One of the things I have committed to this summer is going through a 90 day Bible reading. And because of the many chapters I have to read per day I started to use the audio Bible through the NIV and ESV translations. Pretty fun and different, although my only suggestion is don’t listen to it while lying down in bed or while doing chores with loud noises – sounds obvious but both are tempting when there’s 16+ chapters a day.
This is only the second time I’m going through the Bible in a continuous effort and the only time going from cover to cover. And now I’m in the fun little book of Leviticus. Now that I’m reading through it with an education in public health and with some more relevant background information, there’s a lot more I’m gleaning from it. Don’t get me wrong, it still won’t be the book I choose to get my daily feeding from (I’m not sure that’s the book’s purpose either). But there were a few things I drew out that made the book more purposeful:
1. The Lord was meant to be the ruler over the people, their king. So like any king, he has to define statutes to ensure the safety and prosperity of his people. Rules, boring? Yes. So are the Terms of Agreements everyone checks to register for things but few people read. However, his were a lot more purposeful than trying to protect himself from liability.
2. As I read some of the rules in Leviticus I thought, “Duh,” – but the people at the time never took a health education class so they don’t have an inkling about germs and bacteria or the transmission of diseases. Common sense like don’t touch bodily fluids is not the norm. So now it makes more sense why God had to really break it down to the Israelites with every last detail.
3. I also noticed that the only place the Israelites were allowed to burn sacrifices was at the altar before the tabernacle – a public place. Below is a depiction for what it could have looked like:
So a sin or any other offering had to be burned in the sight of all the people. That probably had something to do with confession and acceptance. It allowed not only the individual(s) to be made right with God but also with their neighbors – because who can miss that giant cloud of fire? My guess is that God’s intention was not for the altar to be a place where gossip originates but a place for neighbors to listen, sympathize, and accept their brother/sister back into the community. Whether that happened is a different story (the book of Exodus bets against the people following God’s desire), but at the very least people could not atone for their sin without confessing to sin in public.
Welp, who wants the megaphone the next time they confess in prayer – any takers? Few people (me included) would jump at that option but God wants his people to have reconciled and healthy relationships not only with him but with their neighbors. So confession is not an option. That’s a lot wrapped into one rule, huh? Not too shabby for the King of the Universe.