Leviticus 1 – 4
Each of today’s chapters gives a different type of sacrifice, which seems pretty gruesome, but be prepared, this continues to chapter nine.
Leviticus is the legal document of the religious state of ancient Israel, so it’s as compelling as going to the local library and reading all the government gazettes for the last 40 years. It has interesting laws simply from the point of view that they are strange to us, and some are really brutal.
Obviously the name comes from the tribe of Levi, whose priestly responsibility it was to see that the nation atoned for it’s sins.
Back to those chapters, the systems are really self explanatory, but we do see the priests getting a benefit from sacrifices, which could be problematic, since the more people sin, the better off the priests get. In Jesus time, the pharisees had an oral tradition which included extra laws, which wasn’t really surprising since the priests could benefit by adding laws down the line. This also shows how people need to be in ministry work out of love and dedication. To many times we see people getting rich from their ministry (seriously, owning TV stations and flying in private jets) and later the charges of fraud, or other things, emerge and the all of Christendom is disgraced.
The other thing is that the vast majority of animal sacrifice is male, if this hadn’t been pointed out on a critics website, I’d have not noticed the 2 texts in today’s chapters that command female animals be sacrificed. This is criticised, I’m not sure why, but the context implies that it is sexist, females aren’t good enough for God. It seems obvious that it is absurd to say that not killing female animals is discriminating against women, but the question is: why the system? Firstly, Jesus is male, so in order to point towards Him, it would seem logical that males would be sacrifice. Obviously the “without blemish” bit points towards His sinless life.
Secondly, this was an agricultural economy. It’s useful to have lots of females and not many males. Visit a modern farm and you’ll see, they’re sexist if you go in with the mentality of the critic who uses this as an argument, far more males are eaten, obviously modern society feels females lack flavour. If it sounds silly, that’s because it is, but no sillier than God being sexist, because of male animal sacrifice. So, if all the sacrifices in the Old Testament, which stood to remind people of the consequences of sin and the reason they needed a Messiah, were female, then you’d have very few animals being born, and the society would soon starve (I’d be fine, I’m a vegetarian). So from a purely pragmatic point of view, it makes sense to sacrifice more male animals than female animals. I still stick by the symbolic reason above, it’s just nice to have something pragmatic too.
What are your thoughts?
Please give the reading through the Bible page a look if you haven’t already, there are some background posts and the index to this reading plan. Share it with others who you think can benefit from Reading the Bible.