I Love Leviticus!

As with most years, this year - 2024 - many I know have decided to work on reading through the Bible within a year. By this time, most plans have probably got us finished with Leviticus. Also, as with most years, there is a bit of sighing and joking, indicating that we find a bit of burden and drudgery in working through it. It certainly is understandable. The material is mostly non-narrative and extremely foreign. It is repetitive. It's just flat weird.

Spill the blood here, sprinkle the blood there. Cut out organs and fat and arrange them just so. Dump the bowels outside of the camp - well, that one's not too foreign. Wring poor little birds' necks. Sheep, goats, bulls, birds, grain, flour, oil offerred in extremely meticulous ways. And in response to SO MANY situations. Cheating, stealing, lying, killing, touching dead things, menstruating, and - ahem - discharging of other bodily fluids. Disease, vows - whether proper or foolish, purification for priestly service, skin diseases, heck - even mildewy houses.

The procedures for the various sacrifices are so meticulous and require such precision in their execution. And don't perform them incorrectly. It could go very badly for you. I mean, I marvel at the situation when I think about being in the story. My dad is descended from some great great great grandfather of mine, Levi? Moses said, 'Hey, you guys - you sons of Aaron are priests and your family tribe are going to be the ones that take care of the tabernacle goings on.' Cool. Sounds like an honor. But then I hear the procedures. I hear the consequences for not following them. Then I see or hear about fire blazing from the Lord's presence and burning up Aaron's sons. Moses is saying things like 'Do or don't do XYZ, or you will die.' Any sense of distinction and honor in being part of this family is quickly overshadowed by thoughts like, 'Uh, can Reuben adopt me? You know, I think maybe making bricks without straw might not be THAT bad?' I have this picture in my head of a guy having to stand in a certain place for a very long time holding a thing in a very certain way with no flinching allowed, salty sweat dripping into his eyes, an insect landing on his nose. 'Can't flinch, can't flinch, can't flinch!' I'm freaked out of my mind!

But as I continue reading on and see how there are particular instructions & prohibitions on what can and can't be eaten, how to treat serious skin dieseases, quarantining and cleaning after childbirth, coming into contact with dead things, sex, and so on. From one perspective, it reads very much as a community health standards manual - how to steer clear of major sickness & disease, as well as ensure things aren't spread when someone does contract something. There has been a clear setting apart of these people. Now there is clearly an intention to perserve them. There would be no one to enter and occupy the promised land, I'm sure, if leprosy, major STDs, blood borne diseases, etc. weren't understood and managed.

Yahweh crafted a peculiar & unique society, shows Leviticus, that accomplished so many things at once.

- Showed His absolute preeminence in all things
- Proved His power
- Exhibited very clearly the concept of Holiness - not only that they are a holy nation, but that He is a Holy God - Holy, Holy, Holy in fact
- Incorporated, engrained, impressed the notion of an intermediary presenting blood on behalf of the people not to appease an angry God, but that a relationship with the Almighty would be maintained. The Almighty that provides for His people's needs, defeats their enemies, saves them from oppression, leads them to freedom and hope. The Almighty that proves to the nations via His people that He is the one and only God, the creator of the universe, to whom all knees should bow, indeed will bow.
- Provided a code to help maintain His peoples' health and safety
- Established standards of conduct that promote mental and emotional stability, which allows for the building of a healthy society
- Set the calendar for holy-days - holidays. It's good for society to rest and celebrate!
- Left no room for doubt that He is their God and that He has good things for them and has clearly laid out the requirements for obtaining those good things
- Predicted the future - that ultimately they won't keep the law and follow the decrees, but that He will not utterly reject or despise them. That He will not cancel His covenant with them by wiping them out, for He is the Lord, their God.

And, like a movie that begs for a sequel, it leaves an opening for the 'rest of the story'. Praise the Lord that we, His chosen people in Jesus, get to read it from our position in history.

I really do love Leviticus!

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