As indicted by its name “Leviticus” this third book of Moses stresses the function of Israel’s Priests, those members of the tribe of Levi whom God chose for service at His Sanctuary (Deut. 10:8). Many Christians accordingly think of Leviticus as a kind of technical manual for directing ancient Priest in the details of Ceremonies that are no longer observed by God’s people. As a result, Leviticus is today the least appreciated portion of the Pentateuch.
Actually, however, its message was originally directed to all believers (1:2) and its truths are still of primary significance for God’s people. For Leviticus constitutes the first detailed revelation of the living theme of the Great Book as a whole, namely, of the way by which God restores lost men to Himself. Both the redemptive activity of God and the response of appropriation due from man are summed up in the Key verse. ‘Ye shall be holy unto Me” for I the LORD am Holy, and have severed you from other people, that ye should be mine” (20:26).
In order to accomplish Salvation and to restore man to his Maker, a means of access to God must be provided. The first half of Leviticus (Chapters 1-16) thus presents a series of religious actions that picture the way by which God redeems the lost, separating them from their sin and its consequences. The various sacrifices (Chapter 1; 1-7) were anticipations of the death of Christ on Calvary, where the sinless One suffered the wrath of God in our place, that we might be ransomed from our guilt (II Cor. 5:21, Mk 10:45). The Leviticus Priests (Chapter 8-10} then foreshadowed Christ’s faithful services in making reconciliation for the sins of the people (Heb. 2:17).
The laws of cleanness (Chapters 11-15) were perpetual reminders of the repentance and separation from impurity that must characterize the redeemed (Luke 13:5) while the climatic day of atonement service (16) proclaimed God’s forgiveness to those who should humble themselves in faithful commitment to Christ, who would yet provide access to heaven itself (Heb. 9:24). But salvation is not only a separation from the wrong. It involves a positive union with what is right.
Thus, the second half of Leviticus (Chapters 17-27) presents a series of practical standards to which men are to be conformed in holy living.
These include expression of devotion in matters of ceremony (17)_ and Worship (Chapters 23-25) but they center in matters of daily conduct (Chapters 18:20; Christ Himself summed up the Divine law (Matthew 22:37-40) by speaking of a whole hearted love for God and by quoting from this section of Leviticus.
“Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself’ (19;18). In its form, Leviticus exists primarily as legislation spoken by God. “And the Lord called unto Moses…saying, speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them” (1; 1-2).The two historical narratives (Chapters 8-10 and 24:10-23) serve as a background for legislative matters and the only other variation in form.
Moses’ concluding sermon of exhortation (26) is yet followed by an appendix of laws regulating such matters as are not in themselves obligatory (27).
OUTLINE OF THE BOOK OF LEVITICUS
THE WAY OF ACCESS TO GOD: REDEMPTION-CHAPTERS 1:1-16:34
The propitiation of God’s Wrath-Sacrifice-Chapters 1;1-7:38
With wholehearted Devotion: Burnt Offerings-Chapter 1:1-17-6:8-13.
With Consecrated Lab our: meal Offerings-Chapters 1:1-16-6:14-23.
With Reconciled Communion: Peace Offerings-Chapter 3:1-17-7:11-34.
With Substitution Punishment: Sin Offerings Chapters 4:1-5, 13-6:24-30.
With Righteous Reparation: Trespass Offerings- Chapters 5:14-6:10.
The Intercession by God’s Minister: Priesthood-Chapters 7:1-10:20.
Preparing the Ministers: Aaronic Ordination-Chapter 8:1-36.
Inaugurating the Ministry:Tabernacle Dedication-Chapters 9:1-24.
Disciplining Against-Sacrilege: Nadab and Abihu-Chapters 10:1-20.
The Purification of God’s people; Cleanness-Chapters 1;1-15:33.
From Repulsiveness in Nature:Animals-Chapter 11:1-47.
From Congenital Depravity: Birth-Chapter 12:1-8.
From Bodily corruption: Leprosy-Chapter 13:1-14:57
From Sexual Pollution: Secretions-Chapter 15;1-33.
The Accomplishment of Reconciliation: Day of Atonement- Chapters 15:1-33.
THE WAY OF LIVING FOR GOD HOLINESS-CHAPTER 17:1-27:34
The ceremonial standard: Reverence for Blood-Chapter 17:1-16.
The Moral Standard: Ethical conduct-Chapters 18:1-22;33.
Purity in the family: Sexual Morals-Chapter 18:1-30.
Conduct Pleasing to the lord:General Ethics-Chapters 19:1-37
Punishment for Violations: Sanctions-Chapter 20:1-27
Ministry beyond Reproach: Priestly standard-Chapters 21:1-22:33.
The Devotional Standard :Regular Worship-Chapter 23;1-25:55.
Disciplined Time for God :Feasts-Chapter 23 :1-44
Order in the Sanctuary: Tabernacle Worship-Chapters 24:1-9
Reverence for God’s name: Blasphemy-Chapters 24:10-23
Extensions of the Sabbath: Sabbath years-Chapter 25;1-55
The Concluding Appeal; Exhortation-Chapters 26:1-46
Appendix on Voluntary Devotion Vows-Chapter 27:1-34.