For the last seven years, we have read the Bible in Morning Time. We alternate between reading the New Testament on one day and reading the Old Testament the next. In the New Testament, we have made our way through the Gospels, Acts, and cycled back again to complete Matthew for a second time. In the Old Testament we have read Genesis and Exodus twice, and Joshua through 2 Kings once. I have chosen to stay with narratives for the time being since my youngest is only 5.
Earlier this year, when we finished Exodus for the second time, I had a choice. I either skip the rest of the Law again (Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy) or continue on and read the very next book in the Bible, Leviticus. Leviticus isn’t known for its captivating narrative. There was a real possibility that my kids, aged 5, 9, 10, and 12, would become exasperated with all of the ceremonial laws, sacrifices, blood, and acacia wood. Believing that “ALL Scripture is living and active” (Heb. 4:12) and “breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,” (2 Tim. 3:16) I continued on, praying that God’s Word would work in our hearts and “not return to [us] void.” (Isa 55:11)
God is so faithful. Even though my kids will probably tell you that Leviticus was boring and confusing, God’s Word did not return void. We learned and grew in our faith together. We were encouraged in the gospel. At the end of this post, I have included a narration of one of my children answering a question about our Bible reading in her end-of-year exam. I found it so encouraging to hear, in her own words, what she took away from reading Leviticus.
But first, here are some big picture ideas that I kept in mind and drew to my children’s attention as we made our way through Leviticus. I hope that it encourages you to read some of the lesser read books of the Bible with your kids. Just keep in mind their ages. I never attempted to read this book when all my kids were little. It is also worth noting that given their ages, I skipped the descriptive passages about sexual sin.
1. It shows us who God is: God is holy
The book of Leviticus outlines to the Israelites a multitude of specific sins that must be atoned for. It also outlines what must be done when the Israelites didn’t sin but became unclean through a skin blemish or some other means. The fact that God is so specific about sins and how they were to be atoned for demonstrates how holy God is. Even a blemish on the skin needed to be dealt with appropriately before the Israelites could come into the presence of God. That is how pure and righteous and holy God is.
2. It shows us who we are: We are sinners
The book of Leviticus was written for God’s chosen people, the Israelites, to set them apart as God’s people and to show them how to live rightly as the people of God. Because God is holy, He set out very specific laws for right living. When those laws are broken, it is sin. Those who sin are guilty. The fact that this book explains so many kinds of sins and the very specific way they must be atoned for shows that God knew that the Israelites would sin. And sin regularly. Like the Israelites, we are sinners. We are guilty.
3. It shows us that our sin and guilt must be punished or atoned for
God is so Holy that no sin can be in His presence. Therefore sin must be punished or atoned for — all sin. Only the blood of a sacrifice will satisfy justice and the breaking of God’s law. The Israelites needed to be made right with God and their sins atoned for in order for God to dwell in their midst. We too must have our sins atoned for and made right with God.
4. It points us to Christ: Christ fulfilled the law
Since God is holy and we are sinners who have broken God’s law, we need our sins forgiven, just as the Israelites did. The sacrificial system of the Old Testament was a shadow pointing to the complete fulfillment of the law in Christ. Christ is our sacrifice. Not only did He shed His blood on the cross just as the animal’s blood was shed on the altar of the tabernacle, He also became the scapegoat for our guilt. The guilt of our sin was placed on Him. Christ’s sacrifice was perfect because He was perfect. He was without blemish. He had no sin. His sacrifice was once and for all. No longer do sacrifices need to be made year in and year out. Christ finished the work of atonement on the cross for all who believe in Him. He rose from the dead, defeating the consequence of sin—death. Through Him, we can now have our sins forgiven and dwell in the presence of God forever. We need only repent of our sins and believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and our Savior.
Narration from Bible Exam (Age 10)
1. Describe the sin offering or the guilt offering in Leviticus. How does this relate to the gospel?
The guilt offering is where you get an animal – I can’t quite remember what it is. It’s either a goat or a bird – But you get the goat or a bird, I think it’s a goat, where you put your hands on the goat, the high priests would do that, and he would be putting all of the peoples’ sins onto that goat and they would take the goat and pull out its fat and roast it. And it was for, like, a smell. Because in one of the metaphors sin is like a stinky, horrible smell that we just put in God’s nose. So when we put that nice smell, (hmmm it reminds me of bacon and steak, it’s really good), it’s like covering, not covering, it’s taking away the bad smell.
And how the sacrifice relates to Jesus and the gospel is that He was the final sacrifice—when He died on the cross He was the final sacrifice. We do not have to do sacrifices anymore because Jesus took all the sins, even the sins we haven’t done, and even the sins we’re going to do in a year from now, He has forgiven us and taken all the sins on Him, all the punishments. He was slain, stricken, and smitten and afflicted, and God turned His back on Jesus. He turns His face to us instead of His son because He took all the sin and now we are holy and Jesus died. But God’s plan was that on the third day He would rise again from the dead and would sitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty and from thenceforth we will be judged as the quick and the dead. And if we don’t repent from our sins you will be put in hell which is the most baddest place ever. It’s a place where it’s dark and it’s fire. You can hear people screaming and it’s like the worst nightmare you’ve ever had and because it’s a nightmare you know it will never come to the end. And that’s the punishment from God. Even Satan does not rule over hell. He will be there. He will be the prince of darkness living in this horrible place for everlasting to everlasting and it will never end. But if you repent of your sins then you shall go in heaven where all your, if you have like a broken arm or a knee, they will be healed. There will be no sicknesses, no sins, and you will be living a perfect life worshipping God—the God of all gods and the King of all kings.
Even though the goats didn’t rise again from the dead because they had to keep making it over and over, Jesus was the last sacrifice so to beat death He had to rise again from the dead.
Note: These thoughts are a layman’s understanding of Scripture. Also, the narration is an unedited transcript of a ten-year-old’s answer.