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Some Help in Reading Leviticus

This past Sunday, our journey through the Pentateuch brought us to Leviticus. In that message, I encouraged the listeners to read Leviticus this week. When reading that book, it's easy for many of us to "lose the forest for the trees." So here are some thoughts and resources that I pray will help you read Leviticus well.


First, see Leviticus in its larger context. Recall that Leviticus is mostly direct speech from Yahweh (the LORD), and it takes place at Mount Sinai. This setting is the center of a larger overall narrative. If you're like me, it's easy to confuse some of the details of this narrative. For example, when did water come from the rock? Turns out, it was on two occasions! The outline below shows how these two occasions, as well as others, are not random.* Instead, these details parallel each other, drawing our attention to the main point and to the central scene: God's covenant with Israel at Mount Sinai.



Next, consider the book of Leviticus itself. The diagram below demonstrates a parallel structure in Leviticus. After having our attention drawn to Leviticus, it turns out that there's an even sharper focal point in this book: the day of atonement (Leviticus 16). With this in mind, you could say that Leviticus 16 is the center of the Pentateuch.




I hope these outlines help you read and understand Leviticus. Another resource I've found helpful is this video by the guys at The Bible Project. It's full of good content, and it's organized very well.


Finally and most importantly, the book of Hebrews—and especially chapters 7:11–10:25—provides us with God's own explanation of Leviticus. Always remember that Leviticus is a signpost pointing toward Jesus Christ.


* The diagrams are taken from Who Shall Ascend the Mountain of the Lord? by L. Michael Morales; IVP (2015)

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