We must not conclude our introductory remarks [to the book of Leviticus] without calling attention to the vital point — the central idea of the book — its spiritual meaning.
That so elaborate a ritual looked beyond itself we cannot doubt. It was a prophecy of things to come; a shadow whereof the substance was Christ and his kingdom. We may not always be able to say what the exact relation is between the type and the antitype. Of many things we may be sure that they belonged only to the nation to whom they were given, containing no prophetic significance, but serving as witnesses and signs to them of God’s covenant of grace. We may hesitate to pronounce with Jerome, that ‘every sacrifice, nay, almost every syllable — the garments of Aaron and the whole Levitical system — breathe of heavenly mysteries;’ but we cannot read the Epistle to the Hebrews and not acknowledge that the Levitical priests ‘served the pattern and type of heavenly things’ — that the sacrifices of the law pointed to and found their interpretation in the LAMB OF GOD — that the ordinances of outward purification signified the truer inward cleansing of the heart and conscience from dead works, to serve the living God.
One idea, moreover, penetrates the whole of this vast and burdensome ceremonial, and gives it a real glory, even apart from any prophetic significance. HOLINESS is its end. Holiness is its character. The tabernacle is holy — the vessels are holy — the offerings are most holy unto Jehovah — the garments of the priests are holy. All who approach Him whose name is ‘Holy,’ whether priests who minister to him or people who worship before him, must themselves be holy. It would seem as if, amid the camp and dwellings of Israel, was ever to be heard an echo of that solemn strain which fills the courts above, where the seraphim cry one to another, HOLY, HOLY, HOLY. — Perowne.