Recently I have been reading the book of Leviticus with fresh eyes (maybe “open eyes” in light of Luke 24:32). I started with my morning reading a little over two weeks ago in Leviticus 1 with a pen and notebook beside my Bible as my mind woke and my hand warmed on my mug of coffee. My heart began to burn as I jotted down words that practically leaped off the page in to my mind and heart. (At this point it would be helpful if you read Leviticus 1 as it is). Now, in re-reading – Allow me to highlight some words:
Offering. Male without blemish. Entrance of the tent of the meeting. Accepted before the Lord. Make atonement. Throw the blood. Flay. Cut to pieces. Wood. Pleasing Aroma to the Lord. Blood thrown. Pleasing Aroma to the Lord. Blood drained beside the altar. Tear but not sever completely. Pleasing aroma to the Lord.
In light of the events of “good Friday” the ultimate “day of Atonement” (see Leviticus 16), these words ring out significantly.
Jesus was a “male without blemish” – He is the “tent of the meeting” (John 1:14). Only He is accepted before the Lord and makes us acceptable. He makes atonement. His blood was thrown, He was flayed, His back cut to pieces. He was suspended from a cross of wood, His blood drained, He was torn but not completely. Pleasing aroma to the Lord? “It was the will of the Lord to crush Him (Isaiah 53:10),” Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God (Ephesians 5:2).
Take this Christ-fulfilling way of reading Leviticus 1 and couple it with the other major themes of the book: a demand for God’s people to be holy, the seriousness of sin, the love of God and of neighbor. The crucifixion of Jesus brings meaning and purpose to all of this and to our very lives as God’s people dearly loved and set apart. Meditating on this passage led me to this thought: If Jesus made satisfaction for EVERY sin committed by His people then it isn’t a stretch to say every Old Testament sacrifice points to Him. A caution, however, is this: when studying the Old Testament, the question isn’t, “how may I search for or find Jesus in this text?” but “how’s this text satisfied & fulfilled in Jesus?”
Finally, one repeated phrase throughout Leviticus is, “outside the camp.” Outside the camp is where the unclean go, where carcasses are thrown and burned and where the “Scapegoat” is banished. In light of the whole book of Leviticus read these words from Hebrews 13:
12 So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood. 13 Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured.14 For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come.15 Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.