Key Verse: “You shall be holy to me, for I the Lord am holy, and have separated you from the peoples, that you should be mine (Leviticus 20:26).
Leviticus often gets a bad rap. A few weeks ago I heard it referenced on a local Christian music radio station. The DJ suggested reading Leviticus to be a dry, unhelpful endeavor. Instead, he argued, sign up for the station’s daily life verse and this quick hit was sure to instantly improve your devotional life.
I understand the heart behind the comment, but often, an emotional appeal falls short when it lacks substance and wisdom. Every single word of Scripture is the Word of God. 2 Timothy 3:16 tells us that all Scripture is breathed out by God. God has given it to us because He has determined that we need it. Here are a few truths to help guide your approach to Leviticus.
- Context is everything. Exodus ends with the completion of the tabernacle. Exodus 40:34-35 tells us that the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle, and yet no one, not even Moses, was allowed to enter it. When you then read the book that follows Leviticus, the first words of Numbers reads, “The Lord spoke to Moses in the tent of meeting (Numbers 1:1). So what changes? Leviticus, with all of its ceremonial and moral laws, shows us that a gracious God has made a way for us to enter into His presence. God is different from us, but He is not distant. In our sinfulness we do not deserve for God to be near to us, but in His extravagant grace, He is!
- Unintentional sin matters. As we read verses like Leviticus 4:2, we are reminded of the holiness of God. So much of the sacrificial system was built on the unintentional sin of God’s people. It is almost inconceivable to think that God’s people, knowing who God is, would ever intentionally or willfully sin against Him. I visited these verses with my girls around the table the next morning, because there are times when I discipline them they respond, “But daddy, I forgot.” Just because we forget, or sin unintentionally, doesn’t mean we are not guilty for breaking God’s law. In fact, one of the ways we honor the Lord the most is to remember what He instructs.
- God has given each of us immense value and worth. As you read of the sacrificial system, you will be struck by God’s care for all people, regardless of how wealthy they might be. If you can afford to sacrifice a bull or a goat, God expects it. If you cannot afford such a pricey sacrifice, two turtledoves suffice. If you cannot afford the birds, you can afford the grain offering. God has made a way for anyone to approach him, as long as we do so in the way He has defined and provided.
- The better you understand the sacrificial system of Leviticus, the more you appreciate and value the sacrifice of Jesus. I could write an entire blog on this topic and not exhaust its significance. Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness (Hebrews 9:22). The sin offering (which removes the penalty of sin), the retribution offering (which satisfies God’s wrath against sin), and the fellowship offering (which ends the separation caused by sin), were all fulfilled for ever more in the finished work of Jesus.
- A life of obedience requires that we repent (change). So much of the law in Leviticus keeps us from the infectious effect of death. You are made unclean by touching that which is connected to death. As we practice social distance and alter the way we live, we are seeking to stop a virus that brings death. What a metaphor of a life of obedience. As we comply to healthcare professionals’ counsel, we are protected. Many times over and infinitely more effective is the protection we find in Christ. Let’s live not according to our own way of thinking, but rather, let’s live according to God’s design.
I hope these truths help as you journey through Leviticus. May the Lord richly bless the time you spend in His Word!