I finished reading the book of Leviticus today.
Believe it or not, Leviticus does not merit rank on my list of Frustrating Things to Read. (Anything by Charles Dickens and our local newspaper make up most of that list). Rather, I come away impressed. What seems, on the surface, to be a long list of impossibly detailed rules and regulations is truly a call to remember. The Lord reveals His desire to live in good, close relationship to His people by requiring them to remember their sins, to remember how He set them free from slavery and to remember how He provides for them.
This desire is best summed up in 17:7 –
They shall no more offer their sacrifices to demons, after whom they have played the harlot. This shall be a statute forever for them throughout their generations. (NKJV)
There was a before, when the people didn’t know the Lord or how He wanted them to live. There was an after, when their sacrifices, prayers and rituals reminded them of the pain of the past, the working of freedom in the present and the hope of the future. There were consequences for forgetting (clearly marked out in Ch. 26, all of which was carried out during the Exile written about in Jeremiah, Lamentations, Daniel, Esther, Nehemiah, Ezra, Haggai and several Psalms).
The Sabbath, a day of complete rest. The celebration of Passover and the days of unleavened bread. The Feast of Firstfruits, Harvest, Trumpets and Tabernacles. The Day of Atonement. The Sabbath of the Seventh Year. The Year of Jubliee. All of these celebrations served as reminders that the people of Israel were set apart. They had been chosen by God and were to rely fully upon Him. They were to remember and celebrate His goodness and provision.
The calendar was focused on the holy.
Lent begins this week, on Ash Wednesday. Scripture does not mandate the observance of this season, with its customary personal sacrifices and fasting, but I see no harm in a time marked for the purpose of holy remembrance. Let us not rush into Holy Week next month with our nerves frayed by cares and our eyes focused on the clock. Let us make a conscious choice to set our minds on things above (Col. 3:2). Whatever you choose to give up during these next weeks, I encourage you to set aside specific time each day to examine the sate of your life before and after Christ. Remember where you where, thank Him for where you are and look forward to His glorious coming.
Oh, give thanks to the Lord!
Call upon His name;
Make known His deeds among the peoples!
Sing to Him, sing psalms to Him;
Talk of all His wondrous works!
Glory in His holy name;
Let the hearts of those rejoice who seek the Lord!
Seek the Lord and His strength;
Seek His face evermore!
Remember His marvelous works which He has done,
His wonders, and the judgments of His mouth.- 1 Chronicles 16:8-12 (NKJV)