Rules, rules, and more rules. That’s what many people think of when they begin to read Leviticus. That’s why we often skip right past it in our reading of the Bible. Why are there so many rules in Leviticus? Last week, I began a series of posts on why the book of Leviticus can bring life to us. This is part of the journey many of us are taking this year of reading through the Bible.
Rules Point to Reality
Reading through Leviticus, you find rules about clean and unclean foods (ch. 11), rules for how women recover from childbirth (ch. 12), rules for what to do with skin diseases (chs. 13-14), rules about sexual relations (ch. 18), and more. Rules are everywhere. These rules are important because they put us in a context for life. When Moses instructs God’s people in Leviticus, he helped them – and us – understand that we live in a pure creation that has been broken by evil and sin. There is a pristine life and world that we were intended to experience, but sin has prevented us from experiencing it. These rules remind us that God still holds out His truth even in a world wracked by sin and evil.
Rules Point to Community
When we read the rules, we realize that the way we live with one another is important. While our individual life with God is important, God also cares deeply about how we live with others as His people. The rules focused on skin diseases show us that there is a path toward healing and restoration for people that takes into account both individual and corporate good. The rules about sexual relations prevent the powerful from taking advantage of the weak, while also focusing on the importance of the family as a microcosm of the community. Rules remind us that we live with others and that God thinks the way we do live with one another is important.
Rules Point to the Ruler
Ultimately, the rules draw our attention to the fact that we do not set the order of our reality. We are not the master of our own destiny, nor of the destiny of anyone else. These rules confront our sinful tendency as humans to establish ourselves as kings of our own kingdoms, even if it only that we will eat pizza and watch TV at home on Friday nights. Behind the guidelines in Leviticus we encounter the Ruler who affirms righteousness and justice as the way in which life and the universe are governed. God speaks the rules into understandable words, and He does so from His very nature. These rules remind us that God exists, and that the cosmos is held together by His character and ways.