Leviticus is where daily Bible reading plans go to die. The word Leviticus simply means “pertaining to the Levites”—we are not Levites, so what good is it for us? This is the Law of Moses, and we Christians are not followers of the Law of Moses, so why try to learn anything from it? Quite frankly, Leviticus is boring to read from cover to cover, so we don’t. Yet I’m convinced that both extremes, trying to follow the Law of Moses to a T and just throwing it in the garbage, are equally wrong misuses of this inspired book. Paul said, “the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ” (Gal 3:24). Will we ignore the aid of a divinely inspired tutor?
In an effort to practice what I’m preaching, I read Leviticus from cover to cover in one sitting. As it turns out, Paul was telling the truth. Several big spiritual points from Leviticus helped me relearn some lessons about Christian discipleship. The biggest lesson that kept hitting me in the face was that serving God changes everything. The entire life of a law-abiding Jew revolved around adhering to the 613 commands of the Law. These laws governed their most intimate relationships, their diet, their bodily fluids, their bathing habits, how they used their money, and a lot more.
For example, think about what it required to satisfy the sacrificial offering requirements of chapters 1-7. For one, there must be a constant vigilant regimen of self-examination to identify and tally all violations of the Law in order to offer the requisite number of sacrifices. Then the sacrifices themselves were done at great financial cost to the sinner, as young and unblemished livestock was always what God required (maybe we’d be more careful about temptation and sin if it hit our wallet like that).
Laws about uncleanness (ch 15) often involved sequestering oneself and stepping away from your life for days until ritual purity was achieved again (a lot of house cleaning too). All sexual behavior was strictly regulated (chs 18 & 20). Keeping the feast days (ch 23) required immense amounts of money, time, and travel on a yearly basis. I won’t even start on how the Law affected a Levite’s life.
Sometimes we act as if we can do a few rituals to satisfy God like attend worship occasionally or say a prayer and then return to living life on our terms. But the fact that the Law of Moses touched every area of a Jew’s life was a way of teaching that serving God changes everything about our lives. Nothing is out of God’s jurisdiction. There is no separate compartment in a disciple’s life for “me things” that don’t involve God. Isn’t this what Jesus meant when he said, “any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple” (Lk 14:33)? Serving God changes everything!