• This book is part of the reason we tell people not to read thru the Bible starting in Genesis, because once you hit here it seems really boring.
  • But, for the Israelites, it was not a boring book, for a couple of reasons
    • 1 – it showed them how to worship the God who rescued them
    • 2 – it gave them plans for holy living, which turned out to be pretty good health regulations and community practices too
    • It’s like when you get your car insurance policy – it’s a lot of fine detail that seems boring, until you’re in an accident, and then you are pouring over those details because they just got really important. It would be the same way for the Israelite nation.
  • Tonight, we are going to cover the sacrifices specified in chapters 1-10. These were an important part of the worship of God in the OT, so a few important points before we get into the details:
    • 1 – everyone offered sacrifices to their gods at this time. What set the Israelites apart were what kind of sacrifices God wanted, and maybe even more so what kind he didn’t
      • He didn’t want any association with the sexual practices of other religions. The gods in other religions were pretty sex-crazed, and so that often spilled over into the worship services
      • He also didn’t want any human sacrifice, which was common in other religions
    • 2 – he made it clear that the sacrifices were not to meet his needs. The sacrifices were all food-based, but it wasn’t because he was hungry.

Psalm 50:7-14 – “O my people, listen as I speak.

Here are my charges against you, O Israel:

I am God, your God!

I have no complaint about your sacrifices

or the burnt offerings you constantly offer.

But I do not need the bulls from your barns

or the goats from your pens.

10 For all the animals of the forest are mine,

and I own the cattle on a thousand hills.

11 I know every bird on the mountains,

and all the animals of the field are mine.

12 If I were hungry, I would not tell you,

for all the world is mine and everything in it.

13 Do I eat the meat of bulls?

Do I drink the blood of goats?

14 Make thankfulness your sacrifice to God,

and keep the vows you made to the Most High.

  • Q: What would it mean about God or our relationship with him if he did actually need something from us?
  • 3 – the sacrifices were never what made people right with God. People in the Bible have always been saved by faith
    • Hab 2:4 – “The righteous shall live by faith”

So the sacrifices were symbolic, and it turns out the symbolism was much greater than they could ever have guessed. They were also a way to draw people into fellowship with God.

Lev 1:1-5, 9 Whole Burnt Offering

(Pleasing aroma – like BBQ)

Complete consecration Rom 12:1-2

Q: What might hold someone back from turning everything in their lives over to God?

Lev 2:1-3 Grain Offering

(Pleasing aroma – like baking bread)

Consecration of my work

(provided food for the priests, too)

Col 3:17
Lev 3:1-3, 5b Peace Offering Fellowship with God Rev 3:20

Q: What are some barriers to friendship with God?

Ch 4:13-21 Sin Offering Reconciliation 2 Cor 5:21
Ch 5:5-6 Sin Offering with Confession Recognition of guilt James 5:16
Ch 8: 1-9, 14-15 Ordination

(Wearing representations of Israel on his shoulders and his chest, medallion on his turban said “Holy to the Lord”

Setting apart Aaron and his sons as holy 1 Pet 2:5, 9


Lev 17:11 – The life is in the blood

Heb 10:1-4, 11-14

For the Law, since it has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the very form of things, can never, by the same sacrifices which they offer continually year by year, make perfect those who draw near.

2     Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, because the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have had consciousness of sins?

3     But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins year by year.

4     For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.

Every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins;

12   but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God,

13   waiting from that time onward until His enemies be made a footstool for His feet.

14   For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.


  • The point of these sacrifices was to be pictures of what Christ would do.


 Lev 9:22-24 – The work begins, and God accepts Aaron’s offering. “Fire blazed forth from the LORD’s presence and consumed the burnt offering and the fat on the altar.”

  • High point in the narrative


Lev 10:1-2 – “Fire blazed forth from the LORD’s presence and burned them up.”

  • Seems a little extreme
  • A few factors to consider
    • Almost every detail was wrong:
      • Wrong people – it should have been Aaron only
      • Wrong instruments – they weren’t using Aaron’s censer
      • Wrong time – this should have happened only on the Day of Atonement
    • Authority was wrong – they weren’t following God’s directions he had given to Moses
    • Motivation was wrong
      • They were probably seeking glory for themselves, not for God (Lev 10:3)
      • They may have been drunk (Lev 10:8-9)
        • It’s like alcohol and handguns – that might not end well
      • They had a higher level of accountability – Ex 24 – they ate a fellowship meal with the God of the universe
    • At times like this, when God is starting something new, he needs to make it very clear that it has to be his way or no way
      • Ending their physical lives not the worst thing that could happen to them – in Exodus 24 they were in the presence of God, so they probably went to heaven
      • God was ending their physical lives so that he could save the spiritual lives of others in the community
      • John 14:6 – There aren’t multiple paths to God, there are only a lot of wrong ways and one right way.


If we had just Leviticus on its own, we would have a pretty strict list of things to do. But the rest of the OT, and especially the NT, make it clear that God never desired the ritual. He put those in place to emphasize his separation from sinful humanity, but that was so that we would see our need for Christ. Now, as people who can belong to him, we can enjoy all the benefits that were available to the Israelites but we can enjoy them all the time, anywhere, directly, because they are all thru Christ.


Romans 12:1 – Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.

Col 3:17 – Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father

Rev 3:20 – ‘Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.

2 Cor 5:21 – He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

James 5:16 – Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed

1 Peter 2:5 – you also are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.


Other Study Notes

Things to communicate about the sacrifices:

  • Differences between sacrifices offered in other religions (to appease the gods) and the Hebrew religion
  • Lev 17:11 – “the principle of life is represented in the blood. Thus, blood on the altar was necessary for the symbolic cleansing of God’s presence (cf. Heb 9:21-22).” Hill and Walton, p107
  • “The teaching in both the OT and the NT clearly indicates that animal sacrifices were not intended to save people from their sins or to get them to heaven. Instead, they preserved the holiness of God’s presence and a healthy relationship between the people and God. The believer under the old covenant was counted as righteous on the basis of faith in Yahweh and faithfulness to the covenant and its stipulations (e.g., Gen 15:6, Hab 2:4). The external act of ritual sacrifice was symbolic and representative of the internal attitude and disposition of the heart. Psalmist, sage, and prophet reiterated the truth that God does not desire sacrifice, but repentance leading to obedience (cf. 1Sam 15:22-23, Ps 51:16-17, Prov 21:3, Isa 1:12-17, Jer 7:21-23, Hos 6:6, Amos 5:21-24, Mic 6:6-8).” Hill and Walton, p107
    • Ex: wearing my wedding ring in and of itself doesn’t mean anything unless I have the heart attitude of love, commitment, and faithfulness.
  • “The rituals served to instruct the Israelites in the principles of God’s holiness, human sinfulness, substitutionary death as a response to human transgression, and the need for repentance…These rituals furnished illustrations and a basis for understanding the redemptive work of Jesus of Nazareth.” Hill and Walton, p109
  • “Interestingly, all the Levitical expiatory or atoning sacrifices were for ‘unwitting’ covenant violations. There was no specific sacrifice for premeditated and malicious covenant transgression or rebellion.” Hill and Walton, p109

Other points about Leviticus

  • “The central teaching of the book is summarized in the command to ‘consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am holy…” (Lev 11:44-45). The first part of Leviticus outlines the requisite procedures for worshipping Yahweh (chaps. 1-10), and the second section prescribes how the covenant people of God are to translate the idea of holiness into daily living (chaps. 11-27). Hill and Walton, A Survey of the OT, p104
    • “Holy worship and holy living” Hill and Walton p105
  • Nadab and Abihu

Notes from Chuck Smith

  • It is important to notice that in verse three of Leviticus chapter one that any sacrifice or offering that you offered unto the Lord had to be of one’s own voluntary will. Man exercised his own free will when he left fellowship with God. It is necessary that man exercise his own free will to return to fellowship with God. So the own voluntary will is something that God required. God does not force you to love Him. God does not force you to serve Him. God does not force you to give to Him. It must be something of your own voluntary will.
  • And in the sacrifices, when it was an animal sacrifice, there was always the laying of your hand upon the sacrifice before the slaying of it. And that laying of your hand upon the sacrifice, the head of the sacrifice, was in essence a transference of yourself, so that the animal was dying in your stead. In the case of the sin or trespass offering it was the laying of your hand upon the head of the animal in order that your guilt and your sin might be transferred onto the animal, and thus, it was slain for your sins. In the case of the burnt offering, your consecration again the laying on of hand was the symbolizing of the animal is taking my place as a complete offering unto God, a total consecration unto Him.
  • So Peter said, “We are redeemed not with corruptible things such as silver and gold from our vain manner of living, but with the precious blood of Jesus Christ who was slain as a lamb without spot or blemish” (1Peter 1:18,19). So as we study these sacrifices, we must realize that they were, all of them just fingers pointing ahead to Jesus Christ. They were saying, “We’re not it. We can’t do it. But there is One who is coming who will.”
  • Chapter 1 – Burnt offering – offering of consecration (Rom 12:1-2)
    • Smelled as good as a BBQ
    • But the whole thing was to be burnt in the fire and totally consumed by the fire. He is speaking of the fact that my consecration to God needs to be a total consecration, not holding back any area for myself.
    • One of the problems today is the incomplete consecration of so many lives. We hold back so many areas from God, what God wants really, if we are to consecrate ourselves to Him.
  • Chapter 2 – meal offering – “The work of man’s hands”
    • I am offering to God my service, dedicating the work of my hands unto God, giving unto God my service. And thus this meal offering again was a sweet smelling savor. And what smells better than home baked bread?
  • Chapter 3 – peace offering – But this is the offering of communion and fellowship with God. In this offering a part of it would be returned to you to eat
    • God is eating part of it. I am eating part of it. I am becoming part with God. And it was called the peace offering, but it was that of fellowship with God, the idea of eating together with God.
    • It is interesting in the New Testament how often Jesus sought to eat with people. In fact, the last message of Jesus to the church, in the Lord’s epistle to the church-what was His very last message? “Behold I stand at the door and knock and if any man will hear my voice and open the door, I will come in and eat supper with him,” (Rev 3:20) because the Lord always enjoyed eating with people.
    • But by eating the same bread, by eating of the same meat, by partaking from the same table, from the same bowls, we were becoming part of each other.
  • Chapters 4-5 – sin offerings
    • Lev 5:5 – confession
      • So even though you were to bring a sacrifice yet the necessity of the confession of your guilt. Now in Proverbs we read, “whoever seeks to cover his sin shall not prosper; but who so will confess his sin shall be forgiven.” (Prov 28:13) God cannot really deal with sin in your life as long as you’re trying to hide it. As long as you’re trying to deny it, as long as you’re trying to excuse it, as long as you’re trying to give the rationale for it, God can’t deal with it. If you can just sit down and tell me all the reasons why you sinned and give me all the excuses for why you were doing it, then God can’t deal with your excuses. God can only deal with it when you come to the place of confession. And when I confess my sin, it is then that He is faithful and just to forgive me and to cleanse me from all unrighteousness. So always with a trespass there was the necessity of confession. “God I have sinned against you in this thing. I was wrong. God I am sorry.” And with a confession, I make the possibility of forgiveness.
    • Chapter 10 – Nadab and Abihu
      • It is interesting God does want us to worship Him, but God has really prescribed the way that we are to worship Him. You see I am not really free to worship God any old way I feel. I can’t come to God any old way I want. If I am to come to God, God has laid out prescribed ways by which I am to come. If I am to worship God, God has laid out prescribed ways by which I am to worship Him. It isn’t up to me to choose how I am to worship God.
        • Now, if I’m to worship God, I must come in the way that God has prescribed. And Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and no man comes to the Father but by Me” (John 14:6). So I don’t care how pious you are or anything else. If you don’t come to God through the prescribed way of Jesus Christ, you’re never going to make it to God. No matter how idealistic you might be in your thought patterns. No matter how sincere you might be in your endeavor to reach God. You are never going to reach Him unless you come the prescribed Way through Jesus Christ. It cannot be Jesus and others. Jesus said, “I am the Way, no man comes to the Father but by Me.”
      • Perhaps they were seeking, at that point, to rob God from some of His glory. Perhaps, at that point, they were seeking to draw attention to themselves away from God. It is always tragic when the instrument of God receives more attention than God or when the instrument of God seeks to draw attention to itself.
      • So Aaron was not to mourn for his two sons publicly or God would wipe him out, because what God had done to his two sons was just. For Aaron to mourn before the people would be actually to indicate an unfairness on God’s part.