Did you skip reading the book of Leviticus?
If you’re following Mark Roberts’ 5 Day Bible reading program of the entire Bible, you’re nearing the end of 9 long days of reading Leviticus. Pretty exciting stuff, eh?
You’re getting detailed information about all kinds of sacrifices and offerings. Burnt offerings. Sin offerings. Meal offerings. Peace offerings. Trespass offerings.
You read about the special Jewish observances. Besides the familiar weekly Sabbath observance, there’s the Day of Atonement. The Passover. Pentecost. Feast of Tabernacles. Feast of Trumpets. The Sabbatical Year. And the Year of Jubilee. It’s filled with details about blood, guts and animal fat.
Then there’s the interesting information about the ritual for cleansing lepers. Laws concerning bodily discharges. Sores. A woman’s menstrual period. And the graphic description of perverted sexual practices.
What does it all mean? Why is it preserved for us today? What value is it to 21st century Christians?
Here are 3 lessons we learn from Leviticus.
(1) God’s commandments are important.
When Israel came to Mt. Sinai in Exodus 19 and Moses began receiving God’s law, there is a phrase repeated numerous times from then on throughout Leviticus. “As the Lord had commanded Moses.”
One day after reading that phrase about a dozen times, I turned to Norma Jean and said, “Do you think the Lord is making a point?”
Understanding the reasoning behind all of these statues and ordinances is for another time and better venue than this short post, but regardless of “why” it’s more important for us to know “who.” God said so. That settles it.
In every age from the Patriarchal period through the Mosaic dispensation to our modern Christian age, God has always demanded obedience. While grace and truth came through Christ Jesus, He did not dispense with commandments. And just allow us to live, work and worship as we individually please. Regardless of our culture’s “no absolutes” attitude.
Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commandments” (Jn 14:15). Furthermore, the apostle John writes that keeping God’s commandments is evidence that we really know and love Him. A failure to follow the commandments of Christ makes us liars and deniers of Truth (1 Jn. 2:3-6).
Leviticus clearly shouts, “God’s commandments must be respected and obeyed.
(2) God has a pattern for His people.
The detailed descriptions of the sacrifices, the tabernacle, and the Priests’ ministry and even their clothing, reminds us that God revealed a specific pattern He expected His people to follow.
Some today scoff at the idea of a pattern for the work, worship, and organization of the church. Yet, the Hebrew writer referred to this time period as a type and shadow of things to come. “For He said, “See that you make all things according to the pattern shown you on the mountain’” (Heb 8:5).
These explicit instructions serve as an example in form, figure, and fashion for Christians today to follow the New Testament pattern. Just as He expected Moses and Israel to comply with His divine design, so we are to emulate that example.
(3) God wants us to be holy.
The word “holy” is found 95 times in Leviticus. Holy things. Holy place. Holy name. Holy offerings. Holy Priests. Holy people.
“For I am the Lord your God. You shall, therefore, consecrate yourselves, and you shall be holy; for I am holy.” (Lev 11:44)
The word literally means “set apart or separate.” It is used in a moral sense in scripture. Christians are to be separated from sin. It means morally pure. Religiously right. Consecrated to God.
Just like Israel was to be different than the heathen nations and be morally pure, so are Christians to be unspotted from a sinful culture. He “saved us and called us with a holy calling.” We’re called “a holy nation.” “A holy priesthood.” And are commanded to “be holy in our conduct.”
While we don’t live under the Levitical laws that sound strange to us and we may find its reading laborious, the book offers divine principles worthy of our serious reflection.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman