It had to happen.
Inevitably, one day "Bible Pick ‘Ems" would land me in the middle of Leviticus.
Today is that day.
I wasn’t sure what God was going to teach me in the middle of a seemingly endless list of rules.
But as I read, there it was – the reason for the list.
"The LORD also said to Moses, ‘Give the following instructions to the entire community of Israel. You must be holy because I, the LORD your God, am holy.'" (Leviticus 19:2)
Leviticus is a revelation of God’s character.
God is giving clear instructions on how sinful people can relate to a holy God.
However, Leviticus represents so much more.
It isn’t just a list of things to do to make oneself "good." It isn’t an arbitrary accounting of do’s and don’ts. It isn’t the ranting of a despotic God with a persnickety nature – who sets forth the parameters of human interaction, knowing full-well that His list is impossible.
And yet, I think that IS the "hidden" reason for the laws in Levitcus. The most important part, I would venture to say. The sheer impossibility of keeping them. And the truth of a holy God who knows that fact.
The laws show us the seriousness of sin.
"Obviously, the law applies to those to whom it was given, for its purpose is to keep people from having excuses, and to show that the entire world is guilty before God. For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are." (Romans 3:19-20)
"God’s law was given so that all people could see how sinful they were." (Romans 5:20)
"In fact, it was the law that showed me my sin." (Romans 7:7)
I got to thinking about this word "holiness" and what it means. The dictionary defines it this way: "Exalted or worthy of complete devotion as one perfect in goodness and righteousness."
Perfect in goodness, righteous.
Holiness is the very definition, the very essence of God. It is His nature. And because of our sinful nature, there is no way we can breach the gap.
Holy cannot mix with unholy.
Trying to grasp this impossibility, I came up with this analogy.
Picture the ocean – the vast, powerful, deeply mysterious ocean. By its very nature, it is water.
I am a human being, and by my very nature, I was made to live on land.
And because of my nature, and because of the nature of the ocean, I am unable to breathe under water. I would die.
The ocean isn’t being unfair or cruel if I died – for the ocean, by its very nature, cannot be anything but itself. So, death is a result of the fundamental difference in our natures. I do not possess within myself the ability to breathe underwater.
God’s nature is holy, and my nature is sinful.
God cannot be anything but Himself. And He is utterly holy. I do not possess within myself the ability to be in His presence. I would die. For my sin completely separates me from His perfect goodness.
The purpose of the law is to demonstrate the standard of perfect holiness that God demands, by His very nature.
It is a "benchmark of behavior" – something to measure ourselves by – a benchmark from which we will always fall short.
Is God being cruel or unfair by setting a standard we have no hope of reaching? NO! I would argue that it is just the opposite. Only a loving God would care enough to show His creatures the IMPOSSIBILITY of reaching Him on their own. He desired to remove all illusions of human goodness – all illusions of a person’s power to save themselves.
It is only in this knowledge, that a human heart can understand its great need for God’s intervention.
And only a loving God would intervene. And that is just what He did – because love is also an undeniable part of His very nature.
So, He sent His Son. Jesus – who, by His very nature, was fully human and fully God.
He made the law obsolete, and He fulfilled it at the same time. He made the law a person. He took on the sin of the world to destroy its power. He overcame the great separation that no man could fix on His own. He bridged the gap between a perfectly holy God and His beloved unholy creatures.
It’s like Jesus made us able to breathe underwater!
When I first opened my Bible for today’s "Bible Pick ‘Ems," I wasn’t sure what God was going to say to me in the middle of Leviticus!
But what He said was this:
"For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty of our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin…God did this to demonstrate his righteousness, for he himself is fair and just, and he declares sinners to be right in his sight when they believe in Jesus." (Romans 3:23-25, 26)
The law foreshadowed the Lamb – the rules paved the way for the Redeemer.
You know what, I LOVE Leviticus!!
“When in doubt, search God out!”