Blog 365 · Whispers of Faith

Three Lessons Found from Lingering in Leviticus

If you were to ask someone what the most boring book of the Bible is, you might be told quickly that it’s Leviticus – if there are those who have even attempted to read through it. Some may have abandoned it, finding that verses upon verses about ancient, inapplicable laws are simply too overwhelming. Others may have just skipped over it altogether, going straight to the juicier parts of Judges and 1 Samuel.

I remember as a kid, when I was doing my little Precious Moments Bible “Read the Bible in a Year” plan, I dreaded these pages of the Old Testament because I simply couldn’t make sense of them. I slogged through them nonetheless, solely because I liked checking the boxes in my plan, but my heart was certainly not gripped by the gravity of what was actually in these pages of Scripture.

It wasn’t until I got much older that I realized what beauty could be found in the pages of Leviticus if one began peeling back the layers to the deeper meaning behind the words.

Would you believe me if I told you it’s the perfect place to go to be prompted to worship Christ more fully, be convicted of one’s sins, and see God’s holiness more completely? Bear with me for just a few moments, and perhaps I can articulate some of the lessons I’ve gleaned from lingering in Leviticus these past couple of weeks.

1. Leviticus Paints a Stunning Portrait of the Need for Christ
You won’t read Leviticus for very long before feeling overwhelmed by the numerous requirements that the Jews had in their tabernacle worship. It’s exhausting just reading about the number of sacrifices that had to be made, and leaves one feeling defeated about the human inability to ever make things completely right between God and man.

That was entirely on purpose. There is no human ability to ever make things right between God and man. Studying the Old Testament sacrificial system can only cause our hearts to grow more desperate for the only One who could forever fulfill its requirements – Christ Jesus.

When you read all of Scripture through the lens of it pointing to Christ, every part suddenly gains more significance. Reading the duties of the High Priest on the Day of Atonement makes the parallel picture of Christ as our High Priest more beautiful – because with His death and resurrection, He officially ended the last Day of Atonement.

Worshipping Him for this great sacrifice is the only natural response – for what a relief that we don’t have to do all that Leviticus once required anymore!

2. Leviticus Convicts our Hearts and Compels Us to Repentance
Repenting of sin isn’t exactly a popular topic among Christian circles. Talking about how wonderful it is to be forgiven is far more popular. Yet just because we are thankful for Christ’s sacrifice does not mean that we should forget that we still need to confess, repent, and turn away from our sins on a daily basis.

The sacrificial system of Leviticus was intended to keep the Israelites far more conscious of their sin and how often they needed to repent. Chapter 4 is devoted entirely to unintentional sin. There are no excuses in God’s book – sin is sin. Atonement still has to be made whether the sin was intentional or not. The phrase repeated throughout the passage was “when they (or he or she) becomes aware of the sin …” The Israelites were held to the expectation that they would be made aware of their sin and take proper steps to repent and turn from it.

I admit that I can quickly fall out of the habit of confessing and repenting of my sin. I tend to feel the guilt and the desire to “do better” next time, but I don’t discipline myself to actually confess it to God as wrong and ask for His strength to turn away from it. Relying too much on “forever forgiven” can make me view my sin less seriously instead of seeing it as God does – as odious and wicked and the means of severing my relationship with Him.

Instead of approaching it as a ritual, though – something to “get off my chest” (which is what the Israelites often did in their tumultuous history through the OT) – I need to approach confession and repentance as an intimate means of growing closer to my Abba. I will only grow in my relationship with Him if I turn away from my sin with daily diligence.

3. Leviticus Reminds Us of God’s All-Consuming Holiness
The holiness of God is so far beyond anything we can imagine or grasp, yet we often treat it as a common thing. We don’t guard our hearts and thinking as closely as we should, and we are careless with our words.

Yet in Leviticus 10, Nadab and Abihu were struck dead because they did not honor God’s holiness as they should have.

It’s not a lightweight matter – the subject of a joke or a small piece of this thing called Christianity. No, the holiness of God is the whole reason Leviticus was written. It’s the whole reason why Christ had to die for our filthy sins. We are utterly the opposite of everything God is in His holiness – yet because He desires us to be in relationship with Him and to make us holy, He sent Christ to make it possible.

He says in 11:44, “I am the Lord your God; consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am holy.”

God does not compromise on His standards of perfection and holiness. Such standards demand worship and reverence, not an attitude of flippancy and carelessness. When we read Leviticus, our minds are opened just a little bit more to the depths of such perfect holiness and the awe that we should rightly have that He would ever stoop to allow us into His presence.

I fully admit, Leviticus is still not a light read. It requires concentration and a lot of prayer to have the right mindset going into it – and a lot of prayer that God would open our eyes to the treasures in store for us there.

But if we linger over the chapters and savor the words, soon they will change before our eyes from dull, textbook commands to the means for a deeper, more intimate walk with Christ. He cares about every detail of our lives. He did then and He does now. He knows our human hearts better than we ever will – and when we wander off the path (as Leviticus is prone to remind us we do in hundreds of ways!), Christ is so faithful to bring us back to Him. He is our perfect High Priest.

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