This fall I'm part of a Growth Group at The Orchard that is attempting the lofty goal of reading through the whole Bible in 90 days. So far we're almost 2 weeks into it and I am on track (only 10 more weeks to go!!).
Anyone who has ever read the Bible from cover to cover knows what a rich experience it is. They also know how challenging it can be to get through the first few books. Genesis usually goes pretty smoothly as does the first half of the book of Exodus because they are filled with narrative, but then the going starts to get a lot tougher. We find ourselves slogging through long and detailed explanations of how the tabernacle is to be constructed and long lists of sacrifices and offerings that were to be made. Not a few people have found themselves giving up or skimming quickly over these sections.
Why so much detail? Why so many offerings and sacrifices? Why did the priests have to where certain clothes and wash themselves in the prescribed ways. It all seems so foreign to us, so irrelevant even. But, while it may seem foreign it is more relevant to us today than we can even begin to imagine, because these seemingly endless lists of procedures have to do with the absolute "otherness," the perfection, the holiness of the God who the Israelites were approaching. The reality is that nobody could perfectly meet the requirements of the law, nobody can by their own efforts earn their way into the presence of a holy God. Instead, when we read about the law and the sacrifices of the Old Testament we come as the Israelites were meant to do, face to face with the reality of our own sin, our inability to relate to a holy God and our desperate need of a Savior. Certainly there is much more to learn from the law too - but without a comprehension of what it is that we no longer need to do, it is hard for us to keep rightly in our minds just how incredible the work of Jesus Christ on our behalf is. He is our spotless lamb, He is our atoning sacrifice, He is our righteousness.
Practicing Jews have recently celebrated Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. I encourage you to read about it in Leviticus 16 and to take time to reflect on how freely we now come to God, how freely we can take a hold of forgiveness and how great is the Savior who once for all time has given Himself for us. Hebrews chapter 10 is a great place to turn after you've spent a little time reflecting on Leviticus 16 - as you read these chapters don't rush away from them but instead, allow yourself to celebrate before God the atonement that is ours because of His grace!