Leviticus is a difficult book to read. When I was little, I would just skip over the laws and the genealogies because they didn’t seem as important. My family didn’t sacrifice goats and rely on priests to intercede for me, so those books really didn’t matter as much as the other ones, right?
I recently started back at the beginning in my Bible reading, and I’m working through Leviticus right now. Let me tell you: There’s nothing that makes me feel more unworthy than reading commands of God, no matter where they fall in the Bible. God’s Word throws my brokenness and weaknesses in my face, showing me my desperate need for my Savior.
I found myself reading Leviticus 21 last night, which covers rules for priests. Back then, not just anyone could come to God and perform the duties associated with worship and sacrifice, among other things. Not everyone could come before God’s throne. The priests were holy — meaning set apart for a specific purpose — and they had a special ordination ceremony to prepare them to serve. They were males who came from a specific tribe and bloodline.
While reading about the different rules for priests, I hit these verses:
The Lord said to Moses, “Say to Aaron: ‘For the generations to come none of your descendants who has a defect may come near to offer the food of his God. No man who has any defect may come near: no man who is blind or lame, disfigured or deformed; no man with a crippled foot or hand, or who is a hunchback or a dwarf, or who has any eye defect, or who has festering or running sores or damaged testicles. No descendant of Aaron the priest who has any defect is to come near to present the food offerings to the Lord. He has a defect; he must not come near to offer the food of his God. He may eat the most holy food of his God, as well as the holy food; yet because of his defect, he must not go near the curtain or approach the altar, and so desecrate my sanctuary. I am the Lord, who makes them holy.’” (v. 16-23, NIV)
I felt the Holy Spirit poke me a little and went back and reread it, not wanting to miss what He wanted to show me that night.
Besides the fact that I’m a woman, even if I had met the genealogical qualifications of priesthood, I wouldn’t have been able to serve as a priest because I have defective eyes. If I take off my glasses and look down a flight of stairs, I can’t see individual steps to try to walk down them … pretty rough.
I wouldn’t have had what it took to be able to go near God’s holy place. These sacred, holy places would have been unapproachable to me. I couldn’t have reached the standard set in place on my own.
But do you see that short verse at the end? “I am the Lord, who makes them holy.”
Friends, God had a bigger plan than the law and sacrifices that could never have taken away sins. He had a bigger plan than worship confined by means of earthly priests. His plan would include a one-time sacrifice that covered all sin for all time. The plan would also make those of us who couldn’t meet the priestly standards holy and acceptable with the ability to draw near to our Creator.
But do you realize what that took? It took the most painful separation of all time with Almighty God sending His precious Son away from His presence and to a sinful world to walk with mankind for 33 years, ending in the most horrific shed blood of Christ and the most glorious resurrection of the One who defeated death. The full wrath of God was poured on His sinless, spotless Son because that’s what it took to satisfy God’s holy and just wrath. Nothing was held back.
The writer of Hebrews tell us that by one sacrifice, He has made perfect forever those who are being made holy, that the sins and lawless acts God remembers know more, and that where these have been forgiven, sacrifice for sin is no longer necessary. (Hebrews 10:14-18)
And he goes on to write what connected with Leviticus last night:
Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. (v. 19-23)
We aren’t denied access to God’s dwelling place or His altar anymore no matter our lineage or defects. We can come close to God with confidence because we have been washed clean by the broken body of the Great Priest. He opened the curtain for us and invited us to come close and be cleansed.
It brings tears every time I think about the fact that I’m made perfect forever, that my God sees me as holy with sins already atoned for. I see my daily battle between the spirit and the flesh, and it sure doesn’t make me feel clean. But what a precious gift that we as Christians can approach God right now, while we’re still in our sinful flesh, and worship Him freely in His presence despite our earthly shortcomings, for Christ’s blood has made us holy.
Praise God for that! Praise God for sacrificing His Son and for Christ’s willingness to be the sacrifice. Praise Him for His love, grace, mercy, forgiveness, and compassion. Praise His holy name!
So, while Leviticus may not be most Christians’ pick for their favorite book of the Bible, God sure used it to speak with me last night about my position before Him in Christ, a position that allows me to draw near to Him. What a beautiful reminder of God’s goodness and unfailing love. For that, I’ll move Leviticus up on my list.