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Lessons We Can Learn From the Book of Leviticus

Lessons We Can Learn From the Book of Leviticus

“All Scripture is inspired of God and beneficial.”​—2 TIM. 3:16.

SONG 98 The Scriptures​—Inspired of God


1-2. Why should Christians today be interested in the book of Leviticus?

THE apostle Paul reminded his young friend Timothy that “all Scripture is inspired of God and beneficial.” (2 Tim. 3:16) That includes the book of Leviticus. How do you view that Bible book? Some may see it as a book that contains a list of rules that do not apply to our day, but true Christians have a different view.

2 Leviticus was written some 3,500 years ago, yet Jehovah had it preserved “for our instruction.” (Rom. 15:4) Because Leviticus sheds light on Jehovah’s thinking, we should be eager to examine it. Actually, there are a number of lessons we can learn from that inspired book. Let us consider four of them.


3. Why were sacrifices offered on the yearly Day of Atonement?

3 First lesson: We need to have Jehovah’s approval for our sacrifices to be accepted. On the yearly Day of Atonement, the nation of Israel came together and animal sacrifices were offered up. Those sacrifices helped to remind the Israelites that they needed to be cleansed of sin! But before the high priest brought any sacrificial blood into the Most Holy on that day, he first had to carry out another task, one that actually was more important than the forgiveness of the nation’s sins.

(See paragraph 4) *

4. As mentioned at Leviticus 16:12, 13, what did the high priest do during his first entry into the Most Holy on Atonement Day? (See cover picture.)

 4 Read Leviticus 16:12, 13. Visualize the scene on Atonement Day: The high priest enters the tabernacle. This is the first of three times he must enter the Most Holy on that day. In one hand, he holds a container filled with perfumed incense, and in the other, he balances a golden fire holder full of burning coals. He pauses before the curtain that covers the entrance to the Most Holy. With deep respect, he enters the Most Holy and stands before the ark of the covenant. In a symbolic sense, he is in the very presence of Jehovah God! Now the priest carefully pours the holy incense onto the fiery coals, and the room fills with a sweet-smelling aroma. * Later he will reenter the Most Holy with the blood of the sin offerings. Notice that he burns the incense before he presents the blood of the sin offerings.

5. What can we learn from the use of incense on Atonement Day?

5 What can we learn from the use of incense on Atonement Day? The Bible indicates that the acceptable prayers of Jehovah’s faithful worshippers are like incense. (Ps. 141:2; Rev. 5:8) Recall that it was with great respect that the high priest brought the incense into the presence of Jehovah. Similarly, when we approach Jehovah in prayer, we do so with deep respect. We are in awe of him. We deeply appreciate that the Creator of the universe allows us to approach him and draw close to him, as a child to a father. (Jas. 4:8) He accepts us as his friends! (Ps. 25:14) We appreciate this privilege so much that we would never want to disappoint him.

6. What can we learn from the fact that the high priest burned the incense before he offered up the sacrifices?

6 Remember that the high priest had to burn the incense before he could offer up the sacrifices. In that way, he made sure that he would have God’s approval when offering up the sacrifices. What can we learn from that? While on earth, Jesus had to do something important​—something more important than providing salvation for mankind—​before he could offer up his life in sacrifice. What was that? By living a life of integrity and loyalty, Jesus had to prepare the way for Jehovah to accept his sacrifice. In that way, Jesus would prove that doing things Jehovah’s way is the right way to live. Jesus would vindicate​—or prove right and just—​his Father’s sovereignty, or way of ruling.

7. Why was Jesus’ entire life course on earth pleasing to his Father?

7 Throughout his earthly life, Jesus maintained perfect obedience to Jehovah’s righteous standards. No temptation or trial​—not even the prospect of an agonizing death—​could weaken his desire to defend his Father’s way of ruling. (Phil. 2:8) When faced with tests, Jesus prayed “with strong outcries and tears.” (Heb. 5:7) His fervent prayers flowed from a loyal heart and strengthened his desire to remain obedient. To Jehovah, Jesus’ prayers were like the aroma  of sweet-smelling incense. Jesus’ entire life course deeply pleased his Father and vindicated His sovereignty.

8. How can we imitate Jesus’ life course?

8 We can imitate Jesus by doing our best to live a life of integrity and of loyalty to Jehovah’s ways and laws. When faced with tests, we pray fervently for Jehovah’s help because we want to please him. In such ways, we show our support of Jehovah’s way of ruling. We realize that Jehovah will not accept our prayers if we are involved in conduct that he condemns. However, if we live according to Jehovah’s standards, we can be confident that our heartfelt prayers will be like sweet-smelling incense to Jehovah. And we can be sure that our integrity and loyal obedience please our heavenly Father.​—Prov. 27:11.


(See paragraph 9) *

9. Why were communion sacrifices offered?

9 Second lesson: We serve Jehovah because we are grateful to him. To highlight this, let us consider the communion offerings, another important aspect of true worship in ancient Israel. * In the book of Leviticus, we learn that an Israelite could offer a communion sacrifice “as an expression of thanksgiving.” (Lev. 7:11-13, 16-18) He made this offering, not because he had to, but because he wanted to. So this  was a voluntary offering that the individual made because he loved his God, Jehovah. The person making the offering, his family, and the priests would eat the meat of the sacrificed animal. But certain parts of the animal sacrifice were offered up exclusively to Jehovah. Which parts?

(See paragraph 10) *

10. What do the communion sacrifices described at Leviticus 3:6, 12, 14-16 teach us about Jesus’ motivation for doing his Father’s will?

10 Third lesson: Out of love, we give Jehovah our best. Jehovah viewed the fat as the best part of an animal. He also specified that vital organs, including the kidneys, were of special value. (Read Leviticus 3:6, 12, 14-16.) So Jehovah was especially pleased when an Israelite voluntarily offered vital organs and the fat to him. The Israelite who made such an offering demonstrated his deep desire to offer the very best to God. In a similar way, Jesus willingly offered up to Jehovah his very best by serving Him whole-souled out of love for Him. (John 14:31) For Jesus, doing God’s will was a delight; he had a deep love for God’s law. (Ps. 40:8) How pleasing it must have been for Jehovah to see Jesus serve him so willingly!

Love for Jehovah moves us to give him our best (See paragraphs 11-12) *

11. How is our service like those communion sacrifices, and how can that be comforting to us?

11 Like those communion sacrifices, our service to Jehovah is a voluntary expression of how we feel about him. We give Jehovah our best, and we do so because we love him with all our heart. How pleased Jehovah must be to see millions of willing worshippers serve him out of deep love for him and his ways! We can be comforted by remembering that Jehovah sees and values not only our actions but also our motives. For example, if you are elderly and can no longer do as much as you would like, be assured that Jehovah sees beyond your limitations. You may feel that you have little to offer, but Jehovah sees the love deep within you that motivates you to do what you can do. He is pleased to accept the best that you can give.

12. What assurance can we draw from Jehovah’s reaction to communion sacrifices?

12 What can we learn from the communion sacrifices? As the fire consumed the best parts of the animal, smoke drifted upward and Jehovah was pleased. Be assured, then, that Jehovah is pleased with your willing, whole-souled service. (Col. 3:23) Imagine his smile of approval. He views your loving efforts in his service, large and small, as treasures that he will remember and value forever.​—Matt. 6:20; Heb. 6:10.


13. According to Leviticus 9:23, 24, how did Jehovah show his approval of the priesthood?

13 Fourth lesson: Jehovah is blessing the earthly part of his organization. Consider what happened in 1512 B.C.E. when the tabernacle was set up at the foot of Mount Sinai. (Ex. 40:17) Moses presided over a ceremony to install Aaron and his sons as priests. The nation of Israel assembled to witness the priests presenting their first animal sacrifices. (Lev. 9:1-5) How did Jehovah show his approval of the newly installed priesthood? As Aaron and Moses blessed the people, Jehovah caused fire  to consume the remainder of the sacrifice on the altar.​—Read Leviticus 9:23, 24.

14. Why is Jehovah’s approval of the Aaronic priesthood of interest to us today?

14 What was accomplished by the awesome display at the installation of the high priest? Jehovah thereby showed his full support of the Aaronic priesthood. When the Israelites saw this clear evidence of Jehovah’s backing of the priests, they had good reason to give them full support. Is that relevant to us? Yes! The priesthood in Israel was just a shadow of a much greater priesthood. Christ, the greater High Priest, has a royal priesthood of 144,000, who will serve alongside him in heaven.​—Heb. 4:14; 8:3-5; 10:1.

Jehovah is blessing and guiding his organization. We give it our wholehearted support (See paragraphs 15-17) *

15-16. How has Jehovah shown his approval of “the faithful and discreet slave”?

15 In 1919, Jesus appointed a small group of anointed brothers as “the faithful and discreet slave.” That slave takes the lead in the preaching work and gives Christ’s followers “food at the proper time.” (Matt. 24:45) Do we see clear evidence of God’s approval of the faithful and discreet slave?

16 Satan and his world have done much to make the work of that faithful slave challenging, even impossible, to carry out from a human standpoint. Despite two world wars, relentless persecution, global economic crises, and unjust treatment, the faithful and discreet slave has continued to provide spiritual food for Christ’s followers on earth. Think of  the abundance of spiritual food available today, free of charge, in more than 900 languages! It is undeniable evidence of divine backing. Consider further proof of Jehovah’s blessing: the preaching work. The good news truly is being preached “in all the inhabited earth.” (Matt. 24:14) Without a doubt, Jehovah is guiding and generously blessing his organization today.

17. How can we show our support for the organization that Jehovah is using?

17 We do well to ask ourselves, ‘Am I grateful to be associated with the earthly part of Jehovah’s organization?’ Jehovah has given us evidence that is as convincing as the literal fire from heaven back in the days of Moses and Aaron. We truly have much to be thankful for. (1 Thess. 5:18, 19) How can we show our support for the organization that Jehovah is using? By following the Bible-based direction we are given in our publications and at our meetings, assemblies, and conventions. In addition, we can show our support by sharing as fully as possible in the preaching and teaching work.​—1 Cor. 15:58.

18. What are you determined to do?

18 Let us be determined to apply the lessons we learned from the book of Leviticus. May we obtain Jehovah’s approval for our sacrifices to be accepted. May we serve Jehovah because we are grateful to him. May we continue to give our best to Jehovah because we love him with all our heart. And may we wholeheartedly support the organization that he is blessing today. In all such ways, we can show Jehovah that we cherish the privilege we have to serve him as his Witnesses!

SONG 96 God’s Own Book​—A Treasure

^ par. 5 The book of Leviticus contains laws that Jehovah gave to ancient Israel. As Christians, we are not under those laws, but we can benefit from them. In this article, we will discuss valuable lessons we can learn from the book of Leviticus.

^ par. 4 The incense burned at the tabernacle was considered sacred, and in ancient Israel it was used only in the worship of Jehovah. (Ex. 30:34-38) There is no record that the first-century Christians burned incense for religious purposes.

^ par. 9 For more information about communion offerings, see Insight on the Scriptures, Volume 2, p. 526.

^ par. 54 PICTURE DESCRIPTION: On Atonement Day, the Israelite high priest entered the Most Holy with incense and fiery coals to fill the room with a sweet-smelling aroma. Later, he reentered the Most Holy with the blood of the sin offerings.

^ par. 56 PICTURE DESCRIPTION: An Israelite hands a sheep to a priest as a communion sacrifice to express his family’s gratitude to Jehovah.

^ par. 58 PICTURE DESCRIPTION: During his ministry on earth, Jesus showed his deep love for Jehovah by keeping God’s commandments and by helping his followers to keep them as well.

^ par. 60 PICTURE DESCRIPTION: An elderly sister, despite her physical limitations, gives her best to Jehovah by witnessing through letter writing.

^ par. 62 PICTURE DESCRIPTIONS: In February 2019, Brother Gerrit Lösch of the Governing Body released the revised New World Translation in German to a grateful and enthusiastic audience. Today, publishers in Germany, like these two sisters, gladly use the newly released Bible in the ministry.