Overview of the Book of Leviticus/Vayikra

Outline of Leviticus

Leviticus is divided into to several main parts. Chapters one to 16 deal with laws of sacrifice and purification. In the second section (chapters 17–25), Elohim sets forth his demands for holy living that his people might maintain a right relationship with him. Chapter 26 lays out the blessings and curses for obedience to YHVH’s commands. The final chapter of the book ends with some miscellaneous laws. The following is an overview of Leviticus chapter-by-chapter.

  • The five main offerings (Lev 1–7)
  • The ordination of priests (Lev 6:8–7:38)
  • Laws of cleanliness (food, childbirth, diseases, etc.) (Lev 11–15)
  • Day of Atonement (Lev 16–17)
  • Moral laws regulating relationships between humans (Lev 18–20)
  • Regulations for priests, the offerings of the annual feasts (Lev 21:1–24:9)
  • Punishment for blasphemy, murder, etc. (Lev 24:10–23)
  • The Sabbatical year, Jubilee, land laws, slavery (Lev 25)
  • Blessings and curses (Lev 26)
  • Regulations pertaining to vows made to YHVH (Lev 27)

Themes and Main Points of Leviticus

  • Leviticus stands at the center of the Torah, and there’s a reason for this, since it shows man how to come into relationship with Elohim by addressing the sin issue and showing man the upward path of holiness and righteousness. 
  • Holiness (or being set-apart) is the key theme of Leviticus. This includes the set-apartness of YHVH and the need for man to become set-apart as well if he is to come into a relationship with the Almighty (Heb. kadosh, Lev 11:44). Leviticus lays out the terms are laid out by which an unholy, profane, polluted or sinful people can come into a spiritual and even contractual and marital relationship with their holy, morally pure and sinless Creator. It also delineates the terms of the contract including penalties for its violation and blessings for adherence to it.
  • Leviticus carries on to completion the giving of the Torah-law, which started in Exodus 20, and which firmly established the Torah as Israel’s binding covenant with Elohim and the legally binding document that would govern that nation. The Torah literally became the nation of Israel’s constitution. 
  • This book, for the first time in detail, shows man the way of expiation (or atonement) and forgiveness of sin, thus prophetically pointing the way in major detail to Yeshua the Messiah, the Lamb of Elohim, who was yet to come and who would ultimately take away men’s sin once and for all (without the continual need of animal sacrifices) by his sacrificial death on the cross.
  • The narrative of Leviticus covered probably only a month.
  • Leviticus is the first book of Torah that rabbinic Jews start teaching their young children, since they believe that those who are pure in heart (i.e. children) should be engaged in the study of purity (i.e. the laws of purification and atonement, which is the central themes of Leviticus).
  • Even today, Leviticus remains the foundation for Jewish life, since it includes the laws pertaining to diet, the biblical feasts, sex, marriage, family purity, and our relationship with our fellow man. 
  • The emphasis the modern rabbinic Jews place on Leviticus is evidenced by the fact that the tabernacle service found in this book is at the heart of the modern Jewish synagogue prayer service, and forms the basis for their daily devotions. Jewish liturgical prayer is largely based on the tabernacle sacrificial system  as outlined in Leviticus.
  • The offerings and other ceremonies revealed in Leviticus serve to show the holiness of YHVH.
  • Leviticus teaches us that YHVH can only be approached through proper and prescribed protocols.
  • In Leviticus, spiritual set-apartness (holiness) is symbolized by physical perfection. All blemishes or defects symbolize man’s spiritual defects, which break his spiritual wholeness. Therefore, the religious system in Leviticus required:
  1. Perfect animals for sacrifices (Lev 1–7).
  2. Priests without physical deformity (Lev 8–10).
  3. A woman to be ritually purified from hemorrhaging after childbirth (Lev 12).
  4. Ritual purification from sores, burns, baldness (Lev 13–14).
  5. Ritual purification from a man’s bodily discharges (Lev 15:1–18).
  6. Ritual purification after a woman’s menstrual cycle (Lev 15:19–33).

All of these ritualistic requirements point to one thing: the holiness of Elohim and man’s need to put off sin and the defilement of the flesh, which causes pollution and profaneness, thus separating us from a set-apart, pure and perfect Elohim. This teaches man to strive to reach higher spiritual levels and not to be content with the mundane, fleshly, earthly level of his own human existence, but to reach for the heavens where Elohim abides.

  • Leviticus reveals that those with certain diseases or ailments had to leave the camp (symbolic of leaving YHVH’s Presence—like Adam and Eve leaving the Garden of Eden after they had sinned). Israelites could be readmitted to the camp (symbolic of returning to YHVH’s Presence) only after certain protocols had been performed and the person had been pronounced whole by the priests.
  • In Exodus 19:6, YHVH’s call for Israel to become a kingdom of priests. As such, they were to be a light to the nations and, in a sense, to evangelize the world by showing Elohim’s glory to those nations around them (Deut 4:4–8). Israel was to be YHVH earthly representation of YHVH’s kingdom on earth. Leviticus showed Israel how to walk in a set-apart (kadosh or holy) manner before YHVH and the world—how to be in the world, though not of the world, as Yeshua taught his disciples in John 17:11, 14.

All Was Overseen by the Priests

The priests oversaw and controlled the sacrifices, rituals, ceremonies, the rest of the tabernacle service as well as the day-to-day life of the Israelites.

It was their job to establish Israel as a kadosh nation, and to instruct Israel in spiritual cleanliness and set-apartness (holiness), to preserve them spiritually, and to present them to YHVH as a pure and righteous people. YHVH has given the same responsibility to the five-fold ministry that he has raised up to operate within the spiritual body of redeemed believers today (Eph 4:11–16). This new, royal priesthood (1 Pet 2:9) is comprised of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers who have the purpose of “equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Messiah, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of Elohim, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Messiah” (Eph 4:12–13).

Holiness—The Dominant Theme of Leviticus and the Bible 

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The Priestly Robes, Yeshua and YOU

Exodus 39:1, The holy garments for Aaron. The vestments of the high priest (kohen hagadol) are symbolic of the robes of righteousness that saints should be wearing in preparation for the return of the Messiah.

  • Gold symbolizes purity of heart. Blue symbolizes heaven and spirituality.
  • White linen pictures robes of righteousness, purity or sinlessness.
  • Red represents blood—the blood of Yeshua that cleanses us from sin.
  • The high priest wore a belt that represented truth according to Paul (Eph 6:14).
  • The white linen pants represented sexual purity. The white turban represented purity of thought and humility (the opposite of conceit).

The high priest also wore a gold crown inscribed with the words, “Kadosh l’YHVH” meaning “Set-Apart to YHVH.”

The dangling pomegranates attached to the hem of his robe represented the fruits of the Spirit of Elohim, which should be manifesting in the life of the saint. The golden bells, also attached to the hem of his robe, jingled when the high priest walked. These symbolized the righteous walk of the saint: people should hear and see our good spiritual fruits. All of our actions speak loudly and clearly as to who we are and what we believe. Also, Yeshua taught that our words reveal the true condition of our heart (Luke 6:45). How, then, do people really view us? What are we like when we are alone—our thought life and our words—our secret life? Is there a discrepancy between our secret and public lives? If so why? How set apart and righteous are we…in reality?

If YHVH has called us to be his set-apart priesthood, then hadn’t we better get busy cleaning up our act and start acting like one?

Jewish tradition tells us that a rope was tied to the leg of the high priest in Second Temple times so that while ministering in the innermost sanctuary of the temple if he was impure and YHVH struck him dead (as happened to Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, when they offered up strange fire) the corpse could be dragged out by the rope. This teaches us that we should view being righteous and set apart seriously. Remember Hebrews 12:14 which instructs us to, “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man will see the Master.”

As YHVH commanded Moses. In chapter 39, please observe the fact that all the work of the tabernacle was done “as YHVH commanded Moses” (or phrases similar to this), and these statements are repeated ten times in this chapter. YHVH gave specific instructions concerning the construction of the tabernacle and expected these instructions to be followed to the letter. The tabernacle was the means by which the Israelites were to approach YHVH. Though the physical tabernacle is long gone, it still serves as a blueprint or pattern showing man the steps to reconciliation with his Creator. There is no other way to be reconciled to YHVH except through the steps of redemption outlined in the mishkan. Furthermore, YHVH never gave any human the prerogative to add or subtract from his instructions. Consider the implications of this with regards to our spiritual walk before our Heavenly Father. How important is it to follow all his instructions in righteousness? How often do we mitigate his instructions and reshape them to accommodate us? Isn’t this what the serpent persuaded Adam and Eve to do at the tree of knowledge, which is how sin entered the world?

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The Gospel Message in the Priestly Consecration Ritual

(from Exodus 28–29 ; Leviticus 8)

Now let’s note the seven steps of consecrating the priests and compare them with the steps a believer goes through to become a “chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a set-apart nation, a peculiar people that you should show forth the praises of him who has called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Pet 2:9). Notice how these seven steps relate to the steps a new believer takes in his conversion process and how they relate to one’s spiritual journey from outside the mishkan where the altar of the red heifer is located representing the cross of Yeshua, then into the door of the tabernacle (i.e. Yeshua who is the door), to the altar of sacrifice (i.e. a prophetic picture of communion) to the bronze laver (i.e. immersion for the remission of sins and being washed in the water of the Word of YHVH), into the set-apart place where the Ruach (Spirit of Elohim) is and onward and upward spiritually into intimate relationship with the Father. In Exodus chapters 28 and 29 we find the following:

Step One: They were taken from among the children of Israel ( Exod 28:1). This prefigures divine election (see John 15:16). YHVH calls or chooses each person. Yeshua called his disciples. They did not call or choose him, but they had to respond to that call.

Step Two: They were brought into the door of the tabernacle (Exod 29:4). The door of the tabernacle is Messiah Yeshua who is the door to the sheepfold. No man comes to the Father except through Yeshua (John 10:1–5, 7, 9) The door is four colors which speak of the person and work of Yeshua: blue, scarlet, white and purple. It also speaks of the four Gospels, which is the door to understanding the Person and work of Yeshua.

Step Three: They were washed (Exod 29:4). Upon accepting the work and Person of Yeshua one must be immersed for the remission of sins (Acts 2:28) to identify spiritually with the death, burial and resurrection of Yeshua (Acts 2:38; Rom 6:3–14), and the washing of the water of the Word (Eph 5:26).

Step Four: They were clothed in their official garments (Exod 29:4–9). The redeemed believer is to put on the robes of righteousness (note Gal 3:27, “For as many of you as have been baptized into Messiah have put on Messiah”). Paul talks about fruits of righteousness through Yeshua in Philippians 1:1. Righteousness is Torah obedience (Ps 119:172) and is a mark of the end time believers/saints (Rev 12:17 and 14:12) and of the bride of Messiah (Rev 19:8).

Step Five: They laid their hands on the head of the animals which were sacrificed (Exod 29:10–26, 32–33). The blood of an animal was shed and sprinkled on Aaron and his sons and matzah (unleavened bread) was waved and burnt and they ate the flesh of the ram and the matzah.

Each born-again believer has to take personal responsibility for his own sins. The sacrifice of Yeshua, the Lamb of Elohim, at the cross must become personal to each person (see Heb 10:19; 13:12; 1 Pet 1:2; 1 John 1:17 and Rev 1:5). Each believer has his own personal relationship with Yeshua. Each must eat the flesh and drink the blood of Yeshua individually (John 6:35–58). Communion is a personal and individual matter.

Step Six: They were anointed with oil (Exod 29:21). Each person must receive the Set-Apart Spirit (Ruach) of Elohim (see Acts 8:17; 19:6).

Step Seven: They are sanctified or set-apart for a special, divine purpose (Exod 29:44). Only after going through these steps is one set-apart unto YHVH as a set-apart priesthood doing the set-apart work of YHVH (see Rom 15:16; 1 Cor 1:2; 6:11; Heb 10:10,14; 1 Pet 2:9).

Only on the basis of following YHVH’s steps, as outlined above, can one have fellowship with the Father. And what was the result of this consecration process? Relationship with the Father! Read Exodus 29:44–46 below,

And I will sanctify the tabernacle of the congregation, and the altar: I will sanctify also both Aaron and his sons, to minister to me in the priest’s office. And I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will be their Elohim. And they shall know that I am YHVH their Elohim, that brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, that I may dwell among them: I am YHVH their Elohim. (emphasis added)

This is all accomplished through Yeshua living in us spiritually. Yeshua is the Chief Cornerstone of our faith (Eph 2:20). He is the end result or goal of the Torah (Rom 10:4). He is the Author and the Finisher of our Faith, the Beginning and the End, the Aleph and Tav (Alpha and Omega) of everything.

To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of Elohim, and precious, you also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, a set-apart priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to Elohim by Yeshua the Messiah. Wherefore also it is contained in the Scripture, “Behold, I lay in Tzion a chief corner stone, elect, precious, and he that believes on him shall not be confounded. Unto you therefore which believe he is precious, but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, and a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed. But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people; that you should shew forth the praises of him who has called you out of darkness into his marvelous light, which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of Elohim, which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy. (1 Pet 2:4–10)

Our faith in Yeshua stays alive and vibrant because of the sacrifices of devotion and praise we offer up daily, morning and night. We are called to do the same work the priests of old did, but in a spiritual or fuller sense.

 

What was the role of the Levites?

Numbers 1:50, The Levites. The role of the Levites was to assist the priests in the tabernacle service (Num 3:6–8; 16:9; 1 Chr 23:28–32; Ezra 3:8) including caring for the tabernacle (Num 1:53) and its furniture, its setting up, dismantling and transporting (Num 3–4). In addition, they assisted the priests by preparing the cereal offering (1 Chr 23:29). They acted as singer and musicians in the temple to offer praise to YHVH (1 Chr 23:30). They were allowed to approach the tabernacle furniture only after the priests had covered and prepared them for transport (Num 4:5–15; 18:3) but they could not touch any of the tabernacle’s set-apart instruments lest they die (Num 4:15), nor could they even see them (Num 4:20). 

Not only were the Levites commissioned to attend to the needs of the priests and the things of the tabernacle, but YHVH instructed them “to attend to the needs” or “keep charge” (Heb. mishmereth) of, presumably, the spiritual needs of the whole congregation or children of Israel (Num 3:7–8). Although mishemereth is a noun meaning “charge, function, obligation, service, or watch,” it is often translated into English as a verbs of actionsuch as “to keep, guard, keep charge, or watch” through its root shamar, a verb meaning “to keep, guard, observe, give heed.” Mishmereth principally refers to the Levites’ obligatory duties relating to the service of the temple. 

Later on, the Levites were involved in teaching and interpreting the Torah (Neh 8:7, 9; 2 Chr 17:7–9; 35:3). There is no indication that the Levites were permitted to offer sacrifices, with the notable exception of Samuel, who was a Levite, but not a priest (1 Sam 1:1 cp. 1 Chr 6:28).

YHVH chose the Levites as his set-apart ministers to replace the firstborn of the Israelites that he spared when he smote the firstborn of the Egyptians (Num 3:12–13, 41–45).

 

The Seven Steps in Consecrating a Priest and the Royal Priesthood of the Believer

The Gospel Message in the Priestly Consecration Ritual
(from Exodus 28–29 ; Lev 8)

Now let’s note the seven steps of consecrating the priests and compare them with the steps a believer goes through to become a “chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a set-apart nation, a peculiar people that you should show forth the praises of him who has called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Pet 2:9). Notice how these seven steps relate to the steps a new believer takes in his conversion process and how they relate to one’s spiritual journey from outside the mishkan where the altar of the red heifer is located representing the cross of Yeshua, then into the door of the tabernacle (i.e. Yeshua who is the door), to the altar of sacrifice (i.e. a prophetic picture of communion) to the bronze laver (i.e. immersion for the remission of sins and being washed in the water of the Word of YHVH), into the set-apart place where the Ruach (Spirit of Elohim) is and onward and upward spiritually into intimate relationship with the Father. In Exodus chapters 28 and 29 we find the following:

Step One: They were taken from among the children of Israel ( Exod 28:1). This prefigures divine election (see John 15:16). YHVH calls or chooses each person. Yeshua called his disciples. They did not call or choose him, but they had to respond to that call.

Step Two: They were brought into the door of the tabernacle (Exod 29:4). The door of the tabernacle is Messiah Yeshua who is the door to the sheepfold. No man comes to the Father except through Yeshua (John 10:1–5, 7, 9) The door is four colors which speak Continue reading


 

Let YHVH take your lemons and turn them into lemonade

Genesis 49:7, I will scatter/divide them. For Simeon, this prophecy was fulfilled in that they had an inheritance both in the area Judah and among the region of northern tribes.

For Levi’s part, his descendants were given the priesthood and were scattered in 48 cities throughout Israel (Num 35:7).

YHVH put this tribe’s passion against evil to good use. Levi’s vengeful anger against Shechem for raping Dinah (Gen 38) was excessive and outside the bounds of Torah-law.

However, this passion for righteousness and justice became further evident as Levi’s descendants were the ones who stood up against the rebellious Israelites at the golden calf. Moses used this tribe to execute YHVH’s judgment against the golden calf worshippers (Exod 32:25–29). This time, Levi acted in accordance to and within the bounds of the Torah as prescribed by Moses. For this, they were granted the priesthood and as such, were scattered throughout Israel (in fulfillment of Jacob’s prophecy) to better accomplish their duties. They became responsible for teaching Israel YHVH’s Torah and for acting as judges of the law (Deut 33:10; 24:8; Lev 24:10–11).

The beauty of this story is that YHVH can take the flawed character traits or misguided and even carnal passions of an individual or of a family or a society and redeem them by redirecting them along righteous lines in accordance with Torah principles.

Zeal and passion are wonderful character attributes, but they need to be channeled in the right direction.

To the Laodiceans in Revelation YHVH said he would rather they be hot or cold in their passions (Rev 3:15–16). He had no use for lukewarmness, which is apathy. One who is cold or dead is waiting to be awakened spiritually. One who is hot with passion already simply needs direction. One who is lukewarm doesn’t even care enough to go one way or the other.


 

Sabbath Manna: Without Holiness, No One Will See Elohim!

Heavens Gates Opening

Scripture reveals that the saints are to be a holy or set-apart (kadosh)
priesthood, not a profane (worldly and polluted) one. If Yeshua calls us his kadosh and royal priesthood, then let’s own that identity and start acting like one!

Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see YHVH. (Heb 12:14)

Holiness Is YHVH’s Chief Quality

Holiness is the chief attribute of Elohim and the most defining aspect of his character. It has to do with the fact that Elohim is entirely good and without evil or moral defect and totally sinless. This is why the spiritual beings around his heavenly throne are constantly crying, “Holy, holy, holy” in his Presence (Isa 6:3; Rev 4:8). This is why one of his titles is The Holy One of Israel,which is used more than thirty times in the Tanakh (e.g., 2 Kgs 19:22; Ps 71:22; Isa 1:4; Jer 50:29). This is why the high priest who ministered in the Tabernacle of Moses and later in the temple wore a golden crown or headplate with the words inscribed on it, “HOLINESS TO YHVH.” Not only was this pointing upward to YHVH’s set-apartness, but man himself is to become holy or set-apart even as YHVH Elohim is set-apart, for we read in the Epistle to the Hebrews that the attribute of holiness is a prerequisite for a man coming into the Presence of Elohim (Heb 12:14).

YHVH Elohim made mankind in his own image (Gen 1:27), so that man could eventually become his glorified spirit children (John 1:12; Rom 8:14–15; 2 Cor 6:18; Gal 4:5–6; 1 John 3:1–2; Rev 21:7). As part of the process of becoming an immortal child of Elohim, man must become holy as he is holy (Lev 11:44, 45; 20:7, 26; 1 Pet 1:16). This is the ultimate destiny of those who will submit to YHVH’s process of transforming man from profane or polluted, sin-ridden beings to becoming holy or set-apart. What does this process involve and how does it affect you?

YHVH Is Preparing His Saints to Be a Kingdom of Priests

In the Bible, YHVH declared that it was the destiny of the Israelite nation to become a chosen and peculiar people and a kingdom of priest—to be special and unique among the nations of the world—to reflect the character and nature of YHVH Elohim—to be holy (in Hebrew, kadosh) as he is kadosh. The Hebrew word kadosh means Continue reading