Getting Through Leviticus
Sometimes it feels like all of personal Bible reading comes down to one thing: getting through Leviticus.
Every few months, my Bible reading plan takes me through tough stretches like the middle of Leviticus, the second half of Joshua, or the long lists in 1 & 2 Chronicles. In those moments, I think about what God has promised about Scripture, that all of it is useful for training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16), that it is a delight and a safeguard (Psalm 119:9-14), and that everything in the Scriptures will produce hope in us as we endure (Romans 15:4). Sometimes these are hard promises to believe.
One of the highlights of my month is getting to edit a Bible study magazine published by a church in Korea. As they translate all of the issues into English, my job is to edit the English publication. This month covers Leviticus 10-16, and I'm always amazed at how penetrating and practical their applications are from the OT law. They walk the difficult line between moralizing the law and simply ignoring it. Getting to read this every month is so good for my own Bible reading.
Leviticus 14: Mold and Mildew
One passage stood out to me this month. In Leviticus 14, God instructs his people about mildew and mold. Mildew! What a strange thing to zero in on, and one that is easy to skip. But this passage teaches us something very important about the tough passages in Scripture. God is teaching a principle to His people, then and now, through this section on mildew.
God knows that when the people enter the Promised Land, one of their great temptations will be materialism, and more particularly, the love of things that supersedes a love for God. In this section, God is laying out a mindset that will protect them from running after things that will lead them away from Him. This is like a vaccination for their hearts from greed. Ignoring God is the consequence of comfort, and He wants His people to be well acquainted with holiness, rather than comfort.
At this point in time in the Old Testament, the principle was pretty easy to follow because they had been provided for. They literally had nothing coming out of Egypt, and God gave them something, so it would only make sense that they would give everything back to him. But when they entered the land, the tables turned. All of a sudden, the people felt like they had earned the things they had.
God institutes a rule to demonstrate to His people what it means to be holy. If the priest inspected the house and it was moldy, they destroyed the house. How committed would you have to be to give up your house because of mildew? It seems so arbitrary, but God commanded it. This rule undoubtedly has some helpful health implications, but there is something more. God was conditioning their hearts.
The principle for us is exactly the same. As we read this passage, we should be led to ask ourselves, What do I have that I continue to refuse to give up? Our excuses are no more compelling to God now than theirs were then. Most of us won’t have to give up our houses! Is there anything in your life or in your heart that is rotten, destructive, hidden, or diseased? Is there anything that seems like too much to give up?
This passage comforts us. God provided for them when they had to give up their houses. He will provide for us too. No matter what the cost, it’s worth it.