Why would a technologically savvy 21st-century person have any interest in a religious ritual which had its roots in 1500 BC? What do animal sacrifices, altars, garbed priests, and special days mean to us? To a generation anxious for practical ministry, for truth which helps you go to the office, raise your children, live in a godless dorm, cope with the trials and tragedies of life, and at least be a survivor if not an overcomer, Leviticus is often overlooked. But read this introductory article and give it at least a cursory consideration.
Assembly truth is great; but some day assemblies will be no more. Practical truth is vital; but we won’t need it in heaven. What will occupy us forever is worship. Would you like to be a better worshiper? Would you like to have a deeper understanding and appreciation of the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ? Ultimately, when we are no longer fathers and mothers, husbands and wives, pilgrims traversing the wilderness, shepherds or sheep in the assembly, preachers or missionaries in the work, or soldiers engaged in hand to hand combat with a wicked society, we will be worshipers – forever.
Anything that helps me worship more acceptably to God has value. Anything which enlarges and enhances my appreciation for the Lord Jesus Christ is treasure worth pursuing. God has given us a whole book – The Bible – with varied views of His Son. Some are found in types and shadows, some in picture; some insights are afforded by looking at His life, while others are gained by considering what prophets in the Old Testament and apostles in the New Testament wrote of Him. We have every reason to expect to see Christ in the books of Moses for it says of the Lord Jesus Himself, “Beginning at Moses and all the prophets, He expounded unto them in all the Scriptures, the things concerning Himself” (Luke 24:27).
Armed with this confidence, we can approach the book of Leviticus certain that we can find Christ in it. Indeed, the epistle of Hebrews would give us Scriptural confirmation that the offerings pointed forward to the Lord Jesus and His work at Calvary. They were “shadows” telling us that there must be substance somewhere to be found.
The very idea of exploring Leviticus may seem to be a daunting task. Some may feel it is too difficult for the average person. Perhaps we who are older do not give you who are younger credit for the intelligence you have. Some of you are able to understand quantum physics. Others among you can quickly interpret the imagery and metaphors of a Browning or T. S. Elliot poem. Some are able, with facility, to draw links between a Dickens novel and the social ills of the day of which he was writing. While natural ability is not the key to Spiritual understanding, you do possess the intelligence and ability to make associations, understand imagery, see links, and interpret themes. Your natural intelligence, submitted to the Holy Spirit’s guidance, will enable you to reap rich rewards from the study of types and shadows. The one limiting factor is that a study of a book such as this takes time and discipline. You will reap what you sow in the study of God’s Word. His truth is too valuable for Him to reveal its beauties to the casual, indifferent reader. “Search for her as for hid treasures” (Prov 2:4).
With this assurance, we can move forward and initially consider an overview of the book of Leviticus. Here is where a technologic edge of a younger generation as well as an older generation who have kept abreast of technology, can be so valuable. With your computer program you can search for the frequency of the use of certain words and phrases. The value of this is that you will quickly see how the book is arranged. The Spirit of God has wisely constructed each book of our Bible so that the structure itself helps to highlight the themes and teaching.
For example, take some obviously key words of Leviticus such as altar, blood, holy, and walk. Suppose you discovered that “altar” occurs 83 times in chapters 1-17; that “blood” occurs 53 times in chapters 1-17 and only 9 times in the rest of the book; that “walk” only occurs in chapters 17-27 and it does so 12 times; and that “holy” occurs 80 times throughout the book. Finally, that the expression, “I am the Lord thy God,” is found 30 times in chapters 18-26. Does this begin to suggest an outline to you?
The frequent mentions of the altar would direct our attention to our approach to God and the subject of worship. In contrast, the recurring phrase, “I am the Lord thy God,” would suggest that an appreciation of God, linked with the use of the word “walk,” would show that an appreciation of Who God is should control my walk.
A suggested outline would be:
Ch 1-16 Approach to God – The Altar and Worship
The Means – ch 1-7
The Mediators – ch 8-10
The Manner – purity – ch 11-15
The Maintenance – ch 16
Ch 17-27 Abiding with God – Appreciation of God’s Character and our Walk
People – ch 17-20
Priests – ch 21-22
Feasts – ch 23-24
Canaan – ch 25-27
Keep in mind that while we preach the gospel from these chapters, it is primarily a people who were already redeemed being taught how to approach God and what was needed to remain in fellowship with Him. Exodus ended with God taking up His habitation in the tabernacle. Numbers begins with God speaking to Moses in the tabernacle. But how was a holy God going to speak to men, much less move with the nation through the wilderness? Leviticus answers that problem. Likewise, the truths, to which Leviticus with its sacrifices points, show us how we can enjoy daily fellowship with God amidst a defiling and diverting society.