OVERVIEW OF LEVITICUS - “Be holy because I am holy”
Author: Moses, the deliverer and lawgiver. Fifty-six times, the book itself mentions something to the effect of “the Lord spoke to Moses.” The New Testament and Jesus Himself confirms Moses as the author (Matt. 8:4; Luke 2:22; Heb. 8:5).
Date: Moses received the instructions recorded in Leviticus at Mt. Sinai and could have been written either around 1445 B.C. or possibly toward the end of the forty years of wandering in the wilderness 1405 B.C.
Audience/Purpose: Leviticus is written to the nation of Israel, who had just come out of slavery in Egypt, to explain how they were to approach and relate with the Holy God, and also how they were to now live out His holiness in everyday life and relationships.
1:1-10:20 - “I am holy” - How the Holy God is to be worshiped
1:1-6:7 - God’s instructions for Moses about burnt offerings, grain offerings, fellowship or “peace” offerings, sin offerings for the guilt of unintentional as well as deceitful sins of Priests, the entire community, and its individual leaders and members, to atone sin as “an aroma pleasing to the Lord.”
6:8-7:38 - God’s instructions for Moses to Aaron and his sons, the Priests, for administering burnt offerings, grain offerings, sin offerings, guilt offerings, fellowship offerings as thanksgiving or a vow, about not eating fat or blood of the sacrifices, and the breast and right thigh are reserved for Priests.
8:1-10:20 - Moses consecrates and ordains Aaron and his sons for the Priesthood, who present their first offerings, bless the people, after which God manifests His holy presence before the people and in the death of Nadab and Abihu to confirm the holiness and importance of the role of the Priesthood.
11:1-27:34 - “Your are to be holy” - How we are to live holy
11:1-15:33 - Instructions to distinguish between clean and unclean animals for food, about the purification of a woman following childbirth, and how Priests are to deal with various bodily and home conditions making persons unclean before Holy God.
16:1-34 - Instructions for Aaron and his sons concerning the annual Day of Atonement, how they are to enter the sanctuary with proper dress and sacrifices, how the two goats are to be determined for the sacrifice made to the Lord and the one offered as the scapegoat, how the bull and goat are to be offered for the sin offering, how the scapegoat is to be released, how Aaron and the releaser of the scapegoat are to treat their clothes, and the mandate to observe the Day of Atonement as a holy day annually.
17:1-25:55 - Additional rules of personal and corporate holiness
17:1-16 - Bring all animal sacrifices for the Lord to the Tent of Meeting and do not eat any blood
18:1-30 - Have no sexual relations other than between a man and woman who are married
19:1-37 - Applications of 10 Commandments, proper worship of God, loving treatment of others
20:1-27 - Those who sin against God’s commands are to be cut off from the people or put to death
21:1-24 - Priests are to be holy
22:1-33 - Priests are to make sure the people’s offerings are holy
23:1-44 - The people are to observe Sabbath and the appointed feasts of Passover, Unleavened Bread, Firstfruits, Weeks, Trumpets, Day of Atonement, and Tabernacles as holy
24:1-9 - Don’t neglect oil for the lamps or bread for the Table of Presence in the Tent of Meeting
24:10-23 - Blasphemer is put to death as a harsh reminder of the seriousness God’s holy commands
25:1-55 - The land rests in the Sabbath year, everyone and everything returns in the Jubilee year
26:1-46 - Faithful obedience to God’s commands will be rewarded with blessing, sinful disobedience to God’s commands will be punished with curses, and God will forgive and restore those who repent
27:1-34 - Items dedicated to God may be redeemed at value plus twenty percent, items devoted to God cannot be redeemed, and a tenth of all produce and herds and flocks belong to God
Gospel Contribution and Relevance
God’s nature and character are holy and He must be worshiped acceptably. (Lev. 9:22-24; Heb. 12:28-29)
Our sin must be atoned to make us acceptable to God to come into His presence. (Heb. 10:19-23)
Unrepentant sin and irreverence before God is dangerous. (Lev. 10:1-2; 24:10-23; 2 Thess. 1:6-10)
God has graciously provided atonement for sin through the sacrifice of blood. (Lev. 17:11; Hebrews 9:22)
Jesus Christ is our sufficient once and for all sacrificial Lamb and Scapegoat. (Lev. 16; John 1:29)
Faith in Christ’s sacrifice provides atonement and forgiveness of our sins. (Eph. 1:7)
We are to gather regularly to offer our worship to God as sacrifices of praise, obedience, giving, and service through the name of Jesus Christ. (Rom. 12:1-2; Heb. 13:15-16)
We are to please God through obedience and purity in every area of life and relationship. (Rom. 13:11-14)
Treat everyone and animals with respect, fairness, and love. (Matt. 7:12)
God desires sexual purity between one man and woman in marriage. (1 Cor. 6:18-20; 1 Thess. 4:3-8)
What aspects of the Gospel of Christ as laid out in Leviticus are missed or most misunderstood today?
What areas of life might people today not take God’s holiness seriously enough?
What human relationships today fall short of God’s instructions in Leviticus?
What should worship of Holy God look like today according to Leviticus in light of Christ and the NT?