Leviticus: Summary of the Book of Laws
Laws in Leviticus
There are no stories in the Book of Leviticus. Instead, the entire book addresses laws with instructions the Israelites had to follow. They included ritual, legal and moral practices.
There were 613 laws the nation of Israel was required to obey. It is good to know about them, but we as disciples of Christ are not allowed to live by those laws because if we break one of them, it would mean we have broken all of them.
The laws do not save. They only point a person in the right direction. We are saved by grace and not by the law. That is explained throughout the New Testament.
For now, believe that the 613 were narrowed down to the Ten Commandment and then narrowed down to just two laws that we live by, according to Jesus.
Chapters 1–5 describe various sacrifices the Israelites were required to make depending on the situation. A sacrifice is simply an offering to God that could be in different forms.
Types of offerings
- burnt offering
- grain offering
- sin offering
- guilt offering
- fellowship offering
Chapters 6 and 7
Chapters 6–7 repeat the same rules. The priest who was responsible for carrying out the sacrifices gives his point of view about the offerings to God.
Chapters 8–10 describe the consecration by Moses of Aaron and his sons as the first priests, the first sacrifices, and God's destruction of two of Aaron's sons for ritual offenses.
Chapters 11–15 instruct the lay people on purity or cleanliness. There were certain laws about the fabrics of clothes that people could wear. Certain fabrics could not be worn with other fabrics.
Also, certain foods could not be eaten together. Additionally, the Hebrews, known as Israelites, couldn't eat unclean animals or the fat and blood of clean animals.
Leviticus 16 tells about the Day of Atonement. This is the only day on which the High Priest could enter the holiest part of the sanctuary known as the holy of holies. He had to be dressed properly and follow certain rules.
Chapters 17–26 are the Holiness code that gave instructions to the people on what they could do and could not do.
Chapter 27 tells about persons and things dedicated to the Lord and how vows can be redeemed instead of fulfilled.
Certain days and years are observed in the Book of Leviticus. For example, the fiftieth year is known as the Year of Jubilee.
It is not feasible to try to cover all the laws listed in the Book of Leviticus in this article. However, they are listed in the Bible. The chapters above contain some of the laws, but surely not all of them. Just know that some of the laws were very strict, such as the following ones.
- Certain foods could not be eaten together such as dairy and fish, etc.
- Two or more different fabrics could not be worn at the same time.
- Unclean animals could not be eaten.
- No work could be done on the Sabbath, including taking a bath because that is considered to be work. No cooking could be done on that particular day.
- The distance the Hebrews could walk on the Sabbath was shorter than the distance they could walk on other days. They had to be near the temple on the Sabbath.
Old Covenant vs. New Covenant
Those strict rules and observances are listed in the Old Testament and were for the Hebrews at that time. It was before Jesus Christ came to the world not to abolish the laws but to fulfill them. He came as the sacrificial offering. Therefore, disciples of Christ don't have to offer those sacrifices to God.
In Matthew 5:7 Jesus said, "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them."
None of the Old Testament law is binding on disciples of Christ today. When Jesus died on the cross, He put an end to the Old Testament law according to Romans 10:4; Galatians 3:23–25; and Ephesians 2:15. However, Jesus did say there are two laws people should obey rather than the 613 that were given to the nation of Israel.
Two Laws To Live By
In place of the Old Testament laws, Jesus said we are to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind…and to love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-39). If we obey those two commands, we will be fulfilling all that is required of us.
Please don't think that we shouldn't know about the Old Testament laws found in Leviticus. They were good for the Israelites before Jesus came. Today, Jesus is our mediator who intercedes for us. Therefore, we don't have to be legalistic and follow the strict rules that were given to the nation of Israel so long ago.
- Genesis: Major Stories and What They Teach Us
Genesis is the book of beginnings. There are many stories that set the pace for what happens in the rest of the Bible. If you learn about those stories, you will be on your way to understanding what follows in the other 65 books.
- Exodus: Major Stories and What We Learn About Them
There are many stories in the Book of Exodus. While it is challenging to review all the stories in this article, some of the major ones are summarized.