The entire book of Leviticus is a compilation of detailed instructions, from all the different types of offerings, to what makes someone unclean, what they have to do to become clean, what you can and can’t eat, how to treat one another, who you can and cannot have sex with, the different feasts, you name it. I tend to skim these sections (this book) because it’s so repetitive and the details don’t seem relevant to my life (and they put me to sleep). I do also think people can get caught up on the debate of what laws are applicable today and which aren’t. Let me be clear that, if it’s in the Bible, it’s applicable. The Bible, IN ITS ENTIRETY, is the living breathing Word of God and relevant to your life. SO…I do believe there are some important things we can learn here.
How often do you think you sin? Hourly? Daily? Weekly? Leviticus says, “When an ordinary member of the congregation sins unintentionally, straying from one of the commandments of God which must not be broken, he is guilty.” “they become guilty even though no one is aware of it.” Could you imagine if you had to complete one of these offering rituals every time you sinned? Could you then imagine all the offerings you owe for all the sins you’re unaware of? Then walk around paranoid that there’s something you’re not forgiven for because you didn’t make an offering for the thing you don’t know you did that might be lingering out there. There would be no time for anything else. Now imagine if Jesus hadn’t died on a cross and this was the only way to receive atonement…what would you do? Is your salvation worth the hassle? It was to Jesus. Sometimes reading through these seemingly irrelevant details is extremely relevant to instill some perspective into my life. How difficult it was for them to maintain their faith compared to today…and yet we struggle to be obedient. Very little is expected of us comparatively…and yet we struggle to remain faithful.
“That same day Nadab and Abihu, Aaron’s sons, took their censers, put hot coals and incense in them and offered ‘strange’ fire to God – something God had not commanded. Fire blazed out from God and consumed them – they died in God’s presence.” Ouch!! How often do believers act out of some misguided idea thinking we are doing God’s will. We’re not necessarily ill-intended, but misguided all the same. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again…I am not always the best at discerning God’s voice versus my own. But, as I seek Him more, as I am in His Word more, as I actively look for how He is moving, when my focus is on Him and not myself, it becomes easier to tell the difference because His ways are not my ways and His thoughts are not my thoughts. Living in God’s will feels abnormal to what the world says is normal, what feels natural to us…and it takes practice. I think a lot of us sit around waiting for God to do a work in us without actively seeking Him. Faith is active. When Jesus performs miracles in the Bible, there’s always a call to some sort of action on the recipient’s part.
Even though we don’t bring offerings to God in the way they did in the Bible, we do still bring offerings. Offerings of worship, time, praise, tithing…you name it. Throughout Leviticus, and the whole Bible for that matter, God emphasizes our offerings be firstborn and without defect. How many of us give to God from what’s leftover. We look at our calendar to see where we can fit Him in. We look at our account and what’s left over after we’ve paid all the bills and bought all the things. We worship and praise when we feel the warm fuzzies, but do we worship and praise even if, even when…(you fill in the blanks). Our church is currently in a series called “The Blessed Life” which is basically a series on generosity, not just financial generosity but, of course, that’s part of it. There was debate as to whether tithing is relevant to The New Testament or whether that law was done away with when Jesus fulfilled it on the cross. (Insert rant: Jesus did not abolish the law on the cross, He fulfilled it…it’s all still relevant even if not all of it is literally applicable) While there is no specific verse in The New Testament that says point blank to tithe, let alone how much, we have to read the Bible in context. What was Jesus’ intention for The Church? What would happen to The Church if believers didn’t tithe? If people are already so hard pressed to tithe 10%, what do you think they would tithe if there was no guideline? What did Jesus say about generosity? Everything in the Bible boils down to the heart. Jesus says to give from a willing heart. What would be the intention or heart behind trying to argue against the tithe and how would that serve to further the Kingdom of God? I could say that about almost any biblical debate. What is the intention of your heart…it’s that simple.
God is so very multifaceted. He is wrath AND He is love. He offers grace AND requires obedience. Being that Leviticus is mainly a book on laws, I could easily go through all the do’s and don’ts and how we can apply those to our lives today. But instead I’ll say this… We need to be very careful how we judge others based on things they do or don’t do. God’s conviction for one person isn’t the same as for another. God’s conviction for one person isn’t even always a conviction for that same person in different seasons of their life. If we spent as much time making sure we were listening to and following God’s conviction in our own lives, we’d have no room to police everyone else. And let me tell you…I am saying this to myself more than to anyone else. I’m not saying not to hold each other accountable, but that comes from having a close trusting relationship with someone, not this misguided idea that we have the right to tell others how they should be living. Matthew 7:5 (NIV) says, “You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” I have come a long way in my faith in the last year or two and, as I grow, I continue to see all the ways I still need to grow.
I was in a group once where we were asked if it’s easy or hard to be a Christians in today’s society. I answered, and still believe, hard. It is very unpopular to be a Christian in a culture that lives and believes opposite of most biblical truths (except the ones that suit them). If nothing else, reading Leviticus has given me a heart of gratitude that I didn’t live in a time where all of these laws were applicable. Every generation has its own challenges. We just need to continue seeking after the heart of Christ and He will work out the rest.