1. Author and Time of Writing
Leviticus starts with the words: "And the Lord called unto Moses, and spake unto him out of the tabernacle of the congregation." Such introductory words appear over 35 times in Leviticus. They emphasize that Moses received these many revelations and communications personally and that he wrote them himself (compare Deut. 31:9). - God spoke out of the tabernacle of congregation but also on Mount Sinaļ (see chap. 25:1). Thus Moses was able to write it all down and to communicate it to the people of Israel (compare Jos. 1:7-8).
The Lord Jesus testifies to the fact that Moses was the author of Leviticus in Matthew 8:4 (comp. Lev. 13:49; 14:2-32).
2. Purpose of Writing
The book of Leviticus is the book of fellowship (or communion). In Exodus God saved His people and formed an alliance with them. In Leviticus the principles of approaching God are shown. Therefore Jehovah speaks primarily out of the tabernacle of congregation in this book (chap. 1:1).
In the first seven chapters we will find the offerings which the people of Israel should bring to God. They are the expression of fellowship in worship based on atonement. Then follow the dedication of the priests who were the mediators of this fellowship in chaps. 8-10.
In chaps. 11-15 the hindrances to fellowship are dealt with.
Chapter 16 forms the centre of the book: the Great Day of Atonement. This Great Day of Atonement is declared the once for all offering of Christ in Heb. 9-10.
Further instructions for the practical cleanness of the people of Israel follow in chaps. 17-22.
Chap. 23 describes the seven feasts of Jehovah which have an spiritual as well as an prophetical signification. Then follow instructions concerning the tabernacle, the administration of the penal law and about the Sabbath year as well as the year of Jubilee (chaps. 24-26). The book closes with an appendix on vows and sanctified things in chap. 27.
Leviticus corresponds to the Epistle to the Hebrews in the New Testament. The subject of Hebrews is the approaching of men to God as well.
For many Bible readers the Old Testament sacrifices are difficult to understand. But God Himself presented this thought already to Adam and Eve when He clothed them with coats of skins (Gen. 3.21). By this means He showed them that they could not possibly hide their guilty nakedness by their own efforts, but only by the fact that an animal died for them in their stead.
In Leviticus God shows His people Israel that the blood of the offered animal (which is the sign of ransoming life) is the only way of atonement for committed sins (Lev. 17:11). The presentation of offerings therefore played an important part in the life of the people of Israel. The two following kinds of offerings are to be distinguished:
Similarly the Christians are called upon to bring spiritual and material1 offerings and even to present their bodies a living sacrifice. All this is acceptable to God by the offering of Christ only (compare 1 Pet. 2:5; Phil. 4:18; Rom. 12:1).
4. Overview of Contents
I. Leviticus 1-7: The five different Offerings / Sacrifices
II. Leviticus 8-10: Consecration and Holiness of the Priests
III. Leviticus 11-15: Laws of Cleanness for the People of Israel
IV. Leviticus 16: The Great Day of Atonement
V. Leviticus 17-22: Practical Cleanness and Holiness
VI. Leviticus 23: The Feasts of Jehovah
VII. Leviticus 24-27: The Holiness of the People of God
|1) Such as communication of material goods (Heb.13:16)|