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Series Theme: FRAMEWORKS: Leviticus

(Return to Old Testament Contents)

 

INTRODUCING LEVITICUS

 

The name of the book comes, in Hebrew, from its opening words, “The Lord called,” or “he called” but was subsequently referred to as “the book of the priests” or, as the later Greek version of the Old Testament put it, “the book of the Levites.” (for the priest were all Levites). Someone has suggested that it was a book purely for the Israelite priesthood and as its operation ceased when the Temple was destroyed in AD70 and has never been rebuilt, it is no longer relevant. But if we ignore it we a) ignore part of the accepted canon Scripture and b) ignore many of the lessons about God and His people, which the book conveys.

 

Why Read Leviticus: When we came to the end of the book of Exodus, we had read about the establishing of the Tabernacle and the Priesthood. Purely to create an historical context, the reader might now want to know, what did the priests do at the Tabernacle? Moreover, why did they do these things, apart from the fact God said to do them? What reason was there to perform the various procedures, what effect did they have on the people and so, what was the meaning of these procedures?

The simple short answer to these questions is “to create a God-orientated environment,” a series of practices that would guide people in their worship and in the way they dealt with their corporate or individual guilt, as well as laying out many guidelines in resect of daily life and hygiene, for that particular people at that particular period of history.

 

In saying that we find ourselves facing two dramatic and highly remarkable differences from that which constitutes modern church ‘worship'. The first is an emphasis on a personal accountability and relationship with God whereby a believer was required to do something very specific in a very practical way to demonstrate their heart. The second is an even greater emphasis on the fact that God is holy and therefore sin and guilt are issues taught and faced by the individual and the community with ways laid down specifically how to deal with that sin and guilt. These ways were complex but would have both challenged and expressed the emotions in possibly a much fuller ways than many believers today experience. Yet Leviticus goes much further than worship, it includes health and hygiene and how to live as a holy people.

 

But no, this is not to suggest that we need to return to these practices because, as the writer to the Hebrews in the New Testament points out, all the Offerings are covered by the death of Jesus. Moreover many of the ‘laws' fitted this particular nation at this particular time – as they were getting ready to ender the Promised Land and live lives very distinct from the pagan occupants they would encounter.

 

In a day when most agree that Leviticus is probably one of the least read books of the Bible, for the reader of the Bible, that challenge to get to grips with this book – it's structure, its procedures and its meaning – should be sufficient to get us into it. This will not be for everyone but the overall goal of these ‘Frameworks' – to provide assisted bible reading – is as much true in this book as any other and our hope is that it will go to more than just intellectual understanding but will, like any other part of Scripture that is read with God's help and an open heart, touch us and change us.

 

The story is told that one unbeliever decided to read the Bible through and by the time they reached the end of Leviticus they committed their life to Christ, having been convicted about their state before the holy God seen in this book. We present these breakdowns and notes, with varying styles and breakdown-approaches that we hope match the nature of the contents, with such an anticipation in the back of our mind.

 

Should you wish to go to any particular chapter without going back to the Main Frameworks Contents Page, just click on the chapter number below.

 

CONTENTS

   

Part 1: Offerings

Ch.1: The Burnt Offering
Ch.2: The Grain Offering
Ch.3: The Fellowship Offering
Ch.4: The Sin Offering
Ch.5: Offences & Sin Offering
Ch.6: Details & Practicalities
Ch.7: Guilt & Fellowship Offering Regulations

Part 2: Establishing the Priesthood

Ch.8: The Ordination of Aaron and His Sons
Ch.9: The Priests Begin Their Ministry
Ch.10: Two Priests Get It Wrong

Part 3: Clean & Unclean & Hygiene Issues

Ch.11: Clean and Unclean Food
Ch.12: Purification After Childbirth
Ch.13: Regulations About Defiling Skin Diseases
Ch.14: Cleansings
Ch.15: Discharges Causing Uncleanness

Part 4: Day of Atonement

Ch.16: The Day of Atonement

Part 5: Ritual Laws for Honouring God AND daily living

Ch.17: Eating Blood Forbidden
Ch.18: Avoiding Wrong Sexual Relations
Ch.19: Various Laws for Israel
Ch.20: Punishments for Sin
Ch.21: Maintaining Holiness in the Priesthood
Ch.22: Guidance for Priestly Sacrifices
Ch.23: The Appointed Festivals
Ch.24: On Blasphemy
Ch.25: Sabbath and Jubilee

Part 6: Blessings & Punishments

Ch.26: Blessings & Warnings against Disobedience

Part 7: Vows, Redemption & Offerings

Ch.27: Redeeming What Is the Lord's