by Rev Jason Phua
Readings: Leviticus 6:1-7:27; Psalms 45:1-17
READ (Verses chosen for meditation)
Leviticus 6:1-5 “The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “If anyone sins and commits a breach of faith against the LORD by deceiving his neighbor in a matter of deposit or security, or through robbery, or if he has oppressed his neighbor or has found something lost and lied about it, swearing falsely- in any of all the things that people do and sin thereby- if he has sinned and has realized his guilt and will restore what he took by robbery or what he got by oppression or the deposit that was committed to him or the lost thing that he found or anything about which he has sworn falsely, he shall restore it in full and shall add a fifth to it, and give it to him to whom it belongs on the day he realizes his guilt.”
In the time of Moses, when one person sinned against another; it was considered a “breach of faith” against the Lord. The person who sinned must not only bring a guilt offering to the Lord, but must make full restoration to what was owed or robbed of. Such was the seriousness of how the Lord took to the commandment of loving our neighbours. In fact, many of the laws in Leviticus laid on the principle that if one says he loves the Lord; such “love” must be demonstrated through his actions – through loving of the neighbour. In other words, a person simply cannot say that he loves the Lord without being a loving and active participant within the family of faith. Such an important principle was also emphasized by Jesus throughout the Gospels.
Some believers wondered if the laws in Leviticus are “old-fashioned” or “irrelevant”. I thought today’s reading suggest otherwise; that the modern day church might be one who is “old-fashioned” instead! I mean, how have we the modern church taken to the principle of making “full restoration” to our neighbour if we had hurt or oppressed them? Quite often, the church dare not even dwell in disciplinary or even conflict management issues. We frequently wave these issues away in the name of “peace” or even “grace”.
The truth is that we simply do not take seriously the importance of “restoration” and we have the tendency of sweeping things under the carpet. We pleaded for believers to quickly “forgive” one another; but we did not address the depth of the issue. We wanted to get things “over and done with” but we failed to care for the real needs of the ones who were hurt badly. We fear hard consequences; we always try to be the “nice guy” but that is simply prolonging the issue.
The book of Leviticus has much to teach the modern churches. While many of the laws do not apply to us anymore; there are many underlying godly principles that can serve us in very big ways. May we find courage to reflect on these principles and do what is good and right in God’s sight.
Lord our God, we confess that we are an arrogant people. We gloss over books of the Bible that seemed to be irrelevant but the truth is that we have no patience for them. Yet, we know that you have not given to us such books of the Bible just for the sake of historical data; but to also minister to our needs even up till today. Amen.