Is there anything in Leviticus that applies today? I often view Leviticus as just a lot of rigid rules and religious activities that are not relevant for us today. Recently, I was surprised. While there are a lot of rituals that can be confusing, there is also a lot about stewardship and generosity, integrity and justice, and respect that we can still apply to our daily lives in 2021. There is a lot about God’s desire that we be in right relationships with others.
Stewardship and generosity
Our gifts to God, whether financial, time, or talents, should be from our first fruits and the best we have. Do we give God our best? A theme repeated often in Leviticus is that when we give our best, it is an aroma pleasing to the Lord.
Another theme repeated throughout Leviticus is that generosity is for everyone. Often repeated are the words, “If anyone cannot afford…” This phrase is followed by a less valuable commodity which can be given, but just as acceptable to God. Therefore, everyone can participate in being generous, no matter what their economic status is.
Integrity and Justice
Chapter 19 says to treat others fairly. We shouldn’t show favoritism to anyone, great or small. We also shouldn’t seek revenge or carry a grudge, which is really the definition of forgiveness. There is even something in Leviticus for business persons: we should pay our employees fairly and promptly (19:13b), and use honest business standards (19:36), all of which affects our customers, vendors, and employees.
Chapter 19 also says a lot on how to treat our neighbor: don’t lie to them, steal from them, slander them, or do anything that would endanger their lives. Instead, we are to love them as we love ourselves. Chapter 6 says how we treat our neighbor is a comparison to how faithful we are to the Lord. When we deceive or cheat a neighbor, we are being unfaithful to the Lord.
There is also advocacy and care for the poor and the foreigner in the book. We must treat and love the foreigner as we do ourselves. Sounds a lot like we should treat them as if they were our neighbors. We also are advised to allow them to glean our fields after the harvest. What are some “gleaning” options that we can leave behind by those of us in non-agrarian settings?
Chapter 19 also goes on to advocate for the elderly and our parents, giving them proper respect, just as you would respect or revere God.
Leviticus does have something to say to us in 2021. How we live in community and relate to others is reflective of our faith in God.