Congratulations on making it to week 5 of our Bible reading plan! This week we are entering into many people's least favorite sections of the the Bible, the section that has wrecked so many Bible reading commitments! It is the ceremonial laws given to Moses about the work of the Tribe of Levi, the Levitical priesthood.
I wanted to use this week's blog entry to share some reflections that I personally like to keep in mind, that help me as I read through this section of the Bible.
Sometimes the rules that are given to the Levites simply don't make a lot of sense to me. For instance, why is a new mother's period of ceremonial uncleanness longer if she gives birth to a girl? It doesn't make sense because I cannot think of a possible reason why a rule like that would be necessary. I bring this up because it calls our attention to an important observation about authority.
God gives his rules and regulations to Israel under the foundation principle that he is God, and they are his people. We have just seen God demonstrate and reveal himself to his people in amazing ways all throughout the book of Exodus. When God tells his people to worship him in a particular way, his people's response is not, "why do we have to do this?" or, "what is the practical benefit of doing it this way?" Rather, their response must be, "we will do everything you have commanded us!"
While we as New Testament Christians are not required to obey all of these same rules, the example of the Old Testament Israelites is instructive for us as it calls attention to our own humility (or lack of) as displayed in our willingness to submit to God's authority in our lives.
The book of Hebrews explains that without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness. The animal sacrifices of Leviticus seem very out of date with pretty much all of our modern day sensibilities. It feels like it is going too far, but at the same time, our modern sensibilities often make an equal an opposite error in assuming that time heals all wounds. The requirement of shed blood communicates to us that wrongdoing does not simply disappear with time, it must be dealt with.
Our wrongdoing is not only against one another, it is also against God. And our wrongdoing was so great that only the shed blood of the Son of God was enough to deal with it. So when we read about the sacrifices, let us remember the reason why these sacrifices are no longer required of God's people.
Yom Kippur - The Day of Atonement
Leviticus is not without passages that take your breath away! This week's readings include chapter 16, which is the explanation for how to celebrate the Day of Atonement. Where many passages in the Old Testament hint at, or point to, Jesus, passages like this one shout his name from the rooftop! We don't celebrate merely the Day of Atonement, rather, the atonement of Jesus defines our very existence as a people! Enjoy this passage and revel in the wonder of the gospel!
Bible Project Resources
Day 29 - Exodus 35-40 - https://bibleproject.com/explore/video/character-of-god-compassion/
Day 30 - Leviticus 1-4 - https://bibleproject.com/explore/video/character-of-god-grace/
Day 31 - Leviticus 5-7 - https://bibleproject.com/explore/video/slow-to-anger/
Day 32 - Leviticus 8-10 - https://bibleproject.com/explore/video/loyal-love/
Day 33 - Leviticus 11-13 - https://bibleproject.com/explore/video/faithful/
Day 34 - Leviticus 14-15 - https://bibleproject.com/explore/video/law/
Day 35 - Leviticus 16-18 - https://bibleproject.com/explore/video/reading-biblical-law/