Lessons in Leviticus Pt. 1: Rich & Poor Worship

If you are like many, when you come to read Leviticus in your Bible reading, you may be thinking “Oh man! How do I get a blessing from this? I mean, I know it’s God’s Word, but it’s so much easier to find food for my soul when I’m reading Paul’s epistles!” This is in one sense very understandable. Paul speaks directly on so many important theological topics and plain application. But perhaps another angle will help approach Leviticus with excitement and a fresh perspective.


We’ve just started reading Pilgrim’s Progress in our family devotions. Our boys love stories and are often enthralled by what they hear. They also love for me to read to them at bedtime. For many years, my pastor has (on Sunday evenings) read from J. A. Wylie’s great History Of The Protestant Reformation. The Bible itself is full of historical redemptive narrative. Of course the Bible is far more than just stories—it is actual, factual inspired history. And this can help us view Leviticus with a fresh love and interest. God has chosen to communicate through the revelation of historical and redemptive history important and eternal truths to establish our souls in His Word and in a real and meaningful walk with Him. So let’s take a few posts, guided by some insightful help from Matthew Henry, and get a fresh look at what actually is a precious book from God.


Leviticus, by contrast, opens in a very valuable setting. Exodus has ended with God’s people being with God in the place of holy fire as the law is given. On the heels of the delivery of God’s holy law Leviticus opens in something of a more mild manner, where God’s people are once again with God but in place of salvation and sacrifice. Immediately after the giving of the law, it is a natural question “How shall I come to God?” To put it in modern lingo, if this is what God requires then we are all hosed! But see how good and gracious is the Lord! Immediately when He requires a spiritual law, a law that reaches to our thoughts and desires, He provides a solid way of access through our Lord Jesus Christ. Leviticus chapter 1 opens with a blessed contrast of setting—what God requires in the revelation of His holiness He supplies for us in the provision of Christ.


Leviticus chapter 1 not only shows us the precious proximity of holiness and Christ-centered worship, it also shows us that this worship is such that levels all financial distinctions between men. If there is something important to much of America it is financial status and wealth! Money is an ordinance of God, and the Bible has a lot to say about it, but Leviticus 1 also teaches us that before God such things are of no consequence at all. God wants heart worship. Leviticus 1 lays out the burnt offering and sets up it’s fulfillment in three financial categories: wealthy (brings offerings from a herd of larger cattle), middle class (brings offerings from a herd of smaller cattle), and poor (brings offerings from doves or pigeons).


Interestingly enough, it appears that the last category required the most work. According to Matthew Henry, “’This sacrifice of birds,’ the Jews say, ‘was one of the most difficult services the priests had to do,’ to teach those that minister in holy things to be as solicitous for the salvation of the poor as for that of the rich, and that the services of the poor are as acceptable to God, if they come from an upright heart, as the services of the rich, for he accepts according to what a man hath, and not according to what he hath not (2 Cor. 8:12). The poor man’s turtle-doves, or young pigeons, are here said to be an offering of a sweet smelling savor, as much as that of an ox or bullock that hath horns or hoofs”.


And wonderfully enough, this is one of the passages from which we understand that our Savior Jesus was born into a lowly and poor estate, for this “offering of the poor man” was exactly what was brought by his family (see also Leviticus 12:8). Wow. Our Savior could’ve been born into a family full of herds, gold, and silver, but the Father sent His precious son into a family where men tend not to look for greatness—in the humble home of the poor.


Whether your financial estate today is one of much or little, great, small or middle, let us learn from this chapter what Matthew Henry concluded to be the important lesson from the Lord for us.


“Yet, after all, to love God with all our heart, and to love our neighbor as ourselves, is better than all burnt-offerings and sacrifices (Mark 12:33).”