No outsider shall eat the holy offering; one who dwells with the priest, or a hired servant, shall not eat the holy thing. (Leviticus 22:10)
In the Sanctuary, anything that was considered holy could not be used for any common purpose. For instance, the shovels and pans used to gather the coals from the altar could not be taken out of the Sanctuary to be used to do the same thing for someone’s campfire. Holy things were used for holy (set apart) purposes. This included the food that was set aside for the priests to eat; if it was deemed holy, it could only be eaten in a holy place and only by those who were called to a holy purpose. Therefore, no one outside of the priesthood was permitted to eat these particular foods.
Many centuries later, the intent of this instruction was challenged when David and his men, hungry from days of travel and evading Saul, approached the priest, Abimelech, asking him for bread to eat. The only bread available was the shewbread and, of course, was to be eaten only by priests. However, having determined that it was a life or death situation, Abimelech gave the bread to him.
Centuries later, when Yeshua was confronted about His disciples gathering and eating grain on the Sabbath (Luke 6), He referred to this event and made this point: preservation of life takes precedent over most other commands. In fact, the preservation of life is not to be regarded as a common purpose but a holy one. In other words, the God who gave the Torah to Moses is about life and all of His commands reflect that. Yes, He is holy and requires that His people walk in holiness and here is why — because walking in holiness doesn’t result in death, it leads to life.
While it is true that to walk in holiness requires a death of sorts — a death to our own will and desire — that death puts us on the one and only road that leads to life. It is typical (and unfortunate) for us to look at some of these commands, such as the one above, and see them in a negative light. The reality is, however, that everything God instructs has a purpose and we can always be confident that, in the end, it is about life. Dying to one’s self isn’t always easy but it is necessary if we want to truly live. If you’re willing to lose your life for His sake, then you’re well on your way to finding the benefits of abundant life.
Blessings and Shalom,