Leviticus lies at the heart of the Pentateuch for good reason. God’s people are at the mid-point of their journey to the Promised Land. In Genesis we saw the removal of mankind from the Paradise of Eden but the establishment of God’s covenant with the patriarchs. Then in Exodus God redeemed Israel from the bondage of Egypt and led them to Mount Sinai where they are now gathered to hear God’s instructions to His mediator leader Moses. A difficult journey lies ahead through the wilderness before Joshua will lead them into Canaan. The Book of Leviticus has proved a challenge (and sometimes a drudgery) to study because of the details of the sacrifices and purification rituals of the OT system of worship which are so foreign to our experience. But Leviticus is critical to understanding how a sinful people can worship a holy God and enjoy His presence. At the heart of Leviticus lies the central chapters 16-17 that describe the Day of Atonement and the significance of the shedding of blood that is key to forgiveness of sins and reconciliation to God. The sacrifices, the role of the priests, the purification rituals (that all point to their fulfillment in Jesus Christ) are all foundational to understanding God’s call that His people walk before Him in holiness just as He is holy.
SINCE GOD IS HOLY, OUR ACCESS TO GOD AND FELLOWSHIP WITH GOD MUST BE CONSTRAINED BY HOLINESS
Leviticus 20:26 “Thus you are to be holy to Me, for I the Lord am holy; and I have set you apart from the peoples to be Mine.”
I. (1-15) WORSHIPING A HOLY GOD — FOCUSED AROUND THE RITUALS ADMINISTERED BY THE PRIESTS
A. (1-7) RITUALS INVOLVING SACRIFICES
1. (1:1 – 6:7) Instructions for the Laity
a. (1) The Burnt Offering – Access to a Holy God
b. (2) The Cereal (Grain) Offering – Dedication / Consecration
c. (3) The Peace Offering — Reconciliation / Fellowship
d. (4:1 – 5:13) The Sin Offering — Purification
e. (5:14 – 6:7) The Reparation (Guilt) Offering — Repentance
2. (6:8 – 7:38) Instructions for the Priests
a. (6:8-13) The Burnt Offering
b. (6:14-23) The Cereal (Grain) Offering
c. (6:24-30) The Sin Offering
d. (7:1-10) The Reparation (Guilt) Offering
e. (7:11-36) The Peace Offering
f. (7:37-38) Summary
B. (8-10) ROLE OF THE PRIESTS REQUIRING CONSECRATION
1. (8) Installation of the Priesthood
2. (9) Dedication of the Sanctuary
3. (10) Sanctification of the Priesthood — Judgment of Presumptuous Worship
C. (:11-15) RITUALS INVOLVING PURITY
1. (11) Uncleanness Related to Dietary Restrictions
2. (12) Uncleanness Related to Childbirth
3. (13-14) Uncleanness Related to Blemishes
4. (15) Uncleanness Related to Bodily Discharges from Sexual Organs
II. (16-17) HINGE = THE KEY TO ACCESSING GOD’S HOLY PRESENCE
A. (16) THE GREAT DAY OF ATONEMENT
B. (17) THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE BLOOD
III. (18-27) WALKING WITH A HOLY GOD — FOCUSED AROUND HOLINESS IN PERSONAL LIFE AND COVENANT COMMUNITY
A. (18-22) HOLINESS IN PERSONAL LIFE
1. (18) Holiness in Sexual Behavior
2. (19) Holiness in Daily Life – before God and Our Neighbors
3. (20) Holiness in Avoiding Specific Offenses that Merit Serious Punishment
4. (21-22) Holiness for Priests
B. (:23-27) HOLINESS IN COVENANT COMMUNITY
1. (23) Celebrating Annual Religious Festivals
2. (24:1-9) Tabernacle Regulations:
– Regarding Oil for the Lampstand
– Regarding Bread for the Table of the Presence
3. (24:10-23) A Case of Blasphemy and Laws on Personal Injury
4. (25) Observing the Sabbatical and Jubilee Years
5. (26) Covenant Blessings and Curses
6. (27) Covenant Commitment: Vows, Dedications, and Tithes
WHY STUDY THIS BOOK?
To emphasize the holiness of God and reinforce our high calling to holiness in life.
To extract from the sacrificial system and the feasts the important typology regarding Jesus Christ and to help us to better understand the NT fulfillment of these types.
To anticipate future fulfillment of various types and symbols that will ultimately see the same level of detail and specificity as those already fulfilled.
To evaluate our country’s system of civil laws in light of the requirements dictated to God’s chosen nation.
To remind believers of the grace of God and the immense cost of sin.
To maintain the balance between the obligations of spiritual leaders and the responsibility of all believers to live in holiness and approach God correctly in worship.
F. Duane Lindsay: Leviticus is a literary expression of God’s desire that His holiness be reflected in the life of His covenant people Israel. This is seen in the two spheres of Israel’s periodic worship and daily walk. Though there is substantial overlapping between these two spheres, they are reflected generally in the two major divisions of the book: (a) “The Way of Approach to God by Sacrifice (chaps. 1-16)” and (b) “The Walk of Holiness before God by Separation (chaps. 17-27).”
Peter Pett: The main section of the Book of Leviticus is constructed on a definite pattern. It commences with a description of the offerings and sacrifices of Israel (chapters 1-7), and ends with a description of the times and seasons as they are required of Israel (chapters 23-25). It continues with the establishment of the priesthood (chapters 8-10), which is balanced by the section on the maintenance of the holiness of the priesthood (chapters 21-22). This is then followed by the laws of uncleanness (chapters 11-15) which are balanced by the laws of holiness (chapters 17-20). And central to the whole is the Day of Atonement (chapter 16).
W A Criswell – Leviticus is one of the most important books of the Old Testament. Without an understanding of the principles of atonement and holiness found in Leviticus, much of the New Testament has no foundation on which to rest. To say that Leviticus is one of the “most New Testament” books of the Old Testament would hardly be an exaggeration, for it foreshadows the Person and work of Christ in a most remarkable and elucidating manner.
William Newell: It takes knowledge, discernment, patience, eagerness, and devotion to Christ and God’s Word to appreciate and love Leviticus.
Warren Wiersbe: The Book of Leviticus explains five basic themes that relate to the life of holiness: a holy God; a holy priesthood; a holy people; a holy land; and a holy Savior.