From the Editor’s Notebook: Pointers on the Pentateuch, Leviticus

From the Editor’s Notebook

W. Ross Rainey

Pointers on the Pentateuch

Leviticus: The Book of Holiness

Key Word: Holiness.

Message: Access to God.

Key Verses: 17:11 — “For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.” 19:2 — “Speak unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say unto them, Ye shall be holy: for I the Lord your God am holy”. 20:26 — “And ye shall be holy unto me: for I the Lord am holy, and have severed you from other people, that ye should be mine.


The title Leviticus comes from the Septuagint, Levi pertaining to the priestly tribe of Israel. It is a book of ritual, not of history. The Law had been given from Mount Sinai and the Tabernacle established, the glory of the Lord having filled it. Thus, in this book, God no longer speaks from Sinai but from the Tabernacle. The Jews called it “Vayick-rah,” being the equivalent of the first three words of the book, “And He called” (1:1). Leviticus reveals the Lord’s call to holiness, the word “holiness” occurring 87 times, while “holy” and its cognates occur more than 150 times. The word “atonement” is found 45 times, Hebrew 9:22b serving as a good summary of the message of Leviticus: “and without shedding of blood is no remission.” In fact, the best commentary on the book is the Letter to the Hebrews.

G. Campbell Morgan said of Leviticus: “The holiness of God shines like a white, fearful light upon the whole book.”

Dr. S. H. Kellogg called Leviticus “the greatest book” in the Bible.

Dr. Joseph Parker stated: “Considered as embracing the history of one month only, this may claim to be the most remarkable book in the Old Testament.”

Dr. C. I. Scofield observed that “Leviticus stands in the same relation to Exodus, that the Epistles do to the Gospels.”

Leviticus does not continue the story of Exodus, but defines the priesthood and ritual ordained there. It is ethical in character, its value being both moral and spiritual, while its dominant notes are oblation, mediation, separation, and sanctification.1

John Phillips introduces Leviticus by stating: “In Exodus we see how God gets His people out of Egypt. In Leviticus we see how God gets ‘Egypt’ out of His people. Exodus begins with sinners, Leviticus with saints. Exodus shows the way out from the land of bondage. Leviticus shows us the way into the sanctuary of God. Exodus is the book of deliverance, Leviticus is the book of dedication.”2

In a similar but more extended vein, W. Graham Scroggie has written: “Mark the connection between EXODUS and LEVITICUS. In the one the people are brought nigh to God, and in the other they are kept nigh. In the one is the fact of atonement, and in the other is the doctrine of it. EXODUS begins with sinners, but LEVITICUS begins with saints, that is, as to their standing, though not necessarily so as to their state. In EXODUS we read of God’s approach to us, but in LEVITICUS, of our approach to God. In the one book Christ is the Saviour, and in the other He is the Sanctifier. In EXODUS our guilt is prominent, but in LEVITICUS, our defilement. EXODUS reveals God as Love, and LEVITICUS reveals him as Light. In the one, we are brought into union with Him, and in the other we are brought into communion. EXODUS offers us pardon but LEVITICUS calls us to purity. In the one book we are delivered from Satan, and in the other we are dedicated to God. In EXODUS God speaks out of the Mount, but in LEVITICUS He speaks out of the Tabernacle.”3

The outstanding character of Leviticus is Aaron, while the outstanding chapter is the sixteenth, revealing the Day of Atonement.

Moses, the man of God, was the human author of Leviticus.

Leviticus is God’s Textbook on Holiness and God’s Guidebook for the Priests (4:14; Heb. 7:11).


1. Access to God (1-10)

2. Acceptance by God (11-27)

G. Campbell Morgan Has Interestingly And Instructively Outlined Leviticus As Follows:4

1. Dedication: The Offerings (1-7)

2. Mediation: The Priests (8-10)

3. Separation: The People (11-22)

4. Consecration: The Feasts (23-24)

5. Ratification: The Signs (25-27)

Notable Notes

Though there were offerings in Leviticus complementary to them, the five main offerings (the first three of which were sweet savor offerings and the last two sin offerings), are as follows:

1. The Burnt Offering (1).

2. The Meal Offering (2)

3. The Peace Offering (3).

4. The Sin Offering (4).

5. The Trespass Offering (5).

There were seven annual feasts and fasts, the first four having been celebrated in rapid succession at the beginning of the year, the remaining three taking place in succession in the seventh month. The Lord Jesus Christ literally fulfilled the first four at His first coming and will literally fulfill the other three at His second coming, the interval between the feasts in Israel’s calendar illustrating the time period between the first and second coming of Christ.

The seven feasts are:

1. The Passover.

2. The Unleavened Bread.

3. The Firstfruits.

4. Pentecost.

5. Trumpets.

6. Atonement.

7. Tabernacles.

In Leviticus is revealed a Sabbatic system: seventh day, seventh week, seventh month, seventh year, and a heptad of years, which heptad culminated in the 50th year called “the year of jubilee” (cf. 2 Chron. 36:21).

In the Old Testament the feasts were called “feasts of Jehovah,” but in the New Testament they had so deteriorated that they were referred to as “feasts of the Jews” (John 5:1; 6:4).

The “how” of constant communion with God is a question authoritatively answered by the numerous direct messages from God, words such as “The Lord spake,” “said,” or “commanded,” occurring some 56 times in Leviticus.

It is important to observe from Leviticus that priesthood is for a people already redeemed. As Aaron and his successors acted strictly on behalf of the people of Israel alone, who had been sheltered by the Passover blood, so Christ is the fulfillment of that type and intercedes only on behalf of His Church. There is no priesthood on behalf of the world, except as true Christians today pray for the world.

Leviticus deals with the problems of sin aid redemption, Hebrews showing us that the Levitical sacrifices, priesthood, feasts and all other ritual were “a figure for the time then present” and “a shadow of good things to come” (Heb. 9:9; 10:1) .

In Leviticus the LORD JESUS CHRIST is seen as our GREAT HIGH PRIEST.

1 W. Graham Scroggie, Know Your Bible, I, p. 29.

2 John Phillips, Exploring the Scriptures, p. 27.

3 Scroggie, op. cit., p. 30.

4 G. Campbell Morgan, The Analyzed Bible, p. 34.