What Am I Worth?
We are pleased to have another article from the pen of John Bramhall. Our brother has served the Lord for many years in the United States and Canada. This article should provoke a spiritual assessment.
Leviticus 1:1-9; 27:1-9
The opening and closing of many books in the Bible present vivid contrasts. Some open by introducing us to a pinnacle of glory and in their closing may leave us in darkness or despair. Others begin in a valley of gloom, but ultimately end upon the highest place of glory. A profitable study along this line will prove to be edifying if followed through.
The Book of Leviticus
This book presents an impressive contrast between the first and last chapters, worthy of our careful meditation. In chapter one the ritual of the burnt offering is recorded, which was the foundation of all God’s relation with Israel. This offering confessed that sin had raised a barrier between man and God, but the sacrifice of a burnt offering, a type of the death of Christ, declared that the gulf was righteously bridged, and that it brought the offerer into the place of acceptance.
In the last chapter “a singular vow” is regulated, by which men or women dedicated themselves unreservedly to God’s service and brought into His sanctuary a sum of money that represented the priestly valuation of their worth to the testimony of God. This was the manner in which an Israelite could express his or her appreciation for the value of that sacrifice that had bridged the great barrier of sin and had provided them acceptance before God. Let us consider the two portions of Scripture prayerfully.
(1) The Burnt Offering
There is much typical teaching in all the offerings, but for our present purpose we will confine ourselves to three particular features of the burnt offering that distinguished it from the others.
(a) By its name — “THE OLAH” — meaning, the ascending offering because the body of the victim was wholly consumed upon the altar. In contrast, the sin-offering was burnt outside the camp upon the ground, without an altar. The peace offering differed also, for it was eaten by the priestly family and the offerer too, but the burnt offering was wholly for God. The Hebrew word translated “to burn” in Leviticus 1, means “to turn into fragrance” and is used in the first three chapters, but from chapter four and onwards, beginning with the sin-offering, another word — “Seraph” — is used, which implies “to consume to ashes.” Thus we may recognize the wonderful type of Christ in purest and most fragrant incense. His thoughts, emotions, words and actions were a perfect delight to Heaven above, as also was His atoning death.
(b) The second distinction in the burnt offering was the disposition of the skin of the sacrifice. In the sin-offering, the skin was burnt “without the camp.” In the burnt offering, the offering priest was privileged to retain the skin for himself (Lev. 7:8). The priest would instinctively know what to do with it, for as far back as the garden of Eden, the Lord God had taught Adam that “coats of skin” alone were suitable coverings for poor sinners who would stand in the presence of God (Gen. 3:21). What a precious type of the believing sinner being clothed in the righteousness of Christ! “Dressed in beauty not mine own” — but seen by God covered with the beauty and perfect provision of Christ, His own Beloved Son!
“Done is the work that saves,
Once and for ever done;
Finished the righteousness
That clothes the unrighteous one.
The love that blesses us below
Is flowing freely to us now.”
(c) The third distinction of the burnt sacrifice is that it secured for the offerer acceptance before God. “If his offering be a burnt-offering of the herd, he shall present it a male without blemish: at the entrance of the tent of meeting shall he present it, for his acceptance before Jehovah” (Lev. 1:3 JND Trans.). How applicable is this type, illuminating the words of the New Testament: “Accepted in the beloved, in whom we have redemption, through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Eph. 1:7).
(2) The Singular Vow
Contrast our two chapters in Leviticus and note this: The first reveals that Christ is for me in the presence of God: the last tells what I can be for Christ before the world. The first unfolds God’s valuation of my Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: the last discloses the value of my service for Him. The first tells that Christ Himself is the measure of my acceptance with His Father: the last erects a standard by which my consecration to Christ can be measured. If I then rest in what Christ is for me, surely I cannot neglect what He wants me to be for Him!
(a) The Four Classifications of God’s Valuation. (1) From twenty to sixty years of age, the male is valued at 50 shekels; the female, at 30 shekels. (2) From five to twenty years of age, the male is valued at 20 shekels; the female, at 10 shekels. (3) From one month to five years of age, the male is valued at 5 shekels; the female, at 3 shekels. (4) From sixty years and above, the male is valued at 15 shekels; the female, at 10 shekels. The distinction between the male and female can but suggest an application; the former indicating the energetic activity of the testimony and the other, the passiveness of it. These two graces were found residing in the Lord Jesus when on earth and should be found in us. In no wise would they suggest a valuation on the male’s contribution to the testimony today above the other.
(b) The Priestly Measure of Valuation. The values placed by God upon His people in their devotion was estimated by the priest himself and performed by him through God’s own standard of measurement —”according to his ability that vowed shall the priest value him” (Lev. 27:28). Carefully note the classifications of God’s value upon His people and you will see that from one month of age to sixty years and over, He valued their devotion to His testimony. It is the same today; the youngest babe in Christ but a month old has a value to God! Even in years of physical weakness at 60 and over there still was a value upon them, but let us not forget that there were exceptions such as Moses who at 120 years of age was still strong, for “his eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated” (Deut. 34:7). Likewise Caleb at 85 years could say, “As yet I am as strong this day as I was in the day that Moses sent me: as my strength was then, even so is my strength now, for war, both to go out, and to come in” (Josh. 14:11).
Let me ask my heart this question: “How old am I in Christ?” Let me estimate the months or the years as the case may be and ask myself “What am I worth?” in my devotion to Christ. Is it three shekels or is it fifty shekels? Surely my value to Him should increase as the months and years go by. Let me get into His presence, the presence of my great High Priest above and search my heart, asking Him to place His own value upon my devotion to His testimony! What will HE say? What will His valuation be? Should I not be continually showing an increasing appreciation for all lie is for me and all He has done for me, by increasing devotion to His Person, and His Name? May God grant it shall be so, for He is worthy of “my heart, my life, my all!”