Reading Through the Bible, Monday, January 31. Leviticus 1-3

In the Hebrew Bible, the book of Leviticus is named “And He Called,” which is the opening line of the book in Hebrew.    God called all Israel to be a nation of priests (Exodus 19:6), but the people were not sufficiently spiritually mature to function in that capacity.  God therefore selected a group of Israelites, the tribe of Levi, to show the people what it meant to be priests for God.  The regulations in Leviticus point to a priestly way of living that all Israel was expected to learn and respect.

A key term in Leviticus is the word “holy” – used more in Leviticus than any other book of the Bible.  Generally meaning “separate,” it is used specifically in the Bible to describe God.  He is God, and there is no other god, and none like Him.  When God called Israel to be holy, he called them to be unlike any other people, separate and distinct upon the earth.  The book of Leviticus helped Israel to see what that meant.  The book may be divided into three sections:

I)    Holy Things – Chapters 1-7 in which a system of sacrifice is detailed.

II)    Holy People – Chapters 8-10 in which Aaron and his sons are consecrated as Priests.

III)    Holy Living – Chapters 11-27 in which lifestyle requirements are spelled out for God’s holy people.

New Testament writers use the language of Leviticus to refer to Jesus.  He is our “sin offering” and “peace offering” and “High Priest.”  Israel’s spiritual immaturity kept her from approaching God directly, forcing her to seek mediation with God through the priests.  But in Christianity, the sacrifice of Jesus has made us all priests (1 Peter 2:5) and we all have bold access to God’s throne of grace through Christ (Hebrews 4:16).  Our lives must, through holy living, demonstrate our awareness of this great privilege we have.