Hey, Relentless Students! I hope today you were able to get outside and enjoy the weather. Twas a nice day with the sun shining and the fresh smell of spring in the air. Though we expected May to bring an end to "stay at home" and it was not; I'm glad the weather is finally relenting in our favor.
Today we continue our journey through the story of the Bible. So far we have talked about the beginning of everything we know today and the chosen people of God becoming chosen, being thrown into slavery, being rescued from Egypt, and failing to trust God. We now enter Leviticus, a true book of the law. You see, the Israelites had worshipped God one way when they first began their journey in Genesis, but during their times as slaves, they adopted some of the Egyptian cultures. It's not surprising since they had been in captivity for 400 years and in that amount of time people would have had doubts about God's ultimate plan. So, once freed from Egypt they didn't suddenly do a 180 and live the way God had called, most of them didn't even know what that way was supposed to look like. This is where Leviticus comes in.
This book was written as a statement to the Israelites for what God expected out of them as His chosen people. When you read through it there are laws about worship, sacrifices, sex, health, etc. There were laws for so many things because the goal was to be set apart. They weren't supposed to look like other groups of people so they had unique ways to do, God had called them to be holy. Now, some of these laws were about sacrifices and offerings we don't have to do today thanks to the sacrifice Christ made in His death and resurrection. Other of these laws are summed up quite well in what Jesus calls the greatest commandment found in Matthew 22:36-40 which says,
"'Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?' And he said to him, 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.'"
The laws were created out of love and over time they were twisted and turned religion into an obligation and fear-based control of the people by those in charge. When looking at the offerings, the goal was to bring the people closer to God and to experience His salvation. Anything to do with health or hygiene was about giving His people a more fulfilling and healthy life. The laws about morality gave purpose to their actions, as well as responsibility for their failures. All the other laws were to set the Israelites apart from the people around them. The idea was God's people weren't supposed to look like the rest, but be unique in how they lived their lives.
We turn away from this book all too often. We think that Jesus came to abolish the law when in all reality He came to fulfill it. Jesus was and will forever be the only person to ever live out the laws in perfection. That is why His death and resurrection have the power to save. So, when we chose to follow Jesus and live by His example, we are choosing to follow the law. Now, there are certain laws that no longer apply, like sacrificing animals, but there are still ones that do, like how we treat those around us and what generosity looks like. Leviticus may be a boring read, but it was made out of love, love that is so far beyond our understanding that we mistake it for something ugly. The thing is, this is perfect love.
For some extra info on the book of Leviticus, check out this video: