leviticus

Leviticus

I have realized that until I understood the book of Leviticus, that I couldn’t understand the majority of the New Testament. Jesus did not come to do something new, but to fulfill what was already taking place. God is a good God, who loves His people, and desires to be in the midst of everything that they do.  Jesus is the perfect priest who will live forever and has given me the greatest gift of all, a clean conscience, His power, and promises.  My desire is that my life would reflect this with Jesus. By coming to the cross I have been awakened about how horrid my sin really is, and that it only brings destruction. I repent and have brokenness, choosing to never go back. I am saved by faith, through Christ in grace, and I now desire to live a life that shows my faithfulness, a loving intimacy that reflects the Character of God. My daily desire is to live a life of faithfulness to the One who has set me free, cleaned my conscience, and has given me the example of what it really means to live. Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior and I desire to be faithful!

The name in English is derived from the Greek name of leyiticon which means “things concerning the Levites”. This is somewhat misleading because it is really a book for all of God’s people and not only the Levites. The Hebrew name vayyiqra means “and he called” which is in agreement with the tradition of using the first words of book for the title.

The author of this book is attributed to Moses after the exodus from Egypt and encompasses a year of time while they are camped at the Mountain of Sinai.

The purpose of this book is to take the ‘Egypt out of Israel’. God freed the people and redeemed them with His power by proving to Egypt He was greater than there ten gods, including Pharaoh who was considered a god. By power it was easy to free the slaves, but the challenge was to get the slave-mentality out of a freed people. This book is God’s process of discipling a free nation who thinks, acts, and believes like a slave despite being free. He is calling them to be different from any other nation, to reflect Him, to be Holy as He is Holy, and live out the freedom that they now have (Leviticus 11:45; Leviticus 18:5). This is the heart of the Pentateuch, being the reflection of God’s Character to the nations.

The literary style is a narrative of what God speaks to His people.

Leviticus 1: Burnt Offering
Leviticus 2: Grain Offering
Leviticus 3: Peace Offering
Leviticus 4: Sin Offering
Leviticus 5 – 6:7: Guilt Offering
Leviticus 6:8 – 7: Ceremonial Rules
Leviticus 8: Preparing the Priests
Leviticus 9: Aaron’s offering
Leviticus 10: The sins of Aaron’s sons
Leviticus 11: Clean vs. unclean animals
Leviticus 12-15: Laws of Cleanliness
Leviticus 16 – 17: Atonement
Leviticus 17 -20: Do not’s of the Law
Leviticus 21-22: Priestly Laws
Leviticus 23-25: Celebrations
Leviticus 26-27: Consequences

The first section of this book is about the five sacrifices: 1) Burnt offerings 2) Meal offerings, 3) Peace Offerings, 4) Sin offering, and 5) Trespass Offering. The burnt offering was symbolic worship, giving the best of what one has voluntarily. The smoke is a reflection of heaven and earth coming together. We learn that worship is about us giving to God, not us asking God to give us. The meal offering or grain offering was really a worship to share a meal with God, He would enjoy the smoke connecting heaven to earth, and the priest and his sons would eat the rest. This was an offering that blessed the ministers and provided for them. The Peace Offering was a way for the people to come and share in fellowship with God. These first three are important to understand because the sacrifices aren’t about blood and guts, but about intimacy with God and changing man’s heart. The Sin Offering and the Trespass Offering are very similar in that an individual who sins “unintentionally” would understand the high cost of their sin[1].

In sin they would have to sacrifice their best, making them poorer, and helping the individual, their family, and the whole community to understand that sin only has one possible consequence, death. Not only death, but by breaking God’s design for man there is brokenness, poverty, broken relationships, and a lack of peace. In each one of these, the key is not the sacrifice itself, but rather the heart of the one giving the sacrifice, a heart of brokenness and repentance. We can see throughout the whole Old Testament that the individual, who really knows God, says this phrase, “I would give you sacrifices, but you do not desire them, you want a repentant heart and contrite spirit.”[2]

The sacrifices were a fruit of a transformed heart, but the sacrifices and blood never changed the individual. They were saved through faith, in God, by grace, and the sacrifice showed their heart’s desire to walk in obedience. In Hebrews 9:22, it states that “almost all things are cleansed by blood.” The poorest were forgiven by a grain offering. Something unique in this part of Leviticus is to see that all of these sacrifices are only for “unintentional sin.” God NEVER intended for His people to willing walk in disobedience and live a life of intentional sin, making a conscious choice to do something against God’s law.

Sacrifices:
1) Only for unintentional sins
2) They show that God never intended intentional sin for His people
3) There was a cost of Laying on of hands in a symbolic way
4) It is a substitution but not guilty (Ezekiel 18:4-20)
5) There must be repentance and understanding of the seriousness of his sin. (Lev 16:29 and 31)
6) The person is forgiven
7) Saved by grace through faith

[1]Leviticus 4:1-5:13 (Instructions), 4:3-12 (For the Priest), 4:13-21 (Sin offering for congregation), 4:22-26 (Sin offering for a leader), 4:27-5:13 (Sin offering for individual, not always a blood sacrifice), Hebrew 9:22

[2]2 Samuel 11; 2 Samuel 12:13; Psalm 51:16-17; Micah 6:6-8; Isaiah 1:10-15; Isaiah 1:16-17; Amos 5:21-23; Amos 5:24; 1 Samuel 15:22à; Jeremiah 6:20; Jeremiah 11:15; Proverbs 15:8; Hosea 4:6-8

God chooses to come and dwell in the middle of His people. They camp in a rectangle around the Tabernacle, not facing outward to protect themselves from their enemies, but facing inward relying upon God to be their salvation and provider. Aside from the sacrifices we begin to see that God creates a calendar year full of celebration and remembering who God is, and who the people are being created in His image. This is a year of forming a culture where food, drink, celebration, government, family, work, business, and society in whole are centered on an intimate relationship with God, YAHWEH. This creates a society that remembers where they came from in slavery, and that their blessing and future depends on a relationship with the Almighty, Infinite and Personal God, YAHWEH.

Festivals:

1)Sabbath
2)Passover
3)Feast of Unleavened Bread
4) First Fruits
5)Week/Pentecost(50 days of denying oneself)
6)Trumpets
7)Atonement
8)Tabernacles

Again we can see in this book that God is a God of all nations. He doesn’t choose Israel to hide them from the world, but rather to build them into the perfect reflection of Him in order to bless the world and the nations. Israel would become an open door for all nations to intimately know, experience, and enter into a covenant with Him. We can see how God’s desire is not to have a king and prophet, but rather a nation of priests and prophets, where everyone heard from God and submitted to Him on an individual, family, clan, tribe, and national level, speaking on behalf of Him in all that they do.

When you have time to really study, one can see that everything in the tabernacle has a meaning for the Jews. God was teaching them about purity, cleanliness, and holiness, being set aside and different. Aside from the normal sacrifices, every year, God created a day of atonement. The design of this day was to provide a sacrifice for all of the unintentional sins of the people that were never brought into the light. They would fast and pray, preparing themselves to have a clean-conscience, and then on the day of Atonement they would celebrate, going into a new year with the slate wiped clean. This is the picture of Jesus. Two goats are brought forth, one has the lot of the sin of the people and is set free, symbolic of the sinful individual being released without the consequence that he or she deserves, while the second goat, the one that represented the pure and righteous, was the scapegoat and would be sacrificed.

When Jesus came He was all of these things for us:

  • The Passover Lamb: saved by faith in God, through grace, and obedience followed to show fait
  • He was our Atonement and Scapegoat: the righteous for the unrighteous, the just for the unjust. He has washed us and set us free, giving us a clean-conscience and we are new creations.

One last thought on this amazing book. Leviticus is one of my favorite books of the Bible, and like I said, I was unable to understand most of the New Testament until I understood this book. Our concept of FAITH in today’s world has little to no connection to what the Jews understood by FAITHFUL. I believe we can only understand the FAITH of a Christian, someone who is Christ-like, when we understand the FAITHFUL from the Old Testament.

Misguided thoughts of Faith Biblical Faithful
Blind, just believe Proof, based on evidence
Without Reason A logical response to a real God, this is real worship ‘a lifestyle’
A thought or belief An action or reaction based on experience, conviction, and relationship founded in Truth.
Spiritual Involves the mind, will, and emotions
No action required, action is seen as legalism Action is the natural fruit of a loving relationship. There can be no faith if it is not seen in action.
It is seen more as a feeling then real, it is contrasted with Reason or Logic It can be contrasted with being an unfaithful person, both however are active decisions based on the individual’s response to what was communicated and agreed upon.
GREEK PHILOSOPHY BIBLICAL TRUTH

Leviticus as a book is a perfect example of Romans 12:2, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”

[1] I Corinthians 15:3, Galatians 1:4, Hebrews 1:3, Hebrews 9:26, Hebrews 10:12, I Peter 3:18, I John 1:17, I John 2:2, I John 4:10, Revelation 1:5, Isaiah 53:4-10, Luke 22:19, John 10:15, Galatians 2:20, Titus 2:14

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