Bible in a Year – Day 32: High Price, Huge Gift
Ah, Leviticus! The word alone strikes fear into the hearts of even die-hard seminary students. For most “casual” readers of the Bible, the word translates roughly in English to “don’t bother reading this.” And yet, in my commitment to read through (and blog about) the entire Bible, this collection of incredibly detailed laws cannot be ignored. And so, off we go!
It’s as though the creator of our Canonical reading plan wanted to have a little laugh at our expense. Not only do we get to start reading Leviticus today, but we get four chapters of it! However, in these four chapters, there’s basically one theme: When you sin against God, there is a price to be paid. And, in fact, that price will be those things that are the most valuable to you – the best of your flocks, herds and harvest. If not that, perhaps even your life.
You see, part of the reason that people tend to stay away from the book of Leviticus is that there is so much detail about ritual that we don’t really think applies to us anymore. God doesn’t require us to make ritualistic sacrifices in the post-resurrection era and therefore, none of this stuff really applies to us, right? If that’s our attitude, I’m afraid we will really miss out on the vibrancy of this book. Sure, there are a lot of details in here – prescriptions to follow – that don’t directly relate to how we interact with God today. But the principles set forth in the book of Leviticus are like the fundamental laws of physics or mathematics. They are the building blocks for our society. They are the starting point for all of humanity in our interaction with God.
What we find as we begin to read this book is that God sets an incredibly high standard for his people. He also knows that they will not meet this standard. And so, out of compassion, he gives them ways to, essentially, say they are sorry. Sure, what he requires is pretty elaborate and immense. But we have to remember that this God who can see the past, present and future knew that he was not only setting a high standard and high cost for his people, but that, ultimately, he was setting a high cost for himself.
You have to wonder why God, knowing that he would have to bail us out, would set such a high price for us. I mean, he’s the God of all creation. He could have just said, “If you sin against me, you’re going to have to say you’re sorry.” Then, when Jesus came, he could have just been really sorry and everything would be taken care of. But, in fact, God required a sacrifice. Therefore, Jesus would have to be the ultimate sacrifice – to be really sacrificed.
Again, you have to think that this was all for our benefit. Some would disagree with me and say that God doesn’t do things for anyone’s benefit but his own. Really? Then why in the world did he create us? We’ve caused him nothing but headaches and heartache. He already had angels to worship him. Did he really need us? But I digress…
The fact of the matter is that God, in his infinite wisdom, was making another statement about our worth and the worth of our relationship. He was saying, “This is really valuable. You are really valuable.” As a leader, I often tell the people I am leading that the reason I set the bar high for them is because I value them and their commitment and, thus, don’t want anyone else to wander lazily into the same role for which they have labored so intensely. God tells us that our relationship with him is valuable and he wants to make sure that we know that he’s not interested in having the kind of relationship that isn’t seen as the most valuable thing in our lives.
For God, the high price of disobedience directly translates into the incredibly high value of grace and forgiveness. You can’t have one without the other. And so, the God who sees and knows all things set things up in a way that he could give us an extravagant gift – one that we can’t afford, that we don’t deserve and that we can’t ever repay.
- Bible in a Year – Day 353: Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing
- Bible in a Year – Day 344: Dreams, Dreams
- Bible in a Year – Day 342: Two Fruits
- Bible in a Year – Day 327: Overseas Mission
- Bible in a Year – Day 326: Felix the Scaredy Cat
- Bible in a Year – Day 302: Which Yeast?
- Bible in a Year – Day 281: Faithful Dog
- Bible in a Year – Day 280: Jesus Interrupted
- Bible in a Year – Day 274: Ctrl
- Bible in a Year – Day 242: So, You Want To Be A Prophet