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Bible Commentaries

Preacher's Complete Homiletical CommentaryPreacher's Homiletical

- Leviticus

by Editor - Joseph S. Exell

The Preacher’s Complete Homiletic



By the

Author of the Commentary on Jeremiah
Assisted in the Homiletics

By the

New York






HAVING regard to the Commentaries on Leviticus already in existence, ponderous with erudition and criticism, claiming also to be literary and exegetical, this “Homiletical Commentary” has deliberately shunned the profundities of scholarship, and works along practical and experimental lines. From first to last, distinctive in this intent, it has quietly kept to its homiletical aim. Perhaps it may be found, on that very account, none the less serviceable as a help towards pulpit preparations. In its Readings, Homilies, and Outlines it seeks throughout to be suggestive and didactic, searching amid Hebrew ordinances for universal obligations, and gospel teachings in the sacrifices and rites of the Wilderness.

To read the book of Leviticus in its rich significance, the Tabernacle Revelations must be pondered in connexion with the “Word made flesh who tabernacled among us”; its Altar Sacrifices be read in the light which radiates from the sacred Cross: its Priestly offices and sanctions be viewed as foreshadowing the Christian’s privileges and ministries; and its Moral Enactments be regarded as affirming those virtues essential through every age in man’s relation to man. The Levitical ceremonies and ritual are picturesque delineations of the doctrines and duties of Christianity.
A cursory survey of this book of the Decalogue might dispose preachers to conclude that it contains few themes suited to present day needs; this error may explain why sermons on texts in Leviticus are so strangely rare. Closer acquaintance with its contents, and the appliance of a steady interpretative faculty to its symbols, will reveal that scarcely a Doctrine of Grace is lacking in those sanctuary ceremonies, whilst a wealth of Ethical Instruction dwells in the regulations of the Israelitish Camp.
The endeavour to force a homily from any and every text has been honourably abandoned. Whatever verses or themes presented a natural basis for homiletic effort, there an outline or breviate has been furnished. If this Commentary were compacted of homiletics which no preacher could use and no congregation would hear, it would merit the rebuke—“To what purpose is this waste?” The age is greatly too earnest to greet or value mere dexterous products which can serve no practical end.
Each chapter opens with Suggestive Readings, which it is hoped will afford guidance to suitable expository comments in the services of the Sanctuary. They are, therefore, not critical and analytical, but didactic and experimental.
The Commentary contains three hundred and forty-nine Homilies and Outlines: of these, 35 have been condensed from printed sermons, a further 35 are homilies constructed from books on Leviticus which are not homiletical; the remaining 247 are original contributions for this book. Those prepared by our co-labourer, the Rev. Frederick W. Brown, are subscribed with his initials. Where no name or initials appear, the reader may justly ascribe the homily to our own pen: this applies also to all the Suggestive Readings, as well as to the Illustrative Addenda. And in those instances, where a name is undersigned to a homily or outline, one of two processes must be credited to our account. Either the homily is a creation based upon some note-book on Leviticus, in which the author’s ideas and words are given as nearly as practicable, with addition of our own to complete the homily; or it is a condensation of some published sermon on a text in Leviticus, which it has been our personal task to prepare for the pages of this Commentary.
Among the books specially suggestive of these homilies may be mentioned, “Jukes on the Offerings”; “Thoughts on Leviticus,” by B. W. Newton; “Notes on Leviticus,” by C. H. M.; “Christ is All,” by Dean Law; “The Doctrine of Sacrifice,” by Maurice; “The Levitical Priests,” by Curtiss; and Atwater’s “The sacred Tabernacle of the Hebrews.”
By summarizing or reconstructing sermons it has been possible to enrich this Commentary with the quickening thoughts of such preachers as Edward T. Atwood, A. Coquerel, Albert H. Currier, A. E. Dunning, James Fleming, D. D., H. M. Grant, D. D., D. C. Hughes, M. A., G. R. Leavitt, David O. Mears, C. H. Spurgeon, W. Stephenson, Samuel Thodey, Lewis O. Thompson, W. Wayland, John Wesley, and others.
The Illustrative Addenda to each chapter will afford choice quotation or apt incident with which to enforce a truth.
Three Indices, with exact and detailed classifications of topics, analysis, and illustrations are supplied, by which access to the contents of this volume for every purpose is rendered simple and direct.
To the generous appreciation with which the larger and more laborious Homiletical Commentary on Jeremiah was received, we venture to commend this companion volume, with this testimony—that no joy so deep and true comes to any worker for Christ as that of knowing his labours are found helpful to others amid the stress of their public toils, and that the Word of God is opening its stores of truth more freely to students in consequence of his honest, though humble, endeavours to serve them in the Divine Master’s name.

Canterbury, January 1885.




i. Concerning the book itself. Because it is occupied mainly with directions respecting the offerings and services of the sons of Levi, it is called the Book of Leviticus. Under the very shadow of Mount Sinai Jehovah gave these ecclesiastical enactments for Israel The entire contents of the book are included within the brief term of about one month, viz., from the erection of the Tabernacle to the numbering of the people. The historical occurrences which it narrates are few; the consecration of the priesthood (chaps. 8, 9), God’s destruction of Nadab and Abihu for profanation (chap. 9), and the magistrate’s punishment of Shelomith’s son for blasphemy (chap. 24). Evidence the most valid connects Moses with the authorship of Leviticus, who most probably wrote these divinely given regulations during the fifty days preceding the starting of the Israelites from their encampment near Sinai upon their wilderness journeyings.

ii. Its natural position in the Pentateuch. Exodus closes with the record of the Tabernacle being completed; the shrine was ready for the worship of God. Leviticus follows with directions for that worship; gives Divine regulations for sacrifices and services, whereby man might acceptably and appropriately “come before the Lord.” The sacred house being reared, now ensue the orders of that house. God Himself designed the holy fabric; He also prescribes the ordinances for approaching Him therein.

iii. A general summary of its contents. Minute institutions and regulations are given concerning the altar sacrifices in chaps. 1 to 7, the consecration and conduct of the priesthood in chaps. 8 to 10; enactments respecting the purification of uncleanness—in chap. 11 of animals, and chaps. 12 to 15 of men; the Day of Atonement, ordained to propitiate for all omissions and faultiness in sacrifice during the year, is appointed in chap. 16, and varied statutes are prescribed relating to the rectitude of the people among themselves (chaps. 17 to 20), the purity of the priesthood in their ministrations (chaps. 21, 22), the hallowed observance of the sacred festivals (chaps. 23, 24), supplemented with directions concerning the land, vows, etc. (chaps. 25 to 27).

iv. The spiritual significance of its sacrifices and ceremonies. Jehovah had erected His sanctuary in Israel’s midst; His people must now understand and observe the solemn sanctities essential to access and fellowship with Him. A place for worship, and arrangements for altar sacrifices, were matters of inferior importance to the spiritual condition of those who should come before the Lord. Hence the sacrificial enactments of Leviticus show how acceptance with God and ceremonial purification should be sought by Israel. But additional to that immediate purpose of these Levitical arrangements, the appointed offerings presented on that altar were all made typical and suggestive of the Sacrifice of the Cross, and the sacred festivals ordained for the Tabernacle indicated the gracious ordinances of the future Gospel age. Thus, in its altar types and symbolic ceremonies, Leviticus prefigures the efficacy of the Redeemer’s substitutionary death, and the spiritual privileges which should be enjoyed in the Christian Church.

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