the Week of Proper 4 / Ordinary 9
Kretzmann's Popular Commentary of the Bible Kretzmann's Commentary
by Paul E. Kretzmann
The Book of Leviticus
The Third book of Moses received the name which me now apply to it because its precepts are concerned chiefly with the duties of the Levites and priests. It contains detailed ordinances describing the Levitic worship as it was to be observed in the Tabernacle and afterward in the Temple. The laws in Leviticus, mainly of a ceremonial character, constitute a handbook for the use of the priests in the performance of the various duties entrusted to them. A few supplementary rules to this Levitic law were added in the Book of Numbers.
Although this book contains no direct Messianic promise whatever, it is, by the intention of God, in reality one continuous sermon on the salvation of Jesus Christ; for, as the New Testament shows conclusively, the entire magnificent system of sacrifices was nothing less than a typical representation of the vicarious sacrifice of Jesus Christ, which was foreshadowed by every bloody offering on the sacred altars. And as far as the children of Israel were concerned, the laws of sacrifices taught them that God is holy, and that man is sinful; that all are guilty before His Law; that the man who transgresses His Law is worthy of His wrath and displeasure, temporal death, and eternal damnation; that without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin; that the holy God desire. : to enter into fellowship with sinful man, and approaches him, and appoints this way of sacrifice as an atonement for sin, and through His mercy accepts the sacrifice of the victim instead of the death of the sinner. Incidentally, it must be kept in mind throughout the book that the whole system of sacrifices was merely temporary and typical. "For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins," Hebrews 10:4. No animal, no mere man, no angel, could atone for sin. God alone could do that, and therefore He became man that He might be able to suffer and die for sin as man's substitute. "God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself," 2 Corinthians 5:19. All sacrifices looked forward, therefore, to Christ, the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world, and on which God laid the iniquity of us all. The usages of the Jewish cult were a shadow of things to come, but the body is of Christ, Colossians 2:17.
"The Book of Genesis shows man's ruin and fall. 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 realized 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. The book stands out for all time as God's estimate of sin. 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 the impenitent sinners. 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. 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 cost that. It was more even than this, it was the atoning sacrifice by which sin could forever be put away. "
'The Book of Leviticus may be divided into three parts: the precepts concerning the sacrifices and the priesthood; the consecration of Israel for the service of Jehovah by the cleansing of the bodily life; the holiness of Israel as the people of God in life and worship.