Leviticus is an incredibly intimidating book of the Bible. There is a reason most people drop their Bible reading plans once they reach this book. If we do make it through reading it, we are typically left with many questions, like: Why is there so much blood? Or Aren’t these rules all outdated?
But God included this book in His inspired Word, therefore we can assume it has something to teach us. It takes many multi-volume commentaries and books to thoroughly answer all of the specific questions related to Leviticus, but it all starts with opening up the book and reading it.
Four reasons we should read and study the book of Leviticus
1. Leviticus reveals the magnitude of God’s holiness.
God is a holy being—so full of life and goodness that it is impossible for sin and death to be in His presence without being destroyed. Humans could once walk with God in the garden of Eden. But after sin entered into the world, humans were corrupted by sin and death and could no longer be in God’s presence. The intense detail and specificity of the levitical laws reveals how holy—set apart, and wholly other—God really is. It forces us to come face to face with our inadequacy and inability to meet the requirements of being in His presence.
2. Leviticus reveals God’s desire to be with His people.
Even though humans are now corrupted by sin and death, God still desires a relationship with us. The whole biblical story shows us God’s persistence in providing for and redeeming His people in spite of their sin. Leviticus is no different. The Israelites had just come out of Egypt. The Egyptians had their own gods, and believed them to be powerful and vindictive beings who desired them to please them, and would punish them if they failed to do so. But the Egyptians had no way of knowing what their gods wanted. The God of the Israelites—the one true God—was not like that! He loved His people and desired them to truly know Him and experience His life and goodness. Leviticus was God’s way of providing for the Israelites. He knew they could not be in His presence in their sinful and impure state, so He gave them very specific instructions of what was necessary to be with Him. As we read through the laws, we ought to read them as a revelation of God’s heart for His people and His desire for them to experience the life and goodness that only comes from His presence.
3. Leviticus helps make sense of Jesus’s sacrifice.
The focus of Leviticus is the priesthood and offerings. As we read through the complicated and specific instructions, we see a pattern of the priests taking an offering and sacrificing it on behalf of the people. This is seen most clearly in Leviticus 16, where the priest presents an atoning offering on behalf of all of the people’s sins once a year. The New Testament uses this same framework to explain what Jesus accomplished through His death, resurrection, and ascension. He is the High Priest who presents the offering to God that atones for humanity’s sin, but He Himself is also the offering. Reading Leviticus helps us make better sense of why Hebrews 10:19 tells us that “we have boldness to enter the sanctuary through the blood of Jesus.”
4. Leviticus provides a framework for what it means to be holy.
While most of the specific commands in Leviticus have to do with the requirements for being in God’s presence, which were indeed fulfilled by Jesus’s sacrifice, there is one command God repeats several times at the end of Leviticus (19:2, 20:7, 20:26, 21:8), which is quoted in the New Testament (1 Peter 1:16). God tells the people that they should be holy, because He is holy, meaning they should be like Him. While the details of the levitical laws may not all apply to us today, the heart behind them does: God is a holy God, therefore as His people, we ought to be holy—set apart, full of life and goodness. Jesus provides a way for us to actually achieve holiness. By placing our faith in Him, we get to taste the benefits of His sacrifice and receive His Spirit who works in us to make us holy—to make us more like Him.
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