About three times a year, we have a series of Wednesday night Bible studies at church. Because I enjoy teaching, I usually volunteer. This month, I recycled some material that I taught in my regular Sunday school class at the beginning of the year. It’s based on the book Hidden in Plain Sight: Finding Wisdom and Meaning in the Parts of the Bible Most People Skip by Boyd Seevers.
As New Testament people, it’s easy for us to skip the boring parts of the Old Testament. I have just about decided that I don’t need to read Numbers ever again. But the apostle Paul tells us to pay attention.
All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work.—2 Timothy 3:16–17
All Scripture. Not just the exciting parts, not just the parts about Jesus, and not just the parts where we get to see the great heroes of the Bible screw up in spectacular ways.
We are New Testament people, but the Old Testament is in our canon so we can understand God’s character and his relationship to his people.
That said, all Scripture is useful, but it is not all equally useful. The entire book of Leviticus, for example, exists under the Mosaic Covenant, which for Christians is superseded by the New Covenant. So what are we to make of it?
The theme of Leviticus is summed up in one verse: “For I am the Lord who brought you up from the land of Egypt, to be your God; you shall be holy, for I am holy” (Leviticus 11:45).
Similarly, Jesus says “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48).
The main themes of Leviticus have not been made obsolete, even though the means to accomplish them and the manner of expressing them have changed.—Boyd Seevers, Hidden in Plain Sight, page 65
We are no longer bound by the practices described in Leviticus, but we still must honor the principle of being God’s holy people.