I'll probably catch a lot of flack for this post.
I finished reading what for many people is the most difficult book in the bible to read. I understand that. Leviticus is full of laws and sacrifices. It’s redundant. It discusses issues that are uncomfortable. By today’s standards it’s considered backwards and the focus of ridicule for it’s narrow-minded ideology. After reading the action packed books of Genesis and Exodus it is a huge down when one starts reading Leviticus.
To my surprise I enjoyed Leviticus.
I think it’s because I can read it now and understand it in its context. I didn’t get bogged down in the laws and sacrifices. I focused on the structure and reasoning behind the laws and sacrifices. What I wound up learning was an understanding of what God finds important. I also got better insight on how God continued to build a great nation.
Let’s RecapGenesis is the story of God promising Abraham to bless him as a nation. God leads Abraham to an area that is promised to him and his descendants. After three generations Abraham’s descendants are no longer in that area and wind up in Egypt. Exodus is the story of Abraham’s descendants being enslaved and delivered by God through Moses. Exodus ends with Moses on the mountaintop getting the system of laws that God will use to rule over his people.
Leviticus is the book of those laws. I think this is kinda cool. I believe the bible is divinely inspired but not in a direct way. What I mean by that is I don’t believe someone sat down with pen and paper and God said, “Here buddy! Write this down word for word.” I think Leviticus is the exception. It’s different because Moses was on the mountaintop and God did say, “Moses, write this down!” Think about that. If you’re one of those people who reads Leviticus and thinks it’s backwards and insensitive to today’s enlightened post-modern tolerant culture of love an acceptance, well you think God is a judgmental bigot. Way to go! Pat yourself on the back and receive a free Starbucks coupon.
Sign of the TimesGod wanted his people to be separate and distinct from the other inhabitants of the land of Canaan. He wanted them to follow and worship Him. He wanted the nation of Israel to live lives pleasing to Him and He would bless them accordingly. The laws in Leviticus give insight into what God is pleased with.
I found some things sad. There are some things that I would think would be common sense. No sex with dead bodies. No sex with animals. No sacrificing your children to false gods. Those seem like no brainers to me. Not so much during the time of Moses.
Nation Building and the Seriousness of SinLeviticus is a book of laws. It’s a social contract between God and his people. It’s a constitution. Within its pages are the penalties for disobedience and the requirements for productive God pleasing interaction between him and each Israelite.
You can break up Leviticus into a number of categories. I will mention the ones that stood out.
1. Treatment of bodily fluids and handling of dead animals – the cleanliness laws.
2. Business agreements – payment and penalty for destroyed property and servants
3. Sin offerings – requirements determined by economic status.
The cleanliness laws are the ones that most people would be uncomfortable with. How many people want to read about menstrual cycles our male ejaculation? The business agreements are mostly compensatory requirements for damaged property. Slaves/servants and the conduct towards them are also discussed. Sin offerings are interesting because of how they are dealt with. If you are wealthy you are required to sacrifice your best. If you are middle-class then you must do the same but of a lesser more affordable animal. If you are poor you are to sacrifice two birds. The required birds are affordable. The result is that there would be no excuse for anyone to not be able to take care of his or her responsibilities to God.
Focus on the FamilyThis is the thing that stuck out the most to me in Leviticus. There is a level of penalty. For example, being labeled unclean for a certain amount of time, compensating someone for damaged property, being banished from the nation for violating certain laws and the most extreme penalty being execution.
I did a study of the laws involving execution and interestingly enough, about ninety percent of the capital punishment laws involved interaction of the family.
God considered the treatment of the family so important that disobedience meant execution.
How many of us take our families and our responsibilities to our family that serious?
This struck me as powerful. I’m not going to get on a soapbox regarding this. I just wanted to share and hopefully make whoever reads this think.
How important is your family? Is your family important enough to die for?
Politically IncorrectThere are a few things that stuck out to me in Leviticus that are contrary to some modern political thought. It’s these items that both sides of the political spectrum like to overlook. Most of the time these issues are dismissed, saying that Leviticus is backwards and an old document written thousands of years ago. We’re more enlightened now. I’ll share the anti-right issues first.
There is clear evidence of a social safety net in Leviticus. God commands the Israelites when they pick their crops to leave some behind so the poor are able to take care of themselves. As I have mentioned earlier God decreed sacrifices and that certain sacrifices were commanded by economic status. Consider this a progressive sin tax system.
I believe God is green. I don’t know if he believes in global warming but God definitely believes in conservation and taking care of the land. He had laws regarding the treatment of animals. Farmers were to cultivate the land for a certain amount of years and then take a year off to rest the land. Conserving and storing food was important.
Kinda goes against the libertarian view of government today doesn’t it? Think about it? In Leviticus God is president and the white house is the tabernacle!
What the left overlooks.
God believes in capital punishment. I had some issues with this, as I do not. I still feel that as a Christian I would not want to be in a place to decide the fate of a person’s life. But I believe God allows governments the right to exact whatever punishment the feel necessary for the violation of their laws.
God frowns upon homosexuality. This is one of those things God punished with death. As I stated earlier God took the family relationship extremely serious. I know way too many people who try do dance around this.
I will end with an issue that both sides of the political spectrum have problems with. That being the family structure.
You can argue that homosexuality is an abomination towards God but if you have unruly children then you are an abomination also. You can scream about how gays are destroying the sanctity of marriage but when your churches are full of divorced and remarried families, some two or three times, you are the ones who destroy the sanctity of marriage.
God’s people are called to be separate and distinct from the world. The world should know us by our love. We should be examples of loving productive Godly relationships. When we miss the mark then we are no better than the Israelites who intermarried with the other nations and worshiped other gods.
ConclusionI don’t mean to judge. Everyone has a story and a set of circumstances as to why they are where they are in life.
I know people who have been married two or three times.
I know people who struggle with emotions regarding the same sex.
I know people who neglect their kids.
I know kids who rebel and speak ill of their parents.
My prayer for them is that wherever they are in life that they would not look at Leviticus as a weapon to justify or condemn a person for the way they live.
Leviticus is no longer a list of laws and penalties but a glimpse into the mind of God and what God considers productive and pleasing ways to live our lives.
He will meet us wherever we are involved in whatever we are doing.
The law has not been abolished but fulfilled.
You don’t have to be stoned.
You don’t have to offer a ram, goat or dove as a sacrifice.
The penalty and sacrifice has already been paid through the blood of Jesus Christ.