Home / Commentary / Leviticus / Leviticus Chapter 19
Leviticus 19 begins with God commanding the Israelites to be holy as He is holy. God highlights three of the ten commandments that will be key to this task.
Instructions surrounding the sacrifice of peace offerings are given. This builds upon a similar discussion in Leviticus 7:11-18.
God now begins to illustrate how individuals can be self-governing and servant-minded, which will produce a blessed society that lives in harmony with God and each other.
God gives several very specific instructions to the Israelites
In societies with multiple ethnic groups living together it is easy for those societies to become fractured into tribes that hate each other, and with the majority treating the minority with disdain. God, however, wants His people to treat non-Israelites with fairness and love just as they would treat a fellow Israelite.
Leviticus is largely about directions for sacrificial ceremonies and worship, and might seem hard for the modern reader to relate to. However, the New Testament reveals the great extent to which the entire Tabernacle enterprise symbolizes eternal truths that are as relevant to the New Testament believer as to the Old.
In particular, the New Testament book of Hebrews says that all the Tabernacle items are copies of the real thing in heaven. It further discusses the meaning of the priesthood and sacrifices, all of which look forward to Jesus Christ’s ministry on behalf of a fallen race.
Israelites an alternative perspective that, if adopted, will lead to a fulfilled life as well as a society that lives in harmony with God and fellow humans. God will give very specific instructions that are to aid the Israelites in setting themselves apart from their pagan neighbors who embrace the destructive behaviors that tend to fracture society (Leviticus 18). Ultimately, God is wanting His people to exhibit love to their fellows and even to strangers. The New Testament quotes Leviticus 19:18 many times, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus calls this the second greatest command in the Law (Matthew 22:36-40) with the first being “Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one! You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might” (Deuteronomy 6:4-5, Mark 12:29).
The Apostle Paul points out numerous times that every command in the Law can be fulfilled (kept) through love. (Galatians 5:13-15, 1 Timothy 1:5, Romans 13:9). When we love someone, we will not be inclined to hurt them, steal from them, envy, hate, or defraud them, but will tend to cherish, admonish, and seek their best, in mercy and truth. This is because love is the bond of perfection (Colossians 3:14).