The book of Leviticus follows the Israelites in the wilderness on their way to the land God had promised Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. After 400 years in Egypt, God had used Moses to lead His chosen people in an Exodus. He led Moses and the people to Mt Sinai where He spoke to them and directed Moses in the building of the Tabernacle where He would dwell among His people! It was at Mt Sinai that God gave Moses the Ten Commandments that were the beginning of laws to be followed by God’s people. The book of Leviticus would contain even more laws that God gave to Moses concerning their sacrifices and offerings. All of these God-given laws were to set God’s people apart for Himself, and distinguished them from other nations.
In Exodus, the tribe of Levi was picked by God to serve Him as priests and Aaron was to be the first High Priest. In Leviticus we find the ceremony for consecration of the priests, (Exodus 8 & 9); of the punishment of Nadab and Abihu, by the hand of God, for offering strange fire (Exodus 10); and the punishment of Shelomith’s son, for blasphemy (Exodus 24). The rest of Leviticus contains the laws and ordinances of the levitical priesthood and the Lord’s direction concerning their part in worshiping Him in the central place of worship, the Tabernacle. They were to teach the people how to be holy before the Lord. All of the instructions on how to worship were all here in Leviticus. The challenge of the Levitical priests would be to convince the Israelites that Yahweh’s laws were good for them. This was a divine appointment and was to be closely observed.
The book of Leviticus reveals that God is set apart from all other “gods”. It also shows that His people must also be set apart from other people. The ceremonies detailed in this book were about serving Him as a holy and righteous God. In turn, He would sanctify and make holy His people! They were to be a light for the Gentiles. Because of their spiritual and physical blessings and their moral purity, they would stand out among the nations of the world and draw the nations to the God who dwelt in their midst.
Because He is a “Holy God”, approaching Him was not to be treated as a casual undertaking! Sin separated man from God and had to be dealt with only by a sacrificial offering without blemish. The sacrificial system was a lesson concerning the importance of fellowship with the Holy God. (Exodus 22:17-25)
Leviticus is full of regulations and laws which show us we are not able to be perfect on our own. The Levitical laws would set the stage for laws that would one day be written on the hearts of God’s people instead of on stone! The external obligations the people were to keep would someday be replaced with internal motivation! (Jeremiah 31:33)
God’s willingness to dwell in the midst of a sinful people-camped in Israel in the Holy of Holies in the Tabernacle- would be a sign of His forgiveness and grace toward those He redeemed to Himself. It also foreshadowed the day when God would come to “tabernacle” (dwell) among humanity in human form and later in human hearts!
The Israel people took a lot of wrong turns on their way to the Promised Land. They had to learn what it meant to live with a holy God living among them. This is true for believers today as well. We have been set free from the ceremonial laws by the shedding of Christ’s blood, but we now have God’s Spirit living within us. We also need to be reminded of that fact and to understand what it really means. We need to live each day as though we are living to be His light for an unbelieving and forgetful world.
We need to be reminded that He still is a Holy God!!