Leviticus picks up where Exodus ends. The title Leviticus means “matter of the Levites” The tribe of Levi, also known as Levites, were the priestly tribe of Israel. Leviticus is God’s instructions to the Priests on how to assist Israel in worship and living a holy life.
There are ceremonial and civil laws in Leviticus that are not meant for us to practice today. However the key points of each chapter are for us to take away the seriousness of our sin, the need for blood to cover our sin and the need for atonement!
All of the sacrificial elements point to the death of Jesus on the cross. He was the final sacrifice. When Jesus died he declared “It is Finished!”
As we go through each Law, focus on the character of God through each Law. Leviticus is a shadow of Christ and his redemptive work on the cross. Focus on specifically what God wants you to learn about him and yourself! The first 7 Chapters give us a symbolic insight on what God was teaching the Israelites as they brought their offerings forth!
In Exodus, God gave Israel truths that they needed to know. The 10 commandments are a revelation of the kind of people that God expects us to be, or, the kind he designed. He actually designed humans to do the things which are recorded in the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:3-17). Some of the commandments pertain to our relationship with him: “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.” Others deal with our relationships with our neighbors: “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” “Thou shalt not steal.” “Thou shalt not bear false witness…”
After the tabernacle was built, God gave a whole series of sacrifices as a picture of the New Covenant, the new arrangement for living, in which a death would occur, and a priest would be present to help us with our emotional and intellectual problems, and he would make it possible for us to live with a wholesome God even though we had been violators and breakers of the Law which he had set before us. That is what these sacrifices are all about. Truths that we as Christians need to know!
We are going to hit some important parts of each chapter. I urge you to read each one and ask God to reveal his truth to you! Leviticus 1 gives us insight on the Need To Belong!
First the book of Leviticus opens with these words:
The LORD called Moses, and spoke to him from the tent of meeting,[the tabernacle] saying, “Speak to the people of Israel, and say to them, When any man of you brings an offering to the LORD, you shall bring your offering of cattle from the herd or from the flock.” (Leviticus 1:1-2 RSV)
Here is the introduction to the offerings.
Notice that this whole system of sacrifices was never given from Sinai. It was given from the tabernacle, the place where God had come to live with man. This is significant for us. God never placed the demand of the Law upon us without also intending to meet it from within, God dwelling in us. Therefore God has provision for us when we break the Law— guilt, condemnation, self-hatred and all the other afflictions which come to us from within, and which keep us from being the kind of whole persons that God made us to be.
When you look at the offerings, the first offering is the burnt offering. It followed a five-step pattern, like all the rest of the offerings.
First a selection of the sacrifice had to be made. If an animal sacrifice were required then either a male or a female had to be chosen. In the case of the burnt offering, it was always a male. It had to be without blemish, without any kind of disfigurement at all. Animals were the most valuable possession of these nomadic Hebrew people. It was a costly sacrifice taken from their treasure, their animals.
Then, after selecting it they laid their hands on it. What does that mean? Well, that is God’s way of teaching the great truth of substitution, the fact that we human beings are all tied together with each other, that we belong to one another and share life together, therefore there is a way we can substitute for another.We are linked together by the laying on of hands. When we send someone out, pray for someone etc, we often bring them up and lay hands on them. In this sense, we are saying, we are with you! We are going to be praying for you and helping you to meet your need.
In dealing with our deepest guilt that substitute had to be a spotless, sinless person. And the only human being who ever fulfilled that qualification was Jesus Christ. That is why he is the only one who can redeem us.
The third step was to kill the animal involved immediately. I believe he wants to impress upon us the fact that the problem he is dealing with is so intense and so deeply rooted in our human lives that nothing but death can solve it! Immediate death to sin!
The fourth step was the sprinkling of the blood, or the burning of the portions of the sacrifice, as an act of consecration, of commitment to God. You see, the instant one of these animals died, it became acceptable to God. Death solved the problem of separation, of alienation, and then the sacrifice could be offered to God. Crucifying that sin is the only way!
The final step was a ceremonial indication of a restored relationship. Usually they sat down and ate part of the meat of the sacrifice. God gave them a means of indicating the relationship was restored and that there was peace again.
Here is another point to take away! The burnt offering was available for everyone!
They had three choices as to the kind of animal, Verse 3:. Three choices for sacrifices. Even the poorest of people could offer something as a burnt offering
If you were rich enough you brought a bull. But if you could not afford a bull or if you did not have a herd of cattle but only a flock of sheep or goats then another provision was made; Verse 10:
Finally, if you were very poor and had no animals at all you could bring a bird; Verse 14:
Lets look at some important aspects of the offering..
It was a male without blemish.In the scriptures, the male also stood for leadership, initiative, dominion. Females, in Scripture, always signify support, following, response. There were certain offerings for which a female was specified. They were always told specifically what to do, which taught them the truth of what they needed to learn. So for the burnt offering they had to bring a male without blemish or disfigurement. That was a recognition of the fact that in this most basic of all offerings God was dealing with man as a king, as a sovereign.
You see man was made to rule. He was never made to be in bondage to anyone. He was never made to be a slave. That is why we are restless when we are enslaved or held in bondage
What is man that thou art mindful of him,
and the son of man that thou dost care for him? (Psalms 8:4 RSV)
And he answers his own question,
Thou hast given him dominion over the work of thy hands;
thou hast put all things under his feet, (Psalms 8:6 RSV)
All the fish and other inhabitants of the seas, all the animals and birds, everything is put under the authority of man, as God created him. We are made to rule
The second distinctive of the burnt offering, was that it was to be totally consumed. Nobody ever ate the meat of the burnt offering. Look at Verses 6-9:
“And he shall flay the burnt offering and cut it into pieces; and the sons of Aaron the priest shall put fire on the altar, and lay wood in order upon the fire; and Aaron’s sons the priests shall lay the pieces, the head, and the fat, in order upon the wood that is on the fire upon the altar; but its entrails[intestines] and its legs he shall wash with water. And the priest shall burn the whole on the altar, as a burnt offering, an offering by fire, a pleasing odor to the LORD.” (Leviticus 1:6-9 RSV)
There were three sacrifices that were said to be pleasing odors to God The first of these is this burnt offering. God says that there is something about man which, when he recognizes his right to rule and gives himself wholly to it, is pleasing to God. God is thereby teaching us that man was meant to be his, wholly, totally. The whole man — body, soul, and spirit — is to be the dwelling place of God. Only this enables man to rule, and rule adequately. That is the sweet aroma that God loves, total commitment to Him!
This is recognition of the most basic hunger of man. It is a reflection of our need to belong, to be accepted, to be loved, to have an identity, a relationship, a cause to live or die for. Man is forever restless if he does not have this sense of belonging. And we will never find fulfillment in our humanity, in expressing ourselves, until we find it in committing ourselves totally to God.
A third characteristic of the burnt offering — and this is most important — is that it had to involve a death. Death in these offerings is always a picture of the death of the Lord Jesus Christ on our behalf. So when these Israelites offered this sacrifice they were learning the great truth that only by means of the death of an acceptable substitute can man ever satisfy this great longing to belong to and to be possessed by God.
The fourth and final distinction of the burnt offering is given in Chapter 6, where there are some additional instructions to the priests about how to make these offerings. In Verses 12-13 they were told:
“The fire on the altar shall be kept burning on it, it shall not go out; the priests shall burn wood on it every morning, and he shall lay the burnt offering in order upon it, and shall burn on it the fat of the peace offerings. Fire shall be kept burning upon the altar continually; it shall not go out.” (Leviticus 6:12-13 RSV)
What is God saying by that? Simply that this is the most basic relationship of your life, that no other need can ever be met until this need is met. You can never find any other hunger of your life until you have found this one answered, until you have found that you belong to God, that you are his wholly and completely, body, soul, and spirit.
If you want to solve any other problem of life you have to begin there. “I belong to the Father, I am one of his family. I’m a child of God. I know him as my heavenly Father. I have been accepted by him. He loves me.”
Wow, Chapter 1 of Leviticus gave me insight on the need to belong and the burning desire that truly only God can meet!
Im thankful for the desire that burns within me! Are you totally commited to God, do you give off a sweet aroma?
Share your thoughts on Chapter 1! Love you…live free
Some info is used from Ray Steadman’s book on Leviticus Living Wholey