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A Discussion on Leviticus

The book of Leviticus is a hard one to take in. It’s harsh, it’s bloody, it often seems heavily skewed towards men as valuable and women as less so. It is often the last book Christians choose to read yet it is the first book Jewish children study. It is part of the Jewish Law.

If you do a little online research regarding Leviticus you will find a multitude of reactions from why Christians should embrace it to how it is used to slander homosexuality. There are multiple assertions about Leviticus including “facts” that it is referenced in the New Testament anywhere from fifteen to 140 times. Upon further investigation of the “facts” of Leviticus you may see below a chart indicating the referred to references in the New Testament. Some are clear and some seem to be a bit of a stretch. One thing is clear, the New Testament references are all about love, forgiveness, and being Holy like God is Holy. Nothing wrong with that.

From a Christian point of view, Leviticus represents the overwhelming burden the Law was for the Jews. A sacrifice for this and an offering for that. Rituals. Special days. Rules. Regulations. And after all that, even if one could remember all of them and keep all of them – which was impossible – you still were not free from sin. The whole of the Law was set in place to show that humanity is flawed, sinful, and has no redeeming qualities whatsoever that would allow even one person to stand before God and look Him in the eye.

As humans we all bear the guilt of the sin of the one man Adam

Death Through Adam, Life Through Christ

Romans 5:12 Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned—

Romans 5:19 For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.

The Law was unable to save us from ourselves. That is why Christ was sent.

Romans 8:3 For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh,

Romans 8:3 In contexts like this, the Greek word for flesh (sarx) refers to the sinful state of human beings, often presented as a power in opposition to the Spirit

Christians believe that the Jewish Law was under the Old Covenant and that the New Covenant replaces it. We no longer have to refer to a handbook of rules and regulations and fear breaking or omitting one of them. We simply believe in Jesus Christ as our once and for all sacrificial Lamb and all of our sins are once and for all time covered under His blood.

The blood of Jesus did what the Law could never do and the sacrifice of His blood was more precious and worth more than that of every lamb, bull, and goat that ever was or ever will be. Jesus was the only sacrifice that was enough. Those who believe no longer live under the Law but under Grace.

Dead to Sin, Alive in Christ

Romans 6:3-7 Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with,that we should no longer be slaves to sin because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.

Romans 6:14 For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.

Romans 6:18 You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.

Romans 6:22-23 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Leviticus Reference

New Testament Reference

Leviticus 5:11 Luke 2:24
 11If, however, they cannot afford two doves or two young pigeons, they are to bring as an offering for their sin a tenth of an ephah of the finest flour for a sin offering. They must not put olive oil or incense on it, because it is a sin offering. 24and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: “a pair of doves or two young pigeons.”
Leviticus 7:12 Hebrews 13: 15 a stretch
12 “‘If they offer it as an expression of thankfulness, then along with this thank offering they are to offer thick loaves made without yeast and with olive oil mixed in, thin loaves made without yeast and brushed with oil, and thick loaves of the finest flour well-kneaded and with oil mixed in. 15 Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name.
Leviticus 11:44 I Peter 1:16
44 I am the LORD your God; consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am holy. Do not make yourselves unclean by any creature that moves along the ground. 16 for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”
Leviticus 12:1-8 Luke 2:22
1The LORD said to Moses,2“Say to the Israelites: ‘A woman who becomes pregnant and gives birth to a son will be ceremonially unclean for seven days, just as she is unclean during her monthly period.3On the eighth day the boy is to be circumcised.4Then the woman must wait thirty-three days to be purified from her bleeding. She must not touch anything sacred or go to the sanctuary until the days of her purification are over.5If she gives birth to a daughter, for two weeks the woman will be unclean, as during her period. Then she must wait sixty-six days to be purified from her bleeding. 6 “‘When the days of her purification for a son or daughter are over, she is to bring to the priest at the entrance to the tent of meeting a year-old lamb for a burnt offering and a young pigeon or a dove for a sin offering. 7 He shall offer them before the LORD to make atonement for her, and then she will be ceremonially clean from her flow of blood.   “‘These are the regulations for the woman who gives birth to a boy or a girl. 8 But if she cannot afford a lamb, she is to bring two doves or two young pigeons, one for a burnt offering and the other for a sin offering. In this way the priest will make atonement for her, and she will be clean.’” 22 When the time came for the purification rites required by the Law of Moses, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord
Leviticus 12:8 Luke 2:24
8But if she cannot afford a lamb, she is to bring two doves or two young pigeons, one for a burnt offering and the other for a sin offering. In this way the priest will make atonement for her, and she will be clean.’” 24and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: “a pair of doves or two young pigeons.”
Leviticus 13:49 Matthew 8:4
49if the affected area in the fabric, the leather, the woven or knitted material, or any leather article, is greenish or reddish, it is a defiling mold and must be shown to the priest. 4Then Jesus said to him,“See that you don’t tell anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.”
Leviticus 13:49 Mark 1:44
  44“See that you don’t tell this to anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them.”
Leviticus 13:49 Luke 17:14
  14 When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed.
Leviticus 14:2-3 Luke 17:14
2 “These are the regulations for any diseased person at the time of their ceremonial cleansing, when they are brought to the priest: 3 The priest is to go outside the camp and examine them. If they have been healed of their defiling skin disease, 14 When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed.
Leviticus 16:2, 16:12 Hebrews 6: 19
2 The LORD said to Moses: “Tell your brother Aaron that he is not to come whenever he chooses into the Most Holy Place behind the curtain in front of the atonement cover on the ark, or else he will die. For I will appear in the cloud over the atonement cover. 12 He is to take a censer full of burning coals from the altar before the LORD and two handfuls of finely ground fragrant incense and take them behind the curtain. 19 We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain,
Leviticus 16:2, 16:12 Revelation 8 : 5 
  5 Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and hurled it on the earth; and there came peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning and an earthquake.
Leviticus 16:27 Hebrews 13:11-13
27 The bull and the goat for the sin offerings, whose blood was brought into the Most Holy Place to make atonement, must be taken outside the camp; their hides, flesh and intestines are to be burned up. 11 The high priest carries the blood of animals into the Most Holy Place as a sin offering, but the bodies are burned outside the camp12 And so Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through his own blood. 13 Let us, then, go to him outside the camp, bearing the disgrace he bore.
Leviticus 17:7 I Corinthians 10:20
7 They must no longer offer any of their sacrifices to the goat idols to whom they prostitute themselves. This is to be a lasting ordinance for them and for the generations to come.’ 20 No, but the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons.
Leviticus 18:5 Luke 10:28 a stretch
5 Keep my decrees and laws, for the person who obeys them will live by them. I am the LORD. 28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
Leviticus 18:5 Romans 10:5
   5 Moses writes this about the righteousness that is by the law: “The person who does these things will live by them.
Leviticus 18:5 Galatians 3:12
  12 The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, it says, “The person who does these things will live by them.” (and the whole story:Faith or Works of the Law

 1 You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. 2 I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard? 3 Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh?  4 Have you experienced so much in vain—if it really was in vain? 5 So again I ask, does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you by the works of the law, or by your believing what you heard? 6 So also Abraham “believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”

 7 Understand, then, that those who have faith are children of Abraham. 8 Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you.”  9 So those who rely on faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.

 10 For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, as it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.”  11Clearly no one who relies on the law is justified before God, because “the righteous will live by faith.”  12 The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, it says, “The person who does these things will live by them.”  13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.” 14He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.

The Law and the Promise

 15 Brothers and sisters, let me take an example from everyday life. Just as no one can set aside or add to a human covenant that has been duly established, so it is in this case. 16The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. Scripture does not say “and to seeds,” meaning many people, but “and to your seed,”meaning one person, who is Christ.17 What I mean is this: The law, introduced 430 years later, does not set aside the covenant previously established by God and thus do away with the promise. 18 For if the inheritance depends on the law, then it no longer depends on the promise; but God in his grace gave it to Abraham through a promise.

 19 Why, then, was the law given at all? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come. The law was given through angels and entrusted to a mediator. 20 A mediator, however, implies more than one party; but God is one.

 21 Is the law, therefore, opposed to the promises of God? Absolutely not! For if a law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law.22 But Scripture has locked up everything under the control of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe.

Children of God

 23 Before the coming of this faith, we were held in custody under the law, locked up until the faith that was to come would be revealed. 24 So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith. 25 Now that this faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian.

 26 So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

Leviticus 19:18 Matthew 5:43  Words of Jesus Himself
18 “‘Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD.  43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’  (and the rest of the passage:  44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.)The Levitical Law was to the Jews, for the Jews, and set the Jews apart.  Jews did not, by law, associate with others outside of the Jewish nation.  Leviticus 19:18 states ‘love your neighbor as yourself’ BUT ONLY INCLUDED FELLOW JEWS as an indication of exactly “who” your neighbor is.  Jesus Himself OVERRIDES the Law when He states ‘love your enemy’.  Jesus did not come to uphold the Law.  He came to replace it.  Not to abolish holiness or love but to elevate those as the two key factors in living the life we were meant to live.  
Leviticus 19:18 Matthew 19:19
  19 honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’”
Leviticus 19:18 Matthew 22:39
  39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
Leviticus 19:18 Mark 12:31
  31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
Leviticus 19:18 Luke 10:27
  27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
Leviticus 19:18 Romans 13:9
  9 The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
Leviticus 19:18 Galatians 5:14
  14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
Leviticus 19:18 James 2:8
  8 If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,”you are doing right
Leviticus 20:7 I Peter 1:16
 7 “‘Consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am the LORD your God. 16 for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”
Leviticus 23:29 Acts 3:23
29 Those who do not deny themselves on that day must be cut off from their people. 23 Anyone who does not listen to him will be completely cut off from their people.’
Leviticus 24:9 Matthew 12:4  Words of Jesus Himself
9And the bread shall be for Aaron and his sons, and they shall eat it in a sacred place, for it is for [Aaron] a most holy portion of the offerings to the Lord made by fire, a perpetual due [to the high priest]. Spoken to the Pharisees when they questioned Jesus and His disciples about picking heads of grain and eating them on the Sabbath day – this is about David:4 He entered the house of God, and he and his companions ate the consecrated bread—which was not lawful for them to do, but only for the priests.
Leviticus  24:9 Mark 2:26  Words of Jesus Himself
  Spoken to the Pharisees when they questioned Jesus and His disciples about picking heads of grain and eating them on the Sabbath day – this is about David:26 In the days of Abiathar the high priest, he entered the house of God and ate the consecrated bread, which is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions.”
Leviticus 24:9 Luke 6:4  Words of Jesus Himself
  Spoken to the Pharisees when they questioned Jesus and His disciples about picking heads of grain and eating them on the Sabbath day – this is about David:4 He entered the house of God, and taking the consecrated bread, he ate what is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions.” (and the whole passage with full meaning:    1 One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grain fields, and his disciples began to pick some heads of grain, rub them in their hands and eat the kernels. 2 Some of the Pharisees asked, “Why are you doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?”

 3 Jesus answered them, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? 4 He entered the house of God, and taking the consecrated bread, he ate what is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions.” 5 Then Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”)

As Christians we believe that Jesus was human but without sin.  If Jesus did this which was clearly against the Law and it was not sin then we have to conclude that the Law was already put aside at the very birth of Jesus.

Leviticus 24:19-20 Matthew 5:38   Words of Jesus Himself
19And if a man causes a blemish or disfigurement on his neighbor, it shall be done to him as he has done:    20Fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth; as he has caused a blemish or disfigurement on a man, so shall it be done to him. 38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ (And the rest of that passage:   38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ 39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. 40 And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. 41 If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.)
Leviticus 25:10 Luke 4:19 (a stretch)
10And you shall hallow the fiftieth year and proclaim liberty throughout all the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you; and each of you shall return to his ancestral possession [which through poverty he was compelled to sell], and each of you shall return to his family [from whom he was separated in bond service]. 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
Leviticus 26:12 II Corinthians 6:16
12And I will walk in and with and among you and will be your God, and you shall be My people. 16 What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said:   “I will live with them
and walk among them,
and I will be their God, 
   and they will be my people.”
Leviticus 26:21 Revelation 15:1
21If you walk contrary to Me and will not heed Me, I will bring seven times more plagues upon you, according to your sins. 1 I saw in heaven another great and marvelous sign: seven angels with the seven last plagues—last, because with them God’s wrath is completed.
Leviticus 26:21 Revelation 15:6
  6 Out of the temple came the seven angels with the seven plagues. They were dressed in clean, shining linen and wore golden sashes around their chests.
Leviticus 26:21 Revelation 15:8
  8 And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from his power, and no one could enter the temple until the seven plagues of the seven angels were completed.
Leviticus 26:21 Revelation 21:9
  9Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls filled with the seven final plagues (afflictions, calamities) came and spoke to me. He said, Come with me! I will show you the bride, the Lamb’s wife.

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