I am the proud mother of two crazy little boys, ages three and six. Every couple months, they go through these exciting growing phases, where it seems they consume more food than my husband and I combined! My oldest son is a bit pickier than my younger son. But there are two things they have both agreed to despise: the peel of and apple and the crust on a slice of bread! And what do you think I tell my children when they complain and insist on not eating these aweful things? Well, I tell them the same thing my parents told me: “The skin is the best part of the apple. It is where the vitamins are! And not eating the bread crust is just wasteful! There are poor children across the world who would be grateful for just some bread crust!” Even still, they turn up their noses and look at me as if I would be the most unloving mommy in the world if I had the audacity to make them eat bread crust and apple skin!
I have to admit that I have approached some parts of the Bible in a way very similar to how my boys look at bread crust and apple skin. For example, let’s take a look at the book of Leviticus. Ah, Leviticus. A relaxing and enjoyable reading of infected sores, menstral bleeding, animal sacrifices, childbirth purification, and goat entrails. Yup. Sounds like a good Sunday morning reading, for sure! So, we typically overlook the book of Leviticus. We overlook those chapters in Genesis and Matthew that dictate the genealogy of the Bible, full of names we can’t pronounce and lands we are not familiar with. Some of us even skip right through the book of Song of Solomon, as we are too uncomfortable with the provocative language and the honesty of love described.
But if we only knew how truly important these parts of the Scriptures are! Every single word in the Bible is God-breathed, and intentionally placed to bring about the truth and glory of the majesty of God. Nothing is to be skipped or looked over! The book of Leviticus, for example, plays a vital role in the deliverance of the Israelites from slavery. For 400 years, the chosen people of God were enslaved under the brutal rule of pharaoh and the Egyptians. All they have ever known is obedience demanded by force, the bondage of captivity, and life under vicious rule. The Israelites had to be educated by their loving God of this new life of liberty, free will, and the decision to obey a God they loved. This was the beginning of defining what was moral and immoral, right and wrong, just and unjust, pleasing and detestable. On the practical side, many of the rules and laws put into place in Leviticus were to keep the Israelites safe from diseases transferred through blood, improper practices, or eating unclean animals. However, these guidelines were also put in place by a good and loving God, that through them, His chosen people would find life and liberty and security. Until now, the Israelites could not even comprehend the concept of having freedom through abiding in the law. They only knew all too well the slavery of being bound to a law.
And the Lord was teaching His children this new way of life, in the middle of a desert. When all distractions were eliminated and the only One they had to look to, lean on, cry to, and even doubt, was God Himself! Is it not like God to take us into a wilderness land, in order to redefine us, according to who He says we are? And when the Lord leads us out of the wilderness, we are perfected and we now have our identity in Him. And in this new identity, we are set upon the path of the Lord’s will and called to walk in the freedom of obedience as instruments of His glory to the edges of the world!
Beloved, don’t skip the crust! There are invaluable jewels within the pieces of scripture we have difficulty consuming. Let the book of Leviticus remind you of the fact that the Lord freed us from slavery, and gave us a new life and a new identity in Him. That He loves us too much to allow us to continue to live in slavery. That, like a good parent, He established guidelines within which His children would be safe and thrive. And remember that the laws transcribed within the book of Leviticus were stepping stones to pave the way for the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, who would fulfill every law and be the ultimate, perfect, final sacrifice.