Sunday, 26 April 2015

The Myth of Leviticus Difficulty

Far from being a lot of new rules for the Israelites to figure out, Leviticus takes things that God’s people are already doing and translates them into a new expression. When you read Genesis and Exodus, you can clearly see that people already have understanding about how to do much of this stuff already. For example:
  • They make sacrifices – Genesis 4
  • They have a sexual ethics code- Genesis 38
  • They understand what it means to be in the world but not of it in their economic actions– Genesis 23
  • They know which animals are clean and which are unclean - Genesis 7
So Leviticus is about taking things to the next level making them more beautiful and glorious.

Moreover, we appear to have assumed that Leviticus is a hard book, with loads of rules, 617 to be precise. But when you stack those 617 against the 307 you need to know, just to pass your driving test, suddenly, everything is set in perspective. And that 307 doesn’t include all the unspoken etiquettes of what you need to do in certain situations after you pass your test. And that’s just for driving a car!! Did you check your tyre tread before you last drove?

We have rules for governing how we run our houses or borrow money to buy them, rules about how to bring up our children, rules about how we interact at work, rules about how we go on holiday, never mind all the rules about crimes like robbing a bank, but when was the last time you found yourself saying “Too many rules – how am I going to get on with my life?”

When was the last time you thought: “I’m so grateful there’s a law against sexual relations with animals because I’m really feeling tempted that way...” Chances are. if you have never thought about that, then most of the Israelites who were given this law didn’t either.

Yes, the world of Leviticus is different, but it's probably no more different than visiting another culture, e.g. China. Yes, it's different, but it's also still very much the same. So think of Leviticus, not as a dry rule book, but as a tourist guide to another people who are different, but at root, just like you and me.

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