Sights and Smells of Sacrifice


As I’ve been reading the beginning if Leviticus the last few days what has stood out to me is how big of a deal sin is. Contemporary culture doesn’t talk about sin much, or any sort of weakness or evil in us. Instead we all are good, everyone is right, I’m OK you’re OK.

But you can’t understand sin as no big deal and make sense of Leviticus. Sin is a very big deal and God’s people went through a lot to deal with it.

With all these regulations and sacrifices, sin was an unavoidable topic. Think about the constant reminder in the sights, sounds, and smells of the tabernacle. Seeing smoke rise up as a sacrifice for your sin, smelling the burnt fat, seeing others giving over first fruits and goats without blemish.

But as often as you’d be reminded of sin, you’d be reminded of the confidence the people had in knowing those sins were forgiven. The smoke rises up to heaven and it vanishes in the winds just as our sins when confessed are raised to God, forgiven, and then cast far from us, as far as the east is from the west.

Sin is not a fashionable subject, but it was a big deal then and it is a big deal now. It was so big that to save us from our sin God sent his Son to set us free. It makes no sense to speak at length on salvation and forgiveness and neglect what we are forgiven for and saved from. Sin is a problem that thankfully our God has overcome. Let’s not overlook our sin and in so doing diminish how great God’s forgiveness is.

Welcome to Week 7 and Leviticus

Well done for making it so far. Or if you’re just joining Year in the Bible, welcome along. In the New Testament we continue in Luke and we’ll keep reading psalms most weeks. But things are shifting in the Old Testament. We’ve finished Genesis and Exodus and that brings us to Leviticus.

Maybe you’ve planned your vacation to coincide with this week because the thought of reading through Leviticus is too much to bear. But I want to slow you down at jumping to such conclusions. (And worst case scenario, if it is that tough, it’ll be done in two weeks!)

I found an article at bible.org that I think is helpful and it addresses directly some of our objections to reading Leviticus. Ever thought that Leviticus is too hard to understand, that it is too dull, or that is has nothing to do with the world after Christ? If so, then read the article.

He makes some challenging points, such as in response to feelings that Leviticus is too boring, he says “our culture has concluded that anything which is not entertaining is not worth listening to.” Leviticus may not jump off the page like some of the passages from Genesis and Exodus, which are full of action, but that does not mean it is irrelevant for us now or that we shouldn’t study it. Speaking of relevance he makes a good point that we’re too interested in what is pragmatic for us in the immediate, lacking the patience to read in obedience to God’s invitation and trust that God has value in every word–even if it is not practical in the here and now.

Read this week with patience and perseverance, and I hope you can approach with renewed interest a book that is too often overlooked.