“Unit 12: Day 2, Leviticus 1–11,” Old Testament Study Guide for Home-Study Seminary Students (2014)
“Unit 12: Day 2,” Old Testament Study Guide
After the children of Israel built the tabernacle, the Lord revealed to Moses how they should offer various kinds of sacrifices to Him. The book of Leviticus contains these and other instructions. It served as a sort of priesthood handbook for the Levite priests who administered the various sacrifices. These sacrifices pointed the Israelites toward Jesus Christ and emphasized their need to rely on His atoning sacrifice for their salvation and redemption. Thus, the sacrifices outlined in Leviticus were a type and shadow of things to come (see Alma 34:9–10, 13–14).
Since the time of Adam and Eve, sacrificial offerings have been an important part of worshipping the Lord (see Moses 5:4–8). Leviticus 1–3 records the Lord’s instructions for some of the offerings (including various kinds of animal sacrifices) the Israelites were to make under the direction of priesthood leadership as directed by the law of Moses. In the following chart, read the verses in the first column and match them to the statements explaining the various types of offerings in the second column. Write the letter of the statement on the line next to the scripture reference. (The answers are found at the end of this lesson; see also Bible Dictionary, “Sacrifices.”)
When the Israelites recognized they had sinned, they were to sacrifice an animal as a sin offering. Leviticus 4 includes the Lord’s instructions for making a sin offering.
Imagine you are an Israelite and have committed a sin. Picture yourself bringing an animal to the priests at the tabernacle so it could be sacrificed in the proper manner. Read Leviticus 4:4, 27–29, looking for what you would need to do to make a sin offering. (A bullock is a young bull; a kid is a young goat.)
What do you think might be the significance of placing your hands upon the animal’s head?
Placing your hands upon the animal’s head would symbolize, in part, that the animal had become your substitute or representative, just as Jesus Christ was our substitute or representative in atoning for our sins.
What might the act of killing an innocent lamb teach you about the Savior and His role in taking upon Himself your sins?
After the animal had been killed, the priest would put some of its blood on horns that were on the altar (see Leviticus 4:5–7, 30).
The horns on the altar symbolized power. The scriptures refer to the Savior as the “horn of salvation” (Luke 1:69). Placing the blood, a symbol of Jesus Christ’s Atonement, on the horns of the altar was symbolic of His power to save us.
Read Leviticus 4:20, 31, looking for the purpose of the sin offering.
How could the sin offering help the sinner?
The act of sacrificing animals was a similitude of the great sacrifice that Jesus Christ would make for the remission of sins. The act of sacrificing animals did not have the power to cleanse people of their sins, but it was intended to direct the people’s minds and hearts toward Jesus Christ, who is able to forgive and cleanse us (see Alma 34:10–15).
The ancient practice of sin offerings can teach us that through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ, we can be forgiven of our sins. You may want to write this principle in the margin of your scriptures next to verse 20 or 31.
Jesus Christ’s atoning sacrifice fulfilled the law of animal sacrifice. After His Resurrection, He told His followers that their sacrifices and burnt offerings “shall be done away” (3 Nephi 9:19). His disciples were now to offer “a broken heart and a contrite spirit” (3 Nephi 9:20).
As you read the following statement by Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, notice what he says about an ordinance the Lord has provided in our day that can direct our minds and hearts toward the Savior:
“After the Savior’s ultimate sacrifice, two adjustments were made in the practice of [the law of sacrifice]. First, the ordinance of the sacrament replaced the ordinance of sacrifice; and second, this change moved the focus of the sacrifice from a person’s animal to the person himself. In a sense, the sacrifice changed from the offering to the offerer. …
“After His mortal ministry, Christ elevated the law of sacrifice to a new level. … Instead of the Lord requiring our animals or grain, now He wants us to give up all that is ungodly. This higher practice of the law reaches into the inner soul of a person. Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said: ‘Real, personal sacrifice never was placing an animal on the altar. Instead, it is a willingness to put the animal in us upon the altar and letting it be consumed!’ (‘Deny Yourselves of All Ungodliness,’ Ensign, May 1995, 68).
“… When we overcome our own selfish desires and put God first in our lives and covenant to serve Him regardless of the cost, we are then living the law of sacrifice” (“The Law of Sacrifice,” Ensign, Oct. 1998, 10).
- Answer the following question in your scripture study journal: In what ways can we “give up all that is ungodly” or offer “the animal in us” to the Lord?
Leviticus 5–7 explains additional instructions for the various sacrifices. Consider how you might make an offering to the Lord by turning to Jesus Christ, repenting of sins, and preparing to partake of the sacrament.
After the Israelites had built the tabernacle and received the Lord’s instructions concerning sacrifices, the Lord commanded Moses to fulfill His instructions to consecrate Aaron and his sons for their service as priests in the tabernacle (see Exodus 29). Leviticus 8 records how Moses obeyed this instruction.
Leviticus 9 records that Moses instructed Aaron to gather the people and to offer sacrifices for himself and all of Israel. Read Leviticus 9:6, looking for what the Lord promised would happen if Aaron and his posterity performed these ordinances in righteousness for Israel.
Leviticus 9:8–22 teaches that Aaron offered the sacrifices for himself and for the people as the Lord had commanded.
As you read Leviticus 9:23–24, look for what happened after the people and their priesthood leaders had been obedient to the Lord in building the tabernacle and performing ordinances properly.
One principle we can learn from verse 23 is that as those who hold the priesthood properly fulfill their responsibilities, they help people draw nearer to the Lord.
In contrast to the priesthood holders who properly fulfilled their responsibilities, two of Aaron’s sons, Nadab and Abihu, performed unauthorized sacrifices. As a result of their actions, they were consumed by fire from heaven. (See Leviticus 10:1–2.)
Read Leviticus 10:8–11, looking for how personal worthiness could affect the priests’ performance of their duties. (Notice that verse 10, footnote a, explains that the phrase “put difference between holy and unholy” means “to distinguish between the holy and the profane [wicked], and between the impure and the pure.”)
- In your scripture study journal, explain why you think it is important that those who hold the priesthood seek to be holy in their personal lives as well as when they perform priesthood duties.
Leviticus 10:12–20 includes additional instructions Moses gave to Aaron and Aaron’s two remaining sons about how to properly perform their duties.
The law of Moses included commandments concerning which animals were considered clean and fit for the children of Israel to eat and which were unclean and not proper to eat. In our day, people refer to these laws as kosher laws (from a Hebrew word that means “fit” or “proper” [see Bible Dictionary, “Kosher”]). Imagine you lived during the time of Moses and planned to eat at a restaurant. Using Leviticus 11:1–43 as a guide, circle the animals considered to be “kosher” under the law of Moses. (See the end of the lesson for a list of the animals that would be allowable to eat.)
The Israelites observed these laws because the Lord had commanded them to do so. Although the Lord did not give detailed reasons for these dietary laws, faithful Israelites showed their belief in and obedience to the Lord by following the laws even though they did not know all the reasons for them. Various groups of Jews today continue to follow the kosher dietary laws.
In our day we also show our faith in and obedience to the Lord by obeying all of God’s laws, including dietary laws. The Lord has given us the Word of Wisdom (see Doctrine and Covenants 89). This law provides direction concerning foods we should partake of and substances we should not put into our bodies.
Read the following teaching from Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, looking for what the Lord has given us that is similar to the dietary laws He gave the Israelites: “The Lord gave one dietary direction to ancient Israel. Much later, because of the ‘evils and designs’ that exist in these ‘last days’ (D&C 89:4), He has given us a Word of Wisdom suited to the circumstances of our time, accompanied by the promised blessings we need in our time” (“Timing” [Brigham Young University devotional, Jan. 29, 2002], 3; speeches.byu.edu).
According to Elder Oaks, what are some of the reasons the Lord has given us dietary laws today?
What are some of the evils and designs in our day that are avoided as we obey the Word of Wisdom?
Read Leviticus 11:44–45, looking for the reason the Lord commanded the Israelites not to eat certain animals. This is the reason for all of the commandments that God has given us: He is holy; therefore, we are to be holy.
Next to these verses, you may want to write the following principle: Following the Lord’s health commandments helps us become holy. To be holy means to be set apart for a sacred purpose and to become more like Heavenly Father (see Guide to the Scriptures, “Holy”; scriptures.lds.org).
- Answer the following question in your scripture study journal: How has living the Word of Wisdom helped you to become more holy?
- Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:
I have studied Leviticus 1–11 and completed this lesson on (date).
Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: