It’s amazing how quickly technology becomes obsolete. Our culture seems to build obselecence into everythign it creates. Have you ever felt that way as you read through the Old Testament? One of the challenges we face as Christians is how to approach the Old Testament law, especially the social expectations God had for the Jews in the wilderness and even in the Promised Land. On the one hand we don’t want to say it’s outdated and irrelevant, but on the other hand we can’t figure out how it fits into modern life. The often-ignored book of Leviticus is a prime example. If none of this applies to us today, then why read it? In fact, why even have it in the latest versions of the Bible?
The answer is that the rules taught the people about God. He revealed himself through the law. You get to know him in it. His personality and preferences are revealed. You can’t help but see that he is a God of fairness, order, dignity, modesty, generosity, justice, and compassion. The acute revelation of his glory (Exodus 34:6-7) is diffused through all the various laws he institutes. His own character is bound up in the regulations.
By reading from books like Leviticus on a regular basis you get a good feel for how God teaches the people to exercise faith in him and trust his character. It takes faith to punish an evildoer in your own family when he is the main breadwinner. It takes faith to let your field go fallow every seven years. It takes faith to go to the priest and let him determine if your leprosy is terminal or not. It takes faith to sell yourself into slavery for an agreed upon price, believing that God will make sure you aren’t abused. It takes faith to dedicate the tenth animal to pass under your staff even if all the tenth ones are really healthy and strong.
Instead of looking at the actual letter of the law in the Old Testament, we can look at the spirit of the law, and the character of the lawgiver. By doing so you get a better appreciation for the kindness of God and his faithful provision for all who place their hope in him. That hasn’t changed.