Leviticus 1-2

Sunday Evening Bible Study

 June 29, 1997

Introduction

Title

The title of this book in the Greek Septuagint was "Leuiticon". When the Latin Vulgate was translated, it became "Leviticus". The name comes from the fact that the book pertains to the priests, their duties, their job, etc. The Priests were of the tribe of Levi, hence, Leviticus.

Time of the book

1:1 tells us that Moses received it from God, in the tabernacle. That places it between Exodus, where the tabernacle was designed and built, and Numbers, which covers the 40 year period of wandering in the wilderness.

Content

The book deals with the worship of Israel - its sacrifices, priesthood, laws rendering a person "unclean" and unfit for worship, and various special times and seasons of worship.

Theme

Holiness.

The word holy is used 91 times in Leviticus, and words connected with cleansing are used 71 times. References to uncleanness number 128. Thereís no question what this book is all about.

Key verse:

(Lev 19:2 KJV) Speak unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say unto them, Ye shall be holy: for I the LORD your God am holy.

On Sunday morning, January 24, 1861, Charles Haddon Spurgeon closed his sermon at the Metropolitan Tabernacle with these words:

An unholy Church! It is of no use to the world, and of no esteem among men. Oh, it is an abomination, hellís laughter, heavenís abhorrence. And the larger the Church, the more influential, the worst nuisance does it become, when it becomes dead and unholy. The worst evils which have ever come upon the world, have been brought upon her by an unholy Church.

Warren Wiersbe writes:

"We will stand and sing hymn 325," announced the worship leader, "ĎTake Time to Be Holy.í We will sing verses one and four."

If I had been sitting with the congregation instead of on the platform, I might have laughed out loud. Imagine a Christian congregation singing "Take Time to Be Holy" and not even taking time to sing the entire song! If we canít take the time (less than four minutes) to sing a song about holiness, weíre not likely to take time to devote ourselves to "perfecting holiness in the fear of God" (2 Cor. 7:1).

"He that sees the beauty of holiness, or true moral good," wrote Jonathan Edwards, "sees the greatest and most important thing in the world."

Have you ever thought of personal holinessólikeness to Jesus Christóas the most important thing in the world?

About the sacrifices:

The sacrifices deal more with maintaining a relationship with God rather than establishing one.

They were not about a personís initial salvation experience, but rather, once God has established a covenant relationship with you, this was how you kept it.

We need to reconcile two apparent discrepancies in Scripture:

HEB 10:4 For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.

LEV 4:20 ĎHe shall also do with the bull just as he did with the bull of the sin offering; thus he shall do with it. So the priest shall make atonement for them, and they shall be forgiven.

Though the sacrifices provided a way for a person to receive forgiveness, and the forgiveness was real, it was only real because it was looking forward to the fulfillment of the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.

"Nevertheless the benefits experienced by the Old Testament believers were just as real as the clothing which is worn by a 20th-century credit-card purchaser whose account has not yet been paid in full." - BKC,pg.166

Leviticus 1 Ė The Burnt Offering

:3 burnt sacrifice

This chapter deals with what is known as the "burnt offering".

:3 a male without blemish

Two lessons here:

Lesson:

A picture of Jesus Christ.

(1 Pet 1:18-19 KJV) Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; {19} But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:

It has been said that you can find Jesus Christ in just about everything in the Old Testament if you look hard enough.

Lesson:

God wants your best.

A male without blemish is a rare and costly thing!

Sacrifice involves cost. If it doesn't cost you anything to give, it isn't a sacrifice.

David wanted to have Araunahís threshing floor to offer sacrifices upon, and Araunah offered to give it to David Ė

(2 Sam 24:24 KJV) And the king said unto Araunah, Nay; but I will surely buy it of thee at a price: neither will I offer burnt offerings unto the LORD my God of that which doth cost me nothing. So David bought the threshingfloor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver.

This later became the site of the temple.

Illustration

The farmer who lost Godís calf Ė

There was a farmer who had twin calves, and was so blessed that he promised to give one of them to the church.

The pastor came over to look at the calves and asked, "Which calf are you going to give to the church?"

The man responded, "Iím not sure yet, Iíll pray about it."

A few days later, one of the calves got sick and died. The man called up the pastor and said, "Iím sorry, but the Lordís calf just died Ö"

Does God get your best, or just your leftovers?

Does He get your best time, or just whatís available?

:3 of his own voluntary will

The King James is the only translation that seems to reflect this, but this is another quality about sacrifice, that it ought to be done willingly.

If someone is twisting your arm to give something, I question whether it is a pleasing "sacrifice" or not.

:4 his hand upon the head Ö accepted for him

The act of putting your hand on the animalís head meant that the animal was taking your place on the altar.

Lesson:

Substitutionary Sacrifice

God shows His people that it is possible for another to take your place.

By laying your hands on the animal, the animal would then take your place. Whatever happened to the animal is what would happen to you.

This sets the stage for Jesus to pay for our sins.

1PE 2:24 and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.

:5 sprinkle the blood round Ö

If you can picture whatís happening, youíll realize that sacrifice wasnít intended to be a clean, pleasant thing.

Sacrifice is very, very messy.

Paying for your sins is very, very messy.

We need to realize what it costs to cover our sins.

We live so far removed from the concepts of sacrifice that we donít often stop to realize how ugly and messy the price is for our sins.

:9 the priest shall burn all on the altar

Unlike some other sacrifices, this sacrifice involved burning the entire animal upon the altar, hence the "burnt offering".

In being totally consumed, the entire animal was being given to God.

Though this sacrifice partly dealt with atoning for sin, it's main purpose was consecration.

Because of the substitution involved, it was a way for you to give yourself totally to God. It was kind of like "rededicating" yourself to the Lord.

Lesson:

Give God everything.

In a burnt offering, God received everything and the worshiper received nothing.

I believe that several New Testament scriptures speak of this kind of total consecration:

(Gal 2:20 KJV) I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

(Rom 12:1-2 KJV) I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. {2} And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

:9 a sweet savour unto the LORD

nichowach - soothing, quieting, tranquillising

reyach - scent, fragrance, aroma

When you present yourself totally to God, itís a sweet, soothing aroma before the Lord.

He doesnít go, "Peeyuuu! Whatís that smell?"

Instead He goes, "Ahhhhhhh, that smells sweet!"

Lesson:

God loves your love gifts.

:10 of the flocks

Weíre going to see that you didnít have to bring a bull to make a burnt offering, but there were other options.

You could also bring a sheep or a goat.

:14 of fowls

If you couldnít afford a bull or a goat, you could always offer up a turtledove or a pigeon.

Lesson:

You donít have to be wealthy to give yourself to God.

(Mark 12:41-44 NLT) Jesus went over to the collection box in the Temple and sat and watched as the crowds dropped in their money. Many rich people put in large amounts. {42} Then a poor widow came and dropped in two pennies. {43} He called his disciples to him and said, "I assure you, this poor widow has given more than all the others have given. {44} For they gave a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she has."

The real principle behind giving to God is not how much you give, but how much you keep for yourself.

The widow kept nothing for herself, she gave it all.

Leviticus 2

:1 a meat offering

Better translation Ė "grain offering" or "meal offering"

We think of meat coming from an animal, the King James considers "meat" to simply be regular food.

The Grain offering seems to be done in conjunction with other offerings.

Ex.29:41 - along with the daily burnt offering. This seems to be the primary offering it's linked to.

Lev.14:10 - with a burnt offering for a leper in his cleansing

Lev.23:13 - during feast of first fruits, some of the first harvest.

Num.5:15 - grain offering of jealousy, when a man was jealous of his wife.

Num.6:15 - Nazirite - after sin, burnt, then peace offerings, a grain offering.

The grain offering follows the burnt offering, because in practice, a grain offering was often offered at the time of a burnt offering. They were offered together.

:2 he priest shall burn the memorial

The priest would only offer up a portion of the offering on the altar. The rest would be given to the priest.

:4 baken in the oven

There are going to be several ways of presenting a grain offering. You could bring:

1. Raw flour (:1)

2. Baked bread (:4)

3. Pancakes (:5)

4. Dumplings (:7)

The idea one commentator made was that no matter how you made your bread, you could offer it to God.

:10 that which is left of the meat offering shall be Aaron's

The priests would receive part of the offering to keep for themselves.

:11 leaven Ö honey

Leaven was allowed in other offerings though (Lev.23:17).

They were also allowed in an offering of firstfruits (vs.12), just as long as they weren't burnt.

Why no leaven or honey?

Leaven Ė

Leaven represents sin

1CO 5:8 Let us therefore celebrate the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

Honey Ė

Honey represents "sensual pleasure and mirth" (M.Henry)

Some suggest that because honey was used so much in the pagan sacrifices, that honey was not to be used.

John Wesley writes, "to teach us, that God's worship is not to be governed by men's fancies and appetites but by God's will."

Maybe because it just smelled bad when burning?

Honey smells HORRIBLE when itís burning.

Putting it on meat would only make it burn and smell horrible.

Itís like cooking with barbecue sauce. If you put the sauce on before the meat cooks, all you get is charred barbecue sauce and uncooked meat.

:13 season with salt

Matthew Henry: "The altar was the table of the Lord; and therefore, salt being always set on our tables, God would have it always used at his."

Matthew Henry: "Salt was a symbol of friendship."

Keil-Delitzsch - Honey and yeast are both corrupting substances, used in fermentation; salt is a preservative.

Also: Salt was valuable. Some people used salt as a form of money.

BKC: "Salt was regarded in the ancient Near East as not being destructible by fire, "a covenant of salt" seems to refer to an eternal covenant."

NUM 18:19 "All the offerings of the holy {gifts,} which the sons of Israel offer to the \Lord,\ I have given to you and your sons and your daughters with you, as a perpetual allotment. It is an everlasting covenant of salt before the \Lord\ to you and your descendants with you."

2CH 13:5 "Do you not know that the \Lord\ God of Israel gave the rule over Israel forever to David and his sons by a covenant of salt?

Overall Lesson:

Give God your substance.

Grain was the sustenance of life.

The grain offering was giving to God out of the very thing that kept you alive.

Not only does God want you to give yourself to Him, but He wants your possessions too. He wants all you own, all that sustains you.

We can get "religious" in how we give ourselves to the Lord. We can say that we've given our lives to the Lord, but in reality, giving ourselves to the Lord involves the things that surround us too. It involves our house, our car, our clothes, our wallet.

PHI 4:18-19 But I have received everything in full, and have an abundance; I am amply supplied, having received from Epaphroditus what you have sent, a fragrant aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well-pleasing to God. 19 And my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.