Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Leviticus: the last word


These are the commandments that the LORD commanded Moses for the people of Israel on Mount Sinai.

Leviticus 27:34

I find this reminder a fitting way to end the book of Leviticus. I notice several things about the nature of Leviticus in this short seventeen word summary of the book. The first is the nature of the book. It consists of commands. The people of Israel did not negotiate these laws (unlike what gets done in the sausage-making legislative process in Washington). God simply spoke them and they became the legal code of the nation.

Secondly, we see human leadership as God’s spokesman. That was Moses’ job. He was a prophet. He simply delivered the message that God gave to Israel. And the role of Moses and of the priests is a major part of what was meant to keep Israel obedient to these laws and thus in proper relationship with God.

I must also mention the source of stable government for Israel under the Law. God was the source of it. God commanded Moses for the people of Israel. They did not have to wade through warped human reasoning to come up with the structure for their society. God provided it through His revelation. Theocracy in its biblical form is a remarkably streamlined and efficient form of leadership.

Fourthly, the relationship that God had was with a unique group of people: Israel. The nation had been chosen to bless the world, and God fully expected for the world to come to worship Him through Israel’s leadership. Provisions exist in Leviticus for this process. A holy God had chosen a holy nation to reach the world.

The final noteworthy comment has to do with the place that symbolized the law: Sinai. God had chosen to reveal Himself and His laws for the nation in an event on a mountain. This made a strategic historic point in the nation to look back on, much like any nation might look back at its founding. In this case, Israel saw Sinai as its birthplace as a nation under God.

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