Chapter By Chapter: Leviticus

This study breaks down the book of Leviticus using my Chapter By Chapter Bible study template. The short version: for each chapter, I write down a summary, the meaning in the larger context of the book, and a representative verse. Get the full rundown, or use it for your own study by filling out the form below.

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1

Regulation for burnt offerings: it must be a male bull, goat, or sheep, or pigeons or turtledoves, without blemish. The offeror puts his hand on the animal and then kills it, after which the priests sprinkle its blood on the altar, wash its entrails, and burn its body.

Burnt sacrifices are atonement sacrifices—replacing the blood guilt caused by sin with an animal’s blood. They were offered morning and evening every day in addition to by individuals.

4: “He shall lay his hand on the head of the burnt offering, and it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him.”

2

Regulation for flour and grain offerings. They must be delivered with oil and frankincense and seasoned with salt. A handful was burned, but the rest was baked and eated by the priests. Honey and yeast are forbidden.

Flour and grain offerings were required alongside other offerings, because God requires blood to atone for sin, and grain offerings have no blood. Honey, like yeast, ferments, making it likewise inappropriate for the altar.

1: “When anyone brings a grain offering as an offering to the LORD, his offering shall be of fine flour. He shall pour oil on it and put frankincense on it.”

3

Regulations for peace offerings. As with the burnt offering, the offeror touched its head and killed it before the priests sprinkled its blood and burned it. Only part of the animal is burnt; the rest is shared as a meal.

The massive dedications for Solomon’s temple were peace offerings; these offerings constituted the bulk of the communal feast on the prescribed feast days and other celebratory occasions.

3: And from the sacrifice of the peace offering, as a food offering to the LORD, he shall offer the fat covering the entrails and all the fat that is on the entrails.

4

Regulations for sin offerings for priests, the “whole congregation,” rulers, and common people. Like burnt offerings, the offeror touches the animal, then kills it, then the priests burn it. Parts are burnt on the altar, but for priests’ sin offerings, the rest is burned outside the camp.

Like the priests’ sin offerings, Jesus was crucified “outside the camp” (Hebrews 13:11–12)—outside Jerusalem where the temple stood—demonstrating that He takes the place of all the Old Testament sin offerings.

12: All the rest of the bull—he shall carry outside the camp to a clean place, to the ash heap, and shall burn it up on a fire of wood. On the ash heap it shall be burned up.

5

Regulations for sacrifices for unintentional sins, along with four examples. Regulations for trespass offerings; trespasses are sins where restitution is possible, and they require both that restitution and an offering.

Unintentional sins are still sins and still require atonement (see also Psalm 19:12). Trespass sins require restitution to man and offering to God—therefore we must confess both to man and to God (James 5:16).

16: He shall also make restitution for what he has done amiss in the holy thing and shall add a fifth to it and give it to the priest. And the priest shall make atonement for him with the ram of the guilt offering, and he shall be forgiven.

6

Continued regulation for trespass offerings, burnt offerings, grain offerings, and sin offerings. In particular, which parts may be eaten by the priests or, for peace offerings, the one offering the sacrifice.

The priests and Levites did not receive an inheritance of land in Israel; parts of some offerings formed or supplemented their food supply in exchange for their service to the tabernacle or the temple.

23: Every grain offering of a priest shall be wholly burned. It shall not be eaten.

7

Continued regulations (from Leviticus 6) for the trespass offering and the peace offering, including which parts may be eaten by the priests or, for peace offerings, the one offering the sacrifice. Eating fat from offerings was forbidden.

Eating blood is forbidden because it is the life of the animal, the part that allowed it to atone for sins. Eating fat is also forbidden, but for a different reason: as the best part, it belonged to God.

37: This is the law of the burnt offering, of the grain offering, of the sin offering, of the guilt offering, of the ordination offering, and of the peace offering,

8

Moses consecrates the priests: he cleanses, dresses, and anoints Aaron and his sons and offers the prescribed sacrifices. They share a meal and wait the prescribed cleansing period.

The rite of consecration was detailed in Exodus 28–29 and followed here precisely, directly connecting the story of Exodus with the story of Leviticus.

12: And he poured some of the anointing oil on Aaron’s head and anointed him to consecrate him.

9

Aaron offers the first sacrifices for himself and for the people according to the regulations. The glory of God appears to the people as at the completion of the tabernacle, and God’s fire consumes the offering.

When the place of God was finished, God glorified it with His presence; Moses and Aaron have now established the office of the priest according to God’s word, and He likewise blesses it.

23: And Moses and Aaron went into the tent of meeting, and when they came out they blessed the people, and the glory of the LORD appeared to all the people.

10

Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu offered incense not in accordance with the regulations, and God destroys them. Moses gets angry at Aaron and his other sons for not completing the regulations, but relents because of their bereavement.

The regulations God lays down are not to be taken lightly; the community and the priests exist to worship and serve God, not the other way around. So we should not treat God like a coin- (or prayer- or incense-)operated genie.

1: Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it and laid incense on it and offered unauthorized fire before the LORD, which he had not commanded them.