What’s a routine or habit or process that you get super anal about? Like you have to have things exactly this way or else you get kind of annoyed. I have this problem a lot. For example, if someone interrupts my TV/food time and talks my head off, I feel like I’m being personally attacked. Or if someone loads the dishwasher in formations I have never used, I wonder if there’s something wrong with them mentally. It’s extreme, I know, but it’s just how I feel. Sometimes we do the most over the very least.
Speaking of doing the most, God finishes up His description of the guilt offering to Moses in this chapter of the Bible. He explains that the guilt offering applies to people who have deceived, cheated, or stolen. He explains how they must make atonement for their sins. Then, having finished describing all five of the offering types in as many chapters…God describes them all over again, this time with rules specifically for the priests. There are instructions on how long to burn the offerings (all day for the burnt offerings), what parts of the offerings the priests can eat (the grain offerings and some of the sin offerings), and even what the priest should wear while handling the offerings (verses 9-12, 16-18, 26, 30). And that’s only the burnt, grain, and sin offerings! At least we know one thing: this topic of offerings and the tabernacle is as important as its discussion is lengthy…
The Treasures Within:
Method to the Madness
…but just saying so doesn’t make it all make sense. You begin to wonder how long this section of the Bible can go on. Just as soon as one set of rules and regulations regarding the tabernacle are gotten through, another set comes rolling in. It reminds me of how it feels to follow along with a YouTube workout video. Or how it feels reading the list of instructions for an assignment. But at the same time, it’s different.
Compare the laws, rules, and regulations in Leviticus to the laws, rules, and regulations that are all around us – in our justice systems, at our jobs, in society. They lack a sort of finality. There’s no finish line for them, no endpoint – they seem to drag on and on and on. These laws throw people in jail for their crimes and wait for them to die. The regulations tell people to pay their taxes every year until they die. All our life long we try to follow the rules, stay out of trouble, go to work, go home…and then die. When you think about it, we seem to be walking in circles. If we’re “good citizens”, we stay in line, waiting for death. If we’re a little rebellious, we step out of line for a thrill, racking up as many as we can until death. Does it ever feel a little pointless? Where’s the why? Why do we pile on all this formality? Why do we do the most? What is all of this madness for?
And on the other hand, there’s the Leviticus regulations. The Exodus laws. The Bible rules. They seem a little mad, a little pointless at first too. Offerings upon offerings, funny outfits for priests, eat this sacrifice but not that one, bring this animal and only this animal to the sacrifice. But there’s one law in today’s chapter that reminded me of the difference between God’s laws and the world’s laws. Leviticus 6:1-6 talks about what a person who has cheated, lied, or stolen must do as atonement. They retrieve their ram and offer it before the priest. And then there’s verse 7. It says that “in this way the priest will make atonement for them before the Lord, and they will be forgiven for any of the things they did that made them guilty.”
So to review: If you steal from someone in today’s time? You get arrested, you go to court, you get a sentence, you live your life with a record, and eventually you die. If you stole from someone in Bible times? You got your ram, you went to the tabernacle, you made your sacrifice, and you were forgiven. Forgiven. There’s no “forgiven” in today’s rules. There’s no “finished”. There’s no end to the circles, to the suffering. Why do we do this to ourselves? We can come up with a thousand reasons and maybe we’ll buy some of them. But the reason the Israelites obeyed every word of God’s lengthy tabernacle dissertation, the reason we as Christians are told to follow everything God asks of us in His Word? That reason trumps all other reasons, and it’s eternity. We want to be forgiven. We want to love. We want to surrender. And we want to do those things so that someday we can leave this world, its rules, and its circles, and go somewhere where we’ll never die. That’s what it’s all for. And something tells me it’s worth it.
God’s Message To Us:
“I’m trying to save You.” The Israelites’ rules were for then and there. The rules we live by from the Bible are for here and now. But at the same time, both were eagerly and inevitably forming a pathway to eternity. It’s hard to keep this in mind – at least it is for me. When I want to do something that God’s rules forbid, I don’t think about why His rules are here. I think about how good I’ve been lately and how there’s got to be a little wiggle room. But when I come up for air, having done whatever it was I wanted, I find I’ve taken yet another step in the circle of suffering. Never-ending sin. Never-ending rules. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Not only will Jesus forgive me, but He’ll put me on a new path. No more sin, just joy. No more rules, just obedience from love. And if I stay on that path, one day I’ll enjoy the reason for it all. So let’s ask for forgiveness. And let’s ask for a new way of living. And let’s look forward to a destination worth so much more than what’s here below.
What do you think? What do you think about all of the rules in this chapter? What did God want to say to you through this chapter?