Devotional and Theological Thoughts on Leviticus

February 18, 2010 at 9:57 pm | Posted in Devotional thoughts, Theology | Leave a comment

I finished reading through Leviticus last week.  So many Christians struggle unexcitingly through this OT book, and many well-intended Bible readers get bogged down in it.  Here are some thoughts I jotted down this time through:

            First, Sin is sin – whether intentional or unintentional.  There are numerous instances in Leviticus where sacrifice is required for sins that are unintentional (4:27 and 5:15 for example).  That means we can sin in ways we don’t even know.  I remember, when we were in college ministry, hearing a talk from a person who believed a perfectionist theology – that we actually come to a point in our spiritual growth where we no longer sin.  He defined sin as only those things we intentionally do against God knowing they are wrong.  I struggled with these ideas at the time, but an interesting event convinced me how wrong this teaching is.  I had a job on game days that took me under the grandstands of the college football field before each game.  While walking down there, and pondering this matter, I came around a corner and saw a shapely cheerleader from behind, at that moment she bent over to tie her shoe, not knowing I was behind her, and revealed way too much of her attractive anatomy.  My mind immediately went every direction it should not have gone.  But it occurred to me, in that instant, that my lustful thoughts, though certainly not intentional, were very much sinful.  We all sin way more than we want to admit; sin affects every part of our being; and though we don’t choose it, it’s still always there; in this life we will never grow totally out of it.  That’s what the Reformers called total depravity.  It is, contrary to the perfectionist preachers, what the Bible clearly teaches.  Perfectionism would imply we can do it at least partly on our own, but Leviticus convinces us of our constant need for a savior.

            Second, we don’t have to do all these requirements to receive forgiveness of sins!  Aren’t you glad!  Every time wrong is done, a sacrifice is required, and the laws about what gets burned, or tossed out, or given to the priests, or eaten are very complicated.  Not only that, but those sacrifices are only good until the next time the person sins, which, in light of observation number one above, is not very long.  So they had to keep offering sacrifices year after year.  In Christ, we are forgiven, once and for all.  His sacrifice is effective for all time, thus I am forgiven of past and future sins!  Hebrews 9 and 10 give a great teaching on this matter:  “Christ did not enter a man-made sanctuary that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence.  Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own.  Then Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world.  But now he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself.” (9:24-26)  “Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins.  But when this priest (Jesus) had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, . . . because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.” (10:11-14)

            Third, Leviticus is about a God who is holy, and who wants his people to know him and be holy like he is.  It is not all about clean/unclean or right/wrong.  Next time you read this book, note how often God says, “I am the LORD,” or “I am the LORD your God.”  Though you’ll find them throughout the book, these expressions are especially thick in chapters 18-22.  Chapter 19 alone has 16 instances of these two phrases and also contains what I believe is the major theme verse of the book: “The LORD said to Moses, Speak to the entire assembly of Israel and say to them: “Be holy because I, the LORD your God, am holy.”’” (19:1-2;  see also 11:44-45, 20:7, 21:8, 22:32, etc.).  Hey guess what?  It’s all about God!

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