Zondervan has just released a very helpful book by Michael Williams titled, How to Read the Bible through the Jesus Lens:A Guide to Christ-Focused Reading of Scripture. This book is meant to pair with their other books in this “How to” series, including How to Read the Bible for all its Worth and How to Read the Bible Book by Book
The purpose of this book is to show the reader how each book of the Scriptures ultimately either points to or finds its fulfillment in Jesus Christ. Each chapter in the book is very short (averaging 4 pages) and covers one book of the Bible at a time.
I was very impressed by the format of the book and how helpful a resource like this could be for teachers in our churches, whether senior pastors, Sunday School teachers, or small group Bible study leaders. Each chapter is structured the same. First, the reader is given a small statement of the theme of the book. This is a concise sentence or so in order to help a teacher not lose sight of the forest for the trees. Next, the author gives a memory passage for each book, which is very helpful if one wanted to lead some sort of small group study with this book and have participants memorize Scripture together. Next, there is a section titled The Jesus Lens. This is the passage that really explains how this book of the Bible points to or is fulfilled by Jesus. Next is the section titled Contemporary Implications. This is sort of the “application” section where the author shows how each book is relevant and useful to speak to us today in the 21st century. Finally, there is a section called Hook Questions. Again, this is a very helpful section if leading a small group study through a book, or through an OT or NT survey, as it helps the reader to think through some discussion questions to pose to a group.
I was given this book as a gift from Zondervan in exchange for participating in their blog tour. Rather than every blogger reviewing the book as a whole, Zondervan wanted each blogger to choose a book of the Bible and review that section. Therefore, I chose to review the section on the book of Leviticus. I will discuss how Michael Williams deals with the book of Leviticus in this book in order to give you a taste of the book as a whole.
Leviticus: Life in God’s Presence
Theme of the Book: God instructs his people how to live in his presence
Williams explains that the reason the book of Leviticus was written was so that the people of Israel would know how to live in the midst of God’s presence. The second half of the book of Exodus dealt with God’s instructions on the building and operation of the tabernacle, the place where God himself would dwell. The fact that Yahweh would now dwell in their presence raises an enormous initial question: How can such a holy being dwell among such unholy people. The purpose of the book of Leviticus is to answer that question. The people are to follow certain laws and ceremonies in order to purify themselves in a manner worthy of Yahweh dwelling among them.
Memory Passage: Leviticus 20:26 -“You are to be holy to me because I, the LORD, am holy, and I have set you apart from the nations to be my own.”
The Jesus Lens: Jesus is the flawless sacrifice and sinless priest
There are many rules and instructions both on the need for a sacrifice without any imperfection offered to God, as well as special rules and proceedings to be followed by the priests so that the sacrifice would be acceptable before God. In Christ, we see both of these fulfilled. Jesus is both the flawless sacrifice and the sinless priest (Hebrews 7:27).
Contemporary Implications: The Spirit enables believers to live holy.
Jesus has shown us and taught us how we are to live as followers of him. Peter tells us in 2 Peter 3:14 to “make every effort to be found spotless, blameless, and at peace with Him.” While we are unable to live in this way on our own, we, as believers, have the Holy Spirit to lead and guide us in holiness!
(1) Are you cultivating a life of holiness?
(2) What does such a life look like today? How would anyone recognize that you are set apart to God and his purposes for you?
This is just a quick overview of the material in the chapter on Leviticus. The chapter itself was rich with insight and biblical knowledge, yet not at a level that can only be understood by seminarians or scholars. I think that the major strength of this book is its accessibility by all types of people.
I would highly recommend this book as a must-have resource for anyone who has any sort of teaching or discipleship role in the local church. In fact, this is an excellent resource just simply for your own understanding and reading of the Scriptures. I am thankful both to Michael Williams and to Zondervan for the publication of this book.
In compliance with FTC regulations, I would like to thank Zondervan for giving me this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.