Posted by Mark Herzer

Leviticus 1:1-2, Introduction[1]

The first book the children of the synagogue used to read and study was Leviticus. Admittedly, it is probably the last book NT believers will want to read. But it is part of the inspired book of the Bible and therefore instructive. It will be difficult since we do not have corresponding practices to most of these things.

The name “Leviticus” is a Latin word which essentially means that this is about things related to the Levite (Levitical). It is more about priests than Levites but it is the name we have settled upon.

We ended our reading of Exodus with the final erection of the Tabernacle and this became the place where God would meet His people. Leviticus gives us the instructions regarding how God is to be worshipped and approached. The book rarely includes historical narratives (though it includes a well known incident of Nadab and Abihu); it is almost entirely legislative or prescriptive — it tells Israel what they are to do!

Following John Currid, Leviticus has six major sections which he calls “manuals.” Prescriptions for Israel and their sacrifices are found in 1:1-6:7. Prescriptions regarding the sacrifices for the priesthood is covered in 6:8-7:38. The codes regarding cleanliness is found in 11:1-15:33. The fourth section in ch. 16 deals with the Day of Atonement. The fifth section is the largest and it prescribes rules regarding holiness and ritual purity. Chapters 17-26 presents the numerous cases on how they should be holy and pure. The sixth section found in the last chapter deals with the funding of the sanctuary.

We must remember that Israel did not offer up these offerings (v.2) or sacrifices as human initiatives and attempts to appease and manipulate God — these were divinely initiated and ordered. They were responses of redeemed people following God’s prescriptions.

Finally, I quote 26:46, the section dealing with holiness and purity, “These are the statutes and rules and laws that the LORD made between himself and the people of Israel through Moses on Mount Sinai.” God gave all these specific prescriptions on Mount Sinai to Moses which he faithfully recorded. Hear Andrew Bonar’s (1842) words:

‘There is no book, in the whole compass of that inspired Volume which the Holy Ghost has given us, that contains more of the very words of God than Leviticus. It is God that is the direct speaker in almost every page; His gracious words are recorded in the form wherein they were uttered. This consideration cannot fail to send us to the study of it with singular interest and attention.’

Since all this was given by God, let us conclude by remembering this. Our God graciously (I underscore this) prescribed these statutes so that His people can have ongoing fellowship with Him. In God’s infinite holiness, he could have simply rejected them entirely since they were sinful but in His mercy He accommodated himself to these rules anticipating the perfect sacrifice His Son would offer, even our Lord Jesus Christ. Through that one sacrifice to which the entire book points to, we have access and fellowship with God!

[1] Though I will be using various commentaries and Study Bibles for this exposition, I will lean heavily on John Currid’s fantastic commentary on Leviticus in the EP Study Commentary series.


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