How on Earth do I Read Leviticus?

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My Bible reading plan is in Leviticus right now, and I have to say, it has been tough sledding thus far.  Genesis is filled with great stories, and Exodus starts out with a bang.  Even in the midst of the discussion on the tabernacle, there are occasional stories for us to read.  But in Leviticus, the reader is faced with rule upon rule upon rule.

As good Christians, we recognize the importance of Leviticus–after all, it is a part of Scripture.  But how does one read it for edification?  A few thoughts:

1.  Recognize the Value of Leviticus.

First, when one reads Leviticus they must recognize that God has ordained its place in the canon for a reason.  As hard as it may seem for us today, Paul had Leviticus in mind when writing to Timothy, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16).  In order to get something out of a reading of Leviticus, one must recognize that God has given us this book for a reason.

2.  The Seriousness of Approaching a Holy God.

When I asked my wife the other day how her reading of Leviticus was going, the first thing she commented on was the frequent repetition of “I am the LORD.”  All of these rules laid out in Leviticus are based in the nature of God.  As a sinful and holy people, there is a massive, impassible chasm between humanity and the perfect God.  Every law given to the Israelite people is to show them that if they are going to approach a holy God, they must do it his way.

3.  The Gracious Nature of God.

In spite of the serious nature of approaching God, grace is offered in Leviticus, shown in two ways.  Number one: the fact that there is even a book of Leviticus shows the gracious nature of God.  The rules that God gives may be strict, but there didn’t have to be any rules.  And we should praise God for that.

Number two: God meets people where they are at.   Throughout Leviticus, God gives the rules on what to sacrifice in certain situations.  But if one was too poor for a lamb or other expensive offering, alternatives are given (cf. Lev. 5:7ff).  God has serious expectations for his people, but these expectations are not meant to exclude anyone in the community.

4.  The Significance of Christ’s Work on Our Behalf.

Perhaps most striking and notable during the reading of Leviticus is how clearly it shows Christ’s work on our behalf.  It is because of the work of Christ that we do not have to fulfill the laws of Leviticus in order to worship God.

I pray that these four tips for reading Leviticus will help you in your own reading of this God-breathed book.

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