"The revelation of Your words sheds light, giving understanding to the simple." Psalms 119:130
God's word is intended for all people. For thousands of years God has communicated to millions of simple people through His word. In fact, many things are hidden from the learned and clever but revealed to the merest children (Lk 10:21). Of course, God's word is sometimes so difficult to interpret that we need the Church to teach us. Therefore, highly academic Bible study has its place, but it is not the principal approach to God's word. The word is not primarily for an educated elite but for everyday people praying and reading by the power of the Spirit.
Nevertheless, not many books about the Bible are written to help the average person. What most people need is something short, simple, and practical that encourages, motivates and guides. We need something that will help us read the Biblical texts and not just about the text. This is the purpose of this simple Bible reading guide. "We have aimed to please those who prefer simple reading, as well as to make it easy for the studious who wish to commit things to memory, and to be helpful to all (2 Mc 2:25).
Note: The breakdown of the Bible into chapters (although not always adequate) has served God's people for centuries. So in general we will use a chapter-by-chapter structure for our comments.
Be sure to read each chapter of the Bible along with the introductory comments.
P.S. We have prayed before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament about our choice
of the verses in this reading guide. We hope the Scriptures will have a
prophetic, life-changing power for you.
"If his holocaust offering is from the herd, it must be a male without blemish." Leviticus 1:3
If Leviticus is your favorite book of the Bible, would you immediately write us and identify yourself? You are a unique person. Leviticus is an enigma to many, but it reveals the essence of salvation: Atonement for sin is made by offering a holocaust and by the shedding of blood.
Prayer: Jesus, You were "a male without blemish," totally consumed on the cross. Thank You for atoning for all the sins that ever have or ever will be committed.
Promise: "To find favor with the Lord, he shall bring it to the entrance of the meeting tent and there lay his hand on the head of the holocaust, so that it may be acceptable to make atonement for him." 1:3-4
"If you present a cereal offering of first fruits to the Lord, you shall offer it in the form of fresh grits of new ears of grain, roasted by fire." Leviticus 2:14
Did you ever think of offering your cereal to God? We omit many things from our commitment to the Lord. He wants and deserves our all.
Prayer: Father, I thought I gave You all, and then I noticed some things I had kept for myself. I repent; forgive me.
Promise: "Do not let the salt of the covenant of your God be lacking from your cereal offering." 2:13
"If someone in presenting a peace offering makes his offering from the herd, he may offer before the Lord either a male or a female animal, but it must be without blemish." Leviticus 3:1
The Israelites made a peace offering when they fulfilled a vow. Jesus is our Peace (Eph 2:14). He was offered up on the altar of the cross in fulfillment of the Father's promise to send the Messiah for our salvation.
Prayer: Jesus, if not for you...
"If the whole community of Israel inadvertently and without even being aware of it does something that the Lord has forbidden and thus makes itself guilty, should it later on become known that the sin was committed, the community shall present a young bull as a sin offering." Leviticus 4:13-14
For those who did something wrong inadvertently, there were sin offerings. For those who intentionally sinned, there was only justice and death. But now, through Jesus' justifying death, we can receive mercy.
Prayer: Lord, have mercy.
Promise: "Thus the priest shall make atonement for the man's sin, and it will be forgiven." 4:35
"If someone, without being aware of it, commits such a sin by doing one of the things which are forbidden by some commandment of the Lord, that he incurs guilt for which he must answer, he shall bring as a guilt offering to the priest an unblemished ram of the flock. Leviticus 5:17-18
First, Leviticus presents the law for holocausts, then cereal offerings, peace offerings, sin offerings, and now guilt offerings. We've only read five chapters of Leviticus, and already we're feeling the weight and burden of the old law. Jesus says: "Come to Me, all you who are weary and find life burdensome, and I will refresh you" (Mt 11:28).
Prayer: Jesus, thank You for freeing me from the curse of the law (Gal 3:10) by giving me the power to obey You.
Promise: "When he has presented this as his guilt offering to the priest, the latter shall make atonement for him before the Lord, and he will be forgiven whatever guilt he may have incurred." 5:25-26
"The fire is to be kept burning continuously on the altar; it must not go out." Leviticus 6:6 (see also 6:5)
Congratulations! You have survived reading the first five chapters of Leviticus. It doesn't get easier, but persevere. The Lord has you reading Leviticus at this time for a reason.
Prayer: Father, send Your Spirit to guide me to all truth in reading Leviticus (Jn 16:13).
"The fat is to be brought in, together with the breast, which is to be waved as a wave offering before the Lord. The priest shall burn the fat on the altar." Leviticus 7:30-31
Use your imagination, and picture what went on at the Temple sacrificesrivers of blood, lots of fat, priests waving offerings, and what a smell! It's not a pretty picture. Calvary was even worse.
Prayer: Jesus, thank You for Your gory death on the cross for love of me.
"You are not to depart from the entrance of the meeting tent for seven days, until the days of your ordination are completed; for your ordination is to last for seven days." Leviticus 8:33
After seven chapters concerning sacrifices, Leviticus spends three chapters on the ordination of priests. The Israelite community spent seven days praying for the priests. Maybe the Lord is calling you to pray much more for the priests of the new covenant.
Prayer: Father, thank You for the gift of priesthood. Remind me to pray for a certain priest.
Promise: "The Lord has commanded that what has been done today be done to make atonement for you." 8:34
"Fire came forth from the Lord's presence and consumed the holocaust and the remnants of the fat on the altar. Seeing this, all the people cried out and fell prostrate." Leviticus 9:24
The Lord left no doubt that the people's prayers for the priests were pleasing to Him. He manifested His glory by fire when Aaron the priest made his first offering and gave his first blessing.
Prayer: Father, may I expect You to manifest Your divinity when I pray.
Promise: "Moses and Aaron went into the meeting tent. On coming out they again blessed the people. Then the glory of the Lord was revealed to all the people." 9:23
"Your kinsmen, the rest of the house of Israel, shall mourn for those whom the Lord's fire has smitten; but do not you go beyond the entry of the meeting tent, else you shall die; for the anointing oil of the Lord is upon you." Leviticus 10:6-7
"It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God" (Heb 10:31). "For our God is a consuming fire" (Heb 12:29). "Aaron's sons Nadab and Abihu took their censers and, strewing incense on the fire they had put in them, they offered up before the Lord profane fire, such as He had not authorized. Fire therefore came forth from the Lord's presence and consumed them, so that they died in His presence" (10:1-2).
Prayer: Father, give me an awe in Your presence.
Promise: "You must be able to distinguish between what is sacred and what is profane, between what is clean and what is unclean; you must teach the Israelites all the laws that the Lord has given them through Moses." 10:10-11
"This is the law for animals and birds and for all the creatures that move about in the water or swarm on the ground, that you may distinguish between the clean and the unclean, between creatures that may be eaten and those that may not be eaten." Leviticus 11:46-47
The third section of Leviticus is concerned with legal purity. This chapter is about clean and unclean food. Today, doctors tell us about foods that may cause cancer and heart attacks. We worry about cholesterol. We're discovering what Leviticus suggested thousands of years ago.
Prayer: Father, I submit my eating habits to Your lordship.
Promise: "Since I, the Lord, brought you up from the land of Egypt that I might be your God, you shall be holy, because I am holy." 11:45
"Tell the Israelites: When a woman has conceived and gives birth to a boy, she shall be unclean for seven days." Leviticus 12:2
The Israelites recognized that the physical aspects of childbirth had spiritual effects on the mother. We have much to learn from the Bible about integrating the physical and the spiritual.
Prayer: Father, may I see the whole and not just parts.
Promise: "The priest shall offer them up before the Lord to make atonement for her, and thus she will be clean again after her flow of blood." 12:7
"The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, 'If someone has on his skin a scab or pustule or blotch which appears to be the sore of leprosy, he shall be brought to Aaron, the priest." Leviticus 13:1-2
These next two chapters teach you more about leprosy than you ever wanted to know. If you apply the teachings on leprosy to inner healing, you will receive special insights. For example, a scab is a hurt that you still feel like picking at. A pustule is something repressed, like unforgiveness or resentment, which will surely come to a head. A blotch is something that flares up when certain things are mentioned. Leprosy has been cured in much of the world, but the epidemic of inner hurts continues.
Prayer: Father, heal me physically and psychologically. May I be able to give to others the healings I receive.
Promise: "The disease has been healed; the man is clean, and the priest shall declare him clean." 13:37
"Taking the living bird with the cedar wood, the scarlet yarn and the hyssop, the priest shall dip them all in the blood of the bird that was slain over the spring water." Leviticus 14:6
A living bird, wood, blood, and water are necessary for the purification of a leper. Compare these with the dove of the Spirit, the wood of the cross, the blood shed on Calvary, and the water of baptism. These are the elements of purification and salvation for those spiritually leprous through sin.
Prayer: Father, may I be in awe of Your plan of salvation.
Promise: "When he has thus made atonement for it, the house will be clean." 14:53
"When a man has an emission of seed, he shall bathe his whole body in water and be unclean until evening." Leviticus 15:16
Thousands of years before medical science, the Lord revealed the possibility of infection through sexual emissions and blood. The things we are hearing about in reference to AIDS were already miraculously known in some way to the authors of Leviticus.
Prayer: Father, may I take Your word not as the word of men but as it truly is, the word of God (1 Thes 2:13).
"Laying both hands on its head, he shall confess over it all the sinful faults and transgressions of the Israelites, and so put them on the goat's head." Leviticus 16:21
This is the most important chapter of Leviticus and one of the most important chapters of the Bible. The teaching on the Day of Atonement and the scapegoat reveals to us the meaning of Jesus' death on the cross in our place.
Prayer: Crucified Jesus, Scapegoat for all humanity, I thank and adore You.
Promise: "When he has made atonement for himself and his household, as well as for the whole Israelite community, he shall come out to the altar before the Lord and make atonement for it also." 16:17-18
"Since the life of a living body is in its blood, I have made you put it on the altar, so that atonement may thereby be made for your own lives, because it is the blood, as the seat of life, that makes atonement." Leviticus 17:11
We are still learning from the Bible about blood and its place in God's plan of salvation. "Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness" (Heb 9:22). The Lord has made "peace through the blood of His cross" (Col 1:20). Jesus' flesh is real food and His blood real drink (Jn 6:55). O, the blood of Jesus!
Prayer: Jesus, wash my life in Your blood (Rv 7:14).
"You shall not do as they do in the land of Egypt, where you once lived, nor shall you do as they do in the land of Canaan, where I am bringing you; do not conform to their customs." Leviticus 18:3
Incest, adultery, homosexuality, and other sexual perversions result in the land vomiting out its inhabitants (18:25). We must not be like those in the world (1 Thes 4:5), but pure as Jesus is pure (1 Jn 3:3).
Prayer: Jesus, may I not look lustfully at anyone (Mt 5:28). May I not even mention impurity (Eph 5:3).
Promise: "Keep, then, My statutes and decrees, for the man who carries them out will find life through them. I am the Lord." 18:5
"Be holy, for I, the Lord your God, am holy." Leviticus 19:2
We live a moral life not just because of fear of punishment and guilt, or because of the benefits of obedience, but rather because we love the Lord. At least fifteen times in this chapter, it is affirmed: "I, the LORD am your God." "I am the LORD."
Prayer: Lord God, I confess with my lips that You are my Lord (Rm 10:9).
Promise: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." 19:18
"Tell the Israelites: Anyone, whether an Israelite or an alien residing in Israel, who gives any of his offspring to Molech shall be put to death. Let his fellow citizens stone him." Leviticus 20:2
Leviticus repeats part of chapter eighteen and especially emphasizes the commandment against sacrificing children to Molech. Is abortion the contemporary extension of this? Are we not allowing our children to be sacrificed to the gods of self and life-style?
Prayer: Lord, I will do anything You say to stop abortion.
Promise: "But to you I have said: Their land shall be your possession, a land flowing with milk and honey. I am giving it to you as your own, I, the Lord, your God, Who have set you apart from the other nations." 20:24
"To their God they shall be sacred, and not profane His name; since they offer up the oblations of the Lord, the food of their God, they must be holy." Leviticus 21:6
Leviticus can't go on any longer without mentioning again the sanctity of the priesthood. In the New Testament, all Christians share in that sanctity because we are "a royal priesthood" (1 Pt 2:9).
Prayer: Father, make me increasingly aware of my priesthood. May I exercise it by worship, intercession, and evangelization.
Promise: "Honor him as sacred who offers up the food of your God; treat him as sacred, because I, the Lord, Who have consecrated him, am sacred." 21:8
"Be careful to observe the commandments which I, the Lord, give you, and do not profane My holy name; in the midst of the Israelites I, the Lord, must be held as sacred." Leviticus 22:31-32
Even if you could remember all the rules of Leviticus, you couldn't keep them all. Moreover, if you break one law, you break them all (Jas 2:10). However, "there is no condemnation now for those who are in Christ Jesus" (Rm 8:1).
Prayer: Father, thank You for the law of and power of the Spirit (Rm 8:2).
Promise: "I am the Lord." 22:2, 3, 8, 9, 30
"Speak to the Israelites and tell them: The following are the festivals of the Lord, My feast days, which you shall celebrate with a sacred assembly." Leviticus 23:1
Because He is Lord, we have reason to celebrate. We live a life-style of celebration. In the New Testament, we celebrate Sunday (Sabbath), Easter (Passover), Pentecost, Good Friday (the Day of Atonement), Christmas (Booths), etc.
Prayer: Father, may I celebrate according to Your rhythm and not that of the world.
Promise: "This shall be a perpetual statute for you and your descendants wherever you dwell." 23:14
"Limb for limb, eye for eye, tooth for tooth! The same injury that a man gives another shall be inflicted on him in return." Leviticus 24:20
The writer of Leviticus has a lot on his mindfrom the sanctuary light and the showbread to capital punishment. Only in Jesus does it all come together. "In times past, God spoke in fragmentary and varied ways to our fathers through the prophets; in this, the final age, He has spoken to us through His Son" (Heb 1:1-2).
Prayer: Jesus, bring Your order into my life as I seek first Your kingdom (Mt 6:33).
Promise: "The lamps shall be set up on the pure gold lampstand, to burn regularly before the Lord." 24:4
"This fiftieth year you shall make sacred by proclaiming liberty in the land for all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you, when every one of you shall return to his own property, every one to his own family estate." Leviticus 25:10
The Israelites knew how to celebrate, and even did so for a whole year at a time. These celebrations were not escapes from reality; they were the restoration of God's just order in society. However, the celebrations of the sabbatical and jubilee years were never regularly observed. Finally, Jesus proclaimed a never-ending jubilee year (Lk 4:19).
Prayer: Father, in all my celebrations, give me an awareness of the poor.
Promise: "For to Me the Israelites belong as servants; they are servants of Mine, because I brought them out of the land of Egypt, I the Lord, your God." 25:55
"If you reject My precepts and spurn My decrees, refusing to obey all My commandments and breaking My covenant, then I, in turn, will give you your deserts." Leviticus 26:15-16
Almost hidden at the end of Leviticus, we have an amazing revelation of the stages of the Israelites' deterioration because of their refusal to repent (26:14ff). America, take heed!
Prayer: Lord, may we repent and be "one nation under God."
Promise: "Five of you will put a hundred of your foes to flight, and a hundred of you will chase ten thousand of them." 26:8
"When anyone fulfills a vow of offering one or more persons to the Lord, who are to be ransomed at a fixed sum of money, for persons between the ages of twenty and sixty, the fixed sum, in sanctuary shekels, shall be fifty silver shekels for a man, and thirty shekels for a woman." Leviticus 27:2-4
Leviticus can't leave well enough alone, and let chapter 26 be the ending of the book. There's always something else to worry about. Here it's the redemption of votive offerings. I wouldn't call this a happy ending.
Prayer: Jesus, it will be a happy ending when You come back to take me with You. Come, Lord Jesus!
When you finish reading this booklet, give it to someone else. Pray for that person to be motivated to read God's word and make a total commitment to the Lord. Use this book as a tool for evangelization. Right now pray to know the person with whom you are to share this book.
Nihil obstat: Reverend Ralph J. Lawrence, January 22, 1996
Imprimatur: †Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, February 5, 1996
The Nihil obstat and Imprimatur are a declaration that a book or pamphlet is considered to be free from doctrinal or moral error. It is not implied that those who have granted the Nihil obstat and Imprimatur agree with the contents, opinions, or statements expressed.
Published by: Presentation Ministries, 3230 McHenry Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45211, (513) 662-5378, www.presentationministries.com