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SermonIndex.net : Christian Books : V. THE ATTACK ON THE BOOK OF LEVITICUS.

Concerning The Assumptions Of Destructive Criticism by S. E. Wishard

V. THE ATTACK ON THE BOOK OF LEVITICUS.

|The Lord called unto Moses, and spake unto him out of the tabernacle of the congregation, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel and say unto them, If any man of you bring an offering, ye shall bring your offering of the cattle, even of the herd and of the flock.| Lev. i. I, 2.

|And when any will offer a meat offering unto the Lord, his offering shall be of fine flour, and he shall pour oil upon it, and put frankincense thereon.| Lev. ii.2.

|And if his oblation be a sacrifice of peace offering, ... he shall lay his hand upon the head of his offering, and kill it at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and Aaron's sons the priests shall sprinkle the blood upon the altar round about,| Lev. iii.1, 2.

|And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If a soul shall sin through ignorance against any of the commandments of the Lord concerning things which ought not to be done, ... let him bring for his sin, which he hath sinned, a young bullock without blemish unto the Lord for a sin offering.| Lev. iv.1, 2, 3.

|His truth endureth to all generations.| Psa. c.5.

Having considered the critical assault on the Pentateuch as a whole, attention should be called to the special criticisms on the book of Leviticus. A prominent representative of the school of critics affirmed in his recent lectures at Long Beach, California, that the Hebrews had no literature until their connection with the Babylonians while in captivity, that their literature was developed during their agricultural life while in Babylon. He affirmed that the sacrificial ritual of the book of Leviticus had its roots in the heathen sacrifices growing out of their false conception that their deities must be appeased by the shedding of blood. The Levitical ritual was, therefore, never written nor given by Moses. If this gentleman and the critics that hold with him are correct, we must conclude with them that Moses never saw or heard of our book of Leviticus.

In reply let it be said:

1. The denial of the existence of Hebrew literature prior to the exile is thoroughly answered and set aside by the records discovered on the Egyptian monuments and writings before and during Israel's bondage. Many of the critics have found this criticism untenable, and have abandoned it. They have been obliged to concede that Egyptian and Babylonian literature existed long before the time of Moses. The best scholarship of to-day affirms that |the discovery and first use of writing is certainly as old as the time of Abraham.| (See Schaff-Hergoz, Enc. Art. Writing.)

2. If the Bible itself is not a fraud, writing was constantly in use in the time of Moses. See:

(1) Exod. vii.14: |The Lord said unto Moses, Write this for a memorial in a book.|

(2) Exod. xxiv.4: |And Moses wrote all the words of the Lord.|

(3) Exod. xxxiv.27: |And the Lord said unto Moses, Write thou these words.|

(4) Exod. xxxiv.28: |And he (God) wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant.|

(5) Num. v.23: |And the priest shall write these curses in a book.|

(6) Num. xi.26: |They were of them that were written.|

(7) Num. xvii.2: |Write thou every man's name upon his rod.|

(8) Num. xvii.3: |Write Aaron's name upon the rod of Levi.|

(9) Num. xxxiii.2: |And Moses wrote their goings out according to their journeyings by the commandment of the Lord.|

(10) Deut. vi.9: |Thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house and upon thy gates.|

(11) Deut xi.20. Repeats the last reference cited.

(12) Deut. xvii, 18: |When he (the king) sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, he shall write him a copy of this law in a book.|

These are a few out of the many passages in the Pentateuch in which God has commanded his servant to write, and in which it is positively stated that his servant did write. One of two things is certain, either the whole Pentateuch is a fraud, having stated repeatedly that writing was commanded and practiced, or the book is true, and the fraud must be charged to the belated critics.

The reader will see very clearly that the purpose of such criticism is to eliminate the supernatural from the Bible, as has been said, and destroy its certitude.

It is too late in the day for the Professor's criticism, that Hebrew literature had its first development during the exile. |Stephen full of the Holy Spirit, looking steadfastly into heaven,| read the record of history concerning Moses differently. Stephen could not have heard the Chautauqua lecturer's statement, for he affirmed that |Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and deeds.|

3. Consider now the assumptions of the critics in the face of the claims of the book of Leviticus. In the first verses of the book it is written: |And the Lord called upon Moses, and spake unto him out of the tabernacle of the congregation, saying.| Then follow God's specific directions concerning

(1) The burnt offering;

(2) The meat offering, and

(3) The sin offering, occupying the whole of the first three chapters. The fourth chapter is introduced in the same explicit language.

(4) The sin offering.

This definite direction of God to Moses extends to the sixth chapter of the book. Here again the same formula of speech is employed, God speaking to Moses gave directions concerning

(5) The trespass offering.

In the eighth chapter we have God's direct communication to Moses, and Moses' response in such phrases as the following, and all in a single chapter: |And the Lord spake to Moses, ... and Moses did as the Lord commanded him, ... and Moses said unto the congregation, ... and Moses brought Aaron and his sons, ... as the Lord commanded Moses, ... and Moses brought Aaron's sons, as the Lord commanded Moses.| Ten times in this single chapter it is recorded that God spake to Moses, and Moses obeyed God.

And yet our critic would have us believe one of two things; God either took the heathen sacrificial ritual, veneered it with some sort of divine approval, and handed it over to his people for their use, or by some sort of evolution the book of Leviticus came up out of the heathen method of appeasing their malevolent deities!

Let the facts be summarized. In every one of the twenty-seven chapters of the book of Leviticus God is represented as commanding Moses, and Moses is represented as doing the thing which God required of him, and several times in many of the chapters. In the eighteenth chapter nineteen definite things are done by Moses, the seventeenth verse asserting that all this was done |as the Lord commanded Moses.|

The following references are absolutely unanswerable by the critics, viz.:

Lev. i.1: |The Lord called unto Moses, and spake unto him.|

Lev. iv.1: |The Lord spake unto Moses, saying,| etc.

Lev. vi.1; |And the Lord spake unto Moses.|

Lev. viii.1: |And the Lord spake unto Moses.|

Lev. viii.36: |Aaron and his sons did all things which the Lord commanded by the hand of Moses.|

Lev. ix.6: |And Moses said, This is the thing which the Lord commanded that ye should do.|

Lev. xi.1: |And the Lord spake unto Moses and to Aaron.|

Lev. xii.1: |And the Lord spake unto Moses.|

Lev. xiii.1: |And the Lord spake unto Moses and Aaron.|

Lev. xiv.1: |And the Lord spake unto Moses.|

Lev. xiv.33: |And the Lord spake unto Moses and unto Aaron.|

Without further repetition of this phraseology, the reader will find the same in the following references, viz.: xv.1, xvi.1, xvii.1, xviii.1, xix.1, xx.1, xxi.1, xxii.1-17, xxiii.1, xxiv.1, xxv.1, xxvii.1-34.

Here are twenty-five positive statements that God spake to Moses, or commanded Moses. Does language mean anything? Is there any escape from the truth, except by a denial of the entire Word of God?

God and Moses are the active agents in every chapter in the book of Leviticus. And this fact is definitely stated in the last verse of Leviticus: |These are the commandments which the Lord commanded Moses.|

You might as well attempt to blot the sun from the heavens at high noon as to eliminate from the book of Leviticus the one great and divinely-appointed personality, Moses, the lawgiver, the leader the actor, and under God the author of the book.

A further word concerning the date of Leviticus. When was it written? As already stated, the critics place the time of the writing after the exile, between nine hundred and one thousand years after the decease of Moses. Something additional should be added to what has already been said on the subject.

The reader of the English Bible will see that Leviticus immediately follows Exodus by the connective |and.| The same Hebrew connective unites Exodus with Genesis, and Numbers with Leviticus. The natural, grammatical, and logical inference is, that the author of Genesis is the author of Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers.

In addition to this fact we have the testimony of some of the prophets who lived before the exile, that they were familiar with what the critics call |the priestly code,| which is elaborated in Leviticus.

Professor Stanley Leathes adduces forty-five allusions to the books of Moses in the book of Amos. (See Bible Student and Teacher, October, 1906.) Amos' prophetic work was |in the northern kingdom, between 807 and 765 B.C., during the reign of Jeroboam II, when the kingdom of Israel was at the height of its splendor.| (See Schaff-Herzog, Enc. Art. Amos.) This was more than two hundred years before the restoration from the exile, long before the captivity, which the critics designate as the beginning of the literary period.

Professor Leathes affirms that |there is apparent acquaintance with and reference to each book of the Pentateuch in this prophecy.| He shows that Leviticus is referred to in nine passages in Amos. The reference in Amos iv.5 to |a sacrifice in thanksgiving with leaven| is an allusion to the law of thanksgiving in Lev. vii.13.

In giving God's message to Israel in a time of great backsliding, Amos said to them: |Though ye offer unto me burnt offerings and meat offerings, I will not accept them, neither will I regard the peace offerings of your fat beasts.| (Amos v.23.)

This is an allusion to the law of burnt offerings and meat offerings set forth in the first chapter of Leviticus. But the critics inform us that there was no law concerning these offerings until several hundred years after Amos ceased to prophesy!

Again, enumerating the sins of the people, Amos charges them with giving the Nazarites wine to drink. |Ye gave the Nazarites wine to drink, and commanded the prophets, saying, Prophesy not.| (Amos ii.12.) This was a violation of the law of God as found in Num. vi.2, 3, showing at least that the Pentateuch, of which Leviticus is an important part, was known to Amos, long before the period to which Leviticus has been assigned by the destructive critics.

Hosea adds his testimony to that of Amos and Ezekiel. Again and again he refers to the law of sacrifices as taught in Leviticus. |They shall be ashamed because of their sacrifices.| |They sacrifice on the tops of the mountains and burn incense upon the hills.| (Hosea iv.13, 19.)

Concerning Ephraim, God says by the prophet Hosea: |I wrote for him ten thousand things of my law.| (Hosea viii.12, R.V.) He refers to the law as given to Moses in all its length and breadth.

The critics demand large credulity from us. They ask us to accept their position that the Bible itself was mistaken as to its authorship, that Christ and his apostles were mistaken; or at least did not tell the truth when they assigned the Pentateuch (Leviticus included) to Moses. They then ask us to believe that the Bible is not only unimpaired by the mistakes which the experts claim to have discovered, but is really much improved by the discovery!

It passes rational comprehension that we are permitted to expunge from the Word of God, on the ground of literary criticism, the positive and repeated statements of inspired men, and of the Son of God, and yet assume that we have an unimpaired revelation!

We rather turn to the glorious array of witnesses to the integrity of the Bible that God has furnished -- the book itself, Moses and the prophets, all the New Testament writers and the |Teacher sent from God.| From these witnesses we rest in the unshaken belief that |God spake all these words| (Ex. xx.1) and that |Moses wrote all the words of the Lord| (Ex. xxiv.4), including Leviticus.

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