Comments On The Book Of Leviticus

BY Leslie M Grant


While Genesis emphasizes the great subject of life in its beginnings, and Exodus considers God's principles of redemption and His authority established among a redeemed people, Leviticus (named for Levi, meaning "joined") is the book of the sanctuary. Here we are brought into the very presence of God, so that sanctification to God and from all evil is the proper character of His saints.

Sanctification has two major aspects. First, sanctification by the one offering of Christ (Heb.10:10), which is God's work for us, putting the believer in a new position before God; the other, sanctification by the Spirit of God (1 Cor.6:11), which is God's work inwardly in the believer, causing him to be morally set apart to God. Both of these are implied in Leviticus.

Only on the basis of the sacrifice of Christ are we privileged to enter God's presence; therefore Leviticus begins with the various aspects of the value of that one great sacrifice. In all of this the Holiness and truth of God are specially prominent, just as in Genesis His power and majesty are displayed, and in Exodus His righteousness and grace.


(A) BULL (vs.1-9)

The first verse is significant of the character of the whole book of Leviticus. The Lord speaks to Moses from the tabernacle, His place of dwelling among the people. If we are to approach Him, it must be where He is, and on His terms. When we have been redeemed by Him and to Him, it is surely our desire to be near to Him, enjoying the light of His face. But this must be in His own way.

Therefore the burnt offering comes first, for this gives the most important aspect of the sacrifice of Christ. If one desired to offer a burnt sacrifice from the herd, this must be a male without blemish, a male because the burnt offering is altogether objective: all was to be offered in fire to the Lord. It was not in any way subjective, for the offerer has no part in the offering, as was true in the peace offering, which could be either a male or female (ch.3:1). The words in verse 3, "of his own free will" (KJV) are rightly rendered "that he may be accepted" (NASB).

The offerer was to put his hand on the head of the bull, signifying his personal identification with the sacrifice. This was necessary if God was to accept the offering as applicable to the offer just as believers are to signify their personal identification with Christ in accepting Him by faith. Then the offerer must kill the bull before the Lord, and the priest would sprinkle the blood of the offering all around the copper altar. Following this the offerer was to skin the animal and cut it into its various pieces. Leviticus 7:8 shows that the priest who offered the sacrifice was to keep the skin for himself. But all the rest of the animal, after the inwards and legs were washed, was to be laid in order on the altar and all burnt. Thus all was to go up in fire to God, for the most vital matter in the sacrifice of Christ is that in this God is glorified. The offerer is accepted, but this is simply the result of God being glorified. Our blessing through Christ's sacrifice is a lesser matter than God's glory. Indeed, if not one soul had been saved, yet God has been eternally honored by the work of Calvary. Yet the other offerings also were necessary as picturing other aspects of the value of Christ's sacrifice that involved the blessing of believers.

The cutting into various parts indicates that we are to value everything about Christ's sacrifice as being for God, and specially mentioned are the head (intelligence) the fat (typical of His devotion), the inwards, the hidden motives of His heart, and the legs (His walk). Thus the thoughts of the Lord Jesus were above all for God, His devotion was always Godward, His hidden motives were for God's glory, and His walk was always to please the Father. Thus the offering was "a sweet aroma to the Lord." This is not said of the sin or trespass offerings.

(B) A SHEEP OR A GOAT (vs.10-13)

A burnt offering could be a sheep or a goat. The bull (larger and stronger) would remind us that some have a more full recognition of the great value of the sacrifice of Christ than others have. It speaks of the strength of the offering. The sheep denotes the Submission of Christ, and the goat His substitution. Again, only a male was accepted, and the offerer was to kill the animal before the Lord, and the priest were to sprinkle the blood all around the altar. This offering was also to be cut in pieces, each piece laid in order on the wood placed in the copper altar. As with the bull, the head and the fat are specially mentioned, and the inwards and legs being washed before burnt with all the rest of the animal on the altar. All ascended in fire to God as "a sweet aroma."


One might be too poor to bring a bull or sheep or goat, and provision was made that he could bring turtle doves or young pigeons. This would tell us that whatever may be our poverty of apprehension of the greatness of Christ's sacrifice, yet there is still glory given to God in only recognizing that Christ is the true Man from heaven who came to sacrifice Himself, for the birds speak of His heavenly character.

In this case the offerer did not kill the bird, but the priest was to wring off its head, its blood being drained out at the side of the altar. Its crop and its feathers were removed and put into the place of the ashes. Then it was split at its wings, but not divided. For the heavenly glory of the Lord Jesus is higher than man can perceive, and therefore not to be divided, though the two things must be distinguished in Him, that is, His deity and His Manhood. Also those spiritually poor cannot easily discern the many characteristics of the Lord Jesus that are implied in the pieces of the bull or sheep or goat. Therefore, however different might be the apprehension of the sacrifice on the part of the offerer, the burnt offering was still acceptable to God: He receives glory from it. All three of these burnt offerings are called "a sweet aroma to the Lord." All were burned, thus ascending in fire to God. The burnt offering aspect of the sacrifice of Christ is specially emphasized in John's Gospel.


This offering is an appendix to the burnt offering. We do not read of a meal offering ever being offered alone, but in connection with the burnt offering or the peace offering. For this was not a blood sacrifice, and in approaching God a blood sacrifice was imperative. The meal offering does not speak at all of the blood shedding of the Lord Jesus, but rather of the perfection of His humanity displayed in His life on earth. In this respect His entire life was an offering to God, but it could not make atonement for man's sin.

A meal offering was to be of fine flour with oil poured on it and frankincense put on it. The fine flour reminds us that every particle of the milled grain symbolizes some detail of the perfection of the character of the Lord Jesus as a true Man. The oil speaks of the anointing of the Spirit of God, which marked Him out as the Man of God's special appointment. The frankincense is white and sweet smelling, symbolizing the purity of the life of the Lord Jesus, a life fragrant to His God and Father.

The offering was to be brought to the priests, one of whom was to take only a handful of fine flour and oil, with all the incense and burn this as a memorial on the altar. This part was a sweet aroma to the Lord. But the rest would belong to Aaron and his sins: it was to be eaten (vs.2-3). What went up in fire to God speaks of God's appreciation of the person of the Lord Jesus in lowly humanity. What was eaten by the priests intimates the appreciation of Christ by all His saints, for today all believers are priests to God.

Three types of meal offerings are now considered, the first of which is that


This could be either unleavened cakes of fine flour mixed with oil or unleavened wafers anointed with oil. The mixing with oil speaks of the permeating of the humanity of the Lord Jesus by the Spirit of God from His very birth. This was the very nature of His Manhood. Compare Luke 1:35. Anointing with oil implies His being anointed by the Spirit of God at His baptism (Mt.3:16), in preparation for His great public ministry.

Baked in the oven indicates that He is a Suffer, exposed to the heat of hidden sufferings. Inside an oven is where the heat is most intense, just as the unseen sufferings of the Lord Jesus were more intense than the sufferings to which men subjected Him outwardly. He felt the condition of mankind far more deeply than appeared in the surface. We may feel sorrow because of the evil all around us and for the way evil infiltrates the Church of God in its testimony on earth. He feels this more deeply than we, and when here on earth, His disciples did not enter into the sufferings of His heart, as in His weeping over Jerusalem (Lk.19:41-44) and in His prayer in Gethsemane (Lk.22:41-46).

(B) BAKED IN A PAN (vs.5-6)

This oblation baked in a pan (or griddle) indicates open sufferings which the Lord endured from human enmity. Men's hostile words which issued eventually in their spitting tearing out His hair, lashing Him, crowning Him with thorns, etc. were sufferings that draw out our deep admiration of Him, just as the cooking of the meal renders the result much more acceptable to the taste. "He learned obedience by the things which HE suffered" (Heb.5:8). Suffering therefore has valuable results.

In the case of an offering baked in a pan, this was to be parted in pieces and oil poured on it. We can discern the distinctions in what the Lord Jesus suffered from one source or another, and we should have appreciation for every various detail of what He suffered. The oil poured on tells us that He was empowered by the Spirit of God to bear all these things with calm confidence in His God and Father.


Though our King James Version calls this vessel a "frying pan," Young's Concordance defines it as a kettle, and both J.N.Darby's Version and the Numerical Bible use the word "cauldron." In this case the offering was not baked, but cooked in water. Since water is a symbol of the Word of God, then it appears that this offering implies the sufferings of the Lord Jesus because of His obedience to God's Word and because of His faithfully declaring it (cf.Luke 4:25-29 and John 10:27-31). Neither "mixed with oil" or "anointed with oil" are mentioned here, but only "with oil," but at least in every case the Spirit of God is involved.


All these offerings were to be brought to the Lord, being presented to the priest. At the altar the priest was to take a memorial portion (a handful -- v.2) and burn it on the altar as a sweet aroma to the Lord. What remained was for Aaron and his sons. Thus, God received His portion from the offering, Aaron (a type of Christ the High Priest) received his portion and each of the priests (typical of all believers) received their portion, -- all thus sharing in appreciation of the perfections of the Man Christ Jesus in His life of devotion and willing suffering.

Leaven (yeast) was to be excluded from the meal offerings (v.11), for leaven speaks of sin, and as to Christ, "in Him is no sin" (1 John 3:5). Besides this, honey was not to be used. Leaven is corrupting, but honey is not. Why then is honey excluded? Because, being the results of the bees' activity in gathering.



The peace offering was also a voluntary sacrifice. However, it could either be a male or female, but only an unblemished animal. Of course it speaks also of the one sacrifice of Christ, but since a female was allowed, this involves the part that believers have with Christ in the value of His sacrifice. The burnt offering speaks altogether of the value of that sacrifice of God, but the peace offering involves also the blessing that comes to the believer by means of Christ's sacrifice.

Christ as the peace offering has established peace between God and men by means of His sacrifice, and this is seen especially in Luke's Gospel, so that grace, concord and fellowship are outstanding features of this offering.

As with the burnt offering, the offerer was to lay his hand on the head of the animal and kill it at the door of the tabernacle. Then the priests sprinkled the blood around the altar. However, all was not to be burned, as with the burnt offering, but only the fat that covered the inward and the fat attached to the inwards, the two kidneys with the fat attached to them and the fatty lobe attached to the liver. These were to be burned as a sweet aroma to the Lord. This animal was from the herd. The fat always belonged to the Lord: it was not to be eaten, for it speaks of the energy of the devotion of the Lord Jesus to His Gods and Father. The two kidneys, purifying the blood by innumerable filters, picture the inner motives of the Lord Jesus, which are for God. At this time nothing is said of the parts that were to be given to the priest and the offerer: this subject is left for the law of the offering (ch.7:ll-21).


A peace offering could also be of the flock, whether a lamb (v.7) or a goat (v.12). In each case also the offerer laid his hand on the head of the animal and killed it, and the priest sprinkled the blood around the altar (vs.8-l 1 and 13-16). The parts removed from the animal are similar to those in verses 3 and 4, and these were burned, spoken of as "food, an offering made by fire to the Lord." Thus this offering of the Lord Jesus is for God Himself. Again this is "a sweet aroma" offering.

In Israel God insisted that it was a perpetual statute that they eat neither fat nor blood (v.17). Today believers are warned definitely not to eat blood (Acts 15:20). This restriction was introduced when God first allowed men to eat animals (Gen.9:3-4), long before the law was given to Israel. Neither at that time, nor under grace today is there any restriction as to eating fat, however. Most of us may find that our health is better if we refrain from eating fat, in spite of our liberty to do so.



The sin offering was for sins of ignorance, or inadvertence. These are things that we do not realize are sin and we easily fall into such things unintentionally. Why do we do this? Because we have a sinful nature inherited from Adam which leads even a believer into things he does not approve of. This gives him the struggle of Romans 7, as expressed in verse 19, "For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice." We are not responsible for having the sinful nature, for we were born with it, but we are responsible for letting it express itself. Therefore, when one in Israel realized that he had sinned, however unintentional it had been, he must bring an offering to God.

Under law there was no sacrifice for the sins of willful disobedience. Numbers 15:30 says, "But the person who does anything presumptuously -- that one brings reproach on the Lord, and he shall be cut off from among his people." Thus there was no sacrifice for David's sin (Ps.51:16). Under grace today, how wonderful the difference, for "the blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanses us from all sin" (1 John 1:7), So that we must distinguish between the literal application of these sacrifices to Israel, and the spiritual significance for them for us today.



The sin of a priest was especially serious, because he was a representative of the people God ward. That sin must not be covered, but judged. Therefore the priest must offer a young bull without blemish as a sin offering. As with the burnt offering, he was to lay his hand of the head of the bull and kill it before the Lord at the door of the tabernacle. Then he was to dip his finger in the blood and sprinkle some of it seven times before the Lord in front of the veil of the sanctuary and also put some of the blood on the horns of the altar of sweet incense. This sprinkling was not the same as with the burnt offering, however, for that blood was sprinkled around the altar of burnt offering, outside.

Some of the blood of the sin offering for the anointed priest was sprinkled in front of the veil of the assembly sanctuary, some put on the horns of the altar of sweet incense, and the rest poured out at the base of the altar of burnt offering. We shall see that, in the case of the sin of a ruler or of one of the common people (vs.22,27) the blood was sprinkled as it was with the burnt offering, but in the case of the sin of the whole congregation of Israel (v.13) the blood was sprinkled just as in the case of the sin of a priest.

The reason for this seems to be that the priest was the spiritual representative of the people and he had access into the sanctuary: therefore the sanctuary was "purged by blood" on his account. The case of the sin of the whole congregation is evidently connected in such a way with the priest as their representative that a similar ritual was necessary.

Again the fat was to be removed, the two kidneys and the fatty lobe attached to the liver, and these burned on the altar of burnt offering, as God's portion. But nothing of this offering was to be eaten by the offerer. All was to be carried outside the camp and burned where the ashes were poured out.

This was not a voluntary offering, but one required because of the priest's sin: therefore it was not a "sweet savor" offering, for it speaks of Christ suffering from God under the curse of our sins, in a place of total rejection" "outside the camp." This was true of all the sin offerings of which the blood was taken into the sanctuary (Heb.13:11), which included that for the priest and that for the whole congregation (vs.6-8; 17-18). However, one day in the year, the great day of atonement, the high priest took the blood of the sin offering, not only into the first room of the holy place, but inside the veil, in the holiest of all, where he sprinkled the blood before and on the mercy seat (Lev.16:1-17). The body of the animal was burned outside the camp.



It might be that the whole congregation of Israel became involved in a sin that they did not at the time realize was sin. Their ignorance did not excuse them, however. When the sin was brought to their attention, then a sin offering was required. The connection of this with the sin of the priest seems very clear, for the instructions as to the sacrifice are just the same, except that it is the elders of the people who were to lay their hands on the head of the bull before its slaughter, for the elders represent the people.

This offering for the whole congregation appears to teach us that at the cross sin in it entirety was fully judged, not only individual sins. This would be a further reasons for the animal being burned outside the camp, with the blood brought into the sanctuary to make atonement. This sin offering aspect of the sacrifice of Christ is emphasized in the Gospel of Mark.



A ruler was not a spiritual representative, as the priest was, yet he was authority over the common people, so that his sin and that of one of the common people (v.27) required the same treatment, except that a male goat was required for the ruler, a female for the subject. As to the priest and the whole congregation there was a marked difference.

Still, the ruler is typical of Christ, who willingly took the responsibility for our sins as though they had been His own. Indeed, when He is considered as King, Matthew writes of Him, "You shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins" (Mt.1:21).

The male kid of the goats was used because the ruler is objectively the authority. Again he was to lay his hand on its head and kill it at the door of the tabernacle. As with the burnt offering, the priest was then to take some of the blood with his finger and put it on the horns of the copper altar and pour out the rest of the blood at the base of this altar. Then he was to burn all its fat on the altar. Thus his sin was forgiven. This does not speak of eternal forgiveness, but governmental, that is, for the time being, but it is typical of the value of the sacrifice of Christ as obtaining eternal forgiveness.



In the case of the sin of ignorance on the part of one of the common people, the instructions were just the same as for a ruler, except that a female animal was required, and also that either a sheep or a goat was acceptable. The female was appropriate for a subject, for the female speaks of a subjective character, rather than objective, as in the case of a ruler. The goat is typical of Christ as Substitute, the lamb speaking of His lowly submission in sacrifice. The necessity of all of these offerings and the instructions concerning them should make a very real impression on the heart of every believer, for in this way we learn the horror of sin in God's sight and the infinite greatness of the sacrifice of Christ.



The subject of the sin offering is continued in this chapter up to the end of verse 13. It is descending scale, for the specific sin has to be brought to the attention of the offender, and the offering made, but allowance also made for a lesser offering in the case of poverty. Verse 1 is a sin of omission. One may hear and know of a matter of serious importance and yet not report it. In law this is called misprision, but it is sin before God. "The voice of adjuration" put one under solemn obligation to bear witness to what he knew was true. Thus, though the Lord said nothing in defense of Himself before the Sanhedrin, yet when the high priest adjured Him in God's name, He answered what was true, that He is the Christ, the Son of God (Mt.26:63-64).

Also, touching the dead carcass of an animal would involve one in defilement, or touching a human who was defiled by any type of uncleanness, though this happened inadvertently (vs.2-3). Or one might thoughtlessly swear an oath that he afterward realized was sinful (v.4). Touching an unclean thing was of course simply ceremonial defilement, but pictures for us any associations we may make that are morally corrupt. If we identify ourselves with others living corruptly, we too shall be defiled by this.

When any such things were brought to a person's attention, he was to confess that he had sinned in that thing. How good it is when such a confession is made, with no excuses added!

In verse 6, because a trespass offering was here required, some have thought this introduces the subject of the trespass offering, but a sin offering and a burnt offering were also required (vs.6-7), and then the sin offering is emphasized in verses 8 and 9. Properly speaking, the subject of the trespass offering begins in verse 14. But the trespass offering and the sin offering (v.6) were both brought, a female from the flock, or a kid of the goats as a sin offering. This shows a close connection between the two offerings, for the act of disobedience (requiring a trespass offering) exposes the disobedient character of the person, that is, his sinful nature, which is emphasized in the sin offering.



One who was unable to bring a lamb would be allowed to bring two turtle doves or two young pigeons as a sacrifice. This pictures one who is poor in his apprehension of the value of the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus as fully atoning for sin. At least he recognizes that the Lord Jesus is from heaven (pictured by the birds), therefore above him, and though his understanding is weak, God receives his offering.

The birds' heads were to be wrung off, symbolizing the intelligence being set apart, but otherwise no division of the parts of the bird was allowed, for the birds speak of the heavenly character of the Lord Jesus, which is above our ability to discern. Some of the blood was then sprinkled on the side of the altar and the rest drained out at the base of the altar. The first bird was for a sin offering, no doubt offered in accordance with Leviticus 1:14-17.



Because of poverty one might not be able to bring even the birds for an offering. In this case the grace of God allowed an offering of one-tenth of an ephah of fine flour, a small amount, but unlike other meal offerings, no oil or incense was put on it, because it was a sin offering. Since no blood was involved, it could not properly be atoning. It speaks of the purity of the Man Christ Jesus, however, and if there is in the offender a true regard of the person of Christ, though he has no understanding of the value of Christ's work of redeomption, God can still graciously receive this offering, making this concession for ignorance.

There is no sweet savor in this, for it is a sin offering. A handful of this was taken by the priest and burned on the altar, and the remainder was the priest's, as was the case with a meal offering. Thus, God was given His part and the priest (typical of Christ) was given his.


(vs.14 to ch.6:7)



The trespass offering deals with sin also, but not simply in its general evil character, rather in its being injurious either to God or to people. These are said to be sins of ignorance also. In this section sin in sacred things is first mentioned. For this a ram without blemish was to be offered, and also silver according to the proper estimation of the injury done. The trespass must be fully paid for, but a fifth part also added. Only this could be considered making proper amends.

Thus, the Lord Jesus has not only paid the penalty for the sin that Adam introduced into the world, but has gone beyond this, as Romans 5:17 tells us. He has not only restored what Adam lost, but much more. Adam lost earth, but Christ has introduced heavenly blessing for us.



Though this trespass is directly involved with another person, yet it is "against the Lord, " for He is Creator and concerned about how His creatures are treated. One may have lied to his neighbor in reference to something that had been entrusted to him to keep or as to a pledge he had made, or he may have actually cheated his neighbor in some way. Or he may have found what was lost and instead of restoring it to its owner, he had sworn falsely about it. This could not be said to be a sin of ignorance, but he may have resorted to lying because of fear or weakness. Yet he must then not cover the matter over, but confess his sin and fully restore anything that the neighbor had lost and add one-fifth to the value of it.

The offering he must make also was the same in the case of trespass in sacred things, a ram without blemish. Thus people would be restrained from such trespass by knowing they would lose by it when it came to light. But the offering was intended to direct men's hearts to something higher, though they could not realize its symbolical significance until Christ Himself was offered for our sins. Yet many must have realized that there was in the offerings a significance higher than they u