Agriculturally based religious festivals and sacrificial offerings to gods were common in the ancient world long before Israel ever came into existence.
Thus, when the Lord first introduced the complex system of rituals detailed for us in Leviticus, it wouldn’t have been foreign to the Hebrews.
All of these animal sacrificial rituals were just standard operating procedure for the whole known world at the time.
And the establishment of a set-apart priestly class would also have been nothing new for Israel.
However, there were a couple of quite noticeable differences between the rituals the Lord had ordained and those of pagan religions.
First, the prohibition against using god-images was a totally new concept.
Second, there was a high degree of sexual modesty that characterized the Hebrew religion compared to pagan religions as many of their sacred rituals involved explicit sexual acts.
Third, child or human sacrifice was strictly forbidden.
Now it shouldn’t surprise us that to the Hebrews animal sacrifice was as common as the sun rising.
What was the first thing he did once he left the ark?
He performed a ritual animal sacrifice.
Or how about the controversy that led to the death of Abel at the hand of his brother Cain?
The Lord made it clear that Abel’s animal sacrifice was acceptable but Cain’s plant life offering was NOT acceptable.
After the flood, the only knowledge that men had in terms of how to relate to God is what they had learned from Noah.
Noah was well familiar with the Lord’s ways and these teachings are reflected in a legal code named after him.
The Apostle Paul referred to this legal code as the Noachide Laws.
They are as follows:
1) No idolatry
2) No blasphemy
3) No murder
4) No stealing
5) No immoral sex
6) no drinking blood or eating a live animal,
7) The establishment of human government
It is these very laws that form the basis of the 10 Words (commandments) given to Moses at Sinai.
So how did this pure God-ordained religion become polluted?
Well, a few hundred years after the flood, a wicked and powerful world leader named Nimrod burst onto the scene and led the earth’s inhabitants into an open revolt against God.
And make no bones about it, the basis of Nimrod’s revolt was a staunch refusal to accept and obey the 7 Noachide Laws.
As I said before, I believe the Bible works in patterns and thus I believe Nimrod is prophetic of another wicked and powerful world leader who will soon emerge and declare an open revolt against Israel and the Most High.
Of course, understand that at the time, the revolt Nimrod led had been brewing for quite a while.
He was simply the catalyst who rode the momentum caused by the sinfulness already resident in people’s hearts.
My whole point in sharing all this is that contrary to popular assumption, the Lord did NOT take a perverted and existing manmade system of sacrifice, rituals, and laws and then fix and polish it up to be used by Israel.
THE EXACT OPPOSITE OCCURRED!
The Lord FIRST introduced his sacrificial and holiness system to the world, first through Adam and then later Noah who passed it on to his children, and then this system later became polluted as folks began to ignore God’s truth and add their own deceived thoughts and teachings to God’s pure ways.
Does all this sound familiar?
This rebellion peaked at the Tower of Babel.
Nimrod is rightfully credited as being the father of what the Bible calls the “Mystery Babylon Religions”.
So what happens when people take God’s standards and twist them to conform to their own selfish wants and sinful desires?
Here’s what happens
Animal sacrifice becomes human sacrifice.
God-ordained sexual conduct turns into incest, homosexuality and religious prostitution.
Reptiles, birds, mammals, and even humans are turned into god-images.
Here’s what makes false religions so deceptive.
Since all religions have their origin in the holiness system the Lord first gave to Adam, at their core, they all have a degree of truth.
But it is truth that has been wrapped in lies and is now hardly recognizable from the original pure path the Lord had established.
See, what Leviticus is all about is the straightening out of the path that had again gone crooked after the flood.
It is only by returning to the pure path the Lord has established in His Word that we will be able to break free from the shackles of paganism and false beliefs that have infiltrated the true and pure Messianic faith.