The book of Leviticus can be very easily misunderstood if it is read, or not read, for the wrong reasons. Many of us, and I fall into this, upon finishing Genesis and struggling to get through the second half of Exodus, tend to skip Leviticus because at first glance it is just about a set of laws that God gave to the children of Israel if they were to approach Him. However, when we take a closer look at this book, it is not about us, but it is all about the Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord unfolded to the disciples on the road to Emmaus the things concerning Himself in the books of Moses, and so on (Luke 24:27).
It is the intent here to give a brief overview, or outline, of the book of Leviticus as a help or guide for personal study.
Leviticus comes from the name Levi, meaning attached. It is the book of fellowship (communion) and drawing near to God, where the principles of approaching God are shown here.
Leviticus can be divided into six sections, and they are clear cut divisions:
- Chapters 1-7 The Offerings and the law of the offerings
- Chapters 8-15 The priesthood – consecration and holiness, dedication of the priests, and hindrances to fellowship are dealt with
- Chapter 16 The day of atonement is the centre of this book. See Hebrews 9-10
- Chapters 17-22 Practical cleanness and holiness
- Chapter 23 The feasts of Jehovah
- Chapters 24-27 Closing types, and holiness of the people of God
In chapters 1-17 we see the acceptable approach to God. The thought of sacrifice and standing is brought out here.
In chapters 18-27 we see the acceptable walk with God. The thought of sanctification, relationships and responsibilities is brought out here. See 1 Peter 2:5; Phil 4:18; Rom 12:1 bring before us sacrifices acceptable to God.
Hebrews corresponds with Leviticus: the book of priesthood and sacrifices and drawing near to God with boldness on the basis of Christ’s sacrifice.
Quick overview of the offerings:
Hebrews 10:5-6 mentions sacrifice (peace offering) and offering (meal offering), and verse 6 mentions specifically burnt-offerings and sin offerings.
Burnt offering – Christ offering Himself to God, for us. Psalm 40 and the gospel of John present the thought of the burnt offering. See also Ephesians 5:2.
Meal offering – Christ as the perfect Man. Psalm 16 presents this thought.
Peace offering – fellowship and communion with God based on the work of Christ. Psalm 85 and gospel of Luke present this thought.
Sin offering – Christ made sin for us on the cross. Psalm 22 (judgment at the hand of God) and Mark’s gospel (also Matthew) present this thought. In this offering, forgiveness is the thought.
Trespass offering – Psalm 69 (sufferings at the hand of men) present this thought. In this offering, the thought of restoration is brought out. A trespass is against men and God, and in order for a trespasser to be forgiven, he/she must restore back what was taken.
Leviticus 11 – clean and unclean animals – the separation chapter.
Major features: chewing the cud – digesting the food, speaking of meditating on the Word.
Divided hoofs – separation from the world morally.
Water animals – fins and scales suggest offensive and defensive weapons, being armed for conflict with principalities. Eph 6; 2 Tim 2:3-4.
The unclean birds speak of Satan in Matt 13.
Earth creatures: flying and creeping things suggest those who profess what his heavenly bit living contrary Phil 3:18-19.
Feasts of Jehovah Chapter 23 overview:
- Passover – Christ our passover. 1 Cor 5:7. Some details: 6 months suggest time from Adam to Christ. 10 days suggest Christ and His ministry. 4 days suggest from His ministry to His death and resurrection.
- Unleavened bread – 1 Cor 5:8.
- Firstfruits – 1 Cor 15:20 Christ’s resurrection. The sheaf – springing up of life from death. The weaving suggests Christ’s ascension.
- Pentecost – Acts 2. Two wave loaves speak of Jew & Gentile brought in together: Eph 2:15. Baked with leaven – accepted by God in spite of our sins. The firstfruits – the Church (believers) James 1:18. The wave loaves – we being raised up: Eph 2:6.
- Trumpets – Matt 24:31 future restoration of Israel. For believers, gathering up to meet Christ: 1 Thess 4:13-18.
- Day of atonement – Zech 12:10; 13:1 the time of national repentance. The believing remnant mourns. No work is to be done, as salvation is not by deeds: Titus 3:5; Heb 9:6-12.
- Tabernacles – Millennial reign of Christ enjoyed by Israel.