Message: “A Holy God provides an unholy people instruction on how he may be approached and exhorts them to live a holy life.”
Leviticus is a book that expresses God’s holiness and his desire for his people to reflect his holiness in their lives. The book can be divided into two major themes. Chapters 1-16 focus on the holiness of God and the means by which he may be approached. Chapters 17-27 concentrate on how God’s people are to distinguish themselves from other people by living a life of holiness. Within these two major classifications, Leviticus can be further dissected into five major themes: the offering of sacrifices (chapters 1-7); institution of the priesthood (chapter 8-10); distinguishing between unclean and clean (chapters 11-15); day of atonement (16); and living a life of holiness (17-27).
The Offering of Sacrifices
Leviticus immediately begins by providing instructions describing how an unholy people can approach God through the offering of five distinct sacrifices (Burnt, Grain, Peace, Sin, and Guilt). The instructions offered in 1:1 – 6:7 are directed to those bringing the sacrifice as well as to the priests who would be responsible for offering the sacrifice. Additional instructions were provided to the priest in 6:8-7:38 related to offering and disposing of the various sacrifices.
Institution of the Priesthood
Chapters 8-10 provide the first of two narratives found in Leviticus (24:10-23 being the other). In addition to the instructions regarding sacrifices provided in chapters 1-7, God’s people would also need a priest to offer the sacrifice on behalf of the people. Therefore chapters 8-10 deal with the institution and ordination of the priests who would serve as the intermediator between a Holy God and an unholy people.
Distinguishing between Unclean and Clean
The next major break comes in Chapter 11 in which the Lord sought to instruct his people to distinguish between that which is clean and unclean in relation to diet, disease, and discharge. Although there were some hygienic advantages to these regulations, the primary purpose was to instill in God’s people the notion that holiness was associated with a life that was uncontaminated by disobedience. Distinguishing between clean and unclean was a tangible reminder that cleanliness of heart was needed for holiness.
Day of Atonement
The first major section of Leviticus concludes in chapter 16 with the introduction and instruction for the day of atonement. This was a unique day in which the God would cleanse his people from the sins in which they has committed from year’s past. This was especially significant considering the scope of uncleanness which was addressed in the previous section.
Living a Life of Holiness
The last major section of Leviticus extends from chapters 17-27. The theme running through this section is the life of holiness that God expects from his people. Topics range from holiness in sexual intimacy to holiness involving vows made to God. The placement of this section is most fitting as it allows for man to respond to God by living a life of holiness.
By Jim Krouscas
Here is a detailed chart of Leviticus that Jim prepared: Leviticus Outline