I have to admit something right off the bat. The Book of Leviticus is not the most engaging book in the Bible, but it does paint a fascinating picture of life and relationship with God in the ancient world. It is very easy to get mired down in the specific laws and consequences for disobedience. What caught my eye was the harsh treatment that occurred for failing to adhere to the strict practices. Don’t observe the Sabbath and the punishment is death. That is pretty severe.
When looking at the religious landscape of the day, it might be a little clearer to see the purposes for maintaining such a stringent covenant with the people of God. The chosen people were expected to be a light in the wilderness; a reminder that the Great I Am leads them and guides them through every situation. Therefore, the children of Adonai were to live in a new relationship with each other and with their creator. By holy living, the world would see the glory of God and be transformed bringing all life back to the one who designed the universe.
We as Christians continue the mission of the ancient church. We are a city on a hill; a people who are disciples of the Christ. Expectations of holy living include being in a right relationship with God. This consists of a way of ordering our lives so to model how Jesus lived among us. Our rules harken back to the Torah (first five books of the Bible).
The difference between the ancient people and us is that we recognize that it is impossible to follow the rules on our own resources. We need the spiritual power of God to help us, and so we place our faith in Him. The power of Christ; who offers us grace when we fail to be an obedient people. In our confessions to God, there is no need for blood sacrifice, for Christ freely gave himself to allow us to be restored back into right relationship with God and each other.
Today, let us remember that our ancient brothers and sisters in faith began a journey through a wilderness of uncertainty and doubt to enter the promised land. Their story is our story. We know what it is like to walk in the deserts of fear and sorrow, only to discover the riches of Christ. May your path be illuminated by the One, who guides us to everlasting life.