Monday, November 12, 2018

McGee and Me #6 Leviticus 1-14

Leviticus 1-14 (Thru the Bible #6) J. Vernon McGee. 1975. 192 pages. [Source: Bought]

I recently bought a complete set of J. Vernon McGee's Thru the Bible commentary series. These books are loosely based on his popular radio program. I have read a handful of his commentaries in the past--including this one--but I plan on reading and/or rereading all of the commentaries (again)

His commentary on Leviticus is divided into two books. The first book covers Leviticus 1-14. The second book covers Leviticus 15-27. 

First sentence: Many years ago, I read a statement by Dr. S. H. Kellogg saying that he considered the Book of Leviticus the most important book in the Bible. I felt that he must have had his tongue in cheek to make a statement like that.

Leviticus--unlike Genesis and Exodus--don't offer readers a lot of action and drama. There are no big stories to unpack in Leviticus. When it comes to adapting the Bible for children--you likely won't ever find one from Leviticus sneaking its way into a Bible story book. But that doesn't mean it lacks relevance. And not relevance because Christians are bound to obey the law to its fullest.

McGee spends a good amount of time explaining WHY Leviticus is in the Bible and WHY christians should read it and perhaps even come to love it in his introduction. This is not a waste of time, in my opinion, because the truth is most people give up on Leviticus. They don't credit Leviticus as being worth their time and energy. They don't see the point. But there is always a point to scripture--always. And that point is Jesus Christ.


  • Leviticus teaches that the walk with God is by sanctification. The word holiness, occurs 87 times in this book. “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” (Lev. 20:26).
  • In Genesis we see man ruined. In Exodus we see man redeemed. In Leviticus we see man worshiping God. In the Book of Exodus we see the offer of pardon; Leviticus offers purity. In Exodus we have God’s approach to man; in Leviticus it is man’s approach to God. In Exodus, Christ is the Savior; in Leviticus, He is the Sanctifier. In Exodus man’s guilt is prominent; in Leviticus man’s defilement is prominent. In Exodus, God speaks out of the mount; in Leviticus, He speaks out of the tabernacle. In Exodus man is made nigh to God; in Leviticus man is kept nigh to God.
  • This offering [the burnt offering] is a picture of Christ in depth as well as in death. A man cannot probe the full meaning of this offering because it sets before us what God sees in Christ.
  • The burnt offering shows the person of Christ. He is our substitute.
  • It is not the spotless life of Christ and our approval of Him that saves us. Only His death can save the sinner.
  • It was His death which opened the way to God; it was His death which saves the sinner.
  • The offering was to be brought of his own voluntary will. You don’t have to come to Christ. But if you want to be saved, then you will have to come to Christ.
  • You may think that is dogmatic and narrow. I’ll tell you something—it is! But the interesting thing is that it will bring you to God. 
  • We do not make the terms by which we come to God. God makes the terms, my friend. “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags …” (Isa. 64:6).
  • The little animal was dying a substitutionary death in the place of the offerer. That is what Christ did for us. When you accept Christ, you put your hand on Him; that is, you designate Him as your Savior.
  • Our sins put Jesus Christ to death. If you want it made very personal, my sin is responsible for the death of Christ; your sin is responsible for the death of Christ.
  • My friend, people can argue all they wish; the fact is that if I hadn’t been a sinner and if you hadn’t been a sinner, nobody would have put Him to death. It was our sin that put Him to death!
  • I want to say it kindly but emphatically—you are not serving God unless you are letting Him cleanse and purify your life.
  • The meal offering reveals the humanity of Jesus in all its perfection and loveliness.
  • Friends, man as he is in the world today is the most colossal failure in God’s universe. Have you ever stopped to think about that? The Scriptures are outspoken and specific at this point.
  • There are two important aspects of this offering: the ingredients which are included and the ingredients which are excluded.
  • The offering was to be made of fine flour and fine flour in that day was a little unusual. If the flour was to be very fine, it meant they must spend a great deal of time with it.
  • This sets before us the Lord Jesus in His personality. Today I am sure we would use the expression that He had a well-integrated personality. Actually, I think He was the only normal person who has ever been on this earth. Sin has made all of the human race lumpy, one-sided, abnormal. One part of our personalities has overdeveloped at the expense of some other area of our personality.
  • The offering was drenched with oil. The oil was a very important part of the offering and was applied in many different ways.
  • The prominence of the Holy Spirit in the human life of Jesus is very noticeable. He was born of the Spirit—“mingled with oil” (Luke 1:35).
  • He was baptized of the Spirit—“oil upon it” (Matt. 3:16–17). He was led of the Spirit—“pour oil thereon” (Mark 1:12). He taught, performed miracles, and offered Himself in the power of the Holy Spirit—“with oil” (John 3:34; Matt. 12:28).
  • If the Lord Jesus in His perfect humanity needed the Holy Spirit, surely you and I need Him to an even greater extent. We can do nothing of ourselves.
  • Frankincense was made from a secret formula. There evidently was a form of incense with which it was mixed (Exod. 30:34). It was made from some part of a plant or tree, perhaps the bark or leaves, and it exuded its fragrance only when crushed, beaten, burned, or put under pressure. This speaks of the life of the Lord Jesus as He manifested the fragrance of His life under the fires of tension, pressures, and persecution. This is what the Father saw in Him as the One in whom He delighted. There was a special fragrance about His life, and there should be a fragrance in our lives also, since we belong to Him.
  • The emphasis upon the fine flour and the oil is repeated again and again. Also, the fire is mentioned over and over. I want to say with great emphasis that the fire here does not symbolize hell under any circumstance. It is God’s purifying energy and power which brought out the sweetness in the life of Christ.
  • The final and full meaning of this offering is what God sees in Christ. His sweetness came out under pressure. In your experience and mine sweetness doesn’t always come out from us when we are under pressure.
  • The ingredients excluded in this offering are as prominent as the ingredients included. The two mentioned here by name are leaven and honey. Leaven in Scripture is everywhere presented as a principle of evil. Evil teaching is the leaven. Leaven is the principle of evil. Leaven is to be excluded from the offering. This speaks of the fact that there is no evil in Christ. There is no sin in the life of Christ. Honey was also excluded. It represents natural sweetness. It will sour, just as leaven is a souring thing. There are Christians who assume a pious pose in public.
  • Salt is the final ingredient which was included in the meal offering. Salt is a preservative and is the opposite of leaven. Leaven produces decay; salt preserves from corruption.
  • This offering [the peace offering] speaks of the communion and fellowship of believers with God the Father through our Lord Jesus Christ. The only way you and I can come to God is through Jesus Christ. He is the Way!
  • Just as we need four Gospels in the New Testament to set forth His earthly life, so also we need the five offerings of Leviticus to set forth His person and work.
  • We will notice that there are striking similarities between the peace offering and the burnt offering but we will also note sharp contrast. So the peace offering is also a unique offering.
  • In the peace offering, the emphasis is not upon the peace that He made by the blood of the cross, but upon the peace He is because of the blood of the cross. He is the meeting place of all believers together and of each believer with God the Father. Christ is the only one who can break down the walls that separate individuals, families, religions, races, and nations.
  • God says to you and me as sinners, “You are lost. You are alienated from Me, so I will have to consign you to the darkness of eternity.”
  • If God did that, He would be just and holy and all the angels in heaven would sing praises to His name. But, my friend, God is satisfied with what Jesus did for you and now you can come to God.
  • This is the first of the non-sweet savor offerings. The three sweet savor offerings set forth the person of Christ in all of His glorious character. The two non-sweet savor offerings set forth the work of Christ on the cross for sin.
  • The sin offering speaks of sin as a nature. The trespass offering speaks of sin as an act. You see, man is a sinner by nature, and he is a sinner because of what he does. He does what he does because he is a sinner by nature.
  • It is the longest account of any offering since it is twice as long as any of the other four. The burnt offering was 17 verses; the meal offering, 16 verses; the peace offering, 17 verses; the trespass offering, 19 verses; the sin offering, 35 verses. Evidently the Spirit of God thought this was very important.
  • The sin offering was an entirely new offering. Up to this time, there is no record anywhere of a sin offering. There is no previous record of it occurring in Scripture.
  • From the time of the giving of the Law, it became the most important and significant offering.
  • The sin offering was offered during all of the feasts—Passover, Pentecost, Trumpets, and Tabernacles. It was offered on the great Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur). It brought the High Priest into the Holy of Holies.
  • The burnt offering tells who Christ is; the sin offering tells what Christ did. In the burnt offering Christ meets the demands of God’s high and holy standard; in the sin offering Christ meets the deep and desperate needs of man.
  • The sin offering gave a profound conviction of sin. This conviction stands out in the literature of the race. The deep guilt complex of man must be diagnosed before an adequate remedy can be prescribed.
  • Our acceptance by God and our worship of Him are dependent upon the blood of Jesus Christ.
  • If you identify yourself with a church which does not teach the truth from the Word of God, God will judge you right along with that church.
  • Your responsibility is an individual responsibility, but when you join yourself with something, you are placed under corporate responsibility also.
  • We should not only pray for forgiveness in general, we are to name our specific failures to God and ask Him for forgiveness. But more than that, we should pray for forgiveness of sins that we may be unaware of. Sometimes we are unclean and do not realize it.
  • Christ is not only the priest but He is also the sacrifice. He offered Himself.
  • The trouble today is that we are out of touch with the living Christ. He is no longer a reality to us.
  • Today you and I need to offer our own hearts and lives to Him, if we belong to Him, that is, if we are saved. God forbid that we simply make empty professions. What is it that God wants us to do? “… This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent” (John 6:29).
  • All believers can participate in the enjoyment of the beauties and glories of the holy humanity of our Lord. My friend, you and I need to rejoice in Him more than we do.
  • When we see our sin nature and our sinful acts in all their enormity and frightfulness, then we shall see the wonder, greatness, and holiness of Christ.
  • My friend, you will never appreciate the Lord Jesus as your Savior until you see yourself as the terrible sinner that you are. I’m not calling you a low-down sinner. That is what the Word of God calls each one of us.
  • Friend, we cannot come to church to worship unless we are prepared to offer the sacrifice of praise to God. A complaining, criticizing Christian is in no position to worship God. How important this is!
  • A priest is one who represents man before God. He goes in to God on behalf of man. He is the opposite of a prophet. A prophet comes out from God, to speak for God, to man. A priest comes out from man and goes to God, to speak for man to God, and to represent man.
  • You can see that the Lord Jesus is both Prophet and Priest. He came out from God and spoke for God to man. He reveals God to man. Now He has gone from man back to God and is our great High Priest. He represents us there.
  • My friend, if you are not in Him, then you are not up there. You and I could never get there on our own.
  • A knowledge of the tabernacle is essential to an understanding of the Book of Leviticus and especially of the priesthood. 
  • We need the Word of God today, and we need the leading of God to determine the will of God in our lives.
  • Our life should be so that it would attract the man out in the world to the Lord Jesus Christ.
  • Too many folk think they must bring something to God if they are to be consecrated. Some folk seem to think they are giving the Lord a whole lot if they give themselves.
  • We’re not giving Him very much, friends. When He got me, all He got was just so much sin. That’s all.
  • We were born for the purpose of completing the body of Christ. And He was born for the purpose of coming down here to accomplish the will of God in order that He might bring us home to glory.
  • It is the filling of the Holy Spirit that is needed for the study and the teaching of the Word of God.
  • God is the One who saves and He is the One who says how we shall be saved. Jesus Christ says that no man comes to the Father but by Him.
  • Friends, you cannot make a distinction between the sacred and the secular. God moves right out here from that which we would call sacred to that which we would call secular, and He makes no distinction.
  • You see, we tend to divide things in our lives as big problems and little problems. They are not divided that way before God. They are all little problems to Him. Yet nothing is too small for His attention and care.
  • A Christian cannot mingle with the world and play with sin without becoming contaminated.
  • Leprosy and running issues of the flesh are accurate symbols of the manifestation of sin in the heart of man. It shows the exceeding sinfulness of sin and the effect of sin in action. The emphasis of Leviticus is on sin.
  • The sinner spreads his sin wherever he goes! His disease is contagious and he infects others.
  • We notice that the priest is not going out to heal the leper but is going out to see if he has been healed. That is important. This is the “law of the leper in the day of his cleansing.”
  • The leper was shut out from the tabernacle, and so it was necessary for the priest to come to him.
  • The brazen altar for the sacrifices speaks of the cross of Christ. But, you see, that cross had to be down here on this earth. He had to come down here to meet us where we are.
  • Friend, you can never be cleansed or sanctified, set apart for God’s use, until you are saturated with the Word of God.
  • Are you a leper who has come to Jesus Christ for cleansing or are you still unclean?

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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