Exodus narrates God’s rescue of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt and His organization of the people into a nation through the covenant He made with them at Mount Sinai. Even though He gave the Jewish people the honor of representing His identity and will to the world, making them a holy nation by choosing to dwell in their midst, the Jewish people responded with rebellion rather than thankfulness. Exodus ends its account with a dilemma – how would God maintain His promised relationship with rebellious Israel? The book of Leviticus outlines God’s plan to preserve His relationship with the Israelites, a program that included a series of sacrifices and offerings that mitigated the risk created by God’s holy presence amid the sinful nation.
Leviticus’ narrative begins with God speaking from the newly constructed and consecrated Tabernacle, His dwelling place in the midst of the nation, giving Moses detailed instructions about the offerings the Jews needed to perform. The first offering God described, the burnt offering, presents readers today with foreign practices that likely prove offensive rather than insightful. This lesson will therefore consider God’s instructions about the burnt offering through which God reveals the richness of His grace towards those who seek His presence.