Reading through the book of Leviticus can be a bit tedious. It’s packed with a lot of strange rules, many of which seem totally foreign to us. But don’t let that confuse you.
I remember the time my parents bought a new house. We had never experienced anything like it. Going into a new environment is usually intimidating. But for us, it was an exciting place to explore and imagine. We loved it because we understood the bigger reality—this is a brand new house, and it is ours.
For the Christian, the book of Leviticus is still profitable even thousands of years later because this is our book from God to us. What’s more, we can still enjoy learning from Leviticus when we explore it and understand how it applies to us.
Here’s the bigger reality—Leviticus is written that we might embrace our calling to be holy people (Leviticus 19:2). To be holy simply means to “be set apart.” All throughout the book, God reinforces His various commands with the words, “I am the Lord.” Because God delivered Israel out of bondage to Pharaoh in Egypt, He viewed the nation of Israel as His own distinct people (see Exodus 19:5-6). As servants of God, the Israelites were to demonstrate God’s holy character by living differently than the nations around them.
I live in Pennsylvania Dutch country. Our town is a mix of Mennonite, Amish, Puerto Rican, and the average American ethnicities. In this melting pot of cultures, I often see and hear people who talk, dress, and act very different from me. Is that the kind of holiness God is looking for? Not necessarily.
Think about Leviticus. We may not understand or relate to all the particular rules, because those rules were intended for the people of Israel as God worked through them to bring the Messiah, Jesus. Christ abolished many of those rules (Mark 7:14-23) and the need for sacrifices through His once-for-all sacrifice (Hebrews 7:26-27). But we still must conform to God’s moral law. Peter takes this same concept and applies it to Christians in the New Testament (1 Peter 1:14-16). We are servants of the living God, and as such we still follow the law of Christ (Galatians 6:2).
At the same time, we need to be careful. Do we follow the law as a way of earning salvation? No, when we accept Christ by faith, He gives us a new heart that begins to bear the fruit of righteousness (Philippians 3:8-9). Our salvation leads us to live out the law of Christ, but we still are responsible to obey.
If you claim salvation through faith in Christ, how can Leviticus change your life? What are some ways that you and I can grow in holiness? We live in a society of low moral values. Bearing the fruit of righteousness is the best way to live distinct, holy lives that point people toward the Savior. Take time today to examine your moral foundations in light Scripture and see what the Spirit says.