Have you ever pledged to read through the Bible in one year? What happened when you reached the book of Leviticus? (Be honest, you are among friends now.) It is a book full of requirements and prescriptions. Doesn’t exactly keep you on the edge of your seat like Noah and the flood or the parting of the Red Sea.
But take a closer look. Read this book through the lens of God’s ultimate plan for His people. In doing so, the authors of the New Testament were thrilled to discover parallels and hidden treasures in the text that pointed to Jesus, the Messiah. As we approach Pentecost, or Shavuot, The Feast of Weeks, as the Jews know it, let’s look at just one portion of Leviticus through this lens: Leviticus 23:15-21. Consider how these sacrifices and offerings prescribed for Shavuot line up with those Jesus brought to Father so that Pentecost could come.
 “From the day after the Sabbath, the day you brought the sheaf of the wave offering, count off seven full weeks.  Count off fifty days up to the day after the seventh Sabbath, and then present an offering of new grain to the Lord.”
Jesus gave up His life and was lifted up just like the wave offering. He was the first fruit of Father’s plan of salvation, rising from the grave (I Corinthians 15:20, “But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.”). Then fifty days after His resurrection, He sent His Holy Spirit to the fledgling Church in Jerusalem, just like the “new grain.”
 “From wherever you live, bring two loaves made of two-tenths of an ephah of the finest flour, baked with yeast, as a wave offering of firstfruits to the Lord.”
In John 6:51 Jesus said, “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever.” He was the offering God demanded: a sinless life in exchange for all the sins of the world. He was the firstfruits offering to Father – the very best of humanity, just like the first grain that was made into the finest flour and baked into two loaves. And from now until eternity He is the bread that gives us eternal life.
 Present with this bread seven male lambs, each a year old and without defect, one young bull, and two rams. They will be a burnt offering to the Lord, together with their grain offerings and drink offerings – a food offering, an aroma pleasing to the Lord.”
In Scripture, the number seven speaks of completion, of God’s perfect work. Jesus’ work completed the plan of salvation: “He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and bulls; but He entered the Most Holy Place once for all by His own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption” (Hebrews 9:12). His sacrifice was an aroma pleasing to the Lord and was accepted as the offering that paid for all the sins of mankind. And it only had to be done ONCE, not yearly like in the Old Covenant, because it was a complete work.
 Then sacrifice one male goat for a sin offering and two lambs, each a year old, for a fellowship offering.  The priest is to wave the two lambs before the Lord as a wave offering, together with the bread of the firstfruits. They are a sacred offering to the Lord for the priest.”
Jesus’ work in His life, death, and resurrection fulfilled the fellowship offering, restoring our fellowship with Father, broken since Adam and Eve fell into sin. We now have total access to our Father, anytime, anywhere, for He is always with us. Furthermore, Jesus poured out His Holy Spirit to live in each believer on that first Pentecost, as explained in Acts 2 in great detail. It was such a powerful experience that it changed the atmosphere in Jerusalem. All who were there took it with them when they returned to their homes, both in Jerusalem and in the many countries represented there that day. In this way, Pentecost eventually changed the known world of that day. What happened there is still changing lives all around the known world, and it will continue to do so until we finally reach eternity.
 “On that same day, you are to proclaim a sacred assembly and do no regular work. This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come, wherever you live.”
God declared Shavuot, or Pentecost, to be a Sabbath in which the people rested from their ordinary labors. And Jesus’ work of salvation has allowed us to enter His rest forever, as seen in Hebrews 4:9, 10: “There remains, then, a Sabbath rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from His.”
When we read this passage in Leviticus, our first thought may be that it is a long list of Shavuot sacrifices and offerings that God required of His people thousands of years ago. We may wonder, “How is that relevant to me, today?” But when we read it again, through the lens of God’s overarching plan of salvation, we see a foreshadowing of the greatest rescue story in history! We see the creativity of Father in laying out every detail of the plan and the bravery, daring, and humility of Jesus in executing the plan flawlessly. He fulfilled all God’s requirements and paved the way for all that came on that first Pentecost, namely the giving of Holy Spirit to all who believe. And even now, millenia later, we can rest from striving to make our own way to God because once we believe, our fellowship with Him is restored; He comes to live in us. We have unbroken, abundant, and life-giving fellowship with Father, Son, and Holy Spirit that can’t be taken away from us regardless of whatever circumstances may be around us.
Still think Leviticus is boring?
Cathy Schrock, writer
Photo by Ben White on Unsplash
All Scripture quotations from NIV