Lectures Introductory to the Pentateuch.
The book of Leviticus has its own character quite as manifestly as Genesis or Exodus. Its peculiar feature is that from its very starting-point it is the revelation of what God saw in Jesus Christ our Lord, the typical application which grace made of Him and His work to souls, to a people and their land. It is the most complete direction-book of the priests, setting forth in all the detail of the Levitical service the various offices of the Lord Jesus. For this reason we see the propriety of the ground and circumstances with which it opens. “Jehovah called unto Moses, and spake unto him out of the tabernacle of the congregation.” There is not the rich variety of Genesis, neither is there the special object of Exodus as unfolding redemption or the legal conditions which the people undertook through ignorance of themselves and of God. Here we have, as its characteristic feature, access to God; not God acting in grace toward men to deliver, but Christ as the means of approach to God for a people in relationship with Him, sustaining them there or warning of the ways and consequences of departure from Him. It is admirably calculated to act on the soul of the believer and acquaint him better with God as He reveals Himself in the Lord Jesus.
Thus the Spirit of God begins not with the sinner and his wants, but with Christ, and gives in the opening types a wonderful analysis of His work and sacrifice. This is a familiar remark, but it is well to repeat it. And as He begins with Christ, so in the first place is given the highest thought of our Lord’s death in atonement — the burnt-offering. It is that aspect of His sacrifice which goes exclusively God-ward — an aspect which believers are apt to be in no small danger of attenuating, if not losing sight of altogether. There is no child of God that does not see the need of Christ to be a sin-offering for him, but far too many stop there. In a general way they have the sense of His grace undoubtedly; but as we are now occupied with the offering of Christ in all its fulness, it does not seem too much if one deplores the habitual disposition, in looking at Christ’s sacrifice, to think of nothing but His adaptation to our wants. Indeed this is the very reason why many souls so fail to appreciate the boundless grace which has met them in their wants, but which would raise them to enjoy that which is incomparably above themselves.
Hence we here commence with the type of the burnt-offering, the sweet savour of Christ to God for us indeed, but not limited by the circle of human thought, — not His bare adaptation to our need. Freely I must grant that the man who begins with Christ apart from his own necessities and guilt is but a theorist where it most of all becomes one to be real. We may well distrust the faith of the soul which, professing to be awakened from the sleep of death, only cares to hear of the profound truth of the burnt-offering in the death of Jesus. Must we not fear that such an one deceives himself? For, when dealing with the sinner God begins with him as he is. And sinners we are, verily guilty. Doubtless God meets the man in the mind and heart, yet never truly saves but through the conscience; and if there be an unwillingness in any one to have his conscience searched — in other words, to begin as nothing but a poor sinner in the sight of God, he must be brought back to it some time or other. Happy he who is willing to begin where God begins. Happy he who escapes the painful sifting and humiliation too, when, for the time he ought to be making advance in the knowledge of Christ and of His grace, he has to turn back again through having overlooked his real state in the sight of God; when he has to learn what he is himself, it may be years after he has been bearing the excellent name of the Lord.
In Leviticus then the Spirit of God shows us the all-important truth that, whatever may be the divine way of dealing with individuals, God has Christ before Himself. He surely thinks of His people as a whole but, above all, He cannot overlook His own glory as maintained in Christ.
First of all then we are in presence of the holocaust or burnt-offering. (Lev. 1) We have to learn that special aspect of the Lord in which He, “by the Eternal Spirit, offered himself up without spot unto God.” This is the burnt-offering. There, if anywhere, it could be said that God was glorified in Him. Apart. from this, Scripture nowhere says that God, as such, was glorified in the Son of Man till Christ gave Himself up to death. The Father had been glorified in Him in every step of His life; but our Lord Jesus refrains from saying that God was glorified in Him, till the fatal night when Judas goes out to betray Him to His murderers, and the whole scene is before His eyes. (John 13) He “became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”
And this principle we find in a very lovely way brought before us in John 10. Undoubtedly He laid His life down for the sheep; but the believer who sees nothing more than this in the death of Christ has a great deal to learn. It is very evident he does not think much about God or His Anointed. He feels for himself and for others in similar wants. It is well that he should begin there unquestionably; but why should he stop with it? Our Lord Jesus Himself gives us the full truth of the matter, saying, “I am the good Shepherd, and know my [sheep], and am known of mine; even as the Father knoweth me, and I know the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep. And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one flock, one shepherd.” After these words, we come to what gives the more particular import of the burnt-offering in the total and willing surrender of Himself in death. “Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it again.” The only One who, as a man, had a right to life — to all blessedness and glory as a living man on the earth — is the only One entitled to lay down, His life of Himself. And this He did — not merely for the sheep, but He laid it down of Himself; and yet He could say, “This commandment have I received of my Father.” It was in His own heart, and it was obedience too, absolutely, with trust in God. It was glorifying God in the very matter of death, and, as we know, on account of sin — our sin.
Thus Christ glorified His God and Father in a world where His enemy reigned. It was the fullest proof of One who could confide for everything in Him who sent Him; and this He did. God was glorified in Him; and if the Son of man glorified Him, no wonder God glorified Him in Himself, and also that He straightway glorified Him. This He did by taking Christ up and setting Him at His own right hand in heaven. This of course is not the burnt-offering, but its consequence to Him who was so. The burnt-offering exhibits the absolute devotedness of the Lord Jesus atoningly to death for the glory of God the Father. It is allowed fully that there is nothing here which seems to make blessing to man prominent. Were there no sin, there could be no burnt-offering, nothing to represent the complete surrender up of self unto God, even to death But the expression of sin in its hatefulness and necessary banishment from God’s presence was reserved for another offering and even a contrasted class of offerings.
The prime thought here is, that all goes up as a savour of rest to God, who is therefore glorified in it. Hence it is that in the burnt-offering of this chapter, in what is called the meat-offering, and in the peace-offering, no question of compulsion enters. The offering was in nowise wrung out from Israel. So, as we see, in the words of our blessed Lord, no one took His life from Him; He laid it down of Himself. “If any man of you bring an offering unto Jehovah, ye shall bring your offering of the beasts, even of the herd and of the flock. If his offering be a burnt-sacrifice of the herd, he shall offer a male without blemish; he shall offer it for his acceptance at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before Jehovah;” but there was no demand.
This is so much the more pointed, because from Leviticus 4 we find wholly different language. We enter on another character of offering there, as we anticipate for a moment. “If a soul shall sin,” it is written, “against any of the commandments of Jehovah, then let him bring for his sin,” so and so. This was an absolute requirement. There was no discretion left to the Israelite. It was not an open matter. Be must do it; and accordingly it was defined in all respects. A person had no option in bringing what he liked. If he were a ruler, he must bring a certain kind of offering; if he were one of the common people, another kind was prescribed. There was both the command in the first place, and next the signifying of what must be brought to God in case of sin.
But all the earlier offerings in Lev. 1-3, the burnt-offering, the oblation, and the peace-offering, were left to the heart of the offerer — were left open, and with the fullest consideration of the means. God would make no burden of that which should be a joy. It was the heart giving to Him what it might otherwise value, but what expressed at any rate its value for the Lord. How perfectly Jesus met this — how He surpassed all that it was possible for a type to represent — our souls know well. He gave Himself.
The offerer then brought for his olah or burnt-sacrifice which ascended up to God the best animal of its kind according to his heart and means, of the herd or of the flock, of turtle-doves or of young pigeons. In the nobler forms (i.e., when from the herd or flock) an unblemished male was taken, on the head of which the offerer laid his hand. It is a mistake to suppose that this act in itself involves confession of sin, or was always accompanied by it. It was quite as often the sign of the conveyance of a blessing or official honour. And even if we look at it only as connected with sacrifices, it had an import in the burnt-offering quite different from its bearing in the sin-offering. Transfer there was in both; but in the former the offerer was identified with the acceptance of the victim; in the other the victim was identified with the confessed sin of the offerer. The sweet savour of the burnt-sacrifice represented him who offered it. The animal was killed before Jehovah. The priests sprinkled its blood round about upon the altar. The victim itself, if a bull, was flayed; if a bull, sheep, or goat, it was severed. The pieces, head, and fat, were set in order upon the wood on the fire of the altar; the inwards and legs were washed in water; and then the priest caused all to ascend in fumes on the altar, a fire-offering of sweet odour to Jehovah All was laid open; and when in the victim any question of defilement could be, the washing of water made clean the parts, inward or outward, to be a fit type of the Holy One of God.
On another fact let me say a word in passing. Not only is there a tendency to confound things that differ, and to make Christ’s sacrifice to be solely one for our sin, for our wants before God, but there is in these various forms of the burnt-offering a little intimation, it seems to me, of that very tendency; for as we gradually go down it will be noticed that the offering approaches in some slight degree that which might be more appropriate for a sin-offering. “And if the burnt sacrifice for his offering to Jehovah be of fowls, then he shall bring his offering of turtle-doves, or of young pigeons. And the priest shall bring it unto the altar, and wring off his head, and burn it on the altar; and the blood thereof shall be wrung out at the side of the altar. And he shall pluck away his crop with his feathers, and cast it beside the altar.” There is not the whole animal going up to God in the same marked way as in the first case. That is, the lower the faith (which I suppose is what is meant by the sinking of the value of the offering) the more the offering approaches to the notion of one for our sins: we see what is unworthy and cast away as well as what goes up to God.
In the meat-offering is quite another thought. There is no thought whatever of atonement here. It was really the best of food given up to Jehovah, corn and oil, not without salt, as we see later on. But it was only for priestly food, besides Jehovah’s memorial and all the frankincense, not for the offerer or his friends. Here it is well to bear in mind that the word “meat” might convey a wrong impression. This rendering of minchah, , possibly obsolete now, seems somewhat faulty, as the idea is an offering of what was bloodless, emphatically that which never possessed animal life. Clearly therefore the burnt-offering and the meat-offering stand in distinct contrast. The very essence of the burnt-offering is the surrender of life absolutely to God. This no man but a divine person was capable of doing; but, Jesus being such, infinite is the value of His self-sacrificing death on the cross. In the meat-offering the Lord is pre-eminently viewed as a man living on the earth. That there is no thought of death, but of life consecrated to God, is the general truth of the food or cake-offering.
Hence, “when any will offer a meat-offering unto Jehovah, his offering shall be of fine flour; and he shall pour oil upon it, and put frankincense thereon” It is simply the beautiful emblem of Christ as man in this world. His humanity is represented by the fine flour, and the power of the Holy Ghost (which is so set forth in scripture from His very conception) by the oil poured on the flour. The frankincense shadowed His ever acceptable fragrance which went up to God continually. All this was brought to the priests, one of whom took out his handful. “And he shall bring it to Aaron’s sons, the priests; and he shall take thereout his handful of the flour thereof, and of the oil thereof, with all the frankincense thereof; and the priest shall burn the memorial of it upon the altar, to be an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto Jehovah. And the remnant of the meat-offering shall be Aaron’s and his sons.” Therein we see another marked difference. The burnt-offering as a whole went up to God, or in its lowest form a part might be thrown away; but all that was used was solely for God. In the oblation-offering it was not so. Part of it went to the priestly body — to Aaron and his sons.
Thus here we have devotedness not in death so much as in life — the Holy One absolutely consecrated to God, in whom the power of the Holy Ghost moulded every thought and feeling, and this viewed as a man here below in all His ways and words. Of the oblation-offering not merely has God His portion, but we too are entitled to feed on it. Aaron and his sons represent the Lord Jesus and those that He has made priests; for He “loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,” and made us not only kings but “priests unto God.” Clearly then in Christ and Christians we have the antitype of Aaron and his sons. Now we are entitled to delight in that which Jesus was here below; and certainly it were a great and irreparable loss to the soul if a Christian said or thought that he had nothing to do with Christ thus — that he had the death of the blessed Lord, but no special portion in Him as He lived for God here below. It is well to resent those who slight or ignore the value of Christ’s sufferings, but we must beware of error on the other side. Why such scant measure? why such carelessness? You who by grace are priests to God — you at least should value that which is so distinctly marked out as your portion and proper food. Is it not the miserable working of unbelief, similar in principle though opposite in form, to what we have already noticed — the heart rising in faint degree above the sense of sins, and after all sins but poorly felt? God would give us communion with Himself in Christ — in all that He is.
The first presentation is simply the oblation in its constituents, setting forth Christ as a living man, His nature in the power of the Spirit with every grace offered to God without distraction or deflection or drawback (verse 1-3).
The second part (ver. 4-10) distinguishes between the mingling and anointing with oil — holiness in nature and power for service. For there are different forms of which it may be well to speak. “If thou bring an offering of an oblation baken in the oven;” and, again, “an oblation-offering baken in a pan.” In the latter case the oblation was parted in pieces, when oil was poured on all, as before sundering it had been mingled with oil. Thus, besides being conceived of the Spirit, Jesus knew this trial to the uttermost; and His suffering in obedience displayed most intimately the power of the Spirit in every pang” when He knew as none ever did rejection, desertion, denial, treachery, not to speak of the ignominy of the cross. The break-up of every hope and prospect which befell Him at the close only revealed His perfectness of spiritual power in an inward way and in the least particular. Surely this is not a mere figure without meaning: there is nothing in vain in the Bible. It is not for us to presume or to exceed our measure, but we may search with at least the earnest desire to understand what God has written.
I take it then that in the first part we have the simple typical expression of the nature of our Lord Jesus as man; that in the second, the oblation baken in the oven, the pan, and the frying-pan, we see the Lord as man exposed to various phases of severe trial. The oven indicates trial applied in a way of which man may not particularly be the witness. The oven does not so much represent public manifestation; the pan does. If the pan means that which was exposed to others, which I suppose to be its force here, the frying-pan1 is only another shape of the same principle, the shade of difference being in intensity. Thus we have secret trial, public trial, and this to the utmost — in different forms the Lord Jesus tried in every possible way. Fire is always the emblem of that which searches-judicially; and the Lord Jesus, it is not too much to say, in every way was put to the proof. What was the effect? His excellency shown more than ever — the manifestation of the perfection, and of nothing but perfection, that was found in Him.
There is a further point which may be profitably noticed here: the Spirit of God particularly mentions that this cake-offering is “a thing most holy of the offerings of Jehovah made by fire.” There is another offering which is said to be most holy. This remarkable phrase the Spirit of God applies in two cases out of the four. Not only is it used about the cake-offering which represents His life as man here below, the very thing in which man has dared to suspect a taint; but in the sin-offering the same expression again occurs — the very occasion which man would have suspected, if anywhere, of sullying the perfectness of His glory. He was as really man on the one hand, as on the other our sins were really borne by Him. Nothing seems to exceed therefore the perfect care of the Holy Ghost for the glory of Christ. For in the offering for sin, where man would imagine Him in some way lowered, He takes care most of all to say that it is “a thing most holy.” Or again, if man inferred a taint in His humanity, the word of the Spirit, ever jealous to glorify Him, is “most holy.” If the golden plate on the high priest’s forehead displayed holiness to Jehovah, not less is the stamp “most holy” placed by God precisely where man has allowed his mind to speculate to the dishonour of Christ as man and as a sacrifice for our sins.
Again, in the meat-offering observe other traits, before we pass on (ver. 11). Leaven was absolutely to be excluded from it, the familiar figure of sin as in us. There was none in Him: He “knew no sin.” Again, there was the prohibition of “any honey.” It means a thing pleasant and not wrong, but incapable of being offered to God. There cannot be a finer proof of the absence in Christ of a sweetness merely natural than the way He acted even where His mother was concerned; for scripture has not recorded it in vain that she did ask our Lord, but had not her requests granted. He came to do the will of Him that sent Him, and to finish His work. As a child He lived subject to Joseph and Mary; for Him when entered on the service of God it would have been mingling honey with the cake-offering if He had answered her petitions. What an anticipation, and indeed rebuke, for the vain superstition of men who would make Mary the chief means of access to God by influencing His Son! He was perfect. He came not to gratify even the amiable side of human nature. He came to do the will of God. This He did, and the oblation or cake-offering shows it. There was the unction of the Spirit, not leaven, and the salt of the covenant (ver. 13), not honey. This did not exclude, as we are told, the offering as first-fruits honey or even loaves baked with leaven (though in this case with an accompanying offering for sin, Lev. 23); but they could not be burnt, as not being in themselves a sweet savour (ver. 12).
The oblation of first-fruits, typifying Christ, in verses 14-16, must be carefully distinguished from that which represents the Christian assembly. In Lev. 23 we have first the wave sheaf offered on the morrow of the sabbath after the Passover, where there was no sin-offering, but a burnt-sacrifice and meat and drink offerings; and then, when Pentecost was fully come, the new oblation of two wave-loaves offered but not burnt, with a kid of the goats for sin, but with all the other offerings also. For what could be wanting now? In Leviticus 2:14-16 however, as distinguished from verse 13, only Christ appears to be set forth in the tender stalks of corn parched by the fire — corn mature out of full ears (or fruitful fields). Oil and frankincense were duly added, and the priest causes its memorial to rise in fumes, a fire-offering to Jehovah.
The “peace-offering” (Lev. 3) might be somewhat mistaken. The phrase used in the authorised version does not fully if it truly convey the force, as it appears to me at least. The real idea of it is a feast, or communion sacrifice. It is not a question merely of the word, but of the truth which is intended by it. In no way does it indicate the means of making peace for a sinner with God, though it may, as in the plural, imply things relating to peace, of which communion and thanksgiving are chief. The ground of peace for us laid in the blood of the cross so naturally suggested by the common rendering, is what one would guard souls against: it could only mislead. The thought seems to be a feast-offering. It is not here all going up to God (Christ surrendering Himself to God up to His death); nor only has God His portion, but the priestly family have theirs (Christ surrendering Himself in His life); but Christ is alike the means and object of communion. It rightly therefore follows both the offerings of a sweet savour, — the holocaust and the oblation; it approaches the former, in that it supposes the death of Christ; it resembles but it surpasses the latter, in that if part is for God there is part for man. It was pre-eminently therefore what united all who partook of it in joy, thanksgiving, and praise. Hence the fellowship of God, the priest, the offerer and his family, is the impression engraved on it. We need not anticipate more of the details now, as it is in the law of the peace-offering that we find the particulars just referred to.
A few words will suffice for the sacrifice itself. The victim from the herd or flock was not necessarily a male. This more perfect image of Christ was not here sought as in the burnt-offering. The feast-sacrifice descends more to man and his having part in Christ. Still the offering must be unblemished; and here as always the priests alone sprinkle the blood, though anyone might slay. We find here much stress laid on the inwards being offered up to God, — “the fat that covereth the inwards, all the fat that is upon the inwards.” Some expressions bring this out very strongly, as “It is the food of the offering made by fire unto Jehovah.” “And the priest shall burn them upon the altar: it is the food of the offering made by fire for a sweet savour: all the fat is Jehovah’s.” The fat and the blood were claimed exclusively for Him in the very offering which apart from that admits and displays the communion of others with Him. Now what is the meaning of that? And why such prominence given to the offering of the fat? For of the blood I need say no more here. Where anything is diseased or poor, the fat is the first thing to betray it. Where some state wholly wrong exists, energy in evil would be displayed by the condition of the fat. Where all was good and sound, the fat would manifest that all was perfectly according to normal condition. On the one hand, it was a sign of flourishing in the righteous; on the other, of self-complacent evil in the wicked. Hence, in describing Israel as a proud and self-willed people, we well know how Moses used this very figure as the index of their energy in evil. They waxed fat and kicked. It was evil unchecked in will and its effects, and the extreme sentence of judgment on the people of Israel. In our blessed Lord it was the energy that went forth in the continual business of obeying His Father with joy of heart. “I do always the things that please him.”
It is here then that we find our fellowship in Christ Himself, all whose strength of devotedness and self-sacrifice were for God; and here is the basis and substance of fellowship, for this was what the Father tasted there, and delights that we should enjoy. The fat and blood are His “bread,” as the prophet says, — the blood sprinkled by Aaron’s sons round about on the altar, and the fat and inwards burnt carefully there. “All the fat is Jehovah’s. It shall be a perpetual statute for your generations throughout all your dwellings that ye eat neither fat nor blood.” But save His claim, the peace-offering was for communion in joy, not at all for expiation. It was eucharistic. It was not for Aaron and his sons like the mincha or oblation, but for the united joy of all who partook, Jehovah, the priest, the offerer and his guests. But Jehovah’s portion was to be burnt on the burnt-offering; the link was thus manifest on an occasion of joy with that deepest display of Christ’s obedience up to death.
In the sin and trespass offerings which follow (Lev. 4 — Lev. 6:7) we have another line of truth, in which the person (“soul”) as well as the nature of the offence are characteristically prominent. It is not now the truth of Christ’s dedication of Himself in death as well as life to God; neither is it the eucharistic character of the thank or peace offering in praise, vow or free-will. We have here vicarious offerings for sin, a substitute for the sinner. Different measures are defined.
In the case of the priest that was anointed (verses 3-12) — for this comes first — a bullock was to be offered “without blemish unto Jehovah for a sin-offering. And he shall bring the bullock unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before Jehovah; and shall lay his hand upon the bullock’s head, and kill the bullock before Jehovah. And the priest that is anointed shall take of the bullock’s blood, and bring it to the tabernacle of the congregation. And the priest shall dip his finger in the blood, and sprinkle of the blood seven times before Jehovah, before the veil of the sanctuary.” He had to put some of the blood on the horns of the altar of sweet incense. It is of deep interest to note that here is no promise of expiation for the high priest, nor consequently of forgiveness, as in all the other cases. Is this accident? or part of the profound mind of God in scripture?
It is the same thing substantially when the whole congregation sinned (verses 13-20). In this case also a young bullock had to be slain, and the elders must do what the anointed priest did in the former case, The blood was sprinkled precisely in the same way, and put on the horns of the same altar, and the rest poured out as before. So too the fat was burnt on the brazen altar, and the rest of the victim burnt outside the camp as in the former case.
But when we come down to a ruler, there is another procedure. The word in this case is, that he shall offer “a kid of the goats,” not a bullock; and the priest was to put of the blood on the horns of the altar of burnt-offering — not on the golden altar.
When a private person or one of the common people sinned, there was to be a female kid, the blood of which was put on the same brazen altar. In neither case of the two last was the body burnt outside.
It is evident therefore, we find a graduated scale in these different instances. Why so? Because of a most solemn principle. The gravity of sin depends on the position of him who sins. It is not so man is prone to adjust matters, though his conscience feels its rectitude. How often man would screen the offence of him that is great, if he could! The same might be hard on the poor, friendless, and despised. The life of such at any rate seems of no great account. It is not so with God, nor ought it to be in the minds and estimate of His saints. And another witness of this in the last instance is not without interest for our souls. Only to one of the common people is allowed the alternative of a female lamb instead of a kid (verses 32-35), the offering of which for his sin is reiterated with the same minute care.2
When the anointed priest sinned, the result was precisely such as if the whole congregation sinned. When a prince sinned, it was a different matter, though a stronger case for sacrifice than where it was a private man. In short, therefore, the relationship of the person that was guilty determines the relative extent of the sin, though none was obscure enough for his sin to be passed by. Our blessed Lord on the other hand meets each and all, Himself the true anointed priest, the only One who needs no offering — who could therefore be the offering for all, for any. This is the general truth, at least on the surface of the sin-offering. The offence was brought forward, confessed, and judged. The Lord Jesus becomes the substitute in this case for him that was guilty; and the blood was put in the case of individuals on the brazen altar, as it only needed to be dealt with in the place of sinful man’s access to God. But where the anointed priest, or the whole congregation sinned (either interrupting communion), it was done in a far more solemn manner. Consequently the blood must be brought into the sanctuary, and be put on the horns of the golden altar.
There is a sensible difference in the offerings which follow. It would seem that the sin-offering is more connected with nature, although it might be proved by a particular sin; and that the trespass-offering is more connected with that which, while it might be in the holy things of Jehovah, or at least against Him, involved the offender in a fault or wrong towards his neighbour, and needed amends as well as a confession of guilt in the offering. On this however there is no call for discussion at present. There might be a kind of mingling of the two things, and to this there seems to be regard in the beginning of Leviticus 5:1-13. There is nothing more astonishing than the accuracy of the word of God when we submit humbly as well as honestly search into it.
Let it be observed, moreover, that in all the proper sin-offerings, the priest not only put some of the blood on the altar (golden or brazen, as the case might require), but poured all the blood at the bottom of the altar of burnt-offering It was a substitute for the life of the sinner, and was thus poured out where God, in righteousness but in love also, met him in virtue of Christ, who, lifted up from the earth, drew thither to Himself. There accordingly, precisely as in the directions for the peace-offerings (Lev. 3:9, 10), the fat, especially on the inwards, kidneys, and caul (or lobe) above the liver, were taken and burnt on the altar, while the bullock as a whole, skin, flesh, head, legs, inwards, and dung, had to be taken3 without the camp and burnt in a clean place there, in testimony to God’s vengeance on sin — at least wherever the blood was sprinkled before Jehovah, before the veil. (Compare Lev. 4:7-12, 17-21.) In the case of an individual Israelite, whether a prince or a soul of the people of the land, there was neither sprinkling of the blood before the veil of the sanctuary nor burning of the body without the camp, and the blood was put by the priest on the horns of the brazen (not the golden) altar.
In the transition cases of Leviticus 5:1-13, the offering seems to be called both a trespass4 and a sin-offering (compare verses 6, 7, and 9, 11, 12); yet only a connecting particle opens the section. The former class regarded sin in itself where the conscience was bad from the first; the transitional class that follows treats rather of sin viewed in its consequences, and admits of consideration, which the first class did not with a single and slight exception. But here we have an option of unexampled largeness, and the more to be noticed because sin was in question. When the sin came to be known, the guilty person confessed it, bringing a female lamb or kid; if his hand were insufficient for this, two turtle-doves or two young pigeons — one for a sin-offering, and the other for a burnt-offering; and if his hand reached not to this, the tenth of an ephah of flour was brought by the sinner, but no oil nor frankincense, as it was a sin-offering. The priest grasped his handful, its memorial, and burnt it on the altar in expiation for his sin which should be forgiven, retaining the rest as an oblation. Here, again, what compassion for the poor in divine things! Yet there is the nicest care of holiness, not only where conscience at once told the tale of sin, but where it may not have been bad till it knew the consequence of overlooking some ordinance of government or legal purity. When it thus became bad, there must be both confession and sin-offering in order to forgiveness. On the other hand, God would not let circumstances hinder the poorest from the comfort of atonement as well as the duty of confession. The offering of fine flour for sin is exactly the exception which proves the rule, as it was manifestly owing to destitution on the offerer’s part, and only a graciously allowed substitute for a bloody offering otherwise indispensable. A soul may feel its need of atonement, and look to Christ as a sin-bearer without anything like a full perception of His blood and death: will the grace of God shut out from the effects of His work because of untoward circumstances which hindered more knowledge? Assuredly I do not think so.
Dr. F. (Typ. ii. 348) remarks truly that the section to the end of verse 13 was added to the end of Leviticus 5 without the formula, “Jehovah spake unto Moses, saying.” But does he not go too far in asserting that it was to specify certain occasions in which it should be presented, and to make provision for the destitute? Is it not plain that Leviticus 4 is the full ordinary case of sin in error, but against commandments of Jehovah, doing what ought not to be done? and that Leviticus 5:1-13 is an appendix of defilement through Jehovah’s ordinance, rather than a violation of natural conscience? These oases of refusal under adjuration (1), ceremonial uncleanness (2, 3), and the breaking of rash oaths (4), are specified in a way which is not seen in the more solemn sin-offering, which was also general. Hence, being peculiar, we have a variety of offerings quite as distinct from the usual sin-offering as from the formal trespass-offering where separation was made. It is true that in these appended oases “sin-offering” is used (Lev. 5:6-9, 11, 12); but I do not think it correct to say that a “trespass-offering” in verse 6 is a mere mistranslation, or that the expression in the original is the same in verse 7. For although asham is not always determinately a trespass-offering, but is used more generally, sometimes for guilt and its punishment, yet it can hardly be assumed without good reason where we are on ground so precise as the distinct offerings. And to me it is evident that the word is not used in exactly the same way in Leviticus 5:6, 7, “for his sin” following in the former case, not in the latter, which makes all the difference, and justifies, I think, the Authorised Version, the Samaritan, De Wette, Dr. Benisch, and Mr. Young. The Vulgate is vagueness itself; the LXX. and the Targum of Onkelos seem to favour Dr. F., and so probably Luther. Thus ancients and moderns differ, and the point is evidently not easy to decide The word may be used in a general rather than its specific sense.
Leviticus 5:14 gives a new word of Jehovah to Moses, as we see in the beginning of Leviticus 6 also. Both sections however (Lev. 5: l4-19 and Lev. 6:1-7) share the common principle of making amends, or restitution, and the common name of trespass or guilt-offering, which was necessarily a ram, the blood of which (as we learn from its law, Lev. 7) was sprinkled round about upon the altar, not poured out or shed at its base as with the sin-offering. The proper offerings for guilt or trespass, then, consist of two classes: first, wrongs done in the holy things of Jehovah (probably firstfruits, tithes, etc.), or by doing something against Jehovah’s commands, afterwards found out; secondly, wrongs which Jehovah counts done against Him, though not sacrilegious or transgressive like the former, but acts of fraud and violence with deceit against men. In all such cases, besides an unblemished ram for the trespass-offering, with the payment of the value of the wrong that was done, a fifth was added according to the valuation of Moses, and given either to the priest in the former class, or to the party wronged in the second class.
Then follow the various laws of the offerings. (Lev. 6:8, Lev. 7)
As before, the burnt-offering stands first. Here it is an interesting fact to learn that the fire burning on the altar was never to go out. Nothing can be more express than this repeated injunction. All night it must burn, and never go out. It is night as regards the world — not for those that are children of the day — in a certain moral sense at any rate. But the fire never goes out, and when God wakes up His people and the nations, how precious to find that the offering has been once offered by reason of which those who submit to His righteousness will be acceptable to God! All was burnt to God, nothing eaten by man.
Next comes the law of the oblation or food-offering, in which we find particularly specified that Aaron and his sons are to eat of it. “With unleavened bread shall it be eaten in the holy place.” Those that partake of Christ and are priests to God enjoy by faith His devoting Himself in life unto God, and had better beware of that which ill assorts with it. With unleavened bread, which sets forth absolute separation from the evil of nature, it was to be eaten, as also in the holy place. Is it not most derogatory to the grace which brings us nigh to trifle with Christ thus known? I know nothing more hatefully defiling than the way in which men who have no faith in Christ, nor sense of their sin or need, nor care for the glory of God, affect in an eulogistic way to take up the life of Christ and pronounce on His excellency here or there. Is not this to eat the oblation in the world and with leavened bread?
Besides we have the offering of Aaron and his sons on the day of his anointing — a peculiar case of the oblation.
At the end of Leviticus 6 is the law of the sin-offering; and in the beginning of Leviticus 7 that of the trespass-offering. Here, as in the oblation, the priests were to eat in the holy place: in the former it was communion with His grace as man, in the latter communion with Him on behalf of the sinner through His work.
But, remarkably enough, and nicely distinguished as we shall see, the thank or peace-offering only appears after these, and at great length. Thus it stands last in the list of the laws, whereas it preceded the sin and trespass-offerings themselves. Can it be doubted that all this has designed significance, and that here the Spirit of God reserves for the last place the sacrifice which typifies Christ for communion, when it is a question of the law of its use? For there is nothing finer among the offerings than this sacrifice when we come to practice. Whatever may be the order of communication on God’s part as we look at Christ; whatever the application to the sinner as we look at ourselves, the peace-offering is the last when we come to take it up as a matter representing practically the state of our souls. Communion as set forth by the peace-offering is what most of all answers to our soul’s state, in order that we be able to turn to God in praise and thanksgiving. There were two chief forms. If offered as a thanksgiving, it was to be offered on the same day, and no part kept. But if it was a vow or voluntary offering, on the morrow the remainder might be eaten. We constantly find the same thing true in our souls now. There are two different measures in worshipping God; both real, but by no means possessing the same power. We see souls thoroughly happy in the sense of what the Lord has done for them, and they break forth in grateful thanks. Who would not join them in it? It is truly delightful, and quite right in its place. It may be elementary, it is true, but real worship of God. Yet it wants the power that sustains. In the vow we see more, where it is not simply a question of what has been done for us, and what we have ourselves received, but the heart can thoroughly delight in what Christ is Himself before God. This abides. There is no change here.
In Leviticus 8 we begin the history of the consecration of the priests; for now having been given the offerings, with their laws, we in due order come to the persons who had, if not to offer them, certainly to act for the people as to them in the sanctuary. That which had been laid down as a requisition in Exodus 28, 29 is now carried out practically as to the family of Aaron. “Take Aaron and his sons with him, and the garments, and the anointing oil, and a bullock for the sin-offering, and two rams, and a basket of unleavened bread; and gather thou all the congregation together unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. And Moses did as Jehovah commanded him.” And there Moses brings forth Aaron and his sons, and washes them with water. In this we see the failure of any type to represent Christ. Aaron of course, as well as his sons, had to be washed. In Christ there was no need; nay, He came to cleanse others. What the washing did for Aaron, Jesus was, and infinitely more. The absolute purity of Christ as man no doubt fitted Him so far to be a priest. At the same time, we must carefully remember that there is an element in the priesthood of Christ that could not be given in any type, of which the epistle to the Hebrews makes much. The personal basis of the priesthood of Christ consisted in this, that He was the Son of God. Others were merely sons of men; and so in this case a priest was one taken from among men. This was not the ground of Christ’s priesthood. It was no doubt necessary that He should be a man, but that which attested His distinguishing character as Priest was that He was the Son of God. And hence the title applied to Him in the second Psalm the Holy Ghost reasons on in the same fifth chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews, in contrasting Him with Aaron and his sons. Accordingly they, as knowing what man was, could feel for poor man, because they were poor men themselves. But the Son of God was altogether different. Immeasurably above man, all His heart could go out for man. He was absolutely above the condition in which man was involved by the fall, not merely in so much as He was a holy man, but as the Son of God. For this very reason there was perfect liberty of heart to take up the need of others; and so He did. This does not at all clash with the distinct truth of His suffering. Much which He endured was just because He was the Holy One. His sufferings therefore essentially differed from that kind of chastening which we, alas! know when buffeted for our faults. There never was in Jesus anything short of sufferings for grace or for righteousness, except when we come to the cross, when there was suffering for sin; but it was ours entirely — not His.
In this case then Aaron washed could be but a feeble type of Jesus in His own essential purity. Upon him the coat and the girdle and the robe and the ephod were put, and with the curious girdle bound upon him. “And he put the breastplate upon him: also he put in the breastplate the Urim and the Thummim. And he put the mitre upon his head; also upon the mitre, even upon his forefront, did he put the golden plate, the holy crown; as Jehovah commanded Moses. And Moses took the anointing oil, and anointed the tabernacle and all that was therein, and sanctified them. And he sprinkled thereof upon the altar seven times, and anointed the altar and all his vessels, both the laver and his foot, to sanctify them. And he poured of the anointing oil upon Aaron’s head.” Mark that it was without blood: a most striking fact. Although a sinful man like the priests, his sons, still (that he might not stand in flagrant contradiction to Him of whom he was a type) Aaron was anointed with the oil before the blood was shed. It is worthy of observation that the tabernacle was anointed (verse 10) and all therein, the altar and all its vessels, with the laver and its base, before the sprinkling with blood. The force of this is plain and momentous as applied to the power of the Spirit in which Christ claims the heavenly things and indeed the universe; especially when we notice that the altar is purified by blood but no anointing follows.
Afterwards (verse 13) we find Aaron’s sons brought, and they are clothed too, but they are not anointed. “And he brought the bullock for the sin-offering: and Aaron and his sons laid their hands upon the head of the bullock for the sin-offering.” Indeed, Aaron was a sinful man; but there was this careful reserve — that Aaron received the anointing oil before the sin-offering was killed, and before the blood therefore was sprinkled on him. Notwithstanding, when the sin-offering was slain, Aaron and his sons alike laid their hands on its head; and Moses took the blood and put it on the horns of the altar to purify it, and poured the rest at the base. Then, after burning the sin-offering without the camp, we are told of one ram for the burnt-offering, and another for consecration, to set forth special devotedness to God as priests. Thereon the blood is put on Aaron’s right ear and thumb and foot, as well as on his sons. But we must remember that in the Epistle to the Hebrews, as here, the points of analogy, however strong, always fall short of the full glory of Christ. They were the shadows, and not the very image, as we are told. The anointing oil was not wanting, nor the appropriate oblation and peace-offering — Christ in all His acceptance.
In Leviticus 9 we have the eighth day, when Aaron and his sons were to stand forth fully consecrated, and the glory of Jehovah appears. After the various offerings in their order, all closes with a very striking scene. “Aaron lifted up his hand toward the people and blessed them, and came down from offering of the sin-offering, and the burnt-offering, and the peace-offerings.” The eighth day sets forth the time of resurrection glory. Then we read, “And Moses and Aaron went into the tabernacle of the congregation, and came out, and blessed the people: and the glory of Jehovah appeared unto all the people.”
The bearing of this cannot well be doubted. First of all the high priest acts alone in blessing on the conclusion of the consecration and according to the efficacy of all the sacrifices. Then Moses and Aaron go into the tabernacle. It is the type of the full character of Christ, when there is the blending of regulative authority with the priesthood. Now Christ acts simply as priest; by and by He will take the kingdom, as well as maintain priesthood. As a sign of this, Moses and Aaron come out together, and bless the congregation, and the glory of Jehovah appears to all the people. It evidently prefigures the day of Jehovah, when the Lord Jesus shall be displayed in glory to every eye, and shall be a priest upon His throne. Our portion is a very different one, and is defined and distinguished from that of Israel, as far as a type could be, in Leviticus 16; but this I will not now anticipate.
In the next chapter (Lev. 10) we have a humiliating fact — the total feebleness of man in this new relationship of blessing to which he was called. “And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before Jehovah, which he commanded them not. And there went out fire from Jehovah and devoured them, and they died before Jehovah.” The consecration was but complete. Scarce did they actually stand forth as priests of Jehovah, when two of them had so failed that the fire of divine judgment devours them instead of signifying in peace the acceptance of the victims. “then Moses said unto Aaron, This is it that Jehovah spake, saying, I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me, and before all the people I will be glorified.”
You will find this always to be the difference between that which is of God and that which is of man. A human religion instinctively makes excuses for its officials, and never fails to allow a certain latitude and license for those that propagate it. The true God nowhere maintains the nice exigencies of His own character so much as in those who are nearest to Him and most favoured by Him. There is not a heart and conscience renewed of God but must feel how right and becoming it is that so it should be. No doubt flesh shrinks from such searching work; but Christianity means and is based on the judgment, not the sparing, of the flesh — the gospel of Christ, and the Christian boasts in it with the apostle. There is nothing like the cross for God morally; but it is God acting in our interest, as well as for His own glory. Nothing more dishonouring to Him, nothing less wholesome for us than to give a dispensation for unholiness — to sell indulgences; yet it is what every religion under the sun has done in effect, save that which is revealed of God. Even in the lowest form of God’s revelation, when it was a question of schooling the first man, not yet of the Second, we see man’s way judged unsparingly: how much more where all sin is discerned and dealt with fully, whether in the cross itself or by the power of the Spirit of God in the consciences of those that believe! But immediately God with solemn severity is seen gravely resenting the liberty which two of those standing high in religious rank took that day; — so much so that men might taunt and say that the whole building had broken down before the very walls were complete. But the mediator was enabled to meet the occasion, and turns the chastening into matter for holy exhortation. “And Moses said unto Aaron, and unto Eleazar, and unto Ithamar, his sons, Uncover not your heads, neither rend your clothes; lest ye die, and lest wrath come upon all the people: but let your brethren, the whole house of Israel, bewail the burning which Jehovah hath kindled.” He felt that it did not become those so near to Jehovah to yield themselves up to natural grief, any more than to allow a carnal excitement in His worship. Henceforward this is forbidden. The outward signs of mourning for death are prohibited for the priests. Certainly the occasion was a serious one, and fully tested the principle. But connected with it we learn that excitement is just as uncomely on their part who enjoy such nearness to God. “And Jehovah spake unto Aaron, saying, Do not drink wine nor strong drink, thou, nor thy sons with thee, when ye go into the tabernacle of the congregation, lest ye die: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations.” No doubt it had also a practical bearing. Drinking wine or the like might unfit one for putting difference between holy and unholy. But first and foremost, and most rightly, it did not suit the presence of God: next, it unfitted for the safe and holy help of man surrounded by evil and perplexity.
Afterward oversight appears even in the rest of Aaron’s sons, inasmuch as they burnt the goat of the sin-offering, for which Moses was angry with Eleazar and Ithamar. The failure thus was complete. Two of them paid the penalty with their lives; the other two were only spared in answer to the intercession of Aaron.
The next chapter (Lev. 11) gives in detail this very difference of clean and unclean, but here the multiplicity of minute points admonishes for this sketch no more than a passing survey. It was not the point to furnish information as to the wholesome or unwholesome; but a moral end is everywhere uppermost. Jehovah would have Israel confide in Him and His choice for them as a peculiar and consecrated people. Doubtless He chose what was good, nay, the best; and His restrictions were not without the discerning insight of One who made each creature and had called out His people to be under His righteous government, and looked onward to a heavenly family who would gather His mind by the Spirit couched under these outward shadows.
It may suffice for the present that these remarks be made as to it — that the essential condition in the land animals at any rate allowed for food consisted in this, that there should be a clean and firm walk, and along with it mature digestion. If there was failure in either, it was not fitting food for an Israelite (verses 2, 3). Hence the camel, the coney (or daman), the hare, and the swine, failing in one or other of these conditions could not be eaten nor their carcases touched without defilement (verses 4-8). Thus, if we apply this practically enough to show its bearing, let us suppose a person ever so clear in apprehending truth, but without conscience as to his ordinary walk, all is good for nothing; or again let us take a person ever so blameless in walk, but his walk in no way flowing from the truth, all is good for nothing. For what can be right that is not the effect of revealed truth received into the heart, and becoming a part of one’s vital system by the Spirit’s application of it to our souls? Only then surely will the walk be firm, conscientious, free, and holy; such as suits the communications of God. But it is plain that the two things, not merely one of the two, are absolutely necessary, and are the fruit of the Spirit’s dealing savingly with the conscience. It is a miserable thing to deceive ourselves on one side or the other. Let none ever content himself with being hoped to be a Christian in what people call the judgment of charity. Let us look well to it that our hearts be open to the searchings of the word by the Holy Spirit, and let us not shrink from suffering the word of exhortation. Others will look for the resulting fruit day by day in our ways and spirit. But it is only where both these features are combined that there can be communion according to God. This seems to be the lesson for us typically couched under eating of that which was clean.
The Israelite was not to partake of each animal which he might meet with. What was monstrous in one way or another was forbidden; what was according to divine order was lawful to him. Thus animals in the waters without fins and scales; winged insects without springing hind legs distinct from their four legs; the ravenous and nocturnal among birds; the carnivorous among beasts were of course excluded; but there were others also in divine wisdom and with a typical regard. When dead too, their touch defiled, even to a vessel or raiment, etc. (verses 9-35.) Not so a fountain or pit, or gathering of water, which cleansed instead of contracting uncleanness (ver. 36); not so sowing seed (ver. 37). The power and life of the Spirit are incontaminate. Reptiles which did not fly or leap were all unclean. Jehovah laid all this on His people, who were to be holy because He was.
In Leviticus 12 comes in another remarkable type, namely, the condition in which sin has plunged men and women. Every child of Adam suffers from the defilement of an evil nature. In case there was a manchild, as we are told, there was such a result, and with a female child still more manifestly. The Lord never forgets how sin came into the world. His righteousness takes account of the first temptation to the end. So it is remarkable how the Apostle Paul turns this fact even for a matter of practical guidance in the question whether a woman ought to teach in the church. Assuredly our thoughts ought to be formed by the word of God. It is a question of government on earth, not of heaven nor of eternity in all this.
In Leviticus 13 leprosy is set forth with much detail as a general defilement of the person, also in the head or beard; and in divers forms. Here we have the most characteristic type of sin under the sign of that foul and hopeless disease. There might be other maladies wearing its evil appearance, but in fact only suspicious symptoms. Hence there was this important provision: — a man is not made the judge of his own sin. It was laid down in the law that the Israelite should submit his condition to the inspection of another, and this other the type of a spiritual man, for a priest means that. It is really one who is called to have title of access to God, and who therefore should have his senses exercised to discern both good and evil according to the standard of the sanctuary. As such he is bound not to be carried away by conventional opinions, or traditional thoughts, or what men call public opinion — one of the most mischievous sources of depraving the holy moral judgment in the children of God.
The leper then, whether so in reality or in appearance, submits to the priest, whatever might be the fact. The spot looked ill; it might be only a rising in the flesh, some passing evil. On the other hand a very trifling symptom in appearance, the least bright spot, with the hair turned white in it, and the plague or sore deeper than the skin, might have real leprosy lurking under it. The priest judges seriously. If these active and deep indications, however small, are there, he pronounces the man unclean. If he has a doubt, the suspected person is shut up, and remains to be seen again. If there are hopeful symptoms, they are noted; if there be no raw flesh, no fresh effects of active disease, but on the contrary the return of vigour, they are cherished, and if continued and increasing after a week’s remand, the priest pronounces the man clean. If the hair turned white, if the evil lay deeper than the skin, and if it tended to spread, uncleanness was there. A boil or a burn might issue in leprosy. Nothing is trifled with, nothing passed over, nothing left without watch to work its own unimpeded way of evil. After a certain definite limit the priest looks again. He still perceives evil somewhat deeper than the skin. If it is a well-defined case of leprosy, he pronounces at once on it; if there is still uncertainty, there must be a farther term of waiting.
A plague might be in the head or beard, as well as the body; then if deeper than the skin and in it a yellow thin hair, the priest must pronounce it leprosy; if not so deep, he must delay, when if it did not spread nor deepen, he must delay again, and then if all went on thus favourably, he might pronounce him clean. Other cases are gone through with the utmost care, and I have no doubt that every minute difference is full of instruction; but the proof of this would carry us away from my present object.
The result in one instance (verses 12, 13) is indeed remarkable — the whole person was covered with the effects of leprosy. To the inexperienced eye it might look the worst of all; for the leprosy was all out and over the sufferer. Yes, and just because it was, the priest had warrant to pronounce him clean! Thus, when a sinner has got to his worst and felt it, he is forgiven. It was evil no longer at work but manifest and confessed. Instead of going about to establish his own righteousness, he submits to the righteousness of God and is justified by faith. Jehovah entitled the priest to pronounce clean the evidently and utterly unclean. Boldness of faith becomes those who know such a God. Confidence in Him was what suited so desperate a case; it was only the occasion for God to assert His superiority. We should count on Him that it must be always thus. When you see a man filled with a thorough sense of sin yet bowing to God, we may assure ourselves of a blessing, and with full measure too. It only hinders the perception of God’s grace, and keeps up uncertainty, when a man endeavours to palliate, cover, and correct himself, instead of confessing his sins in all their enormity. Such striving merely perpetuates vain hopes, denies the extent of mart’s ruin, and shuts out the full delivering mercy of God. He at least who alone could cure called the leper to omit no sign of misery (verses 45, 46).
The case of the leprous garment does not call for lengthened remark. It refers to leprosy not so much in the nature as in the circumstances — in what was displayed (verses 47-59).
Leviticus 14 is occupied with the wonderfully instructive statement of the cleansing of the leper. There is no such thing as the cure of leprosy named here. This belonged to God alone No ceremony, no rite, could really heal, — nothing but divine power mediate or immediate. Supposing somehow or another the leprosy stayed, the man must be cleansed. This is the ceremonial laid down in the beginning of the chapter. It presents an obvious and striking type of Christ dead and risen in the two birds. When the blood of the killed bird was mingled with running water (representing the action of the Holy Spirit dealing with man), and seven times sprinkled by the high priest on him, he is pronounced clean forthwith. The living bird dipped in the blood of the slain one is let loose into the field (type of Christ’s resurrection); and he that is to be cleansed begins to wash his clothes, shave and otherwise cleanse himself for seven days more; and on the seventh day “he shall be clean.” Not till then could he be, though he was not longer outside the camp.
But on the eighth day we have the types of Christ in the fulness of His grace, and all the efficacy of His work before God applied to the man, so that the soul might realize the place of blessing into which it is brought. There is often a danger of our contenting ourselves with the first part without the last. Of how much we rob our souls by this poverty in the presence of the riches of the grace of God! The chapter closes (verses 33-53) with the leprosy of the house, which is clearly corporate evil, and with a reference to each case (verses 54-57).
In Leviticus 15 we have cases of the evil of nature in the aspect of man’s utter weakness as he now is through sin. If we find such awful but true characteristics of man, may we delight ourselves that God and God alone brings together in the same book the contrast as the rich and full presentation of Christ’s sacrifice in all its variety and perfection! After such an introduction we may well bear to see that dismal picture of man in all his loathsomeness, — leprosy in his person, leprosy in his character, leprosy in his connection, with the antecedent uncleanness and the defilements which follow. Yet “Mercy rejoiceth against judgment.” We shall find however that it is not bare mercy, but a God who acts in power, and will have us in communion with Himself, while we are in the old scene of folly and evil, instead of having us to wait till we get to heaven. How blessed thus to know Him here! I hope to dwell a little on that which will illustrate this side of His grace, when proceeding with the portion of the book of Leviticus which follows.
Leviticus 16 - 27
We have seen the various forms of the work of Christ, of His offering of Himself to God, whether in all the perfectness of His life, or in His death as the means of our acceptance. We have seen further the consecration of the priests naturally following the offerings and their laws, then the directions whereby the priests might learn to distinguish between clean and unclean, with the various forms in which the total defilement of the people was represented, in birth, disease, and infirmity.
Now we have the great atonement-day. Not more truly does this chapter stand out singly, and in a literally central position of the book, than the atonement itself does in the ways of God. It is evident that, however all may have prepared us for it, and however that which follows too may flow from it, atonement has a place to itself — a place to which there is nothing similar or second — a place that lies at the very basis of all God’s ways — the only possible means for the blessing of a sinful creature before God. It is well that we should enjoy all the privileges with which God’s grace may invest us, and that we should delight in that which He makes known to us as the revelation of His own nature as well as of His counsels and ways; for He would make us truly happy; and there is no happiness except in communion with Himself. At the same time the atonement has incomparably the deepest place of all truths in scripture, save only Christ’s person, in whom all the fulness dwelt bodily. God revealed Himself thus with a view to the atonement, and the atonement itself, besides having this character of centre and foundation-stone, becomes the capital means of bringing the soul out of all its wretched and sinful selfishness (which indeed is sin and misery) into the knowledge of God, so as God Himself never could have given, had there not been sin to draw out the Son of God to die in atonement. In short the very evil of the creature has given occasion to such a knowledge of God as never could have been enjoyed without it — to its own shame indeed, but to God’s everlasting glory.
For this reason then the forms in which God gave the intimations of the atonement have the deepest possible interest for our souls. We must bear in mind however, that here as everywhere we have only the shadow, and in no instance the very image of the thing. We shall always find that which falls short. There could be but one Christ, the only begotten Son; and so but one work in which He has brought out not merely God but God glorified as to our sin — glorified in His own moral being and in His gracious provision that we should be delivered from it.
First of all then we have that which shows us the necessary imperfection of all the provisional dealings. “The law made nothing perfect.” We may see indeed how true is this very feature in the beginning of the chapter; for “Jehovah spake unto Moses after the death of the two sons of Aaron, when they offered before Jehovah, and died; and Jehovah said unto Moses, Speak unto Aaron thy brother, that he come not at all times into the holy place within the veil before the mercy seat, which is upon the ark; that he die not.” Now it is evident, that to have the glory of God as the element of our joy — and we are entitled to rejoice in hope of it even as we are to joy in God Himself — supposes nearness to Himself. To keep the soul out of the presence of God is incompatible with real enjoyment of Him. Nevertheless, though the circumstance of failure on the part of Nadab and Abihu gave occasion to requiring distance on man’s part, there could have been none other provision under the law or till the cross.
When Aaron henceforth entered the sanctuary, he must come after the following fashion. He was to bring a young bullock for a sin-offering, and a ram for a burnt-offering.` But as for his garments of glory and beauty, he could not bring them into the sanctuary. And this again lets us know how totally all signs fail in consequence of man’s condition. Indeed what they showed was not the entrance of man according to the counsels of God into His own presence, but that the first man could not so enter; for whatever might be the forms of glory and beauty represented by that clothing for the high priest, in point of fact he never could wear it in the presence of God. The only time at which he did enter the most holy place was when he wore the linen clothes to be put on expressly on the day of atonement. At other seasons he might not enter there. He was to put on these linen clothes after having put off the others. He was to wash his flesh in water, and so put them on, in aim shadowing the purity of Christ, but in fact confessing the impurity of the first man. Intrinsic purity was found in its perfection in Christ. “And he shall take of the congregation of the children of Israel two kids of the goats for a sin-offering, and one ram for a burnt-offering. And Aaron shall offer his bullock of the sin-offering, which is for himself.”
The first thing here to which I would draw your attention is the single offering where Aaron and his house were concerned, and the double one on behalf of the people of Israel. This is evident on the face of the chapter. When we come to the facts to which these types looked onward, need it be said that there was but one sacrifice — but one comprehensive sacrificial act which met all that was meant, whether in the bullock on the one hand, or in both the goats on the other? But still no serious soul can question for a moment the importance of the truth intended to be conveyed by this typical difference. For in the case of the priestly family, with Aaron at the head of it, there was but a single act. The bullock was slain, and the sprinkling of its blood alone met all the exigencies of God’s holiness and nature as regarded Aaron and his house. But in the case of the children of Israel we have a far more complicated system. There was a marked distinction drawn between the two goats, one of which was slain. It was called Jehovah’s lot; for lots were cast for them as to which was to be slain, and which sent alive into the wilderness. The latter, carefully reserved till all was. over with the bullock and the other goat, was brought forward at a later moment.
Now what is the prominent truth to be gathered from this marked difference? To me it appears to be of no small moment for our souls. We all more or less tend toward Jewish ideas. So it has invariably been, and there are natural reasons why it should be. I do not mean merely the power of Satan in always seeking to corrupt God’s testimony, whatever it may be at any given time. But there is this essential difference between the ways of God with the Jew and with the Christian — that those with Israel are more adapted to the senses and the reason, as well as the working of natural conscience; whereas those addressed to the Christian flow simply and solely from the revelations of God’s counsels and grace, and suppose the faith that acquaints itself with His mind and love. For instance, take the law itself. Every upright conscience feels what may be called the reasonableness of its demands, and the justice of its decisions. Conscience can conclude about it, and feel how right it all is. Of course, when one speaks about its reasonableness, it is not meant in a mere mental way, but so as to satisfy what conscience owns to be due to God and man.
But the Christian has an altogether higher standard, where all depends on the simplicity of receiving what is above nature, and where, if nature presumes to reason, it invariably draws false conclusions. In short the Christian never can form a right conclusion, except in reasoning from what God is as He has revealed Himself in His word, and never from the feelings of conscience, or that which would seem to be just. Now this is invariably true, and therefore it is that, when persons are simply awakened, they are apt to fall into a legal state. It has always for its effect the conscience set in action through the Spirit of God, who brings in the light of the word; and deals with the heart, showing no doubt mercy behind it all, but nevertheless discovering the evil that is within. In such a condition there is always danger of reasoning from what we are to God; and we all know what immense anguish of soul this may produce, and how perfectly the gospel meets all such anxieties; for while it gives conscience the fullest place, nevertheless it brings liberty of heart by the full revelation of God’s grace in Christ. The consequence is that the effect wrought by the truth of God in the full light of grace is incomparably simpler; and for this reason — that by the light of Christianity all that is in or of man is put down as thoroughly evil. In point of fact the cross entitles us to pronounce ourselves dead before God; and beyond question death settles all questions. Now I do not believe that even in the dealings of God with Israel by and by there will be anything like such depth of dealings; and certainly it was not so in the past. We can see it in the psalms, as well as in the accounts given of the saints of God, making due allowances where there is a type of greater things.
In this respect we may illustrate it by the difference of two well-known characters in the very first book of the Bible. Take Abraham’s faith and way, as compared with Jacob. Abraham walks in communion by faith. Jacob has to be chastened; the ground of his heart must be constantly ploughed up, that he may learn what Abraham did not need in the same way, being occupied with what God was towards him and with His word, instead of requiring the painful and humbling, however salutary, lesson of what he had failed to be for God. It would seem that the difference is somewhat of this kind between the provision for the Jewish people in the two goats, as compared with that which is represented by the single bullock, where the whole mighty work of the Lord Jesus Christ, as applied to the Christian and to the church, is found. Of course the word “church” is employed here only in a general sense; for it is granted fully that all types fail to reveal the mystery as such. Certain figures there are connected with the mystery, but there is no type whatsoever which brings out the mystery in its fulness.
In the case of the bullock there is no distinction drawn between the judgment of sin in the vindication of God’s own nature, and the dealing with the sins of the priestly house. All was contained in the one unbroken work that was here represented. The bullock was brought out and offered as it is said as a sin-offering for Aaron and for his house. Afterwards the two goats are taken and presented before Jehovah, and lots are cast upon them; one lot for Jehovah, and the other lot for the scape-goat. Aaron then brings the bullock of the sin-offering, and makes an atonement for himself and his house. He carries incense within the veil, and there sprinkles of the blood upon the mercy-seat and before it seven times. In this manner the whole work is done with extreme simplicity. But for this very reason there is a depth in what God represented by the death of the bullock that is looked for in vain in the more complicated type of the two goats.
The blood of the bullock is brought into the holiest — part sprinkled upon the mercy-seat, part before it; then the first goat having been killed, its blood also is brought in to “make an atonement for the holy place, because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel.” In point of fact, as we know, when we come to the reality of atonement by the Lord Jesus, all was contained in His one and only sacrifice. Particular emphasis is laid on the fact that there was no man present; it was all a question between God and the high priest for sin. After this it is said, “And he shall go out unto the altar that is before Jehovah, and make an atonement for it; and shall take of the blood of the bullock, and of the blood of the goat, and put it upon the horns of the altar round about. And he shall sprinkle of the blood upon it with his finger seven times, and cleanse it, and hallow it from the uncleanness of the children of Israel. And when he hath made an end of reconciling the holy place, and the tabernacle of the congregation, and the altar, he shall bring the live goat: and Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat, and shall send him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness: and the goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities unto a land not inhabited: and he shall let go the goat into the wilderness.”
There was nothing at all analogous to this in the bullock for Aaron and his house where we found the representation of Christ’s work for the heavenly people. Mark the difference. In their case all was settled in the presence of God. There was nothing more needed. The blood was carried straight into the sanctuary, and all was closed. Undoubtedly a most important inference is intended by the coming out of the high priest, when there ensues the dealing with the other goat, the substantial result of which I deny not to us, viewed as individuals, sinners, in this world; but in the precision of the type, as far as our full place is concerned, it does not directly set forth what is done for the priestly family. This is exceedingly observable. We have to do with the work of Christ as measured by God Himself in the sanctuary. The divine estimate of it all is the ground of our perfect peace with God; and how blessed thus to rest on what God has found in the precious blood of Jesus! — of Jesus going straightway, we may say, after having offered up Himself upon the cross, into the presence of God. It is not denied that for peculiar and important purposes there was a delay of forty days, in which He showed Himself here below. This was necessary, according to the wisdom of God, for reasons of great moment. But on the ground of His work He goes up into the presence of God and there stands or rather sits down, God Himself in His own heavenly light and glory giving us the full value of what He has found in the cross of Jesus.
There is a marked difference when we come to Israel. There it is not put in the same way. And why? Because of the prominence given to their transgressions. Having been put under law in a sense which was never true of the Gentiles, the law brought out the transgressions of those that were under it, and there the mercy of God provides a special means for comforting them in their necessary trouble of conscience. A specific assurance was given in His pity where their transgressions were made so patent. The Christian learns in short what his guilt was, and the inbred evil of his nature, by the infiniteness of Christ’s sacrifice, the glory of His person, and the place into which He has now entered in the presence of God. Of the perfectness of the work for us, these are the great evidences; but to the Israelite there is the type of something else. The high priest goes forth, and publicly stands with a living goat before him, upon the head of which he confesses definitely and distinctly the sins of the children of Israel. They will need it. The special position of Israel, in particular their having to do with the law of God, accounts for the difference. Our place is most evidently that of men who walk by faith and not by sight. In Israel’s case the goat which had the sins thus articulately confessed upon it goes away, and bears them far away from the people into a land not inhabited. I do not think the idea here has any link with the resurrection, any more than with heaven which is far from being a desert which none inhabit. It is merely a connected fact which refers to our Lord Jesus Christ upon the cross: only that on one side of it He suffers as bearing our judgment from God, and on the other side there is the full bearing away of the sins of man, of course more particularly of Israel. For the Christian believer all is summed up in Christ having borne our judgment, then going in before God; as here the high priest carries the blood into the holiest of all.
Our portion is where Christ is. It is there that we must in spirit follow Him; The whole of Christianity is bound up with what is transacted within the veil. This is what is peculiar to us as Christians; so that, if we find our true place, it must be in Him who goes into the presence of God. It is not so with the people of Israel. They yet anxiously await His coming out, and when He does appear, they will have the comfort then, and not before, of knowing that their sins are all completely borne away; whereas we need wait for nothing. On the ground of His sacrifice, as estimated of God and made known by His Spirit while Christ is within the veil, we draw near where He is. We know that His standing in the presence of God is the best of all evidence to prove how perfectly our sins are gone. If there were a question of any single one remaining, how could He rest in the presence of God? There He is, the man that bore our sins, but He is now seated at the right hand of God. Consequently the demonstration to us that our sins are gone is not some fresh action. There is for us no distinctive bearing of our iniquities confessed on the scape-goat. Those who believe without seeing do not — ought not to — require this, whereas to the children of Israel it is expressly given. They will need all possible comfort. Accordingly we find in the prophets there is that which answers to this type, when, if the Lord’s appearing in glory will set all their sins, as it were, before their eyes, at the same time there will be the fullest conviction wrought in their hearts by the Holy Ghost, that the sins, though thus brought before them, are borne for ever away. This may serve to make somewhat plainer the difference between Israel’s destiny and what concerns Aaron and his house in the one bullock that was offered for them; as it seems to be the reason why in the types of the sacrifices for the priests and the people there is an undeniable distinction.
Another thing may be observed. There is care taken to show that the high priest made an atonement for the holy place, and for the tabernacle of the congregation. For this we are not left to our own thoughts. The word of God is plain that, when our Lord Jesus effected reconciliation, it was not only for those that believed but for the universe of God — for all things in heaven and on earth. This is clearly what is represented by it.
Further, observe the beauty of the type in another respect. Although in point of fact what was set forth by the two goats did take place in the offering of Christ, nevertheless the bringing forward of the scape-goat, after the high priest leaves the sanctuary, seems not obscurely to indicate that the application would be after the whole business of what was represented by Aaron and his house is completely over. The Christian follows the Lord into the antitypical sanctuary — into heaven itself; and then, when He comes out, Israel will learn the blessed truth to which they are now so blind. They will know that on His cross atonement was made for their sins, completely borne away, but borne away by the One that shed His blood before it was a question of Christianity at all on earth; for I speak not of divine counsels.
Consequently this chapter has an immense comprehensiveness of meaning; and that which might seem irregular in its parts is most explicable when we come to leave room for the various dispensational dealings of God. It involves a certain difficulty at first sight, which is very often the case. The most obvious meaning is rarely the true one; but when the truth is once seen, it commends itself to the heart and conscience by its self-evidencing force, simplicity, and harmony with other truth.
Afterwards follow certain communications in the rest of the book grounded on the atonement.
Thus, in the next chapter (Lev. 17) we have a very serious and solemn injunction, spoken to Moses in the first instance, but set forth in a very comprehensive manner. “Speak unto Aaron, and unto his sons, and unto all the children of Israel, and say unto them; This is the thing which Jehovah hath commanded.” A most jealous care as to blood was insisted on. The reason of this is given: “The life of the flesh is in the blood; and I have given it to you upon the altar, to make an atonement for your soul; for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.”5 It is clear that this is the deep truth which lay under all the ceremonies of the day of atonement. It was an ancient requirement, pressed in Noah’s day, when death first furnished food for man, and now bound up with man’s ordinary life of every day. Whatever may be the blessedness of the work of the Lord Jesus Christ for God and heaven — whatever our own satisfaction and rest and joy in looking through it to eternal hopes — we deprive ourselves of much, if we separate it from our work-a-day life and common-place duties. Undoubtedly it has an efficacy which brings us into the presence of God. There is nothing that we ever can have by and by which, in a certain sense, exceeds in moral depth what we are brought into now by faith; but at the same time we have to bear in mind this other aspect of it — that is, namely, the way in which it mingles itself, and is intended to mingle itself, with everything that comes across us from day to day. It ought not to be apart in daily scenes and among men. Take for instance the commonest matter of our daily food and raiment. Ought we to exempt from Christ any one matter of our personal or relative life, or any one earthly duty? Be assured it is our joy and privilege to share all with Him. I am sure it is also our duty — that whatever we do we should do in His name. Nor can we do aught in His name except as having before our souls that wonderful work which accounts for every blessing which God has given us even now.
Hence it was then that God would not permit the life of any creature that was needful for the food of His people to be taken, unless there was the witness of that which had its most solemn testimony on the great day of atonement. But this was not enough. Every day and every day’s wants were to witness the same truth of God, to render the same confession of man. This is the reason, it appears to me, why we have the ordinance of the blood following the great atonement-day; and most properly after it, and not before it. That is to say, we have the truth in its deepest and highest reaches? before we are enabled to estimate it in its common and ordinary application. The blood shed is the witness that sin is in the world. In the first state of things no such thing was allowed. Before sin came into the world there was no question of blood. Directly after sin entered among men, we hear of life offered, of sacrifices; but man was not permitted to touch the blood, even when after the flood he might eat of animals. Blood was then as always sacred to God and forbidden to man on every ground of nature or of law.
And this gives amazing force to the wonderful difference in which redemption places the believer; for now (and how startling it must have been to a Jew to hear it!) “except ye eat the flesh, and drink the blood of the Son of man, ye have no life in you.” No doubt the one was a literal injunction, whilst the other was an immense spiritual truth. At the same time the Lord could have chosen some other form for expressing that truth, unless there had been particular emphasis laid on the very figure of what was most repulsive to a Jew’s mind according to the law. So thorough was the change that now He enjoins what would have been before the greatest sin. Except one eats the flesh and drinks the blood of the Son of man, there is no life. The sign of His death yields life to us, and is indispensably needful To have life one must drink that which was due peremptorily, exclusively, to God the judge of sin. But now contrariwise Christ has changed all for us. The very blood that it would have been most of all criminal before to touch or taste must now emphatically be drunk by us. Hence the standing testimony to the work of Christ the Christian beholds, as we know, in the bread and wine of the Lord’s Supper. Therein the very same image is ever recurring. We eat His body and drink His blood.
In Leviticus 18 the people being treated now as a holy people, everything that was contrary to the order of God in nature is here strictly and solemnly prohibited. It is important to hold the same principle always. God does not absolve from that which offends His natural order. Grace may bring us into a higher place, where we do not use our liberty as to nature; but God habitually maintains His own order there; and so should we. Grace, I repeat, may withdraw one from the operation of it because of a higher call, as for instance in the service of God. We see this in the case of Paul himself; nevertheless was there any one who more firmly and distinctly held fast the wisdom, the propriety, the holiness of God’s order in nature, than that man who through grace had been lifted above it? Hence we have simply the prohibition of what was contrary to God’s will here below. Neither Egypt nor Canaan must regulate the practice of Israel: He who spoke to them was Jehovah their God, who, as He laid down the broadest principles, knew how to descend into the smallest details which concerned His people.
And let me take the opportunity of remarking another thing: the chief means by which the devil brings in what is so offensive is by high pretensions, which affect to slight the order of God. This ordinarily is the precursor of an outrage on holiness, as a little experience will prove.
It is beautiful to trace the unbending authority of revelation. Moses was inspired to interdict such a marriage as that of Abraham and Sarah, to speak of no more. There is no apology for the past, though of course the guilt would have been aggravated for the future.
In Leviticus 19 we have again the same principle, though now in its positive form. “Ye shall be holy,” it is said; and this is founded on a very precious reason: “for I, Jehovah your Elohim, am holy.” “Ye shall fear every man his mother and his father,” — beginning with the one that might naturally be somewhat less held in awe, and bringing her unexpectedly for this very reason into special prominence. Not the smallest change occurs in the word of God, whilst having some ground of divine wisdom and beauty as its purpose and its sanction. The precepts here given do not call for any particular delay. Let us never fail to bear in mind, for the principle holds good everywhere, that holiness is and must be according to the relationship in which one stands. Hence the character of holiness varies according to our place. Here it was a people in the flesh, and accordingly the various requirements of God were suitable to their place. Our condition is altogether different. We “are not in the flesh but in the Spirit if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in us.” Christ has Himself brought us into a heavenly position. This is the meaning of what He says in John 17: “For their sakes I sanctify myself.” Not as if there ever was or could be the smallest thought of evil in Christ’s nature, or in any of His ways, I need nor say; nor as if He were here thinking of the mighty work of redemption by which He has set us apart to God. This is not its meaning; but the place that He has taken according to the dignity of His person and the results of His work for us — His place in Leaven, that He might be there as man in that new scene — not only lifted up from the earth, but in the glory of God above, and consequently stamping a heavenly character upon us who know Him there. It is well to make this remark, because Christian holiness is bound up with the place where we know Christ now, when we come to look at it in its full character according to God’s mind.
In Leviticus 20 we have the same thing maintained, with a strong caution against all that was inconsistent with God’s moral ways, and this in every kind of natural relationship, or indeed what might be unnatural. It is mainly in view of the enormities practised by the Canaanites.
Leviticus 21 brings in something more special. There the word concerns the priests, the sons of Aaron; and we learn the important principle in it, that what might be quite lawful in an Israelite is excluded from a priest. The reason is of the greatest interest. The whole book is founded on access to God. It begins with this, and goes through with it. Everything is measured according to the tabernacle of witness between God and His people. It is a question here of approaching God in His sanctuary, and of its effects. So here we have those who enjoy the privilege of drawing near to God as far as it was permitted under law. The effect of this is not merely that they were not allowed the excitements which were admissible in an ordinary Israelite, as we learnt in Leviticus 10; but they may not know the indulgence of sorrow for the nearest dead. Thus it is said: “There shall none be defiled for the dead among his people; but for his kin that is near unto him, that is, for his mother, and for his father, and for his son, and for his daughter, and for his brother, and for his sister a virgin, that is nigh unto him, which hath had no husband; for her may he be defiled. But he shall not defile himself, being a chief man among his people, to profane himself.”
Thus a number of different regulations are laid down which are all in view of this — that he who enjoys nearness to God must have his conduct in every particular affected and governed by that master privilege. How sweet and cheering for those who stand in a relationship of grace, not law! At the same time, let us not forget its extreme seriousness; for what the Jew had only in show we have in divine reality. It is impossible to be a Christian without having a nearness to God that is measured by Christ Himself. When He was here, He always walked in this conscious intimacy with His God and Father. He had it no doubt in absolute perfection according to the glory of His person; so that of Him alone it could be said, “The Son of man who is in heaven.” But it was morally true also of the Lord Jesus as He walked here below; and what was true of Him alone personally — I mean true as a matter of fact by the power of the Spirit in Him morally is now our very place, as far as it is possible to be given to a creature. Redemption has brought us to it, and the Holy Spirit seals us in it. We are brought to God; and the consequence of this is, that it goes far beyond the setting aside of what is wrong and what is evil now. We are never right unless we judge things around us that might be quite lawful and legitimate otherwise; the one question for us is, how do they suit a man who is brought to God? Unless we bring in this, we shall find ourselves continually entangled in the conventionalities of men, or in what is possibly even baser — the mere traditions of a corrupted Christendom on the eve of its judgment.
In Leviticus 22 we have this continued, not so much as to matters of conduct, but as to questions of a blemish in some form or another. Jehovah was more than ever jealous of the personal state and household of the priests.
Leviticus 23 calls for a fuller notice. Here we are on the instructive theme of the feasts of Jehovah — the displays of His ways from first to last with His people. First and foremost the Spirit of God brings in here, as at the beginning of the Bible after His work was done, the rest of God. There is nothing that man so little understands. It will be strange perhaps to many here to know that what the wisdom of this world counts happiness is the unrest of change — the miserable proof that man is fallen and far from God. Yet it is the fact that man so defines his own pleasure — the shifting to which a burdened conscience has recourse in order to lose the sense of what it has lost through sin. For God and His children all is different. The very first word He speaks is the pledge of that rest which He Himself first instituted at the beginning, and into which He will bring His people at the end. This He would impress on their souls, and give them ever to have it before them. He deigns to think of us, and to give us to share rest with Himself; but that rest will be His rest. He will have wrought for it, and will finally bring us into it.
This then was what was represented by the sabbath-day, and the reason why it was put in the first instance. Indeed there is no truth, one may say, more important, as far as these facts are concerned; and no doubt the tendency in man to lose sight of it was one ground why it was the only feast that was always recurring. The sense of need would make the passover felt; but the busy activities of the world demanded special means to keep before the people the rest of God. This done, God gives us a fresh beginning — I have no doubt with divine wisdom — after the sabbath-day has been mentioned: “These are the feasts of Jehovah.” In a certain sense the Sabbath is one of these feasts, but in another it may be viewed apart. We have looked at the first of them.
Now in those that were strict feasts, which occurred once in the year, the passover necessarily has a fundamental place. The reason is manifest. It is the well known sign of the death of our Lord Jesus. “In the fourteenth day of the first month at even is Jehovah’s passover.” Immediately connected with it is the feast of unleavened bread; that is, purity according to Christ, where the leaven of man’s nature cannot be allowed; and this too through the whole circle of man’s day here below. “Seven days,” as it is said, “Ye must eat unleavened bread. In the first day ye shall have an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein. But ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto Jehovah seven days: in the seventh day is an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein.” Then comes another and a very distinct statement of the Spirit of God, — not exactly a feast, but what was essential to the next feast. “And Jehovah spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye be come into the land which I give unto you, and shall reap the harvest thereof, then ye shall bring a sheaf of the first-fruits of your harvest unto the priest: and he shall wave the sheaf before Jehovah, to be accepted for you: on the morrow after the sabbath” — the evident type of our Lord’s resurrection. On the very day that our Saviour died on the cross the Jews kept the passover. There are none who have made greater difficulties than those who have written most on the subject; but the reason is that they almost invariably bring in western notions of time, instead of taking their stand upon time as God speaks of it to His ancient people. In short they count days from sunrise to sunset. Such is not the scriptural way. On the one hand our Lord did Himself eat the passover on the regular day. It is not true that it was a different day. He eat the passover on the day prescribed by the law. On the other hand even the Jews that had played their part in seizing the Lord with a view to His crucifixion, according to Jewish reckoning eat the passover on the very same day. Though it was our next morning, it was their same day. Christ died before that day was over. If we hear the law, all these three facts which were severed by a considerable length of time really happened on one and the same day according to God’s method of counting the day.
Similar difficulties have been made about the resurrection, it may just be observed in passing. It is only noticed in order to help the Christian in reading God’s word. The truth is that the subject has been confused by the very men who ought to be a help. There are none who have more embroiled the subject than the commentators. It would be hard to name a single one that has rightly used the light of the scriptures on this point. To me this seems humiliating; for the true solution lies on the surface of scripture both in the Old Testament and in the New Testament. What we need is more thorough confidence in the unerring word of God, all of which if read in simple faith will be found to convey nothing but light.
Our Lord then died on the due day according to the passover regulations. So He rose on the first day after the sabbath, when the priest waved the sheaf of corn that had been cast into the ground and died and had sprung up again. Christ was as much the waved sheaf as the paschal lamb. In this case you will observe that, when it was offered, there was a lamb without blemish for a burnt-offering, and a meat-offering of two tenth deals of fine flour mingled with oil, an offering made by fire unto Jehovah for a sweet savour, with its appropriate drink-offering but nothing more: there was no sin-offering. Whenever Christ appears in that which is brought before us, there is none required, He Himself in fact being the true sin-offering for others. The sheaf of first-fruits became thus a type of Him who knew no sin. It was Christ risen from the dead, just as the passover pointed to His death. “And ye shall eat neither bread, nor parched corn, nor green ears, until the selfsame day that ye have brought an offering unto your God: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations in all your dwellings.”
This day becomes the point of departure from which to reckon the morrow after the sabbath; as it is said, “Ye shall count unto you from the morrow after the sabbath, from the day that ye brought the sheaf of the wave-offering; seven sabbaths shall be complete: even unto the morrow after the seventh sabbath shall ye number fifty days.” And then comes another type of great significance: “And ye shall offer a new meat-offering unto Jehovah.” What is the meaning of this? Perhaps there is scarce one here present who does not know, by the clear light of the New Testament, that it was Pentecost. The new meat-offering on that day ought to call for few words of explanation, not because it lacks interest, but because we at least, all the children of God, ought to know its bearing well. It is the beautiful type, not of Christ, but of those that are Christ’s, — of those called according to that name which was given to Himself, the true sheaf of first-fruits with its burnt-offering and meat-offering and drink-offering. In it there could be no question of defilement; but in the first-fruits which followed fifty days after, when the new meat-offering was offered, another provision tells its own tale: “Ye shall bring out of your habitation two wave-loaves.” “The law made nothing perfect.” It is not the complete figure of the church, nor could be; nor is there any adequate setting forth of its unity: still there is a sufficient testimony to those that compose the church; and we must always make this distinction in looking at these types. The two wave-loaves may possibly indeed refer to the two houses of Israel, out of which were called such as should be saved, and in an ulterior sense perhaps to Jew and Gentile. At any rate there was no proper sign of that which is so characteristic a feature of the church, namely, the one body of an exalted and heavenly Head. This could not yet come into view. But the two wave-loaves of two tenth deals were to be brought out of their habitation; they were to be of fine Hour, but expressly baken with leaven — a surprising feature when we bear in mind Leviticus 2; and the more as they are said also to be the first-fruits unto Jehovah.
What was true of Christ is true also of those that are Christ’s. They were first-fruits to Jehovah. But then there was this difference, that as they were baken with leaven to show the evil still existing in the nature of those that compose the Christian body, so there is the need of a sin-offering to put away that evil, and confess withal the sense and the judgment of it before God. “Ye shall offer with the bread seven lambs without blemish of the first year, and one young bullock, and two rams: they shall be for a burnt-offering unto Jehovah, with their meat-offering, and their drink-offerings, even an offering made by fire, of sweet savour unto Jehovah.” There is the full witness of acceptance; but there is more than this. “Then ye shall sacrifice one kid of the goats for a sin-offering, and two lambs of the first year for a sacrifice of peace-offerings.” There is the recognition of the evil that needed the sacrifice of Christ. At the same time there is the witness of the communion into which we are brought, founded upon the blessed sacrifice of Christ. This was not the case with what represented Christ. “And the priest shall wave them with the bread of the first-fruits for a wave-offering before the Lord, with the two lambs: they shall be holy to Jehovah for the priest. And ye shall proclaim on the self-same day, that it may be an holy convocation unto you: ye shall do no servile work therein: it shall be a statute for ever in all your dwellings throughout your generations.”
It is much to be noted that here closes all reckoning of time from the sacrifice of Christ and that new meat-offering which followed it on the day of Pentecost. There is a break. Undoubtedly a quite new set of feasts begins afterwards, and a marked lapse now comes before us.
Thus the wisdom of God provided for a mighty work to be founded on the death and resurrection of Christ, setting forth, as far as this could be without revealing the mystery, a place of association with Christ of the nearest kind, though there is the most careful guard against confounding the Christian with Christ. Whatever may be his union with Him, still there is care to hold up the unsullied purity of Christ. The Christian has Him for his life, as we know; but there is the most distinct confession that his nature needs the sacrifice for sin to meet it.
Then follows, it is true, a little glance at the harvest before the new course. This is brought forward in a remarkably mysterious way. “And when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not make clean riddance of the corners of thy field when thou reapest, neither shalt thou gather any gleaning of thy harvest: thou shalt leave them unto the poor and to the stranger: I am Jehovah your God.” All this is left with comparative, and I believe with purposed, vagueness. There will be a peculiar testimony of God in the end of the age. The heavenly people will be taken into the garner, but there will be a remnant in the field left who will be really of Himself. The gleanings are left, as it is said here, for the poor and the stranger. The Lord will maintain His testimony even in the darkest times, and in the most peculiar way. This however is lightly passed over, because it does not belong to the properly economic dealings of God.
The recommencement is very significantly set forth by a new beginning in verse 23: “And Jehovah spake unto Moses, saying, In the seventh month.” Here we come down to the closing scene, as far as the feasts could represent it. “In the seventh month, in the first day of the month, shall ye have a sabbath, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation.” Clearly it is a fresh testimony, and a loud summons goes forth, sounds unheard before. It is no longer a sheaf waved before Jehovah, but the attention of men is drawn in a most striking manner. The public dealings of God for the earth now openly begin. Though Jesus was presented to man’s responsibility, God knew perfectly that the offer of the kingdom in His person as Messiah would break down through the unbelief of man; and nothing shows more clearly than these types how well it was known all along. Man never surprises God; nor is there any after-thought on His part. All was known and settled beforehand, while man thoroughly manifests what he is. How the light will burst on Israel when their eyes are opened to it in the day that is coming! How they will beat their breasts in amazement and sorrow for their blindness of unbelief! God will work in their consciences, and they will bow at length to the grace of their glorified Lord. They will sorrow indeed, but it will not be mere unavailing sorrow; it will be holy gracious sorrow, not without shame as far as they are concerned; but none the less will there be the simple enjoyment of the mercy of God toward their souls. In the seventh month then, and on the first day of it, there is the feast of trumpets. No servile work again is to be done, “but ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto Jehovah.” And then we are told — “On the tenth day of this seventh month there shall be a day of atonement” — that very day which was brought before us already in all its solitary excellence and glory, both in its connection with us and also with Israel. (Lev. 16) But here we have it in sole connection with the earthly people. For the time is now come for man, the Jew, to have his sins covered before God; and therefore, as we are told, “there shall be a day of atonement: it shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire unto Jehovah. For whatsoever soul it be that shall not be afflicted in that same day,” etc.
Thus we find two great truths to which prominence is given. It is a day when God will bring His people into a real divinely-taught knowledge of the work of expiation for their sins — the death of Christ; but for this reason two things are coupled with it: they judge themselves, taking the place of sinners on the day which is the witness of their sins for ever gone. Sense of grace in redemption, which puts away our sins, is the best, truest, and only trustworthy means of making our sins really felt. When it is not so, it is an abominable abuse of the grace of our God and of the work of Christ. It was never done to make us judge sin lightly, but to enable us to look at sin, and hate sin, as God does — not meaning of course according to His depth of holiness, but in our measure on the same principle. And we can afford to do it, inasmuch as Christ has taken all its consequences upon Himself, and has borne it away from us as a matter of eternal judgment.
But there is a second element, besides this moral judgment of self, which is the necessary working of the Spirit of God in every one to whom the atonement of Christ is truly applied. “And whatsoever soul it be that doeth any work in that same day, the same soul will I destroy from among his people.” There was enough and to spare of work for other days; but for this day there must be none. Man has absolutely no part in the task. None but the Saviour can work for it, and He in suffering for us. “Ye shall do no work in that same day; for it is a day of atonement, to make an atonement for you before Jehovah your God. For whatsoever soul it be that shall not be afflicted in that same day, he shall be cut off from among his people.” The soul that presumes to rest on grace without self-condemnation because of its sins before God is trifling with Him, and has not yet learnt to hate its unholiness as at thorough issue with God’s own character And again the soul that presumes to work shows its presumption in putting itself, so to speak, on a level with Christ and God Himself; for the work which alone suffices as a basis for atonement must be done before God by One who is God’s own fellow.
On the fifteenth day of the same month begins the final festival of the Jewish year — the feast of tabernacles. This does not call for any considerable length of remark. It was the shadow of coming glory, but presented in a singular manner, especially in Leviticus. “The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the feast of tabernacles for seven days unto Jehovah. On the first day shall be an holy convocation. Ye shall do no servile work therein. Seven days ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the Lord; on the eighth day shall be an holy convocation unto you, and ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto Jehovah. It is a solemn assembly, and ye shall do no servile work therein.” God thus shows us by this remarkable introduction of the eighth day here the connection of the earthly blessing with the heavenly glory of resurrection. Resurrection points to heaven, and can never satisfy itself except in heavenly places; and therefore a link is here intimated with glory on high, whilst there is the fullest possible recognition of a day of rest and blessedness for the earth and the Jewish people. As we are told here in the latter part of it, they were all to keep this feast with gladness and joy. “Ye shall take you on the first day the boughs of goodly trees, branches of palm trees, and the boughs of thick trees and willows of the brook, and ye shall rejoice before Jehovah your God seven days.” The eighth day is evidently brought in in a mysterious way — not now pointing to those who may be a testimony for God where all seemed to be removed from the earth, as we saw in the notice of the harvest at the end; but now, when we have the fulness of the witness of glory here below, this finger, so to speak, points upward, showing that in some way not developed in this chapter there will be the connection of the resurrection and heavenly glory with the day of Jehovah for the earth. We understand it now from the New Testament, where all is clearly brought out. In point of fact the testimony of the New Testament is fullest on that which is but an added circumstance here. In short our proper hope is in the heavens; and accordingly the New Testament makes this the prominent truth, as it was according to the wisdom of God it should be. But for the earthly people we find the prominent place given to the earthly part of it, although the heavenly part is not forgotten
In Leviticus 24 injunctions and circumstances are introduced in a very peculiar manner. First a command is given to the children of Israel to give “pure oil-olive beaten for the light.” This was to be ordered by the high priest, so that there should always be a candlestick burning before Jehovah continually. Along with this there was to be the keeping up of the witness of Israel after the flesh, though not without Christ and the fragrance of His grace before God. “And thou shalt set them in two rows, six on a row, upon the pure table before Jehovah. And thou shalt put pure frankincense upon each row, that it may be on the bread for a memorial, even an offering made by fire unto Jehovah. Every sabbath he shall set it in order before Jehovah continually, being taken from the children of Israel by an everlasting covenant.” This was to be Aaron’s food. Thus we have provision that there shall be always a testimony, although there may be an interruption, as we know alas! there has been in the dispensations of God. Still God will infallibly maintain what is suitable to His own character; and, as we know too, a heavenly testimony is precisely what comes in when the course of the earthly economy has been broken. Thus, although this might seem to be strangely brought in here, its wisdom, I think, will be apparent to any reflecting mind. The great High Priest keeps up the light during the long night of Israel’s history.
At the same time we have a contrasted fact: “And the son of an Israelitish woman, whose father was an Egyptian, went out among the children of Israel: and this son of the Israelitish woman and a man of Israel strove together in the camp;” and in the strife he blasphemed the name [of Jehovah]. This fact, I am persuaded, is purposely preserved along with the former. Israel themselves as a whole have fallen under this dreadful curse. Therefore what might seem to be a singular connection, more particularly after the feasts of Jehovah, exactly suits the situation. That is, we have the solemn fact that the people, who ought to have been the means of blessing to all others, have themselves passed under the curse, and been guilty, in the most painful form, of blaspheming “the name.” We know how this has been; we know how they treated Him who is the Word of God and declared the Father, who was and is Jehovah Himself. We know well how Israel, yielding to thoughts of the world (as it is said here, the son of an Israelitish woman whose father was an Egyptian), having fallen thoroughly a prey to carnal wisdom as to the Messiah, were guilty of rejecting God in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, and of blaspheming the name. Accordingly they have fallen under the curse, which would be final but for the grace of God, who knows how to meet the most desperate case. But indeed, as far as regards the mass of the nation, that judgment is definitive. It is the remnant that will become a strong nation in the day that is at hand. On the apostates wrath will come to the uttermost.
The judgment of this evil doer brings in some necessary distinctions, and the solemn truth of retribution is added as closing the rest of the chapter. Jew or stranger, the guilty in their midst must alike suffer.
In Leviticus 25 another trait is laid down to complete the picture; that is, the regulation of the principle of the sabbath, not merely for the people, but for the land; not only a sabbatical year, but the full jubilee — all on the same present principle of a sabbath.6 Accordingly then this chapter brings in a most blessed privilege under the hand of the God of goodness, but a miserable thing when man meddles. The neglect of the sabbath — not only in its weekly form, but on a larger scale for the land — was indicated of God as a matter of fact in the history of the chosen people.
What is the result in God’s hand? Supposing by any iniquity the land passed from those to whom God assigned it, the jubilee was God’s principle for preserving His own rights intact. For in truth Israel were but tenants; Jehovah was the landlord. Jehovah therefore retains the earth in His own possession. “And thou shalt number seven sabbaths of years unto thee, seven times seven years; and the space of the seven sabbaths of years shall be unto thee forty and nine years. Then shalt thou cause the trumpet of the jubilee to sound on the tenth day of the seventh month; in the day of atonement shall ye make the trumpet sound throughout all your land. And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubilee unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family. A jubilee shall that fiftieth year be unto you: ye shall not sow, neither reap that which groweth of itself in it, nor gather the grapes in it of thy vine undressed. For it is the jubilee; it shall be holy unto you: ye shall eat the increase thereof out of the field. In the year of this jubilee ye shall return every man unto his possession.” Whatever troubles, whatever sorrows, whatever sins might alienate the land from those that were His tenants there, the jubilee year rectifies all. The land must revert to the landlord. He was perfectly entitled to it, and surely would maintain His own right for the blessing of His own people. Such is ever the way of grace. Thus we see that righteousness, so terrible a word to guilty man, when wielded by divine grace becomes the only hope for the ruined. “Grace,” as everywhere, “reigns through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ.” So it is for us who believe in Jesus; but for them it will be found in the vindication of what God promised, when they had sinned away the promises as far as man could. God will maintain them in His mercy, and will use them so for the people in the future day of glory.
The law of jubilee is a remarkable instance of the bearing of Jewish ordinances on moral conduct. Thus a Jew might take advantage of it to exact a price for his land out of proportion to its value, which depended on distance from the fiftieth year. Hence it is written “And if thou sell ought unto thy neighbour, or buyest ought of thy neighbour’s hand, ye shall not oppress one another: according to the number of years after the jubilee thou shalt buy of thy neighbour, and according unto the number of years of the fruits he shall sell unto thee: according to the multitude of years thou shalt increase the price thereof, and according to the fewness of years thou shalt diminish the price of it: for according to the number of the years of the fruits doth he sell unto thee. Ye shall not therefore oppress one another; but thou shalt fear thy God: for I am Jehovah your God.” Sale or purchase they were bound to regulate by this principle.
To the Christian the coming of the Lord is always at hand, and he, if faithful, will measure all according to that standard. So says the apostle, “the time is short: it remaineth, that both they that have wives be as though they had none; and they that weep, as though they wept not; and they that rejoice, as though they rejoiced not; and they that buy, as though they possessed not; and they that use this world, as not using it for themselves;7 for the fashion of this world passeth away.” If the treasures and prizes of the earth will be worthless in that day, the hope of it burning brightly in the heart gives us present victory; for this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. I grant that there is a still deeper and more searching power in keeping Him before us who makes that day to be what it is; but He Himself has marked the danger of saying in our heart “The Lord delayeth his coming.”
We cannot then but love the appearing of the Lord Jesus when He will bring in deliverance to man and creation from their long and groaning slavery under Satan’s power and the blighting effects of the curse. For the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the liberty of the glory of the children of God. We shall be manifested in glory along with Him, and shall enjoy that mighty and blessed change over the face of the universe to the praise of His name and the honour of the God who sent Him, the Second Man.
Meanwhile the Jew need not be troubled, any more than the Christian now, like Gentiles who know not God. “Wherefore ye shall do my statutes, and keep my judgments, and do them; and ye shall dwell in the land in safety. And the land shall yield her fruit, and ye shall eat your fill, and dwell therein in safety. And if ye shall say, What shall we eat the seventh year? behold, we shall not sow, nor gather in our increase: then I will command my blessing upon you in the sixth year, and it shall bring forth fruit for three years. And ye shall sow the eighth year, and eat yet of old fruit until the ninth year; until her fruits come in ye shall eat of the old store. The land shall not be sold for ever: for the land is mine; for ye are strangers and sojourner with me. And in all the land of your possession ye shall grant a redemption for the land.” What matters the difficulty if God is the guarantee?
It is of the deepest interest to notice how compassionately God in the rest of the chapter (verses 25-55) dwells on all possible vicissitudes of Israel in distress. There is first the brother waxen poor, who sold away some of his possession (verse 25 et seqq.); next, the brother waxen poor, whose hand is lowered and needed strengthening or relief (verse 35 et seqq.); then the poor brother who sold himself either to a Jew (verse 39 et seqq.) or to a stranger (verse 47 et seqq.) with his claim in Jehovah’s name on his brethren in each respective case. May we never forget the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ who, though He was rich, yet for our sakes became poor, that we through His poverty might be made rich! Assuredly, if we follow thus in His steps, not only shall we have joy and refreshment in the Lord now, but He will repay in that day.
Leviticus 26 draws out in a solemn manner, not in the form of type now, but of direct statement, the prophetic history of the people,8 and warns of the direct effect of their being tried on the ground of their own responsibility, which is the principle of law. What a contrast, save in the close, with the jubilee! I shall not of course enter on its details. Suffice it to say that God does not close this searching word of His without the remembrance of His covenant, as it is said, with Jacob, and His covenant with Isaac, and His covenant with Abraham. He speaks here in this unusually emphatic way of His covenant with every one of them; so that even from His mouth, against whom they had so long and deeply sinned, there should be a threefold witness for His mercy in that day. “And I will,” says He, “remember the land.” Thus we see the connection with the chapter before, and how perfectly therefore a divine order is kept up even where our dullness hinders us often from perceiving it. “The land also shall be left of them, and shall enjoy her sabbaths” — another link of the connection with what went before — “while she lieth desolate without them: and they shall accept of the punishment of their iniquity: because, even because they despised my judgments, and because their souls abhorred my statutes. And yet for all that, when they be in the land of their enemies, I will not cast them away, neither will I abhor them, to destroy them utterly, and to break my covenant with them: for I am Jehovah their God. But I will for their sakes remember the covenant of their ancestors, whom I brought forth out of the land of Egypt in the sight of the heathen, that I might be their God: I am Jehovah.” Thus God falls back on what He is Himself after He has fully detailed the sorrows that fell on the people because of what they were. But whatever may be the necessary changes in the government of God because of a people changing — alas! merely from one form of evil and opinion to another, God, the immutable eternal God, who has given this special name to them — God in His own unchangeableness — will show them mercy when He comes whose right it is to reign.
The last chapter (Lev. 27) lets us know what will regulate in fact when that day comes. Little need be said now about it. For the most part it treats of the vow, as showing devotedness to the Lord. This may have various forms; namely, devotedness in person, in property, and in what was given up to the curse (e. g., in the case of their enemies devoted to destruction). The main point insisted on, and the only thing which it is necessary to mention in this cursory notice, is that all is brought under the priest first, but the priest subject to another, according to what in the chapter is called “thy estimation.” Thus Moses acts as type of the Lord Jesus Christ in another quality, and not merely as priest. What that is cannot be doubted. In short, it is the Messiah — the one like unto Moses, but incomparably greater than the legislator, when it will not be merely a royal son of David vindicating His claims to the land in favour of His own people, but Jehovah having the only worthy image of Himself and of His glory. That same blessed Jesus who once came down to accomplish atonement for them will then act as the Judge of all devotedness. He will then interfere in every question in His own perfect goodness and wisdom, maintaining the people not only according to righteousness, but according to the infinite mercy of God Himself for ever.
1 I know not whether some would translate, with sufficient reason marchesheth as “boiling pot.” No doubt among the poor one utensil was made to serve more than one purpose. Certainly sir would seem to express a large pot or cauldron. If boiling be meant here, we should have first the uncooked elements (verses 1-3), which typify Christ viewed in His nature as devoted to God, and tested fully by the fire of trial; next (verses 4-7), the three cases where the oblation was cooked, whether baked, fried, or boiled, representing the blessed Lord viewed as a concrete man here below, and tried as we have seen in every conceivable way, but in all a sweet savour to God.
2 Does not [the Hebrew translated as ‘according to the offerings made by fire’] mean “upon the fire-offerings of Jehovah,” rather then “according to” them? De Wette takes it as “for fire-offerings.”
3 It may not be amiss to give a sample of Bishop Colenso’s critical candour and intelligence in his remarks on Lev. 4:11, 12. (Part i. ch. vi. I quote from the fourth edition revised, 1863.) In his citation he ventures to insert (the Priest) after “shall he” and before “carry forth.” His comment is: “In that case, the offal of the sacrifices would have had to be carried by Aaron himself, or one of his sons, a distance of six miles (!); and the same difficulty would have attended each of the other transactions above-mentioned. In fact, we have to imagine the Priest having himself to convey, — we may suppose, with the help of others, — from St. Paul’s to the outskirts of the Metropolis the ‘skin, and flesh, and head, and legs, and inwards, and dung, even the whole bullock;’ and the people having to carry out their rubbish in like manner and bring in their daily supplies of water and fuel, after first cutting down the latter where they could find it.” Now even in our language it would be unwarrantable for a man professedly honest or truthful to fix on the words “shall carry” the necessity of personally doing this work in order to cast doubt or ridicule on the record. What shall be said of one ostensibly in the position of a chief servant of Christ so doing by holy scripture? But this is far short of the gravity of his guilt. For a tyro in Hebrew knows that verbs are susceptible of a change in form which gives a causative force. Such is the fact here. The verb originally means to “go forth;” in the Hiphil it means “to cause to go forth,” leaving entirely open the agency employed. If it be sorrowful to make blunders in scripture exposition with good and reverent intentions, what can account for such excessive ignorance as is displayed in this instance? Were it a heathen enemy who thus reproached God and His word, one could understand that the haste to blame what is above man’s mind often exposes itself thus; but what shall we say of one who so comes to us in the clothing not of a sheep merely but of a shepherd?
4 I am aware of the confident statements of Drs. Davidson and Fairbairn on this point. The question is whether they are well founded. The former (Introd. O.T. i. 267) says, “Whosoever wishes to ascertain the points of difference between these two classes of offerings must carefully read Leviticus 5:14-26 and Leviticus 7:1-10, relating to the trespass-offering; and Leviticus 5:1-13, Leviticus 6:17-23, which refer to the sin-offering. He should particularly guard against the mistake of referring Leviticus 5:6, to the trespass-offering, since it relates to the sin-offering alone. The passage says, that if one be guilty in any of the things mentioned in Leviticus 5:1-4, he shall confess that he has sinned, and bring his ashamohas three meanings — viz., guilt, as in Gen. 26; debt, or what is due for contracting for guilt; and sacrifice for certain sins, i.e., sin-offering. Thus the term asham is not appropriated to trespass-offerings wherever it occurs, but is of wider significance. The occasions on which the two classes of offerings were made cannot with truth be pronounced the same; nor were the ceremonies alike, though these assertions have been made.”
5 In verse 11 the general principle is elated. The literal rendering seems to be this: “For the life (soul) is in the blood; and I have given it to you upon the altar to atone for your souls; for the Mood with (through) the life (soul) atones.” The blood had this expiating value in the type as the expression of the life or soul given up to God for the offerer, and this of course judicially, not in a simply moral way, which falls rather under the minchah or meat-offering.
6 Even Ewald (spite of his ingenious folly of the Elohist, junior Elohist, Jehovist and redactor, not to speak of the Deuteronomist,) is struck with the constant recurrence of the septenary numbers in various forms, days, weeks, months, and years, throughout the law as a strong indication that the whole system of its times and seasons was the product of one mind. The truth is that it pervades the Hebrew Scriptures from Genesis to Daniel, in whose prophecy (Dan. 9) we have the same principle in another and original shape. And this is the more striking, because there was so thorough a change from the pastoral character of the wandering fathers to the agricultural connection of the feasts when fully celebrated by the sons of Israel in Canaan, after they had been impressed by God in the times of the legislator with a profoundly historical stamp, the shadow of good things to come. That one mind could be none less than divine. May we be willing to unlearn in order to learn!
7 Or “not using it in full.” It is not “abusing” the world — which would be
παραχρώμενοι, whereas here it is
κάταχρώμενοι, using it for oneself, not for the Lord.
8 The characteristic infidelity of rationalism betrays itself in their anxious excision of every element manifestly divine. Thus, as it is one of their assumptions that there is no such thing us prophecy they must lower the age of such a chapter as Leviticus 26 to a date that would put the supposed writer (the pseudo-Moses) on the same level historically with the events he professes to predict. Such a ready imputation of imposture to the sacred writers is a gauge of their moral condition. People are apt to judge of others by themselves. The fact is that the close of the chapter is prophecy as yet unfulfilled, to which the Lord Jesus (Matt. 23:39) puts His seal, as well as the Holy Spirit by the apostle Paul. (Rom. 11:26-31)