That dreaded name in your Bible-in-a-year plan.
“In the beginning” of January, you start off just fine. The Creation of existence, the Garden of Eden, the ark of Noah — we’ve heard these stories since Sunday School, and comfortably sail through our two or three chapters every day. Then comes Exodus, and it’s full of adventure and intrigue. Burning bushes, massive plagues, attempted coups within the camp of Israel — you can almost hear the echoes of The Prince of Egypt soundtrack playing as your read.
But January turns into February, and the white of winter turns into slushy brown, and you start to drag. Because all of a sudden you begin to read every detail about how the tabernacle was built. And I mean every detail. Use this many rings on the left wall. Use this many rings on the right wall. Use this many rings on the front wall. Use this many rings on the back wall. Put this many pomegranates on the left curtain. Put this many pomegranates on the right curtain. Put this many pomegranates on the front curtain… And so you trudge through these last few chapters of Exodus, convinced you can see a light at the end of the tunnel.
Then you’re hit by the train of Leviticus.
Leviticus isn’t hard because it’s random information. It can just seem so repetitive.
“If his offering is a sacrifice of peace offering, if he offers an animal from the herd, male or female, he shall offer it without blemish before the LORD. And he shall lay his hand on the head of his offering and kill it at the entrance of the tent of meeting, and Aaron’s sons the priests shall throw the blood against the sides of the altar…..If he offers a lamb for his offering, then he shall offer it before the LORD, lay his hand on the head of his offering, and kill it in front of the tent of meeting; and Aaron’s sons shall throw its blood against the sides of the altar…”If his offering is a goat, then he shall offer it before the LORD and lay his hand on its head and kill it in front of the tent of meeting, and the sons of Aaron shall throw its blood against the sides of the altar.” (Leviticus 3:1-13)
It can be interesting to see all the different sacrifices, but sometimes I’m convinced the Old Testament writers had no concept of the term Ibid.
These chapters in Leviticus and other parts of the Bible are hard to get through. At best, we skim over them in record time, at worst we skip over them in their entirety. Yes, these parts of Scripture are long. Yes, these parts of Scripture are repetitious. Yes, these parts of Scripture can be confusing and a little weird. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t read them. In fact, it may mean just the opposite.
So here’s three reasons to persevere through Leviticus and the other hard parts of the Bible.
1: It’s scripture
“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” (2 Tim. 3:16)
We all knew this verse was going to be in here, right? After all, that verse is one of the main reasons why we committed to reading the entirety of our Bible, and we’ve heard it time and time again. But though familiarity can breed contempt, don’t let it. Don’t lose this verse’s power.
All of scripture is there for our good. The hard parts. The weird parts. The simple parts. The Love Chapter of 1 Corinthians is there for our good. But flaming crazy wheels of Ezekiel are also there for our good. Jeremiah 3:16 is there for us just like John 3:16.
Now perhaps they don’t all apply to us in the same ways. Philippians 4:13 is not a mantra you put on your shoes to ensure you win all sports games, and Jeremiah 11:9 was really for the nation of Israel, not your graduation cards. But we can still learn something from all of them.
So when you’re struggling through the mundane passages of your reading, remember that they are there to make you perfect.
2: It’s Tracing the Scarlet Thread
“‘Did you know that a scarlet thread winds its way throughout the entire Bible? Skeptics and scoffers may fire their arrows at the validity and historicity of Scriptures, but believers throughout the centuries have seen this line of crimson weaving through every book of God’s holy Word. It is the story of redemption of mankind at the price of the blood of Jesus Christ.'” (http://www.gabc.org/wp-content/uploads/s042411.pdf)
The Bible is a 66-book behemoth, written by 40 different authors, filled with a myriad of different stories and genres. The exodus out of Egypt, hitting rocks to get water, Ruth and Boaz, Ecclesiastes, the weeping of Jeremiah — sometimes it’s hard to see how they all connect. So often we can view them just as a hodge-podge of different bedtime stories. But we’re forgetting to see the forest because of the trees.
Every story, ever law, every word in the Old Testament is a shadow, a sign, a pointing forward to Christ.
Leading the Israelites out of Egypt? Jesus came to free His people from the slavery of sin. Hitting rocks in the desert? The Rock of Ages gives us living water. Ruth and Boaz? The ongoing saga in keeping the lineage that would lead to the Messiah. Ecclesiastes? All of life is vanity — without Christ. The cries of Jeremiah? Humanity’s longing to be restored and made new, and the promises that He was coming and will do so.
And that’s just as true in the tedious part of scriptures as it is the easy ones.
Leviticus is hard because it explains all the different sacrifices. But the wonder comes when you realized how Christ fulfilled so many of them. How He was our sin offering. How he, like the atonement, was led out of the camp. Paul again and again references these offerings when talking about Christ. And it’s a reminder too that we are an offering, “a sweet savor to God,” (2 Cor. 2:15) just like the peace offerings in Leviticus.
Dig into the cross references, and you’ll be surprised how many of your encouraging verses from the New Testament find their origins here in the tedious ones of Leviticus
3: It’s Evidence of God’s Care for Every Part of Life and Worship
So often it seems that the ‘boring’ parts of scripture aren’t boring because they’re not saying much. And they’re not boring because they’re saying too much. They’re just hard because they’re saying everything very, very thoroughly.
Here’s the peace offering. Here’s exactly how you sacrifice it. Here’s exactly what you do with the blood. Here’s exactly what you do with the fat. Here’s exactly what you do with the kidney’s. Here’s exactly how you burn it. Here’s exactly how you dispose of the remainders. Ok, cool, I think we got it. And here’s the sin offering. Here’s exactly how you sacrifice it. here’s exactly what you do with the blood. Here’s exactly what you do with the fat. Here’s exactly, etc. etc.
The Old Testament is very thorough in explaining how to properly worship God, how to properly dress, how to properly treat diseases, how to properly judge cases, and how to properly live in communities. But, that’s not a bad thing. Yes, it can be tiresome to read every little detail. But it reveals a much bigger truth.
God cares about our lives. God cares about our worship. God cares about out actions. God cares deeply.
He was teaching the Israelites that there was only one proper way to approach God, only one proper way to worship God — His way. Any other way simply causes trouble. (Just ask Aaron’s boys or Uriah.) And He was preparing them so that they would recognize the True Way when He came.
But even more than us knowing the only way to salvation, this shows that God cares about all of life. He’s not some aloof deity that you visit occasionally in his temple, and then return to your personal private life that he has no part in. He’s not like the Greek gods, whom you sacrifice to so they’ll leave you alone. He’s not just a god for ceremonial or spiritual things. He’s God over all.
He cares how we take care of our animals. He cares how we deal with thievery. He cares how we deal with marriage. He cares how we pray, He cares how we love, He cares how we worship.
There shouldn’t be religious parts of our lives. There aren’t spiritual events that we do. Because all of it is. No parts or events, but rather the entirety of our lives.
You should be glorifying God by working well, just as much as by singing hymns in church. You should be glorifying God by serving your family well, just as much as by serving at the soup kitchen.
Some parts of the Bible are very thorough in covering every part of life, yes. But that’s because there’s no part that He is not Lord over.
It’s easy to become bogged down with our Bible Reading.
Yet, we shouldn’t.
It’s the hardest parts of the journey that make it worthwhile, it’s the darkest caves where you find the diamonds. Courage dear heart. Persevere.
(We’ll make it to Psalms eventually.)
“The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; the rule of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb. Moreover by them is your servant warned; in keep them there is great reward.” Psalm 19:7-11