Leviticus is a book that most Christians understand is important but they aren’t sure why. I hope to fix that—a little bit—with this overview of Leviticus.
To understand Leviticus you must understand that God is holy and what that means for us. The basic meaning of holy is “to be separate.” God is holy in that he is completely separate from sinful mankind. His holiness is such that we cannot approach his presence without being destroyed. God told Moses, “Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live” (Exodus 33:20).
But isn’t God loving and good? Yes, but God is also holy. Someone compared God to the sun. The sun is good, it gives light and life and warmth. But we cannot approach the sun—not by a million miles. We would be instantly vaporized. Such it is with God.
To those who demand that God change—make himself safe to be around—I ask, “What would happen if the sun changed so that it would be safe to be around?” It would cease to be a source of light and life and warmth.
God’s holiness is his core characteristic. Everything else that he is: loving, merciful, just, and so on flow out of his holiness. His love is holy. His mercy is holy. His justice is holy. No one in their right mind should demand or even suggest that it be God who changes to accommodate us.
Leviticus is the Old Testament answer to the question: how may we approach a holy God?