Levitical Fly-Over

Right now, I am in the middle of a fairly thorough study of the book of Leviticus.  While it is not my intention to post a 500 page discourse on this book, I would like to give you a brief fly-over of what, so far, has been the most striking impression thus far.  Sinful man trying to approach a Holy God is a big deal.  A really big deal!  This book deals with the sacrifices and rituals necessary when man approaches God (in Old Testament times), and while many tend to go into a glassy-eyed daze as they read all the ritualistic details, we should pause for a moment to ask an important question;  Why all the blood?

This book is filled with details of the sacrifices necessary so that man may be in legal right-standing with God, and these details are bloody.  Slaughter this animal, splash blood here, slaughter another animal and splash blood there.  Put the animal’s blood on your ear, your hand and on your foot.  Burn the flesh… cut out the entrails… burn the body outside the city.  Wow!  I won’t go into all the symbolism here (this is just a fly-over, after all), but even from high altitude, we can see that it took a lot of blood and death to set the things right that sin had twisted.  Rest assured there was no doubt in those coming to the Lord for forgiveness that to do so was a very serious affair indeed.  Contrary to popular modern teachings, they knew it is not good deeds that made them right with God, nor even a genuine desire to fellowship with Him.  God is Holy, that is, set apart in power and righteousness unable to allow sin into His presence.  He is in a category by Himself, unapproachable without the cleansing that the Law dictates, and that is blood and death to pay for sin.

So what did all that blood do?  While it was a bloody and graphic reminder of the severity of sin, and the holiness of the God they were approaching, it was also a symbol of the Christ who was to come.  Those approaching God for forgiveness were demonstrating their faith in a savior who would atone for their sins in the future in the same way we believers now grasp, through faith, Christ’s atoning death in the past.

I suggest to you that many a modern Christian has neglected this book of the Bible, probably due to the lengthy and tedious details of a sacrificial system long since replaced.  But it is the tedious details, the bloodletting, and the carnage that speaks to the seriousness of sin and to the holiness of the Lord.  The basic flavor of this book, even at fly-over height, soundly condemns the casual attitude so many Christians and even Churches have toward sin, atonement, and how they approach the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.  May I encourage you not to neglect this book?  Even if you read through it quickly, take some time to think of what is actually going on here.  Our God does not change, nor has He become complacent toward sin.  It is humbling to read this and to realize that a sinful creature such as I has been made right with God, not through the blood of goats, but through the divine blood and slaughter of Jesus Christ.

I will conclude this article with two passages from the tenth chapter of Hebrews:

1 The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming—not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. 2 Otherwise, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins. 3 But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins. 4 It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.   – Hebrews 10:1-4

19 Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.   – Hebrews 10:19-23

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2 Comments on “Levitical Fly-Over”

  1. Delwyn X. Campbell Says:

    I would only disagree with you on one point, and that is really only regarding a particular segment of the Israelite nation. The Pharisees *did,*as evidenced by Jesus’ direct denunciations and parabolic example, believe that their claimed obedience to the Law *did* justify them before God. I believe that they had the same attitude that some within the modern-day Holiness movement used to display (and maybe, amongst their own, still do), that, while they acknowledged that “Christ died for our sins, according to the Scriptures” (1 Cor 15:3), they also claimed that their conduct was perfect, that they were sinlessly perfect in this life, and as a result, they deserved to be blessed in this life, and to go to heaven afterward (see Panning, Armin J., “A look at Holiness and Perfectionism Theology,” p 11).
    Having spent some years in the Pentecostal Holiness “Church of God in Christ,” I often heard people testify to how they were living right, and, as a result, were on their way to heaven. On of the mottoes of this church was “It’s Holiness or Hell;” it was rare to hear any leader confess to any struggle with sin unless they had been caught in an act thereof.
    Other than that, I enjoyed your article, and I hope that others will be led to study Leviticus for its illumination of God’s hostility to sin, and the cost associated with it, which could only be fully paid when “He made Him Who knew no sin to become sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Cor 5:21).


    • ChurchSalt Says:

      Hi Delwyn,
      I think the Pharisees weren’t using the sacrificial system to lay hold of salvation by faith in a their God, but were rather looking at performance of Law and details of the sacrificial system as some how being of merit in and of themselves. Funny how some things never change, eh? Now we have the Holiness movement, the Emergent Church, Purpose Driven Theology and all sorts of others holding faith in their actions rather than faith in Christ’s actions. When it comes to pushing false doctrine, Legalism has been a best-seller in almost every era. Thanks for stopping by!


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