Russ Ray

Trying to become more like Jesus

First five – Leviticus

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Every Scripture is God-breathed (given by His inspiration) and profitable for instruction, for reproof and conviction of sin, for correction of error and discipline in obedience, [and] for training in righteousness (in holy living, in conformity to God’s will in thought, purpose, and action).—2 Timothy 3:16 (AMP)

There are a lot of things Jesus did for which we can be thankful. This is one of them.

A long time ago when I was a baby Christian, I decided to read through the entire Bible. All the experienced Christian around me shrieked in unison that I shouldn’t do it. Didn’t seem like a big deal to me… I knew that Genesis was full of Bible stories, and I saw The Prince of Egypt and the Ten Commandments, so I figured that covered Exodus, and by then I would be on my way.

Oh no, they told me… you won’t get through LEVITICUS.

LEVITICUS. Even the name inspires fear and dread when you see it.

LEVITICUS. The chapter of the Bible that better people than me have bailed out on.

LEVITICUS. You’ll give up on reading it, you puny faithless newbie, and then you’ll give up on what little faith you have, leave your new wife and be found 2 weeks later drunk and living in the dumpster at the adult book store.

Okay, well maybe that last one was a stretch, but I got a lot of heat from everyone I knew way back when for reading Leviticus. But, here’s a shocker: I got something out of it.

Even better, I read it again recently, and I got even more out of it.

My wife says that I am a rule follower. The sacrifice of Jesus for the propitiation of our sins made a lot more sense when I understood the whole Jewish methodology behind the sacrifices in the first place.

You should be on your knees daily thanking Jesus for making the logistics of going to church on Sunday morning a lot simpler. It’s bad enough trying to get three women to wake up on Sunday morning, eat breakfast, make me coffee, clean up, get dressed, do everybody’s hair, and get everybody out to the van.

Could you imagine then having to get a small farm into the van as well? A farm, you ask? Yes, specifically the burnt offering (a bull, a sheep, a goat, some turtledoves or some pigeons), the grain offering (oil with either fine flour, unleavened loaves or wafers or grain), the peace offering (another bull, lamb or goat), the sin offering (another bull, lamb or goat) and the guilt offering (another lamb, goat, some turtledoves, some pigeons or some flour).

That would be a crowded trip to church.

And then, you get there, and everybody else is bringing all their farm animals with them in their minivans and SUVs. Those of you who drive tiny cars I guess are pulling trailers maybe or trying to figure out how to get the sheep to sit still in the back seat or the goat to stop eating the upholstery.

And then, instead of getting right inside to church, we all have to stand in line for like 5 hours waiting for all the sacrifices ahead of us to be completed. Meanwhile, you have to keep all the animals from tearing down the church (both the 2-legged and 4-legged animals).

And when you’re finally up to the altar to do the deed, you leave thinking, “That’s it?” You get into the car and scurry back home, because then you have to feed the rest of the animals out in the backyard. Unfortunately, you get home, realize you left the door to the animal pen open, and your animals are roaming the streets and eating the leaves off your neighbors’ ornamental pear trees.

Maybe I’ve taken this story a little too far now.

Jesus paid it all: mostly so we could be restored to fellowship with God and be forgiven for our sins. But, I have to believe a tiny part of it was so we didn’t have to maintain a small farm in suburbia to keep our relationship with God secure. And that’s one of the things I learned from Leviticus.

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