Click Here to Love Leviticus
As we prepare to go overseas to help with Bible translation, I wanted to share with you a bit of my heart. I love reading God's Word. I am eager to understand it because it teaches me about God's character. Knowing who God is helps me know who I am. Jack and I are so passionate about making God known through Scripture, and we are so thankful for the opportunity to bring Scripture to people in Western Africa who have never been able to read it in their language. What a privilege!
I love reading the Old Testament. Truly, I love it. I am fascinated by the stories and I love seeing the "backstory" to everything that happens in the New Testament. I love seeing the themes and patterns emerge that help us understand the story, as well as the many ways that prove that Christ is who we have been waiting for!!!
Which brings me to... Leviticus! I have read this book in one sitting more than once because I love to see the whole picture at one time. (Side note, I'd highly encourage you to read entire books at a time. It's worth it!)
Can I share what I've learned in Leviticus this week?
Psalm 119:18 says "Open my eyes that I may behold wondrous things out of your law."
This is my prayer when I open Scripture because I need the Holy Spirit to open my eyes to understand what God is communicating.
At first glance, I see that Leviticus is an explanation of the Law and instructions for the priests. There are various offerings described (in all their gory beauty) and even instructions for how to make atonement for a "leprous disease in a house" (mold, maybe?). A lot of it is confusing and a lot of it is strange. BUT, there is more!
There are shadows of redemption that will play themselves out later in Christ. There are promised blessings for obedience and prophesied punishment for disobedience (specifically 70 years in exile!). Over and over, we see God keeping His promises and providing for His people.
But wait, there's more!
This is my favorite part so far... As I got to chapter 18, I started to see a pattern of repeated phrases. After many of the laws, or rules, there was a simple phrase declaring the identity and character of God: "I am the LORD your God".
After reading a few more chapters and seeing this pattern continue A LOT, I decided to start highlighting. Every time I saw God state who He was or an aspect of His character, I highlighted.
It happens 45 times between the beginning of chapter 18 and end of the book. Perhaps you should take a look (with highlighter in hand) for yourself! For me, it changed the whole point of the book of Leviticus!
Here's what I saw: Leviticus is not primarily a book of rules for the Israelites to follow. I believe that Leviticus is primarily a book of God's character, faithfulness, and holiness. In following the rules, they are an image of God to the world.
Let me explain. You might as well get out a Bible, because this gets good!
Let me point out a few:
19:2 "...You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy."
We've all heard this one before, but do you see it? The Israelites image God in the world by being like Him: holy.
19:33-37 "When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong... You shall do no wrong in judgement, in measures of length or weight, or quantity... I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt... I am the LORD."
Do you see it? The Israelites were sojourners in Egypt and God took care of them, protected them, and rescued them. As they treat outsiders with kindness and love, they image the God who brought them out of slavery.
20:24-25 "... I am the LORD your God, who has separated you from the peoples. You shall therefore separate the clean beast from the unclean..."
The Old Testament is FULL of rules about what is clean and what is unclean. Since we don't live under these laws anymore, they seemed arbitrary and strange to me (anyone else??). But don't you see how separating clean from unclean is a picture of what God did for His people? He separated them and they are now a picture to neighboring nations of their God's holiness.
23:42-43 (An explanation of the Feast of Booths) "You shall dwell in booths for seven days. All native Israelites shall dwell in booths, that your generations may know that I made the people of Israel dwell in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God."
I love this one. So many times in Scripture, I see God giving His people tangible ways to remember and model His faithfulness.
So no, these are not merely rules to live by. They are pictures of God's character.
In the New Testament, we have many different ways to image God's character to the people around us. To me, Leviticus sheds light on passages such as Colossians 3. We are to be characterized by holiness, compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, patience, love, harmony, and unity.
But, we don't pursue those because we're told to follow those rules. Rather, we do it to be a picture of our God and His character to others.
I am so thankful for all the truth that I have learned through the study of Scripture. God has been faithful to not allow His Word to return void. And now, we get to share that for the first time with people in Africa.
What a privilege!
Thanks so much for reading our blog and keeping up with our story!
We are passionate about Scripture and being used by God to translate His Word into languages who have never had it. Please follow us on our journey!