The book of Leviticus represents the priestly religious life of Israel.It’s dominant thought is the presence of a holy God in the midst of a holy people dwelling in a holy land.Its object is to teach religious truth to the minds of men through the medium of a stately ritual, sacrifices representing the need of atonement and communion, the consecration of the priesthood teaching the need of consecration of the life of every worshipper who would draw nigh to God, and the law of clean and unclean teaching that God requires the sanctification of the whole man, body as well as spirit (Bible Dictionary, 724).
Wasn’tthe law of Moses given as a genuine rebuke to Israel and imposed upon them as a punishment for rejection of the higher law?The giving of laws is not a punishment? Moses said laws arefor our good always (Deut. 6:24).It was a punishment only in the sense that it was less than they could have received.But wasn’t the law of Moses a great step backward?No. It was a great step forward. We know from the record that Israel was in poor spiritual condition when they came out of Egypt.
TheLord could have justly vented his anger against Israel and destroyed them all (Exodus 32:7-14). Instead he blessed them with a law suited to help them grow spiritually, starting from where they were.It was a far greater challenge to get Egypt out of Israel than it was to get Israel out of Egypt.
Leviticus was written for the priest, and most of what it contains was restricted to the sphere of priestly activity.It is perhaps the most Christian book in the Old Testament, since it teaches better than any other book the consequences of sin and the redemptive nature of vicarious sacrifice.Leviticus teaches better than any other book in the Old Testament the justice of God,while at the same time it teaches His mercy is provided so his children can re-enter His presence.Leviticus is the “gospel” of the Old Testament.Probably received while the Israelites were en-camped in Sinai.
Under the law of offerings made to God must be the offerer’s own property, properly acquired (Deut. 23;18).Altar sacrifices were of three kinds:sin offerings, burnt offerings, and peace offerings.In all the animal sacrifices of the Mosaic Law there were six important acts:1.The presentation of the sacrifice at the sanctuary door by the sacrificer himself, as his personal act.2.The laying on of hands. This was a dedication of the animal to God which made it the sacrificer’s representative and substitute.
3.The slaughtering of the animal. The sacrificer himself slew his sacrifice (at the north side of the altar), and thus carried out actually thededicationto God that he had ceremoniallyexpressedby the laying on of hands.A later custom was for the Levites or priests to slaughter the victims.4.The pouring out or sprinkling of the blood. The priest collected the blood of the animal in a vessel, and applied it in various ways and places to make an atonement.
5.Burning the Sacrifice on the altar.After the priest had properly prepared the sacrificial victim he offered it (the whole or the fat only) upon the altar of burnt offering. This act symbolized the consecration of the worshipper to Jehovah.6.The sacrificial meal.(in the case of the peace offering only). The fat having been burnt and the priests pieces removed, the rest of the flesh was eaten by the sacrificer, his household and the poorer Levites at the tabernacle.
Thefundamental idea of the sin and trespass offerings was atonement.They implied that there was a sin, or some uncleanness akin to a sin, that needed atoning for before fellowship with Jehovah could be obtained.Sins committed with a high hand, and for which the punishment was death, did not admit of expiation (atonement) under the Mosaic Law.
Atonement could be made for:1. Unconscious, unintentional sins.2. Noncapital crimes (e.g., theft), after punishment had been endured.3. Crimes that a man voluntarily confessed, and for which he made (if possible) compensation.
Trespass or guilt offerings were a particular kind of sin offerings. All sins were transgressions of the laws of the covenant; but certain sins might be regarded as robbery, or a violation of right, or an injury, whether in relation to (a) God directly, regarded as King of Israel, by neglecting some rites and services, payments, and offerings; or (b) man directly (whether Israelite or foreigner), by depriving him of some just claim or right.The burnt offering got its Hebrew name from the idea of the smoke of the sacrifice ascending toheaven. Thecharacteristic rite was the burning of the whole animal on the altar.
Peace Offerings:Thesacrificer was at peace with God. The characteristic rite was the sacrificial meal.A feast symbolized fellowship and friendship among all its partakers and friendship among all its partakers and providers, and also a state of joy and gladness.The ritual of the three different kinds of animal sacrifices was identical in regard to the presentation, the imposition of hands, and the slaughtering by the offerer himself.
Thedifferences related to the blood and the method of appropriation of the offering by Jehovah.The blood of the sin offering (except in the particular case of the trespass offering) was put (smeared) upon the horns of the altar of burnt offering in ordinary cases.It was sprinkled against the veil seven times and put upon the horns of the altar of incense in the sin offerings of the high priest and the whole congregation.It was sprinkled on the front of the mercy seat in the sin offering of the Day of Atonement.The remainder of the blood was poured out at the bottom of the altar of burnt offering.The blood of the trespass, burnt, and peace offerings was sprinkled on the altar of burnt offering round about.
The fat of the sin offering, as the choicest part of the flesh, was in every case burnt upon the altar. The remainder of the flesh was eaten in a holy place by the priest and his sons. The whole of the burnt offering, after the skin had been removed, was burnt upon the altar. The fat of the peace offering was burnt upon the altar. The wave breast (the portion of the priests generally) and the heave thigh (the portion of the officiating priest) were eaten by their sons and their daughters in a clean place. The rest was given back to the sacrificers for them with their families and the Levites to eat at the Sanctuary in a sacred feast.
Thesin offering was a young bullock for priests as individuals or as representatives of the people: a he-goat for the people collectively and on the holy days, and for a prince of the congregation; a she-goat or she-lamb for ordinary persons; two turtle-doves or two young pigeons for purification from uncleanness, and for the poor instead of a lamb; the tenth part of an ephah of fine flour for those unable to bring doves or pigeons.
The trespass offering was a ram; except in the cases of lepers and Nazarites, when it was a lamb. The burnt offering might be made with male bullocks, rams, or he-goats without blemish; turtle-doves or pigeons of either sex in cases of poverty.
The peace offering might be made with oxen, sheep, or goats without blemish, whether male or female. Meal offerings or Minchahs were offered along with burnt and peace (but not sin) offerings.In the rite of the peace offering, the ceremonies of waving (the breast) and heaving (the shoulder or thigh) should be noticed.
It is noteworthy that when the three offerings were offered together,the sin always preceded the burnt, and the burnt the peace offerings.Thus the order of the symbolizing sacrifices was the order of atonement, sanctification, and fellowship with the Lord.Minchah offerings were essentially made of corn and wine. The corn could be of the ear, parched and bruised of fine flour or unleavened cakes. It was always seasoned with salt. Leaven and honey were excluded from its preparation.The Minchah could not be offered with a sin offering; on the other hand, no burnt or peace offering was complete without it.A portion of the Minchah, called the memorial, was placed on the altar of burnt offering; the remainder was eaten by the priests in a holy place.
The Priesthood in Ancient Israel:(all Aaronic)The High Priests:Presided over the tabernacle and later the temple, its sacrifices, and other functions. The position was to pass from father to firstborn son throughout all generations of Aaron’s descendants. Thus there was to be only one at a time holding the office.
The Priests:These were the rest of Aaron’s male descendants.They performed the sacrifices and fulfilled other priesthood functions under the direction of the High Priest.The Levites:This group included all the rest of the men of the tribe of Levi. They were chosen toassist the priests in their duties. Just as with the other offices was a hereditary position passed on from father to son.
Leviticuscontains direct revelations from God through Moses to Israel.It was thePriesthood Handbookof that generation.Every law was meant tolift and inspire,reconcile and perfect.Deuteronomy 6:24teaches that His commandments are as Moses said, “for our good always.”Doctrine & Covenants section 20 was originally called “The Articles and Covenants of the Church.”Doctrine & Covenants 20 was thePriesthood Handbookfor the Saints in this dispensation.
Ineach offering there are at least three distinct objects presented to us:1. The offering2. The Priest3. The offererChrist is the offering, Christ is the priest, Christ is the offerer.Thus his body was His offering: He willingly offered it; and then as priest He took the blood into the holiest.
Asofferer, we see Him man under the law, standing our substitute, for us to fulfill all righteousness.Aspriest, we have Him presented as the mediator, God’s messenger between Himself and Israel.While as theoffering, He is seen the innocent victim, a sweet savor to God, yet bearing the sin and dying for it.
Leviticus1:3“without blemish”All sacrificial animals had to meet two other requirements.1. be clean (Lev. 11, ordinary livestock)2. be from domesticated herds and flocksIn Hebrew “without blemish” means to be sound or whole.
Leviticus 1:3“voluntary will at the door of thetabernacle.”This was done to assist Israel in overcoming idolatry. The offerings were to be done in one place, at the door of the temple.Leviticus 1:4“Atonement for him”In Hebrew “atonement” means “to cover over or hide.”In English “atonement” means to “cover.”Alma 7:13 teaches that our sins are blotted out before God through his grace or loving kindness.The wordat–one-mentis used to show that man can become one with God again.
Leviticus 1:5Whyso much emphasis on blood?Blood symbolized both life and the giving of one’s life.Death is the consequence of sin and so the animal was slain to show what happens when man sins.Also, the animal was a type of Christ. Through the giving of His life for man, by the shedding of His blood, one who is spiritually dead because of sin can find new life.Thus the smearing, splashing, or daubing of blood “covered” the sins of men and thus brought about atonement.Thus, the blood was a symbol for the whole process by which man becomes reconciled with God.
Leviticus 1:6“cut into pieces”“Man’s duty to God is not the giving up of one faculty, butthe entire surrender of all.Thehead-thoughtsThe legs-the path walkedThe inwards-feelings andaffectionsofthe heartThe fat-possibly - energy
In Jesus these were all surrendered, and all without spot or blemish.The washing of the inwards and legs suggests the need for one to be spiritually pure not only in what he does but also in what he desires (Ephesians 5:26).The sacrifice stressed the idea that only when the offerer yields himself to God is his life sweet or satisfying to the Lord.Leviticus 1“The Olah Offering” (to go up)It all symbolized that man’s duty to God is to give up not just one faculty, but the entire surrender of all! (total consecration).
Leviticus 1:10-17VariousOfferings?Acceptable offerings were from these groups:A male ox or bull, a male sheep or goat, a turtle dove or pigeon.The economic situation of the individual determined which animal was sacrificed.That each of these animals was totally acceptable to God is indicative of his mercy.With Him it is not the gift that counts but the intent of the giver’s heart.
Leviticus 2:1“TheMeat Offering”“meat offering” in Hebrew means “a gift” (Wilson,Old Testament Word Studies, s.v. “meat,” 271).Refers to gift of grain, flour, orbreads. Onemeaning of the word meat is food.God gives us all food.
The bringing together of the oil, frankincense, and grain in this offering is instructive:Oil was used in the scripture to symbolize the Holy Ghost (Doctrine & Covenants 45:56-57).Grain was used to symbolize the word of God (Mark 4:14).Frankincense was used to symbolize prayer (Rev. 8:3).As man was meant to live physically by eating bread, so too was he meant to live spiritually in Christ by partaking of the word and spirit of the Lord through prayer.
Leviticus 2:11“burn no leaven or honey”Both easily spoil (if honey was not sealed up it began to ferment which resulted in a nasty taste). Both were excellent symbols of corruption.Leviticus 2:13“Salt”Salt on the other hand was not to be omitted from any sacrificial offering. It had power to strengthen food and preserve it from corruption.Salt was the symbol of the covenant; treaties being concluded and rendered firm and inviolable. Covenants of this kind were called “a covenant of salt’ (Numbers 18:19; 2 Chronicles 13:5).Remember, salt cannot lose its savor unless it is mixed and contaminated with outside sources (Matthew 5:13).
Leviticus 3“The Peace Offering”Offered in times of misfortune, or on the day which supplication was offered for the help of God. Or just a thanks offering.Leviticus 4:2“Sin through ignorance?”Those sins committed by mistake, error, or oversight, that is, sins committed unintentionally.This sacrifice illustrated the fact that sin, even when not deliberately committed, places one under the demands of justice.
Leviticus 4:5-7“Blood sprinkled before the veil and on the horns”The horns on the altar of sacrifice and the altar of incense were a symbol of power (perhaps because many animals with horns have greater power).The horns on the altars suggested symbolically that in those two altars there was power to save.In Luke 1:69 Christ is called the “horn of salvation.”To put the blood of the sin offering on the horns of the altar of incense signified that the atoning blood had power to make Israel’s prayers to God more effectual.
Leviticus 4:12“Sin offering outside the camp?”Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach (Hebrews 13:11-13).For the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned without the camp. Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate.The atoning sacrifice which began in Gethsemane and ended on Golgotha the next day could be thought of as an offering for sin.The completion of the sacrifice took place on the cross outside the city walls. Thus, Paul saw in Christ’s sacrifice a fulfillment of the typology of the sin offering being burned outside the camp.
Leviticus 5:14-19; 6:1-7What is the difference between a Sin Offering and a Trespass Offering?The one was for sin in our nature (the natural man) the other for the fruits of it.In a Sin Offering no particular act of sin was mentioned.In a Trespass-offering certain acts are enumerated.In the Sin-offering I see a person who needs atonement, offering an oblation for himself as a sinner: in the Trespass-offering I see certain acts which need atonement, and the offering offered for these particular offences.
Leviticus 6:13“it shall never go out”Theduty of the priest was to keep the fire burning. It symbolized the continuation of the covenant which made the ordinance of sacrifice everlastingly valid.The fire symbolized the cleansing power of the Holy Spirit, which is never extinguished.
Leviticus 7:11-27Why did the offerer partake of the Peace Offering?Once the fat, kidneys, breast, and upper part of the back leg were removed, the rest of the animal was returned to the offerer.Upon returning home, he used it in preparing a feast to which his family, friends, and the poor were invited.This feast became a holy covenant meal participated in with joy and thanksgiving because it represented fellowship with the Lord.However, to knowingly partake of the peace offering while in a condition of uncleanliness was grounds for excommunication (v. 21). One cannot be in a state of sin and be at peace with God at the same time.
Leviticus 7:28-34“Heave andWave Offering?”The Lord declared that two portions of the animal would be the priest’s. The first was the heave offering, which was the upper portion of the back leg.The term “heave” means in Hebrew, “to lift off or remove.”This portion was given by the offerer to the priest in payment for his assistance.The “wave breast” was the brisket or lower chest. This choice piece of meat, along with the fat and kidneys was the Lord’s.The brisket was presented to the Lord through the act of waving.The priest placed the offering in the hands of the offerer and then placed his own hands beneath it. They then moved the brisket in a horizontal motion toward the altar (symbolically transferring to the Lord) and then back again, representing God’s acceptance of the offering and its transference to his servant the priest.
Leviticus 10:1-7Whatwas the “strange fire” offered by Aaron’s sons?The Hebrew word translated “strange” means “to be alien…as opposed to that which is holy and legitimate.Thus the idea is not that the fire was strange or unusual, but thatthese two sons of Aaron engaged in an “unauthorized” form of worship.Elder McConkie taught that both Nadab and Abihu held the Melchizedek Priesthood.
Leviticus 10:16-19Eleazarand Ithamar, sons of Aaron got into trouble.They had burned all of the sacrifice, rather than eating their portion. Moses rebuked them and Aaron withstood the rebuke.With Aaron’s spirited answer Moses was satisfied.