Do you have difficulty reading through certain books of the Bible?
Here is my short-list:
- Some of the minor prophets (about 9 out of 12…)
- Parts of Exodus
Prophetic books containing apocalyptic language are an obvious challenge. It takes research into the symbolism, a knowledge of the historical time frame, and a good hard look at the context. You can’t just glide through them like you do through the Psalms or Proverbs where the meaning is obvious and the verses highly quotable.
The book of Leviticus is not apocalyptic, it’s laborious. Twenty-seven chapters overflow with detailed rules, regulations, and instructions. It’s a bit like reading the United States Tax Code, only it makes abundantly more sense.
If you are in the midst of your daily bible reading and find your eyes glazing over Leviticus, try the following:
Step 1: Pray Before Reading
Prayer is both highly important and highly neglected. Pray before reading the Word. It doesn’t have to be a lengthy ordeal. A short prayer can be as follows:
Dear Lord, thank you for providing the Bible for us so we can know You more and understand your will for us. As I prepare to read, please guide my mind and heart to see your perfect purpose. Grant me wisdom to come to a better understanding and to be transformed by the renewing of my mind.
In the Holy name of Your Son Jesus, Amen.
Step 2: Identify the Theme of the Book
This is a good practice with most Bible books. Understanding the theme or central message of a book will guide you through the more challenging parts. The main theme of Leviticus is captured in the following verse:
Consecrate yourselves, therefore, and be holy, for I am the Lord your God.
~ Leviticus 20:7, ESV
“Consecrate,” by definition, is to be set apart for dedicated service to God.
“Holy” is translated from the Hebrew “Qodesh” meaning apartness, holiness, sacredness, separateness. It is used 91 times in this book.
God put these laws in place in order to make the Jews different from every other nation. He set up a special environment through which Christ could come and emphasized the value of keeping oneself right before God. God was not to be treated as common and His people were not to behave “commonly.”
During the time of Samuel, when the Israelites expressed their desire to have a human king so they could “be more like the nations around them,” God recognized their failure to grasp His Kingship and their intended uniqueness (1 Samuel 8). It’s a heartbreaking moment for both God and Samuel. The people of Israel frequently failed to grasp the essence of God’s law… as do we.
Leviticus is a foreshadowing of what God desires for the church. We too are supposed to come out from the world and be separate:
As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written,
“You shall be holy, for I am holy.”
~ 1 Peter 1:14-16, ESV
Step 3: Outline the Book
Chapters 1-7: Laws Concerning Sacrifices
Chapter 8-9: Consecration of Aaron and his Sons (Aaron and his sons after him were intended to be the High Priest of the nation, the only one permitted to enter the most Holy Place of the Tabernacle and later the temple)
Chapter 10: The Death of Nadab and Abihu
Chapters 11-22: Laws Concerning Purity
Chapters 23-25: Laws Concerning Feasts
Chapters 26-27: Special Laws
Again, context is everything. When you grasp the different sections of the text, it’s a bit easier to understand where you are and what is going on. I wrote this outline in my bible next to the starting points.
Step 4: Read.
This is the hardest step. No joke.
I listen to English Standard Version of the Bible in the mornings using my YouVersion Bible App. In the afternoon—barring interruptions—I take about 20 minutes to read through what I listened to and jot down a few notes.
Sometimes it helps to make a list or chart of specific laws or regulations—it is a good way to maintain focus on what you’re reading. It also is helpful to list apparent antitypes (foreshadows) to the church. My current study through the Bible is specifically focused on what the scripture reveals to us about God Himself.
Here are some specific things to look for:
- God is Holy
- God wants His people to be holy
- God cares about the health and well-being of His people
- Blood is used to purify, cover sin, and remove guilt (This is a foreshadowing of Christ’s Sacrifice and the need for those who are Christians to be purified by Jesus’ blood)
- God expects obedience.
- God keeps His promises
I hope these tips help you in your studies through the Bible. May your heart be opened to the will of God and your life be transformed.