Through the years, every time I read Leviticus, I felt as if I were wandering in the wilderness. It seemed vast, dry, and dead. And may I add, pointless?
I was reading through the Bible, over and over and over, and I knew that in order to really read through the Bible, I shouldn’t skip Leviticus, even though I really wanted to, every time. All the sacrifices . . . and so much detail . . . ugh. Why did I have to read all that? I struggled to keep my mind from wandering, usually without much success.
But I knew my attitude was wrong, and I knew God must have it there for some reason, so, in the teeth-gritting determination characteristic of that period of my life, I decided to undertake an in-depth study of the book. I don’t remember praying over it, I don’t remember asking God to open my eyes to it, but we have a God who is ever merciful and gracious and loves to reach down to those who, no matter how pitiable or self-righteous their state, are struggling to look up.
That was in 1994. And at that time when God condescended to reach down to me, I found something in the sacrificial system of Leviticus that—even though having grown up in church I should have known to expect it—I really was surprised to find.
At every turn, I found Jesus.
I found Him, first, from the very outset, in the burnt offering. The offering that brings you to your knees because you realize that the entire purpose of it was to represent the beauty of the perfection of the perfect sacrifice. Of the five sacrifices, this is the one that has nothing to do with me. It is all about God being perfectly pleased with the perfect sacrifice of His perfect Son. Cut it apart, lift each part to heaven. Allow the King of Heaven to see that each part, blood-covered, is completely without flaw. Lift your arms, bow your head. Stand in awe.
Oh, did I say it had nothing to do with me? Well, that’s what I said in my study in 1994. But I was wrong. It has everything to do with me. Because He is my Perfect Sacrifice, Hebrews tells me that He is perfecting those who are being sanctified. Because I am in Christ, I am offered as that burnt offering. Because of Him, I offer myself as a living sacrifice, with the fire of God burning within.
From the outset, Leviticus brought me heart to prostration. And all through the remainder of the five primary sacrifices, the consecration of the priests, the Day of Atonement, through the long descriptions of every part of the tabernacle, I saw Jesus. The Living Word, again and again, revealed Himself to me through the written Word. That’s His way.
Leviticus then drove me to Hebrews, the New Testament New Covenant answer to the sacrificial system. I felt as if I were walking into a mine of brilliant jewels, and my Lord said, “See these? They’re yours.”
Who would have thought that such treasures could come through a wilderness book? But that’s what God loves to do. That’s His way.