Delighting in Leviticus?

This is an excerpt of The Gospel Coalition’s blog: Daring to Delight in Leviticus. Collin Hansen interviews Jay Sklar, associate professor of Old Testament at Covenant Theological Seminary, on how to best study, understand, and preach Leviticus.

Why is Leviticus such a hard book for Christians to understand and enjoy?

There are a number of reasons, but they can be grouped into three main categories. First, the cultural context of the book is so different from our own. We live in houses or apartments; they lived in tents. We go to a building for our worship services; they went to an open-air courtyard that surrounded an ornate tabernacle. We can’t throw rice at weddings in our place of worship; they slaughtered animals in theirs! Add to that the system of ritual purity, impurity, and holiness, and you’re dealing with a totally different world.

Second, we often lose the thread of the larger literary context. Leviticus comes after Exodus 25-40, most of which is focused on instructions for building the tabernacle. Most Christians find this very tedious going (with many falling in the wilderness of these chapters!). Those who stagger their way into Leviticus often find it challenging to remember where we are in the story, or even that Leviticus comes in the midst of a story and is a crucial part of it (more on this later).

Third, it is almost all law. This actually presents two challenges. The first is simply that most of us do not find reading law nearly as interesting as reading stories. Why should we? Stories have tension that draws us in as we watch the plot unfold; law does not. It is just that: law, and if the law does not apply to us directly—which in many cases in Leviticus it does not seem to!—then there is no real hook, nothing to really grab our interest. The second challenge is that many Christians look on “law” negatively, as something restrictive and ungracious. Who wants to read a book full of that?

If this is you, I encourage you to read Daring to Delight in Leviticus to find the answers which will help you cherish the law so that you might better understand the Gospel.

One response to “Delighting in Leviticus?

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