Module 04: The Illustration of the Mediator - The Functions
Module Guide: Leviticus - The Book of Laws
This pre-read guide is taken from the public domain source "The Analysed Bible in 3 Volumes" by G. Campbell Morgan.
This is a book of laws. It has been aptly called the handbook of the priests. Its Hebrew title, Vayyikra, which means " And He called," is the first phrase of the book itself. The first verse indicates the character of what follows. The moral law had been given from amid the splendours of the mountain. The laws regulating worship were spoken from the tent. Thus the content of the book is linked to the subjects dealt with in Exodus, and is in direct continuation thereof.
The nation had been brought out of bondage and organized. At the very centre of its life was a provision for worship in the Tabernacle. The whole outlook of Exodus teaches the supreme place of worship in the life of the nation. It, moreover, reveals the fact that there can only be worship through propitiation, because man is a sinner. The fact of sin thus underlies all now to be considered. The fact of redemption in the purpose and economy of God is seen overshadowing the fact of sin and making worship possible. The laws enunciated here have to do with these matters of supreme importance.
The book falls into five parts. First, the setting, forth of the Provision for Approach (1-7). Secondly, the Institution of the Priesthood through which the Provision might be appropriated (8-10). Thirdly, the Life of Separation, which is the condition of Appropriation (11-22). Fourthly, the Feasts, which portrayed the Benefits of Approach (23-24). Lastly, Symbols of Relation which safeguarded the maintenance of the right of Approach (25-27).
Dedication: the Offerings
In this division there is revealed the provision of God for the approach of His people to Himself in worship. The offerings are first described, and then their laws are enunciated.
As to the offerings, five were needed to perfectly unfold the meaning and method of personal dedication. The first was the burnt offering, which suggested the need for perfect dedication. The lamb without blemish consumed by fire indicated the necessity of a dedication perfect in quality and quantity. The meal offering was the work of men's hands, of the fruits of the ground, the result of cultivation, manufacture, and preparation, suggesting that dedication necessitated the offering of a perfect service as well as a perfect life. Of the peace offering, part was burned by fire and part consumed by the worshipper. It was the symbol of communion. In the white light of the Divine holiness, sin is sin, whether it be wilful or not; and the sin offering was provided to teach that the failure of those dedicated to God must yet be dealt with on the basis of sacrifice. The trespass offering was provided for definite acts of wrong-doing. Trespass in this connection is more than a mere missing of the mark. It includes the thought of positive and wilful wrong-doing.
The Divine provision for worship having been revealed in the offerings, there followed instructions concerning the method of offering, which revealed the true attitude of the worshipper. In connection with each there were detailed instructions which are full of suggestiveness. The ceremonial was Divinely arranged, and nothing was frivolous or unnecessary. Every detail had signification, and was intended to impress upon the mind of the worshipper truths which were of vital importance, in order that he should recognize the solemn nature of his dedication as a member of the nation whose greatness consisted in its intimate relation to Jehovah.
Mediation: The Priests
The second division of the book deals with the laws of mediation. It consists of a brief historical portion, which gives an account of the actual ceremony of the consecration of the priests and the tabernacle, and the commencement of worship; and so sets forth God's provision for the approach of His people to Himself through mediation on the basis of sacrifice. In the midst of a solemn assembly the priests were washed, and Aaron was arrayed in the garments of his sacred office. The holy rites of consecration then moved forward. The ceremonies were repeated daily for seven days.
This account of the consecration of the priests is immediately followed by that of the commencement of their work. The people were first gathered together, bringing with them offerings according to the instructions given. While they stood in solemn stillness in the presence of Jehovah, Aaron, in full official capacity, commenced his work. His first act was that of presenting the sin offering and the burnt offering for himself. Then followed immediately his first acts on behalf of the people. First the sin offering, indicating the necessity for expiation of sin; next the burnt offering, indicating the devotion of the whole life to God; following that the meal offering, speaking of the devotion of work and service; finally the peace offering, the symbol of communion. Thus the values of the offerings of approach could only be appropriated through the mediation of the priests.
At the commencement of the history of the official work of the priesthood there were evidences of failure. Nadab and Abihu, two sons of Aaron, offered strange fire before the Lord, and were swiftly slain by fire. Strangely solemn were the words: "Aaron held his peace." They were his own sons, but his relation to God was superior to his relation to them, and the only attitude becoming to him was that of submissive silence. The other priests were solemnly charged to show no signs of mourning, and to abide at their posts.
Separation: The People
While provision for approach was made, and the method of appropriation was provided, there were still very definite conditions which must be fulfilled in order that the people might avail themselves of the provision made. These conditions may be summarized as those of entire separation to God. They were to be a people God-governed and God-manifesting.
The Divine government must be recognized and obeyed in the matter of health. Minute regulations were given as to food, as to child- birth, as to leprosy, and as to all uncleanness. In the midst of this section instructions were given for the observance of the great Day of Atonement, which was perhaps the most important religious rite of the whole year in the Hebrew economy. It was the day on which the high priest entered into the holy place, all the arrangements for which entry were given in detail. In the ceremonial of this day provision was made for dealing with the whole question of sin, known and unknown. Most particular instructions were given as to the attitude of the people on the great day. They were to rest and afflict their souls. It was to be a day of solemn fasting and humiliation in which they reminded themselves of the fact of their sin, of the provision made for their cleansing, and of their consequent right of approach to God in worship. Strict instructions were next given concerning sacrifices.
The laws of separation then assumed a slightly altered character. So far the principal note had been that of the fundamental matters of relationship to God. The habits of the life of separation are more particularly dealt with. The people were distinctly forbidden to conform to the doings either of Egypt or Canaan.
Then followed a repetition of laws already given, with one reiterated emphasis: "Ye shall be holy, for I, the Lord your God am holy." No less than fourteen times in the course of one chapter (19) does the solemn declaration "I am Jehovah" occur. Yet further laws concerning unchastity and uncleanliness were repeated, and the death penalty was associated with certain forms of disobedience.
The final section in this division deals with the responsibilities of the priest. Standing, as he ever did, in a place of special nearness to God as the appointed mediator of the people, he must of all men manifest in the externals of life and conduct that holiness without which no man can see the Lord.
Consecration: The Feasts
The feasts of Jehovah were the national signs and symbols of the fact that the people, dedicated to God as the offerings witnessed, permitted to approach through the mediation of the priestly service, separated in all the details of life, were by God consecrated to Himself.
The foremost place was given to the Sabbath, It was a perpetually recurring feast, to be observed throughout all the year, on every seventh day.
Following this we have the appointment of the set feasts in their relation to times and seasons and the passing of the year. Thus all time-measurements were related to eternal truth. The first feast was the Passover, which merged into that of unleavened bread. With these the year commenced. The Feast of First-fruits was appointed for the land into which God would bring them. Marking the beginning of possession, it served as a constant reminder of the truth that all they had was the result of His giving rather than of their getting.
After a lapse of seven full weeks, during which the whole harvest was gathered, the Feast of Harvest was observed, and Pentecost reminded them that all they needed was provided by Jehovah. The seventh month was the most sacred of all. Therein two great ordinances were observed: the Day of Atonement, and the Feast of Tabernacles. Preceding these, and preparing for them, came the Feast of Trumpets. This was held on the first day of the month. Its characteristic notes were rest, and proclamation of the will of God. The tenth day of the month was the great Day of Atonement, which has already been described. The last Feast of the year was that of Tabernacles. It was observed after all the work was completed, and the results thereof gathered. For seven days the people dwelt in booths, and heard the reading of the law. The section ends with instructions concerning the symbols of consecration, those namely of the oil and the shewbread.
Ratification: The Signs
The laws of ratification consisted of the outward signs of the principle of possession to be observed in the land, together with solemn promises and warnings. The first sign was of the Sabbath of the land. In the seventh year of rest the original Ownership of God was recognized. The second sign was that of the jubilee, wherein great human inter-relationships, dependent upon the fact of Divine possesson, were insisted upon.
The laws of the year of jubilee affected the land, dwelling-houses, and persons. In these the foundations of the social order were firmly laid. All inter-human relationships, both of person and property, were conditioned in the fundamental relationship of the people to God.
The book ends with a section dealing with vows. The principle laid down is that it is not necessary that vows should be made, but that if they are made they must be religiously observed.
Part A: DEDICATION (The Offerings) - Leviticus 1:1-7:38
A.1. The Offerings (the worship) - Lev. 1:1-6:7
- Burnt Offering - 1:1-1:17
- Meal Offering - 2:1-2:16
- Peace Offering - 3:1-3:17
- Sin Offering - 4:1-4:35
- Trespass Offering - 5:1-6:7
A.2. The Laws of the Offerings (the worshipper) - Lev. 6:8-7:38
Part B: MEDIATION (The Priests) - Leviticus 8:1-10:20
B.1. Consecration of the Priests - Lev. 8:1-8:36
- Preparation - 8:1-8:9
- Anointing - 8:10-8:24
- Sacrifice and New Anointing - 8:25-8:36
B.2. The Priests at Work - Lev. 9:1-9:24
- Offerings for themselves - 9:1-9:14
- Offerings for the People - 9:15-9:24
B.3. Nahab and Abihu - Lev. 10:1-10:20
- Their Sin - 10:1-10:7
- Consequent Warnings - 10:8-10:20
Part C: SEPARATION (The People) - Leviticus 11:1-22:33
C.1. A people God-Governed - Lev. 11:1-17:16
- Of Health - 11:1-15:33
- The Day of Atonement - 16:1-16:34
- General Instructions concerning Sacrifices - 17:1-17:16
C.2. A people God-Manifesting - Lev. 18:1-22:33
- Separation from Evil Practices - 18:1-18:30
- A Call to Holiness - 19:1-19:37
- Laws against Unchastity and Uncleanness - 20:1-20:27
- Responsibilities of the Priests - 21:1-22:33
Part D: CONSECRATION (The Feasts) - Leviticus 23:1-24:25
D.1. The Feasts - Lev. 23:1-23:44
- The Sabbath - 23:1-23:3
- The Passover - 23:4-23:5
- Unleavened Bread - 23:6-23:8
- First-Fruits - 23:9-23:14
- Pentecost - 23:15-23:22
- Trumpets - 23:23-23:25
- Atonement - 23:26-23:32
- Tabernacles - 23:33-23:44
D.2. Symbols of Consecration - Lev. 24:1-24:9
- The Oil - 24:1-24:4
- The Shewbread - 24:5-24:9
D3. The Blasphemer - Lev. 24:10-24:23
Part E: RATIFICATION (The Signs) - Leviticus 25:1-27:34
E.1. Obligations - Lev. 25:1-20:26
- The Land Sabbath - 25:1-25:7
- Jubilee - 25:8-25:55
- Exhortations - 26:1-26:46
E.2. Voluntary Vows - Lev. 27:1-27:34
Note: To the best of our knowledge we are of the understanding that the above material, being published in 1907 and freely available elsewhere on the internet in various formats, is in the public domain.