You are to be holy to me because I, the Lord, am holy, and I have set you apart from the nations to be my own.—Leviticus 20:27
I have been urging listeners to the Bible Answer Man broadcast to stick with their January resolution to read through the Bible in 2010. According to my Legacy Reading Plan, you should be somewhere between Leviticus and Numbers.
And these books are not for the faint of heart. Frankly, this is where many well-intentioned readers either get bogged down or give up completely. So, here’s my heartfelt word of encouragement: keep reading, press on…the rewards are of eternal significance.
With the Legacy Reading Plan, I have stressed the importance of reading Scripture in whole books and not by small bites. And living in a sound bite culture driven by a sound bite generation, this is indeed hard! But hear me out: you cannot take the teachings of ancient Israel and reduce them to sound bites and then expect to fully grasp what God is teaching! It just is not possible.
For example: at first blush, Leviticus reads as a seemingly exhaustive list of detailed rituals, sacrifices, and regulations that have little to do with modern living. We don’t participate in animal sacrifices, follow elaborate dietary laws, or practice ceremonial cleanness. But reading Leviticus in context, you realize that Leviticus offers the ancient Israelites patterns of living so that they could live with an altogether Holy God. Recognizing this reality, Leviticus becomes gripping reading! You see, an Almighty, all- powerful God entered the lives of a small and insignificant people who then had to restructure their lives in order to tabernacle with God. And while we don’t live in the world of Leviticus, we too have to restructure our lives so that God can dwell with us.
Taking this principle one step further, Leviticus teaches God’s people to watch their lives carefully—to follow his rules so they can dwell with him. And while the people of Israel focused on outward laws (eating, washing, and the like), Christians today must be alert to maintain purity from within (“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind” [Matthew 22:37]).
If you want to hear more contextual information on how to read Leviticus, listen to my opening monologue on the Bible Answer Man broadcasts for January 29, February 1, February 2, and February 8, 2010.