Growing up I heard this phrase all the time – “It’s all in the details.”
In sports, this was reminding me of the importance of practicing all the boring fundamentals of the sport – which in totality would give me an edge in the most crucial moment. In sports, this phrase pointed to a future hope. Somehow my focus on the small details would pay off in the long run.
In art, this phrase is used to point out how the details play into the brilliance of the finished product.
“The details are not the details. They make the design.”
– Charles Eames
So, details are important. In theory, they help us appreciate the end result all the more.
I read the first 4 chapters of Leviticus this morning. It’s painful to read through all the details.
But then I was reminded of the phrase above – “It’s all in the details.”
Why are these details included in the Bible?
What message am I supposed to receive?
I think it’s helpful to step back and remember how Leviticus fits in to the overall narrative of the Bible.
Leviticus is the story of how God graciously provides a way for people to live in His presence. The end of the book of Exodus and the entire book of Leviticus communicate that there is a separation between us and God. We are guilty and disqualified. There is a chasm between Maker and man. We lost the relationship we had and we are helpless to get it back.
Leviticus provides very detailed instructions on how Israel could atone for their sin and enter God’s presence.
As a Christian, I know this story shadows the finished work of the cross – God graciously providing a way for me to live in His presence.
But again, what’s with all the details in Leviticus?
I believe the details are included to remind us of the immense sacrifice God made for us. To remind us of how wide the separation is between us and Him. To remind us of how deeply He loves us – for He chose not only to create us but that He wants to be with us (even though we are dirty and have turned our back on Him).
How desperately do I need God to provide a way for me to live in His presence? How great is my sin?
Speaking of details…..I think it’s interesting how the phase, “If anyone sins unintentionally…” is used multiple times in the first 4 chapters.
Sometimes I think I only focus on the need for repentance when I willfully go against God. That I am somehow ever holy enough on my own to be in God’s presence.
David declared in Psalm 32, “Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.”
There is a difference between transgression and sin. The Greek word for ‘sin’ means missing the mark. You can be doing your best, but if you miss the bull’s-eye, it’s not good enough. (This is the “unintentional sin” pointed out in Leviticus)
Transgression is different. It’s not just missing the mark, but willfully stepping over the line. Transgression is a willful, knowledgeable act of rebellion. David knew he was both a sinner and a transgressor.
Often times, I only think I’m a transgressor. I only focus on the forgiveness I need for the sin I commit willfully.
Reading the details of Leviticus this morning reminds me of how desperately I need God to provide a way for me to live in His presence. The “gap” – the separation – caused from my sin is wider than I can comprehend.
The details of atonement for sin in Leviticus give me a greater appreciation for what God has done for me.
It’s all in the details.