I'm reading through the Bible this year and recently finished the book of Leviticus. While I've read Leviticus before, each new reading seems to present a fresh struggle. I wrestle through questions every time I read it:
"What does this mean?"
"Why did God include this in the Bible?"
"How does this apply to me?"
Yet the process of reading Leviticus works certain truths deep in my soul. These are the character lessons that can only be learned by reading the challenging, "not-immediately-understandable-or-applicable" books of the Bible.
Just as I’ve learned to value Leviticus, I want to encourage you to mine for treasure in every part of God’s word, even when you can’t initially see the luster. God will be faithful to use it in your relationship with him and others.
Here are two reasons you should read Leviticus (Or any other difficult book of the Bible!)...
It’s profitable for your soul.
One morning, as I struggled through the minutiae of shaved beard corners and boiling goats, the Holy Spirit brought this powerful verse to my mind: "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness" (2 Tim. 3:16).
Every book and verse is in the Bible for a reason. What is that reason? The passage above continues: "...that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work" (2 Tim. 3:17). Leviticus is part of God's word, therefore it’s profitable for me in every role: as a wife, mother, church member, neighbor, and friend.
How many times have you given your child a command for their safety and their good, but they want to understand the reasons for the command before they obey? There are some commands I give my kids that they just won’t understand until they’re older. But that doesn’t mean they should disobey. Rather, the true test of an obedient heart is not seen when a child understands or agrees with a command, but when they don’t understand it.
When we approach Leviticus, we must approach it with the firm conviction that this book is not only profitable but necessary for our souls. There will be portions we don’t understand. We’ll most likely struggle to stay focused. We might even wonder why God included it in the canon of Scripture. But as we press through with prayer, God will work his Word into our hearts, and use it to make us complete and fully equipped for every good work.
Leviticus is part of God's word, therefore it's also profitable for you whatever your occupation, financial status, or season of life.
When I take time to read Leviticus, I’m saying, "God, I believe you when you say that every single part of scripture was given for my instruction in righteousness." It’s easy to believe God's Word instructs me when I read passages like 1 Corinthians 13, where my definition of love is put to the test or Philippians 2, where the Spirit once again reveals the pride of my heart.
But it takes faith to read a passage that doesn’t seem to have personal application and continue reading it to the end. It takes faith to take that difficult passage to God and ask him to teach you what he wants you to learn instead of responding in frustration.
As mothers, we must exercise and strengthen this faith muscle constantly. If we don’t, we will stop teaching the gospel to our children when it seems like they don’t want to hear it anymore. Without faith, we will only work when we see the results. But with faith, we patiently teach them again and again—day in and day out, when they seem tender and when they seem hardened, “when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise” (Deut. 6:7), “precept upon precept, line upon line, here a little, there a little” (Isaiah 28:10).
"Without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him" (Heb. 11:6).
Reading Leviticus requires faith, and it's a worthy pursuit.
It teaches diligence.
Spending time working at something when you don't see immediate results requires several things, one of which is diligence. It's a little bit like choosing to exercise today even though you exercised yesterday and still don't have a six-pack. (I'm speaking hypothetically, of course.) It’s also like taking time to teach your child the Bible and how it applies to his life, even though you don’t immediately see the Word of God being fleshed out when he plays with his friends or responds to your commands. It takes persistence despite the lack of instant results.
Reading Leviticus isn’t an easy task filled with lots of easily gathered blessings on the way. There won't be many verses to share on social media or make into a pretty graphic, much less hang on your wall in the form of a rustic barn wood sign. But Leviticus will teach you something that cannot be learned through a casual reading of Scriptures—that God's word is worth the diligence required to read it, even when you don't see immediate results.
There are many other lessons you can learn from reading and studying Leviticus. Truths pertaining to God's desire and commands regarding Old Testament worship and regulations, his unmatched justice, and perfect holiness. My favorite treasure from Leviticus is seeing how it points to our desperate need for the perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ. After reading through the minutiae of different sacrifices, offerings, and cleansings that happen year after year but never provide effective cleansing, other passages of Scripture that talk of Christ’s perfect “once for all” sacrifice begin to come alive. Christ “entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption” (Hebrews 9:12). These are themes that are more easily grasped when you read the book as a whole or perhaps read through the overview in your study Bible. (Here's the study Bible I've used for 8+ years.) But you'll never grasp these overall themes if you don't first sit down and simply read the book itself.
Reading Leviticus reminds me of the importance of a faith-filled, diligent spirit during scripture study, and it teaches the profitability of every part of God's word to my life today. I encourage you to believe God when he says that every part of his word is beneficial to your soul and demonstrate that belief by reading every part of his word—even (and maybe especially) Leviticus.
Here are two resources that may prove to be helpful in your study of Leviticus:
Introduction to Leviticus, includes themes, background info, and introductions
Exploring Leviticus, incredibly helpful & concise videos via the Bible Project
Christa Threlfall is a pastor’s wife, mother of four, and author of Come to Jesus: What if God Designs Our Days to Keep Us Running Back to Him?. She enjoys reading, playing tennis, and exploring the great state of New Hampshire.