Sunday, March 18, 2007

Love Leviticus? (1)

The Torah is really important for a biblical approach to economics and politics. The toughest part of the Torah to interpret, for those who love the scriptures, is the book of Leviticus. The reason that we struggle with this book is that we we want to take it seriously, but do not understand its purpose. This series of posts will explain the purpose of this obscure book and describe how we should use it.

The first thing to notice is that the book of Leviticus was specifically directed to the nation of Israel. The book begins with God directing Moses to speak to the Israelites.

The LORD called to Moses and spoke to him from the Tent of Meeting. He said, “Speak to the Israelites... ” (Lev 1:1-2).

The phrase “Speak to the children of Israel” is used in over half of the chapters of the book (1:2, 4:1, 7:28, 11:1, 12:1, 15:2, 18:1, 20:1, 23:2, 25:1, 27:1). In several other chapters, Moses was told to “Speak to the children of Aaron” (a reference to the priests). This indicates that the book of Leviticus was specifically for the people of Israel.

The book focuses on the tabernacle, sacrifices, diseases, food, sabbaths, priests and feasts that were for Israel only. These things all contributed the uniqueness of Israel, but they have been fulfilled by Jesus, so they are not mandatory for Christians in the modern world.

The purpose of Leviticus is confirmed in the final chapters.
These are the decrees, the laws and the regulations that the LORD established on Mount Sinai between himself and the Israelites through Moses (Lev 26:46).
The instructions and requirements outlined in the book govern the relationship between God and Israel. They are not universal. This message is confirmed in the final verse of the book.
These are the commands the LORD gave Moses on Mount Sinai for the Israelites (Lev 27:34).

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