Growing up, one of the annual jobs was to clean the gutters. With over 50 inches of rainfall a year, Florida homes have gutters to direct the water that runs down the roof to flow away from the home. What happens to clog gutters is leaves that had once been green on the trees, turn brown, fall, get trapped in the gutter and become a decomposing black slime. If that slime is not removed drainpipes plug up and water damage to your home occurs. Because of the decomposing black slime you had to pick up out of the gutters, this was not a great job to do. You put on some gloves, climb a ladder, get out a trash bag, and clean the gutters. From the ground you couldn’t see what lay ahead, what you could see is the damage done if the gutters stayed clogged as water would run everywhere when it rained. I hated cleaning the gutters. I can’t remember meeting anyone who loves the experience.
The book of Leviticus is about cleaning life’s gutters. Too often, Leviticus is where reading through the Bible plans go to die. Yet reading through the Bible this year has led me once again to Leviticus where God deals with the decomposing black slime of sin. God also reveals how Israel can become clean and holy in His eyes and theirs. So what does Leviticus have to do with us today? I still see the effects of decomposing black slime of sin in life today, a relationship implodes, an addiction that won’t let go, a worry that erodes a heart, and fear of what the future holds from wars to elections. In Leviticus, God comes to clean the gutters.
1. Leviticus helps me to diagnose the reality of my life. Let’s say you go to the doctor for a check up, and he finds some health problem. Do you want the truth or do you want him to merely say something positive to make you feel good? Instead of telling you about the pre-cancerous growth and how to deal with it, he says, “The good news is you still have your teeth.” When you go to the doctor, you want him to give it to you straight, you want the reality of your health life. Because God loves me, He gives it to me straight. He holds up the mirror of His law so I see the danger of my sin and my need for a Savior.
2. Leviticus invites me to receive God’s gift of holiness. As someone put it, “Holiness is not the way to Christ; Christ is the way to holiness.” Holiness comes not based on what I can do, because I can’t do it. Holiness comes because of what only God can do. Some people wrongly think that because God has such a high standard of holiness that He is in the guilt business. But God is in the freedom business. God brings forgiveness to clean out the gutters of my heart. He even provided for forgiveness through sacrifice.
In Leviticus, sacrifice with blood was a key pattern for forgiveness. To deal with sin, blood had to be shed for forgiveness to be realized. On the Day of Atonement, two goats were brought forward, one goat as a sacrifice for sin, and the other for the community to confess its sins over and then to be sent into the desert as a scapegoat. Jesus carries our sins. He is the sacrifice and the scapegoat that we might be forgiven, and receive God’s gift of holiness. Jesus sacrifice provides gutter cleaning capability 24/7.
3. Leviticus invites me to embrace the abundant life God gives. Holy can be an intimidating word. Holy means pure, but it also means to set apart. Take the shirt I am wearing. When getting dressed, I had a number of options to choose from out of my closet, but this is what I chose. In the broadest sense of the word, this shirt is holy, because I set it apart for a special purpose. Making us holy, God invites us to embrace the abundant life He gives, to be set apart for the special purpose He has for our lives.
So how are you doing on embracing the life God offers? Are you driven to follow God’s commands out of fear and guilt, or out of gratitude for His love? Are you learning to find joy in following God’s commands, or is it always a chore? As God looks into your heart today, does He see it full of love for Him, partially full, or running dry? What clogs in your gutter need to be removed? Embracing the abundant life is embracing Jesus who gave His life for us, and gives His Spirit to empower us in living. We are holy because God makes us holy.
Leviticus reminds us God comes to us because He loves us. He wants us to diagnose the reality of our lives, He wants us to receive His gift of holiness, and to embrace the abundant life He gives. Why not receive His forgiveness today? Let Him clean out those gutters, and fill your heart with Himself and His holiness, and let the love and grace flow.