Let me begin by saying that I am in no way a biblical scholar. I am just a woman trying to draw nearer to the Lord and hopefully gain some wisdom and insight from His teachings. Before you accept what I write here as fact or debunk it as fiction, read God’s word for yourself. Because I can only write about what God is teaching me. And I can only hope to inspire you to read The Word yourself by sharing what I’ve learned with you. Remember, I am sharing with you my perspective that is limited by the fact that I am imperfect in my faith and still have so much to learn. Only God can inspire true, eternal, understanding in your heat. That being said, I hope you do enjoy what you’re about to read!
Leviticus. Arguably the hardest book in the Old Testament or let’s face it, the whole Bible itself, to read. It is ridiculous. Seriously ridiculous.
Ridiculously good that is. I just finished it this morning you see, and even though it took me over an hour to read the last 5 pages, I am in awe. Honestly, that’s an understatement. I don’t even know what I am because I can’t really put words to how I feel right now. But I’m going to try my hardest.
First things first, there is a HUGE misconception that what’s written in Leviticus doesn’t matter in today’s world. That its out of date and out of touch. This is being spoken in both the secular community and the Christian community. Its heartbreaking.
Three years ago I took a Biblical Literature class and my professor, a self proclaimed born again Christian, began the class by saying that the words of Leviticus had absolutely nothing to do with us. That we could gain nothing from the teachings of the Old Testament and that as far as the pursuit of actual knowledge goes, we were better off just reading the New Testament. That the Old Testament should be read as one would read a story book.
Needless to say, I was livid. I left that class in tears. I called one of my pastors and begged him for guidance because while I didn’t know why I was so angry but I knew that this professor was wrong. Dead wrong. After meeting with my pastor I had a bit of clarity and a whole lot more sound biblical teaching to back up my feelings and I brought that to class with me every day.
Now, after reading Leviticus, I would like to go take that class again. If only to convince some of the students to read the books of the Old Testament themselves and come to their own conclusion. Which I guarantee will not be that this book, or any book in the Old Testament is outdated or not applicable to our lives today.
Reading Leviticus has opened the door for God to show me something beautiful. Believe it or not, the beauty is in the rituals themselves. The very acts God asked the Israelites to perform, the intricate detail with which He laid everything out to them, the meaning they held for the people, and the parallels that be drawn between these rituals and our own faith journeys today. They are a magnificent reminder that God knew exactly what His people needed. They are a powerful illustration of His love for them, in that He went into such detail providing for their needs.
Because they did not dwell in the spirit then as we do now. Their lives were more focused on the physical manifestation of faith and worship. But more often than not, as is the way of all people, their efforts fell flat and they were easily distracted and led astray. So God provided them with the best way possible to physically express their faith and devotion to the Lord.
The Israelites needed constant reminders of what God had done for them and how they in turn should serve Him and show Hi their gratitude. Much the same as we do now.
So God laid it out for them lovingly and carefully. In every explicit, extreme, beautifully detailed word of the book of Leviticus.
He reminded them to put Him first: Lev. 23:14
To stay devoted to Him without distraction: Lev. 22:29
To rest and be refilled by Him: Lev. 23:3
To care for those who had less than they: Lev. 23:22
To give Him their very best, not their leftovers: Lev. 1,2,3,4 etc…
And to come before Him regularly: Lev. 24:4
Over and over and over again He reminded them to be holy, to strive to keep His commandments, and to love Him because He was the one, true, sovereign Lord. I don’t know about you but I am one that needs this constant reminder just as much, if not more, than the Israelites did.
You see, these customs and rituals that God describes for the Israelites and teaches them how to participate in are not washed out or meaningless in any way shape or form. There is still so much we can learn from them if we take the time. They were a way for the people of that time to put their faith into action like they never had before. They were a way for them to draw closer to God even in their most sinful of times. A way for them to show Him their love and devotion. And in return, a way for Him to return that love and devotion. He knew without a doubt that this is hat they needed, the constant reminder and illustration so that they would not lose sight of Him.
He also knew that we need the same thing today. We fall short just as they did, we lose sight just as they did, we need it spelled out for us just as they did, and if its even possible, we need Him now more than ever. There’s a reason that most Bible reading plans have you read the Old Testament and The Gospels at the same time. To show us that we are no different! That we need to learn the same hard lessons.
That is why God did what He did when He gave us Jesus. Not to do away with the law in the way we think of it, but to perfectly embody and fulfill the law! Because we were never going to be able to do it. Never. We just don’t have it in us on our own. Left to our own devices we will fall short every time. If you don’t believe me read about King David.
So God gave us Jesus. To atone for our sins, to make the sacrifice we never would be able to, and to teach us a more perfect way to display our faith, draw nearer to God, and dedicate ourselves to Him. He gave us the most perfect Lamb. He perfectly illustrates God’s love for us. He wiped the slate clean for us once and for all.
Jesus was and is the physical manifestation of every single act, sacrifice, and ritual laid out for the Israelites in Leviticus. The perfect culmination of all these things. You see, its not that we don’t need the law anymore, or that the law was old and worn out; its that we needed God to step in, to take mercy on us, and show us a way back to Him. Our sins were so great and we had fallen so far from grace that we needed that ultimate sacrificial lamb.
Once again, God knew exactly what we need. He didn’t make a mistake, He knew it all along, and His timing was perfect. So now we have not only a constant, physical illustration of love and sacrifice; but a spiritual embodiment to help us stay the course. To fill us with conviction when we need it, to remind us of His all consuming love, and to keep us forever wrapped up in His comforting embrace.
So next time you hear someone say that the law of the Old Testament doesn’t apply to us anymore remember; it was never something trite or ritualistic, never worn out or outdated; it was exactly what the people needed at the time. God knew this and He gave it to them.That makes it oh so beautiful.
And now it has been fulfilled in the most perfect of ways. It is not in the Bible on accident. We can’t just skip it because its hard, as much as we may want to. Because yes it still does apply to us if not in the most literal interpretation of every single word then in the most basic meaning of the principles its teaches us about.
Even Jesus himself says that he did not come to do away with the Law but to perfectly fulfill it. And if we are to strive to be more like Him in every way then shouldn’t we begin by learning exactly what it was that He came to show us? How can we do that if we don’t read this book?
Yes, its hard to read, but it is so totally worth it. Now His sacrifice and His teachings have taken on even more meaning and significance to me in a way I never thought possible. I guarantee the same can be said for anyone else who takes the time to read it.
After reading Leviticus all I can say is wow. I am completely in awe of your love for us. Thank you for this word Father. For using this word to reveal your character and for helping me to discern the lessons you needed to teach me through it. For voicing to me all of the things that my heart needed to hear. Thank you for not letting me give up on reading it. There is so much good in this book; thank you for revealing it to me. I am blown away. I am in awe of you Lord.