Leviticus: The Forgotten Book of the Bible
Most Christians have at least made a small attempt to read through the Bible. Most of them have probably tried to do a sort of “read the Bible in a year” challenge or program. Naturally, you start at the beginning of the Bible. Things start of well as you begin with Adam and Eve and progress through Noah and Joseph and some other iconic Bible stories. Then you come to Exodus. Still some pretty awesome stuff going on here. My personal favorite is Moses and the plague of frogs. I do not know about you, but a plague of frogs actually sounds pretty dang awesome. However, after Exodus comes the hard part. Leviticus through Deuteronomy. Deuteronomy is not too terrible, but Leviticus is a very hard to get through (though Numbers, the following book, is just as hard if not worse). Part of the problem with Leviticus and these other books is that they seem so distant and irrelevant to us. Paul says in 2 Timothy 3:16 “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” But does Leviticus really fall into this category? It (and the books surrounding it) is boring and full of rules and, well, Numbers. Why do I care how many people were in each tribe way back them and what they had to do if they did this or that sin? We have Jesus now and he covers all that stuff in one easy (albeit heartfelt) prayer. Recently, I have begun to see why Leviticus may be more than meets the eye.
Leviticus has Zombies You read that right. Leviticus has zombies. I promise, they are in there. I am hesitant to provide the verse because it would be better for you to read through the book and find them yourself, but I know that all of you would just google it instead. However, I just tried to google “Zombies in Leviticus” and I actually did not see any relevant information in the first page. I did see a link to zombies found in Zephaniah, but that is for a different time. The reason it probably does not come up is because people do not usually associate zombies with the Bible (although there are people coming back from the dead in the Bible, they are not considered to be the living dead as they are actually no longer dead. It’s complicated). As you might have guessed, the Bible does not use the word Zombie at all. However, the Walking Dead may be a term that is more appropriate. All right, here is the passage in question.
Turns out, it’s the book of Numbers that has zombies. Not Leviticus. Whoops. I guess I wanted to have the zombies be in Leviticus to help make my point and support why you should read the book but I was wrong. Go read Number. There are zombies in there.
Leviticus shows why it is good that we are made in the image of God and not the other way around
The book of Leviticus, and really the entire Old Testament serves to show us who the person of God is. Perhaps more specifically who God the Father is. Most of the New Testament focuses on Jesus and perhaps a bit on the Holy Spirit. While God the Father is certainly present, it is more about what He did in sending His Son Jesus. The Old Testament shows us the person of God and His character.
Think about it this way – What would you do if you were God? Bruce Almighty gives us an example of what some people might do. However, consider going beyond this and beyond the selfish things that you might do first. Try to imagine if you were actually God, but still had your human feelings the way they are. You legitimately have to rule the universe and you are no longer a part of the earth as a human but are God. Personally, there is no way I would be described as a God of love. Instead, I would be a God of wrath. Benevolence? I think not. Instead of God of love I would be God of Sodom and Gomorrah. This is because as a human I want things to go my way. Well, so does God, but He allows people to make mistakes and find their own way to Him. He wants followers, not robot slaves.
The book of Leviticus focuses on giving the people ways to connect with God and restore their relationship with Him. They have lots of rules and protocols to follow whenever they mess something up. God may have promised never to flood the earth again and wipe all of humanity out, but He did not say that he was going to let things run rampant. After all, Sodom and Gomorrah came after the flood and he destroyed all the people in the city (except Lot who was deemed righteous). Leviticus (and a large chuck of the Old Testament) shows the extreme restorative nature of God. No matter how the Israelite’s messed up, God always provided a way back to Him. However, there were a number of times that God did give up on them and want to destroy them all, He allowed himself to be persuaded not to. God allows evil people to continue living with hope that they come around and accept his love. This is what Jesus was about. While there are a number of stories after Leviticus that shows God punishing the people with death, it is never an eradication of them as a nation. He is purging the evil from the land so that His followers have a good life. If I were God, there are plenty of times where I would have zapped a person or a group of people out of existence because they frustrated me so much. This is now how God works anymore. He forgives people millions of times no matter how evil they are. He loves them despite their infinite selfishness and ultimate stupidity. Leviticus may not be a very interesting read verse by verse, but as a whole it shows us how much God really cares about people and how far he will go out of his way to provide a way back to Him. God does not want to destroy people. He wants to see as many people as possible come to him and accept what Christ has done.
This is why it is good that we are only made in the image of God and not exactly like God. If God were exactly like us, I think there would be a lot more wrath and vengeance in the world. Leviticus was God recognizing that people were sinning and yet was still willing to love them anyway. Leviticus is God showing the people exactly how they were going to screw up before they even did. God is not saying if something happens, do this. He is saying when this happens, do this. Leviticus is a book that is best understood as a whole rather than by the parts that make it up. While knowing the big picture might help us to understand why Leviticus exists, it will still feel somewhat irrelevant to us in light of Jesus. This is okay. Another thing that Leviticus can remind us of is the things that we no longer have to worry about because of the death and resurrection of Christ. We do not have to remember the proper techniques to restore our relationship with God as the people in Leviticus had to. They had an entire clan of people (the Levites) who were dedicated to remembering these laws and helping people come back to God. Now, all we need to do is remember and accept what God did by sending his son. Thank God Leviticus is something of the past, but also thank God for being the person that loves without measure, and always provides a way back to him.
What about you? Is there anything that you have discovered in the book of Leviticus that stands out? Have you actually made it through Leviticus, or is this where you ended your “Bible in a year challenge?”