As part of our Bble in one year project, we today conclude the book of Leviticus. It is possibly the least favourite book of the Bible for large numbers of Christians with its catalogue of sacrifices, laws, rituals that seem so totally alien to us and somewhat incomprehensible. But Leviticus is a fascinating book, true, the accounts of sacrifices can get rather tedious but it offers a penetrating insight into the pre-Christ context of the people of God and the rigorous efforts required to maintain some degree of purity to approach a holy God.
Indeed the book is all about the pursuit of holiness. The key verses repeatedly intone ‘be holy for I am holy’. It is that understanding that is key to chewing on this book. The root word for holiness comes up some 150 times in the book. Astounding! After the catastrophe of the fall, God found a man through whom to bring forth a people who would be a holy people, separate from the mess and morass in the wicked and idolatrous world surrounding them. Israel was a microcosm, a representation of humanity under God, through whom God would come to humanity in the Person of the Messiah.
There are many lessons to be learnt from Leviticus.
- The sacrifices served purposes of purification and atonement and typified the ultimate sacrifice of Christ.
- Laws were instituted to restrain the natural tendency to wickedness in man; to contain rather than eliminate the evil stirrings of the human heart, to regulate behavior in a context of extreme evil, before the sacrifice of Christ that would birth a new man, and a new heart.
- The primacy of worship in the feasts and holy days, the need for proper worship, the decorum and order required in the service of the Lord. The level of detail is astounding, everything matters. Clearly God has his own ideas of what He wants, in our generation men want to do God and do church as they will, neglecting the precepts of God. Yet the love of God is not a license to neglect the laws of God.
- We note the importance of purity, sexual and otherwise,the attention paid to the treatment of others;
- and shining through all is God’s abundant faithfulness and willingness to forgive sin.
Some of the laws appear to us stringent, some extremely permissive, most are done away with under the new covenant. What was true of Israel was now to be the lot of all humanity after Christ, the means changes but the purpose remains the same. All men are now able to come to God and walk in holiness; all men are now to be seen and treated as brothers insofar as Christ has made a way for us all to be in the one family of God.
As we read, we cannot but celebrate Christ, meditate on how in one fell swoop He in His Person fulfilled all the requirements of the Law and brought all into the inheritance of faith doing away with rigid observance of Law and drawing our hearts to worship with passion. In that, the entire Old Testament, and in particular this book of the law is the story of Jesus. And when you see Jesus in Leviticus, you are bound to love Leviticus. This Jesus…