At First Baptist, the entire congregation is following a one-year Bible reading plan that takes us through scripture in Chronological order. So far we have read Genesis, Exodus, Job, Leviticus, and some Psalms. Genesis, Exodus, and Job were easy. And then we hit Leviticus. And Numbers.
Most people would say they don't like those books because they are hard to understand, they are (at time) quite boring (Numbers 7 about did me in... 12 days of the same exact offering!!), and they are obscure in terms of the Christian lingo. Most of us are fluent in New Testament.... not so much in the Old Testament sacrifices and laws.
But what I have found most challenging about Leviticus (and now we're in Numbers) is the law. And how it reveals my sin.
My prayer at the beginning of 2012 was for God to reveal my sin to me and help me learn to come face-to-face with it instead of ignoring it. I'll be honest here - I don't spend a great deal of time asking for forgiveness for my sins. I don't dwell on my sins or my sinfulness or what I really deserve.
The Church talks so much about grace and love and gentleness and how God doesn't see us as the heathens that we are. Those things are not untrue. But guess what... I am also a sinner. I don't live in sinfulness, but many of my ways are sinful. Sometimes I want to avoid the law, ignore it, pretend it doesn't exist... but the law there because it is life-giving. God's laws are still applicable today, His promises still ring true, His judgement the same as it was in Leviticus. I owe to Him my life, which means obeying His commands even when it's inconvenient, difficult, confusing, painful.
"Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law." (Galatians 3:21)
We are no longer "held captive" (Galatians 3:23) under the law because we have faith through Christ. But the law is still there for us. The rules are meant to show us our sin, to remind us of how much we need a Savior.
And, oh, how I need Him.