Daily Devotions

Leviticus: The Way to Wholeness

I am the LORD your God; consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am holy. Do not make yourselves unclean by any creature that moves about on the ground. I am the LORD who brought you up out of Egypt to be your God; therefore be holy, because I am holy. (Leviticus 11:44-45)

We must understand that we are the people of God today. What God said to Israel he also says to us, for in the new relationship we have in Jesus Christ there is neither Jew nor Gentile; there is but one man, one body in Christ.

  1:  The Need to Belong Leviticus 1
  2:  The Need to Respond Leviticus 2
  3:  The Need For Peace Leviticus 3
  4:  The Need to Confess Leviticus 4
  5:  Unintentional Sin Leviticus 5
  6:  The Need To Restore Leviticus 6
  7:  The Secret of Peace Leviticus 7
  8:  The Need for a Priest Leviticus 8:1-9
  9:  The Work of a Priest Leviticus 8:10-36
10: The Present Glory Leviticus 9
11: Strange Fire Leviticus 10:1-10
12: The Intent of the Law Leviticus 10:11-20
13: The Need for a Standard Leviticus 11
14: Nature or Nurture? Leviticus 12
15: Dealing with the Leprosy of Life Leviticus 13
16: The Need for Cleansing Leviticus 14
17: Dealing with the Discharges of Life Leviticus 15
18: The Day of Atonement Leviticus 16
19: Handling Life Leviticus 17
20: The Truth about Sex Leviticus 18
21: What Not to Mix Together Leviticus 19
22: Power To Do Leviticus 20
23: Free to Serve Leviticus 21
24: Enjoying our Priesthood Leviticus 22
25: The True Sabbath Leviticus 23:1-3
26: No Leaven Leviticus 23:4-44
27: The Pattern of Man Leviticus 24
28: The True Basis for Social Concern Leviticus 25
29: Blessed Promises Leviticus 26
30: Vows Leviticus 27

A devotion introduction for April

I do not know what your reaction is to the book of Leviticus but I suspect that you are not too excited about it. This is where most people bog down when they start reading through the Bible. You go through Genesis in fine style, learning about Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the things that happened to them. Then you get into Exodus where you have such dramatic incidents as Moses' confrontation with Pharaoh in the court of Egypt, the opening of the Red Sea, and the giving of the Law. Then you start into Leviticus. After you have plodded through the offerings you get into the priesthood, the ceremonies, all the restrictions of diet and specifications for the dress of the high priest, and various other strange functions and feasts. About that time your interest evaporates, you run out of gas, and that is the end of your reading through the Bible. Isn't that right? That is the experience of many.

I can understand that. I know that this book is a bit difficult. It does appear to be very dry. It could be called the dryness barrier. If you can penetrate the dryness barrier you will find the Bible a fascinating book indeed to read all the way through.

The purpose of the book of Leviticus is found in chapter 20 when God says to his people, 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 (Lev 20:26). When we Christians read this we must understand that we are the people of God today. What God said to Israel he also says to us, for in the new relationship we have in Jesus Christ there is neither Jew nor Gentile — there is but one man, one body in Christ. The promises which appear in picture form in the Old Testament belong also to us who live this side of the cross.

Perhaps you were turned off right away by the word holy in this verse. I do not know what you think holy means. You probably read into things from your past experience which make it unpalatable to you. Most of us associate it with some kind of grimness. We think of holy people as those who look as if they have been steeped in vinegar or soaked in embalming fluid. I used to think of the word that way, and holiness was not attractive to me at all. It repelled me. But then I ran across a verse in Scripture which spoke of the beauty of holiness (1 Chronicles 16:29). I asked myself, What in the world is beautiful about holiness? When I found out I agreed that holiness is indeed a beautiful thing.

If you want to get at the meaning of this word you must go back to its original root. This word is derived from the same root from which a very attractive English word comes. This is the word wholeness. So that holiness means wholeness, being complete. And if you read wholeness in place of holiness everywhere you find it in the Bible you will be much closer to what the writers of that book meant. We all know what wholeness is: It is to have together all the parts which were intended to be there, and to have them functioning as they were intended to function.

That is what God is talking about. He says to his people, you shall be whole, because I am whole. God is complete; he is perfect. There is no blemish in God; he lives in harmony with himself. He is a beautiful person. He is absolutely what a person ought to be. He is filled with joy and love and peace. He lives in wholeness. And he looks at us in our brokenness and says to us, You, too, shall be whole.

That word wholeness has power to awaken desire within us. We long to be whole people. Don't you? Don't you want to be what God made you to be, with all the ingredients of your personality able to be expressed in balance? That is to be a beautiful person, and that is what God is after. That is what Leviticus is all about.