The book of Leviticus is perhaps one of the most dreaded books for any reader out of the entire Old Testament, especially for modern-day readers. It was the book which defined the actions of the priests on behalf of the people of Israel. It also provided the standard which God expected His people to meet—the standard of holiness. The word “holy” is used 90 times in the book of Leviticus. “Speak to all the congregation of the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy,’” (Leviticus 19:2; cf 11:44; 20:7, 26). God’s people should be holy because the God we serve is a holy God. He should be first in our lives and we should strive to match His character. Peter tells Christians to be holy just as God is holy (1 Peter 1:16), so we should put away worldly lusts and ungodly living.
It can be daunting to read through the book of Leviticus since it was the law given unto Israel and the requirements of Israel’s priests. We are no longer under that
system of law. So why do we need to read through the book of Leviticus? We must understand the concept of holiness. Do not get bogged down in the animal sacrifices, grain
offerings, peace offerings, wave offerings, and whole burnt offerings. There certainly is some benefit if we would take the time to study some of these matters. Understanding the requirements of the Levitical priests can help greatly in our studies of the New Testament, such as the book of Hebrews which deals extensively with the concept of the priesthood. However, it is at the book of Leviticus that many people quit reading the Bible. We just don’t seem to see the purpose of reading about the laws of leprosy, or why the priest had to put blood on his ear lobe, thumb, and big toe (Leviticus 8:23). If we are concentrating on these small details then we will surely miss the overall point: holiness.
Sin causes God’s people to become unholy. The book of Leviticus teaches us how to become holy. Blood and sacrifices would be required. Under the old covenant, the blood of animals was required to be shed. Even unintentional sins required a sacrifice! Sin brings ruin and corruption. Sins, included idolatry, swearing by using God’s holy name in vain, homosexuality, bestiality, incest, or slandering your neighbor—and many more sins. God wants us to see the principle that His people are to be pure, holy, and set apart. Perhaps Leviticus chapters 16 and 17 are of the most important in the entire book. They provide a picture for us of the requirements on the day of atonement, the annual feast when the high priest would enter the Holy of Holies, to sprinkle blood on the mercy seat on the ark of God. This he did only once each year. This was a foreshadowing of Christ and His sacrifice on Calvary and His entrance into heaven to be seated at the right hand of God (Hebrews 1:3). You see, even Christ can be “seen” in the book of Leviticus. This is why we need to understand the “big picture” of this book of the Old Testament.
by Sean P. Cavender