"Introduction to Leviticus "
Wednesday AM Bible Study
May 24, 2006
The Hebrew name of this book is Vayyiqra (taken from its first word, "called"). Its Greek name is Leuitikon ("that which pertains to the Levites"). The title in English, Leviticus, is taken from the Latin Vulgate. Its human author is Moses; and it was written within the first year of the exodus of the people of Israel from Egypt (see Numbers 1:1).
It is an important and remarkable book for several reasons. For one thing, it stands out among the books of the Bible in that it is predominately composed of the immediate words of God. Other books of the Bible contain bits of God's direct discourses here or there, surrounded by narrative. But almost every bit of what is contained in Leviticus is God speaking directly to His people through Moses.
It is also unique in that it is words of practical instruction through and through. There are only two incidents recorded in the book which are not words of instruction from God (10:1-19, which tells of how Nadab and Abihu--sons of Aaron--offered a "strange fire" before the Lord; and 24:1-23, which records the story of a man who blasphemed God). But both of these incidents are recorded in order to illustrate a practical instruction that God was giving.
In addition, it is a unique book because of its point of view. Consider the book that precedes it--the Book of Exodus. It records the deliverance of the people of Israel from bondage in Egypt; then tells us of how God appeared to the people on Mount Sinai and gave them the law. It concludes by telling us of the construction of the tabernacle. The main point of view of Exodus is that of God speaking from the mountain--holy and separate from sinful man. People were not even permitted to touch the mountain, lest they die (Exodus 19:12).
But consider Leviticus. It was also written before Mount Sinai; but the main point of view is from within the tabernacle--where God condescended to meet with His people. Exodus closes with the glory of the Lord covering the tabernacle--that place from which God would strike terror into the heart of sinful man (Exodus 19:18-19); and Leviticus begins the Lord speaking to Moses "from the tabernacle of meeting". Exodus presents God as giving the law to sinners from high atop the mountain; and Leviticus presents God as 'tabernacling' with sinners as they stood before the mountain.
The great theme of this book is "holiness". It is a description of the holiness God required of the Israelite people He redeemed from bondage in Egypt; and teaches us the holiness He demands of all those who would approach Him. And most wonderful of all, it gives us a picture of how that holiness was brought about for us perfectly through the person and work of Jesus Christ (Hebrews 9:11-10:10). When reading Leviticus, it might help to remember that all the sacrifices that it describes are still as necessary as ever for you and I to be able to approach such a holy God as ours. But we should also remember that all those sacrifices were meant to accomplish has been perfectly fulfilled for us--once for all--in the Person of Jesus Christ. We need never again come to God through the levitical sacrifices; because "we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all" (Hebrews 10:10).
Key verse: Leviticus 19:2
"Speak to the congregation of the children of Israel, and say to them:
'You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy.'"
I. FIVE HOLY OFFERINGS (chps. 1-7).
1. Sweet Aroma Offerings (chps. 1-3):
a. The Burnt Offering (chp. 1).
b. The Meal Offering (chp. 2).
c. The Peace Offering (chp. 3).
2. Substitutionary Offerings (chps. 4:1-6:7):
a. The Sin Offering (chp. 4).
b. The Trespass Offering (5:1-6:7).
3. The Laws regarding the Offerings (6:8-7:38).
II. A HOLY PRIESTHOOD (chps. 8-10).
1. The sons of Aaron consecrated (chp. 8).'
2. The priesthood ministry begun (chp. 9).
3. The reverent approach to God established (chp. 10).
III. INSTRUCTIONS IN DAILY HOLINESS (chps. 11-22).
1. Holiness in foods (chp. 11).
2. Holiness after childbirth (chp. 12).
3. Holiness of Leprosy (chps. 13-14).
4. Holiness in Bodily Discharges (chp. 15).
5. Holiness in celebrating The Day of Atonement (chp. 16).
6. Holiness in the treatment of blood (chp. 17).
7. Holiness in sexual and marital purity (chp. 18).
8. Holiness in social life (chp. 19).
9. Holiness in civic justice (chp. 20).
10. Holiness in the conduct of the priestly ministry (chps. 21-22).
IV. THINGS TO BE KEPT HOLY (chps. 23-25).
1. Holy days to be celebrated (chp. 23).
2. Holy things to be honored (chp. 24).
3. Holy sabbaths to be kept (chp. 25).
V. PROMISES FROM GOD FOR PEOPLE IN A HOLY LAND (chp. 26).
VI. RULES REGARDING HOLY VOWS OF DECICATION (chp. 27).