I’ve made mention for several months at PAXnorth that we were going to start a study in the book of Leviticus. The first time I mentioned it (I think before Christmas) someone actually said, out loud, during a sermon, “Are you serious?!” That probably sums up how most people feel when you tell them that your church is going to be studying Leviticus.
Have you ever heard a sermon series on Leviticus?
Since leading PAXnorth we have walked through both Genesis and Exodus plus the Gospels of Matthew and John, I Corinthians, Ephesians, a whack of the Proverbs and Psalm and have even tackled Song of Solomon and the book of Ruth- not to mention others – I feel like these books are fairly standard (except maybe for Song of Solomon) for churches that purpose to teach a healthy spectrum of the entire Word of God. Yet I can honestly say I have never heard a sermon series, at a church on the book of Leviticus. This past week at PAXnorth, informal poll- only one person had actually heard a series on the book.
Why do we not hear sermons on Leviticus?
Did you ever try and read through the Bible in a year? It is pretty typical that Christians begin this process then get bogged down and bored with the books of LAW. Leviticus is full of law. So I think people do not hear sermons on Leviticus because a) they haven’t read it b) they HAVE read it c) it’s seems so foreign to us because it’s a book on laws about abstract ceremonies.
Why should we hear sermons on Leviticus?
Jay Sklar, O.T. professor of Covenant Theological Seminary, who has put together a great series on the study of Leviticus and gives us several reasons why it should be a concern that we shy away from this book. I have added some of my own thoughts to these main points as a way to encourage PAXnorth to look deeper or more vigorously pursue God who gave us this book:
1. The Old Testament writers make much of the law. It is where the Psalmist delights, it is what the Seers point to as a protection and power for life change for the young man, it is the leverage point of all the Prophets as they act as prosecuting attorney’s between God and Israel.
2. The New Testament writers make much of Leviticus. It is the sixth most quoted book in the New Testament. The feasts that Christ comes to participate in and to point to Himself as the ultimate fulfillment of, all have Levitical practices (see especially Jesus at the feasts in the Gospel of John).
3. The clearly laid out ceremonial law – both in their practices and in their intentions- move us quickly to the person and work of Jesus Christ, the Gospel. This reason alone is enough for us to be serious students of Leviticus. In fact one commentary I read stated, without understanding the concepts of Leviticus you cannot understand the work of Jesus on the cross.
Without understanding the concepts of Leviticus you cannot understand the work of Jesus on the cross.
4. This book gives us an in depth look at what it means to humanity when ‘God moves in’. The emphasis on the holiness of God, the expectations of holiness for a people who will be called His people and the incredible love that God has for us, that He would actually want for us to experience His dwelling. An appreciation for the truth of Holy-Love will be deepened by those who will take up some serious time in reading, thinking, praying, speaking the Gospel discovered in Leviticus.