Leviticus (Vayikra) is not the ordinary sort of reading material a person reaches for.
This is not like the stories in the books of Genesis and Exodus, and it’s not like practical instructions of the apostles. Instead, it’s full of rituals, sacrifices, laws of clean and unclean, molds and mildews, scabs and bodily fluids, calendrical cycles and priestly rules. Blood is flying around everywhere, getting sprinkled and splashed here and there—it’s gorier than an R-rated movie and more fun than “the fat that covers the entrails and all the fat that is on the entrails and the two kidneys with the fat that is on them at the loins and the long lobe of the liver!” (Leviticus 3:9-10).
But did you know that the book of Leviticus (Vayikra) is supposed to be the first book of the Bible that a Jewish child learns? Imagine starting a five-year-old with Leviticus 1:1. If that’s the case, then there must be something pretty important going on in Leviticus.
Here’s a short video from thebibleproject.com to give you an overview of the big picture in the book of Leviticus. This video helps put all these rituals and ceremonies into context. Take a few minutes, watch the video, and get ahead of the game before the Torah portions about priests, sacrifices, molds, mildews, and ceremonies get underway this year. https://youtu.be/WmvyrLXoQio
Here’s the takeaway from Leviticus: God is dangerous. He’s not a warm fuzzy feeling or a gentle doting grandfather in the sky. He’s a dangerous, all-powerful, and consuming spiritual being, and drawing to close to him without the proper precautions in place can have devastating consequences. Despite that, God wants to live among his people, and he wants to draw us near to him. Leviticus teaches us how to do that—and live to tell about it.
If Leviticus makes you curious, and you would like to learn more about the Messianic Jewish interpretation of the book, let me recommend my book What About the Sacrifices? It’s a short read—shorter than Leviticus—and it makes sense out of the sacrifices and Yeshua’s role as a sacrifice for sin.