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Both Jews and Christians have always believed that Moses wrote Leviticus and no sufficient evidence disproves his authorship. He wrote the book sometime between 1440 and 1400 B.C. Ancient Hebrews called it Wayiqra’, from the first word. The book’s English title reflects its topic, the ordinances concerning the priests who came from the tribe of Levi.

Leviticus covers the 30 days between the tabernacle’s completion and the first day of the second month on which the book of Numbers begins. With the sanctuary newly erected, Moses further establishes the Israelite religion. He describes the sanctuary services, the priests’ duties, and the principles of worship the Israelites were to follow. He also enumerates the many social, hygiene and health-related laws that governed the people’s daily lives.

Holiness to the Lord

TabernacleMen had been sacrificing since the fall in Eden, but the Levitical law presented a clearer picture of the Savior the sacrifices foreshadowed. God hates sin, and He wanted the Israelites to understand the connection between sin and death. The sacrificial system depicted sin’s gravity and through it the people learned what Christ’s sacrifice and mediation meant for their atonement and reconciliation to God. Over time however, they began to view their sacrifices as a type of “Hail Mary”, more of a license to sin than an illustration of sin’s wickedness.

The theme of Leviticus is holiness. The 400 years among the polytheistic Egyptians had distorted the Israelites’ view of God. He sought to instill in them a sense of His holiness. “You shall be holy, for I am holy,” He said, and instructed them what must be done to ensure the holiness of the sanctuary, the utensils in the sanctuary, the priests, the priests’ garments, the Israelites, even the camp.

Today, Leviticus reminds us that, though the application may be different than what He gave the Israelites 3000 years ago, God indeed has principles by which He desires that we live in order to have a part in His holiness. Thanks to Christ’s sacrifice, God sees Christ’s holiness in us.
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