Grace Institute: The Torah :Leviticus Introduction

Grace Institute for Biblical Leadership

Leviticus

Survey of the Old Testament: The Torah

Fall 2004

Download as a PDF file : [Next Page: Chapters 1-27]

Introduction

Background

Title: Leviticus means, “pertaining to the Levites.” The priests of Israel were from the tribe of Levi, and this book deals extensively with the laws and regulations of these priests.

Author: Moses.

Date Written: 1450-1410 BC.

Structure

Holy Sacrifices to a Holy God
(1-16)
Holy Living Before a Holy God
(17-25)
Appendix(26-27)
(1-7)
(8-10)
(11-15)
(16)
(17-22)
(23-25)
(26)
(27)
Law of Sacrificial Offerings
Consecration of Aaronic Priesthood
Laws for Purification
Day of Atonement
Personal Laws
National Laws
Blessings & Curses
Laws for Vows
Offerings of the People
(1-6)
Priestly Laws
(6-7)
Worship of God Alone
(17)
Non-Conformity to the Nations
(18-20)
Priestly Holiness
(21-22)

The book of Leviticus is divided between a laws regarding making sacrifices to God (1-16) and laws regarding personal conduct (17-25). The book concludes with a statement of blessings and curses for keeping the covenant (26) and then the list of regulations for the keeping of vows. The subdivisions in the book are distinguished by the phrase, “Speak to the sons of Israel and say. [1]

Importance of Leviticus

Leviticus is probably one of the most ignored books in the bible and has derailed many a “read-through the bible” program. The regulations and sacrificial system seems to have very little application to a Christian today. While Christians will leave Leviticus as one of the last books of the bible to study, it is the first book studied by a Jewish child [2]. However, the book of Leviticus has profound meaning for Christians today as well.

Purpose

The books Exodus concludes in Exodus 40 with the glory of God filling the Tabernacle. The book of Leviticus begins by God calling to Moses from the Tabernacle. The book of Leviticus defines for this redeemed people how to maintain proper fellowship with their glorious God who now dwells among them.

The nation has also just left Egypt and its culture and religion, and is about to enter into Canaan, where other cultures and religions will be influencing the nation. Leviticus provides stipulations to the people to remain separate (holy) from these cultures and to remain faithful to Yahweh.

Theme

The theme of the book of Leviticus comes from 11:45:

“For I am the LORD who brought you up from the land of Egypt to be your God; thus you shall be holy, for I am holy.”

Holiness is to be separate or sacred; to be set apart for specific purpose. First, God desires Israel to be set apart from the other nations. They should believe, act, and look differently than Egypt and Canaan.

Secondly, God has called Israel to be set apart for a specific purpose. God has called Israel apart to be a kingdom of priests. A priest is an intermediary between God and others. Israel is to be a kingdom which has been set apart to be an intermediary between God and the rest of the world. It was through the nation Israel that God desired to reach the world through his people, and thus fulfill the Abrahamic covenant, which says, “in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

In this book, God establishes specific laws for His people that would set them apart as a kingdom of priests with whom God dwells.

If the entire nation is to be a holy priesthood, then the priests of this nation are called to an even greater level of holiness. So, Leviticus sets out even more stringent requirements for the Levite priests. In Chapters 6-10 and 21-22, God lays out laws of purity for the priests, such as avoiding all dead bodies, limitations on marriage, prohibition on “imperfect” priests, and stringent requirements for the family of priests. To emphasize the seriousness of these stipulations, when they failed this, often they were killed, as were Aaron's sons, Nadab and Abihu (10:1-3)

The theme of the book is the holiness of God and His expectations for holiness amongst His people.

Footnotes

  1. Gordon D. Fee and Douglas Stewart. How to Read the Bible Book by Book . (Grand Rapids MI: Zondervan, 2002), 43.
  2. F. Duane Lindsey. “Leviticus.” Bible Knowledge Commentary . (Victor Books, 1988), 163.
  3. Ibid.

Visit the Grace Community Fellowship Home Page.

(C) Copyright 2004 - Grace Community Fellowship