Guest Author - Charisse Van Horn
The book of Leviticus is referred to as the third book of Moses as it is the third in the Pentateuch. Like Genesis and Exodus, Leviticus is believed to have been written somewhere between 1445 B.C. and 1405 B.C., its author is Moses. The overriding theme expressed in Leviticus is holiness unto God. As much of the Old Testament is a type and shadow of the coming Messiah, Leviticus is full of Messianic shadowing. It is in Leviticus that we see the full meaning of blood atonement for sin and the importance of a holy sacrifice that is acceptable and blameless unto God. Leviticus focuses on coming to God through blood atonement and sacrifice, then conforming behaviors to His holy standards. This is the main theme of the New Testament that presents Jesus Christ as the sacrificial lamb that atones sin once and for all. The New Testament shows that once there is forgiveness and atonement through sin through the shed blood of Jesus Christ, humanity is to be filled with the Holy Spirit and then live a life that is full of turning away from sin and following after the Spirit.
Though some view Leviticus, as an archaic book of rules and regulations that seem farfetched, restrictive, and at times barbaric, when the book is looked at in the context of its relationship to the New Testament, the reader gains a new perspective.
The first 16 chapters of Leviticus focus on atonement through sacrifices, offerings, priestly intercession, purification, and through the annual Day of Atonement. Each of these is a type and shadow of Jesus Christ. Jesus is the sacrifice, the offering unto God; He is the High Priest that makes daily intercession for us. Jesus Christ purifies us of and makes us acceptable to God. Jesus is the final atonement for all sin, His nature, character, and personality is expressly written in the book of Leviticus. The remainder of Leviticus focuses on holiness, morality, worship, obedience, and living a life of consecration or separation unto God.
What may be one of the most interesting facts about Leviticus is that those who argue with its strict rules and regulations often use the book as a measuring stick against believers in Christ. Yet it was those very hard, strict and often cruel rules, laws, and punishments that the New Testament and Jesus Christ fulfilled.
When anyone in the New Testament attempted to use Moses’ law against someone seemingly in sin, such as the woman caught in the act of adultery, Jesus intervened and demonstrated the love of God and His grace. Leviticus is not a book that is designed to turn people away from God, but rather demonstrates the strict standards a holy God requires from His people. God is fully aware that there is no human that can keep every commandment in his own flesh and strength. God’s grace is purely expressed in Jesus Christ as the atonement that reunites those who are fallen with a holy God. The Holy Spirit was sent to empower believers with the strength needed to live a life pleasing to God.
Those interested in reading how Leviticus is the type and shadow of Jesus Christ, especially how the book is a pattern for New Testament believers under grace may wish to read Hebrews chapters 9 and 10.