Handfuls on Purpose
by James Smith, 1943
THE FIVE OFFERINGS
1. THE BURNT-OFFERING
THE DEVOTEDNESS OF CHRIST
A study of these offerings cannot but deepen our reverence for the Word of God, and magnify our Lord and Savior whom they represent. We should never overlook the fact that all the particulars given concerning these five offerings, which reveal so many different aspects of Christ's life and work, were given to Moses by Jehovah Himself, who knew the character of Christ and His sufferings beforehand. This burnt-offering is "an approach offering," indicating the way to God.
I. The Character of the Offering. Much depends upon its character and the manner in which it was offered.
1. It must be without blemish (v. 3). Not only in the sight of man, but in the sight of God. Christ, as God's beloved Lamb, was without blemish and without spot (1 Peter 1:19). One sin in thought or feeling would have made Him a blemished sacrifice.
2. It must be brought to the door (v. 3). The door of access to God has been blocked by sin. It can only be opened through suffering and sacrifice. Jesus Christ came for this purpose. Now He says, Behold I set before you an open door.
3. It must be killed before the Lord (v. 5). A blameless life is not enough to atone for sin and remove the barrier from the door. Christ must die, and He must die before the Lord. His death was Jehovah's doing, and not man's. It pleased the Lord to bruise Him, He has put Him to grief. Atonement has to do with God.
4. It must be laid in order upon the altar (v. 8). Everything here must be in order, as everything is typical of Him who came to do the Father's will. The nailing of Christ, our Sacrifice, upon the Cross may be here in figure.
5. Its blood must be sprinkled (v. 5). The blameless one becomes the lifeless one. The blood, which signifies life, must be applied both to the altar and to the heart. The sprinkled blood saved the first-born in Egypt (Exod. 12). The blood of sprinkling still speaks (Hebrews 12:24).
6. Its inwards must be washed (v. 9). The inwards may suggest the thoughts and feelings, the intents of the heart, that must be clean before God. All was perfect in the Son of the Highest as our Passover Lamb. He could say, Your law is within My heart, I delight to do Your will.
7. It must all be laid upon the altar (v. 9). All was given to God, He offered Himself wholly and acceptable. A sweet savor unto the Lord (Ephesians 5:2).
II. Some things about the Offerer. We learn from this that—
1. An approach-offering was needed. Because of sin man has forfeited all right and fitness to approach God. Jesus is the Way.
2. This offering was to be voluntary (v. 3). Our "own voluntary will" is responsible for our accepting or rejecting God's great offering for our sins. "You will not come to Me that you might have life."
3. There must be personal identification (v. 4). "He shall put his hand upon the head of the burnt-offering." This is the touch of appropriation, it is the touch of faith, the leaning of a believing heart.
4. The offerer was accepted in the offering. "And it shall be accepted for him, to make atonement for him." He has made us accepted in the Beloved (Ephesians 1:6). Glorious Gospel, that by our acceptance of His offering we are made acceptable unto God. Justified freely from all things.
5. This privilege is offered to all. "If any man" (v. 2). This is a wide door opened by the infinite mercy of God. Salvation, by the offering of Christ, is brought within the reach of every man who has heard the tidings. He is the atoning sacrifice for the whole world.
2. THE MEAT-OFFERING.
THE PERSONAL CHARACTER OF CHRIST.
There was no blood-shedding in this offering, signifying that the thought of suffering is not connected with it. We have here in type the character and real moral worth of Jesus as the Son of God. In looking at this offering we observe that it was—
1. Of fine flour (v. 1). Flour is a product of earth, and may refer to the kinship of Christ with man. It was fine flour. Though He was truly human He was entirely free from the bran of carnal-mindedness. There was no defect, no coarseness of passion or feeling, all was perfectly even and sincere.
2. Mingled with oil (v. 4). Oil is an emblem of the Holy Spirit. As the flour was mingled with oil, so the presence and power of the Holy Spirit permeated every act and thought of the Savior. The process of mingling the human and the divine is a great mystery. Great is the mystery of Godliness.
3. Anointed with oil. "He shall pour oil upon it" (v. 1). Oil in it and oil on it suggest the twofold truth of the indwelling and the anointing. The Holy Spirit in us for guidance and teaching, on us for power and service. The Holy Spirit was in Christ from His birth, it was on Him after His baptism at Jordan. So He is in us from our new birth, and on us from the day of our entire consecration to the service of God.
4. Covered with frankincense (vs. 2-16). The frankincense was "a sweet savor unto the Lord," and speaks of the satisfaction God finds in a Spirit-possessed and Spirit-anointed life. The life of Jesus was lived in and by the power of the Holy Spirit, and so it was well pleasing in His sight.
5. Baked in the oven. The green ears of corn were dried by the fire and beaten out (v. 14). The fire and the beating are most suggestive emblems of the sufferings of Him who was the Holy One, yet the "Man of Sorrows and acquainted with grief." He passed through the oven of fiery heat in the garden of Gethsemane. The Shepherd was sorely smitten, He was made a perfect meat-offering through suffering." Ours were the pangs He bore."
6. To have no leaven or honey (v. 11). Leaven as a type of sin represents the secret workings of deceit and corruption. Honey may symbolize the flattery and applause of men. Jesus Christ was unmoved either by the one or the other. There was no deceit in His mouth, He could say, "I am the Truth."
7. Seasoned with salt (v. 13). Salt has a pungent, preserving influence, something opposed to corruption. Such is the effect of the truth as revealed in Jesus upon those who come into contact with it. The everlasting covenant and the unfailing faithfulness of Christ to the will of God the Father is doubtless taught by the salt. He abides faithful. Have salt in yourselves.
8. Offered unto the Lord (v. 2). Flour, oil, frankincense, these three, body, soul, and spirit, all presented to the Lord, and accepted by Him. This is the "approach-offering." Through Jesus Christ we have access by one Spirit unto the Father. Present yourselves (Romans 12:1, 2).
9. Food for the offerer (v. 10). A portion of this offering was given to Aaron and his sons. "It was most holy." It was the Bread of God and also of man. It takes the most holy to satisfy the heart of God and the soul of man. It became the food of the offerer only after he had offered it to God. Christ can only satisfy our souls as we present Him to God as our Substitute, and plead the merit of His precious Name. God will not have us to feast our souls on less than that which has brought infinite satisfaction to His own heart.
3. THE PEACE-OFFERING.
FELLOWSHIP THROUGH CHRIST.
In the peace-offering we may see Jesus as the Way; in the meat-offering Jesus as the Truth; in the burnt-offering Jesus as the Life. In this chapter the peace-offering is brought before us in three aspects.
1. The Ox (v. 1).
2. The Lamb (v. 7).
3. The Goat (v. 12).
As the ox, Christ was strong and patient; as the lamb, meek and gentle; as the goat, despised and rejected. Or these three offerings may represent three different degrees of appreciation of the offerings of Christ by His believing people. In looking into this offering we notice that—
1. It could be male or female (v. 1). In our fellowship with God there is neither male nor female—all one in Christ. Children of the living God.
2. It must be without blemish before the Lord (v. 1). Whatever man may say or do concerning His Son, God must see no blemish within or without. Even a demon had to confess "You are the Holy One of God."
3. There must be identification. "He shall lay His hand upon the head of the offering" (v. 2). A peacemaker must be worthy of the trust of both parties. The atoning Blood of Christ, shed for all, justifies only those who by faith identify themselves with it (Romans 5:1).
4. There must be death. "Kill it at the door" (v. 2). If we are saved by His life, it is His life from the dead. The life of Christ before the Cross could not save, it was the evidence of His fitness to be the sinner's Substitute before God. Without shedding of blood there is no remission.
5. The blood must be sprinkled on the altar (v. 2). The altar signifies the just claims of God. To Him atonement must be made. The atoning sacrifice or covering from sin made by the death and resurrection of Christ is wide enough for all. The blood on the altar speaks of God's acceptance of the offering.
6. This offering was made by fire (v. 3). The fire of God's judgment has to fall upon it before peace can come to the erring soul. He suffered for us, the Just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God. In verses 3 to 5 we see that all the choice parts of the offering were laid upon the altar. The affections and energies of Christ were all toward His Father's glory.
7. It was a sweet savor unto the Lord (v. 5). This does not mean a bare satisfaction, as if only a debt had been paid, but a sweet delight, as one receiving a great gift. God the Father will be glorified through all eternity because of His Son's obedience unto death (Isaiah 42:1).
8. The offerer had a portion of the offering (see chapter 7:34). The breast and the shoulder were taken by the Lord and given back to the offerer. This is most significant. The breast tells us of affection, the shoulder of strength; both are given to us through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. Love and power come to us by His Cross.
9. It could be eaten on the same day as it was offered (chapter 19:5, 6). Peace and soul satisfaction some at once when Christ the peace-offering is truly trusted. Instant faith brings immediate salvation.
10. It was to be eaten until the third day (chapter 19:6). The third day points on to resurrection. We feed on the love and rest in the strength of our glorified Redeemer until the resurrection morn. The breast and the shoulder will suffice us until the day dawns and the shadows flee away, when we shall see Him as He is, and be forever with Him. Meanwhile be thankful and adore.
4. THE SIN-OFFERING.
CHRIST OUR SUBSTITUTE.
Sin, the sinner, and the sin-offering are all vividly before us in this chapter. Ruin and remedy might be written over it. "If a priest that is anointed do sin." Yes, it is possible even for an anointed one to sin, but, blessed be God, provision is made for such (1 John 2:1). But when religious teachers sin, it is like the going wrong of the town clock. Others axe apt to be led astray by their example. As Trapp says, "The sins of teachers are teachers of sin." The way of life is a revelation from God. A ladder let down from Heaven. So this sin-offering may be mentioned here, because it is the lowest step of the ladder, and the first with which we as sinners have to do. Like every other sacrifice—
1. It must be blameless (v. 3). The smallest physical deformity unfitted the ox or the lamb for the altar. The Lord Jesus was perfectly blameless in the eyes of the heart-searching God. In all His close and continuous contact with men and earthly things He remained untainted by the corruptions of lust and of the world. He could touch the uncle-in and yet be untouched with impurity. He was holy, harmless, separate from sinners.
2. There had to be imputation and identification (v. 4). The offerer laid his hand on the head of the offering, identifying himself with the sins imputed to the sacrifice, and also with the sacrifice itself. The laying of our sins on Jesus is not our act, but Jehovah's. "He laid on Him the iniquity of us all. It pleased Jehovah to bruise Him." We confess our sins on Him, and by faith lay our hand of appropriation upon Him. He gave Himself for us.
3. The life must be taken. "Kill the bullock before the Lord" (v. 4). The death of the offering had to do with Jehovah. The death of Christ was not an accident, neither was it only an example to us of patience in suffering. It was a death demanded by God. So His life was offered to God as a substitute for others. He died before the Lord. He offered Himself without spot unto God.
4. The fat was burnt on the altar (vs. 8-10). This fat was a sweet savor unto the Lord (v. 31). The fat is frequently referred to, and occupies a prominent place in connection with the sin-offering. It may represent the riches and preciousness of Christ as God sees it all yielded up as an offering to Him on the altar of the Cross, well pleasing.
5. The body was carried outside. The whole bullock shall he carry forth without the camp and burn him (v. 12). Human reason of itself would never have suggested a change of procedure like this. Why should this offering be burnt outside the camp, and not on the altar like the others? Because it is typical of Him who was made a curse for us, and who suffered without the gate (Hebrews 13:11, 12), and from whom the Father's face for a season had to be turned away (Matthew 27:46). God cannot look upon sin, but He looks with compassion on the sinner.
6. The blood must be sprinkled. "The priest shall sprinkle of the blood seven times before the Lord" (v. 6). The order in which the blood was sprinkled is sublimely beautiful, and perfectly consistent with the way of salvation as taught in the New Testament. It was sprinkled—(1) Before the Lord. (2) Before the veil. (3) On the altar of incense. (4) Then all that was left was poured out at the bottom of the altar of burnt-offering. The priest sprinkled the blood on his way out, not as he was going in on this instance, teaching us that the way has been made from God out to sinful men. Salvation is of the Lord. But on our approach to God we meet the poured out blood, first of all at the altar, which makes atonement for the soul. Typical of Him who poured out His soul unto death on the Cross of Calvary—
1. At the Altar of Sacrifice we have atonement.
2. At the Altar of Incense we have intercession.
3. The blood before the veil speaks of access.
4. The blood sprinkled seven times before the Lord indicates a perfect standing in His presence. Thus we have boldness to enter into the Holiest by the Blood of Jesus. Let us draw near (Hebrews 10:19-22).
7. The blessed results. The acceptance by God of the blood of the sin-offering brings within the reach of every believer—
1. The forgiveness of sin. As concerning his sin, it shall be forgiven him (v. 26). Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin (Romans 4:7, 8). It is a blood-bought pardon.
2. The assurance of this forgiveness. "It shall." This is the promise of Him who knows the full value of the Blood of His own beloved Son. We are saved by His Blood, and assured by His Word. In the blood-shedding and blood-sprinkling of God's own Son there is provision made for the sins of ignorance (v. 2), as well as for the sins that come to our knowledge (v. 28). "Behold the Lamb of God which takes away the sin of the world."
5. THE TRESPASS-OFFERING.
THE ADAPTATION OF CHRIST'S WORK TO THE SINNER'S NEED.
Leviticus 5; 6:1-7.
The voice of the trespass-offering to man is: "He has certainly trespassed against the Lord" (v. 19). In connection with this offering individual sins rather than persons are prominently dealt with. Let us look at—
I. The need. "All we like sheep have gone astray." So a trespass -offering is needed. The sins mentioned here are cardinal ones, and prove that all have sinned.
1. The sin of silence when we ought to speak (v. 1). Every privilege of witnessing for the truth that is neglected brings guilt. Silence may be sometimes golden, but it may also be criminal. Silence gives consent. How often do we Christians indulge in this guilty silence for Christ because of the fear of man? "I say unto you, Fear God."
2. The sin of defilement through unclean associations. "If a soul touch any unclean thing," etc. (vs. 2, 3). The hands and the feet may touch things unclean without incurring moral pollution, but not so with the soul. It is our fellowship with the unclean that corrupts the life. Even the touch of sympathy and desire will bring defilement and condemnation.
3. The sin of ignorance, in breaking the commands of the Lord. "If a soul commit any of these things which are forbidden, though he knew it not, yet is he guilty" (v. 17). Neither our reason nor our conscience determine what is sin, but the Word of God. Inadvertence or negligence on our part to the revealed will of God is in itself sinful. Although Paul says he was forgiven because he did it ignorantly (1 Timothy 1:13), yet forgiveness was needed all the same. To say I am not conscious of sin does not imply that I am free from guilt (Psalm 19:12).
4. The sin of defrauding our fellow men (chapter 6:1, 2). All sin is against God. He holds the man guilty who deceives in any way his neighbor. The apostle realized this when he said, "I am debtor both to the Jew and to the Greek," etc. Defraud no man. How much owe you?
II. The provision. The variety of the offerings allowed, according to the poverty of the guilty offerers, reveals the adaptability and all-sufficiency of the sacrifice to the need of all. The expense of the offering was reduced to the "tenth part of an ephah of fine flour" (vs. 7-11). A handful of flour was within the reach of the poorest. The grace of God which brings salvation to all men has appeared. No matter how poor the offerers may be, the full value and power of the sacrifice was imputed to them. Our faith may be weak, poor indeed, but it lays hold on a strong Redeemer, the mighty to save. We may have but a poor estimate of the worth of Christ as our trespass-offering, and yet be as perfectly forgiven as those who are rich in faith, giving glory to God. There are no degrees in our justification before Him. All these various offerings represent the one sacrifice for the trespasses of the people. Associated with it we have these thoughts—
1. Substitution. In every case the offering was for the offerer. "Christ loved us, and gave Himself for us" (Ephesians 5:2). He died for our sins.
2. Restoration (chapter 6:1, 2). Our Lord Jesus Christ, by the offering of Himself, has restored that which sin and unbelief had taken away. Surely if we are dependent upon the trespass-offering for our restoration unto God we shall willingly restore to our fellow men what we have fraudulently taken away from them. Freely you have received, freely give.
3. Compensation. "He shall make amends, and add the fifth part" (v. 16). We are to give compensation to our brother man for loss through our acts, because there is in this offering as a type of Christ, not only the payment of a debt, but in a deep, unfathomable sense, the full compensating of God for loss sustained through the ruin of man by sin. Hallelujah, what a Savior! The death of Christ has made amends unto God for our guilt, and added the "fifth part" of a glorious Church to the eternal praise of His holy Name.
III. The condition. The provision made by the trespass-offering availed nothing where there was no—
1. Confession. "He shall confess that he has sinned in that thing" (v. 5). That thing implies that the confession must come down to particular things. The trespass-offering deals with these, and may have special reference to the sins of the backslider, which must be confessed in detail before restoration can come. Then there must be—
2. Acceptance. He must be willing to accept God's only way of deliverance from guilt, and be obedient to His Word.
IV. The promise. "And it shall be forgiven him" (v. 10). This verse contains a double promise, giving a double assurance.
1. Atonement made for him. The priest shall make an atonement for him. This work is outside of the offerer. This Christ has done for us (Romans 5:11).
2. Forgiveness extended to him. Justified freely by His grace. "Through this Man (Christ) is offered unto you the forgiveness of sins" (Acts 13:38).
AARON AND HIS SONS. Leviticus 8.
Aaron and his sons very fitly represent Christ and His servants.
1. They were called with him: "Take Aaron and his sons with him."
2. They were related by birth, "sons." So we have been called in Christ, and born from above.
3. They were identical in dress (v. 13). The righteousness of God which clothed our great High Priest is upon all that believe.
4. They were associated in service (v. 27). We are co-workers together with Him.
5. They received the same anointing (v. 30). Baptized with the same spirit. Aaron's sons were all servants.
Let us see in this chapter how they were made meet for their holy work. They were—
1. Washed. "Moses washed them with water" (v. 6). They did not even wash themselves. Wash You me, and I shall be whiter than the snow. Before the washing comes the stripping. All pride and self-sufficiency laid aside (Acts 2:37). He loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own Blood.
2. Clothed. "Moses put coats upon them" (v. 13). It is suggested to us that this also was done for them. Adam and Eve were reckoned naked until God made coats of skin and covered them (Genesis 3:21). The wedding garment was not bought, it was put on as a gift. Covered with the robe of His righteousness.
3. Girded. "Moses girded them with girdles." The belt speaks of service. The putting on of the belt was their call to a life of activity in the work of the Lord (John 13:4). Let your loins be girded. You serve the Lord Christ. The belt of many of God's people seem to hang very loosely—off and on.
4. Separated. "Moses put the blood upon their ears, hands, feet, and upon the altar" (v. 24). Indicating that, as the ear, hand, and foot were connected by the blood with the altar, they were separated for God. The blood-tipped members are as much the property of God as the altar is. The blood on the ear, &c., meant the same as the blood on the altar. God always claims for Himself those whom He has washed, clothed, and girded (Hebrews 13:12).
5. Supplied. "The offering was put upon his sons' hands" (vs. 26, 27). The separated one is sure to get his hands filled with and for service. He never sends us a warfare on our own charges. This is the true thought of consecration. Cleansed and clothed, and the hands filled with acceptable offerings unto God. Who then is willing to fill his hands this day? (see 1 Chronicles 29:5, margin). No man, says the Lord, shall come before Me empty handed. Empty-handed service is the cause of so much failure in Christian work.
6. Anointed. "Moses took the anointing oil and sanctified his sons and his sons' garments" (v. 30). This anointing oil is doubtless typical of the Holy Spirit, and teaches us the secret of holiness, how the garments of our outer everyday life may be "Holiness unto the Lord." To be holy is to be whole within (Romans 8:29), and blameless without. This anointing answers to Pentecost after the atoning and cleansing Blood of the Cross. Have you received this same anointing which teaches you all things? (1 John 2:27).
7. Commissioned. "Therefore shall you keep the charge of the Lord" (v. 35). The charge of the Lord is: "Preach the Gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15). You shall be witnesses unto Me. We have been saved to serve (Acts 9:15, 16). In keeping this charge the sons of Aaron had to be obedient to the moving of the Pillar of Cloud (Numbers 9:19). "A charge to keep I have." "Lord, as You are able to keep that which I have committed unto You, may I be enabled to keep that which You have committed unto me."
THE GLORY OF THE LORD. Leviticus 9.
We have seen that in the previous chapters there is much said about various offerings and sacrifices, all of which indicate, in one way or other, the opening up of a way whereby man as a sinner may approach God and find His favor. What could be more graciously beautiful than the promise of God's glory revealed after all the sacrifices have been made, and that this revelation of Himself should be associated with the eighth day? (v. 1). The eighth day is always the beginning, or the first day of a new week, and so brings us into remembrance of the resurrection day of our Lord and Savior, and of the manifestation of His glory, the glory of His power, after the great sacrifice had been made.
1. The glorious promise. "The glory of the Lord shall appear unto you" (v. 6). It has always been His desire to manifest Himself to man, and that man should know Him. For this great end Christ came. He could say, "The glory which You have given Me, I have given them." This glory includes the glory of His long-suffering mercy and self-sacrificing love.
2. The needful preparation. Before the Lord in His glory could appear the people must have for themselves—
1. A Holy Mediator. Aaron as a priest must first make an atonement for himself (v. 7). He who would come between God and man must himself be accepted by God. Christ is our Priest, ordained for men in things pertaining to God (Hebrews 5:1-3).
2. A Perfect Sacrifice. It is not without due significance that the four special sacrifices aforementioned (chaps. 1, 2, 3, 4) should all be offered on that day in which the Lord was to appear (vs. 1-4). As we have already observed, all these offerings taken together present one full view of the perfect moral character and precious atoning death of God's beloved Son. The glory of God can only be revealed to those who have a true appreciation of the Savior's sufferings. I beseech of you show me Your glory.
3. The grand result. This may be summed up in the following expressive words—
1. Blessing. "Aaron lifted up his hands, and blessed them" (v. 22). This implied the consciousness of forgiveness. Accepted through the offering. Has He not blessed us with all blessing in the heavenlies in Christ?
2. Glory. "The glory of the Lord appeared unto all the people" (v. 23). This also shall be our portion when He appears. We shall see Him as He is, and we shall be glorified together. We have got the blessing now through His great atoning death; we shall see this glory when we are changed and translated into His presence.
3. Judgment. "There came a fire out from the Lord," etc. This consuming fire coming out in the presence of the people suggests the terrible judgment of God, whether it falls on the altar or on the sinner. Our God, the God of glory, is also a consuming fire. This is the judgment that will come upon the wicked whom He shall destroy with the brightness of His coming (2 Thessalonians 2:8). Solemn words—think of them.
4. Adoration. "All the people fell on their faces" (v. 24). What could be more fitting? As the glory of His power is manifested we can only bow our faces and worship. Salvation through Christ leads to being glorified together. The glory of His grace and justice leads to the shout of praise and the bowing down of an adoring heart (2 Chronicles 7:1-3). Let us each ask, Has the Lord respect unto my offering?
NADAB AND ABIHU. Leviticus 10:1-5.
Miracles are not sufficient to convince men of sin, and to put them in a right attitude for worshiping God acceptably. Nadab and his priestly brother had just a little ago seen the glory of God, and the miraculous fire falling from Heaven consuming the sacrifice upon the altar, and would be among those who reverently bowed and worshiped (see chapter 9), yet because of their pride and irreverence they were smitten with judgment. Surely there is a solemn warning here for all the people of God. We notice—
1. A great privilege. They were the "sons of Aaron." They had a—
1. Godly father. To be the son of a saint is a priceless blessing, but a man may be the son of a divine and yet be the servant of the devil.
2. Religious upbringing. From their infancy they were familiar with holy things, and had been trained up in the admonition of the Lord.
3. Good profession. They were recognized by others as the servants of God. It is possible to bear the name of Christian, to take part in Christian work, and yet in spirit to know not the holiness of God or the awfulness of sin.
2. A presumptuous act. "They offered strange fire before the Lord." They—
1. Offered fire of their own making. This the Lord had forbidden (v. 1). Their offering was like the prayer of the Pharisee (Luke 18:11), or like the sacrifice of Cain. Only a manifestation of self-conceit and rebellion.
2. Rejected the gift of God. The fire that burned on the altar was the gift of God. This they should have used, but this they despised (chapter 16:12). How much better are those who seek the favor of God on the ground of their own goodness, and utterly reject Christ as the gift of God? They seek to establish their own righteousness, but have not submitted themselves to the righteousness of God.
3. An unexpected doom. "There went out fire from the Lord and devoured them." Waxen professors have need to beware of the fire. They—
1. Perished at the hand of Him whom they professed to serve. This is an early version of the story of Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5). Not zeal without knowledge so much as presumption without fear.
2. Perished by that which they rejected. Fire from the Lord. The rejected stone shall grind to powder (Luke 20:17, 18). Christ Jesus, the gift of God, is now appointed Judge of all. To reject Him now as offered to us on the altar of the Cross will be to meet Him then as a consuming fire.
4. A solemn sight. They died before the Lord. "Blessed are the dead that die in the Lord." They—
1. Were carried out. They were able of themselves to go in, but unable of themselves to come out. There is no atonement for the sin of presumption (Numbers 15:30). He who being often reproved hardens his neck shall perish without remedy.
2. Were carried out in their coats. Their priestly garbs did not protect them. Coats of profession will not save. "I saw the wicked buried, who had come and gone from the place of the holy" (Ecclesiastes 8:10). The man who builds his house on the sand is sure to perish on the ruin of it, If our religion is only in our coats it will certainly be buried with us.
5. An important lesson. It is the gracious purpose of God to be—
1. Sanctified in us. "I will be sanctified in them that come near Me." Sanctify therefore the Lord in your heart, for He looks not upon the outward appearance, but upon the heart (1 Samuel 16:7). Without holiness no man shall see the Lord. The pure in heart shall see God.
2. Glorified through us. "Before the people will I be glorified." It is ours to be still and know that He is God, that He may be exalted among the heathen (Psalm 46:10). Let us magnify the Lord together. Glorify You Your Son in me.
YOU SHALL BE HOLY. Leviticus 11
Holiness, or separation from the unclean, is the burden of this chapter. After a full atonement has been made, and the Lord has revealed Himself to His people, as we have seen in chapter 9, it surely becomes His redeemed ones to be imitators of God as dear children (Ephesians 5:1). This is the desire of His heart, "You shall be holy, for I am holy." We cannot be followers of the Holy One and take pleasure in those things which are unclean in His sight. We shall look at—
1. The warning given. "They are unclean to you, they are an abomination unto you." Other people may eat of those unclean animals, but it shall not be so with you. You are My people, redeemed by blood, and separated for My Name's glory, so your manner of living must not be after the indiscriminating fashion of the ungodly. The lesson for us is plain.
2. The distinctions made. God Himself distinguishes what is clean or unclean for His people. The clean animals are known by their feet and mouth, they part the hoof and chew the cud. What God has cleansed, that call not common or unclean (Acts 10:12). The feet and mouth marks point to our walk and word as evidence of our being clean before the Lord. Many professing Christians are sorely troubled with the "foot and mouth disease," they delight not to walk in His ways or to speak in His Name. "All birds (flying things) that creep shall be an abomination unto you" (v. 20). All those who have power to rise up into the heavenly places, and who spend their time in crawling on the earth, are in an unclean state, and are abominable in the sight of God. "I would that you were cold or hot; because you are neither cold nor hot I will spue you out of My mouth" (Rev. 3:15, 16). "You shall not eat or become a partaker of any abominable thing" (Deuteronomy 14:3). Those gifted with the wings of faith become unclean when they get among the "creeping things."
3. The reasons urged. There are several powerful arguments here given why we as God's redeemed people should live a separated life. Because of—
1. His sovereign claim over us. "I am the Lord your God" (v. 44). This is a blessed revelation indeed. "I am your God." Did not the risen Savior say, "I ascend unto My Father and your Father, unto My God and your God?" When you pray, say, "Our Father."
2. What He has done for us. "I am the Lord that brings you up out of the land of Egypt" (v. 45). We have been delivered out of the hand of our enemies that we might serve Him without fear in holiness (Luke 1:74, 75). Redeemed by His Blood, and the dominion of sin over us and in us broken up.
3. His immaculate character. "I am holy" (v. 45). He is perfect in holiness. The wholeness of His character is eternally and unchangeably complete in all His attributes and works.
4. Our relationship to Him. "I am your God, you shall therefore be holy, for I am holy" (v. 45). "You shall therefore sanctify yourselves" (v. 44). How can two walk together except they be agreed? "What communion has light with darkness? You are the temple of the living God. As God has said I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be you separate, says the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and be a Father unto you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty. Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves, and perfect holiness in the fear of God" (2 Corinthians 6:14-18).
THE CLEANSING OF THE LEPER. Leviticus 13; 14:1.
Leprosy, as a type, brings out the terrible nature of sin. Its seat is deep down, not only in the head where it appears, but in the hidden man of the heart. Making the whole life barren and unfruitful, like the spring at Jericho (2 Kings 2:19). Sin, like leprosy, afflicts the person himself, the garments he wears, and the house where he lives. These aptly suggest spirit, soul, and body—
1. The inner person, of the heart.
2. The outer garments, of the life.
3. The common house, of our daily associations. Let us look at the disease and the cure—
1. The character of the disease. "It is a plague of leprosy." It—
1. Makes unclean.. He is a leprous man, he is unclean (chapter 13:44). One spot was enough to make him utterly unclean. Sin is such an awful thing that to offend in one point is to be guilty of all. If we have not continued in all things we are under the curse (Galatians 3:10). If the disease was only skin deep it was not reckoned impurity. Infirmities are not sins.
2. Brings judgment. "The priest shall pronounce him utterly unclean" (chapter 13:44). Condemnation came by the Word of God's representative. He who believes not is condemned already. From the judgment of the priest there was no appeal. God's pronouncement is always associated with sin. No man can alter it.
3. Brings separation. "He shall dwell alone without the camp" (chapter 13:46). Outside the camp meant outside the sphere of Divine fellowship. As long as he is a leper he can have no communion with God or His people (Ephesians 2:12). Impurity of heart unfits for the enjoyment of His presence. The pure in heart shall see God. What a picture of one dead in sin, dead while he lives, dead to God, dead to the enjoyment of holy things, dead to a life of usefulness!
2. It must be confessed. There were four things by which a leper was known, and which reveal the true condition of a sinner before God. His—
1. Clothes were rent. This indicated misery and nakedness.
2. Head was bare. He was defenseless and exposed. No covering from the vengeance of a burning sun.
3. Lip was covered. Indicating that his breath was polluted, and that his mouth was stopped as far as self-justification was concerned.
4. Cry was "UNCLEAN." The priest pronounced him unclean. He believed him, and confessed that it was true. He accepted his condemnation and took his proper place. Go you and do likewise.
3. The manner of restoration. As the leprosy shows the sin, so the way of restoration reveals the Divine method of salvation. Note the various acts. The—
1. Out-going of the priest. "The priest shall go forth" (chapter 14:3). The leper cannot come in, so the mediator goes out. The sinner cannot of himself find his way back into the presence of God, but Jesus Christ, our great High Priest, went forth to seek and to save. The Shepherd goes out to seek the lost sheep.
2. Offering made. "Then shall the priest command to take for him two birds" (chapter 14:4-6). The priest goes forth, then the sacrifice is made. Christ came out from the presence of the Father, then gave Himself a ransom for all. The killing of the one bird, and the dipping of the other in its blood, and letting it fly to the heavens is sublimely typical of Christ's death and resurrection, and of His ascending into Heaven by His own Blood. A new and living way.
3. Sprinkling of the blood. "He shall sprinkle upon him that is to be cleansed from the leprosy seven times" (chapter 14:7). The leper must come into personal contact with the sacrifice made for him. The blood denotes the value of the life offered; this being sprinkled by the priest signifies that the application of Christ's death to the sinner is God's work. I will sprinkle you, and you shall be clean. He who imputed our sins to Christ can alone impute righteousness to us.
4. Word of the priest. "The priest shall pronounce him clean." He alone who pronounced the leper unclean can pronounce him clean. He who condemns the unbeliever, justifies the believer in Jesus. It is God that justifies. When the poor leper had the justifying word of the priest, it mattered nothing to him what the opinions of others or his own feelings were.
5. Personal cleansing. "He who is cleansed shall wash his clothes and shave off his hair," etc. (chapter 14:8). The cleansing through the Blood of Jesus should lead us to put away all filthiness of the flesh and spirit. Those justified before God by faith should justify themselves by their works.
6. Restoration. "After that he shall come into the camp" (chapter 14:8). After what? After the sprinkling, the washing, and the shaving. It is our impurity that keeps us out of the camp of communion. What fellowship has light with darkness? When cleansed from sin there is nothing to hinder our drawing near unto God.
7. Consecration (vs. 14-18). The blood and the oil put upon the ear, hand, and foot betoken redemption and consecration. After the blood of atonement (the work of Christ) comes the oil of anointing, the work of the Holy Spirit. That which was bought by the blood is claimed by the Holy Spirit. The rest of the oil was put upon his head (v. 29). Indicating that the cleansed one should also have the poured out Spirit upon him. The tongues of fire sat upon each of them (Acts 2:3).
THE DAY OF ATONEMENT. THE WORK OF CHRIST. Leviticus 16.
The Day of Atonement was Israel's great day. All the vessels and services derived their value from it. It was the most solemn day in all the year to the high priest. The day of Christ's humiliation was the most solemn day in all the history of His eternal existence. In verse 30 we have the key to the whole chapter. There is—
1. The work: "an atonement for you."
2. The worker: "the priest."
3. The time: "on that day."
4. The purpose: "make you clean before the Lord."
This great day was the—
1. Day of needful humiliation. The garments of glory and beauty had to be laid aside for the plain "holy linen coat" (v. 4). He could not represent the people before God until atonement was made. Christ made Himself of no reputation (see Philippians 2:7, 8). Though in the form of a servant, his character was as "holy linen" (Hebrews 7:26).
2. Day of special sacrifice (vs. 5-11). The priest had first to offer a sacrifice for himself. His own standing had to be secured before God. Christ being the Son, needed not this (Hebrews 7:27). The two goats constituted one offering, representing the two aspects of Christ's death. The one went up (margin 9), the other went away (v. 12; John 1:29)—atonement and substitution.
3. Day of solemn imputation. "Aaron shall confess all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat" (vs. 21, 22). The goat became a curse for them (Galatians 3:13), was led into a land not inhabited (Mark 15:34), bearing their iniquities in its body (1 Peter 2:24; Isaiah 53).
4. Day of nearness to God (vs. 12-15). On that day the veil was opened. Christ's death removed the last barrier (Luke 23:45). The way into the holiest is now manifest (Hebrews 9:8). The blood was sprinkled upon and before the mercy-seat, signifying—(1) a complete acceptance; (2) a secure standing (Ephesians 1:6, 7).
5. Day of real affliction. "This shall be a statute forever, you shall afflict your souls" (v. 29). Sin is no trifle, neither is atonement. Frivolous hearts will always treat it lightly. The awful atonement must be accepted with convicted and broken hearts (John 16:8; Acts 2:37).
6. Day of perfect rest. "You shall do no work at all" (v. 29; see chapter 23:30). On the day of atonement the priest did all the work. Jesus did it all (John 19:30). Proud man would gladly do something to help himself to God, but that something can only bring death (Ephesians 2:8).
7. Day of blessed experience. "Clean from all your sins before the Lord" (v. 30). It is ours to accept by faith what He has done, this brings salvation (Acts. 13:39). And to believe what He has said, this brings assurance (1 John 5:13). If the death of Christ has not made us clean before the Lord it has availed us nothing (John 13:8).
HOLY LIVING. Leviticus 19.
"O Lord, I bare an aching heart, Ease me of sin, Whatever the smart; Without, within, I would be pure, Lord, hear my cry! Lord, work my cure! I know not all I ask in this, But give, O give me holiness."
For the purpose of practical holiness Christ's sermon on the Mount is not more direct and suitable than the teaching we have in the message recorded in this chapter. It opens with that oft-repeated demand, "You shall be holy," coupled with that ever gracious revelation, "For I the Lord your God am holy" The holy life is the most useful of all lives, the holy man is the most practical of all men. In this portion we have brought before us—
1. The characteristics of a holy life. Here are the features of a holy man. He—
1. Honors his father and mother (v. 3). A very needful suggestion to young converts. It has been said that "Piety begins at home." While it should not remain there, yet our Christian character will have little influence if it has not first of all been rooted in the home life.
2. Has nothing to do with idols (v. 4). Nothing is allowed to take the place of God in his affections. He seeks first the kingdom of God, and has more real joy in the presence of God than in company with any one else. As dearly beloved ones, they flee from idolatry (1 Corinthians 10:14).
3. Makes his sacrifices willingly (v. 5). He willingly suffers loss for Christ's sake, he delights to do the will of God at any cost. What may be a great hardship to others is a joy to him.
4. Remembers the poor (vs. 9, 10). He follows the example of his Master, and preaches the Gospel to the poor. He also realizes that the poor have a claim on his possessions, and that he is but a steward of the mercies of God.
5. Deals honestly with his fellow men (v. 11). Even if his business does not succeed he will rather suffer than lie or defraud a neighbor He carries a just balance in his conscience, and will not be guilty of a dishonest silence. His service is not mere eye service.
6. Will not dishonor the Name of God (v. 12). He is more jealous for the Name of his God than for his own He is willing rather to be made of no reputation than that the honor of his Lord and Master should be tarnished
7. Considers his servants (v 13) Wages are paid when due, and paid in a manner that makes the receiver feel that it is a pleasure for him to pay them.
8. Will not take advantage of a weaker brother (v. 14). It is so natural to be impatient with the deaf, with those whose faculties of apprehension may be dull, and by our unguarded walk to put a stumbling block in the way of those whose eyesight may not be quite so clear as ours. He remembers (Deuteronomy 27:18).
9. Is impartial in his manner. His interest in the Lord's poor ones is just as great as in those who occupy the chief seats in the public sanctuary. The impartial love of God is in his heart. He fears God and honors all men.
10. Is no tale-bearer (v. 16). The gossip that must enter his ear finds its grave there. Being of a faithful spirit he conceals the matter (Proverbs 11:13). He knows that the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity, so he bridles it.
11. Rebukes the erring in love (v. 17). There is no hate in his heart to any brother, or to any mortal. Such murderous feelings have no place in him. Yet at times he speaks sharply, and is faithful in rebuking sin, because he loves the truth and the erring one (2 Timothy 2:4).
12. Does not avenge, or keep up a grudge (v. 18). He does not recompense evil, but waits on the Lord (Proverbs 20:22). He leaves vengeance to whom it belongs (Romans 12:19), and by the grace of God is enabled to bear no grudge to his enemies.
13. Distinguishes between things that differ (v. 19). He does not practice the mingling of diverse kinds. He knows that he cannot serve God and mammon, and that light and darkness will not mix, and that there is no concord between Christ and Belial (2 Corinthians 6:14-16).
14. Disregards unholy methods (v. 31). For success in the work of God he depends entirely upon the power and wisdom of the Spirit of God. He has no faith in the familiar spirits of men or of devils, and will not trust the wizardly methods of ungodly worldlings.
2. The great incentive of a holy life. You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy (v. 1). I Jehovah your God am holy. Therefore—
1. You shall be holy. "Walk worthy of God in all well-pleasing" (Colossians 1:10; 1 Thessalonians 2:12).
2. My grace is sufficient for you. "My God shall supply all your need" (Philippians 4:19).
3. Fear not in the time of trial. "Lo, I am with you always" (Matthew 28 20).
4. Serve with gladness. "You shall receive a reward" (1 Corinthians 3:14)
5. Be imitators of God (Eph 5:1, rv. ) "I in them, and you in Me" (John 17 23)
CHARACTERISTICS OF A SON OF AARON. Leviticus 21.
The priesthood of all believers is beautifully and clearly taught in the sons of Israel's High Priest. Being born of God into the privilege of sonship, they have this liberty of access into His presence as priests. In this chapter we observe some of the marks which distinguish a son of Aaron. Let us see whether we as sons and priests bear these distinctions or not. He is—
1. A chief man among the people (v 4). Not an ordinary man, his birth has separated him from the common herd of humanity. He is acknowledged by all as belonging to a different family, being connected with their great high priest Does our relationship to Christ, the great High Priest, so lift us up into such holy dignity as to be noted among the people as "chief men?" "A man of God."
2. Not distinguished by bodily marks (v. 5). The priests of Rome in this, as in many other things, contradict Scripture by making baldness upon their heads. The marks of a child of God are deeper down in the meekness and lowliness of Christ. "My sheep hear My voice, they know Me, and I give unto them eternal life" (John 10:27, 28).
3. One who offers the bread of God (v. 8). This may refer to the show bread that was given to God, and claimed by Him as "His bread," and afterwards given by Him to the priest. So the priest is represented as giving to God that which satisfied Him. Then He satisfies the priest with bread, the bread of God. Then as priests we may, through our ministry, give to God that which is the bread of satisfaction.
4. Anointed with oil (vs. 10-12). The crown of the holy oil of his God is upon him. The anointing oil is an emblem of the Holy Spirit. To be baptized with the Holy Spirit is to be crowned with honor and glory. How many of God's sons and priests are as yet uncrowned because they have not (through their unbelief) received this crowning blessing (Acts 1:8). Have you received the Holy Spirit since you believed? (Acts 19:2). The crown tells of a kingly priesthood.
5. Free from profane associations (vs. 13-15). Being a separated man, what may be expedient in the case of others is not allowable in his. His life is not governed by his own will, tastes, or feelings, but by the Word of God. The purpose of the great High Priest is the ruling motive of his life. "I delight to do Your will, O God, Your law is within my heart" (2 Corinthians 6:14-18).
6. Without visible blemish (vs. 17-21). Of course the blemishes here referred to are physical, but suggest certain moral and physical defects that prevent men from having fellowship with God. Unbelief and cold-heartedness are terrible blemishes, those that come to God with them are only mocking Him. A blemished offering He will not accept, it must be perfect to be accepted (Leviticus 22:21). He has made provision whereby the man of God may be perfect (2 Timothy 3:17). That implies being in a perfect condition to offer acceptable service unto God. This is a perfection within the reach of every Christian (2 Corinthians 13:9). We are living a blemished life if we are not so perfect. Be you therefore perfect and entire, wanting nothing (James 1:4).
7. One who eats the bread of God (v. 22). His soul is satisfied with God's provision. He feasts on holy things which no stranger can receive (Leviticus 22:10). Once we were strangers and foreigners, but now fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God (Ephesians 2:19). Fellow-priests, are we living up to our holy and blessed calling?
HOLY THINGS FOR HOLY ONES. Leviticus 22:1-16.
As Aaron is a type of Christ, so his sons represent all who are born of God. All God's sons are priests, although all do not live up to their priestly privileges. These "holy things," so frequently referred to in this chapter (twelve times), are fit and proper emblems of the "spiritual things" freely given us of God, but only fully enjoyed by those who are wholly yielded to God. These "holy things" are God's provision for His holy ones.
There are several important lessons we might learn from what is said about them. That—
1. Dealing with holy things in an unholy fashion brings death (v. 3). The unclean cannot pass over this holy way. The natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God (1 Cor 2:14) From the worldly-wise and the self-complacent these things are hidden, and our gracious Lord thanked the Father that it was so. The swinish soul cannot appreciate angels' food. Let us take care how we handle spiritual things lest we eat and drink judgment unto ourselves, thus making the Gospel a savor of death.
2. The unclean cannot eat holy things. "He shall not eat of the holy things until he be clean" (v. 4). We must be cleansed from sin before we can have any appetite or capacity for the enjoyment of heavenly and spiritual things. He will not cast His pearls before swine. Holiness and impurity are opposites. He who loves the darkness hates the light.
3. Holy things are the food of the holy. "He shall eat the holy things because it is his food" (v. 7). The holy man can find no food in the mere pleasures of the world, the things that enchant the ungodly have no attraction for him; his heart is set on heavenly things. Communion with God is to him more delightful than his daily food, and the salvation of sinners more precious than silver or gold.
4. No stranger or hired servant could eat these holy things (v. 10). The stranger represents those who know not God, who have not believed in His Son. The hired servant denotes that class of professing Christians who desire to make gain out of godliness, who serve the Lord for personal profit. Such religious mercenaries have their reward, but they never taste the holy things.
5. Those bought by the priest, or born into his house, could eat of the holy things (v. 11). To be bought or born into the priestly family gave the right to these holy privileges. Bought by the blood of Christ, and born of God, brings us into the family of God, and gives us the right and fitness for the enjoyment of the unsearchable riches of Christ, those holy things so freely given us of God.
6. Unholy relationships disqualify for eating these holy things (v. 12). An unequal yoke often destroys the appetite for spiritual things. The priest's daughter had a right by birth, but she disqualified herself by marrying a stranger. We may be Christians by a new birth, and yet through our worldly and sinful associations be quite unfit to receive the things of Christ as revealed by the Holy Spirit. But by returning to the Father's house the privilege was restored (Luke 15:18).
7. Eating holy things unwittingly did not profit (v. 14). It is quite possible to read and speak of those great and precious holy things and yet be an utter stranger to the power of them. The truth may be on the heart and never become assimilated with the life, not being mixed with faith. A man is only unwittingly dealing with the exceeding great and precious promises of Christ until he proves them, by a personal faith, in his own soul (Psalm 19:12).
THE FREEWILL OFFERING. Leviticus 22:17-25.
The redeemed of the Lord have many opportunities of showing their love for the Lord by then freewill offerings to Him. The Lord loves a cheerful giver. Being saved by grace, this grace should find expression in spontaneous acts of sacrifice and thankfulness. Freely you have received, freely give. Note here that such offerings—
1. Are "expected by the Lord" (v. 18. ) Not that He needs the gift, but He much desires that condition of heart and mind that chooses to acknowledge Him in this way. The apostle James says, "I will show you my faith by my works." Our love to God may be manifested in the same way.
2. Must be "laid on the altar" (v. 18). Being burnt-offerings they were put on the great brazen altar outside the holy place. This altar speaks to us of the Cross of Christ by which we and our offerings are made acceptable to God. Even a freewill offering is not pleasing to Jehovah apart from the person and work of His Son Jesus Christ. The gifts of the ungodly, even for the work of the Church, cannot be said to be laid on the altar. Freewill offerings to men, but not to God. The love of Christ is not the constraining motive.
3. Could be made by "any one" in Israel. "Whoever he be in Israel" (v. 18). A man had to be numbered with the people of God before a freewill offering could be accepted. No one has a free will until he becomes a Son of God through redeeming grace. Until then sin has dominion over the whole nature, being under the law (Romans 6:14). Until we are freed from sin by the power of Christ our offerings never reach the altar.
4. Must be made "willingly." "You shall offer at your own will" (v. 19). It cannot be a freewill offering unless it is made willingly, not grudgingly, or of necessity. When God gave His Son up to the death for us, He gave Him willingly. Whatever you do, do it heartily as unto the Lord. The Lord looks upon the heart.
5. Must be "without blemish." That which has a blemish "shall not be acceptable for you" (v. 20). Many offer to God what they would not give to an earthly friend, bad money and bad manners. God has given to us His Firstborn and His Best, and shall we offer Him the blind, the lame, and the worthless? Odd coppers and spare moments may be given with a free will, but they just reveal the small place the Lord has in such hearts and lives. Yield yourselves unto God.
6. Must be "perfect to be accepted" (v. 21). We must see that we are not giving to God because it is not perfect. Perfection is of course a relative term, what may be perfect for one may be far from being perfect in another. The poor widow's two mites (one farthing) made a perfect offering, your penny may be an insult. Giving as the Lord has prospered us, with a willing mind, this is good and acceptable in His sight. Freely you have received, freely give.
SEVEN LINKS IN THE CHAIN OF GRACE. Leviticus 22:31-33.
"I am the Lord." These words occur three times in these three verses, and are as the three seals of the Triune God, set upon these great and precious truths. It is refreshing and assuring to our souls to find how frequently Jehovah reminds them that it was He who brought them out of Egypt God can never forget the great salvation accomplished for His people, and is constantly reminding them that He who saved them was still with them and for them. He who gave up His Son for us, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things. We need often to be reminded of this. The different links in this chain of golden grace are—
1. Revelation. "I am the Lord." If God is to be known He must reveal Himself. No man by searching can find out God. This revelation of Himself we have in Christ Jesus. When Philip said to Jesus, "Show us the Father, and it suffices us," Jesus answered, "Have I been so long time with you, and yet have you not known Me, Philip? he who has seen Me, has seen the Father. The Father that dwells in Me He does the works." What a revelation! Have you heard and seen the invisible God in the words and life of Jesus?
2. Salvation. "Brought you out of the land of Egypt." Egypt was the place of bondage, misery, and fruitless toil. Type of the world and our former state. In their helplessness He pitied, and by His great power at the hand of Moses He brought them out. Translated from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of His dear Son. Saved by grace.
3. Adaptation. "I brought you out to be your God." Do we in any measure apprehend the infinite goodness of God as revealed in these few words. He has delivered us from the oppression of sin that He might manifest Himself in all the fullness of His grace and glory unto us. We are to be to Him a people taken out by Himself, and He is to be to us a God (Exod. 6:7). As our God, He pledges Himself to adapt the riches of His grace and every attribute of His character to our daily needs, and to the enriching of our lives for the glory of His own Name. I have brought you out to be your God. Bless the Lord, O my soul!
4. Sanctification. "I am the Lord which hallow you." This hallowing or setting apart for Himself is part of the great salvation. The Israelites were not saved out of Egypt merely to escape the cruel lash of the taskmaster, but that they might be a people unto Himself. We have not been saved by Christ merely to be delivered out of the hands of our enemies, but that we might serve Him without fear in holiness all the days of our life (Luke 1:74, 75). I am the Lord which hallow you. Sanctification is the Lord's work. Jesus Christ is made of God unto us sanctification (1 Corinthians 1:30).
5. Representation. "I will be hallowed among the children of Israel." The holiness of God is to be seen in the holiness of His people. Are we faithful and true representatives of the character of our Lord and Savior? As the temple of the living God He desires to dwell in us and walk in us (2 Corinthians 6:16). If He is to be hallowed among His people it becomes us to be imitators of God as dear children (Ephesians 5:1).
6. Prohibition. "Neither shall you profane My Name." It is easy for those called by His Name to profane it by an unworthy walk (Colossians 1:10). All connected with our lives that is outside the temple of His holy will is profane. We profane His Name by our unbelieving prayers, by our formal lip professions, and even when we are preaching the Gospel, if it is not in the power of the Holy Spirit. Be filled with the Spirit, and you shall not profane His holy Name, for He will work in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure.
7. Commission. "Therefore you shall keep My commandments and do them" (v. 31). Therefore, because I am your God, having redeemed you to Myself, and set you apart for the hallowing of My Name, you shall make it your delightful business to keep My words and to do My will. Every saved and sanctified one was a commissioned one. No earthly friend knew Jesus better than His mother. Remember then her words to the servants at the marriage in Cana, "Whatever He says unto you, do it." She herself knew the blessedness of faith and obedience.
THE MEMORIAL FEASTS. SEVEN EXPERIENCES IN THE CHRISTIAN LIFE. Leviticus 23.
These seven feasts were seasons, or joyful solemnities, appointed by the Lord. They were holy memorial gatherings or convocations, through which as a means of grace God blessed His people. They have a deep and powerful prophetic voice. Each feast seems to point out some definite experience on the part of His people, and to denote some fresh manifestation of the riches of His grace and purpose toward them. They may also have a dispensational bearing, representing, as I think they do, the different epochs in the history of His ancient people and of the Church of God. Take a glance at them in this connection—
1. Passover. This suggests the day of Jesus Christ's humiliation and death.
2. Unleavened Bread may indicate the present-day experience of God's people as separated ones.
3. First fruits may point to the first resurrection at the coming of the Lord, as predicted in 1 Thessalonians 4:16.
4. Feast of Weeks, or ingathering: the restoration of the Jews, when all Israel shall be saved.
5. Trumpets: the publishing by the Jews of the Gospel of the kingdom.
6. Atonements: the final adjustment of all things to God in righteousness.
7. Tabernacles: "God in the midst of them," as when they abode in tents in the wilderness—the millennial reign. Peace on earth and good will among men.
These holy appointments by God are worthy of our closest study, as revealing the Divine program with regard to "things to come." But we wish to view these feasts in what some might call a more practical light, as touching our individual experience. The—
1. Feast of Passover, or saved by the blood (v. 5). It is the Lord's Passover because He passed over them who were sheltered by the sprinkled blood of the lamb in Egypt. You have not been redeemed with silver or gold, but with the precious Blood of Christ as of a lamb without blemish (1 Peter 1:18, 19). As often as you eat this bread and drink this cup you do show the Lord's death until He come.
2. Feast of Unleavened Bread, or cleansed by the Word (v. 6. ) This feast was held just the day after the Passover, teaching us that there is a very close relationship between redemption and cleansing. The leaven of sin and hypocrisy must be excluded from the bread of those redeemed to God by the Blood of Christ. Desire the sincere milk of the Word that you may grow; the reading of trashy, unwholesome literature hinders the growth of many a child of God. Let not such a thing be seen in all your quarters (Exod. 13:6, 7).
3. Feast of First fruits, or consecrated to God (vs. 10-12), The first sheaf of the harvest presented to Jehovah is an emphatic type of Christ (1 Corinthians 15:23), who was the corn of wheat that fell into the ground and died that He might bring forth much fruit (John 12:24). If the first-fruit be holy the lump is also holy (Romans 11:16). The redeemed from among men are the first fruits unto God (Rev 14 4) The sheaf and the lamb were offered together (v. 12) We a kind of first fruits, are represented, "risen together" with Christ the Lamb of God. The sheaf represented the first fruits of a new life, offered to God in the power of a blameless Lamb Being made alive unto God, the sheaf of our whole nature should be presented to Him as the first fruits of a harvest of praise and honor yet to come through our faithful life for God.
4. Feast of Weeks, or the filling of the Holy Spirit (vs 15-22). It is called the "feast of weeks" because it was held seven weeks after the Passover. It was also called Pentecost, because it was held on the fiftieth day. On this day the Holy Spirit was poured out (Acts 2:1-4). It was the harvest or ingathering feast. This was beautifully fulfilled on the day of Pentecost, for we read that "the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls." Just as Pentecost followed the offering of the first-fruits, so the filling of the Holy Spirit follows the yielding up of ourselves unto God, then comes the harvesting or ingathering of precious souls. This is God's order, and there is no other successful way. As a corn of wheat we must also fall and die to sin and self if we would bring forth much fruit unto God. It would also seem from what is here stated that we are not to expect that the world will be converted or gathered in during this dispensation, for He says, "You shall not make a clean riddance of the comers of your field" (v. 22), although the time will come when every knee shall bow to Him.
5. Feast of Trumpets, or the publishing of the Gospel (vs. 23-25). When a man has been filled with the Holy Spirit he will soon take to trumpeting the Gospel. The blowing of the trumpet was as holy a work as offering a sacrifice. It is "an holy convocation." A dead man cannot blow a trumpet, no matter how costly the instrument may be, it takes the breath of a living man to make it effectual. The spiritually dead may preach the Gospel, but there is no joyful sound from Heaven to the souls of men. The trumpet is there, but the living and life-giving breath of the Holy Spirit is absent. Alas, that so many should be content with the form without the power. Those who know the joyful sound walk in the light of His countenance (Psalm 89:15).
6. Feast of Atonements, or the final salvation (vs. 26-32). In the Hebrew the word rendered "atonement" is in the plural. This solemn season was a memorial, not only of atonement made for the people, but also for the vessels, &c., of the sanctuary. Coming as it does between the feast of trumpets and the feast of tabernacles, we are led to believe that it has reference to our perfect redemption at the resurrection of the body, the vessel of the Spirit. Even we ourselves, which have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. For we are saved by hope (Romans 8:22-24). We have not yet entered into this salvation, but we hope for it. The feast of atonements appointed by God makes it sure.
7. Feast of Tabernacles, or walking with God (vs. 33-43). This feast was "a solemn assembly," commemorating the time when they dwelt in booths in the wilderness, and when God dwelt in the midst of them in the cloudy pillar. Times when they literally walked with God. Has all this not a voice for us, reminding us that after the resurrection or the changing of the body (of those who are alive when the Lord comes) will come our "forever with the Lord?" They shall walk with Me in white. Shall not that saying, then, come to pass which is written, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them?" (Rev. 21:3). Then the fruit of that handful of corn in the earth shall shake like Lebanon (Psalm 72:16-19).
It is to us sublimely touching that it was on the last day of this feast that Jesus stood, and cried, "If any man thirst, let him come unto Me and drink." This spoke He of the Spirit which they that believe on Him should receive (John 7). To think that these seven feasts practically ended with this loving, gracious, heart-rending cry of our soul-pitying Savior gives awful emphasis to the two great truths they contain.
1. Thirsty ones should come to Him and drink.
2. Believing ones should receive the Holy Spirit. Christ is God's great perfect feast for sinners and for saints.
THE YEAR OF JUBILEE. Leviticus 25
Every fiftieth year was to Israel a holy memorial festival It was a periodical season appointed by God for the readjustment of the social affairs of His people, and is a trumpet-toned type of the Gospel of Christ and its power to put men right with God and with one another The year of jubilee was the "accepted time" and the "day of salvation" to many in Israel. The market value of things was regulated by it (vs. 15, 16) Man's dealings with man were to be ordered according to the appointments of God Business and the Gospel seem in our days to be entirely divorced. But for all that this law abides, that the real value of the things of this life depend on their relationship to Christ and His Gospel. The sound of the jubilee trumpet was the sound of—
1. Atonement. "In the day of atonement shall you make the trumpet sound" (v. 9). There can be no joyful sound to sinful man apart from atoning blood. The trumpet needs a living man to blow it, and he must have God's authority before it can be a Divine message to those who hear it. Christ died for our sins, and rose again for our justification, therefore the great trumpet of atonement is being blown, and its sound reaches unto the ends of the earth.
2. Liberty. "You shall proclaim liberty throughout the land unto all the inhabitants" (v. 10). On the ground of Christ's atonement God proclaims liberty to every captive. The sounding of the trumpet at the lips of God's holy ones was the publishing of this glad news. This deliverance for the bond slave was immediate and complete on the hearing and believing of the tidings. The sound was for the ear, the message was for the heart (Luke 4:18).
3. Forgiveness. "If your brother be poor, you shall relieve him" (v. 35). Even the debt and poverty of a man did not hinder him from enjoying the grace of the jubilee, but made him just the more a fit subject for it. To the poor the Gospel is preached. While we were yet sinners Christ died for us, He came not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance,
4. Rest. "It is a year of rest" (v. 5). It was kept as a Sabbath unto the Lord. The Gospel of Christ proclaims rest to the weary and heavy laden (Matthew 11:28). Not rest in their works, but rest from them. It was the Sabbath of the Lord, therefore God's rest. It was, and is, an entering into His rest. Rest in the Lord (Psalm 116:7). We which have believed do enter into rest (Hebrews 4:1-3).
5. Plenty. "You shall eat your fill, and dwell in safety" (v. 19). What a Gospel! Made safe in the place of plenty. Lying down in green pastures. The unsearchable riches of Christ is our holy land of promise. Into this fullness By His grace, we who believe have been brought. All are-yours, for you are Christ's, and Christ is God's. Be careful for nothing. Take the water of life freely.
6. Restoration. "You shall return every man into his possession" (v. 13). All that was lost through failure and sin was restored through the jubilee Gospel. All that was lost in Adam is restored in Christ, and the glorious Gospel of the blessed God declares it. Made near by the Blood of Christ. Poor Mephibosheth heard such a Gospel and enjoyed such a restoration (2 Samuel 9). He restores my soul. Heirs of God and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ.
7. Brotherly love. "You shall not oppress one another, but fear the Lord your God " (v. 17). By this shall all men know that you are My disciples if you have love one to another. We must love unworthy ones as we unworthy ones have been loved, and forgive as we have been forgiven. The forgiven servant who took his fellow-worker by the throat was evidently courageous enough to deal with him face to face, but he was utterly destitute of the grace and compassion of his master (Matthew 18:28). You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Freely you have received, freely give. Be you imitators of God as dear children (Ephesians 5:1).
THE PATH OF OBEDIENCE. Leviticus 26:1-13.
Two paths are opened up before us in this chapter, the one of obedience and blessing, the other of disobedience and misery. The narrow and the broad way of life and destruction.
In looking at the first of these we shall comment on the—
1. Characteristics of the obedient. As seen in the verses referred to above, they—
1. Will have no idols (v. 1). No idol or image will have standing ground in their thoughts or minds. They will not bow and worship the gods of the world.
2. Reverence the appointments of God (v. 2). They will not turn the Sabbath into a day of selfish pleasure, or the sanctuary into a theater or showhouse, or the pulpit into a puppet box.
3. Are guided by His words (v. 3). They walk in the statutes of the Lord, and not in the light of the sparks of their own kindling (Isaiah 50:11). To them the Word of God, like the sun, is settled in Heaven (Psalm 119:89).
4. Delight to do His will (v. 3). The Word of God is to be kept, not as the miser keeps his gold, hoarded to be useless, but as the warrior keeps his sword. Not he who hears, but he who does His sayings is wise (Matthew 7:24).
2. Blessings that accompany obedience. The path of obedience is the path of—
1. Fruitfulness. "Then I will give you rain in due season, and fruit" (v. 4). "Then," you see this promise is conditional. Fruitfulness depends on our relationship to God, from whence all fruit is found. Out of the vine comes the fruit-producing sap into the branch. He knows when the season is due. "In due season you shall reap" (Isaiah 44:3). The rain of His blessed Spirit from Heaven precedes the time of ingathering.
2. Peace and rest. "I will give you peace, and you shall lie down" (v. 6). The secret of fruitfulness and restfulness lies in being calmly obedient to His holy will. As we follow He will make and give. Instead of worry and weariness there is peace and rest (Psalm 23:2). We take His yoke, and without any secret yearning after popularity find rest to our souls (Matthew 11:29).
3. Deliverance from evil things. "I will rid evil beasts out of the land" (v. 6). There are many "beast-like" evils from which even the Christian needs deliverance. Strong drink, love of money, lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God, pride, impatience self-assertion. These Are evil beasts that are often seen in the land of God's inheritance, but from which He is able to rid us. He only can do the riddance. See the whole menagerie exhibited in Galatians 5:19-21.
4. Power to overcome. "Five of you shall chase an hundred" (vs. 7, 8). In this spiritual warfare it is not a question of numbers or of experience, but of "holiness unto the Lord." It is weak but clean things God uses (1 Corinthians 1:26-31). The sword of His Word is mighty to the demolishing of every refuge of lies. "Five of you." Not many, but entirely agreed. If two of you shall agree as touching anything that you shall ask in My Name, it shall be done.
5. Distinguishing favor. "I will have respect unto you" (v. 9). The obedient ones have the eye of His special grace continually upon them (Romans 8:28). The Lord will make a difference, so that they need not beg or borrow the favor of the ungodly princes of this world. He has said, so that we may boldly say, I will not fear (Hebrews 13:5, 6).
6. Abundant provision. "You shall bring forth the old because of the new" (v. 10). Old blessings will not be hoarded because of the number and greatness of the new. The old corn of our spiritual experiences will be liberally used because of the plentifulness of the new. This indicates a very healthy state of soul, it is the path of the just that shines more and more. The old corn of salvation should be brought out because of the new baptism of the Holy Spirit. Let us also bring out the old corn of theology because of the new, which is broadness versus shallowness.
7. Divine fellowship. "I will walk among you" (v. 12). His presence with us is the pledge of prosperity, progress, protection, purity, and power. That soul or life possessed by God's Holy Spirit will never fail to find delight in an obedient walk. The testimony of that life will never be silenced by terror or smitten with consumption (v. 16). Greater is the Spirit of Christ in us than the spirit of antichrist which is in the world (1 John 4:4).
THE PATH OF DISOBEDIENCE. Leviticus 26:14-45.
As we have already seen, the blessings which follow obedience are clearly indicated in the first part of this chapter. In this division the events that follow disobedience are as emphatically pronounced. In the first we see the narrow way that leads to life; here we have the broad way that leads to destruction. Let us look then at the—
1. Evils that follow disobedience. "If you will not hearken unto Me, and will not do these commandments," then there will be—
1. Great fearfulness. "I will appoint over you terror" (v. 16). When a Church has begun to backslide it will soon be in terror about the collections, innovations, and everything but worldliness and sin. A soul out of fellowship with God is in terror of special evangelistic meetings. Disobedience brings cowardliness in the service of God. The fear of man brings a snare.
2. Sure decline. "I will appoint over you consumption" (v. 16). Organs, images, paid choirs, painted windows, or popular entertainments will not check this disease. The wound is greater than the plaster, and deeper than any unbelieving quack can reach. Disobedience as a malady is rottenness in the bones. The appearance of health and soundness may be kept up for a time, just as you may paint the face of a consumptive, while there is nothing but weakness and disorder within.
3. Unhealthy activity. This is described in verse 16 as "the burning ague," and suggests the idea of periodical spasms of feverish effort. These spasms may sometimes take the form of "worldly concerts, Sunday evenings for the people, short sermons, popular topics," etc. Such activity in the Name of Christ resembles the breathless excitement of the dry bones in the valley of vision. Like the convulsive movements of a skeleton under the power of a galvanic battery.
4. Fruitless work. "You shall sow your seed in vain" (v. 16). "Your strength shall be spent in vain" (v. 20). There may be much earnestness, but as long as there is heart rebellion it is only like beating the air (1 Samuel 15:22). You may sow your seed as a preacher, but it will be in vain as long as your life is unconsecrated to the Lord. You are only spending your strength in vain when you are striving by your culture and eloquence to bring forth fruit unto God in the conversion of sinners, or the upbuilding of the Lord's people. Fruit bearing depends on what we are more than on what we do.
5. Slavish cowardliness. "They that hate you shall rule over you, and you shall flee when none pursues you" (v. 17). To disobey God is to come under the tyranny of the world, the flesh, and the devil. Then comes the fleeing before a phantom foe, because there is an evil heart of unbelief within, a conscience not void of offence.
6. Unanswered prayer. "I will make your Heaven as iron" (v. 19). An iron Heaven is an unyielding one. Unanswered prayer is unheard prayer. Our prayers prevail just as we and they are right with God (James 5:16). Prayers framed for the ear of men instead of the ear of the Lord of Sabaoth will never pierce an iron Heaven. If the heavens are as brass to us it is an evidence that we ourselves are not right with God.
7. Sorrowful loss. "I will send wild beasts among you, which will rob you of your children" (v. 22). The wild beasts of infidelity, skepticism, contempt, and indifference has already robbed the disobedient Church of many of her children. A sham religion will neither save nor keep the rising generation. The cause of this lapse is not primarily the want of interest without, but the want of reality within.
8. Internal divisions. "They shall fall one upon another" (v. 37). "Devouring one another" is about the last stage of this spiritual consumption. Empty seats, backsliding members, fault finding elders, and ironical preachers are but the natural consequences of a backsliding and disobedient Church.
2. Remedy for all this misery. It will be found in—
1. Confession (v. 40). Not blaming one another, but every man smiting his own breast (Psalm 32:5).
2. Humiliation (v. 41). If there is a true consciousness of sin, there will be a real rending of the heart.
3. Faith (vs. 42-45). Unwavering trust in His sure word of promise. When sin is confessed, the place of humility taken, the attitude of faith maintained, then the mighty power of Divine grace will be displayed, the blighting curses of the disobedient life will be rolled away, and the happy fruits of obedience will speedily appear.