Leviticus: The Law and Sacrificial System

September 29, 2016 at 9:05 AM


The book of Leviticus introduces us to the Levitical priesthood, including the giving of the Law of God (commonly referred to as the Mosaic Law), as well as the sacrificial system instituted by God in order to approach Him. It needs to be stated that neither the Law or the sacrificial system determined by God gave Israelites salvation. This is a misnomer and often Dispensationalists like myself are accused of believing that God has separate forms of salvation; one for Jewish people and one for the Church (made up of both Jews and Gentiles). This could not be further from the truth.

The error stems from a comment originally made by C. I. Scofield in his original “notes” based on Scripture. In it, he implied that salvation was somewhat different in the Old Testament than it was in the New Testament. This error on his part was immediately corrected with the publication of his revised “notes,” yet in spite of that, the claim that Dispensationalists believe in two forms of salvation remains. In fact, it is alleged that there was a deep, dark “cover-up” by Scofield and those who believe as he did, in the erasure of his first comment. The reality is that if one considers all of Scofield’s comments and notes, it is impossible to come away believing that he meant that in the Old Testament, salvation was by works and in the New Testament it was through faith. In essence, salvation has always been through faith alone, in Christ alone. The works that a Christian does after becoming saved are done not for salvation, but because of it. This is clear from Hebrews 11, which reaches back into the Old Testament to prove that the saints of old gained righteousness not because of the works they did, but because of the faith in God they exhibited. Because they believed, they were counted righteous. Their belief in God prompted them to follow through with the right actions. It is the same with Christians today. We believe God and are counted righteous. We therefore, follow through with actions that are in keeping with our salvation.

Meaning & Author – Leviticus was also written by Moses, as part of the Pentateuch (or five scrolls). The events recorded in Leviticus took place in Sinai and Canaan. It provides us with the continuing unfolding drama of redemption. In this book, God provides instruction to the Israelites on how to be holy in daily life. Israel, as a nation, was intended to be the light to the world, highlighting the truth of God’s redemptive plan to all the world. In order to be able to approach God, people who were not of Israel had to become part of that nation. They had to leave their own cultures and adopt Israelite culture. This is not the case today because of the fact that God in Christ is creating His Church and because of that, salvation is available to all without consideration for race, gender, or culture (Galatians 3:28). God also tells us through Paul that God has blinded the Israelites temporarily because of their rejection of Jesus (Romans 9 – 11). However, that blindness will one day be removed and God will draw from that nation His final remnant. That remnant will go into the Millennial Kingdom (1,000-year reign) of Jesus where they – as the final version of the nation of Israel – will finally possess all the Land originally promised through Abraham (Genesis 12, 15, and 17).

Time Period – the time frame for Leviticus is said to have been 1445 BC to 1400 BC. Dr. Thomas L. Constable quotes from Gordon J. Wenham’s commentary on Leviticus.

“It would be wrong, however, to describe Leviticus simply as a manual for priests. It is equally, if not more, concerned with the part the laity should play in worship. Many of the regulations explain what the layman should sacrifice. They tell him when to go to the sanctuary, what to bring, and what he may expect the priest to do when he arrives. [1]

Constable himself notes the following regarding the book of Leviticus.

Historically, the book fits within the one month between God’s occupation of the tabernacle (Exod. 40:17, 34-38), and the taking of the census at Sinai (Num. 1:1-3). However, because it contains so much legal material, we should consider it along with the rest of the Mosaic Law that God began to reveal in Exodus. [2]

Outline – the following outline works well in highlighting the major components of Leviticus.

  • Sacrifice (1 – 7)
  • Priesthood (8 – 10)
  • Clean and Unclean (11 – 15)
  • Day of Atonement (16)
  • Laws for Daily Living (17 – 27)

It cannot be stressed enough that just as the Israelites were expected to eschew evil and live lives that extolled the virtues of holiness before a holy God, Christians are to do the same thing. We are to flee from all sinful desires and endeavor to live holy lives (in His strength), from the time we receive salvation to the very moment He takes us home to be with Him in eternity. Of course, it is impossible for the Christian to live a perfectly sinless life because of the inherent sin nature within us. Sinless perfection is something that will only become reality for the Christian when the sin nature is excised from us and that will not occur until we pass through the door of death.

Nonetheless, God wanted Moses and the Israelites to understand that living a holy life from the heart was an impossibility. Something more was needed and ultimately, that something more was found in the redemption made possible only by the life, death, and resurrection of the God-Man Jesus, who lived without even a hint of sin from birth through death. He is our model.

I once spoke with an orthodox Jewish person who told me that obeying the laws of what we call the Old Testament is not that difficult. Remember, there are a total of 613 of those laws and while some are designated for the priests only, many apply to average citizens of Israel. If a person simply goes through the motions and does everything physically correct, then yes, it is not that difficult to obey all the laws. However, Jesus made it clear that simply avoiding adultery (as an example), is not where it ends. A man might never give into the physical desire to commit adultery with a woman who is not his wife. The true nature of obedience to that law is found in whether or not that same man ever lusted after a woman who was not his wife. That is the crux of the law and it is obeyed in the heart and will, not merely in externals.

A man could be outwardly happily married to the same woman for decades and never physically stray from her. However, how many times did he lust after or fantasize of having sexual relations with another woman? Outward obedience to the law is certainly necessary but it can be accomplished by sheer will, while inwardly, that person has strayed and disobeyed constantly. Certainly, if that man never strays physically, he won’t have to deal with the consequences of a broken heart (his wife’s) when she finds out and a broken marriage, along with everything else that goes along with that.

Had King David lusted after Bathsheba and gone no further, he still would have broken God’s laws (2 Samuel 11). But he would never have had to deal with the physical consequences of his outward actions that led him to sleep with Bathsheba, impregnate her, and kill her husband Uriah. However, to God, there is no difference between lusting after someone and actually having sexual relations with them (Matthew 5:27 – 28).

Only faith – or believing in God – provides the necessary inner action that helps us overcome the stumbling blocks that evil and our sin natures constantly place in front of us.

pictorial_bible_pentThe book of Leviticus provides the foundational knowledge regarding the supreme and ultimate sacrifice of Jesus. As the Bible reveals, the law simply pointed out the sin nature in people. Jesus provides the full redemptive answer, something the law was never capable of doing.

I have written a book called “The Pictorial Bible, Vol. 1.” It is my attempt to visualize the first five books of the Bible to help make things easier to remember. It is available for purchase but because it is a “print on demand,” and in full color, it is a bit pricey, although that’s certainly relative. If you want a hard copy, that is the only way of obtaining it. Click on the link above to be taken to Amazon where the book can be purchased.


[1] http://www.soniclight.com/constable/notes/pdf/leviticus.pdf, p. 2

[2] Ibid, p. 3

Entry filed under: christianity, Cultural Marxism, dispensationalism, Emotional virtue, eternity, israel, Judaism, Political Correctness, Politically Correct, Politics, Religious - Christian - End Times, Religious - Christian - Prophecy, Religious - Christian - Theology, salvation, second coming, temple mount. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , .

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