We have all heard the evangelism spill before. If they pray the prayer and ask Jesus to come into their heart (interestingly, we find nothing similar in the New Testament) it then remains that they “start going to church regularly” avoid blatant sins, “and read your Bible, starting in the book of Leviticus.”
The spill usually says John’s Gospel, which is a blessed book, just like John 3:16 is a blessed, and it only loses it’s wonder when it becomes part of a formula.
Leviticus, on the other hand, might be a good book to recommend, because if the person weren’t genuinely converted it would really test their commitment.
Seriously, waking in the early morning hours, and going to your quiet time, and reading forty verses of difficult to understand Law is hard. Leviticus is filled with ceaseless ceremonial details which seem so completely irrelevant to our every day lives: The civil laws ought to strike us as the great practical handbook for how communities and nations ought to be run. The dietary laws, however, are more confusing, especially in light of the fact that under the New Testament, we are to call nothing unclean which God has cleansed. Above and beyond this are the ceremonial laws, which are nothing short of overwhelmingly hard to sort through.
But in the midst of this, the words of Christ “They testify of me” John 5:39ff ought to intrude all of our Old Testament study with the realization that our foremost duty in studying is to find Christ: all the Scriptures are inherently and emphatically about Christ; but the portion of Scripture to which He referred was that which had already been written. So our primary duty, in studying Leviticus, is to find Christ and His Gospel therein.
If we want to seek Christ in Scripture we have to study every corner of every book to find Him: He will be found, whether in an Isaiah-like, very specific way or in a very general way, such as a book like Esther, showing Him preserving and guiding His people to till the appointed time when the Head-crushing seed of Eve was born of the descendant of David.
That includes Leviticus. As hard as it is, we are compelled to believe that this book holds benefit for us. Because it is God’s word: they are His laws, and they reveal clearly His purity; they show His justice on inequity, His care for the physical and spiritual welfare of His people, and His guidance of them towards the ultimate goal of the Cross.
But above and beyond this, we find the Gospel in Leviticus when considered in the light of the New Testament. We realize that no man is saved in the keeping of the Law (Romans 3:20ff); the primary use thereof is to point us to our need of Christ. Man is not sinful at his core because he has broken the law (Romans 5:12, 20): the Law has been given in order to show man that he cannot please God by his own efforts.
And we find this so blatantly: the very fact that the sacrificial system was given at once with the Law proves that the Moral law is not adequate to save: it shows man his need of a Saviour! if man were to justify himself of his sinful nature by adhering to the moral law, why on earth need there be sacrifices for sin? But man saw his need and his sinfulness magnified by the Law which he could not keep perfectly, and through this he was shown his need to lay his sins on a substitute.
So, in our seeking Christ in every corner of the Old Testament, let us never be shy to “dare to delight in Leviticus!” it magnifies our inadequacy, but this ought never to phase is, for in our helplessness we see Christ’s singular sufficiency.
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