Leviticus – my favourite book of the Bible
There was a preacher named David Pawson who was well respected by many as an excellent Bible teacher, who died last year, and when asked, what his favourite book of the Bible was, answered that it was the book he was studying at the time. I confess to being a little naughty. for if asked, I say it is Leviticus, knowing for some it is their least favourite (and read), but as it is what I am presently studying, enthused to do so because it was covered in a recent church Bible study, as well as directed toward the Levites (subject of my next book), I am happy to make it my current favourite.
- Boring – there are hardly any stories it, and is why someone embarking on reading the Bible from cover to cover may well come unstuck when he/she gets to Leviticus.
- Unfamiliar – Leviticus applies to a culture whose norms are a lot different from that of twenty first century Gentiles, and some of the rules laid down appear baffling and irrelevant.
- Irrelevant – as it is to do with the Law of Moses which supposedly this doesn’t apply to Christians who supposedly are not beholden to keep the non-moral aspects of the Law.
In a twelve-minute video titled “4 AMAZING HIDDEN MESSAGES IN THE LEVITICUS That will BLOW your MIND !!!” the presenter lists the following messages as to why Leviticus merits study:
- Holiness of God – interestingly the word “holy” is used over seventy times in this Book, more than in any other Book of the Bible. Holiness is a key, maybe the most important theme in the whole Bible, and one we do well to follow. After all, we are told: “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord” Hebrews 12:14.
- Sinfulness of man – while the Book is about not polluting clean things and not profaning holy things, it especially recognises the sinfulness of man, yet telling man how they can relate to God.
- Fullness of Christ – and His once for all sacrifice for mankind. As far as writers like C.H.Mackintosh goes, who I was introduced to in my association with the Brethren, whose fantastic commentary can be found online, the whole of the Book points to Christ.
- Godliness of life – this Book is concerned about every aspect of our life and while a lot of the content may not apply to us today, many of its principles do and we do well to apply them.
Going back to Pawson’s video, I have taken four screen shots that I have found particularly helpful:
Leviticus is the third of the five books of Moses (Torah, Law), where God spoke to Moses (90 per cent of Leviticus is God speaking) over a one-month period while Israel was camped around Mount Sinai and it was especially aimed at one Tribe – the Levites.
There are many ways we can break down Leviticus in order to facilitate study. Here Pawson provides one of them, while showing a marvelous symmetry, with the Day of Atonement at the centre.
An important element of Israel’s worship is the right approach to God, by giving offerings that are to do with showing gratitude (Burnt, Meal, Peace) and dealing with guilt (Sin, Trespass).
The life of Israel was governed by a series of annual feasts, all of which have profound significance, not just then and now and also for the future, and therefore merit study, even celebrating.
Of particular interest to me is the Scapegoat as it relates to the text I have selected to define my own ministry as a gospel preaching, community activist, watchman on the wall. The Scapegoat was released into the wilderness on the Day of Atonement after the High Priest had laid his hands on it to transfer the sins of the people. It beautifully looks forward to Jesus who died outside the city in order to atone for our sins. Jesus (the Scapegoat that went into the wilderness) is an example we are exhorted to follow.
There are sixty-six books of the Bible, all or which merit study for the above reasons. Often, we approach our studies in different ways according to the book, and that is certainly so with Leviticus, especially as there is a lot even a one learned in Jewish culture may not fully grasp (although remember God does not have to give a reason why one eats certain foods, wears certain clothes and has to tear our house down if dry rot is found in it etc.) But studying it, spoiled for choice as we are by the various helps that are available, especially freely on the Internet, is a potentially fruitful pursuit. There is great treasure to be found. I end with one of the many gems I have come across – to do with a real issue that faces us today …