If I said “Think of an exciting book of the bible”, what would you think of? 1 or 2 Kings perhaps? (Lots of exciting stories about David in there!) perhaps Daniel? (The fiery furnace springs to mind as an exciting story!) or perhaps even Revelation? (Stories with dragons are always popular!)
I’m not sure which book you would pick but I’m pretty sure I know which book you wouldn’t pick – Leviticus! (Cue cricket noises). I hope that after you’ve read this article you will also find Leviticus exciting!
Leviticus excites me because.....it shows God’s love for us!
Everything in the Bible is there for a purpose, the content of each book is not arbitrarily thrown together. With Leviticus there is a purpose behind all the laws – part of that purpose is to show that God is holy and pure and we are not. That is a problem but because God loves us, He comes up with a solution.
Instead of God going away and leaving the Israelites to wallow in their sin, He commands that His special place – the Tabernacle – is put right in the middle of the Israelites settlement - God puts Himself in the midst of the people of Israel. This is still God’s attitude today – He is with us in the midst of our sin and rebellion, our pain and suffering – He is not a distant, uncaring God – He is involved with us as a father would be involved with his children!
God is loving and He is there in the midst of the Israelite’s mess but He is also holy and holiness and unholiness cannot go together. This was illustrated through laws that addressed things that were related to death – blood, disease, etc - death and life are opposites just as holiness and unholiness are opposites. It is like when you hold two magnets the wrong way around; they naturally repel each other!
This was a big problem for the Israelites but God, in His love, came up with a solution. He came up with a series of symbolic laws that would purify the Israelites so that they could be in relationship with God. However like a band-aid on a stab wound this was not enough, more was needed and we see that in the person of Jesus!
Leviticus excites me because.....it points towards to Jesus!
The entire Old Testament is filled with road signs pointing to the coming of the Messiah – Jesus! In Leviticus as we see all the sacrifices and how they are only a temporary fix to the problem. We are meant to think about how the Israelites needed something better – If only they didn’t need so many rituals to approach God!
If only anyone could approach God and not just the priests! The killing of the sacrificial animals was meant to be a shocking and grief-filled event that drove home what a terrible thing sin was and how that someone (or animal) had to die as the substitute so that the sinner would not die! Paul in Hebrews Chapter 10 verses 1-4 says:
“The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming—not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. Otherwise, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins. But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins. It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.”
Hebrews Chapter 10 is a wonderful description of how Jesus is the fulfilment of the Levitical law and how He is the ultimate sacrifice!
Leviticus excites me because.....it tells the gospel!
At our church we do an evangelistic course called ‘Christianity Explored’ which takes people through the gospel of Mark, we don’t introduce people to Christianity with Leviticus, yet in it we do still see that people are sinful and that it is a problem. That we are separated from God and we need something done to fix that.
God is holy and perfect, and we are not. God loves us and came down to be with us in our sin and sorrow. We see the death of an innocent is needed so that we can be forgiven. These are the pillars of the gospel – sin, death, salvation, forgiveness! We see that we need to listen to God and accept His means of salvation. Between the lines of all the complex and somewhat confusing laws lies the glorious message of the gospel!
These are the reasons Leviticus excites me! At first it may seem like a dry book of regulations but when you delve in deeper and with the incredible blessings of the Holy Spirit and faithful Christian preachers you can discover that it is every bit as awe inspiring as battles, fiery furnaces, and dragons – and if you’d ask me – even more so!
Jessica McPherson lives with her best friend and husband, Eoin and their family of rescue animals in Christchurch. She loves reading, writing, photography and scrapbooking but most of all sharing God’s love and truth with a hurting world. Jessica is particularly passionate about encouraging children and building them up in gospel truth. Jessica was the 2018 NZ Basil Sellers Award winner.
Jessica McPherson’s previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/jessica-mcpherson.html