Entering Leviticus…oh my.

I am engaged in a reading plan through YouVersion in which I will read the Bible, in chronological order, in one year. Confession ~ today is day 121 of the plan, I am on day 44. So, I’m behind and I entered the book of Leviticus….ugh. The book of rules, laws, sacrifices, more rules, offerings, clean, unclean, cleansing, purification, redeeming and rewards.

Have you ever heard anyone mention Leviticus as their favorite book in the Bible? My plan was to zip through the reading assigned for today, which was Leviticus 1, 2, 3 & 4. I had this mindset when I entered Leviticus – ‘Let me just get through this book’. (Likely not the way God intended me to read his word.)

As I read chapter one, I was curious about the 3 different burnt offerings that could be made ~ from the flock, from the herd, or a bird. What was the significance of the different animals? Instead of moving on to chapter 2, I researched  Googled this matter. What I learned was that God made a way for the rich man who had a bull, and the middle class man, who had a sheep or a goat, and the poor man, who could only offer a bird, a way to make an offering. So like God to provide a way for each of us, no matter what.

I also learned this, it had to be personal, the animal couldn’t be a wild animal, it had to be domesticated. Taken from you; it had to cost you something. It also had to be of the highest quality, not blemished…not like “I don’t really need this, so I’ll just give it away.” This is good practice for giving to Goodwill, but not to the Lord.

The one bringing the offering didn’t get to leave it at the gate. He had to put his hands on the head of the animal – identifying with the animal to be sacrificed. Also, they (the offerer), not the priests, dealt the blow, or cut, to the animal being sacrificed. Likely leaving an impression. Believe me, if I had to look Jesus in the eye as he was hit with my sin, it would leave an impression. I got a lot more out of chapter one than I expected.

I went on to read chapter 2 about the grain offering. This one kind of amused me a little; it could be baked in an oven, prepared on a griddle, or cooked in a pan. (I was suddenly hearing In a box, with a fox, in a house, with a mouse…). This was still a personal and costly offering – the flour had to be of the highest quality.

The grain offering was not an atonement offering (no blood shed), so it’s likely an act of worship, thanking God for providing daily bread. I was also curious about the specific ingredients mentioned – it must be made without yeast or honey (vs. 11), but make sure you put salt in it (vs. 13). I learned that leaving out the yeast is likely a reminder of the deliverance from Egypt. Also, yeast can spoil food, but salt can preserve and purify it. I read here that it’s likely the leaving out of yeast symbolizes leaving out our corruption, and putting in salt speaks to preserving and purifying. So very interesting to me.

What does this mean to me today? I am reminded that offering to God on an ongoing basis is important. The Israelites made offerings each morning and each evening, as well as on the Sabbath, and the beginning of the month, on Passover, and so much more! My first thought is to be more intentional with my offerings to the Lord. I believe Jesus is my burnt offering (there is nothing else that can atone for, (or wipe out) my sins), and my tithe is like my grain offering – and although these are as important today as they were in the Old Testament, in 2013 it can seem that neither of these are as personal and costly as they were back then. I mean, I’m not bringing my dog to the altar, putting my hands upon her head, looking her in the eyes and then slaughtering her. Which I think would be an accurate picture for 2013 – but feel free to correct me, you Bible scholars and seminary students. Seriously, if I have something askew – please comment and teach me.

So today I only got through chapters 1 & 2, and now I am even more behind. But I also know I was more engaged in the reading (much more than I expected in the book of Leviticus!), which I believe is more in line with how God intends for me to read his Word. God cares much more about my heart than my pace.

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