I just recently finished reading through the book of Leviticus, and each day as I read more and more, I found myself wondering how long the book would keep going. If you've never read Leviticus before, it lays out the requirements for offerings given because of sin and guilt, as well as various laws. There literally is a chapter on how to test for leprosy. The following is from one of the chapters I read:
"These are the regulations for the guilt offering, which is most holy: The guilt offering is to be slaughtered in the place where the burnt offering is slaughtered, and its blood is to be splashed against the sides of the altar. All its fat shall be offered: the fat tail and the fat that covers the internal organs, both kidneys with the fat on them near the loins, and the long lobe of the liver, which is to be removed with the kidneys. The priest shall burn them on the altar as a food offering presented to the LORD. It is a guilt offering. Any male in a priest’s family may eat it, but it must be eaten in the sanctuary area; it is most holy. The same law applies to both the sin offering and the guilt offering: They belong to the priest who makes atonement with them. The priest who offers a burnt offering for anyone may keep its hide for himself. Every grain offering baked in an oven or cooked in a pan or on a griddle belongs to the priest who offers it, and every grain offering, whether mixed with olive oil or dry, belongs equally to all the sons of Aaron." Leviticus 7:1-10
I kept thinking, this is so tedious! I am so glad we don't do this anymore...not only is it tedious but I cannot even fathom having to make sacrifices every time I sinned! I don't even know how they kept track of what to do when, and how. Thank you, Lord, for Jesus' perfect sacrifice!
I wondered why God even chose to include this in His word. It felt like I was being forced to read about unpleasant topics for no apparent reason. So I began to ask why. As I read, I realized that although we don't have to follow these intricate rituals or perform these sacrifices anymore thanks to Jesus' ultimate sacrifice on the cross, we can still fall into ritualistic behavior in an effort to be right with God. We fall into the trap thinking that if we read our bible more, get up early and pray, go to church and bible study every week...then, maybe then we'll feel okay enough to approach God. And if we mess up, we feel completely distant from God. There is that drive somewhere deep inside of us that wants to make up for what we've done or to work our way out of our foolish mistakes. Even people who haven't made a decision to follow Christ but are toying with the idea often say that they want to get their lives on a certain track before they feel they can follow through.
God kept that book in the Bible, in part, to remind us that we don't have to live in that way, whether literally or in our thoughts. Jesus' sacrifice changed it all. We can come to Him, any time, and He is waiting. He loves us, and if we would only believe and follow Him, we are free. The truth is that we could never sacrifice enough to be right with God. And we don't have to. What a beautiful reminder.