I’ll admit it. This is my first time ever reading Leviticus. I’m sure I’ve read the occasional scripture, picked out by someone who was giving a talk or preaching a sermon, but I haven’t read the entire book and I know very little about what it contains. I’m walking through unknown territory here, folks. It’s all new to me.
So far it seems to be a lot of detail about the law — how to offer sacrifices. When to offer sacrifices. Much detail about each type of sacrifice. The first time through, my head was spinning and my only thought was, “Thank you God for not plunking me down on earth in the middle of those times.” Because I’m pretty sure I’d have been in a world of hurt if I had to remember all of that.
I have an incredible memory for some things: plot points in the books I write, details about the various characters I create. Stuff like that. I have a horrible memory for the practical things in life: the fact that there’s a 1st of the month in months that do not contain a deadline. The fact that my daughter just asked me to pull off the highway at the next rest stop. What I’m supposed to cook for dinner or, if the work is going well, that I’m supposed to eat dinner at all.
So all that detail worried me. A lot. You know, for the people like me who lived back then and couldn’t remember whether to turn the ox this way or that on the altar. My head was spinning so much, I decided to read these two chapters again to see if I could make any sense of them at all.
The second time through I began to relax a little. First, because I’m a woman, and it occurred to me that all of this sacrifice detail was probably something the men would have to remember. With luck, I’d have been back at the tent, weaving blankets and cooking up pots of savory goat stew. Maybe I’d just have to hope that my husband remembered what to do with the shank of the goat’s leg. Assuming, you know, that I had a husband. Which got my mind wandering again as I wondered what the widows and unmarried women did about the whole sacrifice issue.
Secondly, I realized that, once again, the Lord was instructing us with a lot of repetition. Are you sacrificing a sheep? Do it here. Do it this way. Offer these parts. A goat? Same thing. An ox? Same thing. So even those who didn’t have the best memory in the world might actually have been okay.
But the biggest thing I realized as I read Leviticus 1 and 2 for the second time was how confusing and detailed the walk with God seemed (at least in my mind) for those who came before Christ, and how easy it is for us who have been born after Christ. We really don’t have to remember much of anything. Even someone with a Swiss cheese memory can handle what’s asked of us in this day and age because Christ has done the rest by offering Himself as a sacrifice on our behalf.
Today I’m pondering what that truly means and I’m amazed and filled with gratitude.