Where to Begin
As I have started to plan how I am going to approach studying through the Bible, one of the first things I have had to decide is where to begin. There are a few logical places to begin, starting at the very beginning in Genesis, with one of the four gospels, the beginning of the Christian church in Acts, or one of the short and instructive letters in the New Testament like James or Philippians. These are all nice, normal, advisable places to begin, and I have thought a lot about one of these being my launching place.
Instead I am choosing to start in a place where I don't think anyone would recommend- the book of Leviticus. I know that no sane person would say that this is where you should start digging into the Bible. It isn't advice that I would ever give anyone. It is where good intentions fade away in a year through the Bible reading plan. I know, I've experienced it. But here I am, doing it never the less.
Here is why Leviticus is where I want to jump in.
I don't feel like I have a good understanding of how God instructed his people to live, and the reason behind those instructions.
When I read Leviticus it doesn't seem to reflect the personal, loving, kind God that I know through reading other portions of the Bible and I think the inconsistencies might just be that I don't really understand the context within these laws were given.
I don't remember ever hearing a sermon series on Leviticus, so I don't come with a lot of prior knowledge. (Edited- I take the back. I have heard a sermon series on Leviticus and I have found them on the internet and will be listening to them again. My lack of memory is not due to the sermon series but instead to the effect of the sleep deprivation that comes with having a small baby.)
This book may have shaped the Jewish faith more than any other book. It dictated how to be in relationship with God, how everyday life should look, and helped the Israelites live as a holy people who served a holy God.
If I believe that Jesus was the ultimate atoning sacrifice as well as our high priest then I should come to know and love Jesus more by understanding what the sacrificial system and the role of the high priest.
I'm pretty sure the whole Bible points toward Jesus and the good news that God had created a path for redemption. I don't want to miss the good news in this book.
I have been wondering and thinking about Leviticus for a little over a year and it is really on my heart to better understand it.
As I started to wonder about Leviticus, I emailed the pastor of my church and explained to him that I wanted to better understand the book because I suspected that if I understood it more I would love Jesus more. I asked him if he had any recommendations for books that would help me to understand better or that would help me to see Jesus through this book. He recommended two books to help guide me. They are The New American Commentary Volume 3A by Mark F. Rooker, and Holiness to the Lord by Allen P. Ross. I plan to use these two books as well as a group of more general reference books to aid my study. Here is a list of general references or a list specific to Leviticus.