Vayikra (Leviticus 1:1-5:19)
The Holiness of YHWH
Leviticus is often the point in which one who has set for themselves a New Year’s resolution to read through the Bible often gives up because of confusion and frustration because the regulations often seem foreign to them in this day and age. That is a tragedy. Leviticus is a book rich in the holiness and majesty of God. For while there are regulations and ordinances found in the book of Leviticus, the focus of our reading should not necessarily be on the what but on the who – and the who is all about YHWH God.
Leviticus opens with regulations regarding five types of offerings – burnt, grain, peace, sin, and guilt. The commands for how to conduct these offerings are given in a very precise description. These descriptors are not meant to confuse or even “bore” the reader but to provide insight about how one must approach YHWH God. He is perfection and cannot look upon anything presented to Him that is less than perfect … and this is the ultimate reason for why Jesus had to come to earth in incarnate form – to become the perfect offering for our sins.
However, even in His perfection God shows mercy. He understands that many are not wealthy and cannot afford the expense of a bull or a lamb for an offering. In His compassion, He allowed the Israelites to substitute the offering of a lamb for something that they could afford (5:7). What he wanted was a willing and contrite heart and the effort of restitution. Jesus himself understood this fact because His own earthly parents were poor and could only afford the least of the offerings (Luke 2:24) as commanded for the birth of the firstborn son.
We should use Leviticus to understand that God is holy and perfect but also shows mercy and compassion to those who need it most. God requires all of this not because He is egotistical but because He had an wanted an awareness of our own sinfulness that will become as a soothing aroma before Him (Lev. 2:2, 9; 3:16). God is demanding but also merciful. He is so merciful, in fact, that He became our sacrifice for sins through Jesus who is God the Son. What an awesome and perfect God we serve! Shalom!