How to Read and Understand Leviticus

books of the bible Feb 12, 2020

So let’s do a quick recap of where we are at in the story of the Bible once we hit Leviticus. God created man to co-run the earth with Him. This started off great, but then Adam and Eve brought sin into the world. Oops. This put separation between man and God and God started His plan to restore that relationship between Himself and man. He ended up promising that this restoration would come through the family line of Abraham. Abraham had Isaac, Isaac had Jacob, and Jacob had 12 sons, and those 12 sons turned into an entire nation that was enslaved in Egypt. (Seriously, you need to read the whole story sometime!) God delivers this nation, called the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, and while they are in the desert, He gives them some rules to live by to help restore that relationship. This is where we end up in Exodus. 

By the time we get to Leviticus, they already have these rules, and they already have a place to worship God, but there still isn’t a way for the people who have messed up and sinned to approach a holy and sinless God. That is where Leviticus comes in. The first half of this book is a system of offerings and sacrifices that are to draw the people near to God. 

The second half is a little different. Have you ever left an encounter with someone, and came away thinking, “wow! There is just something different about that person!” 

The second half of Leviticus is the instruction book to make the Israelites that kind of people. They were surrounded by cultures that did not recognize the Lord as the one true God, and so they were called to be set apart. Different. Not the same. They weren’t supposed to simply blend in, but their actions were to bring glory to their Holy God. (They were to be so different they smelled different!) 

When Jesus came, He took the place of all of these sacrifices and rituals, so that leaves us thinking, what does Leviticus have to do with me? 

The same God that wanted the Israelites to be set apart and holy still wants us as Christ-followers to be set apart and holy. As you read, look for characteristics of who God is. Methods of approaching God may change, but who He is never will. 


  • Repetition of phrases like “pleasing aroma”, “I am the Lord” and “I am holy”

  • The use of clean and unclean 

  • The length of the processes that were to be accomplished in order for someone to approach the Lord