LEVITICUS – The Law of the Priests

The view of God’s grace, which Leviticus presents, introduces us to the glory of Christ in his sacrificial and intercessory work as our High Priest. For this reason He is the central character in Leviticus with the core theme being atonement.

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Leviticus – The Law of the Priests

Key Verse – 20:7

Sanctify yourselves therefore, and be ye holy: for I am the LORD your God.

Originally the Jews knew Leviticus by the name, “And he called”. This corresponds to the opening words of the book. The Talmud, a collection of Jewish writings in the early Christian centuries identified this book as being “The Law of the Priests”. The name Leviticus was coined by Jerome in his Latin translation of the Bible, known as The Vulgate.

Leviticus principally deals with the worship of God within The Tabernacle. As such it logically follows Exodus in sequence. There, in the final chapters the people bring their offerings out of which the Tabernacle and its furniture would be constructed. After the completion of the Tabernacle on the first day of the first month (Exodus 40:17) the Glory of God came down and filled the tent (Exodus 40:34-38). Then God called Moses to reveal to him the various procedures which would dominate the life of this place. God’s words to Moses would continue through into the Book of Numbers and would not be completed until the 20th day of the second month (Numbers 10:11).

The significance of God spending a month relaying the actual contents of Leviticus should not be lost on the reader (compare 1:1 with Numbers 1:1):

…God took only six days to creation, but spent forty days with Moses in directing him to make the tabernacle-because the work of grace is more glorious than the work of creation. And so we find the law from Sinai occupying three days at most, while these rules that exhibited the love and grace of God are spread over many weeks”

(Andrew Bonar, Leviticus).

This view of God’s grace, which Leviticus presents, introduces us to the glory of Christ in his sacrificial and intercessory work as our High Priest. For this reason He is the central character in Leviticus with the core theme being atonement. What is revealed in type in Leviticus is unfolded in the New Testament, especially in the Epistle to the Hebrews:

…the Jews looked upon a veiled Saviour, whom they had never seen unveiled. We, under the New Testament, look upon an unveiled Saviour; and going back to the Old, we can see far better than the Jews could, the features and form of Jesus the Beloved, under that veil” (Robert Murray McCheyne in a letter to a friend).

Ultimately Leviticus shows us that we are made righteous through the Priestly work of Christ and that He is the ground by which we can access the presence of a holy God.

1: Sacrifice; Chapters 1-7

As sacrifices are a central aspect of Leviticus a few remarks are necessary. God has established Israel as a Theocracy, which he governed, dwelling among them. Yet this nation was sinful. Sacrifices were the method whereby Israel could access God. These sacrifices served two purposes; they were expiatory and devotional. Each sacrifice had to be clear of all impurity. When offering the beast the offerer’s hand was laid upon the head of the beast taking ownership over the sin that necessitated the death of that creature. Therefore the great themes of sin, sacrifice by blood, substitutionary atonement, confession and repentance are woven into the fabric of Leviticus.

A Daily Sacrifices

Chapter 1 The Burnt Offering – Faith in Christ

Chapter 2 The Meat Offering – Following after Christ

Chapter 3 The Peace Offering – Fellowship with Christ

B Special Sacrifices

Chapter 4-5:13 The Sin Offering – Forgiveness through Christ

Chapter 5:14-6:7 The Trespass Offering – Fee demanded by Christ

C Laws of the Offerings Chapter 6:8-7

2: Priesthood; Chapters 8-10

Chapter 8 – Aaron’s Priesthood Consecrated

Chapter 9 – Aaron’s Priesthood Confirmed

Chapter 10 – Aaron’s Priesthood Challenged

3: Uncleanness Chapters 11-22

A Ceremonial Uncleanness – Natural Sin

Chapter 11 Unclean Flesh

Chapter 12 Uncleanness after Childbirth

Chapters 13-14 Uncleanness in Leprosy

Chapter 15 Uncleanness in the Human Body

B Atonement – Covering of Sin

Chapter 16 Day of Atonement

Chapter 17 Sacrificial Procedures

C Moral Uncleanness Intentional Sin

Chapter 18 Personal Relationships

Chapter 19 Social Conduct

D Penalties – Punished Sin

Chapter 20 Moral Uncleanness Judged

E Priestly Uncleanness – Leadership Sin

Chapter 21 Various Rules

F Sacrificial Uncleanness- Careless Sin

Chapter 22:17-30 Procedures for Offerings

Chapter 22:31-33 Reminder of God’s Holiness

4: Special Seasons Chapters 23-25

Chapter 23:1-4 The Sabbath

Chapter 23:5-8 The Feast of the Passover

Chapter 23:8-14 The Feast of First Fruits

Chapter 23:15-22 The Feast of Pentecost

Chapter 23:23-25 The Feast of Trumpets

Chapter 23:26-32 The Day of Atonement

Chapter 23:33-43 The Feast of Tabernacles

Chapter 24:1-9 The Priest on the Sabbath

Chapter 24:10-23 The Sin of Cursing God

Chapter 25:1-7 The Sabbatical Year

Chapter 25:8-56 The Jubilee

In all of these festivals truths relating to rest, redemption, restoration and resurrection are unfolded revealing to us the glory of the Gospel.

5: Final Exhortation Chapter 26

Various procedures for offering vows to the Lord as a result of the willing devotion of the offerer.

1: Persons 2: Animals 3: House 4: Land

5: Firstlings 6: Devoted things 7: Tithe

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