Monday, September 22, 2008

My Journey with Leviticus

My journey with Leviticus in a way began when I was in my teens. I remembered that one time when I vowed to read the whole bible in a year stopped instead in Leviticus during the Chinese New Year. The reading became too mundane for an immatured soul. Soon I read a pastor's account of despair when he had to preach from the book according to the year's lectionary.

Calvin and I are currently going extremely slow in our daily bible reading and we are at the moment labouring through Leviticus. It is not easy. It is so repetitive that this evening, as I was reading the second half of Lev 14, Calvin began to echo me because it all reads so similarly.

In my first TEE module with Reb on The Introduction of the Old Testament however, I observed an interesting chiastic structure in the Pentateuch that centers in Leviticus. I know I am a chiasm-freak and I might be wrong but just humour me.

Genesis - leaving for the promised land
   Exodus - the census and going out
      Leviticus - worship of the one and only Yahweh
   Numbers - the census and coming in
Deuteronomy - entering the promised land

After that, I was convinced that it is extremely important for us to study and know Leviticus, however mundane and repetitive it is, and again I say, it is very important that we do. When I was going through the Passion event with the youth yesterday, on the atonement, the only other passages I referred to was in Leviticus - where the foundation of the ultimate offering on the cross rests.

According to LaSor in his Old Testament Survey, "Leviticus is a picture window into ancient Israel's worship. From it we learn about the holiness of God. It unfolds the relationship between holiness and ethics, and even more it provides background for grasping the significance of Christ's sacrificial death" (p.91, 1996).

Given the fact that human continually sin, fellowship with the holy God required a means of access to God. Leviticus gives us a very good look into the sacrificial system that God had set in place, by which access to God was made possible. For one, it talks about the sinner's laying of a hand on the sacrificial animal's head as the animal is being sacrificed as an atonement for his sin, making it personal as the animal die in his place.

There is much to know and learn from Leviticus. The journey for me has barely begun.