Summary: The first message in a series on Leviticus is an introduction to what we will study for the next five weeks. Paul explains the purpose of the Law in Gal. 3:24 where the law is called a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ.
Leviticus Series #1
Why the LAW?
CHCC: June 13, 2010
Recently I looked back over my records of all the sermons I’ve preached at Castle Hills Christian Church and realized that over the past 25 years, I’ve preached from all the books of the New Testament and most of the Old Testament. When Ronnie and I began to share the preaching schedule, I mentioned to him that I had preached from almost every book in the Old Testament but had just a handful of books left to preach from in order to preach from every book in the Bible.
When I listed the book of Leviticus, Ronnie got a doubtful look on his face. If you’ve ever read the book of Leviticus, you know why! How many of you have ever set out to read through the entire Bible … you flew through Genesis, you enjoyed most of Exodus … and then you got completely bogged down in Leviticus? You can probably figure out why Ronnie decided to allow me to have this series of sermons all to myself!
Reading through Leviticus always makes me think back to an old hymn that was titled “How tedious, how tasteless the hours…” My goal is to make sure these next 5 weeks are nowhere near as dry and dull as Leviticus can be. II Timothy 3:16 says, All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.
In order to understand why God instituted the Levitical Law in all it’s tedious detail, we need to put it in the larger context of the whole Bible. Let’s take a peek back to the Garden of Eden, and the world’s first human residents. Let’s look at …
1. Why God created people (Adam and Eve)
Genesis doesn’t ever come right out and say “God created people BECAUSE…” But if we look at the first chapters, we can see God’s purpose. We know from Genesis 1:26 that God made man in his own image and after his own likeness. Chapters 2 and 3, reveal various interactions between God and his created beings. God gave Adam work to do (2:19-20) … things like naming animals and tending the garden; God provided for his needs; (1:29-30, 2:21-23); and God enjoyed continual conversations with these first 2 people … usually in the cool of the day (Gen. 3:8). We can conclude from this that God created people to enjoy a constant, voluntary, relationship with God. People were made to live in constant connection with God.
There was only one rule for these first two people. Don’t eat the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Obedience to this one rule was the “voluntary” part of the plan. Adam and Eve could demonstrate their desire to depend on God …or they could demonstrate their desire to disconnect from God and declare their independence.
There’s an interesting thing about this first sin. We tend to think of sin as the desire to do something really bad. But here’s the temptation the serpent gave them: "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." The temptation was to be like God. Do you see? Adam and Eve wanted something that sounds good. In fact, they wanted to be Perfectly GOOD … like God … but they wanted to do it on their own, apart from a relationship with God.
They were the first to sing that classic line, “I did it MY way!”
You need to see the paradigm shift Adam and Eve brought on themselves. They enjoyed a simple and beautiful life of connection and complete dependence on God. Their one and only rule had just one purpose --- so they could show that they CHOSE to continue a close relationship with God. But they chose to break that connection.
I’m not convinced that they wanted to do wrong. But they wrongly assumed that if they could understand right and wrong for themselves, they would choose right and thus be perfect on their own. They were declaring, “We don’t need God.” And what they didn’t see was that this is the root of all sin.
In doing this, Adam and Eve became the first legalists. They wanted to come up with their own list of rules and then prove that they could keep them. Well, we all know how that turned out.
Fellowship with God was replaced by rules, rules, and more rules. Every new situation created a need for another rule. And with every rule came a corresponding need for a consequence if the rule was broken. And the more humans who came along, the more rules were needed. Cane killed his brother, so now there had to be a rule about murder, and consequences for doing it.