The book of Leviticus can feel distant, abstract, and even absurd. Its opening chapters discuss odd offerings made at the tent of meeting, where God met His people when they were wandering in the wilderness after the exodus. Yet, the book signals an appreciation for all things: animals, crops, and the general need for peace—both between people and between God and people.
In Leviticus, we also find the setup for the entire Gospel of John; Jesus’ life is cast as an offering to make all people one with God again. We find the background information for Isaiah 53, where the Suffering Servant dies and is resurrected on behalf of God’s people. Much of the Old and New Testaments require a general understanding of Leviticus.
Not only do these ancient rituals show the need to appreciate the entire created order, they also show how much we should appreciate a faith that doesn’t require all these rituals.
Leviticus shows the distance between God and His people. The amount of work required to get near Him is enormous. And it’s not because God wanted it that way, it’s because a holy (set apart) God cannot come near the unholy. Holiness rituals were required for Him to interact with His people—a temporary way for people to reach Him.
Just as God camped in the middle of His people in the wilderness, today He wants to set up His tent in the middle of our lives. And this is precisely what we witness in the beginning of John’s Gospel when Jesus “dwells among us,” which literally translates as, “took up residence among us.” God dwelled among His people in the wilderness, just as He dwells in our lives today.
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