Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Jesus in Leviticus

People say Leviticus is where people stall when reading the Bible... I suspect it's probably at the Tabernacle in Exodus (though that's tragic because Tabernacle is so gospelicious). Either way, Leviticus arrives as a different kind of book to the previous two. The action largely stops as this book sits in the middle of the scroll between Exodus 19 and Numbers 10 with the people camped at Sinai..

It's a book to read quickly to pick up the feel and themes, though it also rewards those who take time to meditate upon it. The recurring phrase of the book concerns sacrifices that have aromas that are pleasing to the LORD. Every sacrifice that Israel is taught to offer points forward to the sacrifice of Jesus at the cross.

Andrew Bonar: "None but a heavy-laden sinner could relish this never-varying exhibition of blood to the eye of the worshipper." (on Psalm 84 in his Leviticus Commentary). On which Tim Chester comments: "we see in the blood God’s love, God’s justice, God’s holiness, God’s grace, and God’s welcome." 

"[Christ is] perfuming the world with the health-giving odor of his grace... quickens souls by [the] very odour [of the gospel]" (Calvin)

In Leviticus Jesus is:
1v3 The true burnt offering, an offering for guilt and sin. 1v3 The Sacrifice without blemish
1v3 The one who represents the people to make atonement for them - we lay our hands on him.
1v5 The one who is killed as a sacrifice
1v5 The one offered before the LORD
1v5 The one whose blood is spread to cover us
1v9 The Sacrifice utterly taken apart and consumed
1v9 The Sacrifice with an aroma pleasing to the LORD
1v10 The Sacrifice without blemish.

Leviticus chapter 1 is one of the Bible's high peaks from which to survey the wonder of the cross.

1v17 The offering torn open but not severed completely
2v2 The offering with an aroma of frankincence
4v1 The true atonement for even unintentional sin
4v3 The true priest who never sinned
4v31 The one who brings atonement so that we can be forgiven
6v7 The one whose atonement brings forgiveness where relationships are damaged by sin
10v1 The priest whose worship is acceptable
10v3 The one who should be sanctified and glorified by those near him
11v4 The one who defines cleanness and uncleanness
11v45 The one who brought his people out of slavery
12v6 The one who teaches his people about purity through the patterns of their lives
13v1 The one who cares even about things that are only skin deep... much more about the heart
15v1 The one who says that what comes out of a man can make him unclean... much more the heart
16v7 The one exiled to take sin away from us, and the one killed for our sin
16v29 The one whose death is the true Day of Atonement

Leviticus establishes by detail and repetition that people are sinful and that atonement and forgiveness is possible by the actions of one person on behalf of another (a priest) and through the destruction of something (a sacrifice), tracks that come together in the death of Jesus.

17v15 The one who offers atonement for his people and for those of other nations
18v3 The one who will will not tolerate his people being like those who aren't his people
18v6 The one who does not want nakedness uncovered, he would have our shame covered
18v20 The one who takes marriage really seriously, because his gospel is at stake
20v1 The one who will not tolerate child sacrifice
21v8 The one who equires those who draw near to be pure... and will make us pure!

"Leviticus 22 - non Priests can't eat their food, but their slaves and children can. We were bought & made children of God to feast with him"  @John_Hindley

23v46 The light shining at the end of the feast of booths
25v9 The one for whom the trumpet will sound on his return - signalling atonement and Jubilee!
25v23 The owner of the land
23v35 The provider for the poor

"Leviticus 25 - if you are Christ's servant, no other man can be your master (and Christ's servants eat without sowing or reaping!)" @John_Hindley

26v34 The one who will bring rest through judgement

Leviticus feels like one of the hardest work books in the Bible - but keep the cross in view, and probably read the whole thing in three days - 9-10 chapters a day, and it will feed your soul richly. Leviticus is a book for contemplating the death of he who died to give us life, that we might know and enjoy the smile of God, because our Saviour's death sends up a pleasing aroma.

Bob Kauflin wrote, adapting from John Newton:
Forever etched upon my mind, is the look of Him who died
The Lamb I crucified, and now my life will sing the praise
Of pure atoning grace, that looked on me and gladly took my place

Taste more: Four sermons on Leviticus by Mike Reeves from a student leaders weekend


  1. loving this series Dave, great work. These are definitely ones to bookmark and keep referring back to.

  2. I am LOVING this series. SO much. Please consider making a free downloadable PDF of all the info... I think it could be an incredible handout for discussion at Sunday school or Bible studies. The truth in each post gives me chills and is sweeter information than I can even fathom or work through in one sitting.

    My dad forwarded you Genesis post, then this post... I am now subscribing. Incredible stuff.

  3. Hi Rachel, I'll see what I can do to pull it all together!
    Should be a series of 10 posts here before then I think.

  4. Also loving it greatly. In 6v26 'The priest who offers it for sin shall eat it'. Is it too tenuous to glance to Isaiah 25 and the Lord who 'swallows up' death? As in the offering for sin is eaten (swallowed up!) by the priest (a picture of the Lord). Now I've written it out it looks a little silly, but the echoes resounded in my head. Perhaps it's more about the feasting, esp. as the next verse says it should be eaten in the tent of meeting - come and feast with the Lord in the tabernacle!

  5. Something of a thread... I'm sure there's some theme in eating/swallowing as judgement, along with food and feasting as fellowship... one to chew on perhaps.