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CHAPTER V.

LEVITICUS.

THE WORSHIP AND COMMUNION OF A REDEEMED PEOPLE.

Keynote: Eph. ii. 18-22.

THE book of Leviticus is a book of worship and communion. It gives us the results of God's presence in the midst of His people, and shows us the things that help and the things that hinder communion with Him.

It is a wonderful typical representation of the truths taught us in Eph. ii. 13, 18: “But now, in Christ Jesus, ye who sometime were afar off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.” For through Him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.” And again, in Heb. x. 19-22: “Having, therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which He hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, His flesh; and having a high-priest over the house of God; let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.”

In Leviticus we see God dwelling in the midst of His 58 people and making known His mind to them. The promise to them in Ex. xxv. 22 had been, “And there will I meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel.” And here this promise is fulfilled. Between thirty and forty times in this book is the expression used, “And the Lord spake, saying;” and the whole book is simply a revelation of the Lord's mind and thoughts to a people who had been brought into the secret of His presence, It is an illustration of our Lord's words in John xv. 15, “Henceforth I call you not servants, for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth; but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of the Father, I have made known unto you.” Only to the heart where Christ dwells, can His secrets be revealed, and to them alone can He show His covenant.

It is very important to notice that this book does not tell how they were to be delivered from bondage, but only how they were to live and worship after they were delivered. Its very position, following Exodus instead of preceding it) shows us plainly God's order in these things. First redemption, then worship and communion. Not worship and communion in order to be saved, but because we have been saved. Many souls seek to reverse this order, and think if they could only know real communion with God, then they could have some hope that He would redeem them. They think this acceptable 59 worship would make them more fit to be redeemed, or would make Him more willing. Whereas the truth is that the knowledge of redemption must come first, before there can be any satisfying communion. The very object of our redemption is that we may worship and serve God. If we could have done it before we were redeemed, then there would have been no need of redemption. The word of Moses to Pharaoh was, “Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Let my people go, that they may serve me.” Pharaoh had no objection to their serving God, if only they would not go out of his land to do it; and he said, Exod. viii. 25, “Go ye, sacrifice to your God in the land.”

If Satan can only keep us in his own land, slaves to himself, he cares very little what we do there, and is even well pleased that we should attend church, and say our prayers, and seek to serve God, as long as we will do it “in the land,” thinking so to blind our eyes to our slavery, and make us more willing slaves.

But Moses answered, “It is not meet so to do.” “We will go three days' journey into the wilderness, and sacrifice to the Lord our God as He shall command us.” He knew that the true worship of the God of Israel was simply impossible in the land of Egypt. And the soul now, that understands God's truth, knows also that “except a man be born again, he cannot see” nor “enter into the kingdom of God.” We must be translated out of the kingdom of Satan into the kingdom of God's dear Son, before we can serve the King of that kingdom, and above all before we can expect to be told His secrets.

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But Satan's devices do not stop here. When Pharaoh found. that he could not induce Moses to remain in the land, he gave up that point, saying, “I will let you go that ye may sacrifice to the Lord your God in the wilderness; only,” he added, cunningly, “ye shall not go very far away.” That is, when Satan sees that he cannot keep us in his kingdom, he next tries to persuade us that it is not necessary to go very far away, and that the world and the church need not be separated by any great distance after all. He knows well, as Pharaoh knew, that it is very easy to take captive those who dwell in the border land, and that it is just because they do not go very far away, that Christians suffer so much from his assaults.

The book of Leviticus, therefore, gives us, as I have said, the worship and communion of a redeemed people, a people in whose midst God was consciously present, revealing His mind, and teaching them His will. And many very deep lessons are taught here which can, I believe, only be understood aright by the soul in whoa the Holy Spirit consciously dwells as Teacher and Guide.

The first revelation God gives is concerning the offerings, in chapters i. ii. iii. iv. v. vi. vii. There were five of them, the burnt-offering, the meat-offering, the peace-offering, the sin-offering, and the trespass-offering. These offerings were types of different aspects of the work of the Lord Jesus Christ, meeting the need of His people in their daily life and walk in His kingdom. Exodus gives us the blood of the Lamb redeeming God's 61 people out of Egypt. And this is the aspect in which it must always first be known, before anything else can be learned. But after redemption has been experienced, we then have to learn that there is much more in Christ for us, than merely deliverance from the guilt of sin. And it is only in the wilderness, in separation from Egypt, that Israel is taught all the value of the offerings. It is Christ, as He is discerned by those who already know they are redeemed; Christ as the Priest, the Offerer, and the Offering, meeting the believer's every need, who is set forth here.

Each offering is believed to present some especial aspect of His work. The burnt-offering in Chap. i., which was all burned on the altar, an offering made by fire of a sweet savor, unto the Lord, i. 9, was a type of Christ as He is described in Eph. v. 2, where we read that, “He loved us, and gave Himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God of a sweet-smelling savor.” The whole burnt-offering typified the entire surrender of self to God. It was Christ offering Himself up with a complete consecration to accomplish the purposes of God's glory; and His perfect spotlessness and devotedness was a sweet-smelling savor to God, something in which He could take unclouded joy. It was “acceptable” to God, and was accepted for the offerer, so that it might be said of each one of us, that we are “accepted in the Beloved.”

The meat-offering in Chap. ii. represents Christ in His perfect humanity as He lived, and walked, and served down here on earth. presenting His life to God as an offering 62 of a sweet savor, and giving Himself to man as the food provided for those who are in God's service; as we read, “And the remnant of the meat offering shall be Aaron's and his sons;” ii. 3. This offering was taken from the fruit of the earth, and was of the finest wheat, ii. 1. Setting Him forth as real man, taking upon Him our earthly nature, tempted in all points like as we are, and, therefore, able to succor them that are tempted. It is the type of that which is declared to us in Heb. ii. 14, “For as much as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also himself likewise took part of the same.” And the picture is full of divinest comfort for us, since we read, that, because He that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all thus of one, He, therefore, for this cause, “is not ashamed to call us brethren.” Our God, our Brother! Can human words convey a grander or sweeter thought?

In the peace-offering, Chap. iii., the leading thought is the communion of the worshipper, “And the flesh of the sacrifice of his peace offerings for thanksgiving, shall be eaten the same day that it is offered,” Lev. vii. 15. It was not here as in the burnt-offering, Christ enjoyed exclusively by God? but the worshipper feasting upon Christ in communion with God. The offering was shared between the altar, the priest, and the offerer. That is, the picture presented to us here is of the believer coming to God to be filled with Christ, to have his thoughts occupied with Christ, and his mouth filled with His praises. Many souls have access to God who do not have communion. 63 They come full of themselves, and their own needs, and all they have to say is about their feelings, or their sins, or their trials. It is all self, self, self. But communion means to dwell upon and delight in that which God dwells upon and delights in. And this can never be anything in or about ourselves, but always and only things pertaining to His well-beloved Son.

Only the clean could partake of this offering, Lev. vii. 20, 21; and only the Christian whose heart is purified by faith can enter into this blessed communion. “If we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another; and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son, cleansers us from all sin,” I John i. 7. This is, I believe, the New Testament statement of the truth typified in the Peace-offering.

The Sin-offering, chapters iv. and v., was for “sins of ignorance,” or involuntary sins. “If a soul sin and commit any of these things which are forbidden to be done by the commandments of the Lord; though he wist it not, yet is he guilty, and shall bear his iniquity,” v. 17. The sin hidden to man is not hidden to God, and while He can forgive everything, He can let nothing pass. “The priest shall make an atonement for him concerning his ignorance, wherein he erred, and wist it not; and it shall be forgiven him,” v. 19. The sin-offering is a type of Christ bearing our sins in His own body on the tree. As we read in 2 Cor. vi. 21, “For He hath made Him to be sin for us who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.” It is the especial 64 aspect of sin in us, that is here brought out, the sin of our nature. What we are, rather than what we do. And it teaches us plainly, that it is not our own conscience, nor our measure of light, but the truth of God, that is the standard by which sin is to be measured. But it also teaches that in the atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ, perfect provision is made for it all.

The trespass-offering, chapter vi. was an offering for sins of wrong-doing, either towards God or towards man. It was not so much here what a man was, as what he did which is considered, his acts of sin; and, therefore, this offering was accompanied with restitution on the part of the sinner. He was not only forgiven, but he was to “restore that which he took violently away, or the thing which he hath deceitfully gotten:” vi. 4. This signifies, I think, first, the blessed truth that “where sin abounded,” and even because sin abounded, “grace did much more abound.” And also teaches us that forgiveness is not the whole of salvation, but righteousness must accompany it.

Such were the offerings, each one revealing Christ and some especial aspect of His work for us; and each one also, I believe, teaching us what we ought to be, as one with Him and walking as He walked, even living sacrifices giving ourselves to God, and to our brethren. But I cannot dwell on this now.*

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To me the one grand lesson of the offerings is to be found in the constant repetition of the declaration “and it shall be forgiven him.” No room was left for doubt here. God said it, and the question was settled. No Israelite could look inside at his own feelings to settle this question, nor outside at his life. The one only point was, had he brought the offering, and had it been consumed on the altar? If so, then he was forgiven, whether he felt it or not; and we cannot imagine an Israelite entertaining a doubt on the subject. Had such a thing occurred, I cannot but think that the friends and neighbors of the unfortunate man, and, in fact, the whole nation, would have been horrified at such presumption. “Do you dare to doubt God's word?” they would have asked. “Are your feelings to be put in opposition to His express declaration?” But if they could be thus sure of forgiveness, who only offered a bullock, or a lamb, or a turtle dove, surely we, for whom Christ has been offered, ought to be infinitely more sure; and doubts with us should be even more summarily dealt with. May the type teach us this all important lesson!

Priesthood comes next in chapters viii. and ix. A type of the Lord Jesus Christ as our High Priest interceding for us, and giving us access to God. “Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: we have such an High Priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the majesty in the heavens; a minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man,” Heb. viii. 1, 2. “And they 66 truly were many priests, because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death; but this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood. Wherefore He is also able to save them to the uttermost, that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them,” Heb. vii. 23-25.

I believe that Aaron as High Priest was the especial type of Christ; and that his sons were meant to be types of believers in their position as “priests unto God,” built up, as Peter says, “an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God by Jesus Christ,” The priest typifies the soul in communion with God, dwelling in the secret of His presence, and handling the holy things of His sanctuary. And we, as priests, are called, as were the sons of Aaron, to a blessed separation from all the cares and burdens of the world, and to a life of consecration to the service of our Lord.

Chapters xi. xxii. give us the discernment between clean and unclean things, the judgment of defilements, what was to be done with defiled persons, and directions to preserve them from defilements. These chapters touch on many things in the daily lives of the Israelite, which were  calculated to  hinder or to help communion, and show us how nothing is  unimunimportant to the soul where God dwells. The food they ate, the garments they wore, the houses they lived in, their family relations with each other, their treatment of one another, the sowing of their seed, the gathering in of their harvests, their births and death, in short all the smallest details of their everyday 67 life were of importance, and all were to be regulated by the law of their God. The reason of this is told in Lev. xx. 26, “And ye shall be holy unto me; for I the Lord am holy, and have separated you from other people that ye should be mine.” “Sanctify yourselves, therefore, and be ye holy: for I am the Lord your God. And ye shall keep my statutes and do them; I am the Lord which sanctify you.” Lev. xx. 7, 8.

These chapters are to me most precious, because they show us that our God loves us enough to care about every little detail of our lives, and that to belong to Him means to have each step of our way regulated by His sweet control. To the heathen nations round about, it might have seemed an almost intolerable thing to have God entering so minutely into all their affairs; beside their bed at night, and around their board by day. But to the soul that knew His love, nothing could have been more blessed. The surveillance of true and unselfish love is always most lovely, and can bring nothing but blessing and joy. We know that we ourselves do not care for the details of any lives but of those we love. The majority of the people around us may live, and eat, and wear, and act as they please, and so long as they do not interfere with us, we are perfectly indifferent. But the moment we begin to love, all is changed, and the least detail in the life or ways of our loved ones becomes of deepest interest to us. It is because God loves us therefore, that He cares what we do, and it is one of our sweetest joys, if we only knew it, to have a 68 dear command of His for every day and hour of our lives.

In Chapter xvi. we have the provision made for defilement. “For on that day shall the priest make an atonement for you to cleanse you, that ye may be clean from all your sins before the Lord,” xvi. 30. This atonement was two-fold. One goat was killed and its blood sprinkled on the mercy-seat to “make an atonement for the holy place, because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel,” xvi. 16; and of the other goat we read xvi. 21, 22, “And Aaron shall lay both hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat, and shall send him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness. And the goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities unto a land not inhabited: and he shall let go the goat in the wilderness.”

Of all the types of the Lord Jesus, this seems to me one of the most wonderful. The way of access for the sinner into the presence of God is made by His death, and the sins of the sinner are borne away “into a land not inhabited,” cast as it were into the very depths of the sea, to be no more remembered, even by the God against whom they were committed, but who has thus “laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” And if that day was to be a “Sabbath of rest” to the soul of the Israelite, because he was thus cleansed from all his sins, how much more ought our souls to “enter into rest,” when 69 we see by faith the Lamb of God, who “taketh away the in of the world.”

The Lord's feasts come next in chapter xxiii., a wonderful picture of the stages in the soul's experience, which are each one well pleasing to the Lord, and which lead onward, one by one, from the first stage of coming to Jesus and finding rest to our souls, to the culminating stage of fulness of joy in His love.

These feasts are seven -- the Sabbath, the Passover accompanied with the feast of unleavened bread, the First-fruits of the Harvest, Pentecost, the Feast of Trumpets in the seventh month, the Day of Atonement, and the Feast of Tabernacles.

The first, the Sabbath, verse 3, is a type of that rest into which we, which have believed, do enter; and it must always be the first stage in all real progress. “Come unto me,” said Jesus, “all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Many other things also He has in store for us, but this must come first -- rest to our souls; and without it all the others are useless.

The second, the Passover, with the feast of unleavened bread, verses 5-8, typifies the assurance of faith, and its result in a holy life. The Passover was the memorial of their deliverance in Egypt, and must have reminded them every time they celebrated it, that their deliverance was a grand fact. The feast of unleavened bread typified the separation from evil that must be the result of this; leaven always being a type of evil.

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This whole feast teaches us, I think, that it is God's will and therefore pleasing to Him for the believer to know that his sins are forgiven, and that he has been delivered from the bondage of Satan through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. John says: “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God, that ye may know that ye have eternal life,” I John v. 13. Many have this life who do not know it, who only hope so, or perhaps fear they have not. But God would have us know it, and commands us to keep our Passovers by continually reminding ourselves of the grand fact of our redemption, through the blood of the Lamb. But that his assurance was intended not to encourage sin but to hinder it, is taught by the accompanying feast of unleavened bread, which is shown us in I Cor. v. 6-8 to be a type of that separation from all evil, required by God from every one who belongs to Him.

The third feast, the First Fruits, verses 10-14, occurring on the day after the Sabbath, the eighth day, was a type of the resurrection of Christ, who “at the end of the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week,” rose triumphant from the grave, and became the “first-fruits of them that slept.” I Cor. xv. 20. And since we who believe have been “buried with Him by baptism into death; that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life,” this feast typifies also our resurrection life as one with Him, and the soul 71 by faith entering into the apprehension of it. And until this is done, v. 14, we cannot feed on the glorious harvest, nor even taste the bread and the corn which are the only food of the resurrection life.

The fourth feast, Pentecost, verses 15-21, typifies the outpouring of the Spirit upon the soul that has thus died with Christ and risen with Him to newness of life. A “new meat offering” was presented then, “baken with leaven,” a type of the union of Christ with His people, who, being still upon earth, have in them the taint of evil. All the different sacrifices were offered on this day, showing how, when our Pentecost comes, Christ in all His fulness will be apprehended and rejoiced in.

The fifth feast, the Feast of Trumpets, verses 24, 25, is a type of the believer bearing testimony. “Endued with power from on high,” on the Day of Pentecost, we can now be witnesses unto Christ.

The sixth feast, the Day of Atonement, verses 27-32, a day when they were to “afflict their souls,” was a type, I thank, of the death of self, the final and complete self-sacrifice, when all of self is surrendered and crucified with Christ. “Afflict your souls,” that is, mortify, reckon dead, “take up the cross,” “forsake all.”

And this ushered in the seventh feast, the feast of joy. “These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and your joy might be full,” John xv. 11.

This seventh feast, the Feast of Tabernacles, verses 24-43, is the foreshadowing of the Christian's highest 72 joy, when the soul fully realizes its deliverance and its victory, and is so cut loose from earth as to be able to see things as God sees them, and to enter into His joy. It is more than the joy of faith, as at the first-fruits, that is realized here; it is the joy of possession, all is gathered in at last, verse 39.

It is very striking to observe the continual recurrence of the expression throughout all of these feasts, “ye shall do no servile work therein,” illustrating wonderfully the truth that, from beginning to end, our salvation is not of works, lest any man should boast.

Another expression is also to me very suggestive, and that is that these feasts were called “the feasts of the Lord.” Not our feasts, but His. That is, the joy of the Lord in our progress is far greater than ever our own joy could be. “The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; He will save, He will rejoice over thee with joy; He will rest in His love; He will joy over thee with singing,” Zeph. iii. 17.

Chapter xxv. gives us the Jubilee, a beautiful type of the Millennium, the final “restitution of all things,” when “righteousness shall cover the earth as the waters cover the sea.” “And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubilee unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family.” This year was reached by an ascending scale of Sabbaths, one Sabbath day each seven days, one Sabbath year 73 each seven years, and finally the Jubilee, a Sabbath year each. seven times seven years. All these Sabbaths, with the rest they brought, being each one foretastes of the final Sabbath, when the whole earth shall be at rest and quiet, and shall break forth into singing, Ps. xiv. 7.

In chapter xxvi. we have given to us the blessings that follow obedience, and the miseries that will follow disobedience, striking pictures of the joy of the obedient Christian life, and the loss and sorrow of the disobedient.

Our book closes with chapter xxvii. which treats of God's rights in those things devoted to Him, and shows us that every such thing becomes “most holy,” because it is thus set apart for Him. His possession of it makes it holy, whatever it may have been before. “Every devoted thing is most holy to the Lord,” verse 28. A blessed truth to the poor soul that feels its unholiness, and yet longs to be all the Lord's, “sanctified and meet for the Master's use, and prepared unto every good work.”

Satan continually tempts such to think that they are too unholy for the Lord to accept, and what he suggests as to their unworthiness is so true, that it seems impossible to gainsay his conclusions. But the answer here is simply this, that the altar sanctifies the gift, that anything given to the Lord is made holy by the very fact of being so given. And that even our bodies, if presented unto Him a living sacrifice, are thereby rendered “holy and acceptable.” Just as we have sometimes read in our childish tales of a water that changed everything 74 put into it into gold, so here we read of a God so infinite in holiness that everything devoted to Him becomes holy by His simple possession of it. Take comfort then, dear humble soul, and transfer at once thyself and all that thou hast into this grand possession, that it may all become “most holy unto the Lord.”

Such is the book of Leviticus, a book concerning the worship and communion of a redeemed people, among whom God dwells. A book that more than any other seems to show in type what it is to have the blessed gift of the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit in our hearts; that gift which is “the promise of the Father” to all who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and which alone brings us nigh to God, and makes it possible for us to commune with Him. It is therefore especially full of deep teaching for Christians, and contains many blessed lessons concerning the interior life of spiritual communion, that are worthy of most careful study.


Texts illustrating the life of communion with God:  John xv. 15, 26; xvi. 13, 14; xiv. 16, 17, 20, 21, 23, 25Ez. xxxvi. 26, 27Rom. viii. 9, 101 Cor. iii. 161 John iii. 24; ii. 27; i. 7; iv. 12, 15, 16; v. 14, 15Ez. xi. 19, 20Gal. v. 16-18Col. i. 9-11Phil. i. 9-11; ii. 13Eph. v. 9, 18, 19; iii. 14-19; i. 16-19; ii. 18Heb. viii. 10, 11; x. 19-23.

*I would refer my reader to Jukes' “Law of the Offerings,” for further teaching on this part of Leviticus, for sale at the Willard Tract Repository.

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