Posted by: Jim Black | February 16, 2009

Keeping up… cues on reading the Old Testament Law

Wow… if the last couple of weeks in Leviticus and Numbers haven’t been a little weary on you, then maybe its just me.  I have been reminded why these books are so difficult to plow through.  They are filled with rules, lists, and detailed descriptions of the Levitical priesthood… it has absolutely boggled my mind!  How difficult it must have been to abide by all of these rules and regulations.  Can you imagine having to offer up the sacrifices to God that were required in Leviticus on an ongoing basis… with little relief in sight?  If you, like me, have struggled over the last several days in our reading and in understanding what the purpose of the Law was… let me suggest another Bible reading cue that might help.


Bible Reading Cue #3:  The Old Testament Law should point us to Jesus

Paul wrote to the church in Galatia about the place of the Old Testament law.  This is what he said in 3:24 & 25, “So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that   Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law.”  Do you imagine that keeping the law perfectly must have been a difficult task?  Good, you are supposed to.  It was difficult.  In fact, it was impossible.  Nobody ever did it perfectly… until Jesus, that is.  I think that was part of the point.  God always intended his people to be justified or to be made right by FAITH.  It was the people’s faith in God that led them to offer the sacrifices in the first place.  It was their faith in God that sustained them in the wilderness wanderings.  It was their faith in God that led them to the land of promise.  It was all about faith… from the beginning.  So, why the law?  It was all about pointing the way to Jesus!


Did you ever wonder why God allowed the people to suffer in slavery in Egypt before being delivered by Moses?  Could it be that he was trying to teach them that we all are captives (to sin cf. Gal. 3:22) and in need of a deliverer… Jesus?  Ever wonder why God demanded all of those animal blood sacrifices?  It was to point the way to Jesus, whose blood sacrifice on the cross would forever remove the stain of sin and make perfect forever those who are being made holy (cf.  Heb. 10:14)!  Ever wonder why God asked them to build a Tabernacle so he could “dwell” with them?  It was to make the way for the presence of Jesus in their lives through the indwelling of God’s Spirit (cf.  1 Cor. 3:16).  How it all makes sense… seen through the prism of Jesus.


I wonder if the Israelites fully comprehended what God was doing?  My sense is that they didn’t.  God was teaching them step by step.  They were learning as they went and didn’t always get it.  God’s desire was simply for them to trust him.  Sometimes they did better with that than at other times.  What about you?  How are you at trusting in God?  Even when he asks you to do something that doesn’t make sense to you?  Its always easier to see God’s hand working in our lives in retrospect than it is to trust in him for the future.  That’s because we can see the past… but what God wants is for us to trust in him when we cannot see what lies ahead.  Isn’t that what faith is all about (cf. Heb. 11:1)… its an exciting journey, isn’t it?



  1. I like the cues. If you want an interesting take on the altar system versus the faith system, I recommend watching Rob Bell’s “The Gods Aren’t Angry.” The way he travels through both biblical narrative and anthropology of religion make knowing Leviticus revolutionary.

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