“I will make my dwelling among you, and my soul shall not abhor you. And I will walk among you and will be your God, and you shall be my people. I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that you should not be their slaves. And I have broken the bars of your yoke and made you walk erect.” (Leviticus 26:11-13 ESV)
Congratulations! You’ve finished Leviticus!
It’s a long and detailed book, with many aspects that don’t directly relate to New Covenant believers today. All of it, however, is inspired by God and recorded for our growth and edification.
Here are the main takeaways: God is holy, people are not. God will dwell with man, but to have a relationship with God will be costly. Sacrificial death is involved. Our joy and worship of God is based upon divine forgiveness and cleansing. Hebrews (in the NT) is the companion book to Leviticus (in the OT).
Also, there is a progress of revelation. God is not revealing everything about his perfect will at once. Some details relate to that time and culture. God allowed some things at that time that he does not today. Some precepts that he gave then were temporary and passed away with the coming of his Son, the Lord Jesus, who enacted the New Covenant. Some of the civil and ceremonial legislation may not directly apply to us.
How then do I apply the commandments of Leviticus? First we must remember that these laws were given to Israel (Lev. 27:34). And the mediator of that covenant was Moses. Here’s the last verse of Leviticus: “These are the commandments that the LORD commanded Moses for the people of Israel on Mount Sinai.” (Leviticus 27:34) With the coming of the New Covenant we have a new center of reference: Jesus our Mediator, our Law-giver, and our High Priest. Note what Jesus says in the New Testament: “…teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you….” (Matthew 28:20) Notice he says, “I” and not “Moses”. Jesus is the ultimate authority.
And in 1 Corinthians 9:20-21, the Apostle Paul says, “To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law.”
Paul is not “under the law” (the Mosaic Law), but neither is he “outside the law” (or lawless), but views himself under the “law of Christ.” So, to see what applies to believers today from the Old Testament we must look to see what the Lord Jesus — and by his appointment, the Apostles — teach is applicable for followers of Christ. Much of what we call “the moral law” of the Old Testament does apply today because it is clearly taught in the Gospels and Epistles of the New Testament. God, in his moral purity and integrity, does not change, nor does his ultimate design for humanity change.
“I am the Lord.” Forty-nine (49) times in Leviticus, God says, “I am the Lord”. He uses his covenant name, YHWH, which is related to the phrase, “I am who I am” (Exodus 3:14). This name is such a great comfort to the people of God. This means that he is the One Who Is. “The LORD is God; there is no other besides him” (Deut. 4:35). He is “the living God” (Deut. 5:26). “I am God and there is no other” (Isa. 45:22). We worship “…him who lives forever” (Dan 4:34). “…who was and is and is to come!” (Rev. 4:8) God is living, independent, self-existent, and self-sufficient.
So we take courage: God will be God to us, and will fulfill all his promises. He will be all that his people need him to be!