Hi I’m trying to understand Leviticus. A lot of the instruction seems strange sometimes cruel and many obvious moral laws are explicitly stated. I do understand the new covenant and many of the laws don’t apply now. Nevertheless curious to understand purpose of this book and why would God demand such ritual and worship
@Kishore_Hanani Great question We have to recognize that Leviticus was given to a specific people in a specific place at a specific time in history. God was trying to teach a huge group of people that just left the pagan nation of Egypt to live a life of holiness (set apartness) from another group of pagan people among whom they dwelled in Canaan. A lot of the strange laws in Leviticus—like not mixing different types of fabric—were meant to remind the Israelites that they could not live like the pagan nations that surrounded them. They were object lessons.
I’ve included some additional resources to help you understand Leviticus and the different types of law within the OT below. Christ grant you wisdom and understanding
Here is an article and short excerpt from it that explains why we do not need to follow all of the OT laws. The gist of it - and I agree - is that there 3 types of law in the OT - ceremonial (laws for the priests and purification of the people), judicial/civil (for the earthly kingdom of Israel) and moral (laws based upon God’s nature and eternally binding). When Jesus’ died on the cross, He put an end to the ceremonial and judicial law - He is our High Priest and King - we live a new life by the Spirit and not by the letter of the law. Our purity is not through sacrifices of goats and bulls, but once and for all by the blood of the Son of God.
“There exists a three-fold division of the law — ceremonial, judicial/civil and moral. The civil and ceremonial law are no longer applicable to us today, while the moral law — which is not culturally contingent — is indeed universally binding.”
Wow! Thank you for this Sean. I am taking this if you don’t mind to share with others. It is beautifully written and clearly and precisely explains the different types of laws in the OT.
@RichChatfield Glad it was helpful Feel free to share that the saints may be built up.
@Kishore_Hanani, have you read Is God a Moral Monster?: Making Sense of the Old Testament God by Paul Copan? I especially appreciated chapters seven and eight, entitled “The Bible’s Ubiquitous Weirdness? Kosher Foods, Kooky Laws?”
Paul Copan suggests that God was teaching the Israelites through these laws that they should be holy in every aspect of life. God was also emphasizing that they should be set apart from the nations around them.
Copan’s theories about the clean and unclean foods are interesting. God forbade eating predatory animals and animals that were particularly weak and preyed upon. He wanted His people to look out for the weak in society and not be predators themselves.
Copan also mentions that God separated animals into three kinds: air, land, and water. Animals that fit a single category were clean. Those that blurred the lines between categories were unclean. This would reinforce this idea of not mixing with other people.
The emphasis on separating from other people sounds intolerant to our modern culture, but I understand it better when I think of my friend’s new car. She tries not to park close to anyone else because she’s afraid they’ll open their car door too wide and ding hers. Someone else I know didn’t permit any food in her car. No crumbs, no mess.
I don’t value cars that much. In fact, I’ve never owned my own car, but my friends help me understand how we treat things that we value greatly. God valued His people so much that He trained them to stay away from anything that might contaminate them. In the promised land, they would be surrounded by immoral, violent nations. They needed to value holiness.
Every chapter of Copan’s book ends with a list of books or articles for further reading. The end notes cite additional resources.
As a minor disclaimer, Paul Copan says in chapter seven that the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70 finalized the end of Israel as the people of God. I hold a different view of end times, believing that God will return to His plan for Israel. It seems irrelevant to the topic of the book, though, so I’d recommend this book whatever your view of end times might be.
Thank you Jennifer for the book reference. Sure looks like an interesting read based on a few snippets you’ve shared. I’ll try to get a hold of this one