Leviticus 1-7: How to offer a sacrifice

I have to admit that I’ve been dreading Leviticus. I’ve seen the Levitical laws cited in other works and have been horrified sometimes. Still, it is an important part of the Bible and we are walking through the whole thing. Leviticus begins with seven chapters on how and why to offer a sacrifice. It can seem a bit tedious, but consider this:

Just as there was no definitive set of expectations for the Israelite-God relationship prior to the Ten Commandments, there was no set way to get back into His good graces. There was no way to atone for our transgressions against Him or each other.

After generations of people not understanding what they did wrong, God gives His people a detailed list of ways to make up with Him when they have gone against His wishes. Part of what has been interesting to me about the sacrifices since Adam and Eve is that sin must result in death. The death doesn’t always have to be the person who sinned, but there must be a death of some sort.  Thus, sacrifices were established.

Most of the details aren’t really relevant anymore but these little pieces were interesting:

  • “If anyone sins unintentionally in any of the LORD’s commandments” – there’s a distinguishment between unintentional sin and intentional sin.
  • “realizes his guilt, or the sin which he has committed is made known to him,” – allows for that sometimes people do things that they don’t realize are wrong and have to be told, it also means that things done out of ignorance still needs to be atoned for
  • “or what he got by oppression or the deposit that was committed to him or the lost thing that he found anything about which he has sworn falsely, he shall restore it in full and shall add a fifth to it,” – it seems that attaining things through oppression is akin to stealing, and that God is all about paying people back plus interest

Of course, these excerpts should not be taken out of context, so please go back to the source before making assumptions about them.

The other notable thing about these sacrifices, as I read through the manner in which they should be done, is that I can’t imagine seeing this done in front of me. It sounds like a bloody mess. While it can be easy to be horrified by it all sitting in our 21st century homes, remember that these people had to kill an animal for dinner if they were going to have meat. Still, there was blood on the walls, and I just can’t imagine it.

So there are my feelings and impressions on chapters 1-7 of Leviticus. Have you read it? What do you think?

Chapter links go to the ESV translations at Biblehub.com but I’m reading from the ESV Global Study Bible, which is available for free on the Kindle Reading App.


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