Let’s be honest. Most of us either dread reading Leviticus in our Bible reading plans or skip over it altogether. The book comes across as legalistic or out of touch with our reality, given that we have never had to obey kosher or purification laws. Many Christians struggle with whether we have to follow any of the laws in Leviticus, and if so, which ones and why.
But let me encourage all of us this month to read through this book, believing we can actually read it with great joy. How might you ask? By reading through it with Christ in view.
The first seven chapters of the book are full of specific details for the various kinds of offerings and sacrifices. Both the intricate details and the repetitiveness of the language often lull us sleep. But what if that is the point? The writer of Hebrews 10:11 says, “Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins.” The sacrifices had to be offered day after day after day after day, but even when the priests obeyed these guidelines perfectly each day, these sacrifices could never take away the sins of the people. It was a broken system.
That is until Jesus came who, “Offered up for all time one sacrifice for sins (Heb. 10:12).” His one sacrifice paid the penalty once and for all, and there was no more need for the Levitical sacrificial system. So as we’re tempted to be lulled to sleep by these first few chapters, let us instead be joyful and thankful that Jesus has paid for our sins, and freed us from the broken sacrificial system.
Secondly, Jesus replaces the OT priesthood that we see explain in chapters 8-10. Therefore, instead of accessing God through a priest, we now have direct access to the Father on behalf of Jesus Christ (Heb. 4:14-16). So as we read these chapters let us be joyful and thankful that we can take our joys, sorrows, and anxieties to the Lord any time of day or night.
Thirdly, Jesus cleanses us from all of our uncleanliness that we see in chapters 11-15. We no longer have to worry about which foods to eat and which ones not to, nor have to remain distant from God whenever we are sick or bleeding. So as we read these chapters, let us be thankful and joyful that Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross has cleansed us from all of our sin, enabling us to have continual fellowship with a holy God.
Finally, let these three great truths move us to worship. The good news of what God has done for us through Jesus should cause us to want to live holy lives. I believe we are often quick to dismiss many Old Testament commands, including those found in Leviticus 18-22. But let us not forget the overarching principle that we are called to be holy, just as God is holy (1 Pet. 1:15). The good news for us as we read this section of Leviticus is that because of what Jesus has done for us, we actually can obey the commands of God with the new heart God has given us. So these commands should not feel like a burden, but rather as a gift of grace to make us more like Christ.
The good news of what God has done should also lead us to take time to worship Him. While I do not believe we are called to celebrate many of the feasts outlined in Leviticus 23-25, I do believe God calls us to take time regularly to rest and remember His goodness to us. So as we read these chapters, let them cause us to rejoice and be thankful for quiet times, and worship gatherings, and holidays which God has given us to rest and remember Him.
Church, with these truths in mind, I pray that Leviticus would be a great joy for all of us as we read through it this month. May it grow our love for Jesus, and may that lead to a greater worship of God for us all!