The first five books of the Bible, the Pentateuch is remarkable in a couple of ways. First, many religions, even those that don’t support that Jesus is the Son of God, subscribe to their authenticity and historic truth. Once we move to the New Testament, many more disagreements occur, but Abraham, Moses, and Joseph are in large part with many additional historical documents backing up the Bible, are well accepted. We, as humans even agree that there is something innately bad about us, and it needs fixing. All religions on this planet try to reconcile this conundrum.
Second, while many can agree it is true, it is probably the least studied part of the Bible in all religions, especially Christianity. I say that with a heavy heart, because I too am guilty of wanting to skip many parts of the Old Testament, especially the Pentateuch. For years, I complained about Leviticus, but after several convictions from the Holy Spirit to study the book, I became very aware of the relevance today! In truth, we need to understand why we need a Savior! Leviticus shows us why. Our human brains cannot even begin to fathom how detrimental sin is, to very part of our being (mental, spiritual, physical, and emotional), and how it cascades through our lives and others lives. We falsely believe we are all “basically good people” trying to do the right thing, then we compare ourselves to others to escape the truth that we are wretched, full of debauchery, and selfishness. Even if we were to try to achieve holiness, we couldn’t. We never have been, and never will be able to. THAT is why we need a Savior! We are all sinners and fall short (Romans 3:23), and to atone (pay our debt for our sins), we needed a perfect sacrifice. There are certainly many religions out there that still have people earning their debt payment! Most do! Somehow, that seems right to us humans, that we would need to work it off. Balance the scales with good for all the evil we have done. Yet, God is so Holy, Jesus is our only benchmark (remember, He never sinned), that it is impossible to earn enough to pay that sin debt. God knew that, by the way! He had a plan, even before He created humans to provide that perfect sacrifice, because He knew we couldn’t do it for ourselves. Yet, He longs to be in relationship with us, here and in eternity. He came to earth fully human and fully God to BE the perfect sacrifice we needed to be reconciled to Him.
That story of God’s commitment to us despite our human brokenness (and whininess), the foreshadowing of a perfect Savior, and the requirements needed to pay our debt (while showing we cannot achieve it on our own), is what the Pentateuch is all about! These books explain your desire for autonomy from God, wanting to decide good and evil for yourself. They explain that your heart is selfish, you are not innately good, and you are headed for death without our most perfect Savior, Jesus. The language can be cumbersome, and even a bit graphic, but we must take time and meditate and learn these early scriptures. Jesus is mentioned all throughout the Old Testament, but to see it, you need to study some of the names of Jesus and understand what is behind some of the symbolism, literary devices, and wordsmithing (translations). In Exodus, when it describes how God told Moses to build the Tabernacle, every detail is pointing to Jesus. However, it takes wise study to discern the foreshadowing.
While still a work in progress, I have become much more comfortable with the Old Testament. I don’t even dread it anymore! My first tip to gaining comfort is exposure. Just dive in! Read it, listen to it, listen to Podcasts explaining it, and watch The Bible Project videos on YouTube to get a better handle on some of the cultural, translation, or writing style aspects that run throughout the books. This will take the boredom out of it as well, making it easier to read. Second, God’s intention was not to lull us to sleep while we read His Word. He wanted us to know these books, that’s why they were included! Would it surprise you to know that the decision made in the Garden of Eden is being made every single day still in 2022? A good attitude and some self-discipline will go a long way to you discovering the faithfulness of our God, and His desire to be in relationship with you!
I ask God to show me interesting things, just to keep me interested. The scripture says to seek, and “ye shall find”.
Here’s a little interesting gem for today:
In Leviticus 1, God gives instructions to Moses on the requirements of a burnt offering to the Lord to atone for the sins of the Israelites. Burnt offerings were to be the very best of what the people had to offer. They weren’t considered a sufficient sacrifice if they weren’t perfect in every way. We often speak of the burnt offerings from the herd, a male without defect or blemish etc... Meaning, we are to give our very best to God, He is worthy! He doesn’t want our leftovers or seconds; He wants our very best in all things. Yet, some of the poorer people didn’t own sheep or goats. Thus, God accepted sacrifices of the flock as well. If you look at verse 14 the Lord says, “If the offering to the Lord is a burnt offering of birds, he is to offer a dove or a young pigeon.” Okay, a Dove is beautiful, and I get that… Christianity often depicts a Dove as the Holy Spirit (like when Jesus was baptized). But a pigeon! I have heard them referred to as “rats with wings”! They are dirty and not desirable at all! How is that our best sacrifice? Well, the Bible reads “a young pigeon”. A young pigeon before it flies, usually at about 4 weeks is a delicacy, even today. The meat is tender and considered by many across the globe as fine cuisine! Google it! It is called squab and is served in some of the finest restaurants around the world. Because Jesus has paid our debt, and we are reconciled to God, there is no need for us today to sacrifice burnt offerings. The Bible even says, God prefers obedience over sacrifice. He does expect our best, though. He gave us time, talents, educations, skills, and resources to use for His glory. Give God your squab!
I get it, The Old Testament takes a little more effort to understand. However, I ask you not to dismiss the relevance to your life today! We need this Word in our hearts, so that we stand up against the enemy! Be assured He knows these scriptures and understands them; certainly, well enough to use against you. Don’t let a little time and language barrier keep you from fighting the good fight of faith! God Bless.