Over the next weeks and months I plan to work through a series of posts on different men of the Bible. Eight years ago (oh my) I actually started a similar series, but only made one entry, which I won’t link, because it wasn’t very good. I’ve started the Bible Project’s reading plan, which will allow me to methodically go through the Bible and pick out the men I want to focus on. By the end of the year, I hope I’ll have countless posts, and I hope we’ll be able to pick out trends. What are common attributes? What are common struggles?
So, back to reading the Bible Project’s reading plan. I highly suggest it. These guys put together fantastic videos on the Bible and the narrative of the Bible. The videos, along with daily reading, have really made the Bible new to me in so many ways. Below, you’ll see the (slightly altered) transcript from their Leviticus video. PLEASE KEEP READING, IT’S ENLIGHTENING. I know Leviticus was not on the top of my list, but their narrative is really intriguing. They added context and really put a fresh spin on things, and I felt like it deserved to be shared again.
Once you’ve read this intro, I think you’ll be interested in the rest. Headings and bold added at my discretion.
The book of Leviticus is the third book of the Bible.
Reflecting on Exodus
Leviticus is set right after the exodus of the Israelites from their slavery, when God brought them to the foot of Mount Sinai and invited Israel into a covenant relationship. The Israelites had quickly rebelled and broke the covenant and God wanted for his glorious presence to come and live right in the midst of Israel in the form of this Tabernacle but Israel’s sin has damaged the relationship, so at the end of the previous book, Exodus, Moses (as Israel’s representative) could not even enter God’s presence in the tent.
The Book of Leviticus opens by reminding us of this fundamental problem: Israel’s damaged relationship with God and Moses unable to enter into God’s presence. It says “the Lord called to Moses from the tent”. So the question is: how can Israel, in their sin and selfishness, be reconciled to this holy God? That’s what this book is all about: how God is graciously providing a way for sinful, corrupt people to live in his holy presence.
God and holiness
Now, let’s pause for a second and explore this really important idea that God is holy. It’s fundamental to understanding this book. The word holy means simply to “be set apart or unique”. In the Bible, God is set apart from all other things because of his unique role as the creator of all. The author of life itself. And so, if God is holy, then the space around God is also holy. It’s full of his goodness, and his life, and his purity, and his justice. So if Israel, who is unjust and sinful, wants to live in God’s holy presence, they too need to become holy. Their sin has to be dealt with, thus, the book of Leviticus.
Now the book has a really amazing symmetrical design. It explores the three main ways that God helps Israel to live in his presence.
The outer sections are descriptions of the rituals Israel was to practice in God’s holy presence.
The next inner sections focus on the role of Israel’s priests as mediators between God and Israel.
Inside of that are two matching sections that focus on Israel’s purity.
Then, at the center of the book, there’s a key ritual, the Day of Atonement, that brings the whole book together.
The book concludes with a short section where Moses calls on Israel to be faithful to this covenant.
Connecting the dots
Now, if you want to see how Leviticus fit into the big story line, it’s helpful to look at the first sentence of the next book of the Bible, Numbers. It begins “the Lord spoke to Moses in the tent.” So, we can see that Moses is now able to enter God’s presence on behalf of Israel. The Book of Leviticus: it worked! Despite Israel’s failure, God has provided a way for their sin to be covered, so that God can live with sinful people in peace. That’s what the book of Leviticus is all about.
Hope you enjoyed, and I’d encourage watching the rest of the video.
Also, a summary video on the reading plan is embedded below.
I’d encourage everyone to look into their plan for reading the Bible and consider it!