Leviticus (Lev)

The third book of the OT, has 27 chapters. Moses was the author of this Book of the Law (the 5 books he wrote are also known as the Torah or Pentateuch), written in about 1444 BC. Time to read: 2 hrs 30 mins. Key people are Moses, Aaron, the Levites.

Background: On their journey through the wilderness from Egypt to the Promised Land, the Israelites had a movable church structure called the tabernacle.  Jacob had 12 sons whose descendants each formed a particular tribe. The Levites, from the tribe of Levi, were chosen by God to transport, care for, and perform the various religious duties associated with the tabernacle. 

Outline. This is mostly a handbook for the Levites detailing their priestly duty of presenting praise and devotion to God, and the various sacrifices required to bring about the forgiveness of sin.  Through the sacrificial system God was teaching the whole nation about the seriousness of sin, which separates the sinner from Him, and the consequence – those that sin deserve to die (Ezek 18:4,20). Through the sacrifice an animal symbolically took the sinner’s place and thus paid the penalty for sin. Forgiveness and a restored relationship with God resulted. God ordained seven annual feasts or special times of coming together to worship Him. He also wanted His people to be devoted to Him and introduced various principles and guidelines that would make His people distinct from other nations as well as being beneficial in their everyday lives.

Main lesson. God’s laws are to be obeyed, bringing rewards.  Sin is a serious disregard for God and His standards, resulting in punishment.

Key verses or thoughts: * God made a distinction between the Israelites and the surrounding heathen nations (Lev 18:3,4). Similarly, as Christians, we are to be separate from sin and dedicated to God – we are not to disassociate from nonbelievers but are not to adopt their standards as we interact with them seeking to influence them towards the Kingdom of God. Does my lifestyle indicate I have a different master and bring ‘salt and light’ into my dealings with people or do I merge in with the pollution of the world (Mt 5:13-16)?

* “You must be Holy, because I the Lord your God, am Holy” (Lev 19:2).  He can’t tolerate evil. What is my attitude to sin? Tolerating sin leads to compromise and justifying wrong behavior which results in missing His highest purposes as being in close fellowship with God demands a high price of holiness. We basically determine the level of intimacy we experience with Him because of the measure that we confront and deal with the issue of sin, wrong attitudes and desires that remain resident in our lives even after we initially confessed our sins to God at our time of conversion, as well as those we commit on a daily basis. There should be repentance on a daily basis for the areas where we have failed.

* God provided guidelines and rules for all facets of life for His people. Today we have the full Bible and the Holy Spirit within us to guide and direct in all areas of life, both personal and in community with others. He wants the best for us so has given principles and direction that cover not just the spiritual but practical issues too. Failing to be governed by divine wisdom is the hallmark of today’s independence of God. Am I disregarding some moral standard or law of God?

See also: Aaron, atonement, blessed or cursed, blood, feasts, laws, Levites, Moses, obedience, sacrifice and offering, tabernacle.