Leviticus: A deeper look

In the next few posts, we will take a deeper look into the book of Leviticus. This exercise will take the outline that was discussed in a previous post and develop a further breakdown of the book. The synthetic chart is used to divide the book into sections that seem to be similar. This grouping will be helpful in the overall study of the book as well as seeing what the author’s focus is.

There is probably not that much attention paid to Leviticus but as one dives deeper into the study of this book, the beauty and majesty of God can be seen. Leviticus displays God’s holiness and His desire for His children to be holy. He will take measures to protect His holiness from the unholy Israelites.

SYNTHETIC CHART OF LEVITICUS

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. Leviticus, which refers to the “book of priests” or “that which concerns the priests,” provides instructions for Aaron and the priests to keep the people of Israel holy just as God is holy.[1] The overall burden of the Book of Leviticus was to communicate the awesome holiness of Israel’s God and to outline the means by which the people could have access to Him.[2] Leviticus is a literary expression of God’s desire that His holiness be reflected in the life of His covenant people Israel.[3]

The main themes that I noticed throughout the book of Leviticus were holiness, atonement and sacrifice. First, the holiness of God and His call for the Israelites to be holy because God is holy. Next, the offering of sacrifice was the foundational act the Israelites utilized to worship God through obedience to the sacrificial guidelines God provided. Finally, 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.

Major Divisions in Leviticus

The major divisions of Leviticus can be broken down into seven major sections. Some commentaries and authors divide into five or six sections, but in an effort to maintain the integrity of chapter sixteen (The Day of Atonement) and chapter 26, I have decided to let them stand alone instead of grouping them with other chapters. Although, the New Bible Dictionary also suggests dividing the book of Leviticus in this manner.[4]

The first major section focuses on chapters one through seven and is titled, the “Laws Concerning Offerings and Sacrifices.” The reason for this division is because this section mainly focuses on the sacrificial offerings which include the Burnt, Grain, Peace, Sin and Guilt. The rest of this section, Leviticus 6:8-7:38, mainly involve the instructions for Aaron in making the sacrifices. Some have suggested that Leviticus 6:8-7:38 should be included in the next section on priestly ordination, but I agree with Victor Hamilton who states, “Leviticus 6:8-7:38 is not only a supplement to the information given in 1:1-6:7, but also specific instructions to the priests concerning their obligations in the sacrificial ceremonies.”[5]

The second major section, “Ordination of the Priest,” involves chapters eight through ten. The main idea of this section is the ordination of the priesthood and sacrificial system and the consequences for failing to follow God’s holy guidelines. There are three main subsections involved in this, of particular note is the death of Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu, who did not follows the requirements that God had laid forth. This section was specifically for Aaron and his sons and did not fit in the sections before or after.

[1] M.F. Rooker, Leviticus, vol. 3A (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2000) 23.

[2] Eugene H. Merrill, “The Pentateuch” in D. S. Dockery (Ed.), Holman Concise Bible Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1998) 37.

[3]F. D. Lindsey, (1985). Leviticus. in J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, vol. 1 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985) 172.

[4] See W. H. Gispen, “Leviticus, Book Of,” Edited by D. R. W. Wood, I. H. Marshall, A. R. Millard, J. I. Packer, and D. J. Wiseman. New Bible Dictionary (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1996) 683.

[5] Victor P. Hamilton, Handbook of the Pentateuch: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy (Grand Rapids:Baker, 2005)  251.

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