Thursday, March 06, 2008

The Joys of Leviticus

Every couple of years I read through my One-Year Bible. It's always thrilling to read through the Old Testament accounts of God's power at work in stories like the ten plagues, the parting of the Red Sea, the walls of Jericho falling down.

I must admit, however, that in times past I've gotten bogged down in (or sometimes, merely skimmed through) books like Numbers and Leviticus. I've often wondered why it's so important for us to know all the laws and instructions given to the Israelites. Yes, I understand the value in knowing the Ten Commandments, but do we really need to know how to deal with mold on a piece of fabric?

This time around, I'm trying to read the Bible with a couple of questions in mind. Whereas before I might just wonder why certain passages are in the Bible, this time I'm asking more specifically, What does this passage tell me about God? and What does this passage tell me about me? That is making a big difference in the way that I view Scripture now, even those seemingly endless passages about all the different sacrifices and the dimensions of all the components of the Tabernacle.

For instance, Leviticus 12 includes instructions for a woman who has just had a baby. For a certain amount of time following the birth of her child, the woman was considered unclean and not allowed to touch anything holy.

Fast forward a few hundred years to the birth of Jesus. Here was Mary, a woman who had just given birth and therefore considered "unclean" under the old law, now nursing, bathing, cuddling the very Son of God, the picture of holiness. How mind-boggling this thought must have been to the Jews who were so accustomed to being under the old law!

Reading through passages such as Leviticus certainly makes me appreciate that I live under New Testament Christianity, and that I don't have to sacrifice bulls or perform ritual cleansings before worshipping God. More importantly, it reminds me of God's great desire to be near to His people. Every book of the Bible seems to bring God closer and closer to us, to the point that now His Spirit lives within us ("unclean" as we are!) and that our next step is to live with God in Heaven.

I am thankful that God is revealing Himself to me in new ways, even in Scripture that I've read several times before. His mercies are "new every morning".


Snapshot said...

I'm reading through too and I've asked the same questions. I think perhaps I'm too dim witted to understand what I'm supposed to understand. But I'm reading it anyway! Perhaps I'll get some of what I needed!

That Girl said...

I'm almost through Numbers... LOTS of rules. Most of those rules given by God are now guidelines for good health. But, it DOES get boring.

Very interesting thoughts on Mary.

Confessing Lunatic said...

How timely for me to read this today! Just last night I was reading the very passage about mold on clothing and was thinking, why is this important?

Thanks again for your fresh perspective on God's Word.