No, it’s not a naughty word, nor is it the title of a film about the life of Nelson Mandela. It’s the 3rd book of the Bible. You know, the one with all the gory sacrifices and (seemingly!) obsolete laws and rituals.
This time of year, many Christians make plans to read through the Bible in the coming year. It’s a commendable goal and regular bible reading ought to be part of the life of anyone who is serious about knowing, believing in, trusting and living for God. However in an average reading plan, say 3 or 4 chapters a day (8-15min) many people come unstuck somewhere around the end of January.
Why? Well there are many reasons; lack of discipline, lack of encouragement, overwhelmed by the task, or as is often the case… they hit the book of Leviticus and balk. The stories of the patriarchs in Genesis are great, they give the background to all those Sunday School and Children’s Spot lessons we’re so familiar with. The account of the plagues in Egypt and the amazing crossing of the Red Sea in Exodus is an easy read, because, after all, most of us have seen the movie and we know the story. Right?
But, blood, guts, more blood, weird definitions of cleanliness and did I mention blood? What on earth has that got to do with the ‘golden rule’ and loving my neighbour and all that stuff Jesus spoke about? Here’s the rub, the first time that is taught in the Bible is, you guessed of course, Leviticus 19:18, which says,
Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD. (NIV84)
Leviticus tells what it means to be God’s holy people and how that is displayed in day to day life. More specifically though, blood is a divider and separator. It is through sacrifice that we move (or rather are moved by God) into worship. We are taken hold off, separated from what we were and established as something altogether new.
During my preaching at Grace Church in January, I am going to spend 2 Sunday mornings at Kogarah and 1 at Sutherland going through some of the highlights of Leviticus. We’ll have a look at some of those gory details and see how they connect to Jesus and the New Testament. As we do that, you might like to have another go at reading the book of Leviticus. There’s only 27 chapters, 3 a day and you’ll knock it over in 9 days. Give it a shot.
If you’re still thinking or wondering about a plan to read through the rest the of the Bible, here’s a couple of links that might help out.
Bible Reading by Spurgeon
Bible Gateway Reading Plans