The Gospel is in Leviticus

“Moses and all the prophets” includes the 3rd book of the Torah.

It’s somewhat of an evangelical applause line to say that you’ve tried to read through the Bible in a year, but got bogged down in Leviticus. Brothers and sisters, I’d like to issue an appeal that we stop disparaging the book as some cryptic, impossible-to-understand work that we somehow tolerate because it’s part of the Hebrew Bible. Instead, let’s look at Leviticus as the rich trove of symbols and types of Christ that it is. A few things to keep in mind:

1. The book is not hard to understand.
Many give the impression that the words and language of Leviticus are so difficult, so hard, that understanding the book is almost impossible. It’s simply not the case. Our English Bible translations of Leviticus make it no more difficult than Genesis or Exodus. Are there cultural differences that we might not readily understand? Of course, but that’s quite different than saying the words make no sense. Much of the Old Testament is culturally foreign to us, yet there is blessing in reading, and striving to understand it.

2. Jesus himself ratifies our study of it.
In Luke 24, Jesus twice points the disciples to the writings Moses—which includes Leviticus—as christological.

And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. 24:27

Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” 24:44

The offerings, which take up the first 6 chapters of the book, are pointing forward to the one offering of Jesus. He is the burnt offering, wholly given over to do his Father’s will, “a pleasing aroma.” (Lev 1)
The Lord Jesus was delivered up for our trespasses. (Lev 5, the trespass offering.) Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness (Lev 17:11) is gospel truth, and it is here in Leviticus.

3. Other parts of the New Testament reinforce Leviticus as christological.
By contrast, we learn that what the high priest does on the Day of Atonement (Lev 23), Jesus has done once for all.
Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. (Heb 9:25-26)
Indeed, one can make that the case that a clear understanding of the book of Hebrews, and the truths it means to convey (all the “betters”) is only possible when we understand the things Leviticus sets forth.

There are certainly parts of the book that have to do with the life of Israel in the land, but even then, we can still draw lessons. God is interested in the holiness of his people, that they keep separate from sin.
If you stop reading once you reach the end of Exodus, you’re missing out on some truth the Holy Spirit wants to teach you.

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