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Sunday, October 24, 2010

Pondering the Scriptures Sunday #3

I'm for shortcuts lately so this post is taken from a Goodreads friend's (Louize) thoughts on 'Leviticus' week.  She sights from her Study Bible (huh, I should ask her which I can take a look at it myself!).

I'm no Bible scholar so if there's something that you believe is incorrect or whatever ... fire away and let me know.

Why doesn’t God intervene more? Why doesn’t He directly feed the hungry, heal the sick, and stop all wars? If God really exists, why doesn’t he make himself more obvious?

People who ask such questions often assume that, if God ever did spectacularly reveal himself all doubts would vanish. Everyone would line up to believe in Him. Yet every instance of God’s faithfulness seemed to summon up astonishing human unfaithfulness. People who had everyday proof of God demonstrated only one thing: the monotonous consistency of human disobedience.

Israel was punished by wandering in the wilderness for 40 years while the new untainted generation grew up to replace them. But if Israel failed God at the foot of Mt. Sinai, how would they possibly withstand the seduction of other cultures in Canaan? He has to bridge the huge gulf; the tabernacle was erected. He made himself available to his people.

Leviticus, the Book of Purification, is a true challenge for the determined readers. The sheer detail can bore you, especially if you miss the point behind it. In it, God teaches us the terrible consequences of sin. The nation had sinned; His holiness would be contaminated if He tolerated their sins. So, elaborate rituals and offerings were prescribed to teach Israel that they could not merely rush into the presence of God. The sequence of the offerings - forgiveness of sins, then dedication, then fellowship - shows that the ultimate goal was fellowship with God. The exactness helped produce a proper attitude. You couldn’t approach God carelessly; you have to do just what He said, to obey Him in every detail. The laws, on the other hand, are listed in no particular order. An important feature of the OT thinking – life is not analyzed in separate components, but as a whole. You will get more from looking at the big picture than studying in detail.

Leviticus, however, does have some remarkable features. In comparison from other countries’ law, Leviticus was considered advanced in those days.
• People are more important than property. (19:13)
• There is no class system. Everybody stood on the same level before the law. (19:15)
• Sexual immorality got stern treatment. (19:20, 29)
• The punishment fit the crime. (24:20)
• The poor and the weak had protection. (19:9, 14, 15, 32, 33)
• Attitudes and actions mattered. (19:18)

We may not understand the reasons for some of the laws; many have been designed simply to keep the Israelites different from their pagan neighbors. Those differences are important to God, and so complete obedience comes with great rewards.
“You are to be holy to me because I, the Lord, am holy, and I have set you apart from the nations to be my own.” (20:26)


  1. I'm fine with the defense that people suffer because of the sin they have created, or that they have turned their back on God(I don't agree, but that's another discussion altogether), but there are plenty of instances in Leviticus--and many others throughout the Old Testament--where the innocent are also slain by God.

    People who did nothing, but were merely caught up in the storm. Babies killed as punishment for what their parents did, women and children given to military victors for their rape and pleasure, permitted by God. That, I imagine, would be harder to reconcile with the notion of a loving God.

    I am also skeptical of the claim that Leviticus was advanced law for its day. The Greeks and Romans advanced similar, if not better positions, and did it hundreds of years beforehand. Even the pinnacle of New Testament morality, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" can be seen paralleled in numerous cultures centuries before Christ.

    I hope this doesn't sound like I'm attacking you, because I'm not; I just like to play devil's advocate.

  2. You are cordially invited to add a link to your book reviews for the week at my Saturday Review of Books at Semicolon. It's a sort of round-up of bloggers' book reviews each week on Saturday:

  3. What a neat blog site Jinky. I am impressed that you had a desire to renew your love for books and this is where it went. Awesome!


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