The One Year® Chronological Bible, NKJV (Tyndale, 2013), February 16

Reading Leviticus is like eating dry toast. Boring and seemingly useless to 21st readers. Or not.

imagesOur youngest son is a trend eater. Years ago when he was around eight years old he only wanted four slices of dry toast for breakfast. Without jam. Without butter. For six months. Needless to say, I worried about the quality of his nutritional intake. Until one morning when I removed four slices of bread to place in the toaster and noticed these words on the plastic bag, “Fortified with eight essential vitamins.” Though dry to eat, he actually received more nutrition than I thought. After that I gave up my attempt to force eggs or oatmeal on him. Let him eat toast! Which he did for a few more months until he established a new trend.

Yes, reading Leviticus is like eating dry toast, but its intake is incalculable for a number of reasons:

  • Reading Leviticus reveals the holiness of God. God is holy-love. He cannot be approached by any way other than the one He ordains. He demands a payment for sin, and that payment includes the shedding of blood. He tells Moses, “The life of the flesh is in the blood; therefore, I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood makes atonement for the soul” (Lev. 17:11).
  • Reading Leviticus reveals the seriousness of sin and God’s willingness to relate to guilty sinners. The wages of sin is death. People sin. A lot. Therefore, a long line of sinners with their animals formed at the doorway of the Tent of Meeting continually. And, it was bloody.
  • Sin is personal. Sinners identified with the death of the animal by laying hands on the animal’s head at its death. God accepted the death of the animal on sinner’s behalf and covered their sin.
  • Daily sin and daily sacrifice both taught the horror of sin, the need for a mediator, and the hope of a coming Perfect Priest and His Ultimate Sacrifice.
  • The various laws (social, ceremonial, spiritual, dietary, etc., ) reveal God’s care for the well-being of His people.
  • Reading Leviticus both requires discipline and develops discipline. God included the book of Leviticus for a reason, though reading Leviticus may not seem rewarding (thus the illustration of dry toast!). The Apostle Paul highlighted Leviticus’ value, “For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures  might have hope” (Romans 15:4). Reading the “dry toast” of Scripture submits us to the heart of the God of Scripture. Submission to the God of Scripture prepares the reader for a day of submission in other areas as well.

So, how do you read the book of Leviticus? Asking questions as you read unpacks truths about God, man, sin, and redemption. As you read ask, “Who are You, LORD”? Who am I?” “Who are we as a people?” Note your discoveries either in the margin of your Bible or journal your thoughts as they occur. Ask God to disclose Himself to you through this book.


The sacrificial system was bloody and scandalous, “Then he shall put his hand on the head of the burnt offering, and it will be accepted on his behalf to make atonement for him. He shall kill the bull before the LORD; and the priests, Aaron’s sons, shall bring the blood and sprinkle the blood all around on the altar that is by the door of the tabernacle of meeting” (Leviticus 1:4-5).

  • The sacrificial system was bloody. Something must die.
  • The sacrificial system was scandalous. The innocent dies and the guilty goes free.

Sin is serious and carries a penalty—death. To propitiate sin means to make reparation for wrongdoing and receive forgiveness for that wrongdoing. The person voluntarily brings the sacrifice to the altar. He acknowledges both the guilt of his sin and the sentence his sin deserves as he places his hand on the animal. In that act the penitent sinner transfers guilt to the animal; the slaying of the animal says, “I should have died, but this animal is my substitute, dying in my place.” This sacrifice atones for sin by covering the sin and appeasing the wrath of a holy God. The animal dies the death the sinner deserves. The priest sprinkles the blood around the altar. Solemn occasion. Bloody ritual.

The humble man approaches the altar burdened with guilt and shame. He walks away freely forgiven, with a bounce in his step and a song of praise to God in his heart and on his tongue. Scandalous joy! Forgiven!

The proud person either refuses to acknowledge his offense, minimizes his offense, or excuses and blames it on another. The penalty, however, remains; it calls him by name and requires his death.

Kari Jobe’s, “O the Blood” captures the scandal of God’s love for sinners:

O the blood, Crimson love
Price of life’s demand
Shameful sin, placed on Him
The Hope of every man

Savior Son, Holy One
Slain so I can live
See the Lamb, the great I Am
Who takes away my sin

O the blood of the Lamb
O the blood of the Lamb
O the blood of the Lamb
The precious blood of the Lamb
What a sacrifice
That saved my life
Yes, the blood, it is my victory
O what love
No greater love
Grace, how can it be
That in my sin
Yes, even then
He shed His blood for me
O the blood of Jesus washes me

O the blood of Jesus shed for me
What a sacrifice that saved my life
Yes, the blood, it is my victory

Guilt transferred to the Innocent One. Penalty paid by the Innocent One. Bloody Sacrifice. Scandalous Love.

Question from today’s reading (Numbers 8:1-9:14; Leviticus 1:1-3:17):

What is the difference between a burnt offering, a grain offering, and a fellowship offering?

 

 

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