Pentateuch: Leviticus 21-27

A study on the book of Leviticus

Learn how you can use the guide here.

Leviticus 21-27 The Implications On Corporate Life (Lev 21-24) And Safeguards Against Negligence (Lev 25-27)

The remaining chapters of Leviticus continue to focus on the corporate responsibility of the people of God in reflecting God’s holiness to the surrounding nations. The book revisits the topic of the priesthood (Leviticus 21:1 to 22:33), this time encountering laws ensuring the continuation of the message of hope for a perfect priesthood in every generation after Aaron.

Leviticus 23 - The Seven Feasts

Leviticus 23 describes the calendar of Israel’s festivals. Multiple times a year, Israel is commanded to hold community feasts or ceremonies. There are seven festivals listed in these chapters. The point of these feasts is to carve out time for reflection and thanksgiving, which roots people in God’s saving work and renews their trust in and obedience to him. In each of these feasts, we find clues that foreshadow the coming of Christ.

Table 1: A Summary of the Holy Calendar in Leviticus 23

Source: Schnittjer, G. E. (2006). The Torah Story: An Apprenticeship on the Pentateuch (p. 352). Zondervan.

The Importance of Sabbath seen in the Levitical calendar

The Levitical calendar is designed around the Sabbath principle and its promise of rest (Genesis 2:1–2; compare Exodus 20:8–11; Nehemiah 9:14). The weekly Sabbath was the foundational holy day of the whole calendar (Leviticus 23:3). From there, the Sabbath principle was extrapolated throughout the calendar by repeated patterns of seven. There were seven festivals in Israel’s yearly calendar, all within the first seven months of the year. There were seven weeks between the festivals of Firstfruits and Weeks. The festivals of Unleavened Bread and Booths were each seven days in length. The Sabbath Year occurred every seven years, and Jubilee occurred after seven sevens of years (Leviticus 25). Through these and other patterns of sevens, the entire calendar is rooted in the Sabbath principle, spreading the promise of divine rest through the entire system (TGC Course | Knowing the Bible: Leviticus).

While holiness starts with individual commitment, it must eventually express itself through the corporate ethos for it to have any meaningful impact on the world. A large part of that responsibility rests on the leadership of God’s people, who are called to model that individual commitment, as well as ensure that God’s people remember their responsibilities before God.

The whole book of Leviticus ends soberly with warnings of judgement, but also optimistically with promises of restoration. Ultimately, it seems clear that our acceptance before God does not hinge on our perfect obedience to all the commandments, but on our repentance and humility before the Holy One of Israel, trusting Him to be faithful to His own Word.


Leviticus 25 – The Sabbatical Year and the Year of the Jubilee

Pre-Video Reading

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Application Questions

  1. Leviticus 23 tells us first about a weekly celebration, the Sabbath. What instructions were given for how this weekly Sabbath was to be observed (v3)?

    Read Genesis 2:1-3. The Sabbath celebration, spoken of in Leviticus 23, has its roots in the very creation of the world. God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it. Sabbath becomes a weekly reminder that God is the creator of all things. The practice of gathering together in local communities for worship every week is rooted in the Sabbath principle.

    How do you honour the Sabbath? What happens when you don’t?

  2. The calendar of Old Testament Israel drew numerous connections between the nature of God and the demonstrations of his goodness in the seasons. And in reference to the extra reading, Seven Feasts that point to Christ”, these feasts demonstrated God’s intentional love for humanity as He left us clues that foreshadow the coming Messiah.

    a. What has been most significant for you as you read about the feasts?

    b. Meditate on the ways the atonement of Christ has fulfilled various promises set forth in the Old Testament festivals, from becoming our Passover Lamb to his ascending before us into the true “Promised Land.”

  3. Read Leviticus 24:10-23. The account of the blasphemer’s execution highlights the deadly consequences of disobeying God’s instructions for holiness.

    a. Which commandment given to Moses did the blasphemer break?

    b. Why do you suppose such a sober lesson would be added to the end of Israel’s annual worship calendar?

  4. Read Leviticus 25. We have no evidence that Israel actually ever obeyed the year of Jubilee. In Luke 4, we read about Jesus walking into a synagogue in Nazareth claiming that he was the one bringing this year of Jubilee, also known as the year of the Lord’s favour.

    What does the year of Jubilee mean for us today?

  5. The word covenant appears once in the series of promised blessings (Leviticus 26:9) and seven times in the series of discipline (v15, 25, 42, 44-45). When the Lord pours out his blessings on his people, he does so to “confirm my covenant” with each generation of the faithful (v9). Conversely, when God disciplines the unfaithful, he nevertheless refuses to abandon them utterly, because of his “covenant with Jacob… with Isaac, and… with Abraham” and “with [Israel’s] forefathers, whom I brought out of the land of Egypt” (v42, 45).

    a. What does this tell you about our covenant-keeping God?

    b. What is the aim of God’s blessings and discipline?

  6. The punishments outlined in Leviticus 26:14–45 correspond to the kinds of discipline experienced by Israel in the rest of Old Testament history: fear and privation from enemies (Leviticus 26:14–17; Judges 6:2–6), famines (Leviticus 26:18–20; Ruth 1:1; 1 Kings 17:1–7), wild animals (Leviticus 26:21–22; 2 Kings 17:21–26; Ezekiel 5:17), invasions and war (Leviticus 26:23–26; 2 Kings 17:1–18), and exile with all its horrors (Leviticus 26:27-45; 2 Chronicles 36:15–21).

    The fifth series of punishments—exile and all its horrors—so closely parallels the Babylonian exile account of 2 Chronicles 36:15–21 that it is likely the author of Chronicles intended to show the fulfilment of God’s warning from Leviticus in how he reported that event. But by doing so, he also shows that the Babylonian exile was not divine abandonment but discipline for the purpose of restoration (see 2 Chronicles 36:22–23).

    a. What are some lessons we can learn from Israel’s disobedience to God?

    b. What does this tell you about God’s heart for His people?

  7. As you reflect on this study of Leviticus, read Romans 3:21 and discuss how the laws of Leviticus, though never intended to accomplish eternal righteousness in themselves, bore witness to the righteousness accomplished by Christ. How have you grown to understand the work of Christ and to love him more through this study?

Closing Reflection

How seriously do you take your commitments to God? Our holiness ultimately rests on whether we believe God is serious about His Word, and that He expects us to be serious about ours. Are you serious?

Prayer: Connecting with God

End the time with prayer.

Pray that the Holy Spirit will show you that it is God who cleanses us to live in his presence. And that you would see Jesus as our perfect priest and mediator. Without his blood shed for us, we will not be made righteous with God and we could not enter His presence. 

Pray that the Holy Spirit will give you eyes to see the God who takes his covenant so seriously that no matter how much we break it, He never will. And that you will see that it is only because of Jesus that those of us who should have been cut off from God forever, can be brought near Him forever instead.