Here we go again…
I remember trying to read through the Bible multiple times over the past several years. I do well with Genesis and Exodus. The story is somewhat easy to follow and keeps my attention. Then comes…Leviticus.
If you are reading the Bible through this year, reading through chronologically with me, or with another group, you may be having the same difficulty and asking yourself: What is the point of all of these laws? Do I have to follow all of them? Isn’t God being picky?
I am writing to tell you today, don’t get lost in Leviticus.
As with many other confusing portions of the Bible, you have to look at this book within the context of the time it was written.
I am not writing off the Ten Commandments. I am not telling you not to worry about Old Testament Law.
Let’s think about who these people are and why God would be giving very specific laws related to worship, sacrifice, festivals, the tabernacle, etc.
Here is a quick summary: The people of Israel are the descendants of Jacob and his twelve sons. They lived in Egypt because of the famine on their land. Joseph brought his family to Egypt to provide for them. Eventually, the Israelites grew so large the Pharaoh was threatened so he enslaved them. Four hundred years later Moses arrived on the scene to deliver them from their slavery.
The key to understanding Leviticus is in the space between the books of Genesis and Exodus within 400 years. The people of Israel spent 400 years immersed in another culture with another religion drastically different from the faith of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Every law given by God to Moses and the Israelites in the wilderness was meant to undo the culture and religion ingrained in them for 400 years. The laws of Leviticus were given to the Levi priests over the tabernacle and the people of Israel. God’s main goal was holiness. He wanted his children to be the complete opposite of where they came from, set apart, and different.
The Egyptian religion was a part of their daily life. They believed multiple gods controlled every part of their lives. As children, we studied the gods as mythology, but the Egyptians spent their lives appeasing the gods to keep the peace, order, gain help, and have protection. These were gods that never came into the presence of the people. They remained in their invisible realm as the Egyptians exhausted themselves to keep the gods happy.
God wanted his children to change that lifestyle. He didn’t want the people to appease him. He wanted an actual trusting, loving relationship with them. He wanted to be in their presence, but they had to know and understand who they were dealing with.
God gave the Israelites instructions on sacrifices, festivals, and the tabernacle because their previous experience was so corrupt. They were dealing with a much different God.
God also had to address the “picky” sins. He had to emphasize the importance of their relationships with one another, pointing out their sin. God is serious about sin and anything that makes keeps you enslaved is sin. He released them from physical bondage by making them physically pack up and go. He also had to release them from their spiritual bondage, but they had to pack up their sin and selfish desires to focus on a holy God.
Constantly striving to live free from the bondage of 400 years of sin sounds like an exhausting process. God gave the Israelites weekly practices like the Sabbath, to help them rest and keep them focused on resting in His presence. He also gave them regular festivals and holy days to observe, again giving them guardrails to keep them on the path to freedom.
Fast forward 1400 years…God gave us a way for our sins to be eternally forgiven along with a permanent way to stay on track, his son, Jesus Christ. The animal sacrifices in Leviticus ended with the ultimate sacrifice of God’s son. Once and for all, Jesus is the final atonement for our sins (making us right before God). His death and resurrection also gave us another gift, the Holy Spirit. Admission of sin, believing in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for your sin, and confessing Jesus is the Son of God allows for the Holy Spirit to come into your life and help you walk daily in a relationship with God. You will get distracted and fail, but the payment for that sin has already been made, you do not have to be enslaved by it.
So, as you read through Leviticus, don’t get lost. Use it as a time of prayer, asking God to point out the sin and bondage in your own life. What are you enslaved to? Are you walking toward God’s holiness or focused on your desires? The sacrifice has already been made. Ask the Holy Spirit to guard your heart and keep you on the right path toward holiness.
Spending time on the 600 Levitical laws will make you want to give up reading God’s word because it appears boring and unrelatable! Ask God to help you relate it to your life. Don’t get lost in Leviticus.
P.S. You can read more about becoming a follower of Christ, here .