Tuesday, February 25, 2014


Leviticus. Oh Leviticus! For many aspiring readers who want to read the Bible through from start to finish, Leviticus is the kiss of death. There’s just no way around it. It’s infamously boring. All those laws. Offerings and feasts. So many, and so repetitive! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve struggled through it, fighting the tendency for my eyes to glaze over and the words to morph into “blah blah blah blah blah.”

But I looked at Leviticus through a new lens, and suddenly this stale book came to life. (It might have helped that this time I was listening to an audio version, keeping my glaze-prone eyes from faltering.)

Leviticus was a book of law given to a people who for generations had known nothing but slavery. They weren’t treated as people. They were killed at a whim. They were worked to exhaustion. Their stuff could be confiscated or destroyed at the discretion of their slavers. They could be abused. And they had no way of standing up to injustices because they had no rights. They were simply slaves.

Suddenly, here’s a set of rules that affirms they have value. Their stuff has value. Their time has value. Their family structure has value. Wrongs have known and reasonable punishments.

What a world changer!

You mean I have a course of restitution if someone kills my cow? Yep. The miscreant has to make repayment.

You mean someone can’t just come in and take advantage of my wife? Nope. There’s a punishment for that.

You mean I don’t have to work day in and day out? That’s right. You get to have a regular day of rest, and holidays throughout the year. 

Line by line, Leviticus builds upon the framework of the Ten Commandments to show what is acceptable and unacceptable for a culture of people chosen to show the world what life looks like with God leading the way. This mass of refugees who have known nothing but slavery are given power to be people again.

A beautiful passage in Leviticus (Lev 19:9-10) talks about the “edges of the field” and basically tells people to look out for those in need.

What’s even more beautiful is that Leviticus gives instructions for how the Israelites should treat their own slaves. Unsurprisingly, it’s with dignity and fairness. It would be so easy for the Israelites to be angry and bitter about the injustice of their past, and pay it forward now that they’re free and in a place of power. Leviticus shows that God’s way is not like that. Someone may work for you, but that doesn’t give you the right to mistreat them. They’re still people. And they are valued.

That's the phrase that kept coming to mind: “You have value.”  A message that carries through the rest of the Bible and points straight to Jesus.

“But now, this is what the LORD says-- he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: "Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.” Isaiah 43:1 (There’s a lot of redeeming in Leviticus)

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 (A redemption worthy of God's son? That's quite valuable indeed.)

You matter. What a beautiful message to find in a boring book. (Sorry Leviticus. It's true.)

1 comment:

  1. This is so good, Regina! All your posts are. Next time I read Leviticus (when that will be I don't know; I don't have a plan but simply read as the Spirit directs), I will keep your astute thoughts on value in mind. Blessings, Bess