Study Notes

Leviticus 1:1-17

Why Study Leviticus?

At first reading, this 27-chapter book can seem a bit tedious. Truth be told, at face value it is merely an instruction book for the Levite priests on how to perform their duties, and to be educated regarding God's sacrifices, laws, etc. As a matter of fact, the word "Leviticus" means, "that which pertains to the Levites."

But let us not forget the importance this book has for us. Remember three days after Jesus had been crucified, two disciples walked along the road to Emmaus. Jesus Himself came and walked with them, though they were prevented from recognizing Him. When they told Him of their disappointment with the death of the one they thought was the Messiah,

Luke 24:25-27 ...He said to them, "O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?" And beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.

There are things written in the Law of Moses concerning Jesus! Hebrews chapter 10 tells us,

Hebr. 10:1 (NIV) The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming - not the realities themselves...

To the church, Paul wrote,

Rom. 15:4 For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction...

In the book of Acts, he preached to the Jews,

Acts 28:23 ...trying to persuade them concerning Jesus, from both the Law of Moses and from the Prophets...

And Jesus told the Jewish leaders,

John 5:39 "You search the Scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is these that bear witness of Me;

So we are told over and over again that the Scriptures, the five books of Moses specifically, are full of pictures of, and pointers to, Jesus Christ. Let us therefore study this book with the same diligence and excitement that we would approach any other Bible book.

1:1 From The Tent Of Meeting

When we finished the book of Exodus, the last thing we saw was the Tabernacle constructed and erected, and then...

Exod. 40:34-35 Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud had settled on it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.

Now the Lord speaks to Moses from the Tent of Meeting. He is going to spend the next 7 chapters dictating to Moses the Laws regarding the 5 types of offerings: The burnt offering, the grain offering, the peace offering, the sin offering, and the guilt offering.

The Lord Spoke To Moses

Many people believe the fact that God spoke to Moses, but in order to resist and reject having to obey those words, some have claimed, "The Bible has been translated hundreds of times over thousands of years. How can we possibly believe that it isn't full of errors?"

The Kabbalist Jews have done us a favor here. In their mystical approach to understanding the Scriptures, they have discovered an amazing thing about the book of Leviticus which verifies both its authenticity and its accuracy.

The Kabbalists discovered that the first Yud (Y) in the book of Leviticus is followed seven letters later with a Hay (H). Seven letters after that is a Vahv (W), and seven letters after that is another Hay (H). No big deal until you realize two things: 1) that these four letters spell out Yahweh, the name of God, and 2) that this every seven letter pattern is repeated perpetually throughout the entire book! if even one letter was either added or omitted, then the pattern would be broken, and we would have to question the accuracy of the transcriptions over the last 3,500 years.

1:2 From The Herd Or Flock

The Lord begins by telling Moses that all of the offerings about to be described that include animals must be "from the herd or the flock."

A simple fact, but what does it mean to us? Sacrifices to the Lord always cost something. In 1Chronicles 21, we read that the Lord commanded that David build an altar on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite. Ornan tried to give to David everything that was needed - the threshing floor and the oxen for the offering - completely free. But we read in 1Chronicles 21...

1Chr. 21:24 But King David said to Ornan, "No, but I will surely buy it for the full price; for I will not take what is yours for the LORD, or offer a burnt offering which costs me nothing."

It's great to be a wise steward with your funds and find a bargain when you can. But when it comes time to give sacrifices and offerings unto the Lord, there shouldn't be any freebies or cutting corners. David would not give the Lord a sacrifice that cost him nothing - every offering must have a personal price.

1:3-17 The Burnt Offering

God begins the descriptions of offerings with the Burnt Offering.

The purpose of this offering was for a person to be accepted before the Lord, to have atonement - his sin covered.

The procedure followed was to find a male without defect, lay his hand on the head of the animal, then it was killed. Afterwards was a process involving the skinning, cutting, and burning or washing of the parts.

The price of the offering was either a bull, a sheep or goat, or a turtledove. This was to allow sacrifices whether the person was rich or poor. In chapters 5 and 12, the Lord specifically says that if the worshipper cannot afford a lamb, then birds are a suitable substitute.

The picture of this burnt offering, like all of the offerings, is a portrait of Christ. Notice the details that we are given:

Without Defect

The sacrifice is to be a male without defect. Of course we know that Jesus Christ was without defect.

2Cor. 5:21 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf

Hebr. 4:15 For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as {we are, yet} without sin.


1John 3:5 And you know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin.

Every time we read about the offerings having no defect, it should remind us of the sinlessness of Jesus Christ.

Lay His Hand On The Head

The worshipper was to lay his hand on the head of the burnt offering. The laying on of hands in Scripture indicates transference.

Jesus transferred healing to many people by laying hands on them. (Mt 9:18, Mk 5:23, etc.) Believers can also lay hands on the sick and they will recover. (Mk 16:18)

Jesus also transferred blessing to the children as He laid his hands on them, prayed, and blessed them. (Mt. 19:13-15, Mk 10:13-16).

The gift of the Holy Spirit was transferred through the apostles laying their hands on people. (Acts 8:17-24) This also happened to Timothy when Paul and the leadership laid their hands on him. (1Tim 4:14, 2Tim 1:6) Authority is also transferred when a pastor lays hands on to to ordain an elder. (1Tim 5:22)

But what is being transferred between the worshipper and the animal? The guilt of sin. The animal's death would be a substitution for the worshipper's death. In this again, the animal is a perfect picture of Christ. He was delivered up for our transgressions (Rom 4:25).

Isa. 53:4-5 Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed.

1Pet. 3:18 For Christ also died for sins once for all, {the} just for the unjust...

Now the laying on of hands had to be performed in order for the sacrifice to be acceptable. It was not just the death of the animal that made atonement for the worshipper, but the willing admission and transfer of the guilt that made it a substitution, an atoning sacrifice.

He Shall Slay

It was the worshipper himself that was called to kill the animal.

This, too, is indicative of the worshipper's relationship with Christ. It is important that we realize the it is we who are responsible for the death of Jesus. It is for our sins specifically that He died.

Sprinkle The Blood

The blood was to be sprinkled around the altar. The Bible mentions numerous times that the blood represents life. (Gen 9:4; Lev 17; Deut 12:23, etc.) The blood being sprinkled on the altar symbolized the judgment of the worshipper's life. The book of Hebrews talks about the sprinkling of blood on the people, the book of the Law, and the tabernacle, saying,

Hebr. 9:22 And according to the Law, almost all things are cleansed with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.

The sprinkling of blood was a picture of the life of Jesus Christ being judged in substitution of the worshipper's life.

Remember, as we've talked about so many times before, this is a terrible, gory, bloody mess. And that's what it's supposed to be. Sin is disgusting to God and He's trying to show us how repulsive and repugnant it is. There are no pretty coverups for sin. This was a terrible sight.

Skinned And Cut Into Pieces

When we read in Scripture that something is cut into pieces, it speaks of terrible judgment. The Lord said,

Deut. 32:26 'I would have said, "I will cut them to pieces, I will remove the memory of them from men," '

In Judges 19 and 20, we read the story of a Levite whose concubine was assaulted and killed by men of the tribe of Benjamin. When demanding judgment upon them, the Levite said,

Judg. 20:6 "And I took hold of my concubine and cut her in pieces and sent her throughout the land of Israel's inheritance; for they have committed a lewd and disgraceful act in Israel.

Jesus Himself said of the evil slave,

Matt. 24:50-51 the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect {him} and at an hour which he does not know, and shall cut him in pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites; weeping shall be there and the gnashing of teeth.

So the sacrifice is cut into pieces and suffers judgment, just as Christ suffered the judgment that we deserved to suffer.

Washed With Water

The entrails and legs were first to be washed with water. This speaks of the fact that Jesus was clean from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfect in holiness.

We too are called to be cleansed in the same way. Paul told the Corinthians,

2Cor. 7:1 Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

We must be washed in the water of the Word of God, and be perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

Sheep To The North

Now the offering of a lamb had a specific, spectacular instruction. It was to be slain a a certain place: north of the altar. What does north have to do with it? Because our Lamb, the Lamb of God, was crucified on Mount Calvary - which lies north of Jerusalem!

Off With The Bird's Head

This to me is one of the most fascinating pictures of Christ in this offering. The priest was to wring off its head - the head was physically separated from the body.

Eph. 5:23 ...Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself {being} the Savior of the body.

Col. 1:18 He is also head of the body, the church...

Christ is the head, the body of Christ is the church. At His sacrifice, there was a separation - the head was removed from the body. We see that enacted physically in the ceremony of the burnt offering. There is another picture of this in the gospels that occurred on resurrection morning.

John 20:6-7 Simon Peter therefore also came, following him, and entered the tomb; and he beheld the linen wrappings lying there, and the face-cloth, which had been on His head, not lying with the linen wrappings, but rolled up in a place by itself.

So we see another picture of the body of Christ being separated from the head.

A Soothing Aroma

Notice that in the description of each (verses 9, 13, and 17), the animals of the burnt offering were "an offering by fire of a soothing aroma to the Lord." And of course, in this as well, we have a beautiful picture of the sacrifice of Christ. Remember that Paul told us in Ephesians to...

Eph. 5:2 ...walk in love, just as Christ also loved you, and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.

Ah, the sweet savor of our Sweet Savior!

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