Tabernacles with alters and tables and lamp-stands and arks…it all may seem kind of foreign to us; which it should. The articles that God directed the Israelites to construct in order to properly worship him are very far removed from our experience of worship. We can have a hard time understanding their importance and their use. It can make reading about their dimensions, construction and use kind of arduous. You may find the same thing happening as you read further into Leviticus about the various offerings and the religious practices God set out for Israel. A couple of perspectives might be helpful as you read on.
First, consider that Israel was new at worshipping God as a nation. Up until this point, the worship of God had been very individualistic and probably kind of random. Their time in Egypt would have greatly affected their understanding of what “religious practice” was all about, and so God is re-aligning them to what he does and does not desire. Also consider that God is setting some things in motion that point toward Jesus as the ultimate atoning sacrifice. We can see these things from our perspective as Christians, but the Israelites were without this perspective at the time.
Also think about the fact that Moses is recording a lot of this stuff as the official record for the nation of Israel. I’m not being blasphemous here, but a lot of these details have no spiritual significance for us as 21st century Christ-followers. That does not mean that we can’t learn some things from these official records. We can learn that God is a detail God. We can learn that excellence is prized by God because of the level of construction he asked of those making the articles of worship. We can learn that God gifts people specifically for tasks that he has set for them to accomplish. We can learn that even modern worship requires sacrifice. Perhaps we can also learn what it really means to approach worship with reverence (moving forward note how many times God warns about approaching the Tabernacle or the articles contained in it in an unworthy manner).
Finally, think about what Jesus accomplished and freed us from when he died on the cross. The New Testament tells us that Jesus fulfilled the law and its requirement. He did perfectly what no human could ever do and so freed us from the requirements set out for Israel. We need to be grateful that the law of sin (as Paul calls it) has been overturned by the work of Christ, that we are no longer in slaves to the law.
Even these arduous sections of scripture (which much of Leviticus is, let’s be honest) have importance for us as Christians and show us things about God that perhaps may not appear elsewhere in scripture.
- What was familiar from this passage of scripture? What was something I already knew?
- What was new from this piece of scripture? What was something that really stood out for me that I have never paid attention to before?
- Does Jesus appear in this passage of scripture?
- How does this passage apply to my life, here and now? Do I need to do anything about it?
- What prayer would I offer up to God after reading this piece of scripture?
Tomorrow’s Reading: Exodus 39-40