VERSE TO VERSE
Leviticus begins with the people of Israel at the foot of Mount Sinai. The glory of the Lord had just filled the tabernacle and God now tells Moses to instruct the Levitical priests and the people of Israel concerning sacrifices, worship, the priesthood, ceremonial cleanness, the Day of Atonement, feasts and holy days, and the Year of Jubilee. The central message is that God is holy and he requires his people to be holy. The book also shows that God graciously provides atonement for sin through the shedding of blood. Traditionally, Jews and Christians recognize Moses as the author, writing sometime after the giving of the Law.
Then the Lord called to Moses and spoke to him from the tent of meeting, saying, “Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘When any man of you brings an offering to the Lord, you shall bring your offering of animals from the herd or the flock. If his offering is a burnt offering from the herd, he shall offer it, a male without defect; he shall offer it at the doorway of the tent of meeting, that he may be accepted before the Lord.
The Hebrew word for vision suggests that one has received a direct word from God and carries both a sense of authenticity and authority. The focus of the vision is stated: Judah and Jerusalem. It should be noted that the kingdom under David and Solomon has long since been divided into the North, Israel, and the South, Judah. It is the southern kingdom that is now the object of God's attention. Isaiah is the recipient of the vision and the one charged with announcing it. His name means Yahweh will save, Yahweh is the Hebrew name for God. Isaiah's name is an important clue for understanding the entire book. Rather than this being one uninterrupted pronouncement of judgment, as some interpreters have suggested, the primary purpose of God is to save his people. Redemption, wholeness, and restoration are the goal of God's activity. The listing of the kings of Judah provides historical benchmarks for Isaiah's prophetic activity. The opening words, The Lord called to Moses and spoke to him from the Tent of Meeting, indicate that Leviticus is a continuation of the history of God's revelation to Israel recorded in the book of Exodus. Exodus concludes with the building and furnishing of the tabernacle. Now God speaks to Moses and gives him instructions for the sacrifices that are to be offered at the tabernacle. The burnt offering is considered first among the various sacrifices. Through the burnt offering, atonement was made for basic human sinfulness. In accordance with the type of animal offered, regulations for three different rituals are given. There is a ritual for herd animal, one for animals from the flock, and still another for birds. While there is some difference in detail, the basic aspects of the rituals are the same. Seven steps are prescribed: presentation of the animal, laying a hand on the sacrificial animal's head, slaughter of the animal, dashing of blood on the altar, cutting up of the offering, washing the intestines and legs, and burning the anima.