the Week of Proper 3 / Ordinary 8
Gray's Concise Bible Commentary Gray's Concise Commentary
by James Martin Gray
THE PLACE AND PLAN OF THE BOOK
How does the opening verse of this book show its close connection with the preceding book? This connection is seen among all the books of the Pentateuch, and not only shows that they are placed in proper order for an intelligent grasp of their history and meaning, but also that their spiritual use and purpose should be apprehended in the same order.
They form the A-B-Cs of religious knowledge. Genesis represents the first lesson of man’s lost estate, Exodus unfolds the second step of the divine redemption and way of salvation, while Leviticus provides the immediate consequence of those two steps in the revelation of God’s way of holiness and communion.
The practical purpose of Leviticus can never be tested in any life unless the lessons of Genesis and Exodus have been mastered. Only as we learn that we are lost souls do we desire redemption, which is the central topic of Exodus following the revelation of the former in Genesis. And so is the next step as personal as these two. When the lesson of Exodus is experienced, when God’s redemption is yours, and you thus are His, then only are you prepared for the lesson of Leviticus. This book is entirely occupied with the condition of those who are redeemed and brought nigh to God, and for all others it is a closed book as far as grasping it spiritually is concerned.
THE DIVINE AUTHORITY OF THE BOOK
How does the first verse show the divine authority of what follows? And also the human authorship?
There are twenty-seven chapters in this book, and in these chapters a similar formula to that employed in verse 1 recurs fifty-four times. How does this strengthen the claim of the Mosaic authorship of Leviticus?
Indeed, while all Scripture is given by inspiration of God yet this portion of it records more of the exact words of God than any other in the Bible.
Of course it is not necessary to affirm that Moses wrote absolutely every word as we now have it, and we may admit that different sections of the book may have been combined in their present form by inspired men at a later date.
But nevertheless in a true and proper sense Moses is the human author. Observe how Christ corroborates this statement in Matthew 8:4 , compared with Leviticus 14:3 ; Leviticus 14:10 ; and John 7:22-23 compared with Leviticus 12:3 .
THE MEANING OF THE BOOK FOR ISRAEL
It is not to be supposed that Israel understood the full significance of Leviticus as we understand it. Its meaning or purpose for them was to furnish a code of laws for their well-being, physical, moral and spiritual, and to prepare them for the coming of the Messiah.
If Israel was to be a blessing to all the other nations, as we have seen, then Israel must for this purpose be separated from all the other nations. This separation was to be effected by a revelation to her of the holiness of God, and this revelation is made in the system of sacrifices which Leviticus reveals, as well as in the precepts of the law, and the enactment of penalties.
The way Israel was to be prepared for the Messiah was by suggesting to her the thought of redemptive mercy to be revealed, which was suggested by the conviction that the blood of bulls and goats never could remove sin (Hebrews 10:4 ). In the interpretation of this book we are always to distinguish between its historical intention for Israel and its typical meaning for us.
THE MEANING OF THE BOOK FOR US
Leviticus is of great value to Christians, containing five distinct revelations of the first importance: (1) The character of God. It reveals the character of God by showing us His holiness, His intolerance of sin, and His mercy to the penitent. (2) The fundamental conditions of true religion. It teaches us the fundamental truths of true religion by showing the need of a mediator with a propitiatory sacrifice (Hebrews 9:22 ). (3) The principles that should guide human legislators. It reveals the right principles of human legislation concerning civil government and religion, capital and labor, landholding, social evil and cognate matters. (4) The work of Christ. It reveals the work of Christ by exhibiting the way of salvation through atonement, showing the present and future position of the believer in His name. In this book Christ is the offerer of sacrifice, He is the offering, and He the priest who presents the offering. Thus, as Jukes affirms, Leviticus reveals the work of Christ differently from any other Old Testament book. How wonderful as we thus think of Christ in this threefold way! As the offerer He is the one who became man to meet God’s requirements. As the offering He is the victim in His character and work, by which atonement was made for man. As the priest He is the officially appointed intercessor who brings man to God. (5) The prophecies in types of things to come in the kingdom of Christ. This book reveals things to come in the kingdom of Christ by showing us in the Day of Atonement (chap. 16) a type of the entering into the heavens of our great High Priest. In the feast of trumpets we have His coming again and the ingathering of the full harvest of redemption. In the sabbatic and jubilee years we have foreshadowed the millennial blessing which follows His second coming.
THE OUTLINE OF THE BOOK
Leviticus might be called the book of the laws not law, but laws. The whole of the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible) is called “The Book of the Law.” But Leviticus is distinctly the book of the laws, in that it gives laws in detail for the government of the priests in the regulation of the morals and worship of the people.
With this thought in mind, the following is a suggested outline of the book:
1. The law of the offerings, chaps. 1-7.
2. The law of the priests, chaps. 8-10.
3. The law of purity, chaps. 11-15.
4. The law of the Day of Atonement, chap. 16.
5. The law of holiness, chaps. 17- 22.
6. The law of the feasts, chap. 23.
7. The law of the sabbatic year and the jubilee, chap. 25.
1. State the spiritual and evangelical relations of Genesis, Exodus, and Leviticus.
2. To what class of persons does the spiritual teaching of Leviticus apply?
3. What distinction has this book regarding the doctrine of inspiration?
4. What was its historical application to Israel?
5. How was God’s holiness impressed on the nation?
6. How was she prepared for the coming of the Messiah?
7. What distinctive value has this book for Christians?
8. How does it reveal Christ?
9. How does it reveal things to come?
10. Can you name the seven great laws it contains?