More than one of us entered the study of Leviticus with a sideways glance. Isn’t it just about a bunch of archaic rules? Laws about sacrifice involving a lot of animal-killing? Don’t a lot of people use Leviticus to justify their stance against same-sex relationships?
Yes, yes, and yes . . . but there’s more.
I also don’t think that I was alone in coming to a new relationship with Leviticus. While I’m not about all the animal sacrifice, what the book of Leviticus is about is coming back into relationship with God for a people who had turned away from God, and I AM about being in relationship with God. I am on board with grace and mercy and being real about who we are and where we are in relationship to God and one another, and the book of Leviticus is honest about what was true for their community.
In my study notes, I read that Leviticus provides much of the foundation for Judaism. This isn’t a text to glance over quickly but to savor the intention, the consequences, and the hope of a people regaining their way. Of course it seems archaic; these are ancient laws. Yes, there’s a lot of animal-killing; this was their currency. And, yes, there is much to excerpt and pull into our contemporary society to use for good or for ill (proof-texting). As a book about coming back into relationship with God, I find myself very wary of using it out of context and not as a whole, and I cannot pretend to have the knowledge of those for whom Judaism is their heritage and tradition or for whom this is their life study.
As a Christian, I believe Christ brought a New Covenant for God’s people, and we make our way following the Way of Christ, which is a way of Love. And with the grace and mercy of God through Jesus Christ with the power of the Holy Spirit, we discern our way forward, what it means for us as a people who strive for God’s will to be done on earth as in heaven. This is no easy nor small task.
We share with our Jewish brothers and sisters the deep desire to be in right relationship with God, and we do this in part by maintaining a right relationship with our neighbors, living our lives in mutual love and affection for the greater good of all.
There was much fruitful and honest sharing that comes from being in a wonderful group and that can’t be shared virtually. A couple of things to follow up on…
1. I found in my notes what the significance of the blood being placed on the parts of the body of Aaron and his sons at their ordination.
- ear: what you hear, you hear with anointed ears
- toe: how everywhere you go, you go with anointed feet
- thumb: how you affect all you do with anointed hands
2. I’ve added the link in digital resources, but here’s the link for the Bible study resources that has neat visual “maps” for the books of the Bible. I haven’t watched the videos, used all the study guides, or found out what the denominational affiliation is, but I appreciate their work. The Bible Project.
Next time, we begin with Numbers. Peace!