Leviticus 19:1-2, 17-18 (CEV)
Moral and Religious Laws
The Lord told Moses to say to the community of Israel:
I am the Lord your God. I am holy, and you must be holy too!
Don’t hold grudges. On the other hand, it’s wrong not to correct someone who needs correcting. Stop being angry and don’t try to take revenge. I am the Lord, and I command you to love others as much as you love yourself.
Leviticus gets a bit of a bad press! People often stumble across it when they have resolved to read through the whole Bible. Naturally they start at page 1 in Genesis, and that’s quite interesting, then eagerly move into Exodus where there is lots of exciting stuff about escaping Egypt and adventures in the wilderness. But then they hit Leviticus like a well-aimed egg and Paul Nuttall… Reading comes to a grinding stop and more often than not the whole “I’m gonna read through the whole Bible” project is over. Yet… “I command you to love others as you love yourself.” Sound familiar? Jesus gets many (if not most!) of his best lines from the Old Testament. We shouldn’t be surprised by this – after all, it’s the same God trying to get through to his people. There isn’t an angry “Old Testament God” and a cuddly “New Testament God”! There is little that is shockingly new in what Jesus says – God has already said it in many and various ways. On the way back from Bradford today we listened to an assortment of old R4 plays – there are some really weird plays on R4. One of them, though – which was a very weird play about a hand that appears through a hedge – had a REALLY fascinating line… “The words were tombstone-heavy.” I like that phrase. There are words that are “heavy” – so heavy that they drop through time – pushing their way through – appearing in every generation. These are such words – tombstone-heavy words. They appear here in Leviticus – and then they push their way down through the pages of the Bible again and again in different guises and on different lips until they find themselves spoken in Jesus’ voice.. “I command you to love others as you love yourself.”