Instagram vs. Leviticus
– Emily Day
Of all the verses that are quoted by Christians on their perfectly filtered Instagram posts, Leviticus has got to be one of the least quoted books. And I think it gets a bad rap. In fact, I think Christians are missing out on a serious goldmine of captions!
So before I get into what I thought about Leviticus, I’d like to offer a few potential times when you may find Leviticus has just the caption you were looking for:
1) A weight-loss before and after pic: Leviticus 3:16b “All fat is the LORD’s.”
2) A picture of your child throwing a tantrum on the ground: Leviticus 11:41a “All creatures that swarm (squirm) upon the earth are detestable.”
3) A cute selfie of you with your father who is denying his receding hairline: Leviticus 13:40 “If anyone loses the hair from his head, he is bald but he is clean.” (Some of our Dads need a loving nudge in the right direction… that direction being a mirror and a good razor. It’s time, fellas.)
Okay in all seriousness, taking verses out of context is exactly what we are learning not to do on our School of Biblical Studies. So I apologize to my staff who might be reading this. Just jokes, you guys. Just jokes.
To be real, Leviticus was a bit of a grind. There are very specific instructions for how each sacrifice is to be performed, and the instructions are not only gruesome, but WORDY! I’m honestly not sure which is worse. Then there’s a ton of laws about how to stay clean and, in our 21st century mindset, they seem kind of excessive (or “extra” as the kids are saying these days.)
I remember reading through Leviticus this summer and being so discouraged, because I couldn’t understand anything and God sounded really legalistic. However, this time around in SBS, it is amazing how the historical context we learned in class brought so much clarity.
Something I need to remind myself when I’m reading these books is that the author did not have me in mind when he was writing them. Leviticus wasn’t written to me, or about me! There’s things we just can’t understand about their culture. In the same way I might not understand why certain animals had to be slaughtered on the north side of the altar, Moses wouldn’t understand why I like to take a boomerang of my grande green tea latte at Starbucks to post to my Instagram story. (Because it’s cool, Moses. Get with it.)
While parts of their culture are beyond our comprehension, when we view Leviticus through the lens of God wanting to set His people apart from the pagan cultures around them, it starts to make a lot more sense. Although this book is not written to a bunch of 21st century millennials, there is a lot we can actually learn about God through it. And in that way, it is written for us.
For one of my classmates, Leviticus revealed more of the nature of God’s holiness to her, in ways she hadn’t considered before. Another classmate commented that the fact of God’s utter holiness changes how he approaches God now in his devotional time – asking God to humble him, because God deserves his humility.
I think the consensus is, without a doubt, Leviticus is a very difficult book to study. However, when we asked God to reveal His character to us through it, He did not disappoint. His holiness is far beyond our comprehension, but so is His desire to be with us.
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