Learning from Leviticus

God is holy.

The Bible describes God as a consuming fire residing in unapproachable light.

To approach God our own way is like approaching the surface of the sun – we will simply be extinguished.

God’s radiant holiness will kill us as sin-full and sin-prone people.

However, in the Old Testament book of Leviticus we see God making a way for sin to be forgiven.

God instituted the priesthood (Leviticus 8-10) who present animal sacrifices to God on behalf of the people (Leviticus 1-7) to atone for the Israelites’ sins so that they may be forgiven.

The animal dies, the person lives.

The Israelites demonstrated their faith in God by making use of God’s provision and were declared right with God.

God dwelt in the Israelites’ midst by means of the tabernacle (tent) and they dwelt with God – camped around the tabernacle.

In the New Testament, we see that we no longer need to make animal sacrifices.

All the Old Testament sacrifices pointed to Jesus, who is both our High Priest and Sacrifice, in one.

Hebrews 9:26 says:

Christ appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.

In fact, we read that the blood of bulls and goats could never take way sin (Hebrews 10:4), but sins were and are forgiven on the basis of the once-for-all-never-to-be-repeated sacrifice for sins made by Jesus by his death in the 1st Century AD.

The sacrifice of Jesus means that no matter how big the sin, how massive the trespass, how ugly the transgression, or how terrible the act, it can be forgiven.

We can be declared right with God.

Sins are not swept under the carpet, but forgiven, because Jesus paid the just penalty for our sin – death.

The forgiveness of sins is available to all who turn from sin and put their faith in God’s ultimate provision – Jesus.

The way to approach the Holy God is to pray something like this:

Heavenly Father, you sent Jesus to save sinners.  I’m a sinner, won’t you please save me. Help me to turn from sin and turn to you.

Leviticus also answers the question: If the Holy God dwells in our midst, how should we live?

Leviticus 20:26 says:

You shall be holy to me, for I the Lord am holy and have separated you from the peoples, that you should be mine.

Leviticus 11:44 says:

For I am the Lord your God. Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am holy.

What does God require of his saved people?

To live different, set apart lives, holy lives as God himself is different, set apart and holy.

The holiness requirement in Leviticus 11:44 is repeated in the New Testament in 1 Peter 1:15-16 for Christians.

The way we apply the various laws today in Leviticus will be different because Christ has come. We are now no longer an ethnic nation, but an international people belonging to God.

Nevertheless, God still wants his people to keep turning from sin and to keep living lives that honour Him.

We can no longer live like we used to or like we want to.

Because God is holy we must seek to be holy.

There is much to learn from Leviticus.