The Encourager

The Encourager

“The Value of the Book of Leviticus”

The Value of the Book of Leviticus

by Jeff Curtis


That Leviticus is meaningful to the Christian is conveyed by the fact that it is quoted or alluded to about thirty times in the New Testament. In spite of that fact, we may be inclined to think that a book that deals so extensively with the Old Testament rituals has little or no value for us. However, Leviticus is useful for Christians in several ways.


First, the emphasis on “holiness” is directly applicable to Christians. We are told, “Like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because as it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy’” (1Peter 1:15-16).


Second, the animal sacrifices described in Leviticus typified the once-for-all sacrifice of Jesus Christ, “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29; Hebrews 9:7-15). By learning more about animal sacrifices, Christians can better appreciate the sacrifice made by Christ. The necessity of the shedding of blood in God’s plan for atonement in the Old Testament system helps to explain the necessity for the shedding of Christ’s blood for our atonement (Leviticus 17:11; Ephesians 1:7; Hebrews 9:22).


Third, God’s requiring Israel to offer sacrifices foreshadowed His requirement for Christians today to offer spiritual sacrifices. For example, we offer our bodies as living sacrifices when we serve God and do good deeds (Romans 12:1-2). We offer a “sacrifice of praise to God” with our lips (Hebrews 13:15). Our financial support for the preaching of the gospel is “a fragrant aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well-pleasing to God” Philippians 4:18).


Fourth, the emphasis of the book on ritual should make Christians think again about our attitudes toward religious rituals. We may be inclined to downplay the importance of ritual or think in terms of “mere ritual.” Leviticus should cause us to rethink ritual as it is properly followed, including the heartfelt devotion and wholehearted participation of those who are involved in observing it.


Fifth, the ethical teachings and moral laws found in the book of Leviticus are instructive for Christians. It is true that the old law has been taken away (Galatians 3:24-25; Colossians 2:14; Hebrews 7:12). Nevertheless, its moral precepts differ little, if at all, from the ethical and moral requirements of the new covenant. Jesus Himself said the Law was based on the two great commands to love God and to love one’s neighbor (Matthew 22:37-40; Mark 12:29-31). Galatians 5:14 says, “For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”


The principles that lie behind the specific statutes found in Leviticus 19, for example, can and should be applied to the Christian’s life today, because they illustrate what it means to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18).


Leviticus should remind us as Christians that we become holy when we are saved by Christ’s sacrifice. Just as blood was important in the sacrificial system of the Old Testament, so we are saved by blood – the blood of Christ. Then we are to remain holy. Through God’s grace and our continual cleansing by Christ’s blood, we remain holy as we strive to be separate from the world by obeying God’s law.