I think Leviticus is still in the Bible. With all the modern translations out there now, it’s a little hard to know for sure. The word, when translated into English, means “Hard to read; impossible to understand.”
At least, it did when I was a child.
That’s why I mostly grew up on the One Hundredth Psalm; David throwing rocks at grownups; Jonah learning to hold his breath underwater; Sampson smiting every Philistine on earth; John the Baptist feasting on honey crusted grasshoppers; and the quiet Nazarene standing before Pontius Pilate with me on his mind…
There was so much other stuff going on in the Bible I wasn’t interested in some “back-story” in the desert. They didn’t have a chariot race. Nobody’s brother got sold into slavery. They didn’t rebuild any walls. And Moses was getting a little “long in the tooth” for a leading role in this saga.
Besides, there was way too much blood in Leviticus to suit me. It was just chapter after chapter of body parts of dead goats being burned to a crisp over an open fire!
I can tell you how far down the Biblical ladder Leviticus was back then. Mrs. Opal Sasser never included it in any of our Sword Drills! Now, I’m pretty sure none of you are old enough to remember that icon for memorizing the books of the Bible. It was a “spelling bee” of sorts, only you didn’t spell nothing.
Miss Opal lined us up across the Sunday School room with our Bibles at our sides. She would announce, “Draw Swords;” we’d pull our Bible up in front of us with both hands at the ready. She would call out “Matthew 17:10,” wait an appropriate second for us to mentally locate the verse and then gave the order to “Charge.”
We’d rip those Bibles open and the first to find the selected passage got to read it aloud. It was better than having to memorize a whole Psalm. And it was effective in making us more familiar with the Bible. Except, of course, for the book of Leviticus…
Sword Drills have gone the way of double-breasted suits, Brummitt Funeral Home fans, women’s hats with fishnet veils and hour-and-a-half sermons.
Mother would test us over our Sunday chicken on how well we paid attention to that day’s message. Leon would mumble through a mouthful of candied yams something about Jesus being kind. Now, Leon had mostly rolled up little pieces of the bulletin and tossed them into Charlotte Wells’ wide brimmed hat two rows over. But with an hour-and-a-half sermon, he figured surely Bro. Hatcher got Jesus in there somewhere!
In all of Leon’s wild guessing over the years, not one time ever did he offer up Aaron as chief priest and head goat cooker as a possible answer!
All these thoughts came flooding back several days ago when a group of insightful men asked me to be a part of their Bible study. For a guy that grew up in church I sure don’t know much about the Word. Oh, how Mother tried! And I went to church and I participated. And I loved Bro. Hatcher… when he wasn’t preaching!
And don’t blame Leon here for my shortcomings. It turned out he was listening way more than I thought between the offertory hymn and the wadded-up paper tossing. He actually became that “friend who sticks closer than a brother” during my up-and-down high school days. And no way on earth could you win a giving contest with him!
I agreed to join the group so I could tell them about Joshua “fitting” the battle of Jericho, Daniel in the lion’s den and the apostle Paul on the road to Damascus.
They cleverly didn’t say they were going to study Leviticus until after I signed on. I do have a hint for you – look over toward the front of your Bible!
And you know that part about not readable or understandable. Well, miracles happen when you actually find that book and start reading. And granted, there were no chase scenes, no Hallmark love stories, no Martians attacking from outer space… but God did remind the Levites that He was God. And they were not.
Sometimes today I think we get that blurred a bit.
If I’d majored in Leviticus back when I should have, I could have missed some sure-nuff turbulence in my life!
I’m filling this one under “better late than never.”
And I was hoping the study group leader would let me tell them about Jesus talking to the lady at the well at our next mee—
No such luck! He has already picked the book of Numbers… is that still in the Bible?
This article originally appeared on The Star: Hunker Down: Levitating with the Levites