Scriptures

Leviticus 1

Introduction

There’s no doubt that the Book Of Leviticus is probably one of the least read books in the entire Scriptures. Some feel it is irrelevant today, some feel it has no value for the Christian today and yet it’s full of deep truths, concerning sacrifice and worship. When we approach any book of the Bible, we must remember that it is inspired of God, 2 Timothy 3:16, and it is useful our learning, encouragement, and gives us hope, Romans 15:4.

The Author

The Book of Leviticus is part of what is called the Pentateuch meaning five, ‘penta’, means five, ‘teuchos’ means tool or implement. It’s commonly accepted that Moses is the author of the Pentateuch, that is Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.

Genesis begins with creation and it depicts the rise of God’s people, Exodus begins in bondage, it tells of the redemption from Egypt and Leviticus begins in sacrifice, it sets forth the ritual of worship.

Moses probably wrote Leviticus during the time Israel was wandering in the wilderness, this would not be long after they have been delivered from Egypt, Exodus 40:17 / Numbers 1:1, between 1,440 and 1,400 B.C.

As we go through this study you will notice that the phrase, ‘the LORD spoke to Moses,’ is found several times in the first twenty chapter, Leviticus 1:1-3:17 / Leviticus 4:1-5:19. You will also notice that God speaks to ‘Aaron and his sons,’ several times throughout the book, Leviticus 6:9 / Leviticus 6:25 / Leviticus 8:1-2. There are also times throughout the book where God speaks to Moses and Aaron, Leviticus 11:1 / Leviticus 13:1 / Leviticus 14:33 / Leviticus 15:1.

The Book

The book begins with laws and regulations concerning offerings, there are five types of offerings discussed, burnt offerings, meal offerings, peace offerings, sin offerings and guilt offerings, Leviticus 1-7. As the book continues, we read about God’s laws concerning sacrifices, Leviticus 8-10, God’s ceremonial laws concerning the priesthood, Leviticus 11-22, God’s ceremonial laws concerning purification, and His laws concerning sacred feasts and festivals, tithes, offerings, sabbatical and jubilee years and vows, Leviticus 23-27.

Theme

The Book of Leviticus is a book about the rituals of worship and holiness. In this, it is a continuation of the Law which is set forth in Exodus. Exodus ends with the construction of the Tabernacle, Exodus 40:1-33 and Leviticus tell us about the worship which takes place within that Tabernacle, Leviticus 1:1.

Exodus ends with the glory of the Lord moving into the Tabernacle, Exodus 40:34-38, Leviticus picks up with the presence of the Lord calling out to Moses from inside the Tabernacle. Leviticus teaches God’s people how they are to approach Him and live pleasing in His sight. It’s central command is to ‘be holy’, Leviticus 19:2.

Useful Outline

Laws concerning Sacrifice Leviticus 1-7
An historical section featuring the consecration of the priests Leviticus 8-9
The sin of Nadab and Abihu Leviticus 10
A section on laws of purification from ceremonial uncleanness Leviticus 11-15
The Day of Atonement Leviticus 16
Laws dealing with the conduct of God’s people Leviticus 17-20
Laws concerning the holiness of the priests Leviticus 21-22
A discussion of holy days and feasts Leviticus 23-24
The Sabbatical and Jubilee Years Leviticus 25
Promises and threats connected with obedience to the laws Leviticus 26
A supplement containing the laws concerning vows Leviticus 27

The last two chapters dealing with the penalties for disobedience and with the making of vows before the Lord, Leviticus 26-27, have been described as an appendix or a supplement, that is something that was added on at the end of the book because there was no better place for it to go. They describe what is to take place if the people do not pursue a course of holiness.

‘The LORD called to Moses and spoke to him from the tent of meeting. He said, ‘Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘When anyone among you brings an offering to the LORD, bring as your offering an animal from either the herd or the flock.’ Leviticus 1:1-2

Moses being the mediator of God, wants the people to know that these laws didn’t come from him, he didn’t want them to think they were his laws, he wants to make it clear that these laws came from God Himself. God spoke to Moses from the ‘tent of meeting’, this is the tabernacle, and it would be from the tabernacle that God would speak to His people for the next five hundred years.

We see here God’s intentions concerning any offering, the offering isn’t to be forced upon or even asked for by the priests, an offering is given because the offeror simply wants to give, 2 Corinthians 8:4.

The meaning of the word ‘offering’ means ‘to approach’ or ‘to come near’, making an offering gave them the right to approach the Lord. In other words, if anyone didn’t make an offering, they couldn’t approach the Lord, they couldn’t draw near to Him. Without any offering, without any sacrifice meant they couldn’t worship God, John 4:24 / Romans 12:1-2 / Hebrews 10:5-9.

The Laws Of Offerings

There are five specific types of offerings outlined in Leviticus 1-7.

In all cases, the offering was to be spotless and without blemish. Furthermore, it was always an animal which had been domesticated and raised by men. Wild animals were never used as offerings. The word for offering is ‘corban’, it comes from a root word meaning ‘to bring near’. In New Testament times, it came to describe that which was given or dedicated to the Lord, Mark 7:11-12.

The Five Sacrifices

All sacrifices are offered either as a means to secure fellowship or on the basis of an already existing fellowship. The sacrifices are said in Scripture to be the ‘food’ of God offered on the ‘table’ of God, Leviticus 21:6 / Leviticus 21:8 / Leviticus 21:17 / Leviticus 21:21-22 / Psalm 50:9-12 / Malachi 1:12. Various parts of various sacrifices were given to the priest as part of his ‘wages’, Leviticus 2:3 / Leviticus 6:14-18 / Leviticus 7:6 / Leviticus 7:31 / Leviticus 10:12-15 / 1 Corinthians 9:13.

The five sacrifices were divided into two classes, first, the ‘sweet smelling aroma’ class. this included the burnt, meal, and peace offerings.

The first class didn’t deal with the removal of sin or the securing of fellowship. They were offered on the basis of an already existing fellowship. Since they didn’t deal with the horror of sin, which is never pleasing to God, they are called a ‘sweet smelling aroma’. They are guarded from casualness by being said to be ‘most holy’, Leviticus 1:17.

The second class, the ‘sin and transgression offerings’ dealt with the removal of sin whether dealing with the man as a specific crime, involving the idea of restitution-the trespass offering.

There are standard rules established for the offering of all the sacrifices but there are also a great number of exceptions to the rules depending on your circumstances, for example your financial state, occasion or order of sacrifice.

Bull Offering

‘If the offering is a burnt offering from the herd, you are to offer a male without defect. You must present it at the entrance to the tent of meeting so that it will be acceptable to the LORD. You are to lay your hand on the head of the burnt offering, and it will be accepted on your behalf to make atonement for you. You are to slaughter the young bull before the LORD, and then Aaron’s sons the priests shall bring the blood and splash it against the sides of the altar at the entrance to the tent of meeting. You are to skin the burnt offering and cut it into pieces. The sons of Aaron the priest are to put fire on the altar and arrange wood on the fire. Then Aaron’s sons the priests shall arrange the pieces, including the head and the fat, on the wood that is burning on the altar. You are to wash the internal organs and the legs with water, and the priest is to burn all of it on the altar. It is a burnt offering, a food offering, an aroma pleasing to the LORD.’ Leviticus 1:3-9

Burnt Offerings

The word used to describe the burnt offering is ‘olah’ and is taken from the root verb meaning, ‘to go up’ or ‘ascend’. It is an offering of ascension, this referred to the fact that the entire offering was burned and ‘ascended to God’.

It was the foundational offering which allowed men to come into the presence of the Lord. For this reason, verse 3 says that a man makes this offering ‘that he may be accepted before the Lord’ and verse 4 adds that ‘it may be accepted for him to make atonement on his behalf’.

A life was offered upon the altar, it was to be completely burnt upon the altar. With the other sacrifices, the offering was eaten by the priests with the one who gave the offering, but the burnt offering was completely consumed by the fire of the altar. This showed that man’s duty to God was not in the mere giving up of a portion, but in the entire surrender of ALL.

Notice that the offeror’s offering was done voluntarily, it was offered by their own free will and in accordance with what they could afford, Leviticus 1:10 / 2 Corinthians 9:7. Depending upon the financial status of the one making the offering, it could be comprised of a bull, a lamb, or a dove. We are taught by this that the sacrifice must be a personal issue. Some things were done by the worshipper by the priest, but this they must do this for themselves.

The lesson for us in regard to Christ is clear, it must be made ‘at the door of the tent’, this would help to stop the creation of ‘high places’, that is idolatrous shrines and would at the same time teach the worshipper submission to God, Leviticus 1:3.

Without Defect

Also notice that the animal had to be ‘without defect’, Leviticus 1:2 / Leviticus 1:10 / Leviticus 1:14 / Leviticus 4:4 / Exodus 20:24. This was one of the reasons Christ drove out the money merchants twice from the temple, they were selling all kinds of offerings to the masses and making lots of money from it, many were full of defects, John 2:13-22 / Mark 11:11-17. The animal’s condition had to be perfect, not having any blemishes, and it could not be less than 8 days old, Leviticus 1:10 / Leviticus 22:17-28.

It was then presented at the door of the tent. Before the tabernacle’s erection, the animals were to be offered at the Lord’s appointed place on an earthen altar, Exodus 20:24-25. After the Tabernacle’s erection, the animals were to be offered on the bronze altar at the tabernacle’s entrance, Leviticus 17:1-5. After Israel settled in the land of Canaan, they would still bring offerings to the tabernacle’s entrance, or later to the temple entrance, Deuteronomy 12:10-14.

The practice of laying their hand upon the head of the animal was done for all the animal offerings, Leviticus 3:2 / Leviticus 4:4 / Leviticus 8:22 / Leviticus 16:21 / Numbers 8:10. This gives us the idea that the offeror would be connected with the offering as well as the Lord, this had to be personal, Leviticus 1:2 / Leviticus 1:10. The one who offered the animal had to place his hands upon its head, Leviticus 1:3-6 / Leviticus 3:1-2 / Leviticus 4:3-4 / Leviticus 4:13-15.

The sacrifice was then killed and the blood of the animal was sprinkled at appointed spots, or poured at the altar base, Leviticus 1:5 / Leviticus 1:15 / Leviticus 4:5-6 / Leviticus 4:18-19. The animal was then burned, the sacrificial meal took place.

In the case of the burnt offering there was no meal at all since the entire animal was burned. Christ is our perfect sacrifice, Hebrews 9:13-14 / 1 Peter 1:18-19. Of the five main sacrifices only the meal offering did not involve blood.

In the private offerings, except where it required skill, the sacrifice was slain by the offeror themselves. In the case of the national or public sacrifices it was performed by the priest. It was to be slain before the Lord, not only in his presence but with his approval, Leviticus 1:5. In the blood was the life, Leviticus 17:11, the blood represented the life given.

In the burnt and peace offerings the sprinkling of the blood, though it must be performed, played a subordinate role, in the sin offering it was central, Leviticus 1:5.

The word ‘atonement’ means to cover up, later in the New Testament the word ‘atonement’ means to reconcile, Romans 3:25 / Hebrews 2:17. God cannot be approached with the guilt of sin on our shoulders, atonement must be made for sin, Habakkuk 1:13.

Sheep Or Goat Offering

‘If the offering is a burnt offering from the flock, from either the sheep or the goats, you are to offer a male without defect. You are to slaughter it at the north side of the altar before the LORD, and Aaron’s sons the priests shall splash its blood against the sides of the altar. You are to cut it into pieces, and the priest shall arrange them, including the head and the fat, on the wood that is burning on the altar. You are to wash the internal organs and the legs with water, and the priest is to bring all of them and burn them on the altar. It is a burnt offering, a food offering, an aroma pleasing to the LORD.’ Leviticus 1:10-13

You will notice that the offering of sheep and goats is more or less the same requirements for offering a bull, Leviticus 1:3-9. The significance of the whole burnt offering was very great, the worshipper kept back nothing for themselves. Neither he nor his friends used or enjoyed any part of it, it belonged exclusively to God.

Notice the worshipper is told where to make the sacrifice, the northward direction from the altar was designated by God as the place where the sacrifice was to be made. Over and over again the Scriptures we read about not only how God wants to be worshipped but where He wants to be worshipped, John 4:21-24.

Bird Offering

‘If the offering to the LORD is a burnt offering of birds, you are to offer a dove or a young pigeon. The priest shall bring it to the altar, wring off the head and burn it on the altar; its blood shall be drained out on the side of the altar. He is to remove the crop and the feathers and throw them down east of the altar where the ashes are. He shall tear it open by the wings, not dividing it completely, and then the priest shall burn it on the wood that is burning on the altar. It is a burnt offering, a food offering, an aroma pleasing to the LORD.’ Leviticus 1:14-17

The offeror’s offering was done voluntarily, it was offered by their own free will and in accordance with what they could afford, Leviticus 1:10. God always looks after the poor in society and always makes allowances for them, we this happening with Mary and Joseph when they offered their sacrifice, they were obviously very poor, Luke 2:24.

We must remember in all of these sacrifices that it was the act of the sacrifice itself that was more important to God, 2 Corinthians 9:7 / Mark 12:41-44.

Pleasing Aroma

The phrase, ‘an aroma pleasing to the LORD,’ is found three time in this chapter, Leviticus 1:9 / Leviticus 1:13 / Leviticus 1:17. When the Scriptures speak about an ‘aroma’, a pleasing aroma, this isn’t suggesting that God has a nose to smell the sacrifice, the idea behind it is that God smells or accepts the repentant heart of the person who has been obedient to Him through the offering of sacrifice, Ephesians 5:2 / Philippians 4:17-18.

A Picture Of Christ

This sacrifice sets forth Christ offering Himself without spot to God in performing the divine will with joy, even to the point of death, Hebrews 9:11-14. The offering is a sweet aroma, Ephesians 5:2, the whole burnt offering is both atoning and substitutionary, Christ dies in our place.

The animals sacrificed all symbolise Christ in some aspect of His redeeming character. The young bull, His patient endurance as a Saviour, 1 Corinthians 9:9 / Isaiah 52:13. The goat, a sinner, and when used of Christ, as He who was numbered with the transgressors, Isaiah 53:12. The turtle doves or pigeons, mourning innocence, Isaiah 38:14 / Hebrews 7:26. Poverty, Leviticus 7 / Philippians 2:5-8, He who became poor that we might become rich, 2 Corinthians 8:9.

Atonement, Romans 5:11, atoning blood of Christ, Deuteronomy 12:23 / Leviticus 3:17 / Acts 15:20. This is the only sacrifice in which the entire offering is burnt and given to God. Significance of total consecration and devotion to God, Romans 12:1.

Go To Leviticus 2

DAILY BIBLE VERSE

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."

John 1:1

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