Michael’s Reflections on Leviticus

Teaching Leviticus has both been a huge challenge and privilege. I imagine that anyone who has read this book can understand the challenge of trying to teach this book, but I should give some context as to why it was also a privilege. In many ways, Leviticus was one of the books I studied on my SBS that, through a combination of great teaching and the use of the inductive method, went from being irrelevant to very relevant for me. As I prepared to teach this book, I felt a certain degree of pressure to do the same for the amazing group of students I get to teach. Simply put, this was the biggest challenge I’ve faced so far as staff on SBS.

Now that my teaching is done, I have time to stop and reflect. I was telling a student that even though I have finished teaching the book, I still don’t fully understand all of the details of the laws in Leviticus. All I can say for sure is what I see in the big picture of the book as I try to understand how it would have affected the original audience. Ultimately, I think that in attempting to keep all the laws prescribed by God in this book, the Israelites would see that God is holy. In contrast, they would also see just how stained with sin all of creation was – how stained with sin they were. God demanded dedication to holiness so that His holy presence could remain in the midst of a sinful people. Much of the focus was on remaining pure on the outside so as to resemble the purity of God in worship.

How does one apply this information to the church age following Jesus’ atoning sacrifice? One way is in seeing just how great a gift we have as worshipers of God: Jesus. The New Testament speaks over and over again about the fact that we cannot only boldly approach God because we are in Christ, but that the Spirit of God dwells inside of us in the same way that the presence of God dwelt in the Holy of Holies for the Israelites. What I have been wrestling with even more is the picture of dedication in the ceremonial laws. Jesus teaches in the gospels that God is not really interested in how clean we are on the outside, but how undefiled we are in our inner person. My question has been that if the Israelites had to be so dedicated to being outwardly clean, are we now to be as dedicated to keep the inner person pure? The way the inner person is truly cleansed is by faith in the sacrificial work of Jesus, but does that some how give us a free pass to reject the kind of dedication God called Israel to? I don’t think so. God is not any less holy now then He was then and as such, He still deserves a people who are holy. My challenge has been to consider the state of my heart as I enter times of worship; this truth has also challenged me to truly think about the words I sing. My hope is that I can come even mildly close to the level of dedication to God that He deserves.

If you are reading through the Bible with Helen, the next two books are Numbers and Deuteronomy. Reading both will take approximately five to six hours.


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