Christ in All the Scriptures
by A.M. Hodgkin
- II. Christ in the Pentateuch
3. Leviticus --
- The Book of Genesis shows man's ruin and failure. Exodus pictures the great redemption and salvation which God has provided. Leviticus follows naturally, and is mainly occupied with the way of access to God in worship and communion. It is a book for a redeemed people. Its teaching, in the light of the New Testament, is for those who have realised their lost condition, and have accepted the redemption that is in Christ Jesus and are seeking to draw near into the presence of God. It shows the holiness of God and the utter impossibility of access except on the ground of atonement.
Such is the main lesson of Leviticus, and it is impressed upon us over and over again, in a variety of ways. We come face to face with the great question of sacrifice for sin. The stress laid upon sacrifice is no doubt intended to give man a shock with regard to sin. This book stands out for all time as God's estimate of sin. If we have not studied it at all-- if it looks to us merely like a catalogue of sins and a complicated repetition of blood-shedding, from which we turn away almost repelled-- even so, it conveys the lesson, though it be but an elementary one. By it, God has pointed out for all people in all ages His holiness and the impossibility for sinful man to draw near unless his sins have been put away. It is like a great lighthouse erected over against the rock of sin.
Ruskin tells us that his mother compelled him, when a youth, to read right through the Bible, even the difficult chapters of Leviticus; these especially held him in the greatest restraint and most influenced his life. Finney says: ''Sin is the most expensive thing in the universe, pardoned or unforgiven-- pardoned, its cost falls on the atoning sacrifice; unforgiven, it must for ever rest upon the impenitent soul.'' Dr. H.G. Guinness says: ''To understand the seriousness of sin, we must fathom three oceans-- the ocean of human suffering, the ocean of the sufferings of the Lord Jesus Christ, the ocean of future suffering which awaits impenitent sinners.''
''Now if anything is certain about sin it is this, it destroys the capacity by which alone its estimate can be rightly made. We must judge it from the standpoint of unshaken moral righteousness, from unsullied purity, and that exactly is what we have lost. If 'all have sinned,' then there is no scale, no measure, because we have all had our faculties disorganized, our senses dulled, and the true vision is denied us...
Further, wherever God's Spirit is working mightily in the earth today, in bringing men to Himself, one of the inevitable results is a deep conviction of sin. Every account we read, alike of revivals in modern times and of revivals in the past, speaks clearly on this point.
''Secondly-- Christ's challenge comes, 'Which of you convinceth Me of sin?' Here is One that claims to have that essential requisite, a sinless judgment... What is His estimate? Nothing is more surprising perhaps than the awful warning He gives on the subject. Cut off hand and foot, pluck out the eye, etc.-- and then... the Cross and [His] passion. And when it comes to action He does not flinch. He sees God is able to take no easier or shorter method. He who sees all justifies the view of sin that is taken by the Cross.
''Thirdly-- those who draw nearest to the Lord in this world have the same estimate. Contrition, penitence, bitter tears of the saints, are simply unintelligible to the soul not in the same position; the nearer they draw the more they increase in the severity of their judgment'' (Canon Scott Holland).
What we have in type in Leviticus, we have in reality in the Cross of Christ. The Cross was indeed an exhibition of God's love, the love of God the Father, and of God the Son ''who through the Eternal Spirit offered Himself'' (Heb 9:14). But it was more than this, it was God's estimate of sin. ''The Cross of Christ stands as God's estimate of what sin really is, something so deep and dreadful that it costs that.'' It was more even than this, it was the atoning sacrifice, by which sin could for ever be put away. It was because it was necessary that it satisfies. Though our intellect can never fathom the mystery of the atonement, our heart and conscience confess its power. ''Having made peace through the blood of His Cross'' (Col 1:20)-- what comfort these words have brought to troubled souls all down the ages. Those, who know most of what it is to suffer under the Holy Spirit's conviction for sin, know best how to value the Cross of Christ.
- The Offerings--
- The first seven chapters of Leviticus are occupied with the description of the five kinds of offerings. The great variety of types are needed to convey any idea of the perfect completeness of Christ's sacrifice. The first point which requires our notice is this: --in each offering there are at least three distinct objects presented to us: there is the offering, the priest, and the offerer. A definite knowledge of the import of each of these is absolutely requisite if we would understand the offerings.
- Christ is the offering, ''The offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all'' (Heb 10:10).
- Christ is the priest, ''We have a great High Priest, Jesus the Son of God'' (Heb 4:14).
- Christ is the offerer, ''Who gave Himself for us that He might redeem us from all iniquity'' (Titus 2:14).
The offerings are divided into two main classes-- (1) those offered as a sweet savour, of which the Burnt offering stands out most prominently; and (2) those offered as an expiation for sin, of which the Sin offering is the chief.
- The Burnt offering was a sweet savour offering-- nothing kept back. In it, we see Christ's perfect life of obedience to His Father's will, Christ appearing for us, not as our Sin-Bearer, but as offering to God something which is most precious to Him: a life of unreserved surrender, the whole heart and mind and will, without blemish, wholly given to God without reserve. ''He hath given Himself an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savour'' (Eph 5:2). It conveys the joy of sacrifice. ''I delight to do Thy will, O My God.''
In the Burnt offering, the surrender of life to God represents the fulfilment of man's duty to God. In the Meat [or, Meal] offering-- which was the adjunct of the Burnt offering-- the gift of fine flour and oil represents the fulfilment of man's duty to his neighbor. Jesus as Man fulfilled both of these in His perfect human life on earth. In the fine flour, bruised, ground to powder, offered by fire, we see the bruising of Jesus day by day from those to whom He was ministering, for whom He daily gave Himself when He endured ''such contradiction of sinners.''
- The Sin offering differed from the Burnt offering. It was offered distinctly in atonement for sin. The fat was consumed on the brazen altar to show that it was accepted, but all the rest was burnt without the camp, to show the exceeding sinfulness of sin. The Lord Jesus became this Sin offering for us. ''Now, once in the end of the world hath He appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself'' (Heb 9:26). We cannot conceive the anguish of that contact with sin to the sinless soul of our Redeemer, the hiding of God's Face when He was ''made sin for us'' (2Cor 5:21).
- The High Priest--
- In the consecration of Aaron as High Priest [ch. 8-9], and in his priestly office and work throughout this book, we have a picture of our Great High Priest, and in the consecration of his sons and of the Levites, we have a picture of the priesthood of all true believers in Jesus. We have a striking illustration of the truth that access to God must rest upon the blood of atonement in the account of Nadab and Abihu [ch. 10]. Because they offered ''strange fire'' in their censers, the fire of the Lord consumed them. The censers of the priests were to be lighted from the altar of burnt sacrifice (see Lev 16:12 and Num 16:46), only with this fire might they approach the Lord. In like manner, it is on the ground of Christ's atonement that our prayers can arise to God as acceptable incense.
- Laws for Daily Life--
- Many of the chapters of Leviticus [eg., ch. 11-15; ch. 18-22] are occupied with laws for the daily life of God's people. They show how great is God's concern for the well-being of His people in body and soul. ''Ye shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy,'' is thrice repeated in this book. The words clean, purify, holiness occur constantly. No detail of daily life, whether it be in food, or clothing, or person, in family or national life, in agriculture or merchandise, is too samll to be regulated by the will of God. ''Whether therefore ye eat or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God'' (1Cor 10:31). ''Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God'' (2Cor 7:1).
- The Leper--
- In the type of the leper (ch. 13 - 14), we have the truth that sin excludes us from communion with God. We read: ''If the leprosy cover all the skin of him that hath the plague from his head even to his foot wheresoever the priest looketh... he shall pronounce him clean that hath the plague.'' Here we have the first condition for cleansing-- the acknowledgment of need. Till we take the position of sinners, there is no forgiveness for us. When the Publican cried ''God be propitiated for me, the sinner,'' he went down to his house justified (Luk 18:13,14).
For the cleansing of the leper, the priest went to him outside the camp and carried out all the instructions of the law before the leper was fit to re-enter the camp. So, Christ came all the way to us in our lost condition, and has cleansed us by His blood, and brought us nigh. The priest took two sparrows, and killing one, he dipped the living bird and the cedar wood and scarlet and hyssop in its blood, and sprinkled the blood upon the leper and let the living bird loose. The two birds proclaim the double truth that Jesus Christ was ''delivered for our offences and raised again for our justification'' (Rom 4:25). The upward flight of the living bird was the token that the leper was clean. How merciful God's provision is, the sparrows were within reach of the poorest. The simplest act of faith in a crucified Saviour procures the blessing of justification.
But the leper was not to rest content with ceremonial cleansing. Before he took his place within the camp, he was to wash himself with water. The justified sinner is to separate himself from all known sin. Then the leper was to bring all the offerings of the law-- still regulated in their value according to his circumstances, ''Such as he is able to get.'' His head and hand and foot were to be sprinkled with the blood of the Trespass offering and then anointed with oil. For our sanctification, as well as for our justification, we need the precious blood of Christ, and then the anointing oil of the Spirit upon the blood.
- The Day of Atonement--
- The deepest thought of the Book of Leviticus centers round the Great Day of Atonement (ch. 16). It was a day of humiliation. The sense of sin was to be deepened to its utmost intensity in the national mind. It occurred but once a year. ''Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many'' (Heb 9:28). There is no repetition of His sacrificial work. In the whole year of time, there is but one atonement day. With his golden censer of incense and the blood of the bullock for a Sin offering, the High Priest entered into the Holy of Holies and made atonement for himself and his family.
The Sin offering for the people consisted of two goats. The one on which the lot of the Lord fell was slain as a Sin offering, and the High Priest entered into the Holy of Holies, sprinkling its blood on the Mercy-Seat and before the Mercy-Seat seven times, as he had done with the blood of the bullock. The other goat was the scape-goat, and over its head Aaron confessed the sins of all the people, putting them upon the head of the goat, and sent it away by the hand of a ''fit man'' into the wilderness. ''Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world''; ''The Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all'' (Joh 1:29; Isa 53:6).
The two goats formed but one offering, two were needed to complete the type. The slain goat showed that perfect atonement had been made to God for sin, the living goat showed that perfect pardon was granted to the people. The sacrifice was altogether out of proportion to the need-- two goats for the sins of the congregation for a whole year. It was purposelyout of proportion to show that the whole system was temporary and typical. ''For it is not possssible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins'' (Heb 10:4). No animal, no man, no angel could atone for sin. ''God manifest in the flesh'' alone could do it, and therefore He became Man that He might be able to suffer and die for sin in man's place. ''God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself'' (2Cor 5:19). It was as perfect God and perfect Man that He atoned for our sins (see Heb 1:2,3; 2:14).
The flesh of the Sin offering on the Day of Atonement was burnt outside the camp. ''Wherefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered without the gate. Let us go forth therefore unto Him without the camp, bearing His reproach'' (Heb 13:12,13). The same Cross which has brought us inside the veil with regard to our access to God, has cast us outside the camp as regards our relation to the world.
The Book of Leviticus repeats even more emphatically than Genesis the meaning of the blood, it is life. ''The life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh atonement by reason of the life... For as to the life of all flesh, the blood thereof is all one with the life thereof.'' (Lev 17:11,14, RV]
We need to realize the vital importance of the blood of Christ: it is the foundation of everything. A study of the following verses will show us something of the power of the blood.
The Precious Blood of Christ (1Pet 1:18,19) --
The Meaning of the Blood, Lev 17:11,14
Redemption through the Blood, 1Pet 1:18,19
Forgiveness through the Blood, Eph 1:7
Justification through the Blood, Rom 5:9
Peace through the Blood, Col 1:20
Cleansing through the Blood, 1Joh 1:7
Loosing from Sin through the Blood, Rev 1:5, RV
Sanctification through the Blood, Heb 13:12
Access through the Blood, Heb 10:19
Victory through the Blood, Rev 12:11
Glory everlasting through the Blood, Rev 7:14,15
Return to the Table of Contents for Christ in All the Scriptures.
For another brief look at this book of the Bible,
see the related chapter in OT Reflections of Christ, by Paul Van Gorder.
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