THE ACCEPTED OFFERING
Henry Law, 1855
"Fire blazed forth from the Lord's presence and consumed the burnt offering and the fat on the altar. When the people saw all this, they shouted with joy and fell face down on the ground." Leviticus 9:24
A train of solemn rites preceded the priests' admission to their functions. The entrance-path was long and holy. None might draw near uncalled—uncleansed—without atonement made through blood—without the sprinklings of anointing oil. Lev. 8:6, 24, 30.
Through a whole week the victims died, and consecrating services flowed on. During these days the sacred tent enclosed the devoted band. They might not pass its separating gate. The world was left. A barrier parted them from common life. They dwelt shut out from man—shut in with God. Lev. 8:33.
Here is a teaching voice for all, who boast, that they are Christ's. The priestly office shadows out their calling. They have a high employ. Their rank is "royal priesthood." 1 Pet. 2:9. They have new natures, and they do new work. All in God's household minister.
Reader, have you approached by rightful steps the servant's place? The path is here marked out. Is the blood used as your atoning plea? Is there the Spirit's inward witness of adoption to the family of grace? Is the world shunned, as mire? Is life regarded, as a dedicated walk? They, who are truly called, pass this admission-gate.
In heaven a perfect priesthood serves in perfect praise. But consecration here is prelude to that bliss. Say, have you more than empty name? God's service is reality. Is your heart really His? Perhaps you doubt. Oh! then awake and strive to enter by the only door. Space is yet yours. But it is on the wing. It may be almost sped. Alas the woe, if death shall find you not a priest of Christ! Are your signs clear? All, who serve Him, wear livery—washed in his blood—bright in world-shunning grace.
The seven days of dedication passed. The eighth dawn saw the services complete. Lev. 9:1. There is no more delay. The holy office is assumed. The life is now one cloud of incense to the Lord. From morn to night the willing priests discharge foreshadowing forms.
Ministers of Christ, your work may differ, but should your zeal be less? Altars no more are raised. All vanished in the cross. Victims no longer die. No lights are lighted, and no incense burns. The Sun of Righteousness is risen. Twilight ordinances fled from its glorious orb. But still wide fields of labor open. Your life is to proclaim the Lamb of God—the blood once and forever shed. Souls are undone, because they know not Christ—the true end of rites. Your voice must never cease the cry. Behold the truth—bathe in this stream—trust in this death—plead this atoning cross. Shame would it be, if legal priests relaxed not typifying work, and your hands wearied in uplifting the grand substance—Christ.
In this first day of priestly work, a striking circumstance occurs. When all the offerings had been duly made, Moses and Aaron seek the holy tent. Lev. 9:23. For a short season they retire. They leave the busy scene. It is their wish in stillness to seek God's clearer face. He was before them in the public rite. But calm retreat would give more calm approach.
The true believer labors in the open day. In busy haunts of busy men he strains the toiling nerve. The world is the wide field. There are the precious souls, which need the wholesome warning and the faithful word. There sin abounds; and misery dwells; and ignorance spreads its blinding veil. There Satan rules with deathful sway. In this wild waste the good seed must be cast. In graceless crowds grace must be manfully displayed. But private hours gain strength for public zeal. When all is still the opening heavens pour down their dew.
In quietude the soul draws nearer to Christ's arms. Then tender whispers testify of love. Then truth unfolds the wondrous page; and promises assume substantial form; and distant prospects brighten to the view. It is apart from men that grace takes deeper root; temptations wither; the world's false glitter fades; the inner man is strengthened to resist and loins are girded for the battle field. The soldier of the cross goes forth from solitude to fight his fight. He, who seeks God alone, has God in public by his side.
Moses and Aaron soon return. But they come not with empty hands—they are enriched with the best gifts. Here is sweet evidence of gainful commerce with the Lord. Laden with good, they haste to scatter good around. Their souls are redolent of heaven. "They blessed the people." Lev. 9:23.
The blessed of the Lord bless earth. And they are the most blessed, who most throng the mercy seat. The wise, the rich, the learned, and the strong, are tools employed by God to move the world's machine. But it is piety, which strews real weal, on men. They, who descend from Zion's heights, are, as the clouds, which drop refreshing rain.
And now a sudden marvel fills all minds with awe. While blessings fall from blessing saints, heaven brightens with resplendent signs. Glory shines round. Fire is sent forth. But why? Is it to seize the guilty sons of men? Is it to hurl on them deserved wrath? Far otherwise. It comes with olive branch of peace. It seals with heaven's own seal the atoning rites. It settles on the altar. It feeds on the victim, as its feast. Thus it brings evidence of God's delight. Thus it fills hearts with tranquil peace. The flame with blazing tongue proclaims, here is the sacrifice, which God selects—approves—calls men to bring—and never will refuse.
Reader, this is the fact which now addresses you. The altar-victims were the shade of Christ. The attesting fire speaks God's acceptance of His dying Son. Faith, therefore, loves this scene. It is one of the wells, from which it gladly draws new joy. It is one of the meadows of its richest food.
But faith soon asks, what is the antitype of the descending flame? It opens the clear Gospel-page. There distinct testimonies answer to this approving sign. Let some now pass before delighted gaze.
The mighty God has scarcely taken human frame, when heralds speed from the high courts. An angel's shout announces tidings of transcendent joy—a Savior given—a Savior born—a Savior in man's home. The host of heaven take up the wondrous strain. The echoing skies cast back the chorus—"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will towards men." Luke 2:14.
Reader, the sealing fire here falls. Can evidence be more complete? Here is the assurance, that the infant lives, sent by the Father to save souls. It must be so, or why do those joyful wings expand? It must be so—that messenger cannot mislead. Then venture on the Incarnate God. Commit your soul to Him. You may appeal to God—I take Him, because Your signet stamps Him, as Your chosen Lamb.
The day arrives, when Christ must be distinctly shown. As surety of His flock, He must fulfill each righteous ordinance. Therefore He hastens to the baptismal stream. Let all eyes now behold. While He uplifts His soul in prayer, the heavens above cast back their gates. The Spirit, like a dove, flies to the lowly suppliant, and the Father's sovereign voice is heard, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." Luke 3:21, 22. The fire again descends. Oh precious token! The Father and the Spirit join to seal and to anoint our Lord.
Rich in the mercy of this pledge. The thought will sometimes rise, Is Christ indeed sufficient? Sins are a mighty load. Can He sustain them? The claims of justice are a long roll. Can He pay all? The Father's voice decides. It leaves no spot, on which a tottering doubt can rest. He cries, "well-pleased."
Reader, and will not you respond, "well-pleased?" Receive Him with adoring love. Cling to Him with most holy rapture. In Him you cannot fail. In Him you must prevail. He is Salvation by the Father's will—the Father's word. Cleaving to Him, you cannot be cast out. He is the Father's chief joy. And seen in Him, the Father loves you, as He loves His Son.
As time rolls on, select disciples view a wondrous sight. Jesus withdraws the veil, which hides His glory. He stands before them in more than brightness of the mid-day sun. His visage and His robes outvie all light. Here is full proof, that Deity is His right—Jesus transfigured must be very God. But now a super-added testimony sounds. The fire again descends. The Father again speaks. The note is still the same, "This is my beloved Son."
My soul, here is another call to you. Take Christ as your beloved one. Haste to respond—Great Lord, each inmost fiber is pure love to You. Each pulse is an adoring throb.—The voice adjoins, "Hear Him." Heed the wise counsel. He, whom the Father thus attests, is worthy of all notice of all ears. Happy, thrice happy he, who can reply, I hear the good Shepherd's voice. I gladly follow. He leads me to His wounds; and I am clean. He calls me to His side, and whispers peace. He bids me climb a heavenward path. He soon will seat me by His side.
Reader, approach the bitter garden scene. Here all the waves of anguish beat on the Redeemer's soul. His every look and every cry make known, that He is wrestling with extremest pangs. Each pore weeps blood. But whence this overwhelming grief? The hour is still. The place is deep retreat. No hostile bands appear. None but His loved-ones are in view. It is an unseen arm, which now arrests Him. The sword of hidden wrath now really pierces to the quick. The fire from God's right hand now truly falls, and fiercely deals with the self-offered Lamb. Each inward travail shows, that God is now exacting debts from Him, until the boundless price is paid. My soul intently gaze. You see wrath visibly outpoured on Christ. Then be content—the cup is drained. No drop remains for you.
Another scene is near. The death is died. The grave contains its precious captive. The stone is rolled. The seal is fixed. The guard is set. The hand of justice has borne Jesus off. The prison gates are closed. Where are our hopes?
Are claims all satisfied? Will God declare, that He demands no more? Will there be manifested proof, that all His people are redeemed? Draw near and witness. The grave restores the mighty dead. Jesus appears released—alive. Here the fire of satisfaction falls. The topstone of acceptance is brought forth. The pyramid of God's approval is complete. Christ is accredited, as the full Savior of the fully saved.
When Israel's host beheld the fire from God, what was their feeling? "They shouted and fell on their faces." Lev. 9:24. Sweet joy was theirs. Deep adoration warmed each heart. Exulting praise burst forth. Profoundest worship was their instant act.
Believer, do the like. God sends His Son to seek—to save. He lays on Him your every sin. He gives you every pledge, that He approves—attests—receives—delights in the Accepted offering. Witness after witness from His courts assures, that pardon, acquittal, release from every woe, admission to the home of heaven, are y ours. Oh! then, let every breath praise God. Let every hour of every day be inward worship.