Monday, January 23, 2012

The Book of Leviticus

By Pastor Matt | January 22, 2012

In Leviticus we pick up three months after the Israelites deliverance from the grasp of Egyptian slavery and we find the emerging nation at the base of Mt. Sinai. They were a nomadic people in a barren land suddenly forced to live together, travel together, eat and sleep together as a people. For forty days the Lord dictated incredibly detailed law through Moses for His people. What follows is gruesome, bloody and often times downright weird. God laid out boundaries for His people. They needed guidelines for hygiene and health. Rules for worship and community. This was all new for them and God laid out a groundwork for His people to prosper. A practical "field guide" for community and worship.

First we recognize that God desires His people to be set apart. The Israelites were supposed to look different, act different, worship different, and spend their time in different ways than the nations around them. It was an integral part of their calling. Gods people were challenged to rise above easy conformity to carve out a culture of Godliness and health.

The manifestations aren’t quite the same, but Christians have the same calling today. To be the light of Jesus in a dark world, aliens and strangers in a place that so desperately wants us to think like they think, talk like they talk, and live like they live.

Once we understand this truth we soon realize we aren’t set apart enough. The law points out our insufficiencies. Even if the law were just a set of external rules, we still couldn’t keep them perfectly and then Jesus asks us to examine our hearts! That is a "whole 'nother can of worms"! We just can’t measure up to following the law or Christ’s example that has been set before us..

Leviticus still reminds us today that God is serious about community, serious about health (spiritually, physically, emotionally) and most of all serious about holiness. But the problem I always find with holiness is as soon as I try to be holy I soon become convinced it is impossible. There are too many rules. Too many stipulations. Too many layers to my brokenness and corruption. If you are anything like me we soon realize we need help! We need a Savior. Holiness is what God desires. But holiness is what we cannot achieve. That is why Jesus is everything to us. That is why everything we live, teach and preach boils down to grace.

Could it be that, in ignoring Leviticus as a whole today, we forget how awesome grace is? That somehow we forget we are the same lost group of people desperate for a new way to live, a new way to experience God, a new way to fulfill the desires of our hearts.

Only in Christ can we find rest from the law and a new identity that really sets us apart. Yes, the law is a good thing – it makes us realize how much Christ had to overcome on our behalf. Sure, we’ll still fall, but those failures should only remind us to run back to the grace of Jesus. How beautifully Christ not only supersedes the law, but fulfills all of its demands for us. This is what it means to be Christians. Not religious parrots strutting about in arrogance speaking of our own holiness but ugly, broken people who have been healed and restored by the power of grace, the power of the cross, the power of Jesus.

Daily Suggested Reading in Leviticus 1/23/12 - 1/28/12
Monday 1/23 - Leviticus 1-4
Tuesday 1/24 - Leviticus 5-8
Wednesday 1/25 - Leviticus 9-12
Thursday 1/26 - Leviticus 16-19
Friday 1/27 - Leviticus 20-23
Saturday 1/28 - Leviticus 24-27


becca said...


Lynne said...

I am working on reading through the Bible, and just finished Leviticus last night. Thank goodness for the footnotes in my Bible, seeing explanations of what in the world was going on....wave offerings? was so helpful. Wish my luck as I head into Numbers!

Lisa said...

I struggle with the OT part of the bible... I read it in NLT so I better understand what they are trying to say.