How to Read and Understand Leviticus (hint: it all points to Christ)
We have been reading in Leviticus for some time now in Treasury of Daily Prayer, and frankly, I’ve not been particularly thrilled. That is wrong, I know, so I went to my pal Pastor Weedon with my complaint, for I knew he would set me back on the right path. And he did. I encouraged him to blog his answer to me, and he did. So for all of you who are trudging through Leviticus with the rest of us using Treasury of Daily Prayer, don’t miss Pastor Weedon’s remarks.
And, to add to Pastor Weedon’s remarks, I would offer here a quote from John Kleinig’s commentary on Leviticus. Dr. Kleinig offers a great perspective on the apparent baffling litany of all manner of rules and regulations for who can, and can not, minister in the Lord’s presence. What is the point of these excruciatingly detailed holiness laws for the priests of God? It all points to the radical separation of holy from unholy, from the Holy God and evil and sin. And to whom finally do all these things point? Christ. Here then is Dr. Kleinig (suggestion: don’t skip over the Bible texts, put your mouse pointer on them and the Bible verse will pop up for you to read):
“Jesus was appointed God both as the Messiah and the great High Priest in the heavenly sanctuary. He became a human being and was anointed at his Baptism so that he could serve as High Priest of the human race (Acts 4:27; Acts 10:38; Heb 2:10-18). The work of the high priests in Israel prefigured His work as the heavenly liturgist (Heb 8:1-2, 6). He now functions as the High Priest in the church (Heb. 2:17; Heb. 3:1; Heb. 4:14-15; Heb. 5:5, 10; Heb. 6:20; Heb. 7:26; Heb. 8:1; Heb. 9:11; see also 1 Clement 36:1; 61:3; 64). Just as the high priest served together with his fellow priests in Israel, so Jesus shares his holiness with his disciples and sanctifies them so that they serve God the Father together with him (Heb 2:11-13). In Baptism, He anoints them with the Holy Spirit (2 Cor 1:21-22; 1 Jn 2:26-27), just as he was anointed, and consecrated them as priests (Acts 26:18; 1 Cor 1:2; 1 Cor. 6:11; Eph 5:26). They derive their holiness from him (1 Cor 1:30); they are holy in him (Phil 1:1; Phil 4:21). They therefore serve as priests together with him int he heavenly sanctuary (1 Pet. 2:9; Rev. 1:6; Rev. 5:10; Rev. 20:6). They are involved with him and the angels in the heavenly liturgy (Heb. 12:22-24). Like the high priest in Israel, they never leave the heavenly sanctuary, but always remain on service there (Rev 7:15). Unlike the priests in the OT, the disciples of Jesus have the same degree of access to the Father as their High Priest does, for they come to God the Father in him and together with him (Jn 14:6; Jn 16:23-24; Jn 17:24; Eph 2:18; Heb 7:25). Since they have access to the presence of the Father, they can bring people and their needs to him and bring him and his blessing to them. They are therefore much more privileged than any of the priests at the tabernacle, for they share the status of Jesus and participate in his work as High Priest. As members of God’s heavenly priesthood, Christians receive the holy food that comes from the Lord’s table (1 Cor 10:16-22). They eat the bread of God that comes down from heaven, the life-giving flesh of Christ (Jn 6:33, 51). Since they serve the Living God, they must not once again become involved in “dead works,” deeds that defile and deaden their conscience (Heb 9:14). . . . God has called all Christians to share in His holiness. He shares His life-giving holiness with them through the holy things. (Concordia Commentary Leviticus, John Kleinig, pg. 454-455; Concordia, 2003). [Note: Yes, the whole book is this good!]