Recently I’ve been going through some of my old sermon tapes and converting them to mp3 (nerd alert). These tapes are from the beginning of Mars Hill Bible church in 1999, when we spent most of the year studying Leviticus in the “Sanctynasium (Sanctuary + Gymnasium).” Basically our church took place in a haggard old gym packed with 2,000 people and the fire marshals had to turn people away. Now that is church!
When you first read through Leviticus it’s kind of like a B-grade slasher movie with no plot……I’ll wait for everyone to get that joke. The book contains a detailed list of sacrificial procedures and as you study it you realize that it’s all about forgiveness and being brought closer to God. The Hebrew word, “Korban,” for sacrifice means “to draw near to.”
In the Old Testament, you continually find a God that wants to be near to his people. It’s almost like he can’t wait to get down to Earth. One of the greatest books of all time is God In Search of Man, by Abraham Joshua Heschel.
I was also surprised/grateful to remember that Leviticus even contains a sacrifice for “unintentional sin.” A lot of people in church have this image of the God of the Old Testament as some cranked up angry God, and I just see a totally different picture. I see a God of grace and forgiveness. A God that is so forgiving, he even forgives people for unintentional sins.
I need to remember that in my own life, and remember to forgive others, even when they may not realize that what they are doing is hurtful. For more on spending a year studying Leviticus see the post, “We Love the Scriptures and Want Them To Sweep Us Off Our Feet.”