Leviticus: Ugh

Members and friends of SSFBC who are participating in God’s Word for God’s People, you have entered into the book of Leviticus. This is the territory in which Bible reading enthusiasm often sputters and dies in the vast land of laws and instructions.

I’m here to help. Let’s turn your “ugh” into “amen.”

I want to provide a perspective that will put pep into your Bible reading step.

Think about this!

The 27 chapters of Leviticus contain more direct speech by God than any other book in the Bible! Want to hear from God? Read Leviticus!

Leviticus is also a part of the Torah (also known as the Pentateuch or the Books of Moses), which is the foundation for the entirety of the Bible. If you know the Torah, you will better understand the rest of the Bible.

What do laws addressed to an ancient culture have for modern Christians?

Leviticus often results in sentiments of “ugh” because it is heavy on laws designed to regulate a worship system that is peculiar to us. The rules seem unnecessary and the meanings are not obvious.

Perhaps we need to be reminded that “All Scripture is God-breathed and useful for teaching, rebuking, and correction and training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). For the Apostle Paul, “All Scripture” included Leviticus. The same should be true of us.

Understanding ritual bathing and cleansing in the Old Testament enhances our comprehension of baptism in the New Testament.

Understanding the passover of the Old Testament enhances our comprehension of the Lord’s Supper in the New Testament.

Understanding the sacrificial system of the Old Testament enhances our comprehension of the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus upon the cross in the New Testament.

Can I just skip it?

Of course, you can. No one can stop you. But I urge you to put in the effort.

Leviticus highlights the holiness of God and presence of God. Through God’s presence with Israel, we see the holiness which God’s presence both affirms and demands. Leviticus reveals God’s desire for his people to live in a holy relationship. Israel’s holiness is a direct act of God’s grace demonstrated at Mount Sinai (Exodus 19) when he called them to be his people and into a convent relationship.

Israel’s worship was a living illustration of the saving grace of God.

Give me a bit more.

Ok. Here.

Leviticus shows us that our greatest need is not an abstract doctrine of God, but an experience of his presence. That’s much more than law and instructions!

Ronald Clements says, “The knowledge of God is not an idea to be sought after but a fellowship to be lived out in daily life. This imposes its own costly demands upon us in calling us to obedience and worship. The endeavor to fulfill these demands shows that men cannot in themselves win the battle against uncleanness and sin, but they remain dependent upon God’s grace in providing a way of atonement”.

Or you could say: Leviticus points us to the cross.

*This perspective comes largely from reading Roy Gane’s introduction to Leviticus in his Leviticus and Numbers commentary in The NIV Application Commentary.

* Clements quote comes from his Leviticus introduction in the Broadman Bible Commentary Volume 2.

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