Leviticus 1-27

Leviticus 1‑27  •  5 min. read  •  grade level: 10
This book opens with Jehovah speaking to Moses out of the tabernacle of the congregation, in their midst as having already a people recognized as His around His sanctuary. Thus it differs from Genesis, where there could be no such dwelling place for God because redemption in type was not yet in view; and from Exodus, after the passover and Red Sea, where God was about to prepare Himself an habitation, yet speaking as One outside and above on the mountain of law which tested the responsibility of man.
First in the various sacrifices and offerings we have in type the display of God in grace to man and the means of approach to God. Of these there are two classes: those of sweet savor (chap. 1-3.), and those for sin (chap. 4-6:7), with the laws of all following (chap. 6:8-7.). The burnt offering takes precedence; and it is instructive to notice this as the primary and most perfect presentation of Christ. It might be of herd or flock, or of fowl; but in every case it is Christ, through the eternal Spirit, offering Himself without spot to God. No part was reserved for man's use or enjoyment. It was entire self-surrender in death, as the meat or cake offering (chap. 2.) was in life to God. Observe that the latter was a bloodless offering, consisting of various forms, but all so characterized. The presence of oil and salt, the absence of leaven and honey, should be noted. Then came the peace offering, which sets forth communion with God, with the priest, and with one another, fitly following the types of Christ's devotedness dying and living to God, as all fellowship must be based on Him thus our portion. Next came the offerings for sin and trespass, and the mingling of these two, in which the idea is, not the identification of the offerer with the sweet savor of the offering, but the transfer of the guilt of the offerer to the victim on which his hands were laid with the confession of his sin. It is Christ who knew no sin made sin for us that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him. The law of each lays down what was to be burnt, and what eaten where this was permitted. Of the burnt offering all went up to God; of the meat and sin offerings the priest had his part, as enjoying the grace of Christ or in sympathy with Him who suffered for man's sin; of the peace offering the people also partook. And this descending scale appears to account for the change in the order of the laws, which places the law of the peace offerings last.
Chapters 8 and 9 give us the history (as Ex. 28; 29 the direction) of the consecration of the priests with Aaron and the high priest; and chapter x. shows us the ruin of some, the failure of all, before that consecration was completed. What a blessed contrast in Him who not only never failed but died and rose to present us before God according to His own acceptance with all our evil effaced forever! This is appropriately followed by instruction whereby the priests might teach the children of Israel, and they themselves might know, to put difference between holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean (chap. 11.); also by provision for purifying persons defiled, whether in nature from birth (chap. 12.), or in active life, surrounding circumstances, and aggregate position, under the type of leprosy (chap. 13, 14), or in the weakness of humanity (chap. 15.).
Then comes the central and crowning regulation of the great day of atonement, which stands out from all before and after. There is the testimony that the way into the holiest was not yet made manifest in the very provision for Aaron's coming there once a year with incense and not without blood; then expiation was made for the priestly house and for the people, the blood being sprinkled upon and before, the mercy seat. But atonement was also made for the sanctuary, the tabernacle, and the altar, representing the reconciliation of all things, as well as all saints, by Christ's blood; and then confession of Israel's sins was made on the living goat (Azazel) which was not killed but let go into the wilderness. This set forth the remission of the people's sins, as the slain goat maintained the righteous majesty of God in the judgment of sin.
The directions that follow are intended to guard from defilement. Chapter 17 would have Israel honor God, owning life forfeited to God; chapter 18 would preserve them from dishonoring themselves; chapters 19 and 20 from dishonoring God in their mutual as well as religious relations; as chapters 21, 22 insist on what became priests in their specially privileged place.
The rest of the book is rather dispensational. Chapter 23 gives us, in the feasts of Jehovah, the cycle of the divine ways with man, especially Israel, as bringing in His counsel, before Him at first and finally accomplished. We have then in chapter 24 the priestly provision for the continual light of the sanctuary in Israel, and as a memorial of sweet incense; whilst blasphemy against the Name is adjudged to death in any, stranger or not. Then, chapter 26, the Jubilee, or witness of redemption power and liberty is introduced; direct warning of the Lord's ways, but prophecy of His pitiful “end” in chapter 26. In the last chapter Jehovah regulates singular vows through the priest according to the estimation of Moses, who, as contradistinguished from the priest, represents the royal rights of Christ.