Oct 28, 2018
Leviticus is a most misunderstood
book, by both Jews and Christians. It seems to be both ancient
and irrelevant - all the way from animal sacrifices to the ritual
practices of Levites and Priests, and in a Temple that no longer
stands. Yet, I believe no book in the Hebrew Bible speaks to
us more eloquently and powerfully about the life of a person of
faith than does this book. It all begins with understanding
that the real name of the book (in Hebrew) is not Leviticus;
rather, it’s Vayikra. God calls. And one of the first words that
follows is korban, which means to draw near. So, the book really
is: God Calls Us to Draw Near.
The first week specifically
focuses on the theme of Sacrifice. “Sacrifice is an essential
aspect of the life of faith. And though we’re highly unlikely ever
to return to the outward system of the Bible, we are surprised at,
and deeply rewarded by, what the Bible verses on sacrifice teach us
at the deepest level about the offerings we moderns want and need
to bring forth to God."
Is this book properly named, Leviticus? Or should it be
Vayikra? What difference would it make?
- On the surface, this book appears distant, archaic, and
irrelevant. Yet, more deeply, it is one of God’s richest messages
to us about what a life of faith involves and its many blessings.
This discovery makes Leviticus (Vayikra) perhaps the greatest
surprise in the Bible.
- The book can be seen in three different segments. Let’s
understand them. We’ll cover one each week.
- Let’s begin with the idea of sacrifice or offerings,
which is central to the book.
While we obviously don’t bring or make animal sacrifices any
more, do we moderns believe in the idea and practice of sacrifice?
Do we make offerings? How, and why?
II. Read Leviticus 1:1-3, 10, 14.
This is the first of the sacrifices. At its deepest level,
what’s it all about? Who brings it? Who is it for? When is it
It can be of cattle, sheep, goat, or bird. What does that
How might we make such an offering in our own day? What in our
faith would it signify and make manifest?
Do you give meaning, if metaphoric, to the fact that the fire
on the altar where the offering is brought is kept burning
throughout the night?
III. Read Leviticus 2:1-3, 11, 13.
- This is the grain offering. We’ll discuss certain rules about
how it was made and its possible purposes. Then we’ll explore ways
these verses may be very relevant to us and guide us in worshipping
and serving God.
IV. Read Leviticus 3:1-5.
- This is the well-being offering. After we look at its elements,
we’ll think about whether we can, or should, make similar such
offerings in our own time. And why, and for what purposes?
V. Read 4:1, 3, 13-14, 22-23, 27-28.
- This is known as the chatat (sin) offering.
- After we consider more detail, we’ll think about whether these
concepts might be of relevance and value to us today.
- I’ll describe aspects of Chapter 5, which relate to another
offering, the asham, often called the guilt offering. We’ll
consider both its ancient purpose and how its underlying basis
might instruct us in our own lives.
- What are our takeaways today?
- Introduction to Next Week