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Oh Leviticus

January 31, 2011

Why do people have such a hard time reading through this book?  Is it because they see it has just a book filled with archaic rules and regulations?  Or because they think it does not apply to them? Or that it has nothing to offer them?  Or that it is boring and there are no stories or action sequences?

I’m not saying that reading through the book of Leviticus is easy, but I do think it has a lot more to offer than most people would give it credit.  Take for instance chapters 16 and 17 in which we come to understand the nature of the sacrifice and why the blood of that sacrifice is so important.  The New Testament abounds with references to what Christ has done for us on the cross and what his blood accomplished.  But there has to be a foundation upon which this is based and we see that foundation being created in Exodus and Leviticus.  In Exodus 12:13 God says, “and when I see the blood, I will pass over you.”

In the book, The Normal Christian Life, Watchman Nee spends the entire first chapter dealing with the issue of the blood of Christ.  He states

In Leviticus 16 we find that on the Day of Atonement the blood was taken from the sin offering and brought into the Most Holy Place and there sprinkled before the Lord seven Times…But the Lord commanded that no man should enter the tabernacle itself except the high priest.  It was he alone who took the blood and, going into the Most Holy Place, sprinkled it there to make atonement before the Lord. Why? Because the high priest was a type of the Lord Jesus in his redemptive work (Hebrews 9:11-12), and so, in figure, he was the one who did the work.  None but he could even draw near to enter in.  Moreover, connected with his going in there was but one act, namely, the presenting of the blood to God as something he had accepted, something in which he could find satisfaction. (8)

And then

There is life in the Blood, and the Blood has to be poured out for me, for my sins.  God is the One who requires it to be so. God is the One who demands that the Blood be presented, in order to satisfy is own righteousness, and it is he who says: “When I see the blood, I will pass over you.” The Blood of Christ wholly satisfies God. (9)

And finally

Now the whole trouble with us is that we are trying to sense it [the blood]; we are trying to feel its value and to estimate subjectively what the Blood is for us.  We cannot do it; it does not work that way. The Blood is first for God to see.  We then have to accept God’s valuation of it.  In doing so we shall find our salvation.  If instead we try to come to a valuation by way of our feelings we get nothing; we remind in darkness.  No, it is a matter of faith in God’s Word.  We have to believe that the Blood is precious to God because he says it is so (1 Peter 1:18-19). (10)

It was God who decided that blood would be the payment for sin.  It was God who decided blood would be enough to satisfy his wrath.  He choose it and because of that we can rest in the fact that it is enough.  How freeing is that?

I also think that it is interesting that God uses the phrase “I am the Lord” no less than 49 times in a book that is only 27 chapters long.  21 of those times he adds the words “your God” to the end of that sentence.  “I am the Lord your God.”  I think that is a fairly significant statement, which is only heightened by the number of times it is used.

Eight times this phrase it tacked onto the end of a statement such as “You shall follow my rules and keep my statutes and walk in them.”  I think he is trying to get a point across and it is a point that is valid for us just as much as it was valid for the Israelites.  That point is that he is God and he has put rules and statutes in place for our well being and we would be wise to obey.

Also, five times God says a statement to the effect of “be holy for I am holy.”  His call to walk in his statutes is a call to be holy.  It is a call to be more like him and his son.  It is a call to be set apart from those around us.

It is also a call to freedom.

I know that may sound weird, how can giving us a bunch of rules and regulations to follow equate to freedom?  But that is exactly what it does.  By following the guidelines that God has set in place for the life of the believer we freed from the bondage that sin has had over us and we are free to live a fully alive life (as Erwin McManus would say) in Christ.

So, the next time you are reading the Bible and you find yourself in a section that seems boring, tedious, or not written for you, step back and see the big picture and realize that there is a rhyme and reason for everything that has been included.  If you need to, get yourself a really good study Bible (I really like the ESV Study Bible) or get a book that discusses the themes and backgrounds of the Bible and each book in it.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. February 1, 2011 9:55 pm

    When Rob Bell started his church, his first sermon series was preaching through Leviticus

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