Faith Matters

Why does Exodus need Leviticus?

To enjoy our freedom to the max, we need some structure, writes Rev Andrew Watson.

Exodus is epic action, Leviticus is much less popular

Ever wonder why in the Bible, Exodus is followed by Leviticus?

Exodus is epic action, with vying gods, 10 plagues, slaves escaping across the Red Sea pursued by enemy chariots, bread from heaven and other spectacular events.

Leviticus is much less popular, a repetitive collection of rules and rituals which to many may seem outdated or irrelevant.

If these two books were movies the `sequel' would be a disaster.

So how come these two are together in God's written revelation? We'll come back to that.

The other evening my wife and I took a walk in the park. We didn't have to pay or apply in advance to do so. We could walk at our own pace and enjoy the trees and the lake and the birds' evensong without fear of being condemned or punished.

We chatted about all sorts of things and said hi to people we met. These simple things are part of the precious gift we call `freedom'.

There's a soccer pitch there and two teams were playing, watched and encouraged by supporters of all ages, plus one or two dogs. Every so often the whistle would blow as the referee awarded a free kick or called for a corner. As the game ended all the players shook hands, whether they'd won or lost. The end result was something greater than winning or losing the match, it was an evening enjoyed by everyone in peace and safety because of a thing called `good order'.

Freedom and good order. They work well together.

In this 21st Century we seem to have a world more prone to extremes than ever. In some places oppressive regimes exert the strictest control with harsh penalties for non-conformity. There, people cry for freedom.

But at the other end of the spectrum we have places where people are demanding the right to do absolutely anything and everything they desire. The risk here is of a society descending into selfish, abusive chaos.

So why does Exodus need Leviticus? Because freed slaves need some order. Otherwise human nature will soon create new forms of bondage.

To enjoy our freedom to the max, we need some structure, some perimeters and occasionally someone authorised to call `foul' so we can all continue to play with passion, but in peace.

But who could we trust with such responsibility? Maybe we should start with the One who created the park and invented the game.

:: The Rev Andrew Watson is minister of Dunfanaghy and Carrigart Presbyterian Churches in Donegal.

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