Key Themes of Leviticus

This is a very brief, high-level overview of the book of Leviticus. It is designed to break down the book into sections that are easily distinguishable and provide a guide for Bible Study and improve memorization of a book.

First, we want to look at exactly what is a theme and provide a definition for it. Next, in order to reinforce our understanding of a ‘theme’ in a Biblical interpretation way, it is beneficial to form a personal definition of the word and how it is important.

As one goes through a book of the Bibles, in this case Leviticus, several themes can typically be seen. Sometimes, this can also be influenced by what is happening in a persons life and those particular ideas keep coming up. For Bible reading, the Spirit will guide and lead the reader and as they are open and listening to His leading, there will be several ideas, themes, topics that will keep coming up. There are times that the Spirit is working in us to get our attention. In general, these themes will make be fairly clear as they keep coming up in the text.

After the themes have been identified, it is good to develop a simple and concise message statement about that book. Essentially, a headline for the book. This simple, short statement will be much easier to remember than trying to think of all the different topics or events that occurred.

Finally, develop a working outline for the book. This helps in teaching Sunday school classes, adult community groups and is very beneficial for personal study. This will help in breaking the book into manageable sections to see the message the Author/author was conveying to the reader. Furthermore, this will bring greater clarity and understanding about the book and its themes.

KEY THEMES TO LEVITICUS

First, using 3-4 sources, define the meaning of “themes” (words repeated). Second, explain the importance of themes for Biblical interpretation.

  1. Theme is defined as “a particular subject or issue that is discussed often or repeatedly” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary). It is also defined as “a unifying or dominant idea, motif” (“theme,” Dictionary.com). In reference to biblical interpretation, it is the “The outstanding and abiding truth (theological proposition, big idea) of the passage” (Dr. Bailey’s BE101 class notes Spring 14).

Thus, a personal definition of theme is the main subject, concept or idea that is repeated and therefore conveys the overarching motif.

  1. Themes are an important part of the Biblical interpretation because the reader takes the observations, interpretations, and applications to provide a simple and concise statement and correlate a theme to one’s life. The most reliable guide to knowing and interpreting what a story is about and what the writer wishes the reader to know is through the use of themes by means of the principle of repetition (“How to Read the Bible as Literature and get more out of it”, Leland Ryken, 1984, p. 59). Authors use themes to reinforce the key ideas or concepts that they want the reader to know. Identifying the themes and how they relate to one another in the text is a helpful tool to understanding its meaning.

Third, Identify key themes in Leviticus. (people are not themes.)

  • Holiness – The holiness of God and His call for the Israelites to be holy because God is holy.
  • Sacrifice – The offering of sacrifice was the foundational act the Israelites utilized to worship God through obedience to the sacrificial guidelines God provided.
  • Atonement – The reconciliation between God and His people by the shedding of sacrificial blood as a substitute so that the Israelites may be declared clean, pure and redeemed.

Fourth, formulate a message statement for the whole book. Fifth, develop that message in a concise working outline (with chapter and verses).

  1. Leviticus expresses God’s holiness and His requirements for Israel’s holiness; it provides guidelines for the means by which God provides atonement for sin through sacrifice.
  2. Outline of Leviticus
    1. God provides a way for Israel to approach Him by the atonement of their sins to become holy and pure through sacrifice (Chaps. 1 – 16).
      1. God provides guidelines for the laws of the sacrificial offering system for Israel and the priests to worship and be restored to Him (Chaps. 1 – 7).
      2. The ordination of the priesthood and sacrificial system and the consequences for failing to follow God’s holy guidelines (Chaps. 8 – 10).
      3. God establishes laws of purity and the Day of Atonement to cleanse and atone for Israel’s sins (Chaps. 11 – 16).
    2. God’s requirements for Israel to be holy just as He is holy through the setting forth of conditions for holiness (Chaps. 17 – 27).
      1. The Holiness Code enacted by God to protect His holiness from Israel’s sin and provide ways for Israel to be holy just as God is holy (Chaps. 17 – 25).
      2. The covenant blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience to the requirements of holiness (Chap. 26).
      3. The guidelines for vows and tithes that are to be set apart to the Lord (Chap. 27).
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