issue worth investigation is verse 5;
Leviticus 21:5 (NKJV)
5 ‘They shall not make any bald place on their heads, nor shall they shave the edges of their beards nor make any cuttings in their flesh.
In the holiness instructions to the laity, earlier in the book of Leviticus, we find the same command;
Leviticus 19:27–28 (NKJV)
27 You shall not shave around the sides of your head, nor shall you disfigure the edges of your beard. 28 You shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor tattoo any marks on you: I am the Lord.
There is some overlap between the expectation of the priests and that of the people.
Somehow, these verses are taken as a sound byte and understood in isolation. Understanding these verses though must be done so in the context of death. Knowing this makes it no surprise when we understand these commands also in the ancient context, and not just with the preceding verses in mind.
From Ancient Egypt to ancient Greece the shaving of hair or pulling of the hair was a mourning custom. There are also clear Scriptural verses which confirm that the shaving of and cutting of oneself was a mourning custom amongst Israel’s neighbors such as Moab and Philistine;
Isaiah 15:1–3 (NKJV)
Proclamation Against Moab
15 The burden against Moab.
Because in the night Ar of Moab is laid waste
Because in the night Kir of Moab is laid waste
2 He has gone up to the temple and Dibon,
To the high places to weep.
Moab will wail over Nebo and over Medeba;
On all their heads will be baldness,
And every beard cut off.
3 In their streets they will clothe themselves with sackcloth;
On the tops of their houses
And in their streets
Everyone will wail, weeping bitterly.
Jeremiah 47:4–5 (NKJV)
4 Because of the day that comes to plunder all the Philistines,
To cut off from Tyre and Sidon every helper who remains;
For the Lord shall plunder the Philistines,
The remnant of the country of Caphtor.
5 Baldness has come upon Gaza,
Ashkelon is cut off
With the remnant of their valley.
How long will you cut yourself?
Jeremiah 16:5–7 (NKJV)
5 For thus says the Lord: “Do not enter the house of mourning, nor go to lament or bemoan them; for I have taken away My peace from this people,” says the Lord, “lovingkindness and mercies. 6 Both the great and the small shall die in this land. They shall not be buried; neither shall men lament for them, cut themselves, nor make themselves bald for them. 7 Nor shall men break bread in mourning for them, to comfort them for the dead; nor shall men give them the cup of consolation to drink for their father or their mother.
Homer’s Odyssey states;
‘Shedding tears and hair awards honor to the dead’.
In history we have Persians cutting off their hair and that of their animals at the death of a leader. Pre-Islamic Arabs deposited their hair at revered tombs.
Jacob Milgrom writes;
(Leviticus Vol 2. P 1802)
The purpose of cutting hair for the dead is most likely the same as that of the well-attested donation of hair to the sanctuary. Since hair continues to grow throughout life, it was considered by the ancients to be the seat of a man’s vitality and life force, and in ritual it often served as his substitute. A bowl dating from the ninth century BCE found in a Cypriot Temple contains an inscription…indicating that it contained the hair of the donor. It was placed there as a ‘memorial’ to Astarte, as a permanent reminder to the goddess of the donor’s devotion.
The cutting of hair is also attested in later times in Babylonia, Syria, Greece, and Arabia.
Lucian’s work (On the Syrian Goddess) from the second century A.D states: ‘The men make an offering of their beards, while the young women let their locks grow from birth, and when they finally come to the temple, they cut them. When they have placed them in containers, some of silver and some of gold, they nail them up to the temple and they depart after each inscribes his name…’
The making of cuttings in the flesh, in the ancient world, served much the same purpose as the shedding of the hair. It too represented the ‘life force’ of the offerer and was sometimes shed at the altar as a symbol of offering their life to their gods.
Thus Israel’s laws stand in stark contrast to the Ancient World where the dead were revered and honored. In Ancient Israel, the dead had no place in the Tabernacle, no place amongst our worship, and no place amongst our priesthood.
One cannot help but be reminded of the Master’s words;
Luke 9:60 (NKJV)
60 Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and preach the kingdom of God.”
Are we really going to talk about whether this is about blokes having to grow a beard?
What really sets these words apart from the ancient world is that the call to be holy, which is the thrust of the text here for the priesthood, applies to the totality of Israel. Holiness, which stands on the foundation of life and is inherently opposed to death, is for all the children of Israel.
Allow me to explain further.
In chapter 19 of Leviticus, God ends a lot of his statements with ‘I am the Lord’, or, ‘I am the Lord your God…’ etc. In Leviticus 20 to 22 the closing words to God’s statement changes. He starts to end his statements with ‘I am the Lord who sanctifies you’ i.e. ‘I am the Lord who makes you holy’.
I’ll call these ‘God as sanctifier’ statements.
Notably, God says this to both the laity, of whom Leviticus 20 is addressed too, and He says the same to the priests in Leviticus 21 to 22 (which addresses also included the laity). Both have to work at holiness which was a concept foreign to the ancient world. Holiness was the work of priests only. In Israel, it was the work of the whole nation.
Scholars, who have studied the various nuances of the words here in Scripture make a subtle yet interesting distinction when God describes the holiness of the laity and the holiness of the priests. For the priesthood, it is that they are inherently holy i.e. they are made holy. Therefore, the priesthood’s mission within these verses is the maintenance of the holiness that God has already given them.
One way to see the innate holiness of the priests is that there are 5 times in the Scripture here were God sanctifies the priests; all of which are in negative contexts. Meaning, the verses for the priests don’t tell them how to achieve holiness, it tells them how they can lose their holiness. For example;
Leviticus 21:8 (NKJV)
8 Therefore you shall consecrate him, for he offers the bread of your God. He shall be holy to you, for I the Lord, who sanctify you, am holy.
Leviticus 21:15 (NKJV)
15 Nor shall he profane his posterity among his people, for I the Lord sanctify him.’ ”
Leviticus 21:23 (NKJV)
23 only he shall not go near the veil or approach the altar, because he has a defect, lest he profane My sanctuaries; for I the Lord sanctify them.’ ”
Leviticus 22:9 (NKJV)
9 ‘They shall therefore keep My ordinance, lest they bear sin for it and die thereby, if they profane it: I the Lord sanctify them.
Leviticus 22:15–16 (NKJV)
15 They shall not profane the holy offerings of the children of Israel, which they offer to the Lord, 16 or allow them to bear the guilt of trespass when they eat their holy offerings; for I the Lord sanctify them.’ ”
For the laity, holiness is not just a given. The language of God’s declarations of holiness for the laity indicates that holiness must be achieved by the laity; for the priesthood, holiness must be maintained.
Keep The Commandments
Now, how is it that priests maintain holiness and how is that the laity achieve holiness?
The ‘God as sanctifier’ verses answer the question;
Leviticus 20:7–8 (NKJV)
7 Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am the Lord your God. 8 And you shall keep My statutes, and perform them: I am the Lord who sanctifies you.
Leviticus 22:31–32 (NKJV)
31 “Therefore you shall keep My commandments, and perform them: I am the Lord. 32 You shall not profane My holy name, but I will be hallowed among the children of Israel. I am the Lord who sanctifies you,
Sure, there are plenty of specific examples on how to achieve holiness, but at the end of the day it comes down to keeping and observing God’s law. These things, which are both physical and spiritual, are that which truly set a man apart.
Priestly Holiness = National Effort
I want to make a point here on the structure of these ‘God as sanctifier’ verses. In Leviticus 20 – 23, God uses this phrase 7 times. There are other verses in here where God describes separating his people Israel out from the nations, but there is only 7 times where the specific phrase ‘I, the Lord God, sanctify them (or you)’.
The first and last are the ones said to all of Israel, the middle 5 are the ones directed to the priests. It’s quite interesting and intricate when you really get down to it. What’s fascinating to note though, not just with the structure of the chapters but how the laity are included in these things; is that it shows how holiness, of the priesthood as well, becomes the responsibility of the whole of Israel. The mystery of the priesthood is not just been revealed for us to know, it’s that the laity also have the responsibility of maintaining the holiness of the priests.
Notably, there is only one other time in Scripture where I can find the ‘God as sanctifier’ statement. It’s said in relation to the Sabbath;
Exodus 31:13 (NKJV)
13 “Speak also to the children of Israel, saying: ‘Surely My Sabbaths you shall keep, for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I am the Lord who sanctifies you.
(It actually also appears in Ezekiel 20:12 which is also describing the Sabbath).
If we understand the Sabbath correctly, in that it has an intimate connection to marriage, then we can understand that true holiness comes from our union with the One True God.
The Priestly Blemishes
Leviticus 21:17 (NKJV)
17 “Speak to Aaron, saying: ‘No man of your descendants in succeeding generations, who has any defect, may approach to offer the bread of his God.
Any priest who has a defect was not allowed to officiate within the Tabernacle. I think, with an understanding of the Tabernacle, it’s aversion to all things related to death, that it was the literal dwelling place of God etc. etc. helps us to accept what may otherwise seem a fairly harsh command. An understanding of purity, clean and unclean etc. also helps us rationalize and accept this command. Being fit for tabernacle service had requirements, if you didn’t meet them it didn’t reflect poorly on your character or anything like that, it just meant you weren’t able to participate in certain rituals. The temple was not a free for all.
The priestly blemishes though are an interesting little study and I’d like to point out a few things.
Firstly, chapter 21 includes restrictions and laws which are all observable to all of Israel. We can see if a priest has touched a corpse, the people know who a priest has married (and if he’s kept the command) and we can see with our eyes if a priest has any of these physical blemishes. It’s akin to the laws of kosher. The traits that make something acceptable or not are all clearly visible and observable to the eye. In fact, we know from Talmud that the priests were actually subject to an inspection as to their eligibility for the role. Those that were blemished could still perform jobs within the Temple; they could not however perform the sacrifices and various other rituals.
There’s an exception though in the list, there’s something which isn’t observable. It’s in the criteria listed in verse 20;
Leviticus 21:20 (NKJV)
20 or is a hunchback or a dwarf, or a man who has a defect in his eye, or eczema or scab, or is a eunuch.
The man who is an eunuch, or literally, has a crushed testicle.
You might giggle at the thought of just how exactly that topic was approached when assessing a priest’s eligibility for service, but it stands apart from the rest of the list in that it is not readily observable unlike all the other blemishes and commandments.
The answer as to why that requirement is in there is quite interesting.
To know what’s going on here we need to understand just how this chapter was structured; it’s quite genius.
The verses in question are;
Leviticus 21:17–21 (NKJV)
17 “Speak to Aaron, saying: ‘No man of your descendants in succeeding generations, who has any defect, may approach to offer the bread of his God. 18 For any man who has a defect shall not approach: a man blind or lame, who has a marred face or any limb too long, 19 a man who has a broken foot or broken hand, 20 or is a hunchback or a dwarf, or a man who has a defect in his eye, or eczema or scab, or is a eunuch. 21 No man of the descendants of Aaron the priest, who has a defect, shall come near to offer the offerings made by fire to the Lord. He has a defect; he shall not come near to offer the bread of his God.
Milgrom states ‘the many fine points in this sophisticated structure are almost too numerous to mention…’
A couple of the points regarding the structure include;
- It’s a chiastic structure. It begins with the opening phrase, ‘no man of your descendents etc.’ and closes with much the same ‘no man of the descendents…’
- The blemishes are listed in 3 groups; each starts with ‘no man…’ etc. and is followed by four blemishes equaling 12 blemishes in total. This is indicative of the fact that the blemishes are really categories of blemishes.
- The chiasm of these verses are interlocked with similar synonymous wording arranged chiastically
Milgrom, inspecting the text asks some questions;
- Why does the list blatantly ignore any moral blemishes which are surely more important?
- Why does it not include obvious physical blemishes such as deafness and muteness?
The answer, as agreed by many, is that the list of priestly blemishes was written to correspond with the list of blemishes for animals in Leviticus 22:22-24 which also has 12 blemishes. It’s not a perfect correspondence but one that scholars agree holds up upon inspection.
Therefore, it’s not that other blemishes aren’t included, it’s the fact that this list was written to equal the list of animal blemishes. For this reason it doesn’t include moral deficiencies per se, and in an ironic way it answers the question as to why the eunuch was also included in the list. When it comes to animals, as for sacrifices and even kosher, blemishes are observable, you can observe without trying to hard if an animal has been ‘crushed’ in that regard. Given that the priestly blemishes correspond to the animal blemishes, the eunuch was included.
So what’s the point?
One, the structure of the Torah speaks to the perfect intent of the writers. All the rest of the chapter is also written in an intricate manner, with chiastic structuring, with parallel verses and inversions that speak to absolute precision in the placement of every word.
What I want you to know though, and what I want to stress, is that the animal blemishes been described are specific to animals for sacrifice.
Therefore, the priests are been described in the same terms as an animal sacrifice.
Ring any bells?
1 Peter 1:13–23 (NKJV)
13 Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 14 as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; 15 but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”
17 And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear; 18 knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. 20 He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you 21 who through Him believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.
22 Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart, 23 having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever,
Hebrews 9:13–14 (NKJV)
13 For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, 14 how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without (blemish) to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
These are not new concepts; surely you can see how 1 Peter is drawing heavily from our Torah portion, even quoting ‘be holy, for I am holy’; confirming that holiness is achieved through obedience i.e. ‘purifying your souls in obeying the truth’ and likening Messiah, The Priest, as an animal sacrifice without blemish.
There’s nothing new in the New Testament.
So it stands yet again that the Torah is really written of Messiah.
In fact, because he is our Torah observant High Priest, it stands to reason that the laws regarding the purity of the priests and that of the High Priest teach us about the Messiah.
I think I’ll leave it for homework, but feel free to re-read the portion understanding that these laws impact on and inform us of the conduct of Messiah, our Priest. If the HP can’t be contaminated through corpses so can’t the Messiah etc. etc.
Sanctify The Name
The last thing I want to share with you today is regarding the name of God.
Our portion states;
Leviticus 22:31–32 (NKJV)
31 “Therefore you shall keep My commandments, and perform them: I am the Lord. 32 You shall not profane My holy name, but I will be hallowed among the children of Israel. I am the Lord who sanctifies you
It’s interesting because it’s written in the negative and the positive. So, don’t do certain things which profane His name, but also the name is ‘hallowed’ which indicates that we are to actively ‘hallow’ (or ‘sanctify’) the name of God.
It’s something that’s quite easy to do. The start of verse 31 tells us that keeping the commandments and obeying God is that which sanctifies His name.
When I first read that my mind instantly went on the attack with regard to the sacred name movement. Over and over and over again we see that sanctification speaks to the actions of the people and priesthood; physical actions that hallow the Name. Your conduct, how you live, how you love both God and fellow man, this is that which sanctifies.
The word ‘name’ in Hebrew is shem; spelled shin, mem. The word Nashama, which is soul, is spelled nun, shin, mem, hey. The word ‘soul’ has the word ‘name’ within it. When God breathed life into you, He put his name within you.
If you really want to believe that the sanctification or desecration of the name is a matter of ‘hoo’ or ‘ah’ or ‘hey’ then that’s up to you. It’s ridiculous, absurd, and it’s a horrible and demeaning belief system to impose on the Bible and on God. To limit the work of salvation to a codeword is obscene. Sure, the issue of pronunciation can be interesting, but it has no theological worth when it comes to your salvation and when it comes to how you should live a set apart life. The more I study, the more I see the sacred name movement as almost not even worth commenting on; their doctrine is worthless.
Attacks aside, the rabbinic dissertation to this verse is interesting and may help us understand the severity into which we are to understand these verses.
The sages have long said that from here we derive the understanding that man is to hallow the name of God by his life, and if need be, by his death.
My Soncino chumash states ‘the highest form of hallowing God is martyrdom; and Jewish law demands of every Israelite to surrender his life rather than by public apostasy desecrate the name of God.’
My chumash also states;
The Jewish martyrs of olden days, who bore witness to their God at the stake, are described as having yielded up their lives for sanctification of the Divine Name. Such testimony is within the power, and constitutes the duty of the Jew in these times also. If he is not called upon to die for the sanctification of the name, he has at least to live for it. His life must give glory to God and vindicate his God given religion.
Facing extinction in the times of the Romans, the sages did legislate and make examples where it would be permitted to commit certain sins or do certain things in order to avoid murder at the hands of the Romans. For example, in private, a Jew, if forced to, may commit certain sins such as being forced to eat non kosher, whereas if a Jew was been made a public spectacle of, then he would be expected in most circumstances to lay his life down. Some sins, such as murder or idolatry were never permitted and one must, at the pain of death, never transgress.
I want to re-read part of the chumash to you though. It says, ‘the Jewish martyrs of olden days…bore witness to their God at the stake…’
Rather than that, you can read it as they ‘bore witness to their God at the cross…’
The stake is a reference to crucifixion and many ‘sanctifications’ occurred due to many an Israelite’s refusal to abandon our God.
The point I’m trying to make should be obvious. Yeshua is the sanctification of God’s name.
To the point of death He refused to profane the name of God and to the point of death he hallowed His name.
Yeshua’s life and resurrection is the perfect example of how to sanctify the name of God.
The Sanctified Bride
It’s fascinating. Before I mentioned that the laws of the Priests apply to Messiah. We know that He, in order to perform His sanctification had to be a blemishless sacrifice as alluded to in our Torah Portion as with the priests who were likened to a perfect sacrifice.
Our portion also teaches us that He, our High Priest, is to marry a virgin from Israel, a bride without blemish. Yet how could this be when we look at the worthless rags of our own lives?
Ephesians tells us the answer.
Ephesians 5:25–30 (NKJV)
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, 26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, 27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. 28 So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. 30 For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones.
Messiah’s sanctification achieved not only sanctification of God’s name, but sanctification for His bride to live in unity with Him.
The Blemished Corpse
There’s one more ‘last thing’ I want to share with you.
As mentioned before, the priests are not allowed to be contaminated by a corpse. As Messiah is High Priest and Torah observant, we know these laws abide with him too.
Bear with me, for I think there’s a mystery being revealed in these verses that helps inform us regarding the resurrection.
Messiah cannot touch a corpse which is unclean; this speaks to Messiah not being with ‘unclean’ people when they die. I know people will say but when you die you’re in the spirit so blah blah it doesn’t matter that your corpse is technically unclean when you die (even if you’re a believer).
If you follow the verses though there’s an interesting little tid bit to learn.
Verse 4 - 6 of chapter 22 tells us the things which Priests cannot touch on pain of being rendered impure.
Leviticus 22:4–6 (NKJV)
4 ‘Whatever man of the descendants of Aaron, who is a leper or has a discharge, shall not eat the holy offerings until he is clean. And whoever touches anything made unclean by a corpse, or a man who has had an emission of semen, 5 or whoever touches any creeping thing by which he would be made unclean, or any person by whom he would become unclean, whatever his uncleanness may be—6 the person who has touched any such thing shall be unclean until evening, and shall not eat the holy offerings unless he washes his body with water.
The verse doesn’t actually mention that the priests, when officiating in the Temple, cannot touch a corpse. It’s quite notable that this is left out of the prohibitions. They can’t touch things rendered impure by a corpse (not speaking about the corpse itself), can’t touch ‘creeping things’ etc. but it doesn’t say a priest, when officiating, can’t touch a corpse.
This makes practical sense. The priests are the ones making sacrifices. So obviously, when they’ve killed an animal for sacrifice the beast is dead but this exception allows for the priests to continue working on the sacrifice’s corpse (burn it on the altar, divide it etc.) as required.
Outside the Temple, a priest is as unclean as you and I if they touch a corpse. Inside the Temple is the exception. Priests can handle the corpses of a sacrifice. The sacrifice does not render the priest unclean.
I say therefore that this informs us as to how we, in death, are to achieve unity with our God and Messiah. If you die a regular human, your body, you in a sense, are unclean and the Messiah our Priest cannot have any unity with you. If you present yourself as a sacrifice however, your death does not impart any kind of impurity and Messiah as priest can present you to God.
Death is an unclean process. Death is the underlying factor of all impurity. It makes sense that death makes impure, corrupts etc. etc.
The answer to going from life to life then is dying for our Master and presenting oneself as a living sacrifice. In doing so death does not corrupt, you go from life to life and you will never see corruption.
Romans 12:1 (NKJV)
12 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.