When any one of you brings an offering to the LORD,
you shall bring your offering of livestock from the herd or from the flock.
Leviticus 1:2 (ESV)
Leviticus: everyone’s favorite book of the bible, right?
I have to admit, I have a soft spot for the underdog, the one who seems to be overlooked. If we’re honest, we can treat books of the bible this way, overlooking them because they are hard for us to understand. It’s more refreshing to the soul to read John or Ephesians again than it is to read Amos, Habakkuk or Leviticus, I understand.
As a new believer, I was counselled to skip over the book of Leviticus because there is so much that is hard to grasp and as a new believer isn’t going to be immediately practical; I believe this counsel wasn’t exactly wrong either. New believers are intaking so much for the first time that it’s good to focus attention on the fundamentals of the gospel, the perfect life, sacrificial death, burial and triumphal resurrection of Jesus for the sins of the world and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
But we can’t avoid books Leviticus forever! All scripture is breathed out by God and profitable… after all (2 Timothy 3:16).
In the old Israelite society, the youth’s formal training in Jewish faith began with the book Leviticus. Why is that? It’s because Leviticus first and foremost is about drawing near to God and living near to Him as a community in such a way that reflects His glory. The first chapter alone sets this up in Hebrew where the root word karav (קָרַב) is used 17 times in 17 verses and means “to come near” or “approach”. The underlined words in the following verse are karav:
Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, “When any one of you brings (causes to come near) an offering (means of coming near) to the LORD, you shall bring your offering of livestock from the herd or from the flock. If his offering is a burnt offering from the herd, he shall offer a male without blemish. He shall bring it to the entrance of the tent of meeting, that he may be accepted before the LORD.”
Come near, come near, come near…
When we say that Jesus is the fulfillment of these Old Testament sacrifices, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29), what we’re saying is that it is by his offering of Himself that we are able to come near to God. It turns out, the fundamentals of the gospel are firmly rooted in the Old Testament books like Leviticus. Jesus Christ is the ultimate fulfillment of the book of Leviticus because it is by His blood that we draw near to the living God (Ephesians 2:13) and by His word we know what it looks like to live as a community close to God that reflects His glory.
Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.
May we continually draw near to God as a community desiring to reflect His glory, knowing that Jesus Christ himself lives to make intercession for us.