Scriptures

Leviticus 6

Introduction

‘The LORD said to Moses: ‘If anyone sins and is unfaithful to the LORD by deceiving a neighbour about something entrusted to them or left in their care or about something stolen, or if they cheat their neighbour, or if they find lost property and lie about it, or if they swear falsely about any such sin that people may commit—when they sin in any of these ways and realise their guilt, they must return what they have stolen or taken by extortion, or what was entrusted to them, or the lost property they found, or whatever it was they swore falsely about. They must make restitution in full, add a fifth of the value to it and give it all to the owner on the day they present their guilt offering. And as a penalty they must bring to the priest, that is, to the LORD, their guilt offering, a ram from the flock, one without defect and of the proper value. In this way the priest will make atonement for them before the LORD, and they will be forgiven for any of the things they did that made them guilty.’ Leviticus 6:1-7

In this chapter we discover that everyone is responsible not only for their own property but the property of their neighbour. Notice that in each of the following cases it was the offending person who had to reveal the offence and had to suffer the punishment, Exodus 22:7-13.

God through Moses shares four laws concerning property, the first deals with someone who deceits his neighbour about property that was left as security. The second law deals with those who rob from someone else’s property. The third law deals with unjust gain from someone else’s property and the fourth law deals with someone who finds something which doesn’t belong to them.

Notice again these laws concern relationships, the relationships between neighbours and the relationships between the offender and God. When a person breaks these laws, it not only affects the relationship between the offender and their neighbours but their relationship with God.

Notice also that the offender had to pay some compensation, they couldn’t just say sorry and leave it like that, they are to add 1/5th to the total value of the property. They had to make this restitution first before they could make atonement for their sin.

‘The LORD said to Moses: ‘Give Aaron and his sons this command: ‘These are the regulations for the burnt offering: The burnt offering is to remain on the altar hearth throughout the night, till morning, and the fire must be kept burning on the altar. The priest shall then put on his linen clothes, with linen undergarments next to his body, and shall remove the ashes of the burnt offering that the fire has consumed on the altar and place them beside the altar. Then he is to take off these clothes and put on others and carry the ashes outside the camp to a place that is ceremonially clean. The fire on the altar must be kept burning; it must not go out. Every morning the priest is to add firewood and arrange the burnt offering on the fire and burn the fat of the fellowship offerings on it. The fire must be kept burning on the altar continuously; it must not go out.’ Leviticus 6:8-13

God now turns His attention away from the people and addresses Aaron and his sons as they were the ones who would be responsible for carrying out the ceremonial sacrifices on behalf of God’s people.

The Burnt Offering

Notice the fire of the burnt offering was to be continually burning, this is symbolic of God who continually required their offerings for sin and that the priest was on duty, Exodus 29:38-39. When someone brought their offering to the priest, the fire would be already burning which signified that God always welcomed the sacrifices they brought for their sins, Hebrews 5:6 / Hebrews 7:25.

‘These are the regulations for the grain offering: Aaron’s sons are to bring it before the LORD, in front of the altar. The priest is to take a handful of the finest flour and some olive oil, together with all the incense on the grain offering, and burn the memorial portion on the altar as an aroma pleasing to the LORD. Aaron and his sons shall eat the rest of it, but it is to be eaten without yeast in the sanctuary area; they are to eat it in the courtyard of the tent of meeting. It must not be baked with yeast; I have given it as their share of the food offerings presented to me. Like the sin offering and the guilt offering, it is most holy. Any male descendant of Aaron may eat it. For all generations to come it is his perpetual share of the food offerings presented to the LORD. Whatever touches them will become holy.’ The LORD also said to Moses, ‘This is the offering Aaron and his sons are to bring to the LORD on the day he is anointed: a tenth of an ephah of the finest flour as a regular grain offering, half of it in the morning and half in the evening. It must be prepared with oil on a griddle; bring it well-mixed and present the grain offering broken in pieces as an aroma pleasing to the LORD. The son who is to succeed him as anointed priest shall prepare it. It is the LORD’s perpetual share and is to be burned completely. Every grain offering of a priest shall be burned completely; it must not be eaten.’ Leviticus 6:14-23

The Grain Offering

Notice that Aaron and his sons were to eat of the grain, sin and trespass offerings, this was God’s way of letting the Israelites know that they were responsible for supporting Aaron and his sons, whilst they did their priestly work in the tabernacle. The grain which was left over wasn’t to be shared with anyone else except Aaron and his sons.

It’s not clear as to the meaning of the phrase, ‘whatever touches them will become holy’, it probably means that anyone who is holy should only touch holy things, Isaiah 52:11. Notice also that the grain offering was to be done twice a day, in the morning and in the evening, this was to ensure Aaron and his sons didn’t run our grain for food.

‘The LORD said to Moses, ‘Say to Aaron and his sons: ‘These are the regulations for the sin offering: The sin offering is to be slaughtered before the LORD in the place the burnt offering is slaughtered; it is most holy. The priest who offers it shall eat it; it is to be eaten in the sanctuary area, in the courtyard of the tent of meeting. Whatever touches any of the flesh will become holy, and if any of the blood is spattered on a garment, you must wash it in the sanctuary area. The clay pot the meat is cooked in must be broken; but if it is cooked in a bronze pot, the pot is to be scoured and rinsed with water. Any male in a priest’s family may eat it; it is most holy. But any sin offering whose blood is brought into the tent of meeting to make atonement in the Holy Place must not be eaten; it must be burned up.’ Leviticus 6:24-30

The Sin Offering

Notice that this sin offering was to be eaten in the outer courtyard of the tabernacle structure and it was only to be eaten by those whom God had separated for the priesthood. The blood and fat of the sacrificed animal weren’t permitted to be eaten; they were to be burnt with fire. The fat was used as oil for the continual burning of the sacrificial fires.

Because Aaron and his sons were a holy priesthood, a separated people, they could eat the meat of the offering so that they could bear the sins of God’s people.

Since God is addressing Aaron and his sons, I thought it would be useful to end this chapter with some thoughts on the priests.

The Priest

The descendants of Aaron were to be the priests, Exodus 28:1, all of the priests were Levites, but not all Levites were priests. After the return from captivity, those who claimed to be priests had to prove their genealogical claim to the priesthood, Ezra 2:59-63.

In 70 A.D. all the genealogical records were destroyed along with the temple, therefore the Jews cannot prove that they are descendants of Aaron. Today if there are no priests, there are no sacrifices and no taking away of sins according to the Law. They have only a Rabbi in synagogues today.

No one of legitimate birth could be excluded, sadly the Sanhedrin in later times inquired into the genealogy and used it in order to cull out the good from the bad in qualifications. They would sit in the ‘Hall of Polished stone’ in Jerusalem and judge those who would be priests. There were 160 things that could disqualify a person from serving as a priest.

Failure to pass meant that you would be clothed in black and permanently removed but if you passed then you would be clothed in white and your name would then be inscribed in the hall, Revelation 3:5.

Physical Qualifications

They must not have any physical imperfections which were noticeable, Leviticus 21:16-24, if they did, they could be a priest but not a high priest, no abnormalities were permitted, there had to be perfection of the body. They had to be aged between twenty-five and thirty, Numbers 8:24-25, at twenty-five years of age they began to train to serve, Numbers 4:3, and between the age of thirty and fifty they could serve as priests.

Priest could only marry an Israelite virgin, Leviticus 21:13-15, the priest who was to be high priest could not go near death, nor rent his garments, Leviticus 21:10-12.

Social Qualifications

They weren’t permitted to drink wine or strong drink, no alcohol. The High Priest was always on duty, he had to be wise enough to distinguish that is judge between holy and unholy, clean and unclean and he had to be able to teach, Leviticus 10:8-11. These three qualifications apply to elders today, 1 Timothy 3:1-7.

The Priest’s Function And Service

Jesus is the representative of mankind to God, Hebrews 2:17, and the Jewish High Priest represented the whole of the Jewish nation, Exodus 28:12. On each shoulder he had six stones, each one with the name of a tribe of Israel, and on his breastplate, he had twelve stones. If the priest sinned it was as if the whole nation sinned, Leviticus 4:3.

It was the main duty of a priest to reconcile man to God by making atonement for their sins. There are two aspects of reconciliation, first there is reconciliation which comes about after mutual hostility, Mathew 5:24, and then there’s reconciliation if the problem was only on one side, it is our anger with God, so it is not His fault, 2 Corinthians 5:19.

Priests offered supplications, prayers, intercessions and thanksgiving. The blood sprinkled on the mercy seat under the Aaronic system served to cover the guilt or sins of the people, on their behalf, from the face of God and at the same time it was an appeal to God, to pardon and accept His people through Jesus interceding for us, Hebrews 7:25.

The Old Testament priesthood pointed forward to the better priesthood, the New Testament priesthood of all believers in Christ, 1 Peter 2:4-9, we are living sacrifices, Romans 12:1-2.

The Priest’s Wages

The word tithe generally means a tenth and the Jews were to give a tenth of their general gains to the priesthood, Leviticus 23:10, but the priests also had to tithe, Numbers 18:21-28. There was a special tithe every third year, they received the money that was used to redeem the first born which amounted to five shekels per child, this is based on the value of the temple shekel, Numbers 18:16.

The priests received parts of the offerings not consumed, firstborns of the flock and herd, Numbers 18:8 / Numbers 18:21, firstfruits, Numbers 18:12-17 / Leviticus 7:32, they received a percentage of the spoils from war, Numbers 31:25ff.

Their income largely depended on the varying religious state of the nation, from the burnt offering they received the skin, Leviticus 7:8. They had no inheritance of the land, Numbers 18:23-24, but they did have permission to stay in forty-eight cities set aside for their use, Numbers 35:1ff / Joshua 21:41-42. Surrounding each city, an area of pastureland was marked out for them.

Garments Of The High Priest

God intended the priests to have special unique clothing which God called holy. The material used in their construction was of the highest quality fit for a king. They were garments that radiated glory and beauty and through that to reflect the glory of the one they served, Exodus 28:2-3. Special gifts or abilities were given to those who were to make these garments, demonstrating that all good gifts come from God.

The whole picture is seen when we take the garments together. There were linen garments including underpants a coat and tunic, a linen girdle or sash, and a turban or mitre, the high priest also wore an ephod, the breast plate of judgment, and the long robe with bells and pomegranates at the bottom and the gold plate or crown, Exodus 28:1-43.

The linen coat was a coat which covered the special underwear, Exodus 28:39 / Exodus 28:42-43 / Exodus 39:27-28 / Leviticus 8:6-7. This seems to have been the white linen under garment of the priest, used for the everyday business.

The underwear was to be worn next to the body and covering hips and thighs. Over these were worn the coat woven in a checker work of fine linen, it fitted the body closely, and had tight sleeves over the arms extending to the wrists. In length it came down almost to the feet and was bound to the body with its own girdle or sash of needlework, Exodus 28:39-42.

The ephod or tunic, Exodus 28:4 / Exodus 28:31-35 / Exodus 39:22, was a blue garment, worn over the tunic and underneath the ephod, Leviticus 8:7. It was a sleeveless dress woven in one piece, with alternating golden bells, purple, gold, and scarlet. chequered work effect. It had an opening in the top and in the middle of it and it had a band woven into it to prevent it from being torn when taken on or off, Exodus 28:32 / Exodus 39:23.

It had alternated pomegranates and golden bells hanging about the hem at the bottom of the skirt. This would be seen because the Ephod came down no farther than the knees, Exodus 28:33-35 / Exodus 39:24-26. Pomegranates symbolised fruitfulness.

The sound of the bells enabled others to follow the movement of the high priest when he was in the Holy of Holies. They would be able to join in worship with him by following his movements, Psalm 89:15 / Exodus 28:31-35, and also let other priests know the high priest was coming.

The ephod was a double apron like garment like a vest or waistcoat, with a back section joined to the front section by shoulder straps over the shoulder. The shoulder straps were joined by two onyx stones set in gold, these two were inscribed with the names of the tribes of Israel, six on each stone, Exodus 28:9-14 / Exodus 28:25 / Exodus 31-35 / Exodus 39:6-7 / Exodus 39:22-26.

Then there was a chain of pure gold attached these two together, the two remaining ends of the straps were attached to the breastplate. It is interesting to note that the ephod later became quite common wear at a later date. Samuel wore one when he was a child, 1 Samuel 2:18, and by David’s time all the priests wore them, 1 Samuel 22:18.

The girdle, Exodus 28:4 / Exodus 28:8 / Exodus 28:39 / Exodus 39:29, was a wide sash made of the same material as the ephod, and used to bind the ephod about the waist.

The breastplate, Exodus 28:4, was a beautiful cloth backing, made of gold, blue, purple, and scarlet material and fine twisted linen, Exodus 28:15 / Exodus 39:8. It was two spans long and a span wide, nine inches, folded double into a sort of square pouch, Exodus 28:16 / Exodus 39:9.

There was four rows of three gems, twelve all together, were set upon it, each gem was a different type and engraved with the name of one of the twelve tribes, Exodus 28:17-21 / Exodus 39:10-14.

It was attached to the ephod by gold rings and golden chains, and a blue cord, Exodus 28:22-28 / Exodus 39:15-21. The chains would have to be attached in a cross shape to keep the pouch square and offset the weight of the stones and their gold settings. The rings on the lower corners of the breastplate were connected securely to the bottom rings of the ephod above the girdle or sash by a type of blue-ribbon lace.

This breast plate or pouch carried the Urim and Thummim, Exodus 28:30, the twelve stones worn in this way were carried into the Holy of Holies and represented the people approaching God, as they themselves were forbidden to, Exodus 28:15-19 / Exodus 39:8-21.

The turban, Exodus 28:36-38 / Exodus 39:30-31, was the priest’s head dress. It was beautiful reflecting the glory of God. Upon its front was attached a golden plate inscribed ‘HOLY TO JEHOVAH’ and it was held at to the lower forefront by a ribbon of blue lace, Exodus 28:36-38. The inscription was a constant reminder to Aaron, his sons and other priests that God is Holy, and if His priests were to find favour with Him, they also had to be holy, Zechariah 14:20-21.

No-one really knows what the Urim and Thummim were like, they are not described in the Scriptures, as to shape or material. We know that Moses gave them to Aaron on his consecration day, Leviticus 8:8. Urim signifies ‘lights’ and Thummim signifies ‘perfections’.

We know that the will of God was made known when there was doubt in the mind of the inquirer, Numbers 27:21 / 1 Samuel 23:9-12 / Exodus 25:22 / Joshua 7:6-10 / Judges 20:27-28 / 1 Samuel 30:7-8 / Judges 1:1-2.

A Picture Of Christ

Christ is our high priest, Hebrews 4:14-16, who is perfect, not capable of making an error. Christ is now our High Priest, Hebrews 3:1, but note that Jesus didn’t come from Levi, but from Judah, Hebrews 7:11-14.

Christ was washed in baptism before He began His public ministry, He was clothed in a holy garment of a pure life. His anointing was with the Spirit, He shed His blood as a sacrifice for our sins and He serves as our High priest in the most holy place.

In the Old Testament there was a difference between the temple, the priest, and the People, but in the New Testament all three are combined, all Christians are the temple of God, the people of God, and the priests of God, 1 Peter 2:9-10.

All Christians are holy blameless and sanctified through the sacrifice of Jesus, we are royal priests with priestly duties to lead people to Christ, prayer, sacrifices.

The priest is a servant and Romans 12:1-2 / Hebrews 13:15-16, speak of the sacrifices we are to offer. Our bodies as a living sacrifice to God work and will, we are to be dedicated, sanctified to serve.

All Christians offer the sacrifice of praise and prayer, it is not a sacrifice because of sin but the nature of our worship, Hebrews 8:15 / Hebrews 10:14, and it is acceptable to God through Jesus, Hebrews 11:24-25 / Hebrews 10:19-20.

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DAILY BIBLE VERSE

"For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart."

Hebrews 4:12

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