Valentine’s Day gets me reminiscing about the early days of my relationship with my husband. There’s something special and wonderful about a new relationship, pregnant with possibilities and full of hope. For most people, that means tons of romance. For Matt and I, not so much. Our pastor quips at every wedding he does, “Dating brings out the best. Marriage brings out the rest.” At one wedding, Matt leaned over and said, “You just always got the rest with me.” Another time, I asked him whether he would ever two-time me. He had a classic response: “I can barely one-time you!” I share this with his full permission because it’s something we still laugh about together. Matt was completely head over heels in love with me, but had no idea how to show it. To put it simply, he had no game.
February also brings many New Year’s resolutions to read the Bible in its entirety to a screeching halt, as well-meaning people hit Leviticus. Genesis and Exodus are full of interesting stories about people we’ve heard of, many of whom have had big-budget films about their lives recently. Reading is easy…until you hit Leviticus. Leviticus reads like a long list of very specific rules, many of which don’t seem to apply to my life. Even the most eager reader gets drowsy poring over what seems like an endless list of laws.
In my personal Bible reading, I also have hit Leviticus. I, too, generally struggle with it, but this time I noticed something interesting. In reading specifics about sacrifice in chapter 4, there’s a repeated phrase, “Through this process, the priest will purify [the particular person/group], making them right with the Lord, and they will be forgiven” (v 20, 26, 31, 35). In reading this, it hit me that Leviticus is an unlikely love letter.
See, the Lord is laying out the specific things that people need to do in order to have a right relationship with him. He’s telling Israel, “Being connected to you is so important to me that I am going to painstakingly lay out the rules you must follow in order to remain my people. I don’t want you to have to worry that you’re messing up in different situations. I’m showing you the way back to me. All you have to do is take it.”
What my husband wouldn’t give for such a list! I think a lot of people would treasure knowing 1) exactly what would show love and honor to their loved ones and 2) that there was a way to be forgiven when they mess up.
I’m reminded once again that the God we read about in the Old Testament is the same God we read about in the New Testament. He still values his people so much that he has told us exactly how to reach him. Instead of giving us a map like in Leviticus, he’s also built the road through Jesus and given us the ability through the Holy Spirit. All we have to do is take it.
I’m thankful today for God continuing to show me who he is through his word, even in Leviticus.