What a journey! When I started studying Leviticus in January, I did not expect it would take me 4 months to unpack and apply it to my life. (To join me study of Leviticus, start here.)
The following is what I learned along the way, and how the book impacted my life.
In Leviticus, God is calling the Israelites to be Holy and set apart. Although the book was written for a specific audience, the nation of Israel, many of the principles, especially living set-apart lives, applies to Christians today. God reminded me of this expectation in His words through Peter: “but, as the One who called you is holy, you also are to be holy in all your conduct; for it is written, Be holy, because I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:15-16
The Zondervan Handbook to the Bible observes it well: “This is why sin must be dealt with–the reason for the rules on purity and cleanness, health and hygiene, God’s people are to be distinct and different from the nations around, whose religion did not require morality and holiness. A close relationship with God means a life of obedience and faith.”
Of course, Christians today do not follow most of the laws from Leviticus. I do not sacrifice animals because I believe Jesus paid the ultimate sacrifice. Also, like many Christians, I do not follow the clean/unclean laws as well. (See the following verses for more on this topic, then decide for yourself about observing OT laws: Mark 7:19, Acts 10:15, Romans 10:4, Galatians 3:24-26, Ephesians 2:15, Romans 14:1-23)
Still, I found the book of Leviticus challenged me to live uniquely in my world by prioritizing my relationship with God above all else.
My Big Take Away:
Understanding the many expectations for sacrifices in Leviticus unlocked my perspective of what Jesus’ death on the cross does for us. The Israelites had different sacrificial expectations for various aspects of their relationship with God. There was a sacrifice to pay for sin, one to worship God, another to dedicate their work, and another to fellowship with God.
Jesus death encompassed each of these facets of my relationship with God. He was my atoning sacrifice, paying for sin. He became my bread and wine, allowing me to fellowship with God at His table. Jesus became my high priest, mediating my relationship with God. His death and resurrection gives meaning to my work… it’s no longer about my efforts, but His. And by trusting in his sacrifice, He gives me a pathway to worship God through my own living sacrifice of self.
Is it applicable to daily life?
“How is reading Leviticus going to help me [in my every day life]?”
As I read Leviticus, I found it revealed a greater depth of the character of God. It reminded me of my desperate need for atonement by blood. Reading about the constant repetition of sacrifices disturbed me. My unsettled spirit was screaming for a better way, an unwavering way, to maintain relationship with God. The resolve of Leviticus is to point us to the need for Christ’s death, a final and sufficient sacrifice.
Leviticus is the gospel! I can’t argue that the gospel applies deeply to my daily life.
I enjoyed the intellectual unpacking of Old Testament concepts and the revelation of God’s character. It was laborious and impactful. However, I must note that there were several weeks that intense study was not always pertinent for me. I had days I wanted to learn more and find application in Leviticus, but the words just sat on the page, lifeless and jumbled. I was busy, sick, exhausted, lonely, and so low on brain power. These circumstances called for simple communion with God. A friend encouraged me to read some Psalms in this season, and it proved refreshing in my connection with God. When Leviticus was too much to digest, I chose a lighter “feast” of God’s Word.
I am happy that I did not abandon my study in Leviticus completely (as I have in previous seasons of my life). Regardless of how many breaks I took, I kept coming back to Leviticus. This gave me a holistic picture of the law. It took me 4 months, instead of the hoped for 1 month, but I finished.
Would I read it again?
Definitely. I would like to study Leviticus and Hebrews at the same time to compare and contrast perspectives of the old and new covenant, and how Jesus fulfills the expectations of Leviticus.
Linking each command together, week by week, was hard mental work. I think I would have been able to study it more thoroughly and consistently in a different season. Perhaps in the past during an adventurous summer between college semesters, or in the future when my kids are school-aged and I am more stable emotionally (Lord willing). Of course, God used my study greatly in this time with small babies and learning my new role as a mother; still, it took more time, and more mental focus than I often had available to me.
What I discovered, in regards to my reader’s question, is that spending daily time with God, in his word, is what significantly impacts my life. I am learning to be less legalistic about finishing a study before starting another one. I am also learning the value of the “whole picture” God intended when we boldly and bravely tackle whole books of the Bible instead of the scattered, easy-to-digest verses we tend to gravitate toward.
I hope you enjoyed studying Leviticus with me. If you are just now thinking about starting, I applaud you for taking the leap! It is well worth the time and mental energy to expand your perspective of God’s great Holiness and grace.