We’ve made it to the end of the first week of The Bible in Lent!
If I’m being transparent, today’s readings in Leviticus were a little hard to get through. In general, I try to avoid encountering details about skin in infections, mold, and bodily discharges so many of the chapters were, if I’m being honest, a drudgery.
It is in the Bible so I know that Paul’s words in the book of 2nd Timothy apply to Leviticus and it is, “inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”(2nd Timothy 316-17, RSV-CE).
For me, reading the book of Leviticus is mostly an act of faith, I believe that the Word of God will not return void and that every part of the Bible is profitable. So I read it out of obedience and trust that God is using it in a way not immediately obvious to me and share some reflections on a few passages that immediately stood out to me.
5 Takeaways from the Book of Leviticus
- While sin is sin, there are different expectations based on roles in the community and different requirements for them to make atonement. Priests have high requirements, not just requiring them to live to different standards than the rest of the community but also requiring a more costly sacrifice than the sin. This isn’t because priests are innately better, but because they’ve been set-apart and have a higher calling. Likewise, other leaders are required to offer more costly sacrifices than the average person for their sin. (Chapter 4)
- Even if we don’t intend to sin, we are still guilty for the sins we commit unknowingly. Sometimes, we are so lost in sin that we don’t even realize we are transgressing, but we are still guilty of transgressing the perfect law of God. In Leviticus, we see that God still requires offerings to be brought even if the sin was not intentionally committed. (4:13)
- God’s commandments are not intended to be burdensome, but restorative. He makes so many accommodations for the Israelites to offer as they are able so as to not marginalize the poor. I was amazed at over and over again how God said, “and if they can’t afford that, then instead they may offer” so that each person could bring a suitable sacrifice for their sin (5:7)
- We need to care for the poor and the foreigners among us. It is clear that we are supposed to not use all that is available to us but to make provisions for the poor in our midst. But God’s people were told not just to provide for their own poor, but for the foreigners among them. (19:10)
- We need to repent for the actions of our ancestors. While I knew that there were many instances in the Old Testament where the people of God repented for the sins of their ancestors, the prophecy that they would continue to suffer, not just for their own sins, but for those of their ancestors until they confessed of both their own sins and their sins of the ancestors struck me. It is clear that sin doesn’t just affect us, but lingers and affects multiple generations. (27:39-40)
The biggest takeaway I had from the book of Leviticus is that we are innately marred by sin.
While some of the uncleanness mentioned was the result of sin or specific actions, many of the unclean acts listed we not sinful, they were simply, practically unclean.
But just as He provided clothing for Adam and Eve as they left the Garden to brave the cold, hard world, God has made provisions for us to be made clean so that we can worship Him.
Being restored to fellowship with one another and God by being made clean through the proper sacrifices was a messy business. Not only did they slaughter the sacrifice to atone for our sin and uncleanness, but they also pour the blood around the altar and at the base of the altar.
It was gruesome, messy atonement that foreshadowed the horrific passion of our Lord on Calvary.
In the New Covenant, we see the fulfillment of the Levitical law. And I am so grateful that I can simply walk into the Confessional and receive the Eucharist, knowing that my great High Priest is in Heaven, mediating the perfect covenant on my behalf.