Leviticus 26-27: Let God be true though everyone were a liar

We’ve come to the last two chapters of Leviticus.  Let me trace through the book as we come to these promising chapters of the entire Bible.

From Leviticus 1-15, we have had a detailed analysis of the types of sacrifices, offerings, and an anthropological analysis of man’s state by the LORD God.  It is dismal, and man cannot save himself.  There is a glimpse of this salvation through the priesthood, but even the priests cannot save themselves from their inherent sin.

Leviticus 16 is a breaking point, following on in theology from Nadab and Abihu’s death.  Who can be our goat of sacrifice?  Jesus Christ.  The Day of Atonement, symbolically in the first month of the Jewish year – a proclamation of Christ’s victory over sin.

From Leviticus 16-25, we have seen God’s commandments of holistic living.  How are the Israelites, as the redeemed, looking back at their exodus from Egypt?  How are the Israelites taking up the victory won through the Passover lamb?  How are the Israelites living as slaves of Christ, from the salvation through the waters of punishment at the Red Sea?

Now we turn to the last two chapters.  There is an acknowledgement from the LORD that the commandments thus far will have its limit because man is still sinful.  We are still awaiting the true Day of Atonement, when the trumpet is blown as an establishment of the true Jubilee that will last forever.  And this fulfillment does not come from the Israelites’ faithfulness – but it comes from God’s faithfulness alone.

1.  His promises to us (Leviticus 26)

2.  Jesus’ Devotion brings us to Complete Holiness in New Creation (Leviticus 27)

1.  His promises to us (Leviticus 26)

Lev 26:1-46  “You shall not make idols for yourselves or erect an image or pillar, and you shall not set up a figured stone in your land to bow down to it, for I am the LORD your God.  (2)  You shall keep my Sabbaths and reverence my sanctuary: I am the LORD.  (3)  “If you walk in my statutes and observe my commandments and do them,  (4)  then I will give you your rains in their season, and the land shall yield its increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit.  (5)  Your threshing shall last to the time of the grape harvest, and the grape harvest shall last to the time for sowing. And you shall eat your bread to the full and dwell in your land securely.  (6) I will give peace in the land, and you shall lie down, and none shall make you afraid. And I will remove harmful beasts from the land, and the sword shall not go through your land.  (7)  You shall chase your enemies, and they shall fall before you by the sword.  (8 )  Five of you shall chase a hundred, and a hundred of you shall chase ten thousand, and your enemies shall fall before you by the sword.  (9)  I will turn to you and make you fruitful and multiply you and will confirm my covenant with you.  (10)  You shall eat old store long kept, and you shall clear out the old to make way for the new.  (11)  I will make my dwelling among you, and my soul shall not abhor you.  (12)  And I will walk among you and will be your God, and you shall be my people.  (13)  I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that you should not be their slaves. And I have broken the bars of your yoke and made you walk erect.

In the space of v. 1-13, the LORD has made approximately 25 promises.  These promises have nothing to do with our capabilities.  Rather, it carries two linguistic implications: one is the imperative (“You shall do it” – as in, you will definitely do it), the other a promise (as in, you will definitely do it, and I promise you will do it).  These promises find their greatest meaning in a response to v. 3 – “if you walk in my statutes and observe my commandments“.  How?  Are they expected to be completely righteous?  Is this not a complete contradiction to their sinfulness?

It is first important to qualify the interpretation of v.3.  The LORD is not expecting them to walk perfectly in the statutes.  Rather, the LORD is telling them to walk in the law and observe it – and who is the one who walks in the law and delights in the law perfectly?  Christ – c.f. Psalm 1.  Who is the one who has the law written in their hearts?  (c.f. Jeremiah 31:33; Hebrews 8:10; Psalm 1) Christ alone.  And it is in and through Christ that we have the law written on our hearts, for He is the true image of God, the only one who has the law written in his heart entirely.  To walk and observe the law, is to be in Christ, so the Father sees us as His Son who walks and delights in the law perfectly – and v.4-12 are promises made subsequent to being in Christ (just as the same promises are made in Hebrews 8:10).

And what are the kind of promises made?  Fullness of food and seasons; victory in battles; fruitfulness of people – and most importantly, to anticipate the LORD God to walk among and with them.

Some may extrapolate from v.12 and say that the faithfulness of Israel in the Old Testament, the keeping of the law, has culminated in the coming of Christ as a fulfillment of v.12.  But this is too far from truth – it is exactly the failure of the Israelites to keep the law in Christ, that the gospel is given to the Gentiles (Romans 11:11).  Rather, v.12 is not a prophetic promise merely of the 1st advent.  It is a prophetic promise of the 2nd advent, of the Son who had walked with Adam and Eve and a restoration of Eden (Genesis 3:8 ), when heaven and earth were joined.  So God is asking them not to think merely of the physical and foreseeable land and future: he is asking them to perceive and partake in the spiritual truth of Jesus’ promises to them by having faith IN Jesus!  Only Jesus alone is the one to make eternal promises and imperatives where no one else can.

(14)  “But if you will not listen to me and will not do all these commandments,  (15)  if you spurn my statutes, and if your soul abhors my rules, so that you will not do all my commandments, but break my covenant, (16)  then I will do this to you: I will visit you with panic, with wasting disease and fever that consume the eyes and make the heart ache. And you shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it.  (17)  I will set my face against you, and you shall be struck down before your enemies. Those who hate you shall rule over you, and you shall flee when none pursues you.  (18 )  And if in spite of this you will not listen to me, then I will discipline you again sevenfold for your sins, (19)  and I will break the pride of your power, and I will make your heavens like iron and your earth like bronze.  (20)  And your strength shall be spent in vain, for your land shall not yield its increase, and the trees of the land shall not yield their fruit.  (21)  “Then if you walk contrary to me and will not listen to me, I will continue striking you, sevenfold for your sins.  (22)  And I will let loose the wild beasts against you, which shall bereave you of your children and destroy your livestock and make you few in number, so that your roads shall be deserted.  (23)  “And if by this discipline you are not turned to me but walk contrary to me,  (24)  then I also will walk contrary to you, and I myself will strike you sevenfold for your sins. (25)  And I will bring a sword upon you, that shall execute vengeance for the covenant. And if you gather within your cities, I will send pestilence among you, and you shall be delivered into the hand of the enemy.  (26)  When I break your supply of bread, ten women shall bake your bread in a single oven and shall dole out your bread again by weight, and you shall eat and not be satisfied.  (27)  “But if in spite of this you will not listen to me, but walk contrary to me,  (28 )  then I will walk contrary to you in fury, and I myself will discipline you sevenfold for your sins.  (29)  You shall eat the flesh of your sons, and you shall eat the flesh of your daughters. (30)  And I will destroy your high places and cut down your incense altars and cast your dead bodies upon the dead bodies of your idols, and my soul will abhor you.  (31)  And I will lay your cities waste and will make your sanctuaries desolate, and I will not smell your pleasing aromas.  (32)  And I myself will devastate the land, so that your enemies who settle in it shall be appalled at it.  (33)  And I will scatter you among the nations, and I will unsheathe the sword after you, and your land shall be a desolation, and your cities shall be a waste. (34)  “Then the land shall enjoy its Sabbaths as long as it lies desolate, while you are in your enemies’ land; then the land shall rest, and enjoy its Sabbaths.

v.18, 21, 23, 27 – all the same refrain:  “if in spite of this” or something along the same phraseology or intention.  How merciful can our LORD be?  Three times the LORD disciplines the unchristian nation which deserves death, but the LORD is patient and slow to anger – but anger will come!  The type of gospel preached where God is unceasingly loving to all is a false gospel of universalism.  Here, this is true gospel – that true justice is shown through God’s judgment against all sin, so that holiness may prevail.

The discipline takes the form of:

v.16-17 – disease

v.19-20 – cursing of the land and the heavens, yielding no crop

v.21-22 – loosing of wild animals against Israeli

v.24-26 – pestilence sent to the Israelites even within the city, given to the hands of the enemies and the shortened supply of food, let alone food which can satiate desires

v. 27-33 – complete desolation, cannibalism, destruction, death, corpses.

One can see a progression of proportionality from v.16-33 – from bad to destructive, all in the attempt to save Israel.  This is the pattern shown in the 10 plagues, and the LORD’s character is one that is sensitive, but increasingly disciplinary, as is repeated in 2 Timothy 4:1-5:

2Ti 4:1-5  I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;  (2)  Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.  (3)  For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;  (4)  And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.  (5)  But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.

It seems that there is no hope left for the non-Christians but the message here isn’t that of destruction.  It is that of peace that results from the victory of the LORD.  It is that of peace, of the enjoyment of Sabbath.  Read the following verses 35-39:

(35)  As long as it lies desolate it shall have rest, the rest that it did not have on your Sabbaths when you were dwelling in it. (36)  And as for those of you who are left, I will send faintness into their hearts in the lands of their enemies. The sound of a driven leaf shall put them to flight, and they shall flee as one flees from the sword, and they shall fall when none pursues.  (37)  They shall stumble over one another, as if to escape a sword, though none pursues. And you shall have no power to stand before your enemies.  (38 )  And you shall perish among the nations, and the land of your enemies shall eat you up.  (39)  And those of you who are left shall rot away in your enemies’ lands because of their iniquity, and also because of the iniquities of their fathers they shall rot away like them.

This action in itself is an act of evangelism – the LORD’s faithfulness and his victory through the fulfillment of his promises through Israel is a great witness.  Rahab is a great example of someone who hears the news of Israel and wishes to become a Christian by joining the Israelite nation:

Joshua 2:8-13  Before the men lay down, she came up to them on the roof  (9)  and said to the men, “I know that the LORD has given you the land, and that the fear of you has fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land melt away before you.  (10)  For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you devoted to destruction.  (11)  And as soon as we heard it, our hearts melted, and there was no spirit left in any man because of you, for the LORD your God, he is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath.  (12)  Now then, please swear to me by the LORD that, as I have dealt kindly with you, you also will deal kindly with my father’s house, and give me a sure sign  (13)  that you will save alive my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them, and deliver our lives from death.”

But the LORD is still merciful – he still wants more and more to come to faith, so that all may come to believe (2 Peter 3:9):

(40)  “But if they confess their iniquity and the iniquity of their fathers in their treachery that they committed against me, and also in walking contrary to me,  (41)  so that I walked contrary to them and brought them into the land of their enemies–if then their uncircumcised heart is humbled and they make amends for their iniquity,  (42)  then I will remember my covenant with Jacob, and I will remember my covenant with Isaac and my covenant with Abraham, and I will remember the land. (43)  But the land shall be abandoned by them and enjoy its Sabbaths while it lies desolate without them, and they shall make amends for their iniquity, because they spurned my rules and their soul abhorred my statutes.  (44)  Yet for all that, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not spurn them, neither will I abhor them so as to destroy them utterly and break my covenant with them, for I am the LORD their God.  (45)  But I will for their sake remember the covenant with their forefathers, whom I brought out of the land of Egypt in the sight of the nations, that I might be their God: I am the LORD.” (46)  These are the statutes and rules and laws that the LORD made between himself and the people of Israel through Moses on Mount Sinai.

Verses 40-46 provide great comfort as I read them.  There is always a chance to repent until the day of true and final judgment – all that is in between is one of discipline, so that we are further refined to repent and know him better, to live as the redeemed as witnesses so people like Rahab can be saved.  So that Rahab can see Christ through our partaking in Christ’s work.  Let us be honed by the refiner’s fire Malachi 3:2, so that the new creation work (2 Corinthians 5:17) in us continues until we are refined like pure gold.  V.44-46 is almost an anticipation of the Babylonian Captivity, and an establishment that the Israelites will sin, but the LORD will continue to be faithful to them – preaching, again, the message that Canaan is not the promised land in itself; and that true salvation and uncompromised kingdom living will come only when the nation of Christians are filled with everyone who is holy and sanctified by the true Day of Atonement, so that no enemy can take over the New Jerusalem.

2.  Jesus’ Devotion brings us to Complete Holiness in New Creation (Leviticus 27)

Up to Leviticus 27, the LORD has been insistent on portraying the distinction between the unclean, clean and holy.  The prophetic promise of a nation of priests has not yet been fulfilled, but the vision of the tabernacle clearly shows that this fulfillment will yet come when the Spirit is given in part to both Gentiles and Jews alike, and given without limit when we are in New Creation with our new bodies.  This explains very much the division between priesthood, kingship and being a clean/common person (i.e. a type of ‘layman’).  Israel is a picture of the prophetic fulfillment in the New Testament and New Creation – and the message of Leviticus has been hammering the point that being clean is not enough to enjoy the LORD’s presence.

The things which are holy, include the priests, the sacrificed animals, the tabernacle, the altar, the ark, the table of shewbread of Presence, the golden lampstand and, of course, the LORD who is enthroned between the cherubim on the mercy seat on the ark.

Yet, the ordinary clean and common Israelite is seemingly excommunicated from these holy things.  How can the ordinary clean and common Israelite come to commune with the LORD?  Through the priests and the sacrifices.  Yet, it is the priest who represents us – he is our captain once and forever more.  The double imagery of priest and sacrifice provides the two-fold witness of Christ as both priest and sacrifice, imputing his righteousness to us as we impute our sins to him.  Only then can the common and clean people come before the LORD and enter the Holy of Holies ourselves.  We must cease to be common – and become deified in the Athanasian sense.

Lev 27:1-34  The LORD spoke to Moses, saying,  (2)  “Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, If anyone makes a special vow to the LORD involving the valuation of persons,

It seems that a person could make a special vow of utter dedication to the LORD, and this is detailed a bit further in Numbers 6:

Num 6:2-8  “Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, When either a man or a woman makes a special vow, the vow of a Nazirite, to separate himself to the LORD,  (3)  he shall separate himself from wine and strong drink. He shall drink no vinegar made from wine or strong drink and shall not drink any juice of grapes or eat grapes, fresh or dried.  (4)  All the days of his separation he shall eat nothing that is produced by the grapevine, not even the seeds or the skins.  (5)  “All the days of his vow of separation, no razor shall touch his head. Until the time is completed for which he separates himself to the LORD, he shall be holy. He shall let the locks of hair of his head grow long.  (6)  “All the days that he separates himself to the LORD he shall not go near a dead body.  (7)  Not even for his father or for his mother, for brother or sister, if they die, shall he make himself unclean, because his separation to God is on his head.  (8 )  All the days of his separation he is holy to the LORD.

This vow is interesting, given its similarities to that of the requirement of the seventy leaders back in Exodus.  The LORD does differentiate between the clean and common, and those who wish to especially separate themselves to the LORD.  The seriousness should not be taken lightly and this is shown in the verses 3-7 by the entrance of payment of being part of the ‘holy’ (since being ‘separated to the LORD’ is equivalent to being ‘sanctified’ in many scenarios, albeit not all):

(3)  then the valuation of a male from twenty years old up to sixty years old shall be fifty shekels of silver, according to the shekel of the sanctuary.  (4)  If the person is a female, the valuation shall be thirty shekels.  (5)  If the person is from five years old up to twenty years old, the valuation shall be for a male twenty shekels, and for a female ten shekels.  (6)  If the person is from a month old up to five years old, the valuation shall be for a male five shekels of silver, and for a female the valuation shall be three shekels of silver.  (7)  And if the person is sixty years old or over, then the valuation for a male shall be fifteen shekels, and for a female ten shekels. (8 )  And if someone is too poor to pay the valuation, then he shall be made to stand before the priest, and the priest shall value him; the priest shall value him according to what the vower can afford.

And this process of sanctification is not reserved only for the wealthy as v. 8 shows – the priest shall value him according to what the vower can afford.  The LORD, again, displays the theology of tithing, money and possessions through the treatment of this process of sanctification.  It is according to the person’s heart and ability, and how much he actually offers to the LORD.  Giving huge amounts of money will not make any implication of the person’s devotion, unless it is a large percentage of his financial capacity – this very much reflecting the woman with the alabaster flask in the synoptic gospels.  There is again a picture of male and female differentiation here – the female is valued approximately half that of the male; and the young is valued approximately less than half that of the adult.

If our LORD intended this picture to portray that of holiness, and not of the result of the fall, then we must understand exegetically that these commandments are not inherently sexist.  Genesis 3 is not the reason that men and women are valued differently; rather, the LORD counts holiness as presenting the male and female as fundamentally equal, but sexually divided in terms of role and valuation.  This may serve to colour the picture of 1 Corinthains 11, 1 Timothy 2 and Ephesians 5 just that bit more clearly.  If the LORD does not care how much is given (given v.8 ), then the value he gives for each age group, and sexual gender is a reflection of holiness in gender complementarianism.  However, we would naturally view this division with biased and sexist eyes, because we have our mental baggage of the battles of the sexes in our minds and unconsciously eisegetically read into the text the sexism which is not there.  Adam was the head of Eve at the beginning of creation, before the fall; the only difference afterwards is that neither accepts the role of headship and submission respectively, but the ordination of man being the head like Christ, and woman being the submissive body like the church, has been ordained long before Genesis 3.

Another interesting thing about v.3-8 is that the age group of people who wish to be ‘sanctified’ ranges from 60 to a month old.  This speaks a lot about familial theology as well: the LORD clearly anticipates the Christians to dedicate their children to the LORD, or even better, the children dedicating themselves to the LORD!  How often it is that we only think of the ‘upper-tier’ age group from 20-60 today, and neglect the age group of a month old to 20 years old as capable of dedicating oneself completely to the LORD!  Indeed, the impact or the role taken may be “different” from that of the upper-tier age group (hence the lower valuation, akin to the male-female valuation comparison), but they too can love Jesus and be heart-circumcised.  The danger of modern day Baptist-theology prevents the welcoming of young Christians into the fold of responsibility in the church, and leaving it solely in the hands of 30-70’s, when the LORD expects sanctification from practically all age groups.

(9)  “If the vow is an animal that may be offered as an offering to the LORD, all of it that he gives to the LORD is holy.  (10)  He shall not exchange it or make a substitute for it, good for bad, or bad for good; and if he does in fact substitute one animal for another, then both it and the substitute shall be holy.  (11)  And if it is any unclean animal that may not be offered as an offering to the LORD, then he shall stand the animal before the priest,  (12)  and the priest shall value it as either good or bad; as the priest values it, so it shall be.  (13)  But if he wishes to redeem it, he shall add a fifth to the valuation.

In the same way, to make a vow for an animal is taken as a serious promise.  The redemption rate of an additional 20% would deter anyone from making this vow carelessly.  This begins and interesting train of thought as we move on to ‘houses’ being holy gifts to the LORD.  Paul Blackham muses that dedicating the animal to the LORD may have meant that it was reserved to be sacrificed on a particular day and there is nothing to which seems to indicate otherwise.  Whatever the case may be, holiness is expected (v.10) of the animal.

(14)  “When a man dedicates his house as a holy gift to the LORD, the priest shall value it as either good or bad; as the priest values it, so it shall stand.  (15)  And if the donor wishes to redeem his house, he shall add a fifth to the valuation price, and it shall be his.

Similarly, the dedication of the house as a gift to the LORD may reflect the entirety of one’s devotion the LORD, even with one’s sacrifices and the building in which one lives.  It is a reflection of an entire family’s devotion to the living God, and that what happens under the house is one which reflects the truth of the Trinitarian God (Ephesians 5-6).

(16)  “If a man dedicates to the LORD part of the land that is his possession, then the valuation shall be in proportion to its seed. A homer of barley seed shall be valued at fifty shekels of silver.  (17)  If he dedicates his field from the year of jubilee, the valuation shall stand,  (18 )  but if he dedicates his field after the jubilee, then the priest shall calculate the price according to the years that remain until the year of jubilee, and a deduction shall be made from the valuation.  (19)  And if he who dedicates the field wishes to redeem it, then he shall add a fifth to its valuation price, and it shall remain his.  (20)  But if he does not wish to redeem the field, or if he has sold the field to another man, it shall not be redeemed anymore.  (21)  But the field, when it is released in the jubilee, shall be a holy gift to the LORD, like a field that has been devoted. The priest shall be in possession of it. (22)  If he dedicates to the LORD a field that he has bought, which is not a part of his possession,  (23)  then the priest shall calculate the amount of the valuation for it up to the year of jubilee, and the man shall give the valuation on that day as a holy gift to the LORD.  (24)  In the year of jubilee the field shall return to him from whom it was bought, to whom the land belongs as a possession.  (25)  Every valuation shall be according to the shekel of the sanctuary: twenty gerahs shall make a shekel.

Here, we move on to the devotion of fields, possessed only by the priests.  This is also a reflection of new kingdom living and a mark of the representation of the jubilee that even the fields are dedicated to the LORD.  v.16-20, act similar to the devotion of the people of different age groups to the LORD, and these are all acts of willingness but the holiness is established not by the people’s devotion; rather, the LORD is willing to work with what is given to him (v.23 – the man shall give the valuation on that day as a holy gift to the LORD) and accepts it as a holy gift, whatever the valuation.  The refrain here is given: “shall be according to the shekel of the sanctuary”.  This is referred to earlier (Lev 26:2; 27:3) and it is again referring to the centrality of the Tabernacle in the people’s lives, from meditating on the wonders of the Trinity to the reverence of the implication of the sanctuary so much that holiness is immediately its conjoined definition.  As the devotion of fields, buildings, animals and men are expressions of holiness, the valuation is unsurprisingly made according to the shekel of the holy sanctuary.

(26)  “But a firstborn of animals, which as a firstborn belongs to the LORD, no man may dedicate; whether ox or sheep, it is the LORD’s.  (27)  And if it is an unclean animal, then he shall buy it back at the valuation, and add a fifth to it; or, if it is not redeemed, it shall be sold at the valuation.  (28 )  “But no devoted thing that a man devotes to the LORD, of anything that he has, whether man or beast, or of his inherited field, shall be sold or redeemed; every devoted thing is most holy to the LORD.  (29)  No one devoted, who is to be devoted for destruction from mankind, shall be ransomed; he shall surely be put to death.

Here is something again quite Christological and a reminder of the Passover.  The firstborn son of God is also devoted to the LORD, and anything devoted as such shall not be redeemed and shall be put to death – once it is devoted, it is most holy to the LORD (v.28 ), and this holy thing must be put to death.  Such is the same as us – every one of us will die, but the holy one must be put to death so he can raise us up with him into his ascension to the Holy of Holies.  Christ knew his devotion would result in his death: and his redemption came in the form of the resurrection, and not a redemption prior to his death; it is therefore entirely necessary that our LORD should suffer such a painful death, so he can be fully glorified and sit again on the right hand of the Father once more.

(30)  “Every tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the trees, is the LORD’s; it is holy to the LORD.  (31)  If a man wishes to redeem some of his tithe, he shall add a fifth to it.  (32)  And every tithe of herds and flocks, every tenth animal of all that pass under the herdsman’s staff, shall be holy to the LORD.  (33)  One shall not differentiate between good or bad, neither shall he make a substitute for it; and if he does substitute for it, then both it and the substitute shall be holy; it shall not be redeemed.”  (34)  These are the commandments that the LORD commanded Moses for the people of Israel on Mount Sinai.

Finally, every tithe of the land, seed, fruit of trees, tithe of herds and flocks passing under the herdsman’s staff shall be holy to the LORD.  This concludes chapter 27, with the theology of the Seed of God whom every Israelite is still looking toward (Genesis 3:15), and the fruit of the Spirit by abiding in Christ alone (Psalm 1; Galatians 5).  The passing of the herds and flocks under the herdsman staff is the mark of devotion for they are not stray sheep: they are ruled by The Shepherd (Psalm 23:1; Ecc 12:11; Isaiah 40:11; Matthew 2:6).

Therefore the entire chapter 27 has devoted almost everything conceivable to the LORD, and it contributes to the grand picture of New Jerusalem which we look forward to.  There is nothing there that is not devoted to the LORD, and all the devotion is established as holy which the LORD himself proclaims.  There is nothing in the devotion itself which is worthy of glory and righteousness, yet we are called a nation of priests, and saints, because of his proclamation, and because of His Son’s true devotion which we are merely shadows of.  By partaking in the true devotion of the Son, who was devoted for destruction from mankind (Lev 27:29), we partake also in his type of destruction, so that we partake also in his resurrection and his ascension alone.  Let us read this chapter with hopeful eyes, and not one of gnostic philosophy: not everything on earth is sinful; rather, the LORD is looking to make everything new, and even redeem the people, the buildings, the land, the animals, the fields, the vegetation and make them all holy as according to his plan of the heaven and earthly city.

Leviticus 26-27: Let God be true though everyone were a liar

Leviticus 16: Jesus’ Second Coming – the Day of Atonement

Leviticus 16 is a special chapter which is not the most mysterious, but rather should be the most well known in every Jew and Christian’s heart.  The sacrifices themselves witness to this truth, this “Day of Atonement”, and yet, this chapter comes straight after the death of Aaron’s two sons, Nadab and Abihu as the first verse indicates.

Why is chapter 16 not placed right after chapter 10, so chapter 10 flows naturally onto chapter 16?  I think it has very much to do with the significant placement of the Day of atonement in the book of Leviticus to show a particular progression, from uncleanness to holiness.  The first 16 chapters has been spent explaining the meaning of the sacrifices and the procedure for each type of person/group; followed by the ordination and the preparation of the priests, then Nadab and Abihu’s death, which seems to be sandwiched insignificantly between the deaths of the sacrifices and the animals.  Then, chapters 11-15 speaks of the type of flesh which is edible and which is not, in the form of the three categories of ‘holy’, ‘clean/common’ and ‘unclean’.  Chapter 16 comes as the only example which represents everything that came before it and ties everything that comes after it.  It is like a centrifugal force of Leviticus: the preceding and consequent chapters circle around this day of atonement.  To focus on Nadab and Abihu’s death now is most relevant, because the Day of Atonement is a day of OUR holiness, a day of OUR sanctification as well as a day of the sanctification, a renewal, of the entire universe – however, not because of our extra offerings (especially not that of Nadab or Abihu as history showed!) but because of Jesus’ eternal offering.

Thus, chapter 17 until 27 fittingly begins to speak of not only cleanness, but holiness for the congregation of Israel.  We’ve seen what cleanness and uncleanness is, and a glimpse of holiness between chapters 8 to 10.  But now, we see the nation becoming sanctified and the commandments for that, between chapters 17-27, AFTER the Day of Atonement in chapter 16:

Chapter 1-15: Teachings on how to become clean from being unclean, and only the priest is sanctified

Chapter 16:  Teachings on how nothing we do can actually make ourselves sanctified.  The Day of Atonement preaches an atonement once and for all.

Chapter 17-27:  Teachings on how to become sanctified from being clean.

1.  Jesus’ ascension (Leviticus 16)

(a) The Most Holy Place

The High priest, Aaron, dare not enter the Holy Place inside the veil (referring to the Holy of Holies, because the Angel is referring to the mercy seat on the ark of covenant, which is in the Most Holy Place), so that he may not die (v.1-2).  This is quite important, given the importance of Aaron having just seen the death of his two sons for giving an alien/hostile/strange offering.  Thus, whatever offering should take place in this chapter is the one offering that can take the mere mortal into the Holy of Holies, as opposed to being destroyed.

As stated, we already understand the meaning of the Most Holy Place as the small cubic room inside the Tabernacle, and the Holy Place as the room with the table of shewbread, golden lampstand, and the altar of incense.  The ark effectively acts as the throne room, with the mercy ‘seat’ whereupon the Father sits; then the Table and the Lampstand respectively represent Son and Spirit.  Altar of incense is our prayers (Revelation 8:4) – and so this altar is in the middle of the three pieces of furniture, to show how the Trinity takes our prayers very seriously.

There is a veil between the ark, and the two other pieces of furniture representing the persons & and altar of incense which is very close to the veil.  This veil, sown with cherubim represent the time when the angel with a flaming sword that turned every direction prevented Adam and Eve from entering the Garden from the east entrance.  Therefore, whenever the High Priest enters the Most Holy Place (or Holy of Holies), it is symbolic of a re-entrance to where God had resided (since the garden was also called the “garden of God”, implying that the garden AND heaven were united in a way we cannot perceive except spiritually and theologically today).  Jesus’ work on the cross and his entrance to the third heaven is exactly what the High Priest’s entrance into and work in the Holy of Holies preaches, and we will be working through that now.

(b) The Holy Garments

Aaron must then take a bull from the herd for a sin-offering, and a ram for a burnt-offering, whilst he puts on holy garments (holy linen coat, with linen undergarment on his body, with linen sash and linen turban).  He shall wash himself with water before putting on these holy garments (v.3-4).

Something should be said about linen:

In Deuteronomy 22:11, it states that “You shall not wear cloth of wool and linen mixed together”.  Why?  What is the great significance of this material?  Why the purity of this material?

Then, in Jeremiah 13:1, the LORD said to Jeremiah to buy linen loincloth and put it around the waist without dipping it in water.

Once more, in Ezekiel 9:3-11, 10:2 – calling to the “man” clothed in linen with a writing case at his waist who places a mark on people who should not be struck dead, akin to the Passover.  Ezekiel 16:1-14 – that Jerusalem is wrapped in fine linen, a proverbial method of showing God’s covenant faithfulness and sanctification of Israel. The connection between linen and wool is again made in Ezekiel 44:17 – that when they enter the gates of the inner court, they shall wear linen garments… have nothing of wool on them, while they minister at the gates of the inner court.  The faithful Levites who kept charge of the LORD’s sanctuary when the Israelites went astray wore such clothing to signify purity, who happen to be wearing the same clothing as the High Priest Aaron on the Day of atonement (c.f. Ezekiel 44:17-18).  The garments were literally holy – v.19 suggests that if they wore the garments outside the holy chambers, the holiness would have been trasmitted to the people! And how fitting it is in Ezekiel 44:23, that the faithful priests shall teach the LORD’s people the different between holy and common, unclean and clean.

Daniel 12: a man clothed in linen who is Christ (c.f. Daniel 12:8 – the Hebrew used for ‘my lord’ is Adoni – this is the sovereign lord, which CAN refer both to a divine and a human lord; it would however, be quite odd to call an ‘angel’ lord as the angel is a servant and by no means sovereign over anything).

Finally, John interprets the meaning of the linen: Revelation 19:8 – ‘”it was granted her to clothe herself with the fine linen, bright and pure” — for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints”.  But who is the perfecter and founder of the faith of the saints, so the saints can even do such righteous deeds?  In Christ alone (Hebrews 12).

(c) The offerings and the “Scapegoat”: the important procedure

He shall take two goats, one of which is to be determined by lot to be a sacrifice; the other to be a scapegoat, v. 5-10.

He shall offer a bull for himself and for his family v.6 and v.16 – this is preceding any other sacrifice, and this is an atonement for his household for cleansing (as a sin offering for themselves) before he can approach the tabernacle and complete his priestly duties.

Following this, v.7-10 explains the nature of the two goats: Aaron will cast lots over the two goats, one for the LORD and the other for “Azazel”.  The goat for the LORD is what the lot falls on; this is a sin offering for the congregation of Israel.  Contrarily, the other goat on which the lot fell for “Azazel” shall be presented alive for the LORD to make atonement.  Afterwards, this goat will be sent away into the wilderness to Azazel.

And now, he shall do this in order:

(i)  Kill the bull for himself and his family; (v.11)

(ii)  provide sweet incense (representing the prayers of the saints – Revelation 8:4) (v.12-13)

(iii)  v.14 – he shall take the blood of the bull and sprinkle it in front of the mercy seat on the east side, and in front of the mercy seat with his finger seven times.

(iv)  Then he shall kill the goat of the sin offering for the congregation of Israel and bring the blood inside the veil and do the same as with the blood for the bull (v.15).

(v) The four procedures above is explained as atonement for the Holy Place, because of the uncleanness of the people of Israel, their sins and transgressions (v.16)

(vi)  This step is extremely important:  NO ONE may be in the tent of meeting from the time he enters to make atonement in the Most Holy Place until he comes out.  I will be covering this in the next section, under “Awaiting His return”.

(vi)  Then he shall go out to the altar before the LORD to make atonement for the altar, and put the bull and the goat’s blood on the horns of the altar sprinkled with his finger seven times.  The altar is thus cleansed and consecrated from the people of Israel’s uncleanness.

(vii)  AFTER all this symbolic procedure, THEN Aaron prays over the scapegoat, the goat for Azazel, and lays his hands on the head of the goat whilst confessing the iniquities of the children of Israel.  After this,the goat shall be permitted to escape to the wilderness (v.20-22).  This is ended with v.22 which states that: “the goat shall bear all their iniquities on itself to a remote area, and he shall let the goat go free in the wilderness“.

(viii)  Then v.23-28 is a reverse procedure of taking off the linen holy garments, leaving it in the Most Holy Place, and cleansing himself with water in a holy place and put on his common garments and offer burnt offering for himself and the congregation.  All the offerings are systematically burnt up outside the camp, with skin, flesh and dung burnt up with fire.

(ix)  This is a statute forever, in the seventh month, 10th day.  This is a day of no work, either the native or the stranger who sojourns with the Israelites (v.29).

(x)  It is a Sabbath of solemn rest (v.31) – again, it is a statute forever.

Christological reading of the offerings & Scapegoat

We already understood from Exodus and established that the mercy seat, which represents the throne of the Father, is in the Holy of Holies, which represents third heaven; and this is contrasted to the Holy Place which represents the spiritual church with the furniture of the table of shewbread (Christ), with the golden lampstand (the Spirit) and the altar of incense (the prayers of the saints in the middle of the Trinity).

The importance of cleansing not only the people of Israel as an annual cleansing, but also the cleansing of the tabernacle again marks something of new creation: like the mildew which grew on buildings and clothings, the LORD wishes everything to be renewed.  This is especially true of the tabernacle which is in the midst and not in the outskirts of the people of God!  For the LORD to be present before them, the work of the blood of cleansing as sin offering must be done for the tabernacle to also be cleansed.  This is the same blood which cleanses man – thus, the message of the same blood cleanses and renews not only men, but also physical creation. It is important that the blood is sprinkled on the east side, for we have discussed the implications of the east side – being the only exit and entrance of the Edenic Paradise represented once more in Ezekiel 43:2-4, the only entrance where the Glory of the LORD entered the New Creation.  The blood sprinkled on the east is representative of the new opportunity to enter the renewed kingdom of God.

We shouldn’t forget also that the 10 Words of God on Mt. Sinai are placed within the ark, as well as the budding of Aaron’s staff (but that will be later).  It is important to see that God’s holiness manifested in the law is tied up with the blood of the goat.  To be surprised that the Messiah did not come as a literal king, but as a person who beared the offence of society and would shed blood on the world’s behalf is to forget the profound imagery provided by the Angel and the High Priest.

Therefore, the renewal of the tabernacle in entirety, with the blood on the east side of the mercy seat, and the cleansing of the altar of sacrifice, shows the RENEWAL of the tabernacle AND the altar of sacrifice: the cleansing of the two holy symbolisms of both Jesus Christ and the New Creation of the New city of Jerusalem, where heaven and earth join.  Zion, where the LORD will commune with the completely sanctified spiritual Israelites.

Let’s not forget that during this period in the Holy of Holies, the cloud on the ark is actually an indication of the presence of Christ – the Angel of the LORD (Colossians 1:15).  Anytime the congregation of Israel meets with “God” is a meeting with the Son, whose role is to present the works and the thoughts of the Father.  He is inextricably tied to the Father’s works (John 6:38), making Christ’s identity mysterious.  What are his own works?  What are his OWN intentions?  Indeed, his OWN intentions IS to obey the Father completely – and it is shown here, by his presence, instead of his Father’s on the ark.

The offerings, unsurprisingly point to Christ – but the bull offering for the priest simply shows that the priest himself is sinful.  Yet, Christ need only offer himself and need not die for his own sins; rather, it is quite important that he dies for the sin of the others, whilst the human priest must acknowledge his own incapability of removing others sins without dealing with his own first.  In the same way, how can a Christian preach the gospel if he isn’t himself made righteous?  And only in Christ are we righteous.  The ‘ascension’ of the high priest, wearing linen representing the ‘righteous deeds of the saints’, is the same ascension of Christ in Acts 1-2.  You may ask why the ‘holy garments’ here is so simple compared to the ordination in Leviticus 8-10; it is because there is a renewal of all things on the Day of Atonement (as if the priestly ordinations prior to the Day of Atonement were merely ‘mock-offerings’, and a warm-up, a teaching tool, to this one day.  Indeed – the Old Testament law came only for a temporary period to teach them about the gospel, and many believed the gospel through this teaching tool.  Yet, Christ had come to fulfill what they had already perceived by the power of the Spirit, and so the offerings all year round effectively leads people to look forward to the ‘great cleaning’ of the Day of Atonement which only happens annually.  For us, Christ still remains in the Most Holy Place to this day.

In this sense, the goat, the scape goat, is sent out with the sins of Israel and our sins are removed as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12).  It is important to note that the two goats were taken from the community (v.5) because they represented the community; in the same way, Christ was taken as man, as partaker of our community, to be sacrificed for us.  Thus, the goat that died for us is the goat which represented Calvary; but the goat which is sent off into the wilderness is the epitome of “evil” and the “way of the devil”, which is why it is effectively ‘banished’ to outside the camp.  The wilderness has always been seen as a place of ‘desolation’ and representative of no communion with God.  Hence, the significance of Hagar, Mt. Sinai, and the covenant of the Mosaic law being made at Mt. Sinai (Exodus 20; Galatians 4) implies the existence of the law merely to magnify the transgressions.. yet the law is completely undergirded by the gospel (Genesis 12 preceding Exodus 20) which is the meaning of the statute forever which ends this chapter of Leviticus (Leviticus 16:33-34).  I would go as far as to say therefore, that the goat of sacrifice is the Second Adam, Christ; but the scapegoat, is the first Adam, in whom we sinned as an entire human race.  It is only right to make this connection, because of the two creatures sacrificed being the same type of goat, taken from the same community; and both Adam and Christ bore the same human flesh, albeit the latter was sinless, but the former bore the sins of the community and was banished to the wilderness to the east of the Garden in Genesis 3.

It is quite important also to look at the significance of the term Azazel, which seems to be omitted in the KJV.  The Hebrew is עזאזל (the English being almost a literal translation from Hebrew: “aza’ zel“, and the LXX rendition is αποπομπαιω (apopompaiow) and αποπομπαιου στησει in v.10 which are both hard to translate.  There is no indication that the LXX sees “Azazel” as a figure, a person, like Satan or a fallen angel – rather, it is implied in the LXX that “Azazel” is like a high cliff, or even just a magnification of the word ‘wilderness’.  In the Hebrew, there is no indication of the distinction between ‘scapegoat’ and Azazel – it is as if both as tied together inextricably. Adam Clarke has this to say about the term:

“azazel, from עז  az, a goat, and אזל  azal, to dismiss; the dismissed or sent away goat, to distinguish it from the goat that was to be offered in sacrifice. Most ancient nations had vicarious sacrifices, to which they transferred by certain rites and ceremonies the guilt of the community at large, in the same manner in which the scapegoat was used by the Jews.”

Whatever merit there is to compare Jewish rites with other religions, it is clear that the other ‘religions’ and cultural practices are merely mock-ups of the true sacrifice of the great exchange of imputed sin and righteousness which is clearly shown in the Day of Atonement.  This begs the question: did the Jews know it clearly?  I hope so, otherwise they are no better than their Egyptian counterparts who have similar, but unChristian cultures in the time of Moses.

Perhaps the spiritual understanding of the scapegoat is offered in Zechariah 3:1-10 –

Zec 3:1-10  Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him.  (2)  And the LORD said to Satan, “The LORD rebuke you, O Satan! The LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is not this a brand plucked from the fire?”  (3)  Now Joshua was standing before the angel, clothed with filthy garments.  (4)  And the angel said to those who were standing before him, “Remove the filthy garments from him.” And to him he said, “Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with pure vestments.”  (5)  And I said, “Let them put a clean turban on his head.” So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him with garments. And the angel of the LORD was standing by.  (6)  And the angel of the LORD solemnly assured Joshua,  (7)  “Thus says the LORD of hosts: If you will walk in my ways and keep my charge, then you shall rule my house and have charge of my courts, and I will give you the right of access among those who are standing here.  (8)  Hear now, O Joshua the high priest, you and your friends who sit before you, for they are men who are a sign: behold, I will bring my servant the Branch.  (9)  For behold, on the stone that I have set before Joshua, on a single stone with seven eyes, I will engrave its inscription, declares the LORD of hosts, and I will remove the iniquity of this land in a single day.  (10)  In that day, declares the LORD of hosts, every one of you will invite his neighbor to come under his vine and under his fig tree.”

The significance here is that Satan is present, and is rebuked symbolically by Jerusalem, our nation.  The choice of Jerusalem is of course the choice made in Christ; for Jerusalem is the elect only because Christ is the elect one in whom Jerusalem as a new nation resides.  Joshua, as High Priest in the book of Zechariah, bears the same Hebrew name as Jesus – and he therefore works as a twofold prophetic witness to Christ’s work on the cross and through to ascension.  The rebuking of Satan is a prophetic picture of the rebuking of the goat, whilst the blood of the first goat is offered to cleanse the uncleanness of both man and creation.  It wouldn’t therefore be far-fetched to say that the goat in some sense is offered to go back to Satan, the first liar, deceiver and murderer, just as the filthy garments are left behind immediately after the LORD’s rebuking of Satan.  This is true symbolism of ridding ourselves of our filthy rags which smell of Satan, and wearing the new clothes from God which is aromatic of Christ.

Finally, the significance of the Sabbath ending the Day of Atonements (v.31-34) is indicative of looking forward to the 8th day of Christ’s circumcision on the cross.  The 8th day of New Creation.  This significance of ‘day’ cannot be underplayed – neither should we overlook the significance of this Day of Atonement as part of the seventh month of the Jewish calendar, the month of Tishrei and the 10th day of Tishrei.  In Jewish history, “Tishrei” is the month where Adam and Eve were created, and they consider the 1st day of Tishrei to be day six of creation.

Following this, on the 10th day of Tishrei in Moses’ time is the day when the Second Tablets, the second set of Ten Words were given to Moses.  This is extremely significant: if the 10th day of Tishrei is when the second set of the Ten Words, which were different from the first (the first set pertained strictly to the land; the second set looked beyond that!), then the Day of Atonement isn’t just any other day.  It is both a Sabbath, looking forward to the 8th day; and this 8th day is shown in the giving of the second set of 10 words, looking forward to the fulfillment of the promise of Genesis 12 instead of Exodus 20.

2.  Awaiting His return

So, we understand the work of the priests as completely re-enacting the patterns of heaven on earth.  Hebrews 9 was written with a detailed explanation of this truth, which would not have escaped Moses’ and Aaron’s knowledge either.  It is worth quoting the chapter from v. 11-28 with some emphasis:

Heb 9:6  These preparations having thus been made, the priests go regularly into the first section, performing their ritual duties,
Heb 9:7  but into the second only the high priest goes, and he but once a year, and not without taking blood, which he offers for himself and for the unintentional sins of the people.
Heb 9:8  By this the Holy Spirit indicates that the way into the holy places is not yet opened as long as the first section is still standing
Heb 9:9  (which is symbolic for the present age).
According to this arrangement, gifts and sacrifices are offered that cannot perfect the conscience of the worshiper,

The meaning here is quite important: the first section is still standing – and that is the present age.  We are STILL in the age where the veil is unbroken; and the veil is merely broken spiritually, but we are still removed from the Holy of Holies where Christ is now, until his second coming.

Heb 9:10  but deal only with food and drink and various washings, regulations for the body imposed until the time of reformation.
Heb 9:11  But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation)
Heb 9:12  he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.
Heb 9:13  For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh,
Heb 9:14  how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.

Again, the emphasis is on the tent of meeting being a copy of the greater representation NOT of this creation.  Something which cannot be made with human hand.

Heb 9:15  Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant.
Heb 9:16  For where a will is involved, the death of the one who made it must be established.
Heb 9:17  For a will takes effect only at death, since it is not in force as long as the one who made it is alive.
Heb 9:18  Therefore not even the first covenant was inaugurated without blood.
Heb 9:19  For when every commandment of the law had been declared by Moses to all the people, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people,
Heb 9:20  saying, “This is the blood of the covenant that God commanded for you.
Heb 9:21  And in the same way he sprinkled with the blood both the tent and all the vessels used in worship.
Heb 9:22  Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.
Heb 9:23  Thus it was necessary for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these rites, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.

Remember: the blood of the covenant shown in the Old Testament, in the form of the blood of goats and bulls and rams is merely symbolic of the blood necessary to purify the symbolic furniture and tent of the Godly tent of meeting not of this creation.

Yet, it is important to ask a few questions: how then, was Moses saved by the Spirit and by Christ, if Christ had not already died?  If the Spirit was not already given?  I find it quite troubling when people answer that the Old Testament saints were saved by another way, but Hebrews 9 states it quite clearly.  “This is the blood of the covenant that God commanded for you”.  The law only came temporarily, from Moses onwards; the law clearly did not save them.  Not only did the law not save them, but Moses did not need to trust in the sacrifices as a peripheral trust in Christ.  No – Moses trusted in Christ directly.  Without that, he would not have understood the sacrifices.  In the same way, we would not have come to understand the spiritual truths of the Mosaic law if the covenant to Abraham was not made prior to the law, which is merely for a temporary period.

If the tabernacle, which came only temporarily, represented an eternal truth which cannot be described fully, then also the blood of the covenant represented an eternal truth of Christ Jesus, whether he had already fulfilled his work on the cross and had given the Spirit already or not.  How did Oholiab, the architect of the tabernacle have the Spirit if Christ did not die, resurrect and ascend to give the Spirit?  How can Moses, in Deuteronomy, ask the Israelites to have their hearts circumcised except by the Spirit?  Such are the important mysteries of God’s being in becoming, and the mystery of Revelation 13:8.

Heb 9:24  For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf.
Heb 9:25  Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own,
Heb 9:26  for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.
Heb 9:27  And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment,
Heb 9:28  so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.

Finally, Christ need NOT offer himself repeatedly.  This is where the Catholic Eucharist entirely fails, because of the doctrine of transubstantiation which teaches that Christ is continually offered!  The point of the day of atonement is that it is done symbolically annually, which is taken to mean once and for all.  Christ’s work need not depend on our re-enactions, but Christ’s work was done before the foundations of the world!  v.27 – as it is appointed for man to die once, so Christ will appear a second time NOT to die again, nor to deal with sin, but to save those who are waiting.

Transubstantiation?

Not only this, but let’s meditate on the importance of Christ in the Holy of Holies now.  He is not WITH US now.  His meaning in Matthew 28, that he is with us to the end of the ages, is in terms of access by the power of the Spirit.  Christ, very much, still resides in third heaven.  To assume that the Eucharist, the Sacraments, physically and manifestly brings Christ down to us is nigh-heresy (c.f. J.C. Ryle’s “Five English Reformers” who were martyred when they spoke against this Papist doctrine).  Rather, we are taken back to Christ in its symbolism.

In the significance of sacraments, we must remember it in three parts: the sign, what it signifies, and the connection of the two.  In what way, therefore, is the consecrated bread and wine the body and blood of Christ?  The Catholic view of bread and wine is physically changed into the body and the blood.  Much thanks to Paul Blackham’s study notes from his series on the Biblical Frameworks on the Sacraments for these three broad-stroke views within the Reformed view of communion:

Zwingli

He is most extreme in the sense that there is no bodily presence of Christ in the elements of the Eucharist.  The bread and wine were literally mere symbols of the body and blood of Christ.  When it states that “this is my body”, it is really”this represents my body”.  The meal is a remembrance that the LORD was here – so Matthew 28 means His Spirit is with us.

Calvin

Calvin wanted to distinguish from Zwingli, though he basically believed also that there is no physical presence of Christ in the Eucharist.  But he also stated that the Eucharist was more than a ‘mere commemoration’, for Calvin believes that Jesus is located in one place, at the right hand of the Father in third heaven.  He, therefore, cannot be bodily present in the Eucharist.  Yet, also, because of his divinity, he can be present in all places at once, filling the entire universe.  In this way, Christ is not present with us in any real sense, but his influence by the Spirit is with us.  I personally take to this view, because it balances between Jesus’ divinity and humanity, as well as relate the role of Christ to the Spirit as the parakletos, the Helper whilst Jesus is not ‘here’ (John 14:16).

Luther

Now Luther thinks this is all ridiculous and his proof-text is Ephesians 4:10 – “He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all heavens, in order to fill the whole universe”.  How can Jesus fill the whole universe if He is located simply in one place, at the Father’s right hand?  Calvin and Zwingli are essentially saying that Jesus’ human nature is in one place, while his divine nature is everywhere.  But Luther could not separate Jesus’ humanity with his divinity, and said instead he’s “rather drink blood with the Papists than wine with these fanatics”… and paraphrasing him, if Christ is not clothed in our humanity, then he would be ‘nothing to do with us’.  Thus, Christ was omnipresent in BOTH divinity and humanity (1 Corinthians 15:44).

Luther’s position is therefore a bit more nuanced in answering to Matthew 28:20 “surely I am with you always”.  This is not like Rome’s position because for Luther, the bread and wine remain the same and they do not become the body and blood of Christ.  We take the blood and body of Christ with the bread and wine, and thus take the LORD’s Supper seriously (1 Corinthians 11:27-30).

While there are further things to be said about Calvin’s and Luther’s position, as opposed to Zwingli’s overly-spiritual tangent on the Communion, I think Calvin’s position holds more water here.  Whatever the merit is on both sides, we can see that the Papist position does injustice to the once and for all concept of Christ’s work for us; and I believe all three reformers would agree that Christ’s filling of the universe and taking the blood to the throne room is the cause for this discussion to break away from the Papist view of the Eucharist, and remember that Christ has not yet manifestly returned to us yet.

We are waiting for the High Priest to return

And so, we are still in the stage of Leviticus 16:17 – we are still waiting for his return.  Are you?  Some people complain that he has spent too long a time in the Holy of Holies – that he should return now.  Indeed, having that desire is not sinful, since we ARE looking forward to Christ’s second advent!  Yet, to also ‘complain’ and not wait patiently is to misunderstood his work for us.  2 Peter 3 is poignant on this point:

2Pe 3:1-18  This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder,  (2)  that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles,  (3)  knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires.  (4)  They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.”  (5)  For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God,  (6)  and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished.  (7)  But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.

The significance here is that the “word of God” (v.5) is the source of creation – and the subsequent destruction of that creation and a renewal of the world is a direct prophecy of our times today.  We are, as Peter explains, in the ‘in-between’ time of the Word of God creating the world, and the oncoming renewal of creation by fire.  The scoffers in Noah’s time asked where the punishment is?  Where is the Christ?  And the scoffers in our times ask the same question.  As inevitable as the flood was, and as much of a surprise it was in Noah’s time, the fire, the Resurrection Day will come as a surprise to the scoffers today.

(8)  But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.  (9)  The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.  (10)  But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.  (11)  Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness,  (12)  waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn!

The LORD is still working to this day for the salvation of many.  V9 is great: “that all should reach repentance“.  This, coupled with Romans 16:7, displays that we were not ‘pre-elected’.  Rather, the Elect One, is Christ – and by partaking in Christ, in his work on the cross, then we also are taken up with Christ.  We are the elect only because he is the elect one; we are righteous because he is the definitive righteous one (Psalm 1).  So, it is important to remember that we are waiting for Christ’s return, but should not ‘rush’ him – he is not slow to fulfill his promise, that all should reach repentance.  His bringing of his blood to the Holy of Holies and awaiting his own return is his expression that as many people as possible should reach repentance.  Do you have that sort of love for your neighbour, or do you care only for your own salvation?  If the latter, what kind of Jesus are you believing in?  Not the Jesus of the Bible for sure.

The ending words of 2 Peter are especially relevant for this post on the Day of Atonement.  Meditate of these words well, and look to Christ even more so:

(13)  But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.  (14)  Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace.  (15)  And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him,  (16)  as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures.  (17)  You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability.  (18)  But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.

Leviticus 16: Jesus’ Second Coming – the Day of Atonement

Leviticus 11-15: Holy, Clean and Unclean

We have dealt so slightly with the understanding of what it means to be ‘holy’, ‘clean’ and ‘unclean’.  I had initially made the mistake of thinking that ‘holy’ and ‘clean’ were synonymous – but that isn’t the case.  It is almost as if that assumption is true of our sinful fallen minds, which is why God provides through Leviticus 11-15 an extremely detailed and clear explanation of true holiness being more than just ‘clean’.

1.  Food (Leviticus 11)

2.  Birth of a child and menstruation (Leviticus 12)

3.  Leprosy: a spiritual truth (Leviticus 13-14)

4.  Bodily discharges (Leviticus 15)

Intro:  What is Holy, Clean and Unclean?

Paul Blackham created a helpful table in his Book-by-Book series.  Here is just a quick rendition:

Holy

Clean

Unclean

LORD God, heaven, new creation, Garden of Eden, Tabernacle, Tabernacle furniture, anointed priests, sacrificed animals

Israel (the congregation), the camp, ordinary equipment/utensils, a clean Israelite, clean animals

Outside of Israel, outside of the camp, defiled & decaying buildings, defiled equipment, unclean animals, unclean Israelites, Gentiles (who have not joined Israel), hell, disease, death, devil

Some have used a different diagram to help understand the distinctions of holy, clean, unclean.  Here is my rendition of what was used in the New Bible Commentary’s Leviticus commentary (with Gordon Wenham as a guide):

1.  Food (Leviticus 11)

Concerning Holy and Clean and Unclean categories, you have the sacrificial animals, the clean animals, and unclean animals; and then you move onto the separate categories within the three – creatures on earth, water and sky (the distinctions made in Genesis 1:20-30).  Finally, everything we know about these animals relate not only to animals – they also relate to men.  Exodus 3:2, and v.12-13 strongly imply this:

Exo 13:2  “Consecrate to me all the firstborn. Whatever is the first to open the womb among the people of Israel, both of man and of beast, is mine.” …

… 12 you shall set apart to the LORD all that first opens the womb. All the firstborn of your animals that are males shall be the LORD’s. 13  Every firstborn of a donkey you shall redeem with a lamb, or if you will not redeem it you shall break its neck. Every firstborn of man among your sons you shall redeem.

So we begin, again, with the Angel, Son of God, speaking to them starting at v.2 concerning the:

(a)  Edible Animals on Earth (v.2-8 )

v.3 – whatever parts the hoof, and cloven-footed, chews the cud:  but, among those which chew the cud/part the hoof – you cannot eat: CAMEL – because it chews the cud but does not part the hoof (v.4);

ROCK BADGER (v.5) and HARE (v.6) for the same reasons; PIG (v.7) because it parts the hoof but doesn’t chew the cud.

So camel, rock badger, hare and pig are the exceptional animals.  Thus, v.2 & 8 act as the bookends for the edible animals on earth.  Not only can they not eat from them, but they are unclean and their carcasses should not be touched (v.8 ).

(b)  Edible creatures in the waters (v.9-12)

Edible: v.9 – Everything that has fins and scales, whether in the seas or rivers, you may eat! By contrast, everything without fins and scales, of the swarming and living creatures in the waters is detestable to us (v.10-11) – again, none of their flesh should be eaten, and their carcasses detested.  v. 12 AGAIN re-iterates this point (in a space of 4 verses this is stated three times!).

(c)  Edible creatures of the heavens/skies (v.13-25)

Detestable (i.e. inedible)  and edible birds (v.13-19)

Lev 11:13  “And these you shall detest among the birds; they shall not be eaten; they are detestable: the eagle, the bearded vulture, the black vulture,
Lev 11:14  the kite, the falcon of any kind,
Lev 11:15  every raven of any kind,
Lev 11:16  the ostrich, the nighthawk, the sea gull, the hawk of any kind,
Lev 11:17  the little owl, the cormorant, the short-eared owl,
Lev 11:18  the barn owl, the tawny owl, the carrion vulture,
Lev 11:19  the stork, the heron of any kind, the hoopoe, and the bat.

Detestable and edible insects (v.20-25)

v.20 – All winged insects on all fours are detestable, v.21 – among these, you may eat those that have jointed legs above their feet, with which to hop on the ground; of them, you may eat (v.22) the locust of any kind, the bald locust of any kind, the cricket of any kind, and the grasshopper of any kind (all of which have jointed legs above their feet).

But v.23 reiterates v.20 – all winged insects on all fours are detestable.  Again, v.24 states what has been stated with the other creatures: whoever touches their carcass shall be unclean until the evening, and v.25 – whoever carries any part of their carcass shall wash his clothes and be unclean until evening.

(d) Flesh on Skeleton of v.1-25, and the contagious nature of the unclean creatures (v.26-47)

v.26 doesn’t exactly start on a new note, but we are given flesh to the skeleton of the previous 25 verses.

Again, v.27 now states that for all that walk on their paws, anything on all fours is unclean to man.

Then for the swarming things:

Lev 11:29  “And these are unclean to you among the swarming things that swarm on the ground: the mole rat, the mouse, the great lizard of any kind,
Lev 11:30  the gecko, the monitor lizard, the lizard, the sand lizard, and the chameleon.

After these further explanations, Adam Clarke’s commentary provides a good summary of the contagious nature of the unclean creatures from v.31-44:

All that touch them shall be unclean, Lev_11:31; and the things touched by their dead carcasses are unclean also, Lev_11:32-35. Large fountains, or pits of water, are not defiled by their carcasses, provided a part of the water be drawn out, Lev_11:36. Nor do they defile seed by accidentally touching it, provided the water which has touched their flesh do not touch or moisten the seed, Lev_11:37, Lev_11:38. A beast that dieth of itself is unclean, and may not be touched or eaten, Lev_11:39, Lev_11:40. All creeping things are abominable, Lev_11:41-44.

There is much necessity in understanding the creeping things of Lev 11:41-44. v.41-42 acts as if they are summary verses for everything spoken of in Leviticus 11:

Lev 11:41  “Every swarming thing that swarms on the ground is detestable; it shall not be eaten.
Lev 11:42  Whatever goes on its belly, and whatever goes on all fours, or whatever has many feet, any swarming thing that swarms on the ground, you shall not eat, for they are detestable.

And then Leviticus 11:45 is the famous verse explaining the purpose of the law.  “For I am the LORD who brought you up out of the land of Egypt to be your God. You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.” This verse is interesting.  The word representing God changes firstly between LORD (“Jehovah”), and then says “to be your God” which in Hebrew is Elohim.  It is the LORD, Jesus, who brought the Israelites out of the land of Egypt to be our GOD, Elohim, the GOD who created the heavens and the earth.  I have gone through the implications of the word “Elohim” for it is a plural word indicating two implications: one of the Trinity, and one of magnificence.  I think both are applicable, it would be arrogant to restrict the semantic range to the meaning of ‘magnificence’ because it may lead to mono-theistic implications when the Trinity has been so clearly shown up to this point.

Christological expressions of food, ‘creeping things’, ‘unclean until evening’, and Leviticus 11:45

The problem with Leviticus 11 is that people primarily see it as a set of commandments concerning hygiene.  I believe that argument holds little water – there is no explanation why certain creatures are seen as unclean; furthermore there is no explanation why being cloven footed is a requirement for land animals.  However, that is the implication of Leviticus 11 – that there are certain creatures, good for food, which are completely clean under any circumstance!  This brings me to verses like Romans 1:23, in the ESV which says that we exchanged the glory of the immortal God for “mortal man, and birds and animals and creeping things”.  Yet, I like the KJV’s faithfulness to the Greek here: “uncorruptible (aphthartos meaning immortal and non-decaying) God into an image made like to corruptible man (phthartos meaning decaying), and to birds, and fourfooted beasts (tetrapous meaning quadruped), and creeping things.”  These two details are crucial in understanding what Paul is writing.  The juxtaposition of exchanging a undying, eternal God for a decaying man, birds, fourfooted beasts and creeping things seem to relate directly to Leviticus 11.

Exodus 3:2 and 3:12-13 already self-explanatory in the sense that man and beast are treated alike, in the symbolism of the latter.  Thus, the birds of v.13-19 make much sense.  These are all birds of prey, which eat carrion and insects and flesh from which blood is not properly drained.

Contrarily, the clean land animals were those that chew the cud, meaning that they are vegetarian.  These clean land animals should ALSO be cloven-footed, and not only chew the cud, rather than having claws/talons.  Finally, the clean water creatures are those with fins and scales.  I stumbled across an interesting comment on a dietary website commenting on the Jewish laws:

Interestingly kosher dietary laws prohibit the eating of fish without both scales and fins. That eliminates a number of delicious sea foods, including shellfish, shrimp, catfish, lobster, mussels, eels, sharks, sturgeons, and swordfish, just to name a few.

Clearly their law-giver knew something that has taken scientists years to discover. Now we know that fish with scales AND fins are equipped with a digestive system that prevents the absorption of poisons and toxins into their flesh from the waters they call home. Flounder, cod, haddock, and salmon are a few examples of fish with scales and fins.

Catfish have fins, but do not have scales. These scavengers are primarily bottom feeders and have digestive systems designed to absorb toxins from the water. Clams, lobster, shrimp, crabs, mussels and squid do not have scales or fins and are believed to be highly toxic. They naturally absorb all the toxins in the water they live in. Interestingly, lobster and crabs are crustaceans and are a part of the arthropod family, which include caterpillars, cockroaches, and spiders!

For the comment in the second paragraph, the logic is undoubtedly inverted (the assumption being that the ‘scientists’ know better).  Other than that, I find the rest of the writer’s observations very interesting, and no doubt this supports much truth behind the cleanness of the animals thus far.  God doesn’t want us to eat of birds of prey which eat flesh without the blood drained properly; and similarly, he doesn’t want us to eat fish without scales and fins, lest we consume fish without a proper digestive system and eat of all types of carcasses underwater.  Finally, only certain vegetarian insects are clean, and anything four-footed (on all fours) is unclean except those which have jointed legs and hop (thus not remaining on the ground).

There is much to be said about these three categories which tie them together – the model of Genesis 1:27.  Only green plants were given as food for all animals.  Furthermore, in the Garden, there was no death, no predatory behaviour, no bloodshed, no disease, no dead bodies (v.24-25 and Numbers 5:2 indicates that any touching of dead carcasses renders the toucher unclean) above all, and no decay.  This isn’t the only model of unfallen creation – but also of new creation (Isaiah 11).  However, Leviticus 11 deals exactly with all these themes, all of which symbolise the parallelling truth to men.

An animal which is cloven-footed and chews the cud is an example of the Edenic animal – both vegetarian and without capacity to harm (unlike the ones with claws or talons).  Not only that, they are not on all fours, which is a mock-representation of the snake, the animal epitomising the Fallen Angel who crawls not only on all fours but entirely swarming and slithering on the ground cursed by God (Genesis 3).  This emphasises the importance of animals not being on all fours, but being joint-legged so they can hop or at least not remain on the ground entirely.  This explains Paul’s reason for writing Romans 1, who most likely refers to corruptible man; corruptible birds (i.e. birds of prey), and corruptible quadruped beasts.  He was referring to the uncleanness represented by each animal.  Romans 1:23 thus no longer is making the normal comparison between God and the common and clean.  He is saying that our fallen minds naturally turn away from the most holy, and turn to the most DEBASED.  Any Catholic thought of not having an entire corruption of natural powers is immediately revoked: Paul is essentially saying that without the Spirit, we are entirely useless and Godless.

This finally brings me to v.45.  The significance of the usage of the term is important: Jesus is defining himself in two offices.  One – that of Jehovah, of LORD, who brought the Israelites out of Egypt; and then becoming the God, the Elohim, the one who partook with the Creator Father and the Powerful Spirit.  This is akin to Philippians 2:9-11:

Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father

Yet, Christ has already been at the right hand of the Father, and has been slain before the foundations of the world, as explained by the seemingly mysterious verse in Revelation 13:8.  This therefore intrigues me to the most, that God’s identity has been eternal and true, but revealed to us in his becoming.  That we must be portrayed a process of death, decay and resurrection before we fully understand the truth of Jesus Christ on the cross.  This presentation has already been portrayed in Genesis 1 in the days of creation, and fleshed out in different ways in their dispensations but they refer very much to the same covenant established in Genesis 3:15, which was true even prior to Genesis 3:15.  Thus, as the events in OT play out to the NT, we learn how God’s usage of Israel as a priesthood, a holy nation (Exodus 19:6) never meant for the Gentiles to be seen as ‘unclean’ either – hence the implications of Acts 10:

Act 10:9  The next day, as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour to pray.
Act 10:10  And he became hungry and wanted something to eat, but while they were preparing it, he fell into a trance
Act 10:11  and saw the heavens opened and something like a great sheet descending, being let down by its four corners upon the earth.
Act 10:12  In it were all kinds of animals and reptiles and birds of the air.
Act 10:13  And there came a voice to him: “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.”
Act 10:14  But Peter said, “By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.”
Act 10:15  And the voice came to him again a second time, “What God has made clean, do not call common.

After the ascension of Christ, when the Spirit was given to the world, Christ’s identity was cemented a la Philippians 2.  But was the Spirit not given in the OT?  He was! but restricted to the physical land of Israel.  Was Christ not given in the OT to the OT saints?  He was!  But again, the LORD appeared to the saints of Israel.  But remember that the land of Israel is merely a physical restriction of Exodus 20, a covenant on Sinai, represented by Hagar (Galatians 4) – but the true covenant was not made at Sinai, but to Abraham (Genesis 12).  Because Genesis 12 precedes Exodus 20, the physical boundaries between Israel and the world were always going to be destroyed.  Yet, Jonah 3 displays that unless the sign of Jonah is complete (i.e. the success of Jonah’s evangelism is symbolically shown after he was in the “pit” of the whale for 3 days, only to ‘resurrect’ and rise again on the third day), the division would still be there – until the giving of the Spirit, there is no physical manifestation of the Gentiles being included.  Thus, Peter’s conversation with God is important:   “What God has made clean (i.e. what was ‘unclean food’ prior to the cross and the Pentecost), do not call common (in the Greek, ‘common’ is koinos which can mean defiled and polluted, whereas the Hebrew word “tahor” which is translated to ‘common’ in the English actually means pure and clean).  What God really means is that the division between the Gentiles and the Israelites is now destroyed – to fulfill the true meaning of Genesis 12, that the law and the gospel is no longer restricted to the physical land of Israel!  In the NT, both Jews and Gentiles, wherever they are, stand before God as clean men.  The symbolism of Gentiles as unclean in the OT is due to the awaiting of the fulfillment of the covenental law of Exodus 20, completed on the cross.

There is much to be said about God’s being in becoming, yet that is the implication of Leviticus 11:45, which in turn is the true implication of the food.  What you eat is really what you are – and what we are is clean, and what we need to be is more than just clean.  We need to be holy, and sanctified like the priests in the preceding chapters (Leviticus 8-10) – and only the blood of CHRIST, not any other blood can do that.  This is why touching the carcasses and eating flesh which consumed other flesh without drained blood has such huge implications.  Are we to becomes creatures of uncleanness by nailing our God to the cross and causing him to bleed?  Indeed, that is who we were.  But we are to be in Him, so we no longer crucify Him but to partake in His holy glory.

2.  Birth of a child and menstruation (Leviticus 12)

Son:  Lev 12:1; after the birth of a son, who is to be circumcised the eighth day, (Lev 12:2, Lev 12:3) the mother is seen as unclean for forty days, Lev 12:4.

Daughter:  After the birth of a daughter, eighty days, Lev 12:5.

Menstruation:  this isn’t strictly related to children, but it also concerns the flow of the woman’s blood – and this is also seen as unclean (Lev 12:2).

When the days of her purifying were ended, she must bring a lamb for a burnt-offering, and a young pigeon or a turtle-dove for a sin-offering, Lev 12:6-7. If she is too poor to bring a lamb, she must bring either two turtle-doves or two pigeons v.8.

What is implied in v.7 is that she is unclean from the flow of her blood whether she bears a male or a female child, or is in the time of menstruation.

Christological expressions of the flow of the blood and birth of children

The importance of blood is again emphasised in Leviticus 12.  Genesis 3:15-19 states that one of the curses of woman is that child-bearing is now painful, and in this pain will the Promised Seed come.  In these very verses, the coming of the Son of God is already implicated to be one where he will suffer by incarnating into this world – the Second Adam suffering by the sin contributed by First Adam.

Again, like the way we look at food, even the way we look at childbirth affects man, beast AND creation.  Romans 8:19-22 reminds us that this curse is not restricted to man, for man’s sin has wrought such a turbulent effect on whole of creation.  It is worth quoting the section from Romans 8 here:

Rom 8:18  For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
Rom 8:19  For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.
Rom 8:20  For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope
Rom 8:21  that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.
Rom 8:22  For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.
Rom 8:23  And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.
Rom 8:24  For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees?

Thus, the pain of childbirth, represented most well by the flow of the blood, is an example of this groaning.  Romans 8:23 expresses it best: us, with the firstfruits of the Holy Spirit, also groan inwardly awaiting eagerly for adoption as sons and redemption of our bodies.  We are now physically adopted and redeemed?  Not yet.  Yet, every law laid down in Leviticus 11 and 12 pertaining to blood is to point to that groaning, point to that pain since Genesis 3 thus pointing towards a renewal and a re-creation by the Seed born from pain and blood, but conquered death with His blood.

There are two smaller details we should not overlook – the fact that only the male are circumcised; and secondly, the difference of being unclean for 40 days (for male) and 80 days (for female).  The latter has an implication of the woman not needed for work for 40 days and 80 days respectively (thus resting and awaiting to be established as ‘clean’ once again), making it especially fortunate if she bore a female.  Yet, if the distinctions of men and women remain clear – that men represent Christ the Head, and women represent the church.  That men represent the heavens from which Christ was sent, and women represent the terra which receives the Seed.  That Jesus Christ, the Seed, is sent by the power of the Spirit into Virgin Mary, who received the Seed.  So, the bearing of the male in one set of forty days represents the suffering and the temptation of Christ for forty days, a theme explored when it rained for forty days and forty nights in the story of Noah and the flood.  Yet, 80 days – twice of forty, is to look further on.  Bearing the male represents Second Adam; bearing the FEMALE represents Second Eve – the second mother of all living.  And this will leave the mother 80 days unclean – thus the time of TESTING is longer than the awaiting of Christ fulfilling his work on the cross.  40 days represent the first advent of Christ; and 80 days represent the second advent of Christ when creation will no longer groan and will bear NEW creation, represented by the “second female ‘terra'”, born of the “first female ‘terra'”.

The former I have already explained: menstruation of the woman preaches the message of creation, of the groaning female terra (c.f. my commentary on Genesis 1 – the creation of heavens and earth).  It is the female terra that has been groaning from Day 8, and will continue to groan until our Resurrection Day.  If the menstruation of women preaches that message (and indeed, that sign of the curse remains on them in both Old and New Testament, meaning the message preached by menstruation is NOT yet fulfilled until creation ceases its groaning), then the circumcision of men preaches a message already fulfilled (hence the lack of necessity to circumcise; and instead, to baptise infants today after the cross and the giving of the Spirit).  It is important not to view sacraments as more important than they are – menstruation can be seen also as a sacrament from God, a sign of his curse, just as the rainbow (or more biblically, the “bow”) is a warrior bow preaching the truth of God’s judgment on everyone not in the ark of Jesus.  The monthly menstrual cycle which makes a woman unclean for 7 days also preaches the truth of the first creation, which lasted 6 days plus 1 day of Sabbath.  But she is clean after the 7 days.  So we look forward to new creation born of the groaning creation (Romans 8 ), that meanwhile we look forward to the eighth day of cleanness, and we’ve passed through the 40 days leading to the first advent, and we await the new city after the symbolic second advent after 80 days of testing.  The significance of the birth of the boy leading to a 7 day uncleanness, and awaiting further purification for 33 days, versus 14 days of uncleanness, and further purification for 66 days should not be overlooked either.

We are now in the symbolic second week of creation.  The first seven days saw the heavens and earth as we know it now.  The second seven days, since the first 8th day, involves the LORD working towards new creation (John 5:17) in this new week.  But in this second week, while the LORD is working towards new creation, the world is still groaning.  We now look forward to the symbolic second 8th day of the second new week, working from the 1st advent to the 2nd advent of Jesus.

3.  Leprosy: a spiritual truth (Leviticus 13-14)

When one approaches chapters 13 and 14 of Leviticus, it is quite easy to be discouraged on two levels: the detail given for the handling of leprosy and the seeming lack of mercy for those who are unclean and leprous (the two are not synonymous as you will later find).  This is unsurprisingly, given the spiritual significance of leprosy overweighing the ‘hygienic’ and purely physical and material significances.  This is especially shown in v.12-13, where the most common form of infectious skin diseases would not have been classified as unclean!

Leprosy, some have said, is an example of sin spreading in our hearts to the neighbouring factions – and indeed, that is the overarching principle of this skin disease (and leprosy does not refer to one type, but many types of skin diseases).  The example of decay is manifested in not only the diseases on the body, but diseases spread to the clothes and the buildings causing their decay.  This is where the English translation is especially unhelpful: in the Hebrew tsaah’rath, while it refers to the decaying flesh for the skin, it is actually translated as ‘mildew’ if found on clothing and buildings.  Thus, “leprosy” is inappropriately limited in the English translation of the Hebrew word.

The two chapters are relatively long, so it is important to summarise each segment.

Chapter 13:1-59 – speaks of the different types of skin diseases on both humans and clothing

14:1-32 – the cleansing of the skin diseases

14:33-57 – Disease in buildings

There are also several refrains in these two chapters:

“Symptoms are displayed on the surface” (13:3, 49; 14:37)

“but more than skin deep” (13:3, 14:37)

“in a specific area” (13:9-13; 14:37, 42, 55)

“but spreading further” (13:7, 51; 14:44)

On that note, let’s start with chapter 13.

Leviticus 13:  Different Skin Diseases on both Humans and Clothing

Clarke is unsurprisingly helpful here and I’ve edited it for better reading:

13:1-2 It is to be known by a rising in the flesh, a scab, or a bright spot

13:3  When the priest sees these signs he shall pronounce the man unclean, infected with the leprosy, and unfit for society

13:4-8  Dubious or equivocal signs of this disorder, and how the person is to be treated in whom they appear

The interesting thing about v. 2-8 is the way of dealing with the potential leprous disease:  the treatment and waiting is always in sets of weeks, in sets of 7 days.  And on the 7th day, the priest checks whether the disease is leprous or temporary.  If the disease is ‘checked’ and not spread in the skin, then the man/woman is locked up for seven days again.  v. 6 explains it quite clearly – if the diseased area has faded and disease has not spread in the skin, then the priest shall pronounce him as clean.  Contrarily, if this ‘eruption’ does not subside, but spreads in the skin, he is now seen as unclean with a leprous disease.

Firstly – it is the priest who announces one as unclean, and NOT the person himself.  This shows something of the truth of Christ – HE is the one who announces whether we are righteous or not.  Leprosy is not something we can control.  The sets of 7-day waiting is a good example of exactly what we can do nothing about.  Rather, these 7-day waiting periods are again to show the progression between the initial creation in the first 7 day week, awaiting new creation with a new week starting on the 8th day.  Something similar is of course preached here: the priest is awaiting a new week before making a new discernment of leprosy.  Ideally, the leprosy will be gone by the end of the second week; and also, for us, our leprosy will be gone by the end of the second week when we look forward to the second advent of Christ.

13:9-13  In what state of this disorder the priest may pronounce a man clean or unclean

13:14-15  Of the raw flesh, the sign of the unclean leprosy

13:16-17  Of the white flesh, the sign of the leprosy called clean

I find the parallel between ‘raw flesh’ and ‘white flesh’ quite interesting.  Raw flesh is a sign of flesh uncooked – for the Israelites never sacrifice any flesh without fire; it must be burnt!  Similarly, food must be cooked with its blood properly drained.  The message here clearly relates to blood.  If it is raw flesh, then there is blood and there is sign of life being drained.  It is thus unclean – for in God’s future kingdom, there is no life being drained.  Which is why, if the leprosy spreads to the whole body then it is no longer seen as ‘unclean’.  Which is why, when the raw flesh recovers and turns white again (v.16), it is pronounced clean once more.  The ‘white flesh’ and ‘raw flesh’ are thus the points of comparison.

13:18-20  Of the leprosy which succeeds a boil

13:21-22  Equivocal marks relative to this kind of leprosy

13:23  Of the burning boil

13:24-25  Of the leprosy arising out of the burning boil

13:26-28  Equivocal marks relative to this kind of leprosy

With boils, the comparison is now different: either the boil leads to a spreading of the disease, or whether there is white hair and it appears deeper than the skin, and this will lead to the priest announcing his uncleanness.  On the contrary, everything else is seen as clean.

There is quite a bit to be said here.  Why the ‘white hair’ and the ‘deeper than the skin’ and the ‘spreading of the disease’?  Because all relate to the same truth – death, and the progression towards it.  White hair is a sign of aging and otherwise caused by skin diseases; if the sign of ‘sin’ and ‘death’ is deeper than the skin and it is spreading, it is undoubtedly seen as unclean.  Everything else points to new life, new creation and regeneration, which is why they are pronounced as clean.  In the healing of the boil, we see Jesus’ rejoicing in the regneration of the skin – which points to the regeneration of our soul and our flesh.

13:29  Of the plague on the head or in the beard

13:30-37  Of the itch, and how it is to be treated

The same truth is preached here – the 7-day periods of waiting, and the regeneration of the black hair as opposed to thin yellow hair.  If the itch is healed, unchanged and not more than skin-deep, it is seen as clean.  The ESV translation says “itch”, but the KJV says “scall or scurff” which is the original Hebrew.

13:38-39  Of the plague of the bright white spots

13:40-41  Of the bald head

13:42-44  Of the white reddish sore in the bald head

If the spots on the skin of the body are of a dull white, it is leukoderma that has broken out.  He is clean.  This again, is not seen by the LORD as unclean – what the LORD considers unclean is very specific: again, listen to the refrain.  “More than skin-deep”, “spreading disease”, “reddish-white”, “raw flesh”, “white hair”, “yellow hair”.  In comparison, a breaking out of white-spots is not seen as unclean.

13:45  The leper shall rend his clothes, put a patch on his upper lip, and cry unclean

13:46  He shall be obliged to avoid society, and live by himself without the camp

Verses 45-46 serves as a summary for everyone classified in the last 44 verses to be ‘unclean’.  They live alone, they wear torn clothes, hair is hung loose, covered upper lip, crying out “Unclean, unclean“, and he shall dwell outside of the camp.

Can you imagine the pain and the suffering of being obliged to avoid society?  Yet – that is the truth of skin-disease; it points to what sin does to you and what God will not tolerate.  In New Jerusalem, we will be dwelling outside of the camp of Zion if we continue to bear these skin diseases.  If our Jesus Christ, our Priest, does not pronounce his righteousness upon us, so that we gain a spiritual regeneration and sanctification and renewed bodies, then we will remain outside the camp.  Yet, in Christ, we recover new bodies which will not decay, nor degenerate, and is better than ‘clean’ flesh.  The passages in v.1-46 clearly preach that even clean flesh can have outbreak of white-spots and other deformities; but only the sanctified flesh and spirit can withstand the holiness of the LORD and partake in the intimacy of the Trinity without mourning outside the camp which is forever proclaimed as unclean.

13:47-52  Of the garments infected by the leprosy, and the signs of this infection

13:53-58  Equivocal marks relative to this infection, and how the garment is to be treated, by washing or by burning

13:59  Conclusion relative to the foregoing particulars

There is of course much distinction between ‘garments’ and ‘men’ with leprous diseases.  The 7-day lock-up period still persists, even with garments, ever so proving that this theme is possibly the most concurrent theme throughout Leviticus – the theme of first creation, then new creation.  The specific different of garments is that if the disease has not faded from the garment, it shall be burnt up (v.52-57).  Only if the diseased area has faded after being washed, and then washed a second time will it be seen as clean (v.58 ).

This is quite interesting – the first and second waiting periods.  This has occurred throughout the other parts of Leviticus 13.  I believe this undoubtedly refers to the first advent and second advent of Christ again; the first advent, which leads to some renewal and giving of the Spirit to the world; and the second advent where true cleansing and restoration occurs.  We are in the period of the firstfruit of the Spirit; but some people may lapse and return to the dog faeces from which they came.  Some may continue to look to Christ and persist in the fight of faith to see the second advent and to be washed anew with new bodies.

Leviticus 14:1-32  The Cleansing

When a leprous person is healed, after being outside the camp however long it takes for the healing to occur, then the priest will command the person to be cleansed with two live clean birds and cedarwood and scarlet yarn and hyssop.

Scarlet yarn is one of the materials used in the tabernacle (Exodus 26:1, v.31), and the purging by the hyssop is symbolic of cleansing (Psalm 51:7).  Cedarwood is seen as a material for kings: read 1 Kings and you realise how much ‘cedar’ is the centre of the story, then Ezekiel 17:23, 31:3, and the house of Solomon in Songs of Solomon is made of cedar (Songs of Sol 1:17; 8:9).

The command is then to kill one of the birds in an earthenware vessel over fresh water; and take live bird with the cedarwood and scarlet yan and hyssop, dipping the bird in blood of the bird killed over fresh water. (v.1-6)

Fresh water is symbolically of new creation water which is not salty.  The waters of punishment were salty (the waters above the heavens) – but the waters in new Jerusalem will be fresh (Ezekiel 47:9); earthenware vessels, besides the focus on the ‘earth‘ (i.e. naturally made), is a vessel for good preservation (Jeremiah 32:14).  Whatever is in the vessel will last for a long time.  The implications of v.1-6 of Leviticus 14 is therefore one of the gospel re-displayed.  The death of the bird, representing an Angel of God, in an earthenware vessel over fresh water, meaning the preservation of such a sacrifice over new creation waters – in exchange for the life of the other bird with the material of kings, the tabernacle and of purification.  The living bird is then escaped to the open field, granted new life by the blood of the first bird, now free from decay.  This is a picture of Christ’s preserved and persisting death for us so we can live in new waters, partake in purification and to be imputed the blood and righteousness of the King.

This is sprinkled seven times on him who is cleansed of leprous disease – he is then pronounced as CLEAN and the living bird goes to the open field. (v.7)

The cleansed person shall wash his clothes, shave off all his hair and bathe himself in water (v.8 ).  He will stand outside his tent seven days; he must then shave all the hair off his head/beard/eyebrows, and wash again in water.  The SHAVING is important: so that nothing growing from the time of decay would be brought forth to new creation of the eighth day, and from the eighth day forward everything that stems from our flesh will be new and clean.

The following procedure is akin to the anointing of the priest prior to priestly work.

Lev 14:10  “And on the eighth day he shall take two male lambs without blemish, and one ewe lamb a year old without blemish, and a grain offering of three tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil, and one log of oil.
Lev 14:11  And the priest who cleanses him shall set the man who is to be cleansed and these things before the LORD, at the entrance of the tent of meeting.
Lev 14:12  And the priest shall take one of the male lambs and offer it for a guilt offering, along with the log of oil, and wave them for a wave offering before the LORD.
Lev 14:13  And he shall kill the lamb in the place where they kill the sin offering and the burnt offering, in the place of the sanctuary. For the guilt offering, like the sin offering, belongs to the priest; it is most holy.
Lev 14:14  The priest shall take some of the blood of the guilt offering, and the priest shall put it on the lobe of the right ear of him who is to be cleansed and on the thumb of his right hand and on the big toe of his right foot.
Lev 14:15  Then the priest shall take some of the log of oil and pour it into the palm of his own left hand
Lev 14:16  and dip his right finger in the oil that is in his left hand and sprinkle some oil with his finger seven times before the LORD.
Lev 14:17  And some of the oil that remains in his hand the priest shall put on the lobe of the right ear of him who is to be cleansed and on the thumb of his right hand and on the big toe of his right foot, on top of the blood of the guilt offering.
Lev 14:18  And the rest of the oil that is in the priest’s hand he shall put on the head of him who is to be cleansed. Then the priest shall make atonement for him before the LORD.
Lev 14:19  The priest shall offer the sin offering, to make atonement for him who is to be cleansed from his uncleanness. And afterward he shall kill the burnt offering.
Lev 14:20  And the priest shall offer the burnt offering and the grain offering on the altar. Thus the priest shall make atonement for him, and he shall be clean.

Notice again the focus on the 8th day, and the focus on the right-hand-side.  Leviticus 14 thus shows the sanctification of the clean man – he isn’t merely cleansed.  He is made like a priest!  And that is the picture of Exodus 19:6.  We are not to leave some as priests, and some as ‘clean’.  No – the symbolism of sin spreading in our lives, will be healed not by merely waiting.  On the symbolic 8th day of new creation, we too will become exactly like Christ – the High Priest of all ages.

v.21-32 covers the same procedure, but with two pigeons/turtledoves and one male lamb.  The male lamb seems to be the concurrent sacrificial animal whether you are poor or rich – same as Christ is to us, whether we are either poor or rich.

Leviticus 14:33-57 Disease in Buildings

This part of Leviticus is actually one of the most intriguing aspects of the book.  v.53 says it all: “So he shall make atonement for the house”.  One can make atonement for a house?

The procedures in v.33-57 actually resembles the cleansing of the leprous person in v.1-33.  The LORD is actually teaching us that one cannot over-spiritualise the truth of Leviticus 14; whatever happens to man will spread to creation, whether birds, animals, swarming things or even to apparently ‘dead’ things like buildings.  This supports the truth of new creation being physical.  We are not entering a merely spiritual heaven; but we are entering a heaven of new buildings, of new roads, of a new river of fresh water, of new trees which do not die, of new animals who will sleep alongside men.  If these are the truths preached in Revelation, then undoubtedly, the disease on tents and buildings represents the renewal necessary of ALL things within God’s kingdom.

Isaiah 6:3-5 displays it clearly – God’s presence with his people is dependent on uncleanness being excluded from Israel:

Isa 6:3  And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!”
Isa 6:4  And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke.
Isa 6:5  And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!”

4.  Bodily discharges (Leviticus 15)

Leviticus 15:31-33 summarises this chapter.  Ultimately, the LORD’s dwelling-place must be clean.  Any truth of God joining us in the community of holiness must start with the renewal of everything – the buildings, the city, the animals, the people (Revelation 21).  Paul Blackham gives the structure for this chapter:

Male bodily discharges (15:2-18 )

Female bodily discharges (15:19-30)

Long term discharge (15:2-12)

Menstrual cycle (15:19-23)

Cleansing by sacrifice (15:13-15)

Sexual intercourse (15:24)

Temporary discharge (15:16-17)

Long term (15:25-27)

Sexual intercourse (15:18 )

Cleansing by sacrifice (15:29-30)

What is clear from this chapter is the uncleanness is transferred to people, even beds and even chairs.  We have already established that this is no personal matter – sin spreads everything and everything.

Natural bodily discharges makes a person unclean, but the passage of time will remove the uncleanness, therefore no sacrifices are needed for such discharges.  Our bodies which leak fluids of semen and blood is an example of life falling from our flesh.  Our bodies should be given immortality and corruption (1 Corinthians 15), and our bodies now preach anything but.

Which brings me to ‘sexual intercourse’ which is seen as unclean.  Why?  Firstly, because of the curse of Genesis 3, which shows that we have disordered sexual desires (c.f. Romans 1 and Paul’s argument which starts with sexual immorality).  Secondly is the loss of bodily fluids when having sexual intercourse, and Genesis 9:4 and Leviticus 17:11 show that there is life in blood and semen.  The life comes as a Seed, and in Christ, the Seed of all seeds, can we have true eternal life.  Most importantly it is a temporary period of washing, and the period of impurity is short, for this is the body which we inherit from Adam’s sin which we committed in his loins (Hebrews 7:9-10).

What say you about the distinction between sacrifices made for leprous flesh, but none needed for the uncleanness of our leaking bodies?

Conclusion

Throughout this chapter, we see that human sin has huge implications for both mankind and creation (Genesis 3:17-18, Deuteronomy 28:25, Amos 4:7, Romans 8:20); the Israelites had recognised in the OT that healing from such diseases should be coupld with the same offerings made to sinners.  The connection therefore between the man with skin disease and the man with sin becomes synonymous, for both need the same sacrifice – Christ.  Even before this Levitical law was given, skin diseases may already have been prevalent; and no doubt, this would have already stirred much thinking concerning the truth behind skin diseases.  What the Mosaic law does is display our transgressions with a beamlight, yet at the same time pointing out with much clarity the cure for such scrutinised transgressions.  It is important to remember time and time again that diseases is not necessarily a cause of our sins (John 9:1-3) – many times, it is simply a result of our fallen flesh and nature.  Praise be to God for these ordinances which point out our utter fallenness, and his magnificent holiness and grace in dealing with our corruption and decay, wrought by the first Deceiver Satan, and first man Adam.  It is by his Son, who was also thrown outside the camp (Hebrews 13:12-13) that he can sympathise and die for us sinners for he became the representation of the one cursed on the tree (Deut 21:22-23), thrown outside the city, made unclean for oursake so we can be the bird who escapes from decay.

Leviticus 11-15: Holy, Clean and Unclean