Read the Bible in a Year
This week, read: Leviticus
At Least Know This
Leviticus is primarily devoted to instructions on offerings, sacrifices, and other laws.
Author and Date
Jesus once referred to the first five books of the Bible as the “Books of Moses” (Mark 12:26).
So, through most of church history, people assumed that Moses wrote those books. Modern
analysis of the ancient Hebrew text shows that there were many people (or many groups) that
edited the book.
Leviticus was probably put in its final form during the Babylonian Exile (587-538 BC).
Moses had marched the children of Israel out of slavery in Egypt, and the people are now at or
near Mount Sinai.
Hundreds of laws are given in this section of Scripture. They mostly focus on the different types
of sacrifices and offerings.
However, not all the laws are about priestly duties. Check out some of these laws:
Leviticus 19:9. They were told to reap their harvest, but to leave the edges of the fields so that
poor people and foreigners could have something to eat.
Leviticus 20:22-24. I am the Lord your God, who has set you apart from the nations. The people
were to be different—set apart and chosen to be a people who would draw all people back to
God. As time went on, they began to interpret their “chosenness” to mean they didn’t have to
interact with anyone else.
Leviticus 25:1-7. Read what they were to do every 7 years (the sabbath year), as a way to
practice relying on God.
Leviticus 25:8-55. If you think that the sabbath year was radical, read this section about the
Year of Jubilee. Every 49 years, all debts are cancelled, and everyone goes back to their own
land. Imagine what this does to the economy! It prevents the rich from getting richer and the
poor from getting poorer. And it reminds everyone that (verse 23) that the land and its
resources are not theirs. Everything is God’s, and he’s letting you use it for now.
Leviticus has a few passages that cast shadows which show up in the New Testament.
Leviticus 5:7. If a family is too poor to own a lamb, they can sacrifice two doves or pigeons.
That’s what Mary and Joseph bring in Luke 2:23.
Leviticus 16. The day of Atonement was practiced once a year, where a lamb was sacrificed for
the sins of the people. Jesus was often called the Lamb of God.
Leviticus 21:1-4. In Luke 10, Jesus tells the parable of the Good Samaritan. He describes a priest
and Levite who pass by. In Leviticus, it tells why—they were not allowed to touch a dead body.
The parable of the Good Samaritan is not a story where the moral is, “we should be nice to
people.” This is Jesus’ dramatic attack on the Levitical law. Jesus threw out all these laws,
because he was replacing everything. He alone is all we need.
If you run across a passage that you have questions about, feel free to post questions (or
insights that you have received from the Bible reading), comment below! You can also feel free to email the question to me.
Our next face-to-face meeting is on February 14, 2019 at 6:30-7:45.