I am a huge proponent of always reading and understanding Scripture in context. Read each word in the context of the verse, read each verse in the context of the whole chapter, read the chapter in the context of the whole book and read each book in context of the entire Bible. Failure to do so inevitably leads to a corrupt understanding of who God is, His love, His holiness, His Law and the life-lessons He wants us to learn and act upon, and our devotion towards Him. Heeding my own advice I started my study at Leviticus 1:1 and found myself reading a love story. The very same love story I had found in the gospels.
King David wrote in Psalm 1:1-3 “Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither— whatever they do prospers.”
- God is love. This means that His motivation in establishing ‘rules’ for us to live by is ultimately for our benefit and His subsequent joy. As any loving parent will caution a child, “Don’t touch that, it’s hot. If you do you’ll get burned.” God’s love for us is the ultimate form and expression of love. It is selfless love.
- God is Holy. This means no sin can come into His presence. Every sin must be atoned for (dealt with).
- God is just. Every decision God makes is perfectly just - the punishment must fit the crime. This can only be understood in the context of God’s absolute holiness.
- God, out of His grace, chose Abraham’s descendants, the Jewish people, to be set apart. In this setting apart, this choseness, God wanted the Jewish peoples to be a living example to the rest of the world; being visibly distinct in living lives that reflected God’s covenant relationship with them, to keep themselves unpolluted by the world and free from sin.
- Instructions for restoring our relationship with God; acknowledgement/confession of our sin to Him and offering a blood sacrifice (in Christ, God provided the ultimate blood sacrifice, negating the need for animal sacrifices).
- Instructions on how to bring gifts of thanksgiving to God for His love and benevolence.
- Instructions for those who were set apart to lead and teach His people (the Levites).
- Instructions for daily living (how to best take care of ourselves).
- Actions that are sinful, detestable or abominable to God.