Overview of Leviticus
You could sum up the book of Leviticus with God’s repeated command: “Be holy, as I am holy.” Leviticus is a book of laws, but it’s also a book of worship. This book is filled with details on how the people of God should live, eat, sacrifice, celebrate, and more. The name “Leviticus” refers to the many laws for the priests, all of whom belonged to the tribe of Levi.
Leviticus is the third movement in the Penteteuch (the five books of Moses), and picks up where Exodus leaves off. This children of Israel have just erected a tabernacle at Mount Sinai, and now the Lord is relaying specific laws through Moses to His people. There’s very little narrative in the book of Leviticus, but a few important things take place, such as Aaron’s ordination and the deaths of Aaron’s sons. The story of Israel’s journey to the promised land picks back up in the book of Numbers.
Theme verse of Leviticus
“Thus you are to be holy to Me, for I the LORD am holy; and I have set you apart from the peoples to be Mine.” (Le 20:26)
Leviticus’ role in the Bible
Leviticus is about holiness (being set apart, separate)—both God’s holiness and the holiness He expects of His people.
Whereas Exodus displays God’s holiness on a cosmic scale (sending plagues on Egypt, parting the Red Sea, etc.), Leviticus shows us the holiness of God in fine detail. God spells out His expectations for His priests and people so that the congregation can appropriately worship and dwell with Him.
The call to holiness in Leviticus resounds throughout Scripture, both the Old and New Testaments. Parts of the Levitical law are fulfilled in Jesus Christ, such as distinctions between clean and unclean foods (Mark 7:18–19), but the call to holiness still stands—Peter even cites Leviticus when he encourages us to be holy in all our behavior (1 Peter 1:15–16).
Quick outline of Leviticus
- How to give offerings (Leviticus 1–7)
- Aaron and sons ordained (Leviticus 8–10)
- Cleanliness laws for the congregation (Leviticus 11–15)
- Atonement for sin (Leviticus 16–17)
- How to be a holy culture (Leviticus 18–27)
More books related to Leviticus
- Numbers (next book of the Bible)
- Exodus (previous)
- Malachi (God addresses His covenant with Levites)
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