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My most thrilling family devotion lessons from Leviticus

 February 2010 

At the end of January our family drove about 700kms from Whangarei to Wellington to attend a niece's wedding. While we were there we crossed Cook Strait and stayed with friends in the Marlborough Sounds (at the top of the South Island of New Zealand) for over a week and had a lovely time doing such things as staying on their launch for 2 days. Our sons and Priscilla very much enjoyed diving in such a beautiful place.

On the Sunday at the little church our friends attend, we each shared what a blessing it was to us to spend time with God as individuals, and then to share and pray together as a family. We each shared a recent Quiet Time that had been a blessing to us. We particularly shared about our struggles to not make idols of all the good things in life that God has given us. As a family we felt greatly encouraged and I know that some of the church folk were encouraged to continue seeking God by spending time with Him.

For most of February we have been using the book of Leviticus for the Scriptural passages for our Quiet Times, intermingled with readings from the Psalms. For years I have avoided getting readings from Leviticus because I felt it would be very difficult to hear from God from this book. I felt that much of this book was rather dry reading and not very relevant to Christians today. We have been surprised, however, at how much the Lord has spoken to us from this book.

I read the introduction to the book of Leviticus in the NIV Bible which I found to be helpful and I encouraged each family member to read it. This is what it says:

Leviticus means "about the Levites." The Levites were God's priests, and the book of Leviticus contains many of the rules they needed to do their work -- rules for worshipping God, making sacrifices, and handling everyday problems concerning cleanliness. Although many of the rules were given only for the Levites, the purpose of all the laws that were given was to help the Israelites worship and live as God's holy people. A key statement for the entire book is "Be holy, because I am holy." (11:44,45)

Over the years, we have found the preacher writer, David Pawson, to be a great blessing to our family. I have found his book, "Unlocking the Bible" to be especially helpful as he gives a wonderful overview of every book in the Bible. What he says about Leviticus has been especially inspirational for me and I am encouraging my whole family to also read what he says.

I particularly found helpful what he says concerning the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible. He says the following:

Genesis is a book of beginnings. It is a universal book. It is about everybody, the human race and the whole universe. Genesis covers centuries, all the past history of the earth.

Exodus is a national book -- it zooms down on one people -- the nation of Israel, and it covers about 300 years.

In Leviticus, the focus is even more narrow, on only one tribe out of the whole nation. Leviticus only covers one month, concentrating on the month at Mt Sinai where the law and regulations were given.

Numbers is also a national book, covering 40 years when two censuses were taken -- hence the name Numbers. The first census was taken when Israel left Sinai one month after the tabernacle had been erected. The second was taken when they arrived at Moab prior to entering the land of Canaan, nearly 40 years later.

Deuteronomy puts Israel against the backcloth of the entire world, so we are back to Deuteronomy being written from a universal viewpoint. It covers many centuries, particularly looking forward to the future history of Israel.

Pawson says that once we can see the shape of the five books of Moses, we will see that Leviticus is the hinge of the whole thing. Leviticus focuses on the most important month at the most important place with the most important tribe.

It is since I read what Pawson had to say about Leviticus and doing our Quiet Times from this book, that I have come to have a new appreciation of Leviticus. I also realize that even though some of the laws and regulations in Leviticus don't apply to us today they are, nevertheless, good for us, such as the prohibition of not eating the fat of animals or getting rid of mildew in houses. In recent years, it has been found that mildew is responsible for many respiratory problems and can even lead to cancer.

I particularly found the following statement of Pawson's helpful: "Exodus is about the deliverance that God brought to his people, but Leviticus is about the dedication of God's people to Him. Exodus is about God's grace in setting the people free, but Leviticus begins with thanks offerings, explaining how the people can show their gratitude to God for being set free."

In our family, we are particularly trying to develop gratitude towards God for all that He has done for us, particularly in saving us from our sins by dying for us.

We especially try and see that all the good things that happen to us are from God's hand and that He even allows hard things in our lives to bring us ultimate blessing.

We are constantly trying to live holy lives by not being conformed to this world. We try to make Jesus our greatest joy and not the things of this world.

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