The Dwelling of God in the Community (Leviticus 1-10)
The purpose of sacrifice was not merely to remedy occasional lapses of purity. The Hebrew verb for “offering” a sacrifice means literally to “bring (it) near.” Bringing a sacrifice near to the sanctuary brought the worshipper near to God. The worshipper’s individual degree of misbehavior was not the main issue. The pollution caused by impurity is the consequence of the entire community, comprised of the relative few who have committed either brazen or inadvertent sins together with the silent majority that has allowed the wicked to flourish in their midst. The people as a whole bear collective responsibility for corrupting society and thus giving God legitimate reason to depart his sanctuary, an event tantamount to destruction of the nation. Drawing near to God is still the aim of those who call Jesus "Emmanuel" (“God with us”). The dwelling of God with his people is a serious matter indeed.
Christians in their workplaces should look beyond finding godly tips for finding whatever the world defines as “success.” Being aware that God is holy and that he desires to dwell at the center of our lives changes our orientation from success to holiness, whatever work God has called us to do. This does not mean doing religious activities at work, but doing all our work as God would have us do it. Work is not primarily a way to enjoy the fruit of our labor, but a way to experience God’s presence. Just as Israel’s sacrifices were a “pleasing odor” to the Lord (Lev. 1:9 and sixteen other instances), Paul called Christians to “lead lives worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him” (Col. 1:10), “for we are the aroma of Christ to God” (2 Cor. 2:15).
What might result if we walked through our workplaces and asked the fundamental question, “How could this be a place for God’s holy presence?” Does our workplace encourage people to express the best of what God has given them? Is it a place characterized by the fair treatment of all? Does it protect workers from harm? Does it produce goods and services that help the community to thrive more fully?
Jacob Milgrom, Leviticus: A Book of Ritual and Ethics, A Continental Commentary (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2004), 15.