Summary: A look at the book of Levitiucs and the role rules play in our lives.
Rules, anyone here into rules? You know laws, decrees, regulations, whatever it is that you want to call them. If you are here’s the good news the book of Leviticus is full of rules, aren’t you lucky? As a matter of fact rules is just about all Leviticus is about. There is really no story to it, no characters, no plot; just rules, page after page of rules.
There are rules about what you can do and what you can’t do, when you can do it and when you can’t do it. What you can wear and what you can’t wear, what you can eat and what you can’t eat. They just seem to go on and on and on.
Now I know that now that you’ve heard that Leviticus is about rules that you don’t want anything to do with it cause you don’t like rules. Maybe you’re like Katherine Hepburn who said “If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun” Or maybe you’re like Princess Diana who said “I don’t go by the rule book… I lead from the heart, not the head.” I wonder if Di’s parents ever told her not to get into a car if the driver had been drinking, that’s a type of rule.
Or maybe it’s just natural when someone says “don’t” that you say “Oh yes I will.” (Video Clip from Lion King Starts at 29:10 finishes at 35:33). You see rules aren’t just implemented to annoy us or to make life less fun, they are often put into place to protect. Either to protect us or to protect others. Simba and Naula thought the rule about going into the elephant burial ground was kind of dumb, but they not only put themselves in danger they put Zazu in danger as well.
And there are rules in all aspects of our life.
There are rules that apply in our families. Curfews. Don’t smack your sister. Don’t smack your brother. What are some rules from families?
There are rules in school: Do your homework, no smoking in the halls. Any other suggestions?
Rules at Work. Don’t steal the paper clips, don’t shoot the other employees. What are some rules where you work?
How about Social Rules? I bet a rule at Shane and Debbie’s is “Don’t pee in the pool” that was certainly a rule when we had a rule.
And there are rules for society, some are rules about big things. Don’t blow up airplanes, others are minor “don’t throw litter out your car window.”
The book of Leviticus is the third book in the Bible and is probably one of the most neglected books in the Bible as well. If you’ve read it at all you’ve probably just scanned through it and didn’t really spend a lot of time getting the feel for it. And there’s a couple of reasons for that. The first is that the book seems so strange to our culture.
It talks about selecting and killing live animals for sacrifices, that just seems wrong. It tells us how the Priests should dress and behave what they ought to do and what they ought not to do.
It contains a whole list of prohibitions that we don’t consider to be all that relevant to life in this new Millennium which is in reality thirty five hundred years removed from when the book was written. So we start to read it and we think, yeah whatever.
And it breaks the flow of the story. Genesis takes us through a multitude of the bible stories we are familiar with and ends with Jacob’s family in Egypt, the book of Exodus picks the story up four hundred years later and chronicles the escape of the Israelites from Egypt and then just leaves them in the middle of the dessert building the tabernacle which was like a portable church. And then bang Leviticus is dropped into the mix and we get this whole list of rules and regulations which takes us through into the book of Numbers to chapter 10 where the narrative is picked up again. And it’s just way too easy to go from Exodus 40 to Numbers 10 and skip everything in between.
But if God had wanted us to skip it He wouldn’t have put it there in the first place.
So let’s not look at it as an interruption instead let’s look at it as a continuation. Exodus ends with instructions for the Israelites on where to worship God, the tabernacle and Leviticus begins with instructions for the Israelites on how to worship God in the tabernacle.
The Hebrew title for the book is Vayyikra and it literally means “He Called” and it is the opening phrase of the book. In Leviticus 1:1-2 The Lord called to Moses from the Tabernacle and said to him, “Give the following instructions to the Israelites: