07 February 2014

Loving the Details, Even in Leviticus

 ~Cactus growing by the shore at La Sal del Rey~

I've dreaded it a little.  Now, I know all Scripture is inspired of God, and useful (see 2 Timothy 3:16, 17), but I'll freely admit it.  In my human frailty, I haven't always appreciated Leviticus.  So reading through the Bible from the beginning onward, I knew it wouldn't be long before I'd come squarely face to face with a book long on law-lists and short on stories.

 ~Little birds racing through the shallow water~

There's always room for creative reading, of course:  Imagine what it would be like to lay your hand on a lamb's head, and kill it, knowing you could have spared his life instead of coveting your best friend's [hair, dress, financial situation] this afternoon.  Draw out a map of the sanctuary, and notice how all the items of furniture are arranged in the shape of the cross.  Notice the rules for priests handling sacrifices and eating sacrificial, holy food go long distances to prevent the spread of communicable diseases and blood-borne pathogens.

Yet none of these creative reading lenses stood out for me this time through.  I didn't want to glaze over and wonder if I'd gained anything by the end of the book, so I took out with intention one of the best Bible study tools I know.

I prayed, and asked for the Holy Spirit to teach me something.

Because spiritual things are spiritually discerned (1 Corinthians 2:14), and unless I'm surrendered and listening, my mind wanders in decidedly carnal directions.  (Like making sure I've added that last item to my to-do list, or planning a new approach for teaching scales, just in case you're wondering.  Which can be good things to think about, except that during my Bible study time they only serve to take my mind away from Jesus.)

  ~Long-billed Curlews gathering for their evening social meeting~

As I've worked on memorizing large portions of Scripture over the last several years, I've appreciated repetitive passages of the Bible more than ever.  Repetition sticks out to me now, not only as a tool to aid the memory and help the words stay in my mind, tying whole stories together with golden threads, but also as a way to emphasize particular points for those in the olden days who would likely hear these words read aloud.

I'm not memorizing Leviticus, but maybe it shouldn't have surprised me to be reading along through the dreaded book only to have God answer my prayer to be taught something...anything...by pointing out a repetitive pattern.

~Clouds and light reflecting still calm on the waters of La Sal del Rey~

"...and the priest shall make an atonement for them, and it shall be forgiven them."  (Leviticus 4:20)
"...and the priest shall make an atonement for him as concerning his sin, and it shall be forgiven him." (Leviticus 4:26)
"...and the priest shall make an atonement for him, and it shall be forgiven him."  (Leviticus 4:31)
"...and the priest shall make an atonement for his sin that he hath committed, and it shall be forgiven him."  (Leviticus 4:35)

The list goes on.  It covers different types of sins; sin done in ignorance and how to handle it when you realize what you've done; sins of leaders; sins of regular people; what to offer if you're rich; what to offer if you can't afford the regular sacrifice; and what to offer if you can't afford the less expensive sacrifice.

But no matter what the sacrifice or the sin described--and there are many--each one ends with words full of hope:  "And the priest shall make an atonement for him before the LORD: and it shall be forgiven him for any thing of all that he hath done in trespassing therein."  (Leviticus 6:7)

 ~Day is dying in the west~

Here's the beauty:  all those lists and specific instructions on what sacrifices to bring before the Lord preach the gospel.  

In these pages, I appreciate afresh not just that I have a Savior who took that death penalty I should have justly received, but He also anticipated, ahead of time, every possible area in which I and we would struggle, and made provision for them all.

He didn't want anything to hold me back from the city with foundations He's preparing for us, mansions and all.  Not guilt, not ignorant mistakes, not poverty.

He knew I would stumble, and fall, and He knew exactly what it would take for me to be reconciled to Himself.  So He mapped it out as plainly as possible, as thoroughly as possible, with every detail recorded in that dreaded book Leviticus, repeating the promise over and over and over until I couldn't miss it this time and not one of us could leave thinking there was no mercy for us.

"I will forgive."

I don't dread Leviticus anymore.  Instead, in its pages full of endless details, I see a merciful, nail-pierced hand, reaching down to lift me, to lift you, out of every pit, no matter how deep, no matter how dark.  I see Jesus, the Provision for my redemption to whom all these sacrificial services pointed.

1 comment:

Greetings, fellow climbers! Leave your marks on the steps--I'll be delighted to hear from you.