Leviticus 1-2

Thursday Evening Bible Study

September 10, 2009



The book is a “how-to” manual for the Jewish priests. Priests were from the tribe of “Levi”, hence “Leviticus”

Time of the book

It takes place between the end of Exodus, and the forty years of wandering in the wilderness (Numbers). Roughly about 1400BC.



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

Key verse:

(Lev 19:2 NKJV) "Speak to all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say to them: 'You 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, hell’s laughter, heaven’s 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, “‘Take Time to Be Holy.’ 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 can’t take the time (less than four minutes) to sing a song about holiness, we’re not likely to take time to devote ourselves to “perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Cor. 7:1).

Jonathan Edwards wrote,

He that sees the beauty of holiness, or true moral good sees the greatest and most important thing in the world.”
Have you ever thought of personal holiness—likeness to Jesus Christ—as 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 person’s 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:

(Lev 4:20 NKJV) …So the priest shall make atonement for them, and it shall be forgiven them.
(Heb 10:4 NKJV) For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins.
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.

It’s like going to the store and buying your new fall clothes with a credit card. You may not have yet paid the actual bill for the clothes, but you still get the benefit of wearing them.

1:1-17 The Burnt Offering

:1 Now the LORD called to Moses, and spoke to him from the tabernacle of meeting, saying,

:1 tabernacle of meeting – this is that portable worship center that God had Moses make. It was located at the center of the Israelite camp. Many of the things that Moses wrote in the book of Exodus were received up on Mount Sinai. These things were received in the middle of the camp.

:2 "Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: 'When any one of you brings an offering to the LORD, you shall bring your offering of the livestock; of the herd and of the flock.

We’re going to get some instruction about sacrifices.

:3 'If his offering is a burnt sacrifice of the herd, let him offer a male without blemish; he shall offer it of his own free will at the door of the tabernacle of meeting before the LORD.

:3 burnt sacrifice ‘olah – whole burnt offering; from the word “to ascend”, that which ascends.

No, this is not about what happens when I barbeque.

This is about a type of sacrifice which “ascends” to God. This is one of the earliest types of sacrifice spoken of in the Bible (Gen. 8:20).

:3 male – I think you can’t help but begin to think about some of these things in relation to Jesus Christ.

Peter wrote,

(1 Pet 1:18-19 NKJV) knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, {19} but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.
On Sunday we’re going to see that one of the first things that Peter heard about Jesus was from John the Baptist, who said,

(John 1:29 NKJV) … "Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!

Some say that you can find Jesus Christ on just about every page in the Old Testament if you look hard enough. I tend to agree.

The writer of Hebrews quotes Psalm 40:7, and says that this is Jesus speaking:
(Heb 10:7 NKJV) Then I said, 'Behold, I have come; In the volume of the book it is written of Me; To do Your will, O God.'"

It’s all about Jesus.

:3 without blemish – A male without blemish … sounds pretty rare to me.  Being rare would make it “costly”.


God wants your best.

Sacrifice involves cost. If it doesn't cost you anything to give, it isn't a sacrifice.
David wanted to have Araunah’s threshing floor to offer sacrifices upon, and Araunah offered to give it to David –
(2 Sam 24:24 NKJV) Then the king said to Araunah, "No, but I will surely buy it from you for a price; nor will I offer burnt offerings to the LORD my God with that which costs me nothing."

This later became the site of the temple. David knew he needed to pay for the sacrifice. Sacrifice costs something.

The farmer who lost God’s calf –

There was a farmer whose cow gave birth to twin calves. He was so excited 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, “I’m not sure yet, I’ll pray about it.” A few days later, one of the calves got sick and died. The man called up the pastor and said, “Well I’ve decided which calf I’m going to give to the Lord … but the Lord’s calf just died …”

Does God get your best, or just your leftovers?
Does He get your best time, or just what’s available?

:3 free will – If someone is twisting your arm to give something, I question whether it is a pleasing “sacrifice” or not.

Paul writes,

(2 Cor 9:7 NKJV) So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.
Giving is actually a very good thing. I think the more we grow as Christians the more we learn to give. Giving is the chief characteristic of God’s love for us – God loves us so much that He GAVE …
It’s not just about giving to the church, it’s about giving as God wants you to give, to whomever God wants you to give.
But “good” giving requires that you want to give.

:4 'Then he shall put his hand on the head of the burnt offering, and it will be accepted on his behalf to make atonement for him.

:4 put his hand – The act of putting your hand on the animal’s head meant that the animal was taking your place on the altar.


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.
(1 Cor 15:3 NKJV) For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,

:5 'He shall kill the bull before the LORD; and the priests, Aaron's sons, shall bring the blood and sprinkle the blood all around on the altar that is by the door of the tabernacle of meeting.

:5 the altar – the bronze altar in the courtyard of the Tabernacle.

:5 sprinkle the blood - 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 don’t often stop to realize how ugly and messy the price is for our sins.

:6 'And he shall skin the burnt offering and cut it into its pieces.

:7 'The sons of Aaron the priest shall put fire on the altar, and lay the wood in order on the fire.

:8 'Then the priests, Aaron's sons, shall lay the parts, the head, and the fat in order on the wood that is on the fire upon the altar;

:9 'but he shall wash its entrails and its legs with water. And the priest shall burn all on the altar as a burnt sacrifice, an offering made by fire, a sweet aroma to the LORD.

:9 burn all – With most sacrifices, only a portion of the animal was burnt on the altar. The rest might be cooked and given to the priest or eaten by the family.

But this sacrifice involved burning the entire animal on the altar.

In being totally consumed, the entire animal was being given to God.
Though this sacrifice partly dealt with paying 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.


Give God everything.

In a burnt offering, God received everything and the worshiper received nothing.
We see pictures of this in the New Testament as well:
(Rom 12:1 NKJV) I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.

The problem with a “living sacrifice” is that it tends to crawl off the altar.

We intend to give our lives to God, but we tend to take some of it back from time to time.

:10 'If his offering is of the flocks; of the sheep or of the goats; as a burnt sacrifice, he shall bring a male without blemish.

The offering doesn’t have to be as expensive as a bull, you could still make an offering from something less expensive like a sheep or goat.

:11 'He shall kill it on the north side of the altar before the LORD; and the priests, Aaron's sons, shall sprinkle its blood all around on the altar.

:11 north side of the altar – There is some discussion among scholars as to where Jesus was crucified. The Bible gives us some clues, like:

(Heb 13:12 NKJV) Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate.

The traditional Catholic/Orthodox place of crucifixion, the “Church of the Holy Sepulcher” is located west of the Temple, within the city gates.

The place known as “Gordon’s Calvary” is north of the Temple, and is outside the gates of the ancient city.

:12 'And he shall cut it into its pieces, with its head and its fat; and the priest shall lay them in order on the wood that is on the fire upon the altar;

:13 'but he shall wash the entrails and the legs with water. Then the priest shall bring it all and burn it on the altar; it is a burnt sacrifice, an offering made by fire, a sweet aroma to the LORD.

:14 'And if the burnt sacrifice of his offering to the LORD is of birds, then he shall bring his offering of turtledoves or young pigeons.

:14 turtledoves – The economy version of a burnt offering could be with a turtledove or pigeon.


You don’t have to be wealthy to give.

Sometimes those of us who aren’t wealthy can criticize those who are. We can call them stingy. You don’t have to be wealthy to be stingy. Some of us poor people can be quite stingy.
Some poor people can be quite generous.
(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."

You could make a point that giving to God is not really about how much you give, but how much you keep for yourself.

The point is not whether you’ve reached the “million-dollar-club” in your charitable contributions.

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

:15 'The priest shall bring it to the altar, wring off its head, and burn it on the altar; its blood shall be drained out at the side of the altar.

:16 'And he shall remove its crop with its feathers and cast it beside the altar on the east side, into the place for ashes.

:17 'Then he shall split it at its wings, but shall not divide it completely; and the priest shall burn it on the altar, on the wood that is on the fire. It is a burnt sacrifice, an offering made by fire, a sweet aroma to the LORD.

2:1-16 The Grain Offering

:1 'When anyone offers a grain offering to the LORD, his offering shall be of fine flour. And he shall pour oil on it, and put frankincense on it.

:1 grain offering – The Grain offering seems to be always 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 in the book of Leviticus because in practice, a grain offering was often offered at the time of a burnt offering. They were offered together.

:1 frankincense – no, not Frankenstein, but frankincense.

This is a type of incense made from the resin from a tree. It was one of the gifts from the wise men to the young baby Jesus.

:2 'He shall bring it to Aaron's sons, the priests, one of whom shall take from it his handful of fine flour and oil with all the frankincense. And the priest shall burn it as a memorial on the altar, an offering made by fire, a sweet aroma to the LORD.

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

:3 'The rest of the grain offering shall be Aaron's and his sons'. It is most holy of the offerings to the LORD made by fire.

:4 'And if you bring as an offering a grain offering baked in the oven, it shall be unleavened cakes of fine flour mixed with oil, or unleavened wafers anointed with oil.

:5 'But if your offering is a grain offering baked in a pan, it shall be of fine flour, unleavened, mixed with oil.

:6 'You shall break it in pieces and pour oil on it; it is a grain offering.

:7 'If your offering is a grain offering baked in a covered pan, it shall be made of fine flour with oil.

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)

No matter how you made your bread, you could offer it to God.

:8 'You shall bring the grain offering that is made of these things to the LORD. And when it is presented to the priest, he shall bring it to the altar.

:9 'Then the priest shall take from the grain offering a memorial portion, and burn it on the altar. It is an offering made by fire, a sweet aroma to the LORD.

:9 sweetnichowach – soothing, quieting, tranquilizing

:9 aromareyach – scent, fragrance, aroma, odor


God loves your gifts.

Some people are very hard to please:
Three sons left home, went out on their own and prospered. Getting back together, they discussed the gifts they were able to give their elderly mother. The first said, “I built a big house for our mother.” The second said, “I sent her a Mercedes with a driver.” The third smiled and said, “I’ve got you both beat. You remember how mom enjoyed reading the Bible? And you know she can’t see very well. So I sent her a remarkable parrot that recites the entire Bible. It took elders in the church 12 years to teach him. He’s one of a kind. Mama just has to name the chapter and verse, and the parrot recites it.” Soon thereafter, mom sent out her letters of thanks: “Milton,” she wrote one son, “The house you built is so huge. I live in only one room, but I have to clean the whole house.” “Gerald,” she wrote to another, “I am too old to travel. I stay most of the time at home, so I rarely use the Mercedes. And the driver is so rude!” “Dearest Donald,” she wrote to her third son, “You have the good sense to know what your mother likes. The chicken was delicious.”
When you present your offering to God, it’s a sweet, soothing aroma before the Lord.
He doesn’t go, “Peee-yooo! What’s that smell?” Instead He goes, “Ahhhhhhh, that smells sweet!” 
The other day I was cleaning up my office and came across a couple of those gifts your kids make you for Father’s Day when they are six years old.  Those are my treasures.  They might not be the world’s most expensive pencil holders or cup coaster, but they’re from my kids who love me.  Ahhhhhhh.

:10 'And what is left of the grain offering shall be Aaron's and his sons'. It is most holy of the offerings to the LORD made by fire.

The priests got to keep a portion of the grain offering. This was one of the ways they supported their families.

:11 'No grain offering which you bring to the LORD shall be made with leaven, for you shall burn no leaven nor any honey in any offering to the LORD made by fire.

Why no leaven or honey?

:11LeavenLeaven was a picture of sin (1Cor. 5:8)

(1 Cor 5:8 NKJV) Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
Your sin is not a treasure to God.  It’s not a part of sacrifice.

:11  Honey – Honey represents "sensual pleasure" (M.Henry)

John Wesley writes that this is  “to teach us, that God's worship is not to be governed by men's fancies and appetites but by God's will.”
Some suggest that because honey was used so much in the pagan sacrifices, that honey was not to be used.
Maybe because it just smelled bad when burning?
Honey smells HORRIBLE when it’s burning.
Putting it on meat would only make it burn and smell horrible.
It’s 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.

:12 'As for the offering of the firstfruits, you shall offer them to the LORD, but they shall not be burned on the altar for a sweet aroma.

:13 'And every offering of your grain offering you shall season with salt; you shall not allow the salt of the covenant of your God to be lacking from your grain offering. With all your offerings you shall offer salt.

:13  salt – Why the salt? Lots of suggestions over the years:

We like salt on our tables. The altar is God’s “table”. God likes salt too. (Matthew Henry)

Salt was a symbol of friendship (Matthew Henry)

Honey and yeast are corrupting substances used in fermentation. Salt is a preservative (Keil-Delitzsch)

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

Salt was regarded in the ancient Near East as being indestructible by fire. A “covenant of salt” seems to refer to an eternal covenant. (BKC)

(Num 18:19 NKJV) "All the heave offerings of the holy things, which the children of Israel offer to the LORD, I have given to you and your sons and daughters with you as an ordinance forever; it is a covenant of salt forever before the LORD with you and your descendants with you."

:14 'If you offer a grain offering of your firstfruits to the LORD, you shall offer for the grain offering of your firstfruits green heads of grain roasted on the fire, grain beaten from full heads.

:15 'And you shall put oil on it, and lay frankincense on it. It is a grain offering.

:16 'Then the priest shall burn the memorial portion: part of its beaten grain and part of its oil, with all the frankincense, as an offering made by fire to the LORD.


Learn to give

One of the lessons of the sacrifices is that of giving.
The burnt offering shows us to give our whole lives to Him.
Grain was the “substance” of life, what kept people alive. The grain offering can be a picture of giving to God from your “substance”.
I think one of the growing milestones you ought to come to in your Christian life is learning to give.
I think that some churches have made the mistake of forcing people to give. People are taught to give out of guilt instead out of love.
But sometimes we make the mistake of not teaching people to give at all.

Sometimes we can get all “religious” about our giving, that we have given our lives to the Lord. And then God asks us to give something to someone and we come up with excuses why we can’t.

If you have given yourself completely to God, that means that He has access to all you have and all that you are.

A mature Christian is one who has learned to give. Paul told the elders at Ephesus:

(Acts 20:35 NKJV) "I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'"