It had been at least five years since we did a major expired food clean-up out of what we call the “deep freeze” in these parts. All sorts of unidentifiable food encased in ice had to be chiseled out of the bottom shelf. My son and I enjoyed chipping out Zip-lock bag after Zip-lock bag, tossing them into Hefty bags and then the garage garbage cans. We were very proud of ourselves and our “battle wounds” from flying shards of ice–until the next morning. As we opened the garage door to go to Sunday worship, our nostrils were filled with stench like they have rarely experienced. Our eyes saw multiple rivulets of animal blood traversing from the garbage cans all over the garage floor. It was an unholy spoilage of deer meat and other unknown animals that greeted us that morning. And it was a perfect unplanned illustration for my Adult Sunday School class studying the Book of Leviticus. Sorry honey, my bad!
Many of us have become stranded in the third book of the Old Testament when we have attempted to read through the Bible in a year. Just saying the word LEVITICUS can cause people’s eyelids to start sagging. Who really cares about the work of priests and outdated animal sacrifices, cleanliness codes, and sundry holiness laws? Well. hopefully Christians do–if we see how accurately it pictures our sin, our need for redemption and forgiveness, and our great Savior. So Leviticus is a book that should be preached from our pulpits and taught in our Sunday School classes much more often than it is, to give us a stronger and deeper view of the gospel.
But the title of this post is not “Leviticus is for Adult Christians,” but rather “Leviticus is for First Graders!” Yes, you guessed it: In our Children’s “Investigating God’s Word…” Sunday School curriculum, we teach Leviticus to First Graders. You can see it for yourself on our storefront website by clicking on this link: http://www.onestoryministries.org/SearchResults.asp?Cat=106. Really? Isn’t that way over their heads? Certainly, the Book of Leviticus contains some ceremonial laws and life situations that are beyond children. But this book has so much a child (especially boys ) can enjoy: Blood, more blood, dead animals, unclean things, lots of visuals, and more blood, etc.
Now, before you quickly object, let me support my position by informing you that Leviticus used to be the first book taught to Jewish children in the synagogue. Clearly, it was important to the Jews for their youngest children to understand the important roles of the priests as well as the ceremonial laws and practices. But more than that, Leviticus so clearly teaches that we are an UNHOLY people in need of help to be able to live before a HOLY God. And the central feature of that “help” is the mediation of someone who bridges that impossible gap to bring us to the Father.
So think about just some of the specifics we find in Leviticus. The sights and awful smells of blood flowing and splashing everywhere in order to atone for sins. Animals losing their lives as substitutions for sins. Various foods and activities that make a person unclean, requiring cleansing. Washing with water to be made clean. Priests set apart for the work of God on behalf of unholy people. Unclean people being sent outside of the camp. Leprous diseases separating people from other people and God. A scapegoat sent into the wilderness, bearing the sins of the people. And this is just a small sampling that our children need to learn.
Then, as we teach Leviticus to our youngsters, we show them Jesus! It is the blood of Jesus alone that atones for our sins. Jesus sacrificed His life as a substitute for our sins. It is our sin, not certain food, that makes us unclean requiring cleansing and purifying in Christ. Washing with the water of the living Word of the God sanctifies us. Our great High Priest, Jesus Christ, was set apart by the Father to do His work in the lives of unholy people. Jesus Christ, by His death on the cross, went “outside the camp” to bring His people into relationship with His holy Father. Sin is our spiritual leprosy requiring the cleansing work of Christ. And, Jesus is the ultimate scapegoat who had our sins placed on His innocent head, being sent away from the Father for our sake.
Do you see it? Leviticus is all about Jesus, just like the rest of the One Story of God’s Word. And it IS for children, as the clear and graphic pictures show the ugliness of sin and the beauty of the holiness of God in Jesus Christ. That’s exactly what our children need as they grow up in this unholy world of sin!