Leviticus: The Way to Wholeness
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.
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.