by Rev. David Millar

The Book of Leviticus is the third book of the Old Testament. It deals with the laws that governed the offering of sacrifices as a basis for the worship of the Jews as well as ceremonial laws pertaining to the fulfilling of priestly (Levites) functions and festivals, along with general laws of conduct that governed the lives of ordinary people. The Hebrew name for this book translates as “And He Called” suggesting that this book deals with the Lord’s call to all to enter His Kingdom. On the surface the Book of Leviticus provides in detail laws pertaining to how the Jewish people were to conduct themselves before a holy God if they wished to remain protected and blessed.

So far as a breakdown of the book is concerned we find that…

Chapters 1-7 deals with laws regarding sacrifices and offerings and the use of the altar

Chapters 8-10 deals with the laws governing the functions of the Levitical Priesthood and the consecration of Aaron who is its head.

Chapters 11-15 deals with laws regarding how to deal with things unclean to avoid adverse effects such as disease and illness. Included in this category are foods, various animals, insects etc, what to be done when in contact with dead bodies, as well as the procedures related to cleansing after a birth.

Chapter 16 covers off instructions regarding the Day of Atonement, in which the High Priest must undergo strict preparations to enter into the Holy of Holies or inmost area of the Tabernacle. This was undertaken once a year with the purpose of offering a sacrifice to the Lord for the sins of the entire people.

Chapters 17-27 deal with general laws pertaining to living a holy life and covers a range of areas such as sexual conduct, idolatry, laws regarding property, religious festivals, celebrations, the Sabbath year and the year of Jubilee.

All these laws regarding external conduct and worship were to be carried out to the letter for they represented spiritual realities and constituted the means by which the knowledge of the Lord and what constitutes a spiritual or heavenly life could be maintained on earth and serve as a temporary connection between heaven and earth until the Lord Jesus Christ to whom they pointed could through His life on earth fulfill them. It was because they represented heavenly things that they depicted, in an image, the living reality of what’s involved in establishing a connection between people in the world and angels in heaven through the work of the Lord Jesus Christ. This deeper more personal meaning can be seen in the spiritual meaning that lies within the letter that deals with how the details of Leviticus are to be understood and applied to purifying the will and understanding with its affections and thoughts.

From the Arcana Coelestia 9990 we have the following teaching…
[2] To know what each kind of burnt offering or sacrifice represented one must first know that in a human being there is the external and the internal, and that in each there is that which belongs to truth and that which belongs to good. Therefore when a person is to be regenerated he must be regenerated as to the external and as to the internal, and in each as to truth and as to good. But before a person can be regenerated he must be purified from evils and from falsities, for these stand in the way. Purifications of the external man were represented by burnt offerings and sacrifices of oxen, young bulls, and he-goats, but purifications of the internal man by burnt offerings and sacrifices of rams, kids, and she-goats, and purification of the internal itself, or that which is inmost, by those of lambs. Consequently from the actual animals offered in sacrifice one may see what kind of purification or expiation was being represented.

[3] The reason for saying ‘was being represented’ is that burnt offerings and sacrifices did not purify or expiate a person, but merely served to represent purification or expiation. For is there anyone who fails to recognize that such offerings of animals do not take away any evil or falsity at all that is present with a person? – see the places in the Word quoted in 2180. The reason why those offerings did not take evil or falsity away, but merely represented such a removal of it, was that only a representative of the Church was established among the Israelite and Jewish nation, which served to join them to heaven, and through heaven to the Lord, see what has been shown on this subject in the places referred to in 9320 (end), 9380.