Life-Study of Leviticusby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
The book of Leviticus may be divided into two main sections. The first section, comprising chapters one through ten, covers the offerings and the priesthood. The second section, comprising chapters eleven through twenty-seven, covers the holy living of God’s holy people. After God speaks in the first section concerning the offerings and the priesthood, He speaks in the second section concerning His people in their entirety. The priests are not the only ones who should have a holy life and a holy living. The people of God, among whom the priests serve, should also be holy.
Leviticus is a book of types, a book of typology. In the first seven chapters we have the different kinds of offerings, all of which are types. The priesthood in chapters eight through ten should also be considered a type. Furthermore, all the matters in chapters eleven through twenty-seven concerning the holy living of God’s holy people should also be regarded as types. These chapters cover the living of the Israelites, God’s people in the Old Testament. However, if we have the proper understanding of the types, we shall realize that all the types in these chapters are types of the living of the New Testament believers.
Because Leviticus is a book of types, there is the need for it to be expounded. Without the proper expounding, it is difficult for anyone to know this book. Nevertheless, some have claimed that there is no need for the exposition of the Bible. According to their concept, if we do not understand a certain portion of the Word the first time we read it, we should read it again and again until we do understand it. However, this is not true of a book like Leviticus. I assure you, even if you were to read Leviticus hundreds of times, you would still be unable to understand it. If we are to know this book, it must be opened to us through the proper expounding.
The book of Leviticus has been opened by God’s people collectively. It has been opened by God’s people for God’s people. This opening began with the Apostle Paul, who expounded Leviticus while writing the Epistle to the Hebrews. Peter also received some understanding of Leviticus through the vision given to him in Acts 10. The vision of a “certain vessel like a great sheet” (v. 11) in which were all kinds of animals was a fulfillment of Leviticus 11. Acts 10, therefore, is an exposition of Leviticus 11. From this we see that the expounding of the book of Leviticus began with the apostles.
This expounding has continued throughout the centuries, and now we are standing on the shoulders of the expositors who have preceded us. In particular, we are indebted to the Brethren, who were raised up by the Lord in England a century and a half ago. After I was saved, I was with the Brethren for seven and a half years. During those years, I learned much from them concerning typology and prophecy. The Brethren teachers had a lot to say about the animals in Leviticus 11. Without the help I received from the Brethren, I could not understand what is covered in this chapter. Just as I am standing on the shoulders of the Brethren, you are standing on my shoulders. I hope that in the years to come you who are standing on my shoulders will see more than I have seen.
Since the book of Leviticus is written fully in types, certain points are very difficult to understand. One extremely difficult point is found in 11:3a, which speaks of whatever “divides the hoof and is cloven-footed.” Here we have two matters: dividing the hoof and being cloven-footed. In verse 7 we are told that the pig divides the hoof and is cloven-footed. What is the difference between these two things? I do not know. The Chinese version of the Bible makes dividing the hoof and being cloven-footed into one thing. In other words, the scholars who prepared that translation thought that to divide the hoof was to be cloven-footed. The difference between dividing the hoof and being cloven-footed requires further study.
The title of this message is “Discernment in Diet.” Discernment in diet is a matter of discernment in food-stuffs, of discernment in what we eat. Eating is not a great thing. Why, then, must we take care of our eating if we are to live a holy life? In order to answer this question, we need to remember that Leviticus is a book of types, and in types there are figures which bear a particular significance. The significance is different from the thing itself. This is true of the animals mentioned in Leviticus 11. All these animals bear a great significance, for they typify persons; they are figures that describe different kinds of persons. This is proved by Acts 10:9b-14, 27-29. Peter “beheld heaven opened, and a certain vessel like a great sheet descending, being let down by four corners onto the earth, in which were all the four-footed animals and reptiles of the earth and birds of the heaven” (vv. 11-12). At first, Peter did not understand that these animals, reptiles, and birds were figures of people. Eventually he came to understand this, for in the house of Cornelius there were people, not beasts (vv. 27-28).
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