In my estimation, Leviticus is an underappreciated book of the Bible. Yet the Word says that all Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable. As I read through Leviticus this time I was inspired to make a top 10 list of my favorite scriptures in Leviticus. This is debate worthy to some, but I will do my best to explain why I chose the verses that I did. These are mostly in sequential order, with the exception of the first verse we start with, which is the most quoted verse of Leviticus in the Bible.
Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD.Leviticus 19:18
Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.Matthew 5:43
Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.Matthew 22:37-40
For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.Romans 13:9
For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.Galatians 5:14
If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well:James 2:8
So we can see that this verse about loving your neighbor as yourself is one of the most quoted verses in the Bible. With such importance to God, shouldn’t we make the effort to know it’s location in the Bible? Repeat after me: Leviticus 19:18. Say it again. Leviticus 19:18. Where in the Bible does it say to love your neighbor as yourself? Leviticus 19:18.
Loving your neighbor as yourself is part of God’s moral law. It appeals to our reason and intellect. It just makes sense to treat people how you would want to be treated. Giving treatment to others equal to or greater than what you would choose to receive yourself. Who can find any fault with this line of reasoning? Even people that mistreat others can in theory agree to the virtue of this verse.
It might seem odd that the law would say something so radical as loving your neighbor as yourself. After all, God did dictate in the law that Israel would physically destroy its enemies. After all, there are 42 sins in the law that are punishable by death. Yet Leviticus 19:18 is a wonderful look forward to how God ideally wanted His people to treat others, yes, even our enemies. In the Old Testament God expected His people to do what is right. He didn’t say anything about their motivation for doing so. There was love in the Old Testament, but not perfect love, for animal sacrifices could not make men perfect as pertaining to the conscience. Yet, there was love in the Old Testament. Jonathan and David loved each other. Now in the New Testament we are expected to love our neighbor as ourselves because it is the right thing to do. Because it pleases God. Because it agrees with the image of God we were created in. The mind should love this verse. The heart should love this verse. The conscience should love this verse. This is quite possibly the 2nd most important verse in the Bible after the one that says we should love God. For that reason, this verse is #1 on the list. If I had to pick one verse in Leviticus to read, it would be Leviticus 19:18. Where? Leviticus 19:18!
Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart: thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbour, and not suffer sin upon him.Leviticus 19:17
As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.Revelation 3:19
Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee: rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee.Proverbs 9:8
It is interesting to me that the verse before the famous verse 18 is about not hating your brother and rebuking your neighbor, not allowing sin to be upon him. There is a connection between verse 17 and 18, for it is love to rebuke or chastise or correct your brother when you know of sin in his life. I don’t believe God has called us to be rebuking machines. We certainly aren’t to rebuke everyone every day over every little thing. We aren’t the morals police. Yet, we aren’t to be quiet when we see open sin before us. When we know someone’s sin, a sin they may not be aware of, and refuse to correct them in love, that is in fact hating our brother and hating God. The most loving thing one can do when one sees sin in his neighbor is to correct or rebuke them.
Paul rebuked Peter when he sinned by showing respect of persons in Galatians 2. There is a time and a place to speak. 1 Timothy 5:20 says “Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.” It is for the health and benefit and growth of the body of Christ that we look out for each other and be our brother’s keeper. Luke 17:3 says “Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him.” If implies that someone sinning against you isn’t going to happen all the time. Hence, continual rebuke is not needed or called for. When and if your brother sins against you, then you can go to them privately and correct them for what they did. Let all things be done decently and in order, including rebuking.
And every oblation of thy meat offering shalt thou season with salt; neither shalt thou suffer the salt of the covenant of thy God to be lacking from thy meat offering: with all thine offerings thou shalt offer salt.Leviticus 2:13
For every one shall be salted with fire, and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt. Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his saltness, wherewith will ye season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace one with another.Mark 9:49-50
Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.Colossians 4:6
The importance of salt? It shows that we are in a covenant relationship with God. Salt is holy in God’s eyes. Holiness comes by walking in love. So it would not be wrong to equate salt with holiness and love. Certainly when Jesus said to have salt in ourselves, He was saying that Christians should stand out as different. He was saying that we should attract attention to the world’s spiritual sense of taste. It is the holiness and love within us that makes us salty to each other and to the world. Colossians 4:6 makes the connection between grace, salt and wisdom. Leviticus says the offerings should be salted. So our speech is a spiritual sacrifice to God which should reveal God to those who hear our words, which are in fact the words of God. Having words seasoned with salt should make the hearers spiritually thirsty for more of God’s Word and wisdom.
Besides being a flavoring agent, salt is also used as a preservative. When our lives and our words are seasoned with salt, we are living sacrifices unto God and our actions and words help to preserve not only us but those that hear us.
The fire shall ever be burning upon the altar; it shall never go out.Leviticus 6:13
The next verse in Leviticus references the eternal, perpetual fire burning upon God’s altar. Jesus said in Matthew 23:19 that the altar sanctifies the gift. An altar is a designated place of sacrifice to God. Jesus is that spiritual place we must come to if our sacrifices are going to be acceptable to God as it says in 1 Peter 2:5. Jesus is that altar and He is ever burning with the holy fire of love. His eyes in the book of Revelation are as a flame of fire. Holiness and love in the eyes of Jesus, because holiness and love is in the heart of Jesus. If we are in Christ, then the holy fire of love should always be burning within us. Allow the fire of God in your spirit to be perpetual. As you do that, you will go and sin no more, for sin is how we quench the Spirit of God in our lives.
And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the LORD, which he commanded them not. And there went out fire from the LORD, and devoured them, and they died before the LORD. Then Moses said unto Aaron, This is it that the LORD spake, saying, I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me, and before all the people I will be glorified. And Aaron held his peace.Leviticus 10:1-3
The sons of Aaron were priests unto God. They had to be holy. To be holy is to be separated unto love. To love is to keep God’s commandments. Holy people keep God’s commandments. These verses show how seriously God takes sin in the lives of His priests. Christ has made us priests unto God in Revelation 1:6. If God didn’t spare these priests who sinned, take heed lest God spare not us if we sin against Him while being His priests, His ministers. Sin has no place in the life of a Christian.
What these sons of Aaron did was called strange fire. Unauthorized fire. Fire not according to keeping God’s commandments. Fire not according to love. In other words, what they did was selfish. They fully knew how to keep God’s commandments, but they thought they could walk in their own wisdom and despise the Word of the Lord. This is yet another place in God’s holy Word where it says not to add or subtract from what God has said. In the keeping of God’s commandments by love there is safety. When we step out of faith and do things according to our own desires, we sin and separate ourselves from the love of God. Now it is true that God is merciful, but He is also a God of justice and vengeance. We may sin 100 times and receive God’s mercy but we should never assume that God has to be merciful. God may very well choose to make an example of us for the greater good of mankind. This is what happened to the sons of Aaron. Let us consider their bad example the next time we are tempted to sin against God. Their example should motivate us to fear and reverence and respect God and His commandments.
For I am the LORD your God: ye shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and ye shall be holy; for I am holy: neither shall ye defile yourselves with any manner of creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.Leviticus 11:44
But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.1 Peter 1:15-16
Here is another verse that is quoted in the New Testament. There are relatively few verses from the Old Testament that are quoted in the New, so anytime God quotes His Word it behooves us to listen to what God is saying. Be holy, for God is holy. Again, holiness is a separation in our hearts unto love. Not love as the world perceives it, but the love that was demonstrated by Christ by Him leaving heaven, emptying Himself of all wisdom and knowledge and being born as a baby on earth, only to grow in the Lord and His Word and then offer Himself willingly for our sins on the cross. There is no holiness without love, as it says in Ephesians 1:4. When God says be holy for I am holy, He could have also said “walk in love, for I walk in love”. Self sacrificial love.
Nowhere does it say that we are incapable of walking in holiness. In the Old Testament the holiness was largely ceremonial and outward. But now through the blood of Christ we can have our spirits and hearts washed from all sin so that we are holy in our hearts, in our spirits. Hence, the OT scripture that referred to outward actions now refers to the motivation of our inner man, spiritually. Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness, all His saints! The greek word for saint is the same greek word for holy. Saints are holy people. Holy in actions and words but equally holy in our hearts that produce the actions and words. We no longer serve God out of a self interest, but we serve God because He is simply worthy of our sacrifice. This verse goes well with Matthew 5:48 where Christ says to be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect and in Luke 6:36 where it says to be merciful as your heavenly Father is merciful. When God talks perfection, He is referring to love. When God talks mercy, it is motivated by love. When God says be holy, He is talking about love. God is love and all the descriptive words that describe God’s intent for how we would live must find their basis in the root word of agape love. Selfless love. Sacrificial love. Holy fire burning in our spirits and hearts. When you understand that God wants us to walk as He walks, then apply yourselves to do so, you are not far from the kingdom of God.
And Aaron shall cast lots upon the two goats; one lot for the LORD, and the other lot for the scapegoat. And Aaron shall bring the goat upon which the LORD’S lot fell, and offer him for a sin offering. But the goat, on which the lot fell to be the scapegoat, shall be presented alive before the LORD, to make an atonement with him, and to let him go for a scapegoat into the wilderness.Leviticus 16:8-10
And Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat, and shall send him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness: And the goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities unto a land not inhabited: and he shall let go the goat in the wilderness.Leviticus 16:21-22
Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.Isaiah 53:10
For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.2 Corinthians 5:21
On the surface, it’s pretty crazy to think that a goat can bear the sins of people. Yet, when we understand that both goats symbolize the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, it is more plausible to our understanding. Just as Jesus is the lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world, He is also the scapegoat of God, taking away the sins of the world and bearing our sins in a figure. There were 2 goats. One died and one lived. That’s Jesus who both died for our sins and was raised again for our justification (Romans 4:25).
A goat is not made in the image of God. A lamb is not made in the image of God. Hence, both animals are not worthy to remove sin from our conscience the way the perfect sacrifice of Christ does. It is impossible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sin (Hebrews 10:4). Sin is not a physical substance so it is impossible for an animal to literally bear it. God is speaking symbolically and figuratively. Likewise, since sin is a choice and not a physical substance, it is impossible for Jesus to literally carry our sins. The scapegoat teaches substitution and the cross of Jesus Christ teaches substitution. His soul was an offering for sin. His choice to sacrifice Himself purged our conscience from sin and dead works when we repent and put faith in the atoning death of Christ. 2 Corinthians 5:21 says Christ was made sin for us. This is nothing more than figurative language. Christ is not a sinner nor can He literally carry our sins in His Spirit. Saying Christ was made sin shows how far God went to identify with mankind’s sin through Christ.
For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.Leviticus 17:11
When an animal had to die for someone’s sin, it showed that a life was offered, for the life of the flesh is in the blood. Again, an animal is not a worthy sacrifice. An animal’s blood cannot remove sin. An animal is not made in the image of God. An animal doesn’t have a freewill with which to choose to sacrifice itself. These animals were most definitely NOT WILLING to be offered as sacrifices. One can imagine how the animal must have struggled when it sensed it was about to be slaughtered. Unwilling animal sacrifices can never atone for mankind’s willing choice to sin. There had to be a much more substantial sacrifice offered. Jesus Christ is that sacrifice. He was both God and man. Only He could bridge the gap between man and God and make us at one with God again. He is the only mediator between God and man (1 Timothy 2:5).
Since God knew before the foundation of the world that Christ would be slain IF AND WHEN mankind chose to sin, He was able to set up types and examples of Christ in the animal sacrifices of Leviticus. He was foretelling the future spiritual reality of Christ using natural types and examples in the Old Testament. The Old Testament was revealing the New Testament plans, yet hidden in figures. Only the born again man or woman can understand these truths.
Leviticus 17:14 forbids the eating of the blood. The blood is holy and separated unto God’s holy service. It should not be treated as common food. Even the book of Acts forbids the eating of blood. It is so holy that it has been carried into the New Testament commands. We should reverence life. We should reverence the life Christ offered in our place to make an atonement for our souls. An AT-ONE-MENT. A sacrifice that makes us at one with God when we repent of our sins and begin to live a holy life by faith in the blood of Jesus. The life of the flesh is in the blood, so the blood of Jesus is that perfect sacrifice for it represents Him holding nothing back. We are called to the same sacrifice, at least in Spirit, for Hebrews 12:4 says we have not yet resisted UNTO BLOOD, striving against sin. We have to come to the place where we would rather die than sin against God, even if it means our blood being shed the same way Christ died.
And he shall take a wife in her virginity. A widow, or a divorced woman, or profane, or an harlot, these shall he not take: but he shall take a virgin of his own people to wife.Leviticus 21:13-14
For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.2 Corinthians 11:2
Leviticus 21 contains some rules and commandments from God towards His priests. One of the most fascinating is that the priests had to marry a virgin. This foreshadows Christ, who is our great high priest as the book of Hebrews details. Just like the natural priests had to marry natural virgins, so Christ is the spiritual high priest that must marry a spiritual virgin. Christ is not going to marry the world. Christ is not going to marry those in antichrist religion. He has a commandment from His Father that He must marry a spiritual virgin. That virgin is the body of Christ, the bride of Christ and the Lamb’s wife. Her spiritual garments are pure and white. Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God. Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall marry Jesus Christ.
Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.Ephesians 5:25-27
Ephesians 5 explains how we qualify to be spiritual virgins. All have sinned and come short of the glory of God. None of us were worthy of marrying Jesus Christ. None of us were spiritual virgins. Yet the transformative power of God enables us to be justified. Justified means we are washed to such an extent that it is like we never sinned. Just as if we never sinned. Restored to what God created man to be, that is, holy in love. There is no blemish in us spiritually. We are beautiful in holiness. Zion is the perfection of beauty and that perfection comes from walking in love. Amos 3:3 says can two walk together except they be agreed? How can we have a marriage with Christ unless we be in agreement with Christ about the purpose of the marriage? That purpose is to glorify God and Christ in God through walking together in love. Walking together in self sacrifice for the glory of God. We partake of the body and blood of Jesus in a symbolic way. It transforms our life to be like the life of Jesus. It cleanses our hearts from all sin, all wickedness, all selfishness so that all that remains is a pure bride awaiting Jesus. The marriage hasn’t taken place yet. We are engaged to Christ during this probation period on earth. The Holy Spirit baptism into our spirits is the engagement ring or down payment of the Holy Spirit given spiritual bodies we will receive when Christ returns. Our flesh will be like His glorious flesh. We will truly be one flesh, yet, the Word says this is a great mystery. To those that overcome in this life, they will inherit all things along with their husband Jesus Christ. We must keep ourselves from sin, for that will ruin our spiritual virginity. Remember, the High Priest Jesus MUST marry a virgin. Keep your garments unspotted from the world and you will be prepared to meet Jesus, whenever He may come.
And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Command the children of Israel, that they bring unto thee pure oil olive beaten for the light, to cause the lamps to burn continually. Without the vail of the testimony, in the tabernacle of the congregation, shall Aaron order it from the evening unto the morning before the LORD continually: it shall be a statute for ever in your generations. He shall order the lamps upon the pure candlestick before the LORD continually. And thou shalt take fine flour, and bake twelve cakes thereof: two tenth deals shall be in one cake. And thou shalt set them in two rows, six on a row, upon the pure table before the LORD. And thou shalt put pure frankincense upon each row, that it may be on the bread for a memorial, even an offering made by fire unto the LORD.Leviticus 24:1-7
What is striking about the beginning of Leviticus 24 is how many times the word pure is used. Pure olive oil, pure candlestick, pure table and pure frankincense. God is all about requiring purity from His people. The olive oil symbolizes the Holy Spirit. He is of course a pure Spirit. Just as there should be no contaminates in the natural oil, there is no spiritual contaminate in the Holy Spirit. He is a Spirit of Truth and that Truth is about walking in love. The Holy Spirit walks in love towards the Father, towards Christ and towards mankind. There is no selfishness or sin in the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is where the pure people of God are. People that have been washed from all sin by the blood of the Lamb Jesus.
In Revelation the 7 candlesticks represent the 7 churches which are symbolic of the entire body of Christ. The church is a light bearer, shining like stars, giving the illumination of Christ which is the understanding of how to walk in love. The church is the light of the world along with Christ. We reflect His glory. And so the candlestick is to be pure. No sin or selfishness in the church, the true Lamb’s wife. Selfishness and sin is darkness. Let the understanding of love shine brightly from your life by walking in the commandments of God blamelessly. It is certainly possible through Christ who strengthens you!
The table is where the bread is to be placed. 12 cakes, one for each tribe of Israel and now in the New Testament one cake for each of the 12 apostles of Christ. The bread and the table is representing the fact that we are spiritually breaking bread with God, meaning that we are having spiritual fellowship with Him over the true bread, His Son Jesus Christ! The table must be pure, for that is where we meet God to have fellowship with Him. God can only fellowship with those that are of His Son and of His Spirit. God is invisible to the world and to us, but we can see Him spiritually and Christ dwells in our hearts by faith. The world has no fellowship with God, for they are not walking in agreement with Him. Sin is the opposite of love and God is love. To fellowship with God it must always be on His holy terms. Sin disqualifies us from knowing and relating to God who is love.
Finally the frankincense must be pure. Frankincense is a fragrant smell before God and men. Incense is symbolized as prayer in Psalm 141:2. Our prayers must be motivated by a pure heart of love in order to be heard by God. There must be purity in our spiritual sacrifice of prayer in order to be a spiritual priest before God and to have our prayer be a pleasing spiritual fragrance before God. If sin and selfishness contaminate our prayer life, then our prayers will all be in vain. The only prayer God hears from a sinner is God, I repent! A change of heart and mind about sin and selfishness, reversing to a life of holiness and love before God. This is the prayer that God hears.
I believe the Lord has given us much spiritual meat from the figures represented in the book of Leviticus. May you be blessed as you meditate on these spiritual truths and may the Lord give you understanding in all things that you may be a sweet spiritual aroma before His throne.
I ran out of room to mention Leviticus 25 and 26, so I’ll briefly mention them here. Leviticus 25 is about the year of jubilee, where all debts are cancelled and things return to their original state. So Christ is our jubilee where all spiritual debts are cancelled and we return to the relationship God has always wanted us to have with Him. Interesting is that the jubilee was every 50 years. 50 is not without significance, for 5 is the number of ministry and 10 is the number of completion. 5 times 10 is 50. So 50 is representing complete ministry. Jesus Christ is the jubilee spiritually and is a complete ministry to our hearts and spirits.
Leviticus 26 is very similar to Deuteronomy 28, which talks about the blessings and curses. If we obey God, we get the blessings. If we disobey God, God becomes our enemy and actually fights against us with curses of our own choosing. Obedience is life and blessings. Disobedience is death and curses. So choose life and obedience to God that you may live! When you read Deuteronomy 28, I encourage you to also read Leviticus 26 as they compliment each other very well.
There are blessings to be had from reading Leviticus. Be blessed in Jesus Christ’s name! Christ is the revelation of Leviticus and all of the Word of God, for His name is the Word of God. Amen and amen.