The Book Of Leviticus

Arend Remmers

27 Chapters

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.

3. Peculiarities

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:

  • One kind where the offerings which were to be repeated at certain times. They picture different aspects of the work of Christ on the cross (for example the Passover, 1 Cor. 5:7; the Great Day of Atonement, Heb. 9:6-12).
  • The other kind of offerings could be brought by the individual Israelite either voluntarily (such as Burnt, Meat or Peace Offering in Lev. 1-3) or when they had sinned (sin and trespass offering in ch. 4-5). Thereby various graduations were made. These graduations reflect the personal apprehension of the offering of Christ.

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

Chapter 1 The Burnt Offering (1 Pet. 2:5)

Chapter 2 The Meat Offering (or: 'Meal Offering')

Chapter 3 The Peace Offering (1 Cor. 10:16-18)

Chapter 4 The Sin Offering (1 John 2:1-2)

Chapter 5 The Trespass Offering

Chapter 6 The Laws for Burnt-, Meat- and Sin Offering

Chapter 7 The Laws for Trespass- and Peace Offering

II. Leviticus 8-10: Consecration and Holiness of the Priests

Chapter 8 The Consecration of the Priests (1 Pet. 2:5+9 / Rev. 1:6)

Chapter 9 The 8th Day of the Consecration of the Priests

Chapter 10 The Sin of Nadab and Abihu

III. Leviticus 11-15: Laws of Cleanness for the People of Israel

Chapter 11 Clean Food

Chapter 12 Cleanness at Childbirth

Chapter 13-14 Leprosy

Chapter 15 Uncleanness with Man or Woman (2 Cor. 7:1-2)

IV. Leviticus 16: The Great Day of Atonement

V. Leviticus 17-22: Practical Cleanness and Holiness

Chapter 17 The Value of the Blood (1 Pet. 1:19)

Chapter 18 Moral Uncleanness

Chapter 19-20 Different Instructions for Holiness

Chapter 21-22 Position and Condition of the Priests

VI. Leviticus 23: The Feasts of Jehovah

VII. Leviticus 24-27: The Holiness of the People of God

Chapter 24 The Candlestick in the Sanctuary; Blasphemy among the People of God

Chapter 25 The Sabbath Year and the Year of Jubilee

Chapter 26 Obedience and Disobedience

Chapter 27 Vows and Sanctified Things

1) Such as communication of material goods (Heb.13:16)