This book is also known as the Torat Kohanim, or Laws of the Priests. It is all about the Priesthood, regulations for how they are to act, how they get paid and also how to identify clean from unclean. The 7th Sabbatical year known as the Jubilee Year, as well as rules on tithing and redemption of the first born, all are part of being holy unto the Lord and for being a priest.
Of course, it’s good to know stuff even if you aren’t a priest.
The most important parts of this book, to me, are Chapter 11 (Kosher regulations), Chapter 23 (God’s Festivals, or Holy Days) and verse 19:18 (love they neighbor as thyself.)
What is important about this book is that we can learn what God’s perspective is about things. Men have interpreted the word of God so differently for so long that now we have all these different religions and teachings, and His word has become so polluted that we have lost His perspective. Reading Leviticus will help us see what God wants us to do.
For instance, Chapter 11 does NOT tell us what foods are clean and what foods are not- it tells us what IS food. In other words, what God says is unclean is not even to be considered “food.” He uses the word “unclean”, but also “abomination” and “detestable” to describe what we are not to eat. The Hebrew word that identifies the beasts (not food, but beasts) that are unclean is the same Hebrew word used in Exodus in the story of the rape of Jacob’s daughter Dinah, where it said she had been violated by the son of the Hivite king. The word is used to mean eating these unclean things results in a total violation, physically and spiritually, of the person- eating an unclean thing is a violation of all that is holy, from God’s perspective. It is not food we are not supposed to eat- it is simply not “food” at all. This is important when we read in Mark when Yeshua declared all food clean- although the story has nothing to do with kosher laws (it was about a hand washing ceremony.) When Mark said Yeshua declared all food clean, he did not mean pork and shellfish. To a First Century Jew that was not “food”, because God says it is not “food” here in Leviticus. Without understanding God’s perspective correctly by understanding Leviticus, we can be misled and taught incorrectly without even knowing it.
There is also a difference between holy days and a holiday- the former is what God says we should celebrate to honor Him and the latter are what humans made up to honor God. The 7 Holy Days in Leviticus (Chapter 23) are the ones, and the way, we should honor God as He said we should. Two of those have been altered by the Rabbi’s: Rosh Hashanah and Shavuot. Rosh Hashanah is not a Jewish New Year according to God. God said that Pesach (Passover) is the beginning of our year. Rosh Hashanah is, from God’s perspective, Yom Teruah (Day of Trumpets) and a memorial day. It is the beginning of the Ten Days of Awe during which we review our failure to do as God has commanded, in preparation for Yom Kippur. Also Shavuot is different- the traditional celebration is that of the giving of the law on Mt. Sinai, but God said it is to be a spring harvest festival and a presentation of the first fruits.
Hey- there’s nothing wrong with holidays (well, maybe Easter and Christmas need a strong review, but they have become so socialized and commercialized I don’t know if anyone really thinks they are religious anymore, except from a historical viewpoint), as long as we know which are the true Holy Days God wants us to celebrate, and we celebrate them as He said we should.
The Golden Rule is also found here, which is one of the two most important commandments that exist, according to Yeshua (and many of the great Jewish Rabbi’s, as well.) Even this simple and easy to understand rule has been attacked by Bible critics, stating that Hillel and Tobit stated the rule in a negative way (do not do unto others as you would not want them to do to you) but Jesus said it “correctly” by stating it in a positive way (do unto others as you would have them do unto you.) Horse apples! In the days when these arguments were made, it was considered the same to say it either way. People just have to screw up everything. Oy!
This book tells us how we should live- wholly holy, because our God is holy. How many times does God say that we should be holy because He is holy? I can’t even count that high. This book tells the Priests (Kohanim) how they should live and their duties as Priest, and since the nation of Israel is to be a nation of Priests to the world, this book is as important to know and follow to any member of the other 11 tribes as it is to the members of the Tribe of Levi. And it also applies to anyone who sojourns with the Jewish people (that means anyone who worships the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob), whom God said is no different than a “natural born Jew” when it comes to both the rights under the Torah, as well as the obligations under the Torah.
That’s what makes it so hard for Christian-raised people who are trying to get back to their Hebraic roots (or become Messianic Jews)- they like being given the same rights under Torah that the Jewish people have always had, but they often balk when it comes to living under the same regulations that the Torah demands.
You can’t have one without the other, so if you want to worship God as He said to worship Him, you need to live by this book (remember- God has no religion, only His commandments, regulations and ordinances which He declared in the Torah.)
To worship God as He says we should, we must stop choosing and picking what are ceremonial laws (Mishpatim) from moral laws (mitzvot) from civil laws, from other laws we can’t understand (Hukkim), from whatever- whether moral, ceremonial or any other “type” of law, these are the ways God said we should live and how to worship Him. Anything else, ANYTHING ELSE, is not from God.
So, nu? Do you want to worship God as He said to, or not? What would…no, make that what did…. Jesus do?