Things to know
Where does the book begin?
God’s people were in the desert. They were on their way to the land that God promised Abraham.
Where does the book end?
When the book ends, the people were still in the desert.
People to know
Nadab and Abihu
Places to go
God gives the laws for the burnt offering.
A special day is set for a special sacrifice*.
God is holy.
Care for the poor.
God gives blessings* and curses.
The Story of Leviticus
The book of Leviticus is a most unusual book. It is almost like another section of Exodus. The people set up God’s Tent in the middle of their camp. And God spoke to Moses from that tent. Moses wrote down the things that God told him. And he put those words in this book.
The name of this book is Leviticus. The word Leviticus means ‘about the Levites’. Levi was one of the sons of Jacob. ‘Levites’ were the sons of Levi. God chose this family to be priests. God gave them many things to do. One was to help the people know the laws that God gave Moses. They also were to care for God’s Tent and all of the things that happened there. Moses and Aaron were both Levites.
God told Moses the way that the people should worship* him. Then, Moses told the priests. The priests were to worship* God just the way Moses told them. Then, they would help the people do the same. Moses gave them many rules about how to worship* God. The first part of Leviticus tells how to make a sacrifice* to God. God’s Tent had an altar* in front of it. That may be why the first part of Leviticus tells about how to make a sacrifice*.
The second part of Leviticus tells the priests their duties. God told them what to wear. He told them how to wash themselves. When God finished teaching the priests, he gave directions to all of the people.
God gave these laws to the people to remind them that they belonged to him. God wanted his people to be holy*. The word holy means ‘set apart’. God wanted them to worship* only him. God wanted them to obey him in every way. God is holy*. He expected his people to be holy* too.
God gave these rules to tell the people how to live a holy life. The rules and laws in Leviticus told the people how they could please God. It told them how to keep God in their camp. But to have God living in your camp can be a dangerous thing. God is holy. He cannot sin*. He cannot close his eyes to sin* in his people. The people of God had not obeyed God well in the past. How could God live among these people who could be so wicked so often?
Leviticus tells us the answer. Moses said that sin* always leads to death. But God is merciful*. God would forgive* their sin*. But he would only forgive* them if they did what he told them to do. The people could come to God’s Tent. They could give an animal to the priest. The priest would kill it. Then he would offer a sacrifice* to God. This offering would pay for the sin* of the people. God would accept the offering. God would forgive the sin* of the people. He would not hold their sin* against them any more.
The book also tells about a special sacrifice*. The priest made this sacrifice for all of the people at once. One time a year, a special day came when the people made a special sacrifice*. All of the people were to gather together near God’s tent. No one was to do any work. The leader of the priests would kill a special animal. He would take the blood from this sacrifice* and go into God’s Tent. There, he would go into the most holy place. He would confess* the sin* of the people. He would make this offering to God. He would ask God to forgive* the people. Only the leader of the priests could go. He could only do this one time each year. On that day, God reminded the people that he is a holy* God. He reminded them that they must be a holy* people.
Moses told the people many other things in this book. He told them about special days when they should gather to eat and to worship* together. He told them how to act toward each other and how to care for the poor. He gave them special rules about many different things. He told them about foods that God did not want them to eat. He told them about the kind of clothes that they could and could not wear. But all of Leviticus is really about one thing. It showed the people the way to please a holy* God. It showed the way to live as God’s holy* people.
God made a way for his people to stay close to him. When they did a wrong thing, they could make a sacrifice*. When they did, God forgave them. But the sacrifice* only lasted until the next time a person did not obey God. Then, they had to make another sacrifice*. They had to do this again and again. But, one day, when Jesus came, God would provide a better sacrifice*. That sacrifice would be made only once and never need to be made again.
The Old Testament | The Books of Moses