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GBC Bible Reading Plan February 11-17

GBC Blog (16)

Week 6, February 4-10: Matthew 7-26

  • Sun Feb 11: Matt 27-28
  • Mon Feb 12: Lev 1-3; Ps 1
  • Tue Feb 13: Lev 4-5; Ps 2
  • Wed Feb 14: Lev 6-8; Ps 3
  • Thu Feb 15: Lev 9-11; Ps 4
  • Fri Feb 16: Lev 12-14; Ps 5
  • Sat Feb 17: Lev 15-17; Ps 6

Matthew ends with Jesus’ parting words to his disciples, the Great Commission:

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matt. 28:18–20)

The disciples have been with Jesus for a while. They’ve walked with him, watched him in action, and heard him teach. Then they saw him crucified, and now he is alive. He has risen and will soon ascend to be with the Father. But before he does, he leaves them with these instructions. He sends them out on a mission to tell the world what they’ve seen and heard and to call others to follow him too.

Gresham Bible Church’s mission is to carry on this same task, to be disciples who make disciples. We have the same mission Jesus gave to those first disciples of his, and it’s the same mission the universal Church has always had and always will have until he comes again. Our hope and prayer is that reading the Bible together as a church would help us in this mission. May we, like the disciples, take what we’re seeing and hearing and spread the news. As we come to know our glorious, triune God better, we will want others to know him too.

After finishing Matthew’s Gospel, we move back to the OT and pick up where we left off. Remember, as we start Leviticus, we’re continuing the story from Genesis and Exodus. Leviticus is part three of the five-part book of Moses, the Pentateuch, the Torah. The whole book of Leviticus takes place over about one month (Exod. 40:17; Num. 1:1) while Israel is still at Mt. Sinai. Keeping in mind the broader, narrative context helps put Leviticus in perspective, and it helps us understand what it meant for the people of Israel and what it means for us today.

Exodus finished with the completion of the tabernacle’s construction. However, even Moses was not able to enter the tent because God’s glorious presence dwelt there (Exod. 40:34–35). Leviticus addresses this problem, beginning with the Lord addressing Moses from the tent of meeting. The book is full of the Lord’s instructions for how the Israelites are to live with a holy God in their midst.

Leviticus is not everyone’s favorite book to read. It’s not always easy to see how it’s relevant to us and to our lives as Christians. I knew of an old Scottish Bible teacher who would say, “Beware Leviticus!” Many well-intentioned Bible read thru plans have stalled out at this point. But Leviticus is God’s inspired word just as much as Psalms or Philippians. We can trust that it is true, and it is profitable for us to read. We can trust that God has something to say to us in Leviticus.

Here are a few principles that can help guide us as we read through Leviticus and the other parts of the Pentateuch that contain a lot of laws. These are three ways OT laws are important for us today:

First, they show us who God is. Leviticus is about holiness. It shows what it means that the Lord is holy. God’s commandments are grounded in God’s character. When the people are told to be holy, the reason is because the Lord is holy (Lev. 11:44–45). So when we read the laws in Leviticus and the rest of the Pentateuch, we come to know our holy, righteous God more fully.

Second, the laws of the Torah also show us what God desires from his people. He has not changed. He is the same God who gave Moses and the Israelites the laws of Leviticus. He gave them those laws so they would flourish in relationship with him. He gave them laws because he loved them. We are in a New Covenant relationship with him, and we are not accountable to all those laws in the same way the Israelites were. But the principles underlying the laws are still instructive for us today. They help us see what it looks like to live a life of wisdom and blessing before God and in community with his people. Jesus sums up the whole law by quoting from Leviticus and Deuteronomy. The law, says Jesus, is all about loving God and loving our neighbor. (Matt. 22:34–40; quoting Deut. 6:5; Lev. 19:18) So while we don’t have to keep all the laws, we are still called to live and love in line with the principles they reflect.

Third, and probably most importantly, the laws in the Pentateuch show us our need for something, or someone, outside ourselves to achieve the righteousness and holiness the laws required. Reading Leviticus should leave us with a sense of helplessness. These laws are impossible to keep. They certainly were for the Israelites. We see this clearly in the ways they broke them right from the start, even as they were receiving them at Mt. Sinai. This is why there are such elaborate procedures and a whole priestly system to make offerings and sacrifices for sins. The blood of animals brought temporary, provisional atonement, and it anticipated the once-for-all atonement that would be achieved through Christ at the cross.

Leviticus is the word of God. It is Christian Scripture for us. It helps us see who the Lord is, and it helps us understand his loving heart for his people and how he wants us to live in relationship with him and others. And it helps us recognize our need for his grace and for the atoning work he accomplished in Christ. Without Leviticus, we would be missing a key part of the picture that helps us grasp how beautiful the good news of Jesus really is. Leviticus points powerfully to the perfect Lamb of God and our Great High Priest.

For on this day shall atonement be made for you to cleanse you. You shall be clean before the LORD from all your sins. (Lev. 16:30) 

But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. (Heb. 9:11–12)

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