Leviticus: How to Live in God's Presence
Sep 11, 2020 · Courtney Jacob
You may have heard it said that “those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it.” This familiar adage rings true for both our personal histories and our corporate histories. Understanding the lessons of our past equips us with the wisdom we need to better respond to the present, and to ensure a better future. This is one reason it’s valuable for gospel-believing, New Testament Christians to study and learn from the laws of the Old Testament. In our series, Leviticus: How to Live in God’s Presence, we’ll examine the biblical book of Leviticus to discover its relevance and value for Christians and the church today.
Why the Old Testament is Valuable
Aside from gleaning historical knowledge, you may be wondering why it’s valuable to study a book that primarily records the rules and laws God gave the Israelites nearly 4000 years ago. Didn’t Jesus Christ’s sacrifice fulfill the law and therefore render many of these rules and laws unnecessary? While we may no longer need to understand the intricacies of many of the levitical laws in order to abide by them, studying these laws and instructions for holiness reminds us of God’s character. It also reminds us that God is not absent, he has always chosen to be present with his people. He has not and does not leave us in our sin, but always makes a way for his people to continue in a relationship with him.
Studying Leviticus also provides us a picture of the incredible effort and cost it takes for an unholy people to live in the presence of a holy God. And through this knowledge, we come to understand more fully why Jesus had to die the way he did in order to save us. It deepens our appreciation of the invaluable gift we’ve received in Christ and provides a greater grasp of the magnitude of his sacrifice.
Justification vs. Sanctification
It is also important to remember that God still calls us to observe certain Old Testament laws—like the Ten Commandments. Studying the book of Leviticus helps us parse out why we obey particular laws and not others. For instance, we no longer keep laws about sacrifice, because their purpose was justification: making the people right with God. The sacrificial laws allowed the Israelites to stay in relationship with God and made it possible for God’s holy presence to dwell among them. Today, we no longer need to offer sacrifices because Jesus Christ paid the ultimate sacrifice for us.
In contrast, the levitical laws about how Israel should live are still relevant to us today. Following these laws in culturally appropriate ways still benefits our journey of sanctification: the continual process of becoming holy.
Learning from Leviticus
So, I invite you to learn from Leviticus through our Groundwork series, Leviticus: How to Live in God’s Presence:
- A Holy God Lives Among Us - Leviticus 1:1-2, Leviticus 10:1-7, Hebrews 10:19-25, and Mark 7:1-5, 14-23
- Be Holy -Leviticus 11:44-47, Leviticus 19:14-37, and 1 Peter 1:13-16
- Blood, Sacrifices, and Forgiveness - Leviticus 16:6-16, Leviticus 17:10-14, Hebrews 10:1-14, and Romans 3:21-26
- Welcome and Care - Leviticus 19:33-34 and 1 Peter 2:9-10
...and together we’ll remember God’s holiness, the magnitude of the gift we’ve received in Jesus Christ, and we’ll reflect on how to live in the presence of a holy God who chooses to live among us in Christ and through the Holy Spirit.