Leviticus is Like Calculus– A Guest Post from Melissa Tagg


I’m just going to say it: I’m not all that keen on reading Leviticus in the Bible.

I mean, really. Leviticus computes about as well with me as calculus. Which isn’t well.

In fact, true story: I took pre-calc my junior year of high school. At the end of the year, my teacher—frankly, one of the best teachers I ever had even if I never latched on to the subject—pulled me aside and said, “Melissa, I’d suggest not taking calculus next year.”

Also true: I didn’t.

But Leviticus. I’ve been reading it lately—more out of stubbornness than anything else, I guess. So I’m trucking along in Leviticus 9 the other day and the priests, Aaron and his sons, are beginning their ministry. God gives them some very specific instructions for burnt offerings. We’re talking, “Do this with that organ and wave these pieces in the air” etc.

And all I can think is, “How many more chapters in this book?” and “I think I’ll skip meat today.”

But then…then I get to the end of chapter 9 and read this:

“…and the glory of the Lord appeared to all the people. Fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed the burnt offering and fat portions on the altar. And when the people saw it, they shouted for joy and fell facedown.” (vs.23b-24)

I stopped. Reread the verses. And it struck me:

God showed up.

I mean, he really showed up. Enough that people were whooping and falling over.

And I started thinking about times God has shown up—sometimes in big and surprising ways—in my own life. He’s always there, always working, yes. But how easy is it to hit “going through the motions” mode and just not see Him?

Sorta like reading through Leviticus and missing those moments when God reaches down and makes Himself known.

Recently I considered buying a house. I was pretty excited about it—found a sweet townhouse in a great location for a great price. All the pieces started falling into place in pretty spectacular ways, and I was convinced I should go for it. I made an offer. And after just a few hours of counter-offering, settled on the price I’d hoped for all along.

But all through the process, I kept praying that if there was some reason I shouldn’t move forward, that God would send me a red flag. Like…a blaring, can’t-miss-this flag.

Well, the red flag came. It was an issue on the seller’s end. They had to back out.

I was disappointed, yes.

And yet…even today, weeks later, I’m still sorta excited about the way God showed up in that process. So clearly, so specifically, so undeniably. He’s good and faithful like that.

And it’s an experience I want to remember in different seasons—in the times when I may not be hearing so clearly or am caught up in the busyness of every day life. Perhaps similar to how the Israelites may have gotten in Leviticus, consumed with rules and instructions and surviving.

I want to remember that eventually, one way or another, God IS going to show up. I may not see what He’s doing now and I’m certainly not always going to understand why He has me on this or that path.

But He’s there. And He’s never inactive. And if I keep my eyes open, just like the Israelites did, I’ll see His presence at work…and experience the joy that comes along with it.

When has God shown up in your life in a surprising and undeniable way? And tell me, am I the only one who has to grit her teeth to get through Leviticus? 🙂

Melissa Tagg

Melissa Tagg is a former reporter turned romantic comedy author. Her debut novel, Made to Last, releases from Bethany House in September 2013. In addition to her nonprofit day job, she’s also the marketing/events coordinator for My Book Therapy. Connect with Melissa at www.melissatagg.com and on Facebook and Twitter(@Melissa_Tagg).


Filed under The Christian Walk

20 responses to “Leviticus is Like Calculus– A Guest Post from Melissa Tagg

  1. Ah, gems like those are exactly why I enjoy Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. It’s like mining for buried treasure! I love your story about the house. I’ve had so many of those moments in my own life–way too many to name here. But what I love is how they build my faith in God’s faithfulness (especially to stop me down a road that looks good but might not be) and in my ability to recognize when He is moving and speaking in my life. I really don’t want to be anywhere where God isn’t showing up on a regular basis!

    • Melissa Tagg

      Ooh, I love what you said, Anne, about how these experiences build your ability to recognize when God is speaking in your life. I just talked to someone about that this weekend–how do we know when it’s God or when it’s just our own thinking. The person I was discussing it with talked about how part of it is simply building a history with the Lord…remembering those times when we knew without a doubt it was Him and growing in discernment. SO cool that God WANTS us to hear him.

  2. bethkvogt

    I understand your aversion to Leviticus — and the only thing I know about calculus is how to spell it.
    But God showing up? Ah, that I understand. That, I’ve experienced. That’s the kind of God that I’m in relationship with.

  3. Okay I’ll tell you, several years ago I was whining to God and I said, yes I said, “God, this book is like dry toast.” And He said, “That hurts my feelings.” Which in turn hurt my feelings that I hurt His feelings. So I made a deal. “You make it like Ross’s moist maker and I’ll go back in with an open mind.” (Yes, God knew the reference I was using from Friends. Cause he knows everything) I ended up falling in love with this book! So much meat there that points us to Jesus–the sacrifices, the exact organs used, the holiness of God, the fear of God, the sweet and tender love of Him. The way He governed His people and gave them boundaries because of His great love. When I realized how much it was not dry toast, I apologized to God and then I taught a class to our college students.

    Calculus. Yeah, never gonna happen. I love how God revealed something so wonderful about Him–He shows up! Oh yes He does!

    • Melissa Tagg

      Haha, you mentioned the exact organs…and that’s something that stood out to me in this chapter. And even as it grossed me out, it really made me think…God IS in the details. He cares about the details. He is specific with us many times, in many ways. He’s not just providing wishy-washy direction for our lives. I want to start recognizing his voice in the details more often.

  4. I LOVE that analogy, Melissa! Leviticus is like calculus. So true! It’s not a light – or fast – read by any stretch of the imagination. You’re not alone. At least I’ll dive into Leviticus. Calculus? Never. And I mean NEVER. 🙂 The times that I’m surprised the most when God shows up are the times I’ve forgotten to look for Him there in the first place.

    • Melissa Tagg

      “The times that I’m surprised the most when God shows up are the times I’ve forgotten to look for Him there in the first place.” Oh yes, Donna…I’m so with you on that one!

  5. Love seeing you here today, Mel!

    To be honest (and this won’t surprise you!), it can be really hard for me to remember that God is there and that he’ll show up. I’m such a planner that I can plan for everything I know and leave God out of the picture completely. I also tend to not expect anything from God–not because I think He doesn’t care, but because I hate to get my hopes up. I need to get better at that…hoping and remembering all the times He’s been faithful. His “showing up” may not look exactly like I want it to, but it’ll be exactly what I need it to be.

    • Melissa Tagg

      Haha, yes, I DO know you, Linz…and yes, I’ve witnessed your desire not to get your hopes up. But you know, more and more…I’m starting to feel like God wants our hopes up. He wants our belief at maximum height. There’s power in belief, there’s power in speaking the right words over our lives. (This would be the very recent influence of Rachel Hauck and Alena Taurianen in my life! Haha–and my mom too!) But yeah…I think as our belief and hope in God’s plan grows, our need to manage our own plans diminishes.

      Of course, you KNOW I’m saying this as one planner to another!! Haha!! Love ya, Linz!

  6. Ha Ha! I totally relate. Calculus? No thanks. I’ve recently discovered while trying to count down to a conference that I can’t even add and subtract some days, let alone figure out x, y, and z when numbers should be in their places.
    Leviticus? I too have been reading through this book this month, gritting my teeth all the way. Until finding those nuggets. Then I find myself taking notes. And learning. And loving God’s Word in spite of visions of carcasses and blood and considering waving them over my head. Thank God for Jesus. I’d have a hard time with the offerings and sacrifices of Leviticus’ day.
    And yes, I have experienced God showing up in more ways than I can count on two hands. Or two feet. Or two hands and two feet together. 😉
    I really enjoyed this post. Thanks for sharing!

    • Melissa Tagg

      Hehe, I’m so glad I’m not alone in both calculus and Leviticus, Alycia. 🙂 But it is SO cool when those nuggets of truth pop out at us…even in Leviticus!

  7. Totally agree, Leviticus is a hard read. In fact, I gotta admit, I felt that way about the entire Old Testament for years! Two years ago God challenged me to sit and read it WITH Him rather than by myself and I fell in love totally. He showed up, I mean really showed up, and made me fall in love with Him and the OT in a way I never had before.

  8. Now, I love the Old Testament…reading in 2nd Samuel and Psalms in the Chronological Bible right now…finished Leviticus in February and I won’t say I wasn’t glad to have it read, except as you know, guess what follows Leviticus–Numbers. lol I did enjoy reading about the Year of Jubilee–that was fascinating. And there are so many little gems in those books. I just love how these books show God’s order. You’re right, He is in the details.

    • Melissa Tagg

      I’m excited to get to Numbers. Rachel Hauck did a talk recently on Numbers 14 and sent me the link…such awesome stuff in that book. I’m looking forward to reading it!

  9. Amy Leigh Simpson

    Probably time to read through Leviticus again… And though I got an A in Calculus, I did not ace Leviticus any go around. 🙂 love your thoughts here. Amazing when God walks in.

    • Melissa Tagg

      Oh my, you got an A in calculus?! I’m not sure we can be friends anymore. J/K!!! That is awesome. Thanks for reading, Amy!

  10. My husband got 99% in advanced calculas..cakluas…cal-cu-lus in high school.
    He did 4 sets of taxes on Friday. FOUR. Quatre. Quatro.

    *I* can spell ‘hello’ on a calculator.

    In a year I was seeking God’s will about going on a mission trip, I prayed to see a purple flower. Then I saw one, but it wasn’t just any purple flower, it was a purple clover. COMPLETELY out of season!!! Then, I kid you not, the rest of the day, I was surrounded by purple cars, people in purple clothes, nuthin but PURPLE!!

    God loves to show up, and show off. I’m fine with that.

  11. Hi there, the whole thing is going perfectly here and ofcourse every one is sharing
    facts, that’s truly good, keep up writing.

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