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Leviticus is the first of the books of the Bible that I will NOT write a summary of each chapter as I’ve done with other books. I assumed that since I would write a “short” post for this book, it would be easy!!!! Boy, am I wrong! and rightly so. There’s nothing, nothing, written in the Bible that doesn’t have a purpose, that doesn’t have God’s stamp of approval, that was given by God Himself. That’s even true, especially so, for 27 chapters of different offerings, and what to do in the case of mold, and what kinds of food you can and cannot eat.
In 2 Timothy 3:16-17 Paul writes to Timothy,
All Scripture is God–breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
All scripture includes “all scripture” and this is so that we can be thoroughly equipped for all the work we have been asked to do by God.
This is the Word Origin and History for Leviticus (taken from the web). It is the third book of the Pentateuch, c.1400, from Late Latin Leviticus (liber), literally “book of the Levites,” from Greek to Leuitikon biblion, from Leuites, from Hebrew Lewi. Properly the part of the Pentateuch dealing with the function of the priests who were of the tribe of Levi (a portion ofthe tribe acted as assistants to the priests in the temple-worship). The Hebrew title is Torath Kohanim, literally “the law of the priests.” Related:Levite ; Levitical.
Leviticus’ purpose is to let the people know that they are to be different from the surrounding peoples , because the God of the Israelites, The I AM, The Eternal One, The Unchanging One, The God of gods, The Lord of lords, The Creator God, lives and dwells among them. They are to be holy because He Is Holy. They are to remember to worship Him in everything by keeping themselves clean.
This is seen in the fact that while there are laws for the priests and the Levites as a whole to keep and uphold, there are also laws for the common people to observe in their daily lives. What to wear (no clothing with two kinds of material), what to eat, how to look for mold in buildings, what to grow (no two kinds of seeds in the same field), how to live sexually and morally pure lives ( and commandments on what to do when those laws are broken). These commandments and laws give the Israelites guidance for their whole lives, not just a compartmentalized portion regarding religion.
That’s the way God wants us to be. Worshiping Him, separating ourselves from the world, honouring Him, being zealous for Him, our whole life, not just on Sunday mornings and maybe Wednesday evenings. He wants us to remember Him while we are cleaning bathrooms, changing diapers, cooking, doing groceries, talking to our neighbours, picking up after the children (or pets). He wants to be holy for He Is Holy in our work lives, in our thoughts, in our interactions with those who make our lives hard. He wants to be separate from the worldly culture, their values, their permissions, their tolerance in what we watch, what we wear, what we do when no one’s looking, what we read, what we write.
He wants all of us. He is a Jealous God. He will not share His Glory with another.
This sometimes is hard for me (actually this is hard for me all the time!). Why on earth would I want to give Him control of everything? Surely my thoughts can be mine right? What about the books that I read?, that’s just leisure time activity , that doesn’t have anything to do with God right? Who thinks of God in the midst of changing diapers? I do frequently have these thoughts, and in that moment (moments) I give Him control. I take them captive for Him. I argue with myself, and then tell God, I meant it, completely, totally, unashamedly , when I accepted Him as my Lord. He is Lord even when I am bored, worried, busy, upset, in pain, bitter, angry, resentful, joyful, glad, rested, having fun, at leisure. There is nothing, nothing, that I am choosing to keep away from Him. Though I still have to remind myself of that 🙂
Anyway coming back to Leviticus, that was what God wanted His people to realize. He did not give them these laws to burden them. He wanted them to set themselves apart for Him. He wanted to live and behave and worship differently from those around them. He wanted to sanctify and consecrate them to Himself.
Some of the things in Leviticus that I want to draw your attention to are
- The Levites had no inheritance apart from the Lord, so He provided for them. He allowed the priests, their families, and the Levites in general to eat certain offerings, while they had to burn others completely. In His graciousness, He even asked the people to add salt to the grain offerings before bringing them to the Lord 🙂 ( salt to add taste and flavor and that can be used as a preservative to keep the food from spoiling. In the NT , Jesus tells us His people , that we are salt and light in the world. We make a pathway in the darkness for others to see. We add flavor to the taste of this world. We are a preservative. As long as we are in the world, we hold the forces of darkness at bay, when we are taken, evil will have a free hand to wreak havoc with no restraint .
- . The Lord chose the Israelites as a nation out of all the nations to be His people. He then chose the Levites to carry out His work and care for the Tabernacle (later the Temple) and all the utensils associated with it. He chose Aaron’s family and his descendants to serve before Him as priests. He had very specific laws for their consecration and service. While Aaron and his 4 sons had been consecrated to the Lord and were in the Tabernacle and worshipping Him, two sons Nadab and Abihu offered unauthorized fire to the Lord and immediately fire from the Lord consumed them . They were consecrated to the Lord, but they couldn’t do whatever they wished. He is Holy and must be revered and respected and honored.
- . God gave them specific laws about the animals they could eat and the ones they couldn’t. I think He did this , for them to distinguish themselves from the neighbouring nations (they probably ate all these creatures or offered them in sacrifice to their gods ). This particular separation would become more and more entrenched in the people’s lives , and future generations would come to take pride in the clean and unclean animals, almost to the point that they would associate people who ate unclean animals as unclean people by the time that Jesus came to earth. God would later send a vision, three times, to Peter of unclean animals brought down to him to eat from Heaven. Peter vehemently decries this, but God tells him, “not to call anything unclean that He has created”. This vision will give Peter the assurance needed to go to the gentiles ( he goes to Cornelius’ house right after this) and to give his blessing to Paul as he ends up ministering to the gentiles later on. I am so thankful that God chose me even before I was born to be grafted into The Vine and abide in Him. Aren’t you?
I’ve had Leviticus on the audio Bible running almost all the time for the past several weeks. I did find my mind wandering at times. I did make up different rules in my head at times. But as I cautioned myself then, I’ll like to caution you now as well. If there are sections in the Bible you don’t like/ don’t want to agree with/ wish it was different, please take it to the Lord. He will and can show you what you want to know, if you ask Him. Sometimes He will give you understanding while you are alive. Sometimes He may not. But everything, everything, God says and does has a purpose. Just because I can’t understand or like it doesn’t make it any less true.
He is a Holy God, Jealous of our affections for other things, even other people. Jealous for us. He deserves to be first in our love, and when He is, everything else falls into place, when He isn’t, life gets difficult to say the least.
Will you make Him first in your life? Will you come back to your first love? Will you revere Him and glorify Him? Will you live as if He is in the room with you? Leviticus is definitely a hard book to read, but may I encourage you to do at least once? And please share what you’ve learnt about Him with me.
Blessings to you and yours,