Leviticus is the third book of Moses. Leviticus is the book of the law. The main purpose of the book of Leviticus is to establish the rules and laws for a completely new form of government. It was a government establishing a nation in whose rule and direction came not from a king or leader, but from YHWH Himself. The people are preparing to enter Canaan, the promised land, and God is directing their steps. This book is the answer as to how they will succeed.
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So YHWH finishes giving the people His first set of instructions. They have heard His Decalogue and His various other commands, so now we get to see their response to this sampling of the laws. God starts out by telling Moses and the leaders of Israel to come up to worship Him, but before that happens Moses wants to make sure that the people understand what is expected of them. He doesn’t want them rebelling as soon as Moses and the leaders go up the mountain or anything.
So Moses starts out by recounting to the people what YHWH expects of them. YHWH told them once, now Moses tells them again. The people respond that they will listen, and they will obey. Great! Now Moses and the people sacrifice to the LORD, and Moses sets up 12 pillars to represent the 12 tribes. Then for good measure, he takes the evening / night to write down the covenant and instructions that God has given to him and the people. Then, to MAKE SURE that the people know and are aware of YHWH’s instructions, he reads the book of the covenant to the people!
Don’t you think that that’s a little overkill! I mean come on! They heard it from God Himself, then Moses reminds them of what they have already heard and agreed to, so they confirmed it to him again. Then after worshiping and sacrificing to the LORD…THEIR GOD, Moses wrote it all down and read it back to them the very next day! I mean come on Moses, didn’t they already agree to this TWICE! I mean honestly, what do you think is going to happen here? Do you think you will go up the mountain with the leaders and the people will forget everything that has happened and everything that they have sworn to do!?! Give it a rest already!
So now Moses and the leaders go up. The leaders actually see YHWH, the God of Israel! Wow! I mean, WOW! To see the LORD in all His glory! Now that is a life changing experience! Isn’t it!?! No man can see that and ever rebel or fall away… can he?
How many of us desire to see God? How many of us think that if we just see Him perform a miracle or see just a part of His glory it will change who we are and how we live the rest of our lives? He is The Living God after all. Is that enough?
It’s amazing to me to consider that Genesis is done. I have made a personal copy of one of the most powerful and influential books ever written. All 50 chapters word-for-word. Now we enter a new era. It is a time of re-revelation; a time of hope, struggle, inspiration, and new life (revival).
Four-Hundred years have passed since the close of Genesis. The Israelites have gone from blessed and honored guests to mistreated and abused slaves. The Pharaoh who knew and loved Joseph and insisted that the Israelites had to stay there has long since died and been forgotten. Since then the Egyptians have become concerned with how blessed the Israelites have been, and how quickly they are growing.
The Israelites are here residing on their land and overrunning them like rats in the sewer. The Egyptians realize that if they don’t do something about this “Hebrew problem” soon, it’ll be too late. So a “wise” Pharaoh decides that it’s time to turn the table on these Israelite invaders. He begins by hiring them. He uses them for cheap labor. Pharaoh even goes down to help work in the trenches. He takes his clean robe off and becomes one of the men; doing the work of the masses.
However, what has started out as hard work for a decent wage becomes sweatshop work, then eventually slavery under whips and cruel taskmasters. The Israelites are toiling and dying under the abuse and under the expectation of their daily quota. So, they begin crying out for help from the God of their fathers.
This is the God that they know only from their history; the stories passed down of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob / Israel and their covenants with Him. The Israelites are surrounded by the many gods of the Egyptians, each one with a name, a face, and a purpose. Yet their God seems to have none of those things. Yet in order to worship Him properly, the Israelites need to know these things. Is He one of the gods of the Egyptians? How about one of the Baals from a neighboring nation? Maybe he’s Moloch of the Ammonites?
How do you serve a God that you do not know? How do you cry out to Him? How do you appease Him when He is angry at you for some unknown transgression and therefore allowing you to be mistreated, beaten, and killed, and He doesn’t appear to be doing anything about it? What do you do!?!
That’s the backdrop of this book. The Israelites don’t realize that this is part of a plan much bigger than they are. A plan with a story that is about to play out for all of history to see. Their Exodus is about to begin…
In the meantime, what does this say about us? How are we treating those who are sojourning in our land? …those who have left their homes due to famine, troubles, and a desire for a better life? Do we treat them with contempt because they don’t speak very good English? Do we kick them out and tell them “We don’t want your kind here”? Do we put them into sweatshops, one step above slavery; sometimes not even a step above? Do we fear them like the Egyptians did, or do we embrace them? What is God’s plan?