The book of Leviticus is a book seldom finished. Many start the book with the intentions of finishing it but after enduring rule, after rule, they give up and move on. The result is that many of us never really appreciate the beauty of the book nor understand the big picture lessons.
The book of Leviticus can seem so strange to our modern sensibilities. Honestly, no one practices animal sacrifices any longer and trying to grasp that mindset is rather difficult. Yet, without this book, we miss out on some important lessons about Jesus, about our God, and about what it means to walk with him in a daily relationship.
Without the book of Leviticus (along with the Hebrew Old Testament), we simply cannot understand foundational concepts in Christianity.
Peter’s words about being holy like our Lord loses its significance if we don’t understand holiness (1 Peter 1:16). Paul’s thought about eating and drinking the Lord’s Supper in a worthy manner doesn’t make much sense until you understand holiness and cleanness found in Leviticus (1 Cor. 11:27-32). The instructions were given to the preacher Timothy about being an example find it meaning in the roles of the priesthood and the temple (1 Tim. 4:1-13). In each scripture, Leviticus adds great insights into our understanding of Christianity and our relationship with God.
Greater and perhaps more significant is the fact that the book of Leviticus is a book consumed with the idea of a holy and just God is among his people. Leviticus teaches us that God is always near to his people. Sometimes you can see his presence in the pillar of fire and smoke but even if you cannot see him, he is always there. He is always near to us and worship brings us into his presence in an intimate and moving way. Leviticus 1:9 reminds us that our actions (sacrifices for them) are something that he sees and is pleasing to him. The oft-repeated phrase “I am the Lord” reminds us that every activity is surrounded by God’s presence. 1 Corinthians 6:19 with its lesson on the presence of the Spirit of God in us and our life lacks its power until we understand that God is near us, with us, and loves us desperately.
The book of Leviticus reminds us that God is holy and wants a close, personal relationship with each one of us. Yet, to come into the presence of God requires something from us. In our sins and shortcomings, we are not worthy of his presence or love but God always provides a way for us. He wants us near him, wants a real relationship with us, and makes that possible for us. Our great and glorious God loves us deeply and by his grace, we can be close to him.