Leviticus – Leviticus 1 – 27 Living in the Presence of a Holy God
Have you ever messed something up and tried to make it right? Maybe you spilled something, and you had to clean up the mess. Maybe you broke something and had to glue it back together. God knew that our world was messed up: sin had entered and ruined everything, so God planned to send His own precious Son to earth to die, to give His life for us sinners so that everything could be made right again.
But in the time before His Son came, God wanted to teach His people all about His wonderful plan, so He gave them the book of Leviticus. This book taught the people about sacrifices that pointed to Jesus. The sacrifices taught the people how painful it would be for Jesus to give His life for us. Leviticus taught the people how to celebrate the Day of Atonement. On this day, the priests set apart two goats. One was sacrificed to pay for the sins of the people. On the other one, the priest symbolically placed the sins of the people and then sent the goat into the wilderness, showing the people God’s deep desire to remove sin and its consequences from them.
Leviticus also showed the people how much God values holiness and righteousness. It contains many descriptions of righteous living and showed God’s people how important it was for them to take care of the poor, to be pure and to be just and fair in the way they treated people. Eventually, the people learned that it was impossible for them to keep all of God’s rules. They could never be holy enough and perfect enough; their only hope was that someone else would be willing to live perfectly and pay the price for their sins! Their hopes were finally realized when Jesus came to earth, lived a perfectly holy life, died for their sins, and raised Himself from the grave! Hallelujah! What a Savior!!
TELL THE STORY
Main Question: How can people, in their sin and selfishness, be reconciled to God?
Answer: In Leviticus, we see how God graciously provides a way for people to live in His presence.
Important Concept: God is holy (set apart, unique, full of purity, justice, goodness, and life), so He cannot be in the presence of sinful people without destroying them. Leviticus gives the people “a recipe” whereby they can enjoy living in God’s presence.
Organization of book:
Beginning and end of the book - describes rituals Israel must practice in God’s holy presence
- chapters 1-7 – describe 5 types of sacrifices to be offered to God
- grain and fellowship offerings say, “I thank you, Lord”
- purification, restitution, and burnt offerings say, “I’m sorry, Lord”
- all sacrifices remind Israel of their sin, its penalty, and God’s grace
- chapters 23-25 – describe 7 feasts Israel was to celebrate
- reminds Israel of what God has done for them
- reminds Israel of who they are in relationship to God
Middle (after the beginning and before the end) – describes role of the priests in acting as mediators between God and Israel
- chapters 8-10 – describe how Aaron and sons are to be ordained
- includes an example of what happens when sinful priests become too casual in the presence of the holy God (Lev. 10)
- chapters 21-22 – describe qualifications for priests
- priests represent God to the people and the people to God
- therefore, they are held to the highest moral integrity
Inside Middle (just before and just after the center) – describes Israel’s need to be pure
- chapters 11-15 – describe ritual purity required of all Israelites
- describes how people become unclean (touching or eating certain things or disease)
- describes how people can deal with their uncleanness so they can come into the presence of a holy God
- reminds people that relationship with a holy God affects ALL of life
- chapters 18-20 – describe Israel’s moral purity
- Israelites instructed to live differently
- Israelites are to take care of poor, be sexually pure and show justice to all
Center – describes the Day of Atonement; the highlight of the book
- chapters 16-17
- goat #1 – purification sacrifice atones for people’s sins
- goat #2 – scapegoat – sins of people “put” on this goat, which is sent into the wilderness – shows God’s desire to remove sin and its consequences from his people
Conclusion – Moses challenges the people to be faithful
- chapters 26-27
- Moses reminds people of the blessings they will enjoy if they obey God
- Moses warns people of the disaster and exile that will come if they disobey
REVIEW THE STORY
Game – Something’s Not Right – ask kids to close their eyes while you “mess up” something in the room – turn a table over, move a chair, turn a picture upside down, etc. (If your class is small, one adult could take the kids into the hallway while you mess up something). When kids open their eyes or return to the room, see who can find first what you changed. Can the kids make things right by cleaning up, returning furniture to normal, etc.?
When we have sin in our lives, we are not right with God or one another. In the Old Testament, before Jesus came, people had to follow specific rules of sacrifice to set their lives right. The book of Leviticus tells about many of the rules the people had to follow when dealing with their sin.
Activity – Take a look at some of the rules in Leviticus. How did each rule help
people to make things right in their homes and cities?
· Lev. 4:22-24 – how a leader can be right with God after he sins unintentionally
· Lev. 14:33-42 – how to clean mold from a house
· Lev. 19:9-10 – leave some of your harvest for the poor
· Lev. 19:33-34 – treat aliens (immigrants) with kindness and love
· Lev. 22:21-22 – don’t offer to the Lord diseased or injured animals; only offer to the Lord the best of what you have; this foreshadowed the fact that Jesus had to be perfect to pay for our sins
· Lev. 24:17 – a murderer must be killed; this taught the people how valuable each person’s life is
· Lev. 16:2 – Aaron, the priest, cannot enter God’s presence just whenever he wants to; because God is so awesome and holy, Aaron could enter only once a year on the Day of Atonement, and he had to follow God’s instructions EXACTLY
QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT
What did this story teach you about God?
· God is holy!
· God loves people.
· God wants to set His people free from sin.
· God wants to teach His people how to live well.
What did this story teach you about people?
· People cannot follow rules.
· People need a savior!
· People need Jesus!
What did you learn about yourself?
· I cannot perfectly keep rules.
· I need a Savior.
· I need Jesus.