First, how the annual Day of Atonement foretells the one sacrifice of Messiah; secondly, sexual conduct laws, including the abomination of same-sex relationships and their moral-law permanence; thirdly, the message of uncircumcised fruit – that no culture is neutral but all must be sanctified.
The first seven chapters of the book of Leviticus are really about true repentance for believers, and there are a great many principles of worship and holiness that we can learn.
The book opens with many details of burnt offerings, general offerings and offerings for atonement of sin – the most common sacrifices which people would be able to come and offer for their atonement of sin, and to make repentance. These activities went on constantly by the Israelites.
Now there are many lessons to us, though the sacrifices themselves are long ended. In fact, the sense of the sacrifices didn’t always remain clear to the Jews, the typical church of ancient times. We realise this in reading the letter to the Hebrews, because it was written to Hebrew people deeply versed and taught in Old Testament worship. But when you read Hebrews it shows that even Hebrew people didn’t always understand the meaning of their own worship and ceremonies. As a result the people often offered nominal worship, and lost touch even with their own instructions.
There was a lesson in each twist and turn of the ceremonial. But they forgot those rich meanings and lessons. And they apply to us too. Not the ceremonial itself, of course, but its significance. It teaches us principles of worship and walking with the Lord. And so it’s extremely helpful to go through some of these things.
In the book of Leviticus, the Lord is shown to speak to Moses exactly fifty-six times from the Holy of Holies. And this is how the book is introduced. Commands are given for worship. They were not to devise worship for themselves; it would all be laid down for them. And that’s so important today when people, even sound people, devise worship for themselves and the principles of the word of God are forgotten.
Then come the sacrifices. What are they? They are symbols. We know that they could not actually take away sin, but the people should have realised that, because the same sacrifices were performed over and over again – the great annual day of atonement took place every year and the same sacrifices were offered afterwards. In other words, sin was still there and it was not yet taken away. It all awaited that great coming Descendant.
But in the meantime, by trusting in the mercy of God and the principle of atonement, they could convey their sin symbolically to the sacrificed animal, and in conformity with the law of God, with the ceremonial given to them by God, they could trust that their sins would be forgiven if they truly repented.
So they had to rely on symbols which could not actually take away the guilt. But by trusting in the principle of atonement, they were assured that God would forgive them.
There is nothing quite like the Ten Commandments for stimulating progress in sanctification, once our minds are primed to see all that they teach. In the New Testament we read that keeping them is an act of love to Christ, and also the basis of assurance. This article employs five biblical keys to unlock the riches of the ‘royal law’.
The moral and ceremonial laws of the Jewish era spelled out the barriers to being accepted by God, along with many lessons of forgiveness through trusting in the coming Christ. But finding this mercy was always through faith, not works, as these great verses prove.