What it Means to be God's
I am Yahweh.
You are mine.
Therefore, you are to do things my way in every aspect of life.
These three sentences encapsulate the essence of Leviticus. Several key passages in Leviticus help bring these themes into focus. Mark them in your Bible and keep them in mind as you read through the 27 chapters of Leviticus.
Repeatedly, God asserts that He is Yahweh and that Israel belongs to Him. They are therefore to demonstrate in every aspect of life their consecration to Him. That is at the heart of what it means to be holy—the key word that occurs 152 times in Leviticus. Understanding this will help unlock everything you then read in Leviticus.
1. God regulates the gifts that His people offer Him.
God regulates the gifts that His people offer Him (chs. 1-7). They bring the gifts and offerings that He prescribes, in the way that He prescribes, and when He prescribes. A God like Yahweh is not to be approached nonchalantly or carelessly. You approach Him with the gifts that He has designated to be offered and you offer them with the help of the mediators, the Levitical priesthood, that He has provided (chs. 8-10).
2. God determines what makes a person clean or unclean.
In addition, God determines what makes a person clean or unclean and how a person who has become unclean becomes clean. He is to be sanctified in what Israel eats, in what they touch, in the way they deal with infectious diseases, or mildew-type growths (see chs. 11-15). Uncleanness is such a problem that one day every year, the Day of Atonement, is set aside to cleanse Israel and the tabernacle from the past year’s filth (ch. 16). “On this day atonement shall be made for you to cleanse you. You shall be cleansed from all your sins before Yahweh” (16:30). Blood is required to make atonement and be cleansed from impurity (17:11). The blood is the concrete symbol of the life of a creature. By offering its blood, you are taking its life. Death--bloody death--is the price for cleansing from sin.
3. God expects obedience to His ordinances.
Finally, God expects Israel to live by His ordinances. As you read through Leviticus 18-27, take special note of how many times God alludes to My ordinances, My statutes, and My commandments. Israel was not to walk in the ways of the nations around them; they were to walk in God’s ways. The land in which they would live was God’s (25:23) so they were to follow His rules for working it. Their fellow Israelites were God’s (25:42, 55) so they were to treat them accordingly. If Israel chose to sin, God would choose the chastisement. If Israel chose to obey, God would pour out the rewards.
Leviticus has application for New Testament believers.
Being God’s, in whatever period of time you live, means you do things His way in every aspect of your life. As 1 Peter 1:15 summarizes, “But as the One who called you is holy, you yourselves also be holy in all your conduct.”
We, like Israel, are to be fully God’s in every aspect of life so that we may “proclaim the excellencies of the One who has called us out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9).
Review & Application:
About the Author
Timothy W. Berrey is the author of Planning Your Life God's Way and From Eden to Patmos: An Overview of Biblical History. He is the director of Graduate Studies at Bob Jones Memorial Bible College in Metro Manila, where he has lived with his wife Laura and six children since 2005.