The Bible is the backbone of Christianity. It is the religion’s holy book and contains the teaching of Christ that Christians rely on to know how they should live their lives. Despite its importance to the religion, however, there are millions of devout Christians who have never read the whole thing. If you ask them why they stopped, the answer is usually Leviticus, Numbers or Deuteronomy. This is, in many ways, unsurprising. After the action packed and story heavy books of Genesis and Exodus, the seemingly endless list of rules in Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy can be about as exciting to read as the phone book. It does not help that many of the laws described in those books are meant to govern practices that no longer take place in the modern world. That does not, however, mean that those books can be ignored entirely. There are a number of instructions that modern Christians should be following but sometimes seem to forget. Here are six book of Leviticus rules all Christians today should be following.
“You shall not profane My holy name.”Modern culture gets pretty vulgar these days. People can have entire conversations that consist of nothing but swear words, and it is rare to witness a discussion between two people that does not contain at least one curse. Swearing, however, is rude and completely inappropriate for public places.
Leviticus 22 speaks specifically about using God’s name in vain, but the idea can be applied to all types of swearing. It is almost inevitable that even the most determined Christian will curse at some point. It can be hard to control what comes out of your mouth when you need to stand on the breaks to avoid hitting the idiot who just whipped out in front of your car, but there is no need to fill every conversation with a litany of swear words. Avoid taking God’s name in vain and cut back on the swearing in general.
“When a person has on the skin of his body…a leprous disease…he shall [be] pronounce[d] ceremonially unclean.”The rules about what makes a person clean and unclean take a lot of flack from modern readers. Leviticus 13, however, is worth resurrecting today at least in spirit. There is no need for a person who is ill to “cry out, ‘Unclean, unclean!’” but it is not a bad idea to discourage those who are ill from coming to church until they are no longer contagious. It may sound cold, keeping someone who is sick away from God, but one missed service is unlikely to do the person any harm. Attending church, however, means that all they are doing is exposing everyone else to their illness. People can take off work and stay home from school when they are ill. Including church in that list of places to avoid to keep from involuntarily spreading germs would be a welcome change in flu season.
“If anyone sins because they do not speak up when they hear a public charge to testify regarding something they have seen or learned about, they will be held responsible.”Psychologists have documented a tendency among people to assume that someone else will act in a crisis. As such, when a person hears or sees something as part of a group, they assume that someone else will react. When everyone makes that same assumption, the bystander effect can have horrific consequences. A man dies because no one called the ambulance. A New York woman is raped and stabbed to death because everyone assumed their neighbors were calling the police. A teenager is brutally beaten to death as people film his struggles.
Leviticus 5 states that when someone has evidence of a crime, they are obligated to speak up. This should be common sense, but it has been lost in today’s world. People post videos of tragedies to Facebook instead of trying to help. They tell their friends about how their neighbor’s fight got physical but do not bother to mention it to the police. It is time that people stepped up to help each other once again, and that includes taking part in the judicial process.
“Rebuke your neighbor frankly so you will not share in their guilt.”Today’s world is in many ways a culture of live and let live. Most of the time, this attitude is a good thing. No one likes people who insist on shoving their noses into other people’s business for no good reason. That said, a culture of turning a blind eye can rapidly lead to minor issues becoming serious concerns. In the interest of keeping everyone safe and happy, it makes sense to speak up when there is a problem. This does not mean that a Christian should tell off their neighbor’s cousin’s boyfriend for having too many tattoos. It means that they should explain to their neighbor that it is not appropriate for their neighbor’s children to be cutting through their yard without permission. A short conversation early can save a lot of pain down the line.
“When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Leave them for the poor and for the foreigner residing among you.”The numerous rules in Leviticus about leaving behind wheat and grapes for the poor are not ones that most people are in a position to follow literally these days. The vast majority of Westerners do not work on farms but in offices. As such, they do not have any say in whether there is food left in the fields.
Leviticus 23 does not need to be taken literally. The spirit it represents, however, deserves to be brought back into Christians’ focuses. There are many Christians who do make it a point to give to charity, but it is always good to put it back into the spotlight especially when it comes to doing charity work that is not dependent on money. Too many people content themselves with writing a check to the charity of their choice and patting themselves on the back. While this is no doubt helpful, there is something to be said for getting your hands dirty and volunteering time and energy as opposed to merely cash.
“Do not steal. Do not lie. Do not deceive one another.”One would think that a number of the laws from Leviticus 19 would be self-evident. Apparently, however, people needed another reminder that stealing and lying is unacceptable. This is also a reminder that the modern world could use.
Stealing does not just involve picking someone’s pockets. Instead, much of today’s theft is virtual. Illegally downloaded music and pirated movies are both types of stealing. An enormous number of people do both of those regularly, but they would never consider themselves to be thieves. Leviticus 19 needs to be brought back and serve as a reminder to those who think this way.
Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy are often seen as very boring to Christians. With all of the book of Leviticus’ rules and its lack of story, it is no surprise that it is not anyone’s favorite book of the Bible to read. That said, it is filled with fascinating glimpses into ancient Israelite culture and clear moral instructions. Clear morals and manners are something that the modern world sorely needs today just as the Israelites needed some direction when they stood at the base of Mount Sinai.