The Inspiration of the Scriptures: Leviticus

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As scarce a book in the O. T. consists so much of the express words of Jehovah, so none gives fuller evidence of divine design from first to last. One great theme governs as in Exodus; but it is approach to God in the sanctuary, not redemption as there. The title we employ like most is vaguely if at all appropriate; for from its nature the priesthood are essential and prominent, not the Levites who figure here but little. The Jews do not attempt distinctive titles, but name the books from the opening word in each.
It is Jehovah speaking, not the Ten words from the darkness on the top of Sinai, but out of the tent of meeting in the midst of His people, to lay down the conditions of their relationship with Him Hence His relative name to Israel is used throughout, and only in the later chapters from 18 have we occasionally “your” or “thy” God added to it, or connected with it. Hence not a shadow yields room for the dream of an Elohist, senior, junior, or in any wise. It is Elohim in relation with His people, and therefore “Jehovah” calls, speaks, and commands throughout. Even the historical episode of viii-x. is all and only Jehovistic, and so is the briefer one in 24:10 to the end of the chapter. But it is the more untrue and illogical to make this fact depend on a special writer; for the writer, though giving uniform predominance to “Jehovah,” identifies Him as surely with “thy” or “your” Elohim.
Access to Jehovah then is the design of this book, as redemption is of Exodus; access to Him in the sanctuary, as individuals or as His people, according to the law. Not only are the means defined, which required sacrifice and offering, with the priests duly inaugurated, but the duties and state of the people, as well as their privileges, with those of the priestly family. Then follows the ruin which disobedience and apostasy must entail; yet would He in judgment remember mercy, and the covenant with their fathers, anterior to the law and dependent on promise. Also the vow of devoting persons, beasts, or land should result, on Israel's failure, in Jehovah's rights, when Christ as both Priest and King will order all to His glory. Not Moses, nor any other man, left to himself, was capable of a design so profound, and of evidently prophetic character; but if Moses was inspired to give what Jehovah spoke throughout, all is plain and holy and true. Rationalism may impute departure from original integrity and other faults suggested by the pettiness of man's mind; those who do so must take the consequence before Him Who is its Author. Let us look into the details as they stand.
The book opens with the basis of all access to Jehovah, sacrifice and offering. As not the first man but the Second is His object, He begins with the Burnt-offering (1), the Meal-offering (2), and the Peace-offering (3), and only then enters on the Sin-offering and Trespass-(or, Guilt-) offering (4-6:7), with the laws of each (6:8-7). Such is the divine institution: when application comes, as with the priests (8:14, &c.), the Sin-offering precedes, or with a leper, the Trespass-offering (14:12, &c.). Who but God could so order? The first three oblations are alike Fire-offerings of sweet savor to Jehovah. They represent the positive excellency of Christ as offered upon the altar, in death as in life man holy, and for communion; together they form the first communication from Jehovah. Offerings for sin follow in chap. iv., with a transition of mingled character in 5:1-13, after which to 6:7 we have the Trespass-offering fully; and the regulations, which deal mainly with the question of eating or not, are given to the end of chap. 7. From the Trespass-offering in chap. 5:14 are no less than seven distinct but connected communications from Jehovah.
In chaps. 8; 9 is given the institution of Aaron and his sons to the priesthood. Here we find another, and if possible brighter, witness to the unique excellency of Christ. For the high priest alone, as typifying Christ and duly attired, was anointed without blood (8:10-12), and at the same time the tabernacle with all therein. He to Whom Aaron pointed was entitled to the energy of the Spirit in person and inheritance; and He is Heir of all things. No mortal would ever have so thought or spoken of himself; only Jehovah Who inspired Moses. His sons also, duly attired, required the Sin-offering; and as Aaron personally was a sinner like them, all laid their hands on the victim's head (14), and Moses put of its blood on the altar, and thereon burnt the fat and the rest of the body without the camp. Then the ram for a Burnt-offering was duly offered; but that for consecration had its blood put by Moses, first on Aaron's right ear, thumb, and toe, then on his sons similarly. After the rest of that rite was completed, Moses took of the anointing oil and of the blood, and sprinkled it on Aaron and his garments, and on his sons and their garments with his. On the eighth day the glory of Jehovah appeared, the plain prefiguration of what will be for Israel when He shall sit and rule upon His throne, not for heaven only but manifested for the earth. Chap. 10 is the affecting history of the failure of the priesthood at once, even Eleazar and Ithamar only spared by intercession. Then come the chapters that refer to discernment of food clean and unclean (11) and priestly dealing with defilements natural (12) also typifying sin and its cleansing (13; 14), and others occasional (15).
Then comes the momentous Atonement-day (16), the fast of the sacred year, on which all hung for priests and people, the high priest acting for both in access to God. How any believer can fail to own that Jehovah alone could have designed it, not only for the time then present, but as prophetic of the first coming of Christ and His work, and even of the still unaccomplished second coming when it is applied to Israel's pardon and spiritual restoration, is strange indeed. The N. T. interpretation is unmistakable in Heb. 9 more particularly. The Christian blessing is identified with Aaron and his house, in virtue of the one offering for them in the sanctuary. When the high priest comes out will be the application of the scapegoat, but on the ground of Jehovah's lot, to the repentant people. To regard Azazel, the living goat sent away associated with the slain one, as a demon or evil genius, is a monstrous perversion whether of ritualists or rationalists, blind to the full efficacy of Christ's atoning work and to the hopes of the Jews. The two goats figure one Christ offered to Jehovah for propitiation and substitution. But who beforehand could have anticipated the truth?
This is followed by communications to guard priests and people from the dishonor of Jehovah, in the matter of blood, and especially against eating it (17); in natural relationships against impurity (18); in the maintenance of holy ways and comely practice, far from profanity (19); and especially in abhorrence of heathen and unnatural abominations (20): all, as became a people in holy nearness to Jehovah, and separated from the peoples to be His. Chap. 21 insists on a still higher sanctity on the part of Aaron's sons, and especially of the high priest, in view of their access to the sanctuary; and chap. 22 adds other disqualifications even if but transient. Then the people are joined with the priests in the caution against a blemished offering, and due heed claimed for Jehovah's injunction as to times, &c.
Chap. 23 presents the Feasts in which, especially in the greater ones, Jehovah gathered all the males around Himself as their center. Here the prophetic character is yet more marked than in the great Day of Atonement; as in it there is plain historical sequence, so that it is easy enough to distinguish the fulfilled from what remains to be so, when the Lord returns in power and glory. Now who is, who could be, competent for these things? Only Jehovah, Who spoke to Moses concerning these “set times” of drawing near to Himself.
The Sabbath has this specialty of being revealed before the Feasts proper, as it will be accomplished at their close, when the true sabbatism will no longer “remain” but be realized for the people of God (3).
The Passover is the foundation of all blessing as it prefigures Christ sacrificed (1 Cor. 5:77Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: (1 Corinthians 5:7)), the head or beginning of months (5).
In immediate sequence is Unleavened bread for seven days, the feast we now celebrate, not with old leaven nor with leaven of malice and wickedness, but with unleavened [bread] of sincerity and truth (6-8).
Then comes the Wave-sheaf on the next day after the sabbath, the clear type of Christ risen from the dead; for Whom therefore was no Sin or Trespass-offering, but Burnt and Meal-offerings with the Drink-offering thereof (9-14).
And the Feast of Weeks follows, seven weeks complete from the day of the Wave-sheaf, or fifty days till the morning after the seventh sabbath. It is Pentecost with its two Wave-loaves of fine flour, but with leaven: not Christ now, but they that are His, and therefore the leaven. Here then not only have we a Burnt-offering, with oblation and Drink-offering, but a Sin-offering. For it is short sight to deny the old man in believers; it is their joy that by Christ's death the evil is annulled to faith. This new oblation to Jehovah has His injunction appended, not to reap or glean so as to clear the field's corners, but to leave for the poor and the stranger. It is a provision for those who are to follow the souls who now believe, during the age's completion (15-22).
Next is announced a new speaking of Jehovah to Moses. It is a fresh testimony, a memorial of blowing of Trumpets. This new Feast, like those that succeed, are all in the seventh month; and this on its first day. It is Jehovah summoning His ancient people from their sleep-from their “graves” as Ezekiel calls it figuratively. Compare Isa. 26:1919Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead. (Isaiah 26:19), Dan. 12:22And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. (Daniel 12:2). The Christian call is past; the Jewish appeal will then begin and go on. Grace is preparing a people for Jehovah on earth, as now under the gospel for heaven.
On the tenth day is the day of the Atonement, when Israel no longer unbelieving but repentant shall afflict their souls, and mix up no works of theirs with His work, long despised, now understood and honored. It is the application of the cross of Christ to their souls, deeply feeling their sins and His grace.
The fifteenth day opens the Feast of Booths or Tabernacles seven days to Jehovah: a complete cycle for them when “glory shall dwell in their land,” as we have in keeping the feast of Unleavened bread. Only an eighth day follows, which points to the glory in resurrection connected then, the heavenly things of the kingdom with the earthly. Compare John 3:1212If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things? (John 3:12), Eph. 1:1010That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: (Ephesians 1:10), Col. 1:2020And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. (Colossians 1:20).
Now who was capable of such a living, comprehensive, all-important scheme of divine dealings from the beginning? Look at it from the purpose of rest couched in the pledge of the sabbath, till that day which shall display the Heir of all things centering in Himself all creation, heavenly and earthly, not only reconciled to God by His blood, then applied in power, and ourselves reigning with Him, being already reconciled by faith, as Israel will be “in that day” with all nations joined and no more at enmity. Christ is the One on Whom all turns: if received, life, peace, holiness, blessing, with access to God and to His glory; if rejected, wrath and indignation, tribulation and distress, when the vanity of present things and the vain show of man can no longer hide the truth. What could imaginary Elohists or Jehovists avail to put together such a wondrous plan? All is simple, and only so, if Jehovah spoke to Moses, and Moses wrote of Christ. And who or what are they who blasphemously deny it? For He has testified to it.
Chap. 24 furnishes the solemn contrast of Israel according to purpose and as they are through their unbelief. In the one aspect shines the light of the Spirit through the High Priest during the dark night of their slumber; and the twelve loaves, with the pure frankincense, are on the table as a memorial for Aaron and his sons to eat (1-9). In the other we see the actual state under the “son of an Israelitish woman whose father was an Egyptian,” blaspheming the Name and cursing. “His blood be on us and on our children” was their cry; as Blood-field (Aceldama) is their land to this day. So do they bear their sin (10-23).
In chap. 25 we have the sabbath of the land every seventh year, and the hallowed year of Jubilee, the fiftieth year proclaimed on Atonement day. What affecting regulations in view of the trumpet which will usher the people of Jehovah, long outcasts for their sins, into the land which He will make theirs! for it is His, as He will prove against the mightiest foes. Let Gentiles beware who intrude. As this is prophetic, so is chap. 26 Israel made and worshipped idols; Israel rebelled, despising their nearness to Jehovah; Israel braved His chastenings; Israel brought waste on their cities, and desolation on their land. But away in exile shall they confess their iniquity and accept its punishment from Jehovah Who will remember His covenant with their fathers and remember their land. Mercy shall glory over judgment; and Jehovah's end is that He is full of tender compassion and pitiful.
The last chapter (27) brings in the priest again, but Moses' estimation. There may be vows of persons or beasts (not of the first-born, already Jehovah's), of house or land; but if all fail or be lost through man, God's rights abide. All was gone before God, when Christ was worth no more in Jewish eyes than the price of a slave. Yet will He retrieve all for them, having glorified Jehovah in all. Is this a human book?