Today, let’s start taking a look at Leviticus in its historical context and begin to lay out its basic structure.
First, let me start off by saying there is one fundamental difference between the Scriptures (what the gentile church calls the Old Testament) and the New Testament.
Outside of the four Gospels, the New Testament is basically a collection of letters and memos written by Paul, Peter, and James that deal with specific issues that arose at various church locations when the early church was just getting started BEFORE it became gentile-dominated.
Each of these NT letters can pretty much stand on their own.
However, the beauty of the Torah and the rest of the books in Scripture is that for the most part they are sequential.
They follow a logical timeline that reads like a novel.
In other words, there is a beginning, a middle, and an end.
Ironically if the five books of the Torah did not have boundary markers (which are totally manmade) telling us where one book ended and the next one began, we would get a better overall sense of their meaning.
See, each book of the Torah is designed to link with the others in a certain order.
Not reading the books in order is like reading your favorite 300 page novel from page 153.
You will have skipped over many important details and as a result get an incomplete picture.
If the first book of the Torah, Genesis, is the book of beginnings, and Deuteronomy, the 5th and last book of the Torah is Moses’s final exposition on the Teachings and the Law, then Leviticus, being aptly situated right smack in the middle is the very HEART OF THE TORAH.
It is the focus and center of the 5 Books of Moses.
It is also the only book of the Torah whose setting is restricted to the Holy Mountain of Sinai (or Mount Horeb) and answers that most crucial and important question posed by the prophet Micah so long ago.
“With what shall I approach ADONAI,
Do homage to Elohim the most high?”
Well, the answer to that question is provided to us in Leviticus.
“You shall be holy, for I,
YHVH your Elohim, am holy”
The word “holiness” is bantered back and forth and frequently mouthed from the pulpit.
We’re told that we’re supposed to be holy because the Lord we worship is holy.
We’ve been taught that unless our sins our atoned for we cannot approach God because of His Holiness which separates us from Him.
But do we reeeeaaaaally understand what this means?
Do we REALLY understand what God’s HOLINESS is about apart from the easy-to-digest, shallow, and super simplified doctrines the gentile churches teach?
It would be no exaggeration to say that just as Leviticus is central to the Torah, the subject of HOLINESS is central to Leviticus.
If you want to have acquire a SOLID UNDERSTANDING of the HOLINESS of God and all the resulting implications, then you’ve got to study Leviticus, no ifs or buts about it.
When studying the sacred rituals outlined in Leviticus, we’ll notice something interesting.
Much of the holiness rituals were also required by the lay people or the common folk.
There wasn’t any of this sitting on the bench spectator nonsense.
The Levite priests acted more as attendants who officiated over the rituals and sacrifices.
They also served to instruct the people about ritual and sacrifice.
So right from the beginning, the average Hebrew man performed many of the required rituals including the killing of the sacrificial animals.
This is another unique feature of the Hebrew religion.
For the other pagan religions during this time, it was ONLY the priests who were required to perform all of the strict rituals.
And it was only the priests who were subject to the many dietary laws, sexual taboos, and purity restrictions.
Not so in ancient Israel where every man played a priestly role and actively participated.
Every person had certain obligations he or she was to follow in the areas of diet, sexuality, and purity etcetera.