Old Testament Facts – Why Read Leviticus?

The third book of the Pentateuch (the Books of Law) – Leviticus – is one of the least understood books of the Bible and, not surprisingly, one of the least read.  Many “read the whole Bible in a year” reading plans have come to a dead stop in the early chapters of this book.  And without question, it can be a difficult book to get through.  But there is much to learn from it that is very relevant to our understanding of the worship of the Lord and the ultimate coming of Jesus the Christ.


In the Septuagint, this book is called “leyitikon,” which means “things concerning Levites.”  There is much that applies to God’s people in general, both with moral and ethical values, as well as with ritual purity.  But the name is appropriate because the Levites were those that were charged with seeing that ritual adherence was maintained. 

It is important for those who read these Scriptures today to remember that although some aspects of these rituals seem strange and difficult at times to understand, it is still the word of God, and there is much we can learn from it.  This is especially true as we relate it to the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, which unlike these offerings, provides for true forgiveness.  A close study of the different offerings will give the reader a deeper understanding and appreciation of the cross.  It is important in that study to know that ritual “uncleanness” and purity have nothing to do with hygiene; and equally important to know the difference (as well as the connection) with moral purity.

So what can we possibly learn from Leviticus that is relevant to New Testament Christianity?

The answer, it turns out, is plenty:

  • The Lord is to dwell with them (Exodus 40:34), so it is the duty of His people to deal with their sins and drive themselves toward holiness.
  • The Lord expects worship to Him to be done according to His will, and He does “sweat the details” (Leviticus 22:17-30)
  • As per the Day of Atonement ritual (Leviticus 16), the cleansing of sins is impossible from the human side.
  • Spiritual leaders bear a heavy burden of responsibility (Leviticus 4, Lev 21).  Compare to elders in 1 Timothy 5:17-25, for example.
  • Sin is dealt with by the grace of the Lord (Leviticus 17:11).

   Key Concepts and Events

/Bob’s boy
image © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers



Exodus 40 – The Tabernacle Erected

The Tabernacle, Camp, & c.

Image via Wikipedia

Chapter 40 is extremely momentous in the story of God’s people and our salvation.  After the golden calf disaster, the covenant with the Lord has been renewed, the instructions for the construction of the Tabernacle were given; and in verses 16-19, it was erected as the Lord commanded a year after they came to Sinai (verse 17 – “the first month in the second year, on the first day of the month”).  The previous chapters were rich with the description of the tabernacle in every particle, showing us that God does indeed care about the details of his commands.  Here too, in verses 18-33 much detail is given; and the important preparations for Aaron and his sons to assume the role of priests for generations to come is given.  This is described further in Leviticus 8:1-13.

The Glory of the Lord in verses 34-38 is an important sign that the Lord is now dwelling among His people after He approves of the Tabernacle.  It is a presence that the people will cherish as their relationship with Him has been restored, and this momentous occasion will be repeated with much celebration after Solomon builds the Temple in 1 Kings 8:10-11.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.