Book Review: The Beauty of Holiness, by Philip H. Eveson
Synopsis: Although the book of Leviticus contains the foundational set of instructions â€“ civil, ceremonial, and moral â€“ for the entire Old Testament economy, and although it is an absolutely necessary backdrop for understanding the significance of the work of Christ (and hence it is likewise foundational for the entire New Testament economy); yet it remains one of the most obscure and little-understood portions of the entire bible. There is no doubt, therefore, that a great many Christians would profit most wholesomely from having â€œthe book of Leviticus simply explainedâ€. This is just what Philip H. Eveson's proposes to do in his commentary, The Beauty of Holiness; and I am pleased to say, that he has in fact succeeded in doing so quite admirably.
The challenge of understanding and explaining the book of Leviticus is twofold: first, one must make clear just what is being said (not always an easy task in light of the vast otherness of the culture and worldview of the young Jewish nation); but more importantly, one must then go on to explain why those precise instructions were ever given. What is the real significance of the intricate laws governing the priestly duties, the sacrificial system, the appointed feasts, ritual cleanness, and so on? Which, if any, of these laws are binding upon believers today? What is the continuing significance of those that do not have the same kind of application to us as they had to their original audience? How do they teach us about Christ, or about our own duties and means of forgiveness? These questions are not easy to answer; but nevertheless Eveson has grappled with them throughout his commentary, and has usually managed to illuminate the significance of Christ's person and work most aptly, and to detail many practical applications to believers today, which are justified from the text of Leviticus itself, and borne out as well by later revelation.
The Beauty of Holiness is laid out quite helpfully in thirty-three very manageable sections, dealing mostly with self-contained units in the text of Leviticus. This arrangement will certainly prove useful for the preacher or teacher who undertakes an exposition of the book of Leviticus, giving him insight into how the text is naturally structured, and how it might best be broken down and headed for maximum clarity. It is also a well-adapted structure for the devotional reader at home: indeed, I can think of few better strategies for a month or so of devotional reading than to read every day one of the suggested portions of Leviticus, together with the corresponding chapter from Eveson. This is not just a commentary for clergy and theologians. It was designed for the everyday Christian who is hungering to know more of the person and work of Christ, the way in which to receive his grace, and the nature of our obligations to him.
The book of Leviticus is too foundational just to ignore. It provides the necessary backdrop for all of the scriptures which follow. It illuminates the nature of Christ's person and redemptive accomplishment in ways that are thrillingly vibrant and poignantly expressive even for readers today. It underscores with a fearful solemnity the utter holiness of God, and the seriousness with which a thoroughgoing holiness and purity of life must be pursued by anyone who would approach such a God. If you feel unable to read the book of Leviticus with enough understanding to feel the full impact of all these things, invest a little time in Eveson's commentary. You will be surprised by how much you learn, and by how practical and applicational your new knowledge will be to your everyday life as a Christian.