The Book of Leviticus, Chapters 1-9
It’s important that as CHRISTIANS we read the entire BIBLE, from cover to cover.
The Bible says in 2 Timothy 3:16-17:
16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
17 That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.
And so it’s important that we read the whole Bible, because every book of the Bible has something in it that we can learn from. It’s God Word from Genesis to Revelation.
And so Christians get really excited when they determine to read the Bible from cover to cover …
And they read Genesis (what an exciting book!) & Exodus & they get to LEVITICUS … and it’s like, ugggghhhhh ….
And people get bogged down …
But Leviticus becomes much easier to grasp once you understand the various sub-divisions & general structure and layout of the book as a whole.
And so what I want to do is give you a brief overview or survey of the whole Book of Leviticus …
& give you some of the keys & the tools … that will help … OPEN THIS BOOK UP to you & make it more enjoyable & accessible to your mind.
There is so much in this book from the blood sacrifices which foreshadow Christ … to the Food & Dietary laws … to instructions for the Priests … to the Moral Laws ….
There’s just so much to cover in this book that this is going to be Part I of a short sermon series, covering the ENTIRE BOOK OF LEVITICUS.
In this first sermon, we’re going to cover chapters 1-9, which deal w/ the various sacrifices and offerings, all of which foreshadowed Christ.
So this is meant to be a survey of Leviticus, and so not every single detail is going to be covered, but I’m gonna touch on some of the more important aspects & highlights of the book, to jumpstart you to pick this book up & study it for yourself!
The Book of Leviticus is segmented into various sections (now there’s going to be a little blending & crossovers from various sections), but generally speaking:
1. 1-7: Covers the various sacrifices & offerings: the burnt offerings, the meat offerings, the peace offerings, the sin offering, & the trespass offering.
2. 8-10: Covers the consecration of the Priests and start of the tabernacle worship.
3. 11-15: Deals w/ Food, Dietary, Health, & Cleanliness Laws
4. 16” is about the All-Important, Once-Per-Year BLOOD Atonement for the whole nation of Israel.
5. 17: is a little more difficult to strictly classify, but it concerns more laws concerning animal sacrifices, as well the forbidding of drinking of blood, where the Bible says, “For the life of the flesh is in the blood”
6. 18-20: deals with the MORAL LAWS.
7. 21-22: Instructions & ordinances for the priests
8. 23-25: Sabbaths, festivals, holy days, & the jubilee
9. 26-27: Warnings Against apostasy, Blessings & Cursings, Vows and Redemption Laws
So before we start, let’s locate where we are in the Bible at this point in God’s narrative.
Leviticus begins after the EXODUS from Egypt and before the wandering of the children of Israel in the wilderness.
Turn back just 1 page from Leviticus to the last chapter of Exodus, chapter 40, starting at v. 17.
So at this point in the Bible, God has led the children of Israel through the desert to mount Sinai & rescued them from bondage in Egypt and Pharaoh …
Remember the famous line that reverberates throughout all of history: “LET MY PEOPLE GO …”
… And now God has given Moses instructions on building the tabernacle – where the blood sacrifices & offerings would occur.
& now God begins in the Book of Leviticus to give Moses instruction on the blood sacrifices & offerings, which would take place inside THE TABERNACLE.
So turn to CHAPTER 1 of LEVITICUS: THE VOLUNTARY OFFERING WHICH WAS A BURNT SACRIFICE
And we’re going to get into a little bit what each sacrifice entailed.
The VOLUNTARY SACRIFICE was an offering of a bullock (which is a young bull) offered by a worshipper’s “own voluntary will”.
Now, the sacrifice could have also been of the herd of the sheep or goats or in some offerings turtledoves or pigeons. But for the sake of time, we’re going to deal w/ the main offerings.
Let’s read it, starting at v. 1-3.
The BURNT OFFERING was to be wholly consumed by fire on the altar, so that none of the bullock would remain.
Notice in v. 2 that it says, “IF” any man of you bring your offering … this is indicative that the burnt offering was a VOLUNTARY, FREE WILL offering.
We see this expanded on in v.3: “he shall offer it of his own voluntary will” …
Notice the words, “WILL” & “VOLUNTARY”.
This immediately defeats – from the very beginning of the 1st blood offering ever mentioned in the Law – the Calvinistic idea that people have no free will!
Calvinism says that we have no free will …
But the Bible says, “WHOSOEVER BELIEVETH in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” In John 3:16.
There’s a call to action in that verse: WHOSOEVER BELIEVETH. We have to make the CHOICE to believe.
And that’s not a work! You don’t have to sweat or labor to believe. It doesn’t cost you anything to believe.
And so we see FREE WILL reflected in the very first blood sacrifice:
The idea of a VOLUNTARY, FREE WILL offering.
We see that in v. 3 of Leviticus 1 that the Bible says that the offering shall be “a male without blemish”.
Jesus was a male without blemish, without sin.
The sacrifices & offerings ALL pointed to Jesus Christ.
1 Peter 1:19 says we were redeemed “with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:”
1 Corinthians 5:21: “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”
Keep reading. Leviticus 1, verse 4.
We see here that the one offering the sacrifice puts his hands upon the head of the bullock.
THIS REPRESENTS the TRANSFER OF SIN from the SINNER to the bullock.
… IT’S SYMBOLIC of transferring of sin onto the sacrificial animal, where the animal becomes our substitutionary sacrifice.
All of this was a picture of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice as “the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world”, as our sin is transferred onto Jesus.
We see in v. 9 that the whole offering was to be burnt, none of it was to be left: “and the priest shall burn all on the altar, to be a burnt sacrifice, an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the LORD.”
The first time we ever see a burnt offering was in Genesis 8:20 after NOAH exits the ark.
Noah dedicates the post-diluvian world – which is a fancy word for after the flood, from the root word, “deluge”, when the world was deluged by water.
Genesis 8:20-21: “And Noah builded an altar unto the LORD; and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar. And the LORD smelled a sweet savour; and the LORD said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man’s sake …”
God now formalizes the BURNT SACRIFICE & VOLUNTARY OFFERING by laying out clear instructions in the Book of Leviticus for His people.
• ALL the burnt offerings were representative of Jesus taking our punishment upon Himself & dying not only a physical death (the 1st death) but a spiritual death in Hell, what the Bible calls the 2nd death in Rev. 21:8.
Jesus took both death AND Hell upon Himself, taking the punishment that WE deserved & suffering in our stead, as our substitutionary sacrifice for sins.
Romans 3:25 says: “Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;”
1 John 4:10: “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Sonto be the propitiation for our sins.”
Notice also the phrase, “a sweet smelling savour unto the LORD” in v. 9 & throughout all the sacrifices.
We see this phrase “sweet smelling savour” repeated in all the offerings, from the BURNT offering, MEAT offering, PEACE offering, TRESSPASS offering, ALL OF THEM, as the offerings are burned with fire.
We see a parallel to this in the NEW TESTAMENT, in Ephesians 5:2, which says: “And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.”
Jesus was our BURNT SACRIFICE.
MOVING ON TO CHAPTER 2: MEAT OFFERING
Now ch. 2 can appear somewhat confusing at first, because it’s it details THE MEAT OFFERING, but actually no animal is sacrificed in this type of offering.
In today’s vernacular, when we hear the word “MEAT”, we’re thinking STEAK …. But the BIBLE has a different definition for “meat”.
Meat can simply mean “food” in the Bible or a meal.
We see this 1st defined in Genesis 1:29: “And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.”
So we see that “meat” can refer to herbs, seeds, grains, fruit, etc.
& that’s why sometimes the MEAT OFFERING of LEVITICUS 2 has also been called a “grain offering”, because it’s not an animal being offered here, but fine flour, oil, and frankincense.
It also accompanies the burnt sacrifice and the peace offering of the next chapter.
Others have called this offering a LIVING SACRIFICE.
LET’S READ LEV. 2:1-2
All kinds of symbolism can be seen in the fine flour, oil, and frankincense: from the flour representing the BREAD OF LIFE (one of the names of Jesus) …
… to the oil being the ANOINTING OF GOD …
Then there’s FRANKINCENSE.
This was one of the three gifts the wise men brought to the child Jesus.
So we even see a correlation between the frankincense that the wise men brought & the frankincense poured on the meat offerings as an acceptable sacrifice to the LORD.
So we see Jesus’ death foreshadowed in at least 1 of the gifts of the wise men …
CHAPTER 3: PEACE OFFERING
Let’s READ, starting @ LEVITICUS 3, V. 1.
The peace offering is the only offering that is shared, communal meal, between the worshipper, the LORD, and His priests.
The PEACE OFFERING also represents the peace that we have with God when we partake in the broken body and shed blood of Jesus Christ.
It’s representative of the LORD’S SUPPER and the COMMUNION, as it was a shared meal.
John 6:53: “Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.”
We have peace with God through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
Colossians 1:20: “And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.”
So we see that in all of these sacrifices, there is a picture of Christ or a foreshadowing of Christ, because all of these sacrifices were only TEMPORARY until Jesus Christ would fulfill them ALL IN HIMSELF …
Hebrews 10:4 says: “For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.”
When the Israelites worshipped God & sacrificed to Him for the forgiveness of sins, they weren’t putting their faith in the blood of lambs and bulls, WHICH HAD NO POWER TO SAVE …
But were BY FAITH anticipating the FINAL SACRIFICE OF CHRIST TO COME.
And so OT Saints were saved in the same way as us, through faith alone in the shed blood of the Messiah, which all of these sacrifices represented.
God’s Word, His Law, His prophets, and His priestly ordinances ALL anticipated Jesus Christ.
CHAPTER FOUR: SIN OFFERINGS FOR SINS COMMITTED IN IGNORANCE
READ LEV. 4:1-4.
So we see the exact type of sacrifice as the burnt offering or sin offering, except that now an offering is being made for SINS COMMITTED IN IGNORANCE.
Why is this important? This tells us that BLOOD ATONMENT is necessary for sins committed in BOTH IGNORANCE & FOR WILLFUL SINS.
There are preachers out there today who preach that you MUST REPENT OF YOUR SINS in order to be saved (that is to turn from your sins, to stop sinning, to be saved!)
BUT THAT’S A FALSE GOSPEL!
Why? Because if we also have to receive CLEANSING & ATONMENT from SINS THAT WE DON’T EVEN KNOW ABOUT …
HOW ARE YOU POSSIBLY GOING TO REPENT OF OR TURN FROM THOSE SINS?
… that is if “repent” means turning from sins!
So the CRITERION FOR SALVATION must be something different: It’s SIMPLY putting your faith in the atoning sacrifice of JESUS CHRIST, the BLOOD OF THE LAMB.
REPENTING is TURNING FROM UNBELIEF & DEAD-WORKS to faith in Jesus.
And because GOD IS HOLY, even sins that are committed in ignorance must be paid for.
& this is done by putting our faith in Jesus Christ alone.
LEVITICUS 5:17 says: “And if a soul sin, and commit any of these things which are forbidden to be done by the commandments of the LORD; though he wist it not, yet is he guilty, and shall bear his iniquity.”
If you have to repent of your sins to be saved, then Jesus died in vain. That’s what all the sacrifices are about.
CHAPTER 5 – 6: TRESPASS OFFERING
Trespass offerings deal with specific sins, like swearing falsely or breaking a vow, or stealing …
Leviticus 5:6 says: “And he shall bring his trespass offering unto the LORD for his sin which he hath sinned …”
But it comes with a provision of reparation for the person that’s been wronged.
As 1 example of these types of sins, turn to LEVITICUS 6, v. 1-5.
LEVITICUS 7 gives more details of the sacrifices & also talks about the lawful provision for the priests.
If you remember from the Book of Joshua, when God was apportioning the Land of Canaan to the children of Israel, the Levites were not given any inheritance in the Promised Land.
God Himself would be their inheritance & their provision would come through serving the LORD.
And so God would take care of them by allowing them to keep & eat a portion of the offerings.
This was called THE WAVE OFFERING, which would literally be waved in the air unto God, & then Aaron and his sons, the priests, would keep a portion of the offering for themselves.
We see this in Leviticus 7:31-34.
And so the priests would live off & eat from this God-ordained provision.
We see this provision abused in the FIRST BOOK OF SAMUEL, in future generations, by the SONS OF ELI, the “sons of belial”, who were the PRIESTS of the LORD at this time.
CHAPTER 8: Lists the holy garments of the priests when ministering in the tabernacle.
The Ephod, the Breastplate, the MITRE, & the URIM and THUMMIM, among other holy garments.
CHAPTER 8:1-3, 6-9
WHAT IS ALL THIS FOR? The details of the garments goes back to EXODUS 28.
The Bible says in Ex. 28:2-4:
2 And thou shalt make holy garments for Aaron thy brother for glory and for beauty.
3 And thou shalt speak unto all [that are] wise hearted, whom I have filled with the spirit of wisdom, that they may make Aaron’s garments to consecrate him, that he may minister unto me in the priest’s office.
4 And these [are] the garments which they shall make; a breastplate, and an ephod, and a robe, and a broidered coat, a mitre, and a girdle: and they shall make holy garments for Aaron thy brother, and his sons, that he may minister unto me in the priest’s office.
The Bible says that the HOLY GARMENTS are “for glory and for beauty” in v. 2.
In v. 3 it says that the garments are for the purpose of “consecrating” Aaron, the High Priest, so he may “minister unto” God in the priest’s office.
CONSECRATION is to set apart, to dedicate as “sacred” and “holy” to the LORD.
And among the items that are listed are the BREASTPLATE OF JUDGMENT.
An “EPHOD” which is the main garment of the HIGH PRIEST.
The BREASTPLATE, THE UMMIM & THUMMIM, the girdle (which is a sash or a belt) all went over the EPHOD.
Other holy garments included a ROBE which was worn underneath the EPHOD.
A broidered coat (which was a fine linen tunic which was worn underneath the robe).
A MITRE (which is a head covering, like a crown or turban made of gold, fine linen, and blue lace).
The MITRE was inscribed with the words, “HOLINESS TO THE LORD” in Exodus 28:36.
Exodus 28:38: “And it shall be upon Aaron’s forehead, that Aaron may bear the iniquity of the holy things, which the children of Israel shall hallow in all their holy gifts; and it shall be always upon his forehead, that they may be accepted before the LORD.”
The MITRE bore the guilt of the “holy things” and “holy gifts” that the children of Israel offered.
This elevated the HIGH PRIEST to a position of mediator between God and man.
ON THE EPHOD were two onyx stones on each side where the names of the children of Israel were inscribed:
Exodus 28:12: “And thou shalt put the two stones upon the shoulders of the ephod for stones of memorial unto the children of Israel: and Aaron shall bear their names before the LORD upon his two shoulders for a memorial.”
This represented bearing the children of Israel upon His shoulders.
Also on THE EPHOD, worn over the chest of the HIGH PRIEST, was also the BREASTPLATE OF JUDGMENT:
15 And thou shalt make the breastplate of judgment with cunning work; after the work of the ephod thou shalt make it; [of] gold, [of] blue, and [of] purple, and [of] scarlet, and [of] fine twined linen, shalt thou make it.
And upon the BREASTPLATE there were 12 stones each representing the 12 tribes of Israel:
17 And thou shalt set in it settings of stones, [even] four rows of stones: [the first] row [shall be] a sardius, a topaz, and a carbuncle: [this shall be] the first row.
18 And the second row [shall be] an emerald, a sapphire, and a diamond …
And the Bible goes on to list all the stones, one for each tribe.
And on these stones were written the names of the 12 Tribes of Israel.
Exodus 28:21: “And the stones shall be with the names of the children of Israel, twelve, according to their names”.
And you can get into all the symbolism of the various stones, for example, Zebulun was the Beryl, Issachar was the Topaz, Judah was the Ruby, Gad was the Diamond, and so on …
And as the HIGH PRIEST mediated between GOD & MAN, wearing the EPHOD, and the BREASTPLATE, and THE MITRE upon his head …
… HE BORE the weight & burdens & sins of the people on his shoulders & over his heart, that he might BE the MEDIATOR between God and man.
URIM & THUMMIM
Exodus 28:30: “And thou shalt put in the breastplate of judgment the Urim and the Thummim; and they shall be upon Aaron’s heart, when he goeth in before the LORD: and Aaron shall bear the judgment of the children of Israel upon his heart before the LORD continually.”
Not a lot of Scriptural information is available on what exactly the Urim & Thummim were – or even what they looked like.
But we see that when divine revelation were required, the Israelites would inquire through the High Priest & determine God’s will for a specific crises or situation, through the medium of the Urim & Thummim … which the HIGH PRIEST wore inside the breastplate on the ephod.
For example, in Numbers 27 God tells Moses to take Joshua and set him before the High Priest:
21 And he shall stand before Eleazar the priest, who shall ask [counsel] for him after the judgment of Urim before the LORD: at his word shall they go out, and at his word they shall come in, [both] he, and all the children of Israel with him, even all the congregation.
So SPECIAL REVELATION was given to the HIGH PRIEST through the URIM & THUMMIM for the people.
We also see in 1 Samuel 28:5-6 – after GOD HAD FORSAKEN KING SAUL, Saul sought divine revelation before battle, but God would not answer him.
5 And when Saul saw the host of the Philistines, he was afraid, and his heart greatly trembled.
6 And when Saul enquired of the LORD, the LORD answered him not, neither by dreams, nor by Urim, nor by prophets.
So turn back to LEVITICUS 8 & we’ll wrap this all up.
Moses anoints the tabernacle & “all that was therein” in v. 8 and in v. 12 he pours the “anointing oil upon Aaron’s head to “sanctify” him …
A ram is then sacrificed to atone for Aaron, the High Priest and his sons.
Finally, they are commanded in v. 33 to stay within the tabernacle for 7 days until the time of their consecration is complete.
So they have put on all the holy garments, been anointed & sanctified, and cleansed & now they must stay inside the tabernacle until their consecration is complete.
33 And ye shall not go out of the door of the tabernacle of the congregation in seven days, until the days of your consecration be at an end: for seven days shall he consecrate you.
34 As he hath done this day, so the LORD hath commanded to do, to make an atonement for you.
35 Therefore shall ye abide at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation day and night seven days, and keep the charge of the LORD, that ye die not: for so I am commanded.
ALL OF THIS IS LEADING UP TO LEVITICUS 9 … SOMETHING IS ABOUT TO HAPPEN … THE GLORY OF GOD is about to appear.
Turn to LEVITICUS 9, & we’ll close with a some key verses from Chapter 9.
V. 1-9, v. 23-24
IF I HAD TO DESCRIBE the book of Leviticus in 3 words, I would say it is about “SIN”, “SACRIFICE”, & “SALVATION”.
Even the MORAL LAWS were given to us in order to reveal WHAT SIN IS.
Paul said in Romans 7:7: “Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law”.
And we know that sin leads to death.
At the end of the same chapter, Paul says: “… who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
In a nutshell, that encapsulates the meaning of the Book of Leviticus.
So this wraps up the 1st part of this sermon series.
In upcoming parts of this short series, there are a lot of exciting passages to look at …
… From the Sons of Aaron offering strange fire before the LORD & God killing them as a result, to food restrictions & dietary laws, to the ONCE-PER-YEAR Blood Atonement foreshadowing Christ, to the Moral Laws.
I hope you’ll stick with me through the entire series, as we survey the whole Book of Leviticus!