Jesus was born in a small, dirty cave meant for animals not people. No sterile hospital or even a midwife to help two frightened teenagers so far from home. It was probably a bloody mess … a far cry from the pristine nativities we have today.
This is the world we live in: fallen, dirty and messy.
The nativity was as necessary as the cross.
Bloodshed wasn’t new in the Bible. One of the bloodiest is the Book of Leviticus. Do you ever wonder if it is worth our time to read and understand?
Leviticus … just the name sounds archaic. Rituals, purity laws and the priesthood … just the thought of it might be enough to derail our New Year reading plan. Could there be more to the book than we realize?
Could there even be a thought about Christmas amidst the bloodiness?
Blood represented life, and sacrifice was taken very seriously. The celebration of Christmas is all about a perfect sacrifice which would fulfill the promise of all those imperfect efforts which went before. Leviticus declares a woman unclean during her menstrual period. Being ceremonially unclean did not equate directly with sinfulness but awareness. It was about boundaries set up to protect humanity from a Holy God.
Let’s just be honest for a minute … menstruation … Ugh … It is often painful and dirty, not unlike the actual act of childbirth. Jesus came to save the world from sin, but He came into the world in the usual way. *cue Cat’s in the Cradle if you are over forty, but I digress* If we are honest “unclean” is a mild word for how we generally feel about our cycles, but the fertility of those cycles is a necessary part of the gift of bearing a child.
Leviticus also details the atonement of sin and the sacrificial system, the system was intended as a mercy. A way to bring people nearer to a Holy God. The animal blood shed protected the people from the consequences of their sinfulness. The sacrificial system made a way for the people to understand not only that God was just and holy, but that a substitution would be accepted and allow them to draw near to Him, allowing God to remain among them. The rituals, purity laws and the priesthood all foreshadowed the perfect sacrifice to come one Christmas morning.
What is the value of the Book of Leviticus for women?
It is an Ebeneezer, a sign and a reminder of the help in the form of a babe that God provided. As with all of the Old Testament it should be read in light of the New Testament. 2 Timothy 3:16 reminds us:
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness…
I encourage you to keep these things in mind when you are tempted to skip the book of Leviticus. I found the following video very helpful, and I highly recommend it for anyone seeking to better understand the significance of Leviticus. If you enjoy the video be sure to check out more about The Bible Project at jointhebibleproject.com.
It is easy to forget the Holy God of Israel desired to be known by His people, both men and women, and made a way for them to draw near. This is the value and beauty of Leviticus and with each law, prohibition and ritual we might be more thankful for Christ, who bridged the gap for eternity.
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