TODAY’S READING: Leviticus 26–27
The Bible is a missionary book, revealing and reminding that God is a missionary God. The shocking ease with which we forget that missions is the organizing theme of the Bible should give us compassion for the people of God throughout history. We cannot cast stones at those who held to vital truth longer than we have. Over and again we must march our hearts and understanding to the missionary heart of God as revealed in His Word.
Lest we forget what God emphasized in Leviticus, the book ends with a thunderclap of missional clarity. Christopher Wright summarizes the book for us:
God, the ultimate Holy one of Israel, cannot cohabit with uncleanness. What then, in light of this worldview, is the overall purpose of the sacrificial system and laws of cleanness in Leviticus? They were to maintain Israel in a fit condition for the holy God, YHWH to live among. They were to deal with those things that would, if left uncovered and unatoned for, render Israel unfit for divine habitation.
But this then produces a logic that leads us back to the mission of God. In short:
- Holiness and cleanness were the preconditions of the presence of God.
- And the presence of God was the mark of Israel’s distinctiveness from the nations.
- And Israel’s distinctiveness from the nations was an essential part of God’s mission for them to the world.
So we can see that even something so esoterically Israelite as their Levitical, ritual, and sacrificial system reflects the fundamentally missional orientation of Israel as God’s holy and priestly people, embodying the presence of God in the midst of the nations.
Over and again at the close of Leviticus, God mentioned His covenant. He will look favorably and make fruitful, multiply and confirm His covenant (26:9). He will remember His covenant with Jacob, Isaac, and Abraham (v. 42). He will remember the covenant of their ancestors whom He brought out of Egypt in the sight of the nations (v. 45). The language (blessing, fruitful) and motive (the nations might see and likewise be blessed) of covenant is the grist of God’s missionary passion. We are His holy people that He might use us for His holy purpose—the redemption of every tribe, people, tongue, and nation.
Jehovah delights to bless us with His presence, to walk and dwell among us (v. 11), to set us free (v. 13) to fulfill His covenantal promises to all people. The warning is that if we walk counter to God’s plans and break covenant (v. 15) by not focusing our lives on blessing all nations, then God will be a terror to us (v. 16), set His face against us (v. 17), and walk contrary to us in fury (v. 28). Interestingly enough, if we do not carry God’s blessing to all nations, He finds ways of scattering us there to perish (v. 33). I don’t know about you, but I’d prefer to thrive in Morocco while publishing the gospel rather than perishing there because I didn’t give heart, soul, and strength to God’s glory among the unreached.
 Christopher J. H. Wright. The Mission of God: Unlocking the Bible’s Grand Narrative. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2006. 337.