The third book of the Pentateuch is Leviticus. It has been called by this name because it gives fully the functions of the Levites. The Hebrews have given the book the name "Va-yikra," the first word in the Hebrew text, meaning, "And He called."
The little word "and" connects the book closely with the preceding one. Its beautiful relation to the book of Exodus we hope to show later. The opening verses of Leviticus solemnly declare that the words contained in this book are the very words of Jehovah. "And the Lord called unto Moses and spake unto him out of the tabernacle of the congregation, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel," etc. In no other book of the Bible is such stress laid upon the fact that Jehovah speaks, and nowhere do we find so many repetitions of this fact. Twenty-four times we find the divine command, "speak unto the children of Israel"--"speak unto Aaron." Thirty-six times occurs the phrase "the Lord spake." Twenty-one times the speaking One says, "I am the LORD (Jehovah)," and as often, "I am the Lord your God." No other proof is needed that the Lord is speaking on every page of this book. Moses received the very Word of God. He wrote the words as he had received them from the Lord. Any other belief is untenable.
And here we must add the testimony of the New Testament Scriptures. Those contain at least forty references to the book and its ordinances. When our Lord Jesus Christ, the infallible Son of God, was on earth, the book of Leviticus, as well as the entire Pentateuch, was known and believed to be the Word of God, and written by Moses. Our Lord set His seal to this, and repeatedly bore witness to the Mosaic authorship and inspiration of the Pentateuch, called "the Law of Moses." How He confirms the book of Leviticus may be seen by turning to the following passages: Matthew 8:4 and Lev. 14:3-10; Matthew 12:4 and Lev. 24:9; Matthew 15:3-6 and Lev. 20:9; John 7:22 and Lev. 12:3. Without giving other New Testament references we briefly mention the Epistle to the Hebrews, which contains so many allusions to the levitical institutions, the priesthood and sacrifices, their typical meaning and realization in the person and work of Christ. This remarkable Epistle alone, in its God-breathed unfoldings, bears an incontrovertible testimony to the divine, as well as Mosaic, origin of Leviticus. And to this must be added another fact. The closer study of this book will disclose the fact that the different rites and divinely appointed institutions are indeed the "shadow of good things to come." The gospel of the grace of God is inseparably connected with the entire book of Leviticus. Nowhere else do we find the redemption-work of Christ so fully and so blessedly told out as in this book. The beauty and wisdom of all is from above.
An Astonishing Assertion
Leviticus, then, is by its own testimony the Word of God. The Son of God and the Holy Spirit in the New Testament confirm this testimony. The work of Christ and the gospel are foreshadowed in it and closely linked with the levitical institutions. In view of these great facts, believed and cherished by the people of God, including the most scholarly and devout, how astonishing is the assertion now so generally made by the boasting rationalistic school of higher criticism, that Leviticus is "a priestly forgery of the days after Ezra"! One is loath to refer again to this most dangerous infidelity which has become so widespread throughout all Christendom. Our times, however, demand a positive and outspoken condemnation of this modern day infidelity, which comes in the garb of an angel of light, with the claim of being reverent and devout, but behind which stands the dark and sneering shadow of the enemy of God. Higher criticism has consigned Leviticus to a date after the Babylonian captivity. According to these "scholars" the priestly laws were collected in Babylonia and were brought back to Palestine. Some even go so far as to claim that the levitical institutions were influenced by the institutions of Babylon. But enough of this! We do not want to fill our pages with the inventions of those blind leaders of the blind. If the book of Leviticus was not written by Moses, given to him directly by Jehovah Himself, then this book is a colossal fraud and forgery. Inasmuch as so many "theological" professors deny the inspiration and Mosaic authorship of Leviticus, this book has been branded as a concoction of falsehoods. Such is the logical consequence. We let another scholar speak on this matter: "While the Lord Jesus taught in various ways that Leviticus contains a law given by revelation from God to Moses, these teach that it is a priestly forgery of the days after Ezra. Both cannot be right; and if the latter are in the right, then--we speak with all possible deliberation and reverence--Jesus Christ was mistaken, and was therefore unable even to tell us with inerrant certainty whether this or that is the Word of God or not. But if this is so, then how can we escape the final inference that His claim to have a perfect knowledge of the Father must have been an error; His claim to be the incarnate Son of God, therefore, a false pretension, and Christianity, a delusion, so that mankind has in Him no Saviour?
"But against so fatal a conclusion stands the great established fact of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead; whereby He was with power declared to be the Son of God, so that we may know that His word on this, as on all subjects where He has spoken, settles controversy, and is a sufficient ground of faith; while it imposes upon all speculations of men, literary or philosophical, eternal and irremovable limitations.
"Let no one think that the case, as regards the issue at state, has been above stated too strongly. One could not well go beyond the often cited words of Kuenen on this subject: 'We must either cast aside as worthless our dearly bought scientific method, or we must forever cease to acknowledge the authority of the New Testament in the domain of the exegesis of the Old.' With good reason does another scholar exclaim at these words, 'The Master must not be heard as a witness! We treat our criminals with more respect.' So then stands the question this day which the first verse of Leviticus brings before us: In which have we more confidence? In literary critics, like a Kuenen or Wellhausen, or in Jesus Christ? Which is the more likely to know with certainty whether the law of Leviticus is a revelation from God or not?
"The devout Christian, who through the grace of the crucified and risen Lord of whom Moses, in the law, and the prophets did write, and who has 'tasted the good word of God,' will not long hesitate for an answer." (S.H. Kellogg, Leviticus.)
To this we say, heartily, "Amen," if these critics, whose real difficulty is the "puffed up head" and "the empty heart" were to turn in humility of mind and in dependence upon the Spirit of God to the Word itself, casting their "little learning" to the winds, they would soon learn the wisdom of God and repent of their foolishness.
The Message of Leviticus
We have pointed out the fact that Leviticus has in itself the unmistakable imprint of divine revelation. What then is its message? One word gives the answer. The word "holy." Ninety times this word is found in the twenty-seven chapters. And here we call the attention to its relation to the book of Exodus. We found in our study of Exodus that redemption is there blessedly foreshadowed. The message of Leviticus is that which is the outcome of redemption, "holiness unto the Lord," "sanctification." In the New Testament the sanctification of a redeemed people is revealed in a twofold aspect: Sanctification by the precious blood of atonement, and sanctification by the Spirit of God. The first is the foundation of all, and the second is the result of it. We see, therefore, that the book of Leviticus begins with the divine instructions concerning the offerings, in which the perfect work of the Lord Jesus Christ and His perfect life are typically foreshadowed. It is perhaps the most complete as well as wonderful description of His work and sacrifice which we possess. In their typical meaning the first seven chapters can never be exhausted. Then follows the divine account of the consecration of the priesthood, telling us typically that a redeemed and sanctified people, a holy priesthood (1 Peter 2:5), can draw nigh and enter into His presence. Access and worship are thus most blessedly illustrated. Practical sanctification in a separated walk and holy living is demanded by the different statutes and laws. And these typify the work of the Holy Spirit in the believer. All this, and much else, makes the study of Leviticus of great interest and value. It is needed in our days. The fundamental truths of the gospel, typically foreshadowed in Leviticus, are the truths mostly denied or belittled. And all that know the gospel, and rest upon the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ, will surely find in this book new beauties of Him, who is altogether lovely, and learn more what His great work as our substitute meant to Him and what it means for us.
By far the greater number of the types of Leviticus have found their fulfillment in the life and death, the resurrection and priesthood of our Lord. Others, however, are still unfulfilled. This is especially true in connection with some of the feasts of Jehovah. The feast of trumpets, the ingathering at the full harvest, the Sabbatic year, the year of jubilee await their glorious fulfillment in a future day, when Israel shall be restored as a nation. These prophetic foreshadowings will be pointed out in the annotations.
The Time When Leviticus Was Given
Different views are held concerning the period of time consumed in the giving of these words of Jehovah. It is evident that Leviticus and Numbers 1-10:10 were given between the first day of the month and the twentieth day of the second month, that is of the second year after their departure from Egypt.
The Scope and Division of Leviticus
Leviticus containing the divine instructions for a redeemed people reveals a progressive order. A rapid glance at the contents will demonstrate this at once. First the Lord gives to the people, whom He brought out of Egypt, His communications concerning the different sacrifices. After these offerings are described, and the law concerning them is given, the account of the consecration of Aaron and his sons, his fellow-priests, follows, and how they began their priestly functions. The judgment of Nadab and Abihu for presenting strange fire is closely connected with this. God demanding holiness in His redeemed people comes next in this book. The account of the great day of atonement, when Aaron entered the Holiest for a brief season, precedes the precepts for the people of God in which their walk in separation from evil is so fully entered upon. The great day of atonement is the center of the book of Leviticus; everything in the book is related to that day. The next which follows, after the giving of instructions of a holy walk, is the divine appointment of the different feasts, and the laws connected with these feasts, especially the great year of jubilee. This, with a chapter on things vowed and devoted, closes the book. It is most interesting to note this last chapter, for it contains the consummation of the book, and foreshadows the time when God will receive what belongs to Him, and when He will be all in all. The words "unto Jehovah"--"holy to Jehovah"--"it is Jehovah's"--occur fourteen times in this last chapter. (The word "Lord" in Leviticus, as throughout the Old Testament, is in the Hebrew "Jehovah.") "Holy unto Jehovah" is mentioned thrice in the closing verses of Leviticus. And this is in keeping with the message of the book. Jehovah is holy; His people must also be holy. "Ye shall be holy: for I the LORD your God am holy" (chapter 19:2). The last verse of Leviticus states once more the solemn fact of the beginning of the book, that Jehovah spake all these words unto Moses.
This brief sketch shows the unity of the book of Leviticus and its progressive revelation. That it could be the patchwork of different writers or the product of after exilic days, as claimed by the rationalists, is impossible. A closer study of this book, so directly communicated by Jehovah to Moses, shows the marvellous wisdom of God. Only the omniscient Lord could give such instructions and institutions, which foreshadow His gracious ways in redemption. We shall aim, as much as this is possible, in our annotations, to point out the wonderful types and prophecies of Leviticus. Here the atoning work of Christ, the results for His people, their privileges and responsibilities are most blessedly outlined. Israel's future restoration connected with the coming day when they shall see Him, who is typified by Aaron, when they shall look upon the pierced One, and their great national day of atonement dawns, the millennial times of blessing and glory and the great Jubilee: all is more than indicated by the Divine communications.
The Division of Leviticus
The brief outline of the scope of the book shows that the division is not difficult to make. As this book is so little known, we suggest first of all a careful reading of the book, noting the three general parts.
These are the following: 1. The offerings and the priesthood (1-10). 2. Laws and precepts (11-22). 3. The feasts of Jehovah (23-27). In our study we shall divide the book in a way which, we trust, will make the study not alone helpful, but interesting. We divide the book in seven parts, which we give first of all, so that the reader can have the contents of the entire book for a careful survey at his command. It will help much in the study of Leviticus to go over this division a number of times and if possible to memorize the parts and contents of the chapters before following the analysis and studying the annotations.
I. THE OFFERINGS AND THE FOUNDATION OF HOLINESS1. The Burnt Offering (1:1-17) 2. The Meal Offering (2:1-16) 3. The Peace Offering (3:1-17) 4. The Sin Offering (4:1-5:13) 5. The Trespass Offering (5:14-6:7) 6. The Laws of the Offerings (6:8-7:38)
II. THE PRIESTHOOD AND THE RESULTS OF HOLINESS1. Aaron and His Sons and Their Consecration (8:1-36) 2. The Functions of the Priesthood Exercised (9:1-24) 3. Nadab and Abihu: The False Worship and its Results (10:1-20)
III. HOLINESS DEMANDED1. The Clean and the Unclean (11:1-47) 2. Childbirth Law. Inherited Sin (12:1-8) 3. Leprosy. Type of Indwelling Sin (13:1-59) 4. The Cleansing of the Leper (14:1-57) 5. Concerning Issues: Man's Weakness and Defilement (15:1-33)
IV. THE DAY OF ATONEMENT: IN THE HOLIEST1. The Day of Atonement (16:1-34) 2. The Testimony Concerning the Blood (17:1-16
V. PRACTICAL HOLINESS IN DAILY LIFE1. Different Relationships (18:1-30) 2. Different Duties (19:1-37) 3. Warnings Against Special Sins and their Penalty (20:1-27) 4. Laws for the Priests (21:1-22:33)
VI. THE HOLY FEASTS AND SET TIMES1. The Feasts (23:1-44) 2. Priestly Duties; the Light and the Shewbread (24:1-9) 3. Blasphemy: Israel's Sin Foreshadowed (24:10-23) 4. The Sabbatic Year and the Year of Jubilee (25:1-55) 5. The Blessings and the Curse: Israel's History (26:1-46)
VII. VOWS AND DEVOTION1. The Claims of Jehovah Realized (27:1-34)
Analysis and Annotations
I. THE OFFERINGS THE FOUNDATION OF HOLINESS
1. The Burnt Offering
1. The bullock (1:1-9) 2. The sheep or the goat (1:10-13) 3. The doves or pigeons (1:14-17)
Jehovah spoke out of the tabernacle which had been set up and upon which the cloud descended, filling the Holy of Holies with the glory of the Lord. Thus Leviticus is closely linked with the ending of the book of Exodus. Out of that glory, from between the cherubim, the same Person spoke to Moses, who had spoken to him out of the burning bush and on Mount Sinai. The first three chapters with which Leviticus opens form one utterance of Jehovah. The second utterance begins with chapter 4:1. This first utterance of Jehovah is concerning three offerings: the burnt offering, the meat offering, and the peace offering. They are distinguished from the other two offerings by being called "a sweet savour (or odor) to Him." This tells of the value and acceptability of these offerings. No direct reference to sin is made in connection with the "sweet savour" offerings. For Israel these three offerings were the divinely appointed means to approach Him, who dwelt in the Sanctuary. The sin and trespass offerings had more specially to do with their sins and were the means of restoring communion with God. The burnt offering stands first among the offerings because it foreshadows in a most precious and simple way the perfect work of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself to God. This offering was wholly consumed, and was therefore also called "whole burnt offering" (Deut. 33:10; Psalm 51:19). It was a holocaust. It went up entirely to God; the priests could not eat of it. The altar upon which it was brought was called the altar of burnt offering, while the fire upon that altar was never permitted to go out. Every part of it typifies Christ offering Himself completely to God; the sweet odor is unto God and it is for the believer's acceptance in Him. A few hints on this offering and the other offerings will be sufficient to show their typical meaning.
First the bullock is mentioned. The ox gives us the highest type of Christ offering Himself. Like the sheep and goats used in the burnt offering, the ox was easily gotten. He needed not to be hunted or be gotten by man's efforts; the ox and the other domestic animals used were, so to speak, ready and willing. Led from the green pastures to be killed before the Lord, the ox is the type of Christ, who left the Father's glory and presence to do His will and give Himself as the willing sacrifice (Psalm 40:6-8; Hebrews 10:1-6). But the ox is also the type of the servant, and reminds us of Christ, the obedient servant, who came not to be ministered to, but to minister and give His life as a ransom for many. There was to be no blemish whatever in the animal. Even so Christ was without blemish, holy and undefiled. The type was to be without blemish, Christ is without blemish, and the Church which He loved and for which He gave Himself will be through His gracious work without blemish, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing (Eph. 5:27).
The offerer had to offer it of his own voluntary will. The correct rendering is (verse 3) "for his acceptance." This reveals the great purpose of the burnt offering. Through Christ as the sin offering, as we shall see later, the believer knows that all sins are paid for and put away. The burnt offering leads us higher. The spotless One offered Himself unto God and we are accepted in Him. The believer is therefore completely identified with the perfect obedience and devotion of the Lord Jesus Christ and accepted as His willing sacrifice was accepted by God and a sweet odor unto Him.
The offerer had to put his hand on the head of the sacrifice. This simple act identified the offerer with the offering. It also stands for faith, for the hand is for taking hold. Thus faith must lay hold in faith on Christ and become identified with Him. God and the believing soul meet in the One, who offered Himself. In connection with the command to put the hand on the head of the sacrifice we find the statement: "it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him." While we saw before the believer's acceptance in Christ, here the fact is made known that the sacrifice is accepted in the offerer's place and that the burnt offering makes atonement. And because "without shedding of blood is no remission of sins" the ox had to be killed. The Hebrew word "killing" has a sacrificial meaning. The offerer had to slay the victim himself to indicate that he deserved the death which the animal suffered in his place. The next thing done was the sprinkling of the blood by the priests round upon the altar by the door of the tabernacle. Thus He who knew no sin was made sin for us; and His blood has made atonement. And how blessed it is to see it was done "before the LORD" (verse 5). How exceedingly precious and of inestimable value the devotedness of Christ, His obedience unto the death of the cross, and the shedding of His blood must be in God's holy sight! Thus everything in the burnt offering foreshadows the blessed truth--"Christ hath given Himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savour" (Eph. 5:2).
The victim was flayed, cut into pieces. His inwards and his legs were washed with water. The head and the fat, as well as the other parts including the inwards and the legs, were put in order on the wood upon the altar. It was then completely consumed by fire and rose up a sweet savour unto the Lord. All has its typical meaning. All is exposed to the Divine gaze and all witnesses to the perfection and excellencies of Him who gave Himself. The fat is typical of His internal excellencies. The inwards and the legs washed in water apply to Christ's holy character in His affections and in His walk in perfect accord with the Word (the water). The wood tells of His humanity which He took on for the suffering of death. The fire was the fire from heaven. It is not, as often taken here, the symbol of Divine wrath consuming the sacrifice, but it has another meaning. It is the figure of God's perfect delight in the devotion of His ever blessed Son. God rested in Christ and found His fullest satisfaction in Him. The Hebrew has different words for burning. The one that is used here is the same as used for the burning of incense. This in itself shows that it has no connection with wrath. The continual fire upon the altar in connection with this greatest of all the offerings, tells us of God's perpetual delight in the work of Christ, what He is and what He has done.
What became of the skin of the ox? Chapter 7:8 gives the answer. It belonged to the priest. And thus the burnt offering aspect of the death of Christ covers and hides all, who trust in Him.
Next we find that sheep and goats could also be brought as a burnt offering. The highest grade was the ox and the grades which followed, the sheep and the goat. This was in case the offerer was poor and could not bring the more costly ox. It also represents the faith of the offerer. A lower faith and estimate of Christ which does not reach up to the highest conception, however, does not affect the acceptance of the offerer. The inferior offerings typified Christ and were therefore a sweet savour unto God, who beheld in all the same perfect sacrifice. Our faith should rest completely upon God's estimate of Christ and His work. The sheep is the type of Christ in His devoted self-surrender, unresisting and silent (Isaiah 53:7). The goat offering clearly typifies the substitutionary character of the work of the Lamb of God on the cross. The goat is more linked with the sin offering aspect of the death of Christ. Here also the fact is made known that the lamb and goat offering is to be brought on the side of the altar northward before the Lord (verse 11). It stands typically for distance and not the same nearness is recognized as in the first grade offering.
Turtle-doves and pigeons are the lowest grade of burnt offerings. These were for the poorest of the people and they express typically the weakest faith in Christ and the lowest estimate of His work. But here also we read that it was accepted as an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the Lord. These birds speak of Christ as do the ox and the lamb. The dove is the bird of peace, love and sorrow. The dove pictures Him as holy and undefiled, filled with tenderness and love. The bird was put to death by "wringing off its head," the type of the violence done to Him, who was so tender and loving. The crop and the feathers (correct meaning, "filth") were cast away. As those were unclean they had to be thrown away so as to make the type correspond to Him, who is undefiled and holy.
2. The Meal Offering
1. The general instruction (2:1-3) 2. Baked in the oven (2:4) 3. Baked in a pan (2:5-6) 4. Baked in a frying pan (2:7) 5. Presented unto the priest (2:8-11) 6. The oblation of the firstfruits (2:12-16)
The word "meat" should be changed throughout this chapter to "meal." This offering or oblation is closely connected with the burnt offering. No doubt it could not be brought apart from the sacrificial animal. The meal offering is the type of Christ in His perfect humanity and holy, devoted character. It was not for atonement even as the holy humanity of Christ and devotedness of His life could not atone for sins. It is called "most holy" for in His humanity He was "that holy thing." The fine flour, sifted and pure, coming from the corn of wheat, is the apt and beautiful type of His perfect humanity. The oil, so prominent in this offering, is the type of the Holy Spirit. The oil was connected in a twofold way with this offering. The fine flour was mingled with oil. This is typical of the incarnation, His conception by the Holy Spirit, His whole being Spirit-filled. It is a blessed illustration of Luke 1:35. Leaven was entirely absent. "Unleavened fine flour" and "no leaven" is repeatedly stated by Jehovah. It had to be excluded, for leaven is a type of evil, and no evil was in Him.
Nor was any honey permitted in the fine flour. Honey is the type of the sweetness of human nature apart from grace; the picture of fallen nature in an amiable character, yet sin connected with it. Leaven is fermentation; and the sweet honey is the cause of it. It was not allowed in the fine flour, for nothing of an unholy sweetness was in Christ. Only the oil was mingled with the flour. But the oil was also poured upon the flour. This is the type of the Holy Spirit, as He came upon Christ, the anointed One. He was on earth the One whom the Father had sealed (John 6:27); in the meal offering "salt" had likewise a place. It is the type of the separating power of holiness. Believers, born again, have the Holy Spirit in the new nature, and by the Spirit are sealed. Thus we are enabled to walk even as He walked, and show forth His excellencies. We add here a beautiful tribute to the perfect humanity and the moral glory of Christ:
This meal offering of God, taken from the fruit of the earth, was of the finest wheat; that which was pure, separate and lovely in human nature was in Jesus under all its sorrows, but in all its excellence, and excellent in its sorrows. There was no unevenness in Jesus, no predominant quality to produce the effect of giving Him a distinctive character. He was, though despised and rejected of men, the perfection of human nature. The sensibilities, firmness, decision (though this attached itself also to the principle of obedience), elevation and calm meekness, which belong to human nature, all found their perfect place in Him. In a Paul I find energy and zeal; in a Peter, ardent affection; in a John, tender sensibilities and abstraction of thought, united to a desire to vindicate what he loved which scarce knew limit. But the quality we have observed in Peter predominates and characterizes him. In a Paul, blessed servant though he was, he did not repent, though he had repented.... In him in whom God was mighty toward the circumcision, we find the fear of man break through the faithfulness of his zeal. John, who would have vindicated Jesus in his zeal, knew not what manner of spirit He was of, and would have forbidden the glory of God, if a man walked not with them.
But in Jesus, even as man, there was none of this unevenness. There was nothing salient in His character, because all was in perfect subjection to God in His humanity, and had its place, and did exactly its service, and then disappeared. God was glorified in it, and all was in harmony. When meekness became Him He was meek; when indignation, who could stand before His overwhelming and withering rebuke? Tender to the chief of sinners in the time of grace; unmoved by the heartless superiority of a cold Pharisee (curious to judge who He was); when the time of judgment is come, no tears of those who wept for Him moved Him to other words than 'Weep for yourselves and for your children,'--words of deep compassion, but of deep subjection to the due judgment of God. The dry tree prepared itself to be burned. On the cross, when His service was finished, tender to His mother, and entrusting her in human care, to one who (so to speak) had been His friend, and leaned on His bosom; no ear to recognize her word or claim when His service occupied Him for God; putting both blessedly in their place, when He would show that, before His public mission, He was still the Son of the Father, and though such, in human blessedness, subject to the mother that bare Him, and Joseph His father as under the law, a calmness which disconcerted His adversaries; and in the moral power which dismayed them at times, a meekness which drew out the hearts of all not steeled by opposition. Such was Christ in human nature. (J.N. Darby, Synopsis of the Bible.)
And frankincense was thereon. This is the fragrance, unspeakable in its value, as it went up from His blessed life to God.
But the meal offering was baked in an oven, in a pan and in a frying pan or cauldron. These are the types of the testings and trials in His holy humanity. He was made perfect through suffering as the captain of our salvation (Heb. 2:10). The oven typifies the temptations from the side of Satan--known only to the Lord Himself. The pan tells of the more evident testings and trials through which He passed, enduring the contradiction of sinners and all the opposition and hatred heaped upon Him. The frying pan or cauldron speaks of the combining trials and sorrows of an outward and inward nature. But all, whether the oven, the pan or the cauldron, brought out His perfection.
The meal offering was then burnt upon the altar, a sweet odor to Jehovah. The priests could eat the remainder of the meal offering. As priests of God, constituted thus through the grace of God, it is our holy and blessed privilege to feed on Himself, and the feeding on Christ will ever keep us in conscious nearness to God, and wean us away from earthly things.
The oblation mentioned in verse 12 refers to the "new meal offering" in which leaven was permitted, and which was not to be burnt. This we shall find more fully mentioned in chapter 23:15-20. When we reach that chapter we shall speak of its significance as the wave offering. The oblation of the firstfruits (verses 14-16) consisted in green ears of corn dried by fire, even corn beaten out of full ears. He again is typified here as the green corn, which was dried (roasted) in the fire. It points to His holy life, His death and His resurrection. However, all this is more fully revealed in the wave sheaf after Passover in connection with Pentecost. This we shall find in the contents of the twenty-third chapter of the book.
3. The Peace Offering
1. The ox (3:1-5) 2. The sheep or goat (3:6-17)
This is the third "sweet savour offering," and is closely linked with the burnt offering, but it differs from it, especially, in that part of it was to be eaten. The peace offering also had the character of a thank offering (7:11-13). As it was offered on the altar upon the burnt sacrifice, it cannot therefore be separated from Christ offering Himself as the burnt offering. Leviticus 7:11-34 contains the law of the peace offering and tells of the eating of the peace offering, which is not mentioned in the third chapter. It typifies the gracious results accomplished for the sinner by the death of Christ. The blood is sprinkled upon the altar, which is for propitiation. Fellowship therefore results with praise and thanksgiving. As we shall learn more fully from the seventh chapter about the feeding upon the breast and the shoulder of the peace offering, we pass all this by. However, we call attention to the prominence given to the fat of the sacrifice. It is the type of the inward energy of Christ, expressed in doing the Father's will, even unto death; and this is called "the food of Jehovah." He delights in this. The happy scene of how the priests, the offerer and his friends partook of that of which God partakes Himself, we shall see later.
4. The Sin Offering
1. The second utterance of Jehovah (4:1-2) 2. The sin offering for the high priest (4:3-12) 3. The sin offering for the congregation (4:13-21) 4. The sin offering for the ruler (4:22-26) 5. The sin offering for one of the people (4:27-35) 6. The sin offering for special inadvertent offences (5:1-13)
The burnt offering, meal offering, and peace offering typified the absolute and blessed perfection and devotion of Christ, and are therefore the sweet savour offerings. The remaining offerings, the sin and trespass offerings, are not called a sweet savour. In these offerings we see Christ typified as the bearer of the sins of His people. And as such He had to take upon Himself the judgment of God. This, no doubt, is the reason why these two offerings are not called a "sweet savour"; for God does not delight in judgment. Judgment is His strange work (Isaiah 28:21). Note also that the preceding three offerings were voluntary, the two remaining were compulsory. Forgiveness had to be sought and secured by them. In the actual approach of man to God, the sin offering always occupied the first place; the burnt offering followed. As we have seen the burnt offering is mentioned first, because it tells out the perfection and infinite worth of Him in whom, according to the eternal purpose of God, we are accepted. And now as accepted in the Beloved One, made nigh and brought into fellowship with God, the need which we have on account of our sins is fully met in the work of Christ, who bore our sins in His own body on the tree.
It is impossible to follow all the manifold types in connection with the sin offering for the priest, the ruler, and the congregation. The details of it demand a very careful and minute study which we cannot attempt here. We can treat the sin offering only in a general way. The bullock is the sin offering for the anointed priest and for the whole congregation (verses 4 and 13). Like in the burnt offering, the offerers had to identify themselves with the offering by laying their hands on the head of the bullock. But this difference must be noticed: in the burnt offering the believer is seen identified with Christ and accepted in Christ; in the sin offering Christ became identified with us in our sin. Sin was transferred to Him as our substitute. "The Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all." The blood then was sprinkled seven times before the Lord. Some of it was put upon the horns of the altar of incense; while the blood of the bullock, the greater portion of it, was poured at the bottom of the altar of burnt offering.
The skin of the bullock with the whole bullock was burned without the camp. The Hebrew word for "burned" is different from that used in the burnt offering. The word used in connection with the sin offering is "saraph"; it speaks of the burning of judgment. The commentary to this is Hebrews 13:11-12. "The bodies of those beasts whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned without the camp. Wherefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood suffered without the gate." With the case of a ruler having sinned the offering was a kid of the goats, a male; and in the case of any one of the common people having sinned through ignorance still other instructions are given.
"It is evident, therefore, that there is a graduated scale in these different instances. Why so? Because of a most solemn principle. The gravity of sin depends on the position of him that sins. It is not so, that man is prone to adjust matters, though his conscience feels its rectitude. How often man would screen the offense of him that is great, if he could! The same might be hard on the poor, friendless, and despised. The life of such at any rate seems of no great account. It is not so with God, nor ought it to be in the minds and estimate of His saints. And another witness of this in the last instance is not without interest for our souls. Only to one of the common people is allowed the alternative of a female lamb instead of a kid (verses 32-35), the offering of which for his sin is reiterated with the same minute care.
"When the anointed priest sinned, the result was precisely such as if the whole congregation sinned. When a prince sinned, it was a different matter, though a stronger case for sacrifice than where it was a private man. In short, therefore, the relationship of the person that was guilty determines the relative extent of the sin, though none was obscure enough for his sin to be passed by. Our blessed Lord on the other hand meets each and all, Himself the true anointed priest, the only One who needs no offering--who could therefore be the offering for all, for any. This is the general truth, at least on the surface of the sin offering. The offence that was brought forward, confessed, and judged becomes the substitute in this case for him that was guilty; and the blood was put in the care of individuals on the brazen altar, as it only needed to be dealt with in the place of sinful man's access to God." (W. Kelly, Introduction to the Pentateuch.)
In studying the interesting details of the sin offerings it must be remembered that all is the "shadow of good things to come," and that the good things which have come, and which we now enjoy, as believers in Christ, are far higher and more blessed than the types could reveal.
5. The Trespass Offering
1. The trespass against Jehovah (5:14-19) 2. The trespass against man (6:1-7)
The brief section which gives instruction concerning the trespass offering contains twice the statement, "Jehovah spake unto Moses" (5:14 and 6:1). Sin is here looked upon as an injury done. The trespass offering was always a ram without a blemish out of the flock (verses 15, 18; 6:6). First the wrong is mentioned done in holy things of Jehovah or something done against His commands, and secondly, wrongs done against his neighbor, which Jehovah also reckons as done against Himself. There is no need to define the wrong done in the holy things of Jehovah. The word trespass in the Hebrew means "to act covertly." It was no doubt an attempt to defraud Jehovah in the holy things, as defrauding is prominent in connection with the wrong done to the neighbor. The offering of the ram, which, of course, typifies Christ, is not described here, but in chapter 7:1-10. But another feature is made prominent which contains a most interesting truth. Restitution had to be made in each trespass against Jehovah and against man, and in each case the fifth part of the whole had to be added. In the wrong done against Jehovah the fifth part was given to the priest; and in the wrong done against the neighbor the one who had been defrauded received it. This shows forth the blessed effect of the redemption work of Christ. He has not only restored what He took not away, but added more to it. God manifested thus His gracious power by giving greater blessing to His people and bringing greater glory to Himself.
6. The Laws of the Offerings
1. The law of the burnt offering (6:8-13) 2. The law of the meal offering (6:14-18) 3. The offering of the high priest (6:19-23) 4. The law of the sin offering (6:24-30) 5. The law of the trespass offering (7:1-10) 6. The law of the sacrifice of the peace offerings (7:11-38)
After Jehovah had given to Moses by direct communication the different offerings, in what they were to consist, and how they were to be brought, different laws concerning these offerings were added by Jehovah. They are mostly addressed to Aaron and his sons (6:8, 14, 19, 24). They acquaint us therefore with the relation of the priest to the offerings. In the law of the trespass and peace offerings we do not find an address to Aaron and his sons. The proper way to study the offerings is to consider first what is said in the beginning of Leviticus and then to read the laws of the offerings in connection with each to learn their relation to the priest and the people.
The Law of Burnt Offering--It was the duty of the priest to keep the burnt offering upon the altar and the fire of the altar had to be kept burning in it. It is especially stated that the burnt offering shall be upon the hearth upon the altar all night unto the morning. This continual burnt offering with the fire, which never went out, is the type of Christ, who continually offers Himself to God and in whom all believers have the assurance of their full acceptance. It was different with the sin offering; there could not be a continuous sin offering, for Christ giving Himself as an expiatory sacrifice cannot be a continuous act. But it is different with the burnt offering. While on earth He ever presented Himself before God and the fire of His devotion never went out. And thus He continues in the heavenly sanctuary, appearing in the presence of God for us. This never ceases. It is morning by morning, evening by evening. And how blessed that the night is mentioned! The night is the present age; and it will be followed by the morning, when the day dawns. What comfort is here provided for us! While we are down here in the wilderness, tested, tried, failing and stumbling our perfect burnt offering is ever present with God and the sweet savour arises from it. By it we are kept, though we are a sinning people. It has also a blessed meaning for Israel. This is Israel's night. By the burnt offering sacrifice even Israel is kept during the dark night of their unbelief for the blessing which shall surely come in the morning, when He is revealed again. Then they will behold Him as their burnt offering, whom they had despised and rejected during the night of wandering and tribulation; then they will confess their sin and acknowledge He was bruised on account of their iniquities.
But while this is the blessed meaning of the burnt offering for the believer and for repenting and believing Israel, for the unbeliever there is another fire which will never go out. And we must see the practical application as well. This blessed continual burnt offering must lead His believing people to give themselves continually and manifest their devotion in practical holiness. "God delights to have us remind Him (though He can never forget it) of the work of His dear Son, and that we have here our occupation and live in the fragrance of His acceptance. This is really the foundation of all practical holiness, as it is of rest and satisfaction to the soul. Christ is our righteousness before God; we are accepted in the Beloved; in Christ we are as Christ, even in this world. Here the perpetual sunshine settles down on us; it is the true Beulah land for the saint, where the birds sing ever and the heart goes forth in perpetual melody" (Numerical Bible). Our answer to the continuous burnt offering in our behalf must be a life of devotion to God. Space forbids to follow the equally precious application of the other priestly actions.
The Law of the Meal Offering--As we learned in connection with the second chapter, the meal offering foreshadows Christ on earth, that blessed and holy life which was lived here in entire devotion. The principal thing here is that Aaron and his sons, the priests, were to eat of it. God had His portion in it, but the priests were to share it. All believers are priests in Christ, and as such have this precious food to enjoy. That food is Christ, and that means communion with God. To enjoy Christ, feed on Him, the bread come down from heaven; to meditate upon all His loveliness and grace, is our blessed privilege, who are brought into His fellowship. Note that it says "it shall be eaten unleavened in a holy place." This means that only in the place of separation, where grace has put us, can we enjoy this feast. The feeding on the meal offering will keep us in the sanctuary in His presence.
The Offering of the High Priest--Distinct from the general meal offering is that meal offering which the high priest had to bring on the day of his anointing. This had to be wholly burned unto Jehovah. No priest was permitted to taste this and partake of it. It had to be offered half of it in the morning and half of it at night. There is another distinction. Oil was mixed with it, but oil was not poured upon it. We saw what the oil mixed with the fine flour meant, and that the pouring of the oil upon the fine flour typified the Holy Spirit as He came upon Christ at His baptism. Now inasmuch as this pouring of the oil is omitted here, this meal offering seems to typify the blessed life of our Lord before His public ministry began. The hidden years, as we term them, were yielded completely to God, and as the Holy Spirit has not given us a record of those years we cannot feed on them. This, no doubt, is the typical meaning of this special meal offering of the high priest "on the day of his anointing."
The Law of the Sin Offering--This law contains interesting details concerning the sin offering. It had to be killed in the place where the burnt offering was killed. The priest that offered it for sin had to eat it, and he typifies Christ. This means His identification with sinners, when in our stead He bore our sins in His own body on the tree. But the priests also could eat of it. The work of atonement, the sin-bearing, no fellow priest could share with Him. He alone could do this great work. Nevertheless we eat of the sin offering if we identify ourselves in humiliation and confession with the sins and failures of the saints of God. The holiness of the sin offering is especially emphasized. It is called "most holy." The earthen vessel in which it was boiled had to be broken and the brazen pot had to be scoured and rinsed. This typifies the unique and most precious, as well as holy character, of the great work accomplished by the sin bearer on the cross.
The Law of the Trespass Offering--This also is called "most holy." Here the killing of the sacrifice, the sprinkling of the blood, the presentation of the fat, etc., and the burning upon the altar, omitted in chapters 5:14-6:7, are now commanded. Restitution is the prominent thing at the first mention of the trespass offering. It reveals the joy of God in what has been accomplished by Christ in His redemption work. But restitution must rest for a foundation upon atonement. This is now therefore brought out in the law of the trespass offering.
The Law of the Peace Offering--But one more remains. We discover that the peace offering is removed out of its connection. The order in the beginning of Leviticus is: burnt offering, meal offering, peace offering, sin offering, and trespass offering. The first three were the "sweet savour offerings." The third sweet savour offering, the peace offering, is put last in the laws of the offering. The peace offering represents the blessed results of the work of Him, who has made peace in the blood of His cross, in whom all who believe are justified and have peace with God. And the first thing mentioned is most blessed and intimate communion and enjoyment with thanksgiving. The pierced cakes, unleavened mingled with oil, etc., typify Christ. In this blessed feast Christ, as everywhere, has the preeminent place. The enjoyment of peace and its resulting communion is impossible apart from Christ. We must ever let the Holy Spirit remind us of what He is and what He has done for us. But what does it mean that the Israelite had to bring an offering of leavened bread with the sacrifice of his peace offerings for "thanksgiving"? Leaven was forbidden at Passover, in the meal offering, because it is the type of evil. Here and in the two loaves of the Feast of Weeks it was not only permitted, but commanded. In Christ there was no leaven; but in His saints, though made nigh by blood, there is still leaven, the corruption of the old nature. How harmonious with the teaching of the New Testament! We leave this to our readers to follow with prayer, searching, and, we trust, exercise of soul.
Rich and full is indeed this portion, the concluding section; one feels like touching upon every detail and meditate on these precious pictures, foreshadowing our blessings and privileges in Christ.
We must pass all these riches by, but pray that His Spirit may open up the mines of divine wisdom and comfort to every child of God. But one more phrase we mention. The priests had their portion in the peace offering. The priest, who burns the fat upon the altar represents Christ. Aaron and his sons received the breast of the sacrifice. The shoulder of the peace offering belonged to the priest for an heave offering. Like Aaron and his sons, priests of God, we can feast upon the breast, the type of His love, and thus enjoy His affections. The shoulder is the seat of power. And power belongs to Him alone, who loveth us and hath washed us from our sins in His own blood and hath made us priests and kings. May this first part of Leviticus (so often ignored) become a source of much joy and blessing to His people. The few hints we could give will, under God, show the way how these types should be studied.
II. THE PRIESTHOOD AND THE RESULTS OF HOLINESS
1. Aaron and His Sons and Their Consecration
1. Aaron (8:1-12) 2. Aaron and his sons (8:13-21) 3. The consecration (8:22-30) 4. The sacrificial feast (8:31-36)
The second part of Leviticus is historical and gives the account of how Aaron and his sons were consecrated as priests and how they exercised their priesthood. The judgment, which fell upon the two sons of Aaron ends this interesting section.
The voice of Jehovah spoke again, commanding that Aaron and his sons should now be taken and be consecrated. The ceremony took place "at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation." The entire congregation of Israel was gathered together to witness the event. This statement has been severely attacked by the critics, who reject this report as untrustworthy inasmuch as a congregation of several millions could hardly have gathered at the door of the tabernacle. For this reason the critics have branded the account as legendary. "But, surely, if the words are to be taken in the ultra-literal sense required in order to make out this difficulty, the impossibility must have been equally evident to the supposed fabricator of the fiction; and it is yet more absurd to suppose that he should ever have intended his words to be pressed to such a rigid literality" (S.H. Kellogg, Leviticus). But the words do not necessarily mean that every individual was present at the door of the tabernacle and all remained there for the entire seven days of ceremonial observance. Perhaps only the representatives of the tribes were called to witness all that was done; these appointed leaders represented the whole assembly of Israel. All was carried out according to the divine command. Not less than twelve times is reference made to this fact in the eighth chapter. It was all according to divine appointment. Aaron was called of God to this office, and in this he was a type of Christ in His office-work as priest. "And no man taketh this honor unto himself, but he that is called of God as was Aaron. So also Christ glorified not Himself to be made an high priest, but He that said unto Him, Thou art my Son, today have I begotten thee" (Heb. 5:4-5). As Aaron and his work was appointed by God, so the work of our Lord in connection with sin. Aaron did "all the things which the Lord commanded by the hand of Moses," and Christ completely did the will of Him that sent Him. That blessed will is foreshadowed in the priestly office and the priestly work.
Without following the historical account in every detail we point out some of the leading types in this great chapter. The principal actors are Aaron and his sons. Aaron occupies the leading and prominent place; his sons are associated with him. He is, as stated above, a type of Christ. His sons typify those who are called into the priesthood in their Christian profession. The priesthood of the sons of Aaron depended upon their relationship to him. Without Aaron they could not be priests at all. Our relationship to Christ constitutes us priests. The Priesthood of Christ rests upon His Sonship, and believing on Him we become children of God and also priests with Him. The sons of Aaron typify the Christian profession; two of his sons were taken in a judgment. They foreshadow the true and the false in Christendom. But there is still another application. Israel's national priesthood is also foreshadowed. "Ye shall be unto Me a kingdom of priests" (Exod. 19:6) is God's calling for the nation. They will yet possess that priesthood. "But ye shall be named the priests of the LORD, men shall call you the ministers of our God" (Is. 61:6). This will be accomplished with the second coming of Christ. A part of the nation will then be swept away in judgment, while the believing remnant will exercise the functions of the priesthood in the kingdom. These two classes are typified by the sons of Aaron.
The first thing mentioned is the "washing with water." This washing of water is the type of the new birth. This is beautifully illustrated by the symbolical action of our Lord in the washing of the disciples' feet (John 13:2-12). The feet washing corresponds to the washing the priests had to do when they went into the tabernacle, and typifies the daily cleansing by the Word the believer needs to continue in fellowship with God. When Peter demanded to have his hands and head washed the Lord told him "He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit; and ye are clean, but not all." By these words the Lord told Peter that inasmuch as they all had believed on Him, with the exception of Judas Iscariot, they were washed and clean every whit. And in other Scriptures the same symbol is used: "Born of the water and the Spirit" (John 3:5); "the washing of regeneration" (Titus 3:5); "our bodies washed with pure water" (Heb. 10:22). But this could never apply to the Lord Jesus Christ. He needed no washing, no regeneration, for He is holy and undefiled.
Aaron was then clothed with the holy garments, invested with his official robes. These are described in detail in Exodus 28. (The annotations on Exodus give the typical meaning of the garments. This description of the official dress and what is typified by it should be carefully studied.) The investiture of the sons of Aaron took place after the anointing of the tabernacle and Aaron as high priest. Christ and His work is put into the foreground. He is anointed with the oil of gladness above His fellows (Ps. 45:7; Heb. 1:9). But linked with Him are His fellows, His seed, the many sons He brings to glory. Their garments, including the breeches (Exodus 28:42) (not mentioned here), were of pure white linen, the type of the holiness and righteousness into which the grace of God has brought us in Christ. We are a holy priesthood. See also Rev. 4:4. "And round about the throne were four and twenty thrones, and upon the thrones I saw four and twenty elders sitting clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold." "And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white; for the fine linen is the righteousness of the saints" (Rev. 19:8).
The tabernacle, the altar, the laver and finally Aaron were anointed with the holy oil. The oil was sprinkled upon the altar seven times. No blood was shed for atonement. All this has its blessed significance. While by this ceremony the tabernacle with all that was in it was sanctified and consecrated, it also typifies the consecration of all through Christ. The anointing of Aaron is the type of the anointing of our Lord. "God anointed Jesus with the Holy Spirit and with power" (Acts 10:38).
After the investiture of the sons of Aaron came the sacrifice of the bullock for a sin offering. This was followed by the ram of the burnt offering. Then the sacrifice of a second ram, the ram of consecration. Aaron and his sons laid their hands upon the head of the bullock and also upon the heads of the rams before they were killed. The sin offering had to come first for Aaron's sin and those of his sons. Aaron was a sinful man, Christ was not. But His gracious identification with us is here foreshadowed. The burnt offering, speaking of the perfection of Christ, was alone a sweet savour unto the Lord. For Aaron and his sons it had the meaning of their full consecration to the service of God. The second ram was for consecration; the literal rendering from the Hebrew is "the ram of fillings," because of verse 27, where we read that their hands were filled to wave it all as a wave offering before the Lord. The blood of this second ram was put upon the tip of the right ear of Aaron, upon the thumb of the right hand and upon the great toe of his right foot. The same was done to Aaron's sons. Their whole bodies were thus set apart for the service of God in virtue of the blood which had been shed. It is the most blessed type of sanctification by that "better blood", the blood of Christ. The ear is for hearing; we are set apart to hear the Word of God and yield obedience to it. The hand is set apart to serve and to do His will, and the feet to walk in His ways. No such sanctification was possible till the blood had been shed. All this foreshadows our sanctification by blood, and the results of this sanctification. The anointing oil was also sprinkled with the blood (of the peace offering) upon Aaron and his sons and their garments. The sacrificial feast, which followed is interesting and full of meaning. They fed upon the ram and the unleavened bread.
"This sacrificial feast most fitly marked the conclusion of the rites of consecration. Hereby it was signified, first, that by this solemn service they were now brought into a relation of peculiarly intimate fellowship with Jehovah, as the ministers of His house, to offer His offerings, and to be fed at His table. It was further signified, that strength for the duties of this office should be supplied to them by Him whom they were to serve, in that they were to be fed of His altar. And, finally, in that the ritual took the specific form of a thank offering, was thereby expressed, as was fitting, their gratitude to God for the grace which had chosen them and set them apart to so holy and exalted service.
"These consecration services were to be repeated for seven consecutive days, during which time they were not to leave the tent of meeting; obviously, that by no chance they might contract any ceremonial defilement, so jealously must the sanctity of everything pertaining to the service be guarded" (S.H. Kellogg).
How necessary for us who are constituted "a holy priesthood to offer up spiritual sacrifices" to feed thus on Himself, who is ever before us in these ceremonies. It is at the Lord's table, when we eat and drink in remembrance of Him, we feed on Him and then exercise our holy priesthood of praise and worship. The seven days mean typically our life down here during which our consecration continues. The seven days stand for this age when a "heavenly priesthood" is feasting (the Church), and when the seven days end something new begins. The eighth day which follows marks this new beginning.
2. The Functions of the Priesthood Exercised
1. The new offerings of the priests (9:1-14) 2. The people's offerings (9:15-21) 3. The fulness of blessing and glory (9:22-24)
A service follows the consecration of the priests, in which they officiated; hitherto Moses had acted by divine command. The service ordered is of great significance. For seven days, during the days of their consecration, a bullock had been offered for Aaron and his sons, and yet at the beginning of the eighth day a young calf for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering are needed. This reminds us of Hebrews 10:4, "For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins." But there is a deeper meaning here. In connection with these new offerings on the eighth day the promise is given "today the Lord will appear unto you," and "the glory of the Lord shall appear unto you." We must look for a prophetic, dispensational foreshadowing. And such we have here.
We have seen that Aaron and his sons typify a heavenly priesthood, Christ, and those who are priests with Him. But Aaron and his sons also typify the nation Israel. While the seven days of the consecration feast foreshadow the present age in which believers in Christ feast and exercise the functions of their spiritual priesthood, the eighth day stands for the beginning of the coming age in which the Lord will appear unto His people Israel and when His glory is manifested. Then Israel will become the kingdom of priests. The sin offering and burnt offering brought again shows that it is in virtue of the blessed work of Christ. Then "all Israel," the remnant of that day, will be saved and "there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness" (Zech. 13:1). The offerings for the people in our chapter suggest this prophetic application. When the seven days, the present age, is ended, then Israel will look upon Him, whom they have pierced and mourn for Him (Zech. 12:10).
A still more interesting event is given in the close of our chapter. Aaron came down from the altar where he had brought the offerings to bless the people. Immediately upon that he withdrew and entered with Moses into the holy place. Moses and Aaron were then invisible to the people. But they came forth, and a second blessing was pronounced upon the people. Nothing is said of how long both were in the holy place. We have here the beautiful types of the work of Christ and the blessing, which results from it for His people. As Aaron came forth the second time, so Christ will come the second time to bless His people Israel with peace. Moses, the leader of the people, typifies kingship, and Aaron the priesthood. Both coming out of the holy place foreshadow the second coming of Christ, the King-Priest. Melchisedek was king of righteousness and king of peace and priest as well, the type of Christ. When Christ comes again He will receive His throne and be a priest upon that throne. All this will mean glory for Him, glory for the church, glory and blessing for Israel, and glory for the earth. Then the glory of the Lord will appear, as it appeared when Moses and Aaron blessed the people. The fire came out from before the Lord. The Shekinah-Glory appeared and the flashing fire falling upon the altar consumed the offerings and the fat. The Lord thereby showed His approval of all that had been done. Jewish tradition claims that the fire which was never to cease burning was started in this divine act.
3. Nadab and Abihu: The False Worship and Its Results
1. The false worship and the judgment (10:1-7) 2. New instructions (10:8-15) 3. The neglect of Eleazar and Ithamar (10:16-20)
The ceremonies were ended and the people, beholding the glory of the Lord, had worshipped. A terrible occurrence follows the beautiful ending to the previous chapter. Nadab and Abihu, two sons of Aaron, offered strange fire before Jehovah. The fire before Jehovah devoured them and they died before the Lord. The sin consisted in taking strange fire, which Jehovah had not commanded; most likely it was fire they produced themselves, instead of taking the fire from off the altar (Lev. 16:12). The whole action was in utter disregard of the commandment given and an act of disobedience. This sin in the form as committed by Nadab and Abihu was never repeated. However, the principle of this sin is to be seen on all sides and in many forms in Christendom. It was "will worship." It was doing that in their own will, what God had not commanded. And in Christian worship, so called, how much there is which is will worship! How numerous the carnal things, the inventions and traditions of men, used in worship which have not alone no sanction whatever in the Word, but are altogether contrary to a true worship in the Spirit. Well has one said: "When one goes into many a church and chapel and sees the multitude of devices by which, as it is imagined, the worship and adoration of God is furthered, it must be confessed that it certainly seems as if the generation of Nadab and Abihu was not yet extinct; even although a patient God, in the mystery of His long suffering, flashes not instantly forth His vengeance." The fire of judgment, however, will some day fall upon all the false worship and make an end of it.
What induced them to act in this way so that the judgment of God fell upon them? The warning which follows this incident gives a strong hint on the possible cause of their presumptuous deed. Read verses 8 and 9. The warning against strong drink hints, no doubt, that they had been under the influence of strong drink. It must have been intoxication. May we remember that there is also another intoxication, which is a strange fire and which God hates. How much of Christian service and activity is there which is not done under the leading of the Holy Spirit. Then there are the so-called "revivals," with their purely soulical emotion and carnal means which are used. The unscriptural, and alas! sometimes even vulgar language used by a certain class of evangelists, aiming at excitement and popularity, the forced and often spurious results, heralded to increase the fame of the leader, the aim to receive large financial remuneration, etc., belongs all to the strange fire. In one word, all which is not done in worship and in service in dependence on the Holy Spirit and under His guidance in obedience to the Word, is strange fire.
The judgment of the two sons of Aaron makes known the holiness of Jehovah, who dwelled in the midst of His people. In some respects it is analogous to the judgment of Ananias and Sapphira in the New Testament (Acts 5).
Aaron held his peace. Grace sustained him, so that he could submit to the divine judgment without a murmur, though his heart was greatly burdened (verse 19). He and his sons were not to mourn the dead according to priestly custom. Then follows the command to abstain from the use of wine and strong drink when they were exercising their priesthood. The reason first is stated in verses 10-12. "That ye may put a difference between holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean; and that ye may teach the children of Israel all the statutes, which the Lord hath spoken unto them by the hand of Moses."
"The prohibition of wine and strong drink when going into the tent of meeting connects itself, of course, with the sin of Aaron's sons: and for us plainly covers all fleshly stimulus, which prevents clear discernment of what is or is not according to the mind and nature of God. For us also who are called to walk in the light of God's presence continually, this is not a casual, but a constant rule. The impulse of nature needs the restraining of Christ's yoke; even where, as the apostle says, things are lawful to us, we must still not be brought under the power of any (1 Cor. 6:12). And how easily do they acquire power!" (Numerical Bible).
Commandments previously given to them are then restated. The judgment demanded this. All what follows in this chapter may be looked upon as the effect of the judgment which had fallen upon Nadab and Abihu. Eleazar and Ithamar failed in not eating the sin offering, and only the intercession of Aaron kept them from judgment. The earthly priesthood has failure stamped upon it.
III. HOLINESS DEMANDED
1. The Clean and the Unclean
1. Concerning the beasts on the earth (11:1-8) 2. Concerning things in the water (11:9-12) 3. Concerning flying and creeping things (11:13-23) 4. Concerning defilement with dead bodies (11:24-40)
The chapters which form the third section of Leviticus are by some taken to give evidence that not Moses, but another person arranged the material of the book. Even men who do not deny the inspiration of the book claim that the hand of a redactor is here discovered. In their opinion chapter 16 should follow immediately after the tenth chapter, because the first verse of the sixteenth chapter connects with the death of Nadab and Abihu. We do not agree with this view, but believe that the arrangement as we have it, is as Moses made it. Immediately after the solemn judgment Jehovah spoke again unto Moses and Aaron. Each chapter begins with the statement "And Jehovah spake." The holy One now demands that His people whom He has redeemed and made nigh, must be a holy people. The fact of man's sin and defilement is fully demonstrated in this section.
The eleventh chapter consists in commandments concerning clean and unclean animals. In chapter 20:24-26, the reason for this distinction is given. "But I have said unto you: Ye shall inherit the land and I will give it unto you to possess it, a land that floweth with milk and honey; I am the LORD your God, which have separated you from other people. Ye shall therefore put a difference between clean beasts and unclean, and between unclean fowls and clean; and you shall not make your souls abominable by beast, or by fowl, or by any manner of living thing that creepeth on the ground, which I have separated from you as unclean. And ye shall be holy unto me: for I the LORD am holy, and have severed you from other people, that ye should be mine."
All those beasts were unclean which do not both chew the cud and divide the hoof (see also Deut. 14)--those fishes were unclean which have not both fins and scales--and those birds were unclean which are known as birds of prey, as well as insects (with the exception of certain locusts) and flying mammalia. The subject before us deserves a far deeper and more extended study than we can give it here. We are obliged to confine ourselves to but a few hints. We need not to devote much space to the wisdom revealed in these laws. As God is the author of them they must necessarily reveal His wisdom. It is interesting that all civilized races abstain from the use of the greater part of the animals, which this code prohibits. With the exception of a number of forbidden animals, civilized nations partake of only such which these laws permit. And those which are commonly eaten, such as the oysters, the hog and others, prohibited in this code, science has shown to be more or less responsible for certain diseases and therefore dangerous as a food. The discoveries made by science fully demonstrate the wisdom of these distinctions between the different animals. These laws in their literal meaning are, of course, no longer binding; the religious observance of them was not a permanent thing, and is done away with in the New Testament. The church has no such laws distinguishing between the clean and unclean animals. The clean typify the Jew and the unclean the Gentile. Peter's vision on the housetop of Joppa warrants this interpretation (Acts 10). The clean, the Jews, and the unclean, Gentiles, are, in believing, gathered into the one body. Read Colossians 2:16-17, where the fact is stated that Leviticus 11 is no longer in force. (While these laws have no longer a religious significance, it is wise to follow them as much as possible. Orthodox Jews who hold strictly to these dietary laws and keep them are far more free from certain diseases than Gentile races, which ignore these laws. It has also been shown by statistics that the mean duration of Jewish life averages much higher than that of others.)
But there is also a deeper meaning to all this. Yet in looking for deeper and spiritual lessons, one must be guarded against a fanciful and far-fetched application. This has often been done. It is obvious that these laws concerning the clean and unclean, teach the path of separation, which Jehovah has marked out for His redeemed people. Only that which is clean according to the divine estimate was to be their food. And we, as His redeemed people, must feed spiritually upon the food God has provided for us, that is Christ. The clean and the unclean, all show certain characteristics, which may well be studied. In the New Testament unclean animals are used to represent unbelievers and unsaved persons. The dog and the swine are thus used (2 Peter 2:22). The sheep, as everybody knows, typifies a believer. The characteristics of the clean animals may therefore give some typical lessons on the characteristics of those who believe, and the unclean, characteristics of those who believe not. However, we repeat, these things must not be pressed too far. It is interesting to see the prominence given to the chewing of the cud and the dividing of the hoof. These two things found together in an animal constituted them clean. Those which only chewed the cud, but did not divide the hoof, and others dividing the hoof and not chewing the cud, were unclean. The feeding and the walking are thus made prominent. A Christian, born again, and therefore clean, must feed upon the Word, meditate upon it constantly, like "chewing the cud." The feet stand for the walk, and that must correspond with the feeding upon the Word. The clean fish had to have fins and scales. The fins are for swift movement through the waters and the scales for defense. This too is not without meaning.
2. Childbirth Laws and Inherited Sin
1. The man-child (12:1-4) 2. The maid-child (12:5) 3. The offerings (12:6-8)
The childbirth laws as contained in this chapter are full of meaning. The woman is constituted unclean by the birth of a child. When a man-child was born, she was to be unclean for seven days, and her purification was to end thirty-three days after that; forty days after childbirth. (A. Bonar, in his work on Leviticus, makes the following conjecture: "May it have been the case that Adam and Eve remained only forty days unfallen! These forty days would thus be a reminiscence of that holy time on earth. The last Adam was forty days on earth after His resurrection, recalling to mind earth's time of paradise.") In case of the birth of a maid-child the days of uncleanness were just double, fourteen and sixty-six. But why was this? The key to the spiritual meaning of this chapter is found in this very fact. "Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression" (1 Tim. 2:14). It was by the woman that the fall was brought about through the Serpent. The facts that sin is in the world, how it came into the world and that sin is inherited, transmitted from generation to generation, are made known in this brief chapter. The woman is constituted unclean because she is a sinful creature. Her sorrow and pain in childbirth, which no science nor discovery can remove, is a definite witness to the truth as contained in the third chapter of Genesis. And because she is a sinful creature and unclean, her offspring too is sinful and unclean, for "who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean?" What later David expressed, when he stood in the light, confessing his sin, is here seen in the childbirth laws. "Behold I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me" (Psalm 51:5) And one well may think here of her who was a sinful woman like every other woman, but who conceived by the Holy Spirit, Mary, the virgin. The One born of her had no sin, but is "that holy thing" called the Son of God (Luke 1:35).
on the eighth day the male child was to be circumcised. Both "circumcision" and "the eighth day" are of spiritual significance. The eighth day is the type of resurrection, the new creation. Circumcision is given in the New Testament in its true meaning. See Romans 6:6; Col. 2:11; Phil. 3:3. This indicates the manner in which God hath dealt with inherited sin in the cross of His blessed Son, our Saviour and Lord. Then follows the commandment concerning the offerings, when the days of purification were ended. It was for both the male and the female, the same offering, a lamb and a young pigeon or turtle dove. "And if she be not able to bring a lamb, then she shall bring two turtles or two young pigeons." Read and compare with Luke 2:22.
3. Leprosy: Type of Indwelling Sin
1. Leprosy in a person (13:1-46) 2. The infected garment. (13:47-57) 3. The cleansing of the garment (13:58-59)
The entire chapter treats of leprosy. It has been argued from the side of critics that the disease described here is not the one we know as leprosy, but only a similar disease of the skin. The arguments advanced to support this objection are silenced by Matthew 8:1-4. The man who came to our Lord had leprosy. The Lord told him "show thyself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them." From this we learn that Leviticus 13 and 14 speak of the real disease, so loathsome and, from human side, incurable. The twelfth and thirteenth chapters of Leviticus are closely linked together. Inherited sin is the theme of the preceding chapter. Its cure is also indicated in circumcision and the offering. Leprosy is the type of indwelling sin and its awful corruption. This horrible disease was chosen by the Lord to typify sin on account of its vileness. Like sin it is progressive and eventually affects the whole being; it is hereditary and incurable. As the disease progresses the victim becomes more and more insensible to his dreadful condition and is even content with it.
"In view of all these correspondences, one need not wonder that in the symbolism of the law leprosy holds the place which it does. For what other disease can be named which combines in itself, as a physical malady, so many of the most characteristic marks of the malady of the soul? In its intrinsic loathsomeness, its insignificant beginnings, its slow but inevitable progress, in the extent of its effects, in the insensibility which accompanies it, in its hereditary character, in its incurability, and, finally, in the fact that according to the law it involved the banishment of the leper from the camp of Israel--in all these respects, it stands alone as a perfect type of sin; it is sin, as it were, made visible in the flesh." (S.H. Kellogg, Leviticus.)
The Lord had much to say about the examination of persons suspected of having leprosy, and how the disease was to be detected. First the case of leprosy is stated when it rises spontaneously, showing itself in the skin and the hair. Then follows the case where leprosy rises out of a boil and out of a burn (verses 18-28), and finally leprosy on the head or beard and its diagnosis (verses 27-44).
But these general applications of leprosy as a type of sin do not fully explain the lessons of this chapter. We must remember that Israel is viewed as Jehovah's redeemed people. As such they must keep out of their midst that which defiles. The same principle we find in the New Testament in connection with the church, the assembly of God. Leprosy, indwelling sin, showing itself in any member of the people of God, works havoc. It dishonors God and defiles others. Discipline must be exercised. "Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person" (1 Cor. 5:13). The priest was the person to examine closely the suspected person and pronounce the disease as leprosy, according to the signs given by the Word of God. On the one hand the priest had to watch that no real leper be kept in the congregation of Israel, and on the other hand, he had to be equally careful that none was put out of the congregation who was not a leper. "Holiness could not permit any one to remain in who ought to be out; and on the other hand, grace would not have any one out who ought to be in." In the New Testament this solemn duty falls upon those who are spiritual (Gal. 6:1). Note how God commanded that the suspected one should not be treated in a hasty manner. After the priest had looked upon him, the diseased one was to be shut up for seven days. On the seventh day the priest was again to look on him. Then he was again shut up for seven more days. And after all the seeing and looking upon, the priest was to consider. It showed the necessity of great care. How easy it is to condemn a brother as living in sin, showing leprosy in his conduct; a hasty action in excluding a real child of God from Christian fellowship is as sinful as permitting a wicked person in that fellowship. We cannot enter into the different signs of leprosy. Much which has been written on it by some good men is strained.
When an Israelite was found to have the true leprosy, he had to be without the camp. "And the leper in whom the plague is, his clothes shall be rent, and his head bare, and he shall put a covering upon his upper lip, and shall cry, Unclean, unclean. All the days wherein the plague shall be in him he shall be defiled; he is unclean, he shall dwell alone, without the camp shall his habitation be" (verses 45-46). Thus the poor leper was excluded from the congregation of Israel and from the tabernacle of Jehovah. The rent clothes, the bare head, the covering upon the lip, all showed his sad and deplorable condition. So the unsaved sinner is shut out from Jehovah's presence on account of his defilement and has no place among the people of God. Without the camp! Read the solemn words in Rev. 21:27 and 22:11, 15. The sinner unforgiven and not cleansed will be forever shut out of the presence of a holy God. And one, who is a child of God and belongs to the family and people of God, and permits indwelling sin to work out, is unfit for both fellowship with God and fellowship with His people. But notice it says, "all the days wherein the plague shall be in him he shall be defiled." Here is the ray of hope. Only as long as it was in him was he excluded. Recovery from the evil thing which defiles and disturbs our fellowship is blessedly revealed in the New Testament. It has to be brought into the light, must be confessed and put away (1 John 1). And above all, we have an Advocate with the Father Jesus Christ the Righteous. Leprosy in the garment is also reckoned with, and its cleansing by washing is commanded. A garment is that which belongs to a person and is used by him. It is typical of contamination by sin in our earthly occupation. The cleansing by the water is the type of the Word of God, which uncovers the leprosy in our ways and can cleanse us.
4. The Cleansing of the Leper
1. The cleansing of the leper (14:1-32) 2. Leprosy in the house and its purification (14:33-54)
The cleansing and restoration of the leper is full of significance, foreshadowing once more the blessed work of our Saviour. Two parts in this ceremonial are to be noticed first of all. The first thing done was to restore the leper among the people from whom he had been put away. The second part of the ceremony restored him fully to communion with God. The first part was accomplished on the first day; the second part on the eighth day. A careful distinction must be made between the healing and the cleansing. All the ceremonies could not heal the leper. Jehovah alone could heal that loathsome disease. But after the healing, the cleansing and restoration had to be accomplished. However, what was done for the leper is a most blessed illustration of the work of Christ and of the gospel in which the believing sinner is saved, and the sinning saint cleansed and restored. The leper outside the camp could not do anything for himself. He was helpless and could not cleanse himself; it had to be done for him. The priest had to make the start for his cleansing and restoration. He had to go forth out of the camp to seek the leper; the leper could not come to the priest, the priest had to come to him. Well may we think here of Him, who left the Father's glory and came to this earth, the place of sin and shame, where the lepers are, shut out from God's holy presence. He came to seek and to save what is lost.
Two birds which the priest commanded to be taken for the leper are a beautiful type of Christ in His death, and Christ risen from the dead. The birds are typically belonging to heaven. The first bird was killed in an earthen vessel over running water. This likewise typifies Christ. The earthen vessel stands for the humanity of Christ. The running water is the Holy Spirit, who filled Him and then He gave Himself and shed His precious blood. And that blessed blood of atonement is what cleanses from all sin, and on account of that blood the leper can be restored. The second bird did not die, but was set at liberty to take up a heavenward journey. The second bird was dipped into the blood of the bird that was killed over the running water. This bird typifies Christ in resurrection. The bird in its upward flight, singing perchance a melodious song, bearing upon its white wings the precious token, the blood, typifies Christ in His accomplished work, risen from the grave and going back from where He came. He died for our offences and was raised for our justification. But with the living bird there was also used the cedar wood, the scarlet and the hyssop; these, with the living bird, were dipped into the blood. What do these things signify? Scarlet is the bright and flashing color, which typifies the glory of the world (Dan. 5:7; Nahum 2:3; Rev. 17:3-4; 18:12, 16). Cedar wood and hyssop are things of nature. The cedar stands in God's Word always for that which is high and lofty. The insignificant small hyssop typifies that which is low.
"From the lofty cedar which crowns the sides of Lebanon, down to the lowly hyssop--the wide extremes and all that lies between--nature in all its departments is brought under the power of the cross; so that the believer sees in the death of Christ the end of all his guilt, the end of all earth's glory, and the end of the whole system of nature--the entire old creation. And with what is he to be occupied? With Him who is the antitype of that living bird, with blood-stained feathers, ascending into the open heavens. Precious, glorious, soul-satisfying object! A risen, ascended, triumphant, glorified Christ, who has passed into the heavens, bearing in His sacred person the marks of an accomplished atonement. It is with Him we have to do: we are shut up to Him. He is God's exclusive object; He is the centre of heaven's joy, the theme of angels' song. We want none of earth's glory, none of nature's attractions. We can behold them all, together with our sin and guilt, forever set aside by the death of Christ" (C.H. Mackintosh).
It is a beautiful illustration of the great truth stated in Galatians 6:14. "God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, whereby the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world." The leper was sprinkled seven times with the dipped bird, scarlet, cedar wood and hyssop. It was put upon him. And thus it is upon us, redeemed by blood, to live as dead unto the world. Throughout the entire ceremony the leper did nothing. Only after the blood was sprinkled and the bird set loose began he to wash his clothes, shave off his hair, and wash himself in water. After we are saved and cleansed we must go to the Word and cleanse by it our habits and our ways.
The second part of the ceremony on the eighth day restored the leper completely to his privileges. All is done again "before the Lord," a phrase missing in the first part of the ceremony but repeatedly mentioned in the second part. The trespass offering occupies the prominent place. And the blood of the lamb was put upon the right ear, the thumb of the right hand and upon the great toe of the right foot. The symbolical meaning is clear; the ear is cleansed and restored to hear the Word; the hand to serve and the foot to walk. The blood of atonement in its cleansing power is therefore blessedly foreshadowed in this ceremony. It has the same meaning as it had in the consecration of the priests. The leper was like one who came out of the realms of death and corruption to become again a member of the priestly nation. The oil was put then upon the blood. Where the blood was, the oil was also applied. The work of the Holy Spirit in the sanctification of the redeemed sinner is typified by this anointing. The oil was then poured upon him, the type of the unction of the Holy One, which is upon all who are redeemed by blood.
But there is still another lesson connected with all this. The delay in the full acceptance of the healed and cleansed leper and his full reinstitution and presentation before the Lord on the eighth day is of deeper meaning. The eighth day in the Word of God represents the resurrection and the new creation. We are now as His redeemed people healed and cleansed but not yet in the immediate presence of the Lord. The seven days the cleansed leper had to wait for his full restoration and to enter in, typify our life here on earth, waiting for the eighth day, the blessed morning, when the Lord comes and we shall possess complete redemption and appear in the presence of Himself and behold His glory. The eighth day came and it was impossible for the leper, upon whom the blood of the sacrificial bird had been sprinkled, to be kept out from appearing in His presence and receive the blessings of full redemption. Even so there comes for us, His redeemed people, the eighth day. May we also remember that the leper, waiting for the eighth day, had to cleanse himself by the washing of water (verse 9). "Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God" (2 Cor. 7:1). "And every man that hath this hope in Him purifies himself, even as He is pure" (1 John 3:3).
Nor must we forget Israel typified in this entire ceremony. Israel blinded is morally like a leper. They are outside and separated from Jehovah on account of their condition. In the future the remnant of Israel will be cleansed and then wait for that full restoration which God in His gracious purposes has promised unto them.
Then follows a description of the plague of leprosy in a house. Leprosy, like other diseases, is caused by germs. These germs existing in the blood of the victim also may exist outside of the body, and under favorable conditions, especially in darkness, multiplying rapidly, spread the infection over a house and its contents. Bacteriology after years of laborious research has discovered these facts. Moses did not know about these bacteria in a house, but Jehovah knew.
The house with leprosy in it has often been applied to Israel. What was done to the house to arrest the plague is applied to what God did to His people. But the plague re-appeared and culminated in the rejection of Christ; then the house was completely broken down. Others apply it to the church and see that the leprosy has entered into the professing church and will some day terminate in the complete judgment of Christendom. We do not believe this to be the entire meaning of leprosy in the house. It likewise typifies the presence and working of sin in the place where man has his abode, that is, the material creation of God. All has been dragged down by the fall of man. All creation is under a bondage of corruption, made subject to vanity and therefore travaileth in pain and groaneth. But there is hope, for groaning creation is to be delivered. Then for the cleansing of the house the same ceremony with the two birds was enacted and the house was cleansed by the sprinkling of the blood. This is typical of the work of Christ as it will eventually bring blessing to all creation and all things will be reconciled (Col. 1:20). But here is also indicated the judgment by fire which is in store for the earth (2 Peter 3:10). Then there will be a new heaven and a new earth.
5. Concerning Issues: Man's Weakness and Defilement
1. The uncleanness of a man (15:1-18) 2. The uncleanness of a woman (15:19-33)
The whole chapter shows the deplorable physical condition into which man has been plunged by sin. The issues mentioned were therefore an evidence of the presence of sin in man's nature with the curse upon it, and constitutes man and woman unclean in the sight of God. "Not only actions, from which we can abstain, but operations of nature which we cannot help, alike defile; defile in such a manner and degree as to require, even as voluntary acts of sin, the cleansing of water and the expiatory blood of a sin offering. One could not avoid many of the defilements mentioned in this chapter, but that made no difference; he was unclean." Fallen human nature in its weakness and defilement is taught, and that this human nature is impure and polluting even in its secret workings. The blood and the water cover all this. It must be noticed that the water and the different application of water is constantly mentioned throughout this chapter. The water always typifies the Word by which our way is to be cleansed.
"Again, we learn that human nature is the ever-flowing fountain of uncleanness. It is hopelessly defiled; and not only defiled, but defiling. Awake or asleep, sitting, standing, or lying, nature is defiled and defiling: its very touch conveys pollution. This is a deeply humbling lesson for proud humanity; but thus it is. The book of Leviticus holds up a faithful mirror to nature: it leaves 'flesh' nothing to glory in. Men may boast of their refinement, their moral sense, their dignity: let them study the third book of Moses, and there they will see what it is all really worth in God's estimation" (C.H. Mackintosh).
The case of the woman with an issue of blood (Matthew 9:18-26) is stated in verses 25-27. How great must have been her trial and her sorrow during the twelve years of her uncleanness. Still greater was her faith and the testimony she bore to the holy Person of our Lord. All what came in touch with such an unclean person became unclean. She believed both that her touch could not make Christ unclean, for He is holy, and that His power could heal her.
IV. THE DAY OF ATONEMENT: IN THE HOLIEST
1. The Day of Atonement
1. The command how Aaron was to enter (16:1-5) 2. The presentation of the offerings (16:6-10) 3. The blood carried into the Holiest (16:11-19) 4. The scapegoat (16:20-22) 5. Aaron's burnt offering and that for the people (16:23-25) 6. The ceremony outside of the camp (16:26-28) 7. Cleansed and resting (16:29-34)
A brief rehearsal of the ceremonies of this great day of atonement, with a few explanatory remarks, will help in a better understanding of this chapter. The day of atonement was for the full atonement of all the sins, transgressions and failures of Israel, so that Jehovah in His holiness might tabernacle in their midst. On that day alone the Holiest was opened for the high priest to enter in. That all connected with this day is the shadow of the real things to come, and that in the New Testament we have the blessed substance, is well known. The Epistle to the Hebrews is in part the commentary to Israel's great day of atonement. The way into the Holiest by the rent vail which is revealed in the Epistle to the Hebrews, was not made known on the day of atonement. The day itself was celebrated on the tenth day of the seventh month, and it was a Sabbath of rest in which they were to afflict their souls (chapter 23:27-29). What is called "afflict" was fasting, the outward sign of inward sorrow over sin. When this was omitted the atonement did not profit anything "for whatsoever soul it be that shall not be afflicted in that same day, he shall be cut off from among his people." Only true faith manifested by repentance gives the sinner a share in the great work of atonement.
Aaron is the central figure in the day of atonement. All is his work with the exception of the leading away of the scapegoat. Aaron is the type of Christ. Aaron had to enter the Holiest with the blood of sacrifice, but Christ entered by His own blood. "Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by His own blood He entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us" (Heb. 9:12). Aaron had to come into the holy place with a sin offering and a burnt offering. Nothing is said about a meal or a peace offering. These would be out of keeping with the purpose of the day. As we have seen, the sin and the burnt offerings foreshadow the perfect work of Christ in which God's righteous claims are met and in which atonement is made for the creature's sins. Aaron had to lay aside his robes of beauty and glory and put on white linen garments after he had washed his flesh in water. Christ did not need fine linen garments, nor was there any need in Him for washing. Aaron wearing these garments and washed in water typifies what Christ is in Himself. Aaron had to take next two kids of the goats for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering. He had to offer the bullock of the sin offering (chapter 4:3). Such an offering for Himself Christ did not need (Heb. 7:27). But Aaron's offering was an atonement for his house. And Christ is Son over His house, whose house we are (Heb. 3:6). The bullock offering made by Aaron typifies therefore the aspect of Christ's work for the Church. The two goats were for the people Israel. Lots were cast by Aaron, and one goat was taken by lot for Jehovah and the other for the scapegoat. After the choice by lot had been made Aaron killed the sin offering for himself and his house. Then having taken a censer full of burning coals of fire from off the altar, with his hands full of sweet incense, he entered within the vail, into the Holiest. The cloud of incense covered the mercy seat. He then sprinkled the blood with his finger upon the mercy seat eastward and seven times before the mercy seat. How blessedly all this foreshadows Christ and His work! The incense typifies the fragrance of His own person, and the sprinkled blood is the type of His own precious blood, in which God accomplishes all His eternal and sovereign counsels of grace.
"The blood which is sprinkled upon the believer's conscience has been sprinkled 'seven times' before the throne of God. The nearer we get to God, the more importance and value we find attached to the blood of Jesus. If we look at the brazen altar, we find the blood there; if we look at the brazen laver, we find the blood there; if we look at the golden altar, we find the blood there; if we look at the vail of the tabernacle, we find the blood there; but in no place do we find so much about the blood as within the vail, before Jehovah's throne, in the immediate presence of the divine glory."
In Heaven His blood forever speaks, In God the Father's ears.
Then the first goat was killed and the blood was also sprinkled in the same manner. "And he shall make an atonement for the holy place, because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel, and because of their transgressions in all their sins; and so shall he do for the tabernacle of the congregation that remaineth among them in the midst of their uncleanness" (verse 16). "And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission. It was therefore necessary that the patterns of the things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these" (Heb. 9:22-23). Christ brought the one great sacrifice on the cross and then entered into heaven itself. Having made by Himself purification of sins He sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high. Christ Himself, in the Holiest, is the blood-sprinkled mercy seat. Aaron and his presence in the Holiest behind the vail is described in verse 17: "And there shall be no man in the tabernacle of the congregation when he goeth in to make an atonement in the holy place, until he come out, and have made an atonement for himself, one for his household, and for all the congregation of Israel." We see again the difference which is made in the atonement for Aaron and his household and atonement for all the congregation of Israel. It foreshadows the atonement made by the one sacrifice of Christ for the church and for Israel. Israel, however, does not yet possess the blessings and fruits of this atonement on account of their unbelief. We shall soon see how this great day of atonement foreshadows the forgiveness of their sins in the future. The true priest having gone into heaven with His own blood and being there alone, the day of atonement is now. And we who believe and constitute His church have boldness to enter into the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He hath consecrated for us through the vail, that is to say, His flesh. This entire age is the day of atonement, and it will end when He comes forth again.
When the work was finished by Aaron and he had come forth again the live goat was brought. Aaron then put his hands upon it and confessed over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, all their transgression, and all their sins. All these were put symbolically upon the head of the goat and a fit man sent the goat away into the wilderness. "And the goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities unto a land not inhabited; and he shall let go the goat in the wilderness." We cannot follow the different views expressed on the meaning of the second goat. However, we mention a few. The word for scapegoat is in the Hebrew _azazel. Some take it that _Azazel is an evil being. Inasmuch as it saith that one goat is to be for Azazel, Azazel must also be a person. Some critics claim that all this is a kind of relic of demon worship; such a statement is not only wrong, but pernicious. Others claim that the goat sent to Azazel in the wilderness shows Israel's sin in rejecting Christ, and that they were on account of it delivered to Satan. There are still other views which we do not mention. Jewish and Christian expositors declare that Azazel is Satan, and try to explain why the goat was sent to him.
The best exposition we have seen on this view is by Kurtz: "The blood of the first goat was carried by him into the holiest of all, on this day (on which alone he was permitted to enter) and sprinkled on the mercy-seat. The sins for which atonement was thus made, were put upon the head of the second goat, which was sent away alive into the wilderness of Azazel (the evil demon, represented as dwelling in the wilderness), in order that the latter might ascertain all that had been done, and know that he no longer retained power over Israel. This whole transaction expressed the thought that the atonement made on this day was so complete, and so plain and undeniable, that even Satan the Accuser (job 1 and 2; Zech. 3; Rev 12:10, 11) was compelled to acknowledge it. In the sacrifice of this day, consequently, the sacrifice of Christ is shadowed and typified more clearly than in any other, even as we read in Heb. 9:12: "By His own blood He entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us."
There is no need for all these speculations. "Azazel" is not at all an evil being or Satan. The Hebrew word signifies "dismissal"--"to depart." It is translated in the Septuagint (Greek version of the Old Testament) with _eis _teen _apopompeen, which means "to let him go for the dismissal." Both goats are for sin offering. The first goat represents Christ dying for the sins of His people. The second goat laden with those sins which were atoned for by the blood of the first goat, represents the blessed effect of the work of Christ, that the sins of His people are forever out of sight. It is a blessed harmony with the two birds used in connection with the cleansing of the leper.
And here the dispensational aspects come in. Before the transgressions of Israel could be confessed over the scapegoat and before the goat could be sent forever away with its burden, never to return, the high priest had to come out of the Holiest. As long as he remained alone in the tabernacle the scapegoat could not carry off the sins of the people. When the Lord appears the second time, when He comes forth out of Heaven's glory as the King-Priest, then the blessed effect of His death for that nation (John 11:51) will be realized and their sins and transgressions will forever be put away. Then their sins will be cast into the depths of the sea (Micah 7:19) and they shall no more be remembered (Is. 43:25). That this is the true meaning of the scapegoat taking the sins of the people into the wilderness and therefore forever out of sight, we shall learn also in the twenty-third chapter. The feasts and holy seasons mentioned there are: Passover (redemption by blood); firstfruits (resurrection); feast of weeks (Pentecost); feast of trumpets (the regathering of Israel); the day of atonement (when Israel repents and is forgiven); the feast of tabernacles (millennial times). Israel therefore is unconsciously waiting for Christ's return as their forefathers waited outside, till Aaron came back to put their sins on the scapegoat.
Of the many other interesting things for brief annotation we but mention the rest connected with this great day (verse 31). In the Hebrew "Sabbath of rest" is "Sabbath sabbatizing." No work had to be done on that great day. The work was completely on God's side, man must not attempt to supplement that work. But let us also remember the dispensational application. When Israel's great national day of atonement and repentance comes, when they shall look upon the One, whom they pierced and the great mourning and affliction of soul takes place (Zech. 12:9-12), the glorious Sabbath will follow. Rest and glory will come at last to them as His redeemed people, while the glory of the Lord will cover the earth and all the earth will have rest.
2. The Testimony Concerning the Blood
1. Concerning slain animals (17:1-9) 2. Concerning the eating of blood (17:10-16)
This chapter needs little comment. Everything in this chapter speaks of the sanctity of the blood, what great value God, to whom life belongs, places upon the blood and with what jealous care He watches over it. The center of all is verse 11: "For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul." Every slain animal had to bear witness to this fact. Even the hunter had to pour out the blood and cover it with dust. No blood was to be eaten. But in the New Testament we are commanded to eat spiritually of the flesh of the Son of God and to drink spiritually His blood.
V. PRACTICAL HOLINESS IN DAILY LIFE
1. Different Unholy Relationships
1. Separation and obedience (18:1-5) 2. Unholy relationships (18:6-18) 3. Vile and abominable practices (18:19-23) 4. Judgment threatened (18:24-30)
This section of Leviticus contains the words of Jehovah addressed to His people, whom He had redeemed and in whose midst He dwelt. They are to be a holy people. About thirty times in this section we find the solemn word "I am Jehovah. Ye shall be holy: for I, Jehovah your God, am holy." This is Jehovah's calling for His people. Four times in the beginning of this chapter the Lord tells His people "I am Jehovah" (verses 2, 4, 5 and 6). His name was upon them and therefore they are to manifest holiness in their life and walk. This demand and principle is unchanged in the New Testament, in the covenant of grace. His people are exhorted to walk "as obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance, but as He, who hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation, because it is written, Be ye holy for I am holy" (1 Peter 1:14-16). Brought nigh by blood, knowing the blessed relationship into which Grace of God has brought us, our solemn duty is to present our bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto God. The Spirit of God, the Spirit of holiness and power, is bestowed upon us that we can walk in the Spirit and fulfill not the lusts of the flesh. Israel was not to walk after the doings of the land of Egypt which they had left, nor after the doings of the land of Canaan whither they were going. And the church is told the same thing in the New Testament. "This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness through greediness" (Eph. 4:17-19).
And Jehovah's words reveal all the degradations and vile abominations human nature, the nature of sin and death, is capable of. He is the searcher of hearts and Jehovah only can sound the depths of the desperately wicked heart of man. The incestuous relationships against which the Lord warns were commonly practised among the Gentiles. These unholy impure things are still common in the world, not alone among the heathen, but also in the so-called civilized world. The laxity of the marriage laws, divorces and other evils in the same line are the curse of our age. Polygamy is forbidden in verse 18. All that would destroy the sanctity of the family and bring in abuse is solemnly warned against and forbidden. In the New Testament the Spirit of God emphasizes the absolute purity of the family relation and how the Christian family is to be a witness of the holiness and love of Jehovah to make known the mystery of Christ and the church (Eph. 5:22-32).
Molech worship is forbidden. Read 1 Kings 5:7; 2 Kings 23:10; Jer. 32:35; 7:31 and 19:5). The awful worship of Molech is described in these passages. The most unnatural crimes and vile things mentioned in verses 22-23 were connected with the idolatries of the nations which surrounded Israel. These things were practised in Egypt and in Canaan. Romans 1:18-32 gives the inspired history of the degradation of the Gentile world. Idolatry and moral degradation always go together. The fearful road of the apostasy in Christendom is no exception. Rejection of God's revelation leads into idolatry (not necessarily idols of wood and stone) and moral declension. The days of Lot, the grossest licentiousness of Sodom, are predicted to precede the coming of the Son of man (Luke 17:26-32).
A solemn warning concludes this chapter. The inhabitants of Canaan were to be cast out on account of their vileness. Jehovah would not spare His people if they practised these things. They did commit all this wickedness. Israel cast out of the land, the homeless wanderer bears witness to the fulfillment of this solemn warning.
2. Different Duties
1. Honoring parents and fearing God (19:1-8) 2. The care of the poor (19:9-10) 3. Against stealing and lying (19:11-12) 4. Against oppression (19:13-14) 5. Against unrighteousness in judgment (19:15-16) 6. Thou shalt love thy neighbor (19:17-18) 7. Different commands and prohibitions (19:19-37)
Many of these duties enjoined upon a people called to holiness, the different commands and prohibitions, are of much interest. It is true, believers are not under the law. This, however, does not mean that we should refrain from reading and studying these commands. Jehovah changes not. May we remember that our call, like Israel's, is unto practical holiness in life. Our responsibilities are even greater. Many lessons are here for us which will greatly help us in our walk as His people. The provision made for the poor (verses 9-10 compare with Ruth 2:14-16) manifests the loving care of Jehovah. God has special regard for the poor and strangers. His blessed Son became poor and was indeed a stranger in the world He created. His people had no heart for Him and He was hungry, while His disciples had to take ears of corn from the field to satisfy their hunger. The Lord Himself was the owner of Israel's land (Lev. 25:23), and as owner He charged His servants to be unselfish in the use of the bountiful provision He was making for their temporal need.
Note the precept concerning the laborer. "The wages of him that is hired shall not abide with thee all night until the morning" (verse 13). This again reveals the gracious care of the Lord. How little such care and consideration for the poor and the servant is found in our day! If these simple instructions were followed the discontent of the poor and the unrest of the laborers would not be as prominent as they are now. Israel failed in this. They cheated the poor and hired servants (Amos 8:5-6). What is to be in the last days of the present age we find in James 5:4: "Behold the hire of the laborers, who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth; and the cries of them that have reaped have entered into the ears of the lord of Sabaoth." The divine plea for the poor and the laborer is utterly disregarded in the last days, and Jehovah has to take up their case.
The deaf and the blind are also mentioned. The defenceless and helpless with the poor and the hired servant are the objects of His special care.
In verse 19 the raising of hybrid animals is forbidden. Anything "mingled" God despises. His people are to avoid this, even in the smallest things.
Heathen superstitions, such as using enchantments and observing times are forbidden by Jehovah. These are unworthy of a redeemed people linked with Jehovah. All superstitions, such as dreading certain days and numbers ("Friday" or "13"), and other foolish observances, alas! found so much amidst professing Christians are heathenish and dishonor God, who alone knows and controls the welfare and future of His people. All "cuttings in your flesh for the dead" were also prohibited. Thus the pagans did who have no hope. Such sorrow, expressed in fearful lamentations and frenzied outbreaks, were unworthy of Israel, as they are more so for Christian believers (1 Thess. 4:13). Those who have familiar spirits (mediums) and wizards were not to be consulted.
But it is truly most extraordinary that in Christian lands, as especially in the United States of America, and that in the full light, religious and intellectual, of the twentieth century, such a prohibition should be fully as pertinent as in Israel! For no words could more precisely describe the pretensions of the so-called modern spiritualism, which within the last half century has led away hundreds of thousands of deluded souls, and those, in many cases, not from the ignorant and degraded, but from circles which boast of more than average culture and intellectual enlightenment. And inasmuch as experience sadly shows that even those who profess to be disciples of Christ are in danger of being led away by our modern wizards and traffickers with familiar spirits, it is by no means unnecessary to observe that there is not the slightest reason to believe that this which was rigidly, forbidden by God in the fifteenth century B.C., can now be well-pleasing to Him in the nineteenth century A.D. And those who have most carefully watched the moral developments of this latter-day delusion, will most appreciate the added phrase which speaks of this as "defiling" a man. (S.H. Kellogg)
It will be wise to meditate carefully on all these commands and prohibitions. They reveal the tenderness, the wisdom and the holiness of God.
3. Warnings Against Special Sins and their Penalties
1. Warning against Molech--worship and familiar spirits (20:1-8) 2. Warning against cursing parents (20:9) 3. Criminal and vile connections (20:10-21) 4. Exhortations to obedience and separation (20:22-27)
This chapter reveals the justice of God in dealing with criminals. The death penalty is most prominent. It is pronounced upon the following crimes: Molech worship; dealing with familiar spirits (spiritualism); different forms of incest and sodomy. Men advocate now the abolishment of death penalty without considering the outraged justice of a holy God. The object of these severe penalties imposed by Jehovah were the satisfaction of justice and the vindication of a broken law. A closer examination of these warnings and the penalties attached will reveal the seriousness of the offences against the theocratic government set up in the midst of Israel, and the perfect justice of every penalty. It is a serious matter if critics find fault with these solemn statements, denying their authority and judging the holy and infallible judge.
The chapter gives a testimony against the awful drift of our times in the lax laws concerning marriage, divorces and its attending evils so very much in evidence among the so-called Christian nations.
4. Laws for the Priests
1. Laws concerning the person of the priests (21:1-6) 2. Laws concerning their family (21:7-9) 3. Laws concerning the high priest (21:10-15) 4. Concerning blemishes (21:16-24)
We come now to the special laws and precepts for the priestly class among the people. The preceding laws concerned the nation as such. The requirements of the priests are the highest in the entire book of Leviticus. Responsibility is always according to relationship. The priests, as we have seen before, typify the church. The grace of God has given to us the place of nearness in Christ, access into the Holiest and constituted us priests. The holiness required of the New Testament believers corresponds to this blessed relationship.
Many are the lessons given here. 2 Tim. 3:16-17 applies to this part of Leviticus. These divine requirements and laws are given even for us "for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness." May we read with prayer and ponder over these words of Jehovah. We point again to the marriage relation. This was especially guarded. Only a virgin of his own people was he permitted to take for wife. A woman upon whose character there was a spot, who was immoral or divorced, could not be the wife of a priest. And should not God's people in the New Testament, as holy priests, be equally cautious? We have an answer in 1 Cor. 7:39. No child of God, a holy priest, should unite in marriage with an unbeliever. The harvest from the acts of disobedience in unholy alliances is often disastrous.
Interesting is this section concerning blemishes in the priestly generations. These blemishes were: blindness, lameness, deformity of the nose, any outgrowths in the skin, broken footed, broken handed, crookbacked or of small stature, etc. Such a one was not permitted to come nigh to offer the bread of his God. He could not go in unto the vail nor come nigh unto the altar. Nevertheless, he could eat the bread of his God, both of the most holy and of the holy. His deformity or blemish deprived him not of his priestly position, nor was he anything less than a son of Aaron. He was excluded from the functions of the holy priesthood. Our spiritual defects, the blemishes which often are upon us as a holy priesthood, typified by lameness (defective walk), blindness (defective sight), arrested growth (dwarf), etc., all these blemishes do not affect our sonship nor our priestly position. But they do interfere with the enjoyment of the communion into which grace has brought us. On account of spiritual defects we cannot enter into the fullest exercise of our priestly privileges and functions. Yet grace permits us to eat of the bread of God.
And Christ as our Priest is without any defect or blemish. "For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens" (Heb. 7:26).
1. Care to be exercised in holy things (22:1-16) 2. Care in the enforcement of the law of offerings (22:17-33)
Uncleanness such as mentioned in the first part of the chapter prohibited the partaking of holy things. Strangers who did not belong to the priestly house and even the married daughter of the priest, not living in the priestly household, were not permitted to eat of the offering of the holy things. Holy things have to be used in a reverent and holy way. The same principle holds good in the New Testament. We may well think here of the Lord's table. Read 1 Cor. 11:23-31. Coming to the Lord's table to remember Him requires self-judgment.
The instruction concerning sacrifices, their unblemished character and what constitutes an acceptable offering are all of great interest with many spiritual lessons. But space forbids our enlarging upon them.
VI. THE HOLY FEASTS AND SET TIMES
1. The Holy Feasts and Set Times
1. The Sabbath (23:1-3) 2. The feast of Passover and feast of unleavened bread (23:4-8) 3. The firstfruits (23:9-14) 4. The feast of weeks (23:15-22) 5. The blowing of trumpets (23:23-25) 6. The day of atonement (23:26-32) 7. The feast of tabernacles (23:33-44)
This is one of the grandest chapters in Leviticus, filled with the choicest truths and prophetic from beginning to end. The holy feasts and set times, appointed by Jehovah, to be kept yearly by Israel, cover indeed the entire realm of redemption facts. The dispensational dealings of God with Jews and Gentiles are clearly revealed in these feasts. We have to look at each of these divisions separately to point out the way to a deeper study, which no child of God should neglect.
1. The Sabbath--This is in itself no feast, but set time, a holy convocation after the six work days. What it signifies we have already seen in the study of Genesis and Exodus. The reason why the Sabbath is put here first is on account of its prophetic meaning. "There remaineth a rest for the people of God." The Sabbath is the type of that rest yet to come, when redemption is consummated. When all the work is accomplished, foreshadowed in the feasts and set times of Israel, the great rest-keeping will begin. Faith can enjoy it even now. In the Sabbath the blessed outcome of all is revealed.
2. The Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread--The Passover, with the lamb slain and its body eaten, occupies the first place. It typifies the blessed work of the Lamb of God, His redemption work on the cross. And this is the foundation of every thing, as we have seen in the levitical offerings and ceremonial. In this finished work, and the shed blood, God rests, and here the believing sinner has found his rest. The feast of unleavened bread is closely connected with the Passover, so that it cannot be separated from it. Leaven stands for sin and unleavened bread for holiness. The feast of unleavened bread therefore typifies the result of the work of Christ on the cross, which is holiness. Again we meet the great truth that Jehovah has redeemed His people to be separated unto Himself. They were not to do a servile work, but to bring an offering by fire unto Jehovah. On the first and on the seventh day no servile work was to be done. It typifies the fact that in redemption there is no servile work, but a joyous manifestation of Christ, the sweet savour in the power of the Holy Spirit.
3. The Firstfruits--While the Passover-feast foreshadows the death of Christ, the waving of the sheaf of the firstfruits is the blessed type of the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. It was just one sheaf waved before Jehovah, the earnest of the harvest which was to follow. "But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept" (1 Cor. 15:20). "But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at His coming" (1 Cor. 15:23). The grain of wheat had fallen into the ground and died. But He liveth; the full ear of the sheaf waved before Jehovah typifies the abundant fruit which He brings unto God. And it was waved before Jehovah "on the morrow after the Sabbath." The morrow after the Sabbath is the first day of the week, the glorious resurrection morning. In connection with the waving of the sheaf of firstfruits there were offerings. But of what kind? "A he lamb without blemish for a burnt offering unto the LORD," a meal offering and a drink offering. No sin offering was demanded, for that was accomplished when He died. The offerings were a sweet savour, telling forth once more the blessedness and value of His own person and work. And in Him we are accepted; with Him the firstfruits we shall be forever.
4. The Feast of Weeks--After seven Sabbaths had passed by, fifty days counted, a new meal offering was brought and two wave loaves baken with leaven. This is the feast of Pentecost (named on account of the fifty days). It is also called the feast of weeks, as seven weeks had passed by. Exactly fifty days after the waving of the firstfruits, on the morrow of the Sabbath, when Christ arose, the Holy Spirit came down out of heaven to form the church on earth. The meal offering as we saw in the first part of the book is the type of Christ in His perfect humanity. Pure flour, oil mingled with it, and oil poured upon it. Here is a new meal offering. It does not typify Christ, but those who are one with Him, His believing people. The oil, the Holy Spirit came on the day of Pentecost upon them, as the oil was poured upon the meal offering.
The two loaves, baken with leaven, typify also the church. Sin is still there. Pure flour was in the loaves (the new nature), but baken with leaven (the old nature). The two loaves, no doubt, refer us to the Jews and Gentiles, which compose the new meal offering. And here is the sin offering, which was absent at the waving of the sheaf of firstfruits on the morrow after the Sabbath. The leaven and the sin offering indicate the presence of sin, as it is the case. Yet the loaves are waved in the presence of Jehovah and fully accepted.
The two loaves were a wave offering before Jehovah. Thus the church is presented unto Him "a kind of firstfruits" (James 1:18); the two loaves, the product of the wheat, the firstfruits of Christ's death and resurrection.
We must not overlook verse 22. The harvest here, we doubt not, is the same as in Matthew 13:39. When that end of the age comes, the church will be taken into the garner, the firstfruits will be with Christ. The poor and strangers, Gentiles, will even then be remembered in mercy.
5. The Blowing of Trumpets--With this holy convocation we are led upon new ground. The feasts we have followed typify that which is past; the death of Christ, the resurrection of Christ, and the formation of the church by the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. The three set times which follow, the memorial of blowing of trumpets, the day of atonement and the feast of tabernacles await their great fulfillment in the near future. The first thing after the two wave loaves are completely presented unto Jehovah, when this age is about to close, will be the blowing of the trumpets. It is the call of God to the remnant of His people, their regathering. A long period of time is between Pentecost and the blowing of the trumpets. This interval is the present age. The Lord does not regather His earthly remnant till His heavenly people, the church, is complete. Read and carefully consider Isaiah 27:13; 58; Joel 2:1. Matthew 24:31 is the regathering of His elect earthly people after He has come. But the blowing of the trumpets on the first day of the seventh month precedes the great day of atonement and is the heralding of that approaching day. All this, studied with the light God has given to us in the entire word of prophecy, is intensely interesting.
6. The Day of Atonement--We have already pointed out the dispensational meaning for the people of Israel in our annotations on the sixteenth chapter. When the great high priest, our Saviour and Israel's King, comes forth out of the Holiest, when He comes the second time in power and glory, Israel will look upon Him whom they have pierced and mourn for Him. And He will take away their sins, typified by the scapegoat. "In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and uncleanness" (Zech. 13:1). Their great day of atonement will be a Sabbath of rest unto them and glory will cover their long desolate land once more.
7. The Feast of Tabernacles--The final feast began on the fifteenth day of the seventh month. It is the feast, which comes after the sin of Israel has been removed. It was the feast of ingathering of the products of the year and a memorial of Israel's dwelling in booths in the wilderness. The feast of tabernacles foreshadows the coming glory of the millennium, Israel's glorious inheritance and the Gentiles gathered with redeemed Israel in the kingdom. It will be the time of the complete harvest, the time of rejoicing, when sorrow and sighing will flee away. It comes after the harvest (the end of the age) and the vintage (the winepress of the wrath of God). How beautiful is the order in these three last holy convocations! The blowing of the trumpets; the remnant of Israel called and gathered; the day of atonement; Israel in national repentance looking upon Him, whom they pierced, when He comes the second time; the feast of tabernacles; the millennium. "And it shall come to pass that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem, shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles" (Zech. 14:16). It is the great memorial feast of millennial times. Perhaps it will be during that feast that the King of Israel, the King of kings, the Lord of lords, will appear in visible glory in Jerusalem to receive the homage of the representatives of the nations of the earth. What a day that will be! The eighth day which we meet here again points us to that which is beyond the millennium. The story of the twenty-third chapter is marvellous! Only God in His infinite wisdom could give us such an unfolding and foreshadowing of His eternal counsels and purposes. We rehearse it briefly. The Sabbath is the type of the end, which will come after the accomplishment of all His purposes; the eternal rest. Passover, the type of the death of Christ; the waving of the firstfruits, the type of the resurrection of Christ; Pentecost, the type of the coming of the Holy Spirit for the formation of the Church. Then Israel's restoration and fullest blessing comes in. How blind men must be who can call all these beautiful things fable and legends! In these poor critics there is once more fulfilled the Word of God, professing themselves to be wise, they become fools" (Rom 1:22).
2. Priestly Duties: The Light and the Shewbread
1. The light (24:1-4) 2. The shewbread (24:5-9)
This chapter is not disconnected from the preceding one as some claim; nor is it the work of a redactor as the critics teach. It is most beautifully linked with the dispensational foreshadowings we found in the feasts of Jehovah. Between Pentecost and the blowing of the trumpets there is, as stated before, a long period of time. When the church was formed, after the sheaf of the firstfruits had been waved, Israel was nationally set aside and night settled upon them. Maintained by the high priest, a light was to be kept shining continually from evening till morning; it was the light of the golden lampstand with its lamps. The lampstand typifies Christ and the high priest also is a type of Christ. Here is a hint of the testimony which shines forth in Christ and through the heavenly priesthood (the church) during the night, the present age. But Israel also will some day shine forth and be a light-bearer (Zech. 4:1-14).
Then there was the shewbread. They were set in two rows, six on a row, upon the pure table before the Lord. Shewbread means literally "bread of the face," that is, the bread before God. Pure frankincense was also put upon them. No doubt, dispensationally, we have in the shewbread another picture of those who are now His people (the church), while the twelve loaves also typify Israel as a nation.
3. Blasphemy and Israel's Sin Foreshadowed
1. The blasphemy (24:10-22) 2. The penalty executed (24:23)
The blasphemer who blasphemed the Name and cursed, foreshadows the sin of Israel. They sinned and blasphemed that holy Name: and on account of the rejection of the Lord Jesus Christ, the curse has come upon them. But it will not be permanent. The remnant of Israel will be saved in the future day, when He comes back and they shall welcome Him: "Blessed is He that cometh in the Name of the Lord." The Jews have based upon this incident of the blasphemer the traditional belief that it is sinful to pronounce the Name of Jehovah. For this reason they substitute the word "Adonai."
The twenty-fourth chapter shows in its first part the twofold testimony maintained in the sanctuary, the light and the shewbread; it ends with an incident which foreshadows the sin of Israel when they blasphemed and rejected the Lord of Glory.
4. The Sabbatic Year and the Year of Jubilee
1. The Sabbatic year (25:1-7) 2. The jubilee (25:8-12) 3. The jubilee and the land (25:13-28) 4. The jubilee and the dwelling houses (25:29-34) 5. The jubilee, the poor and the bondmen (25:35-55)
This is the great restoration chapter in Leviticus. All is connected preeminently with Israel's land. The application, which has been made, that this chapter foreshadows a universal restitution of all things, including the wicked dead and Satan as well, is unscriptural. If such a restitution were true the Bible would contradict itself. The Sabbatic year could only be kept after Israel came into the land. "When ye come into the land which I give you, then shall the land keep a Sabbath unto the Lord." And Jehovah uttered these words from Mount Sinai and not from the tabernacle (Lev. 1:1). Every seventh year, the land which belongs to Jehovah, and which was not to be sold, had to enjoy complete rest. See what gracious promises Jehovah had given in connection with the Sabbatic year (25:20-22). Jehovah was the Lord of the land, the owner of the land, and Israel received the land as a gift; they were the tenants. Beautifully the Lord said: "Ye are strangers and sojourners with Me." When Israel sinned and broke the laws of Jehovah, when they did not give the land its rest, the Lord drove the people out of the land. Read here 26:32-35. "And I will bring the land into desolation and your enemies which dwelt therein shall be astonished at it. And I will scatter you among the nations, and will draw out a sword after you, and your land shall be desolate, and your cities waste. Then shall the land enjoy her Sabbaths, as long as it lieth desolate, and ye be in your enemies' land; even then shall the land rest, and enjoy her Sabbaths. As long as it lieth desolate it shall rest; because it did not rest in your Sabbaths, when ye dwelt upon it." This prediction has been fulfilled. Israel is scattered among the nations of the earth and the land is desolate, a witness for the Word of God. Jehovah in giving the law concerning the Sabbatic year, gave to His people a picture of that coming rest, and the assurance of joy and blessing. But they failed.
The year of jubilee shows clearly the restoration which is in store for Israel and Israel's land. It points once more to the millennial times of blessing and glory. How blessedly is that coming age of restoration and of glory seen in the year of jubilee! Without entering into details we give a few of the divine statements. What did the jubilee year mean to Israel? Liberty was proclaimed; every man returned to his possession; every man to his family; all wrongs were righted and the redemption of the bondmen took place. Seven times the word "return" is used; and oftener the word "redeem." It was the time of returning, the blessed time of restoration and redemption.
And how was this year of jubilee ushered in? By the sound of the trumpet of the jubilee on the tenth day of the seventh month, in the day of atonement. This great year of returning and redemption began with the day of atonement. Most likely after the high priest had returned from his holy office work and sprinkling of blood; after he had put the sins of the people upon the scapegoat and that sacrificial animal bearing upon its head Israel's sin had vanished in the wilderness, the trumpet sounded. What all this means we have seen in the annotations of the "day of atonement" chapter. The year of jubilee begins, when our Lord comes back from the Holiest and appears in the midst of His people. And this time of restoration, blessing and glory is not confined to Israel's land. It means more than the promised blessings for that land. We have the year of jubilee in Romans 8:19-23.
We must not forget the significance of the time, the fiftieth year. The day of Pentecost came fifty days after the resurrection of Christ from among the dead. And the fiftieth day brought, as the result of the death and resurrection of Christ, the gift of the Holy Spirit, and the formation of the church began. It came on the eighth day, the first day of the week. The year of jubilee may well be termed another Pentecost. On that day a great outpouring of the Spirit of God will take place (Joel 2:28). The kingdom with all its glories and blessings will be established upon the earth. And how much more might be added to these blessed foreshadowings of the good things to come!
5. The Blessing, the Curse and Israel's History
1. Obedience and the blessings (26:1-13) 2. Disobedience and the curse (26:14-39) 3. The restoration (26:40-46)
This great chapter is very fitting for the close of this book. We have no types here, but direct utterances of Jehovah. Israel's history and their future restoration is here predicted. He reminds them that He brought them out of the land of Egypt; they are His people. Therefore He wants obedience. If this is yielded blessings would be the results. These promised blessings consisted in abundance of rain, great fruitfulness of their land, peace in the land, deliverance from wild beasts and the sword, victory over their enemies. They would multiply and His covenant would be established with them; more than that: "I will walk among you, and will be your God and ye shall be My people." What blessings Jehovah held out to them! They never possessed them in fulness. Some day Israel and Israel's land will enter into these blessings. Then Moses' last word will be true: "Happy art thou, O Israel; who is like unto thee, O people saved by the LORD, the shield of thy help, and who is the sword of thy excellency! And thine enemies shall be found liars unto thee; and thou shalt tread upon their high places" (Deut. 33:29).
But how dreadful the threatened judgments on account of a broken covenant! judgment after judgment is announced, one greater than the other, every blessing is changed into a curse and the culminating threat is expulsion from the God-given land and dispersion, worldwide, among the nations. The nation called to blessing is threatened with the most awful judgments and disasters. And all these have become historical facts. Jewish history of many weary centuries records the constant fulfillment of these solemn declarations. We have therefore in this chapter, in the predicted curses and the literal fulfillment, a most valuable and powerful evidence of inspiration. The Jew and his history, the land and its desolation, is God's standing witness for the Gentiles that the Bible is the Word of God.
"The fundamental importance and instructiveness of this prophecy is evident from the fact that all later predictions concerning the fortunes of Israel are but its more detailed exposition and application to successive historical conditions. Still more evident is its profound significance when we recall to mind the fact, disputed by none, that not only is it an epitome of all later prophecy of Holy Scripture concerning Israel, but, no less truly, an epitome of Israel's history. So strictly true is this that we may accurately describe the history of that nation, from the days of Moses until now, as but the translation of this chapter from the language of prediction into that of history." (S.H. Kellogg, Leviticus)
To this another fact must be added. It is predicted in this chapter that the people passing through judgment devastated by the sword, famine and pestilence, would continue to exist in their enemies' land. Israel's preservation throughout the long period of these executed judgments is a miracle. It cannot be explained in any other way. And the land itself bears witness to all this. It used to be one of the richest of all lands. But ever since the people Israel are driven out of the land and no longer possess it, desolation has come upon it. How remarkable this is!
"We point to the people of Israel as a perennial historical miracle. The continued existence of this nation up to the present day, the preservation of its national peculiarities throughout thousands of years, in spite of all dispersion and oppression, remains so unparalleled a phenomenon, that without the special providential preparation of God, and His constant interference and protection, it would be impossible for us to explain it. For where else is there a people over which such judgments have passed and yet not ended in destruction?" (Professor Christlieb)
Some have speculated on the statement that, they should have the judgments upon them seven times. However, these "seven times" cannot mean the exact duration of Israel's dispersion. The "seven times," however, foreshadow the time of Jacob's trouble, the last seven years of the times of the Gentiles, during which their judgments will be the severest.
This important chapter closes with a promise of restoration. Confession of sin, acknowledgment of their guilt, humiliation and deep sorrow for their iniquity opens the way to this restoration. It will at once be seen that this connects again with the day of atonement. It is the year of jubilee. Then Jehovah remembers His covenant and remembers the land (verse 42). To this future repentance of the remnant of Israel and their regathering, the restoration of the land to the people and the people to the land, the entire prophetic Word bears witness.
VII. CONCERNING VOWS
The Claims of Jehovah Realized
1. The singular vow (27:1-8) 2. The sacrifice (27:9-13) 3. Concerning the house (27:14-15) 4. Concerning the land (27:16-25) 5. Concerning the firstling (27:26-27) 6. Devoted things (27:28-29) 7. All holy to Jehovah (27:30-34)
This last chapter in Leviticus concerns vows and devoted things. Israel is still in view here. At Horeb they had made their vow of being obedient and devoted to the Lord, but they could not meet the claims of what that vow meant. The sanctification as demanded in this book they could not fulfill. But grace is seen connected with it. The grace which is yet to flow out to Israel, the chosen nation. Sanctification by law is impossible; grace alone can sanctify. All mentioned is connected with the people. The house to be holy to Jehovah (verse 14) is Israel. The land too is mentioned, as well as the year of jubilee. The house, Israel, becomes Jehovah's; and the land also belongeth then to Him. The thought which runs through this final chapter of Leviticus is that Jehovah will have His own and God finally will be all in all.
May God's Spirit lead us into these blessed types and may we, as His bloodbought people, sanctified in Christ, walk in sanctification in the power of His Spirit.
SPRINKLING THE BLOOD UPON THE MERCY SEAT (Chapter 16)
In the order of the sacrifices Aaron first killed the bullock, the sin offering which was for himself to make atonement for himself and for his house. This bullock is three times recorded as the sin offering for himself (16:6, 11); and wherever the atonement made by it is mentioned it is said to be for himself and his house (16:6, 11, 17). So closely are the high priest and his house linked on together; doubtless to draw our attention to the oneness between Christ and His house--only with a striking contrast also--Aaron's bullock for sin suffered for himself and his house--he being himself a sinner, and his house composed of sinners _like _himself. Our High Priest knew no sin, and offered up Himself solely therefore on behalf of others.
(Throughout the Epistle to the Hebrews, the high priest and the people are alone alluded to; there is no mention made "of his house" Heb. 5:3; 7:27; 9:7. The house when spoken of is God's house, and Moses, not Aaron, the head over it; the whole assembly of Israel being included in "the house" (Heb. 3:2).)
Aaron next took the censer full of coals of fire from off the altar before the Lord, and his hands full of sweet incense beaten small, and brought all within the vail, and put the incense upon the fire before the Lord, that the cloud of the incense might cover the mercy-seat upon the testimony, that he might not die.
The censer was apparently a golden censer. If we refer to the Epistle to the Hebrews, chapter 9, a description of the tabernacle is given us on this day of atonement. No incense altar is mentioned standing in the holy place; but the golden censer in the holiest. The cherubim also, shadowing the mercy-seat are called "cherubim of glory." On this day of atonement the coals of fire were moved from off the incense altar, and the golden censer being filled with them was carried within the vail. For the time therefore, the incense altar was inactive, and is not alluded to probably on that account in the ninth chapter of Hebrews. Jehovah appeared in the cloud upon the mercy-seat--the cloud of glory--and this may be the reason why the cherubim are called "cherubim of glory." Aaron notwithstanding the washing of his flesh, and the linen garments with which he was clothed, could not enter the holiest with the blood of atonement unless he could personally shelter himself under a cloud of incense. A perfume, not his own, but provided according to minute directions given by God.
Two epithets are especially attached to the incense, "Pure," and "holy"--and it was to be holy for the Lord (Exod. 30:35, 37). The frankincense, which was one ingredient of the incense, betokened purity. The word "pure" is connected with it (Exod. 30:34; Lev. 24:7), and the Hebrew word _levohnah has the appropriate signification of whiteness. One of the Hebrew words for the moon is almost the same as that for frankincense--"fair as the moon" (Cant. 6:10). There is one of whom it is truly said, "Thou art fairer than the children of men"; whose unsullied purity formed a wondrous contrast with every other human being. A purity, a righteousness so made manifest upon the cross that even a Roman centurion exclaimed, "Certainly this was a righteous man" (Luke 23:47). The cloud of incense beaten small, as it wafted itself up to God, attracted with its singular perfume that Gentile soldier. Purity and holiness are not to be found here except in one whose graces were fully displayed before God.
The incense was compounded of three sweet spices besides the frankincense, "stacte, onycha, and galbanum." The two last are not known; but the stacte is manifestly derived from a word signifying "to drop," both in the Hebrew, and in the Greek translation. A sweet spice that spontaneously dropped from the tree which produced it. Another emblem of the grace of the Lord Jesus, the Son of Man. Grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. His paths dropped fatness; wherever He went, true love, sympathy, and pity flowed from His heart towards the weak, the weary, and the afflicted. He was the true Man in the midst of falsehood and deceit in human beings all around Him. True in His affection; true in His words; true in His sympathies; true in His rebukes of evil as well as in His forgiveness of sin. It is blessed to turn from the hypocrisies of our own hearts, and of men around us, and contemplate Him "who did no violence," "neither was guile found in His mouth" (Isa. 53:9; 1 Pet. 2:22). There was no effort in Him; He simply lived, manifesting life in all He did and said. There was no affectation of spirituality; He was what He appeared to be. Thus His words and ways were not forced. His sanctity was not assumed. He had nothing to lay aside when He came into the presence of others. He put on nothing to gain their admiration. He was always Himself, living in the presence of God, ever pleasing God. Blessed contrast with men who have to assume religiousness to hide their own evil, who think that roughness is sincerity, and who are unnatural oft-times even in the very presence of God.
The incense "tempered together pure and holy" may have reference to the sweet fragrance which the Man Christ Jesus ever presented to God. The Israelites were forbidden to make a perfume like it, "to smell thereto." Christ is not to be imitated by a false humility to gratify one's own self-conceit. There may be a shew of wisdom and humility by which men satisfy their own flesh, but this is like an imitation of the holy perfume to smell thereto. If we are imitators indeed of Him we must first have been washed in His precious blood, and be born of God. To follow Him would involve self-crucifixion instead of self admiration,
The golden censer was filled with burning coals, and Aaron's hands were filled with incense. The vessel that held the fire--type of the holiness of God--was full. The altar from which that fire had originally been taken was a place where holiness of God was exhibited in no scanty measure; and the censer was also filled, that in the very holiest itself that consuming fire might again be presented according to the divine estimate.
The high priest's hands were also full of sweet incense. He had to grasp that holy compound to the full extent of his ability, that his filled hands might answer to the filled censer. He then put the incense on the fire before the Lord, and the cloud of the incense covered the mercy-seat, and mingled with the cloud of glory upon the mercy-seat, in which Jehovah appeared.
We must here draw a contrast betwixt Aaron and Christ. The Lord Jesus presented Himself to God on the morning of His resurrection--called of God an High Priest, after the order of Melchizedek. His entrance into heaven itself was like the bringing in of fresh incense before God; for He entered on the ground of His perfect obedience unto death, even the death of the cross. God had been glorified in Him, on that very earth where God had been so dishonored by man; and when for the first time a Man stood in the presence of the glory of God before "the throne of the Majesty in the heavens," a cloud of human fragrance (may we not say?) mingled itself with the cloud of divine glory. What a wondrous addition to the heaven of heavens! What an added glory was the entrance of the risen man there for the first time as the risen man--a man able to stand before God on the ground of His own righteousness, His own obedience, His own purity, His own holiness; and also able to say to God, "I have glorified Thee on the earth, I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do."
May we not with reverence contemplate this resurrection of Jesus, and His thus presenting Himself before God in heaven itself, as a marvellous change in the economy of the heavens? One who bore the likeness of the creature, standing in the midst of the throne of the Most High in such nearness to God? What indeed has God wrought! What marvels has He accomplished through His blessed Son!
Aaron next took of the blood of the bullock and sprinkled it with his finger upon the mercy-seat and before the mercy-seat, seven times. So also he did with the blood of the goat, the sin offering for the people. Having sheltered himself under the cloud of incense, he was able to bring this record of death, the blood, and sprinkle it under the glory of God upon the mercy-seat, and upon the ground before the mercy-seat; first by way of atonement for himself and his house; and next on behalf of the people.
What a singular ritual this. The emblem of death placed where God in His glory manifested Himself. What a wondrous coming together of things in themselves opposed to one another. A record of life poured out on account of sin, brought into the holy of holies. And yet how this shadowy ritual portrays to us the truth in which our souls rejoice. The great enigma of truth solved to faith in the death of God's Son.
it was said of the Aaronic high priest that "he entereth into the holy place every year with blood of _others," (Heb. 9:25) or, as it might be rendered, strange or foreign blood (_allotrios,) seeing there was no affinity between the blood of a bullock, and a goat, and himself, a human being. It is written of Christ that "He by his own (_idiou) blood entered in once into the holy places," (Heb. 9:12) and the word "His own" is again repeated (Heb. 13:12).
Aaron had to make atonement for himself as well as for his house. His own blood would have been of no avail for others, or for himself, for he was a sinner. Our High Priest is "holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens"; and what He is now in the glory that He was when on earth, as far as regards holiness and harmlessness. Free from all human infirmity--the Son--who offered up Himself.
Aaron had to sprinkle the mercy-seat eastward, because his approach into the holiest was from the east, and he had to sprinkle before the mercy-seat, to establish a footing for himself before God; for his own feet would have defiled the ground before the mercy-seat. The Lord Jesus has His own rightful place--the Lamb as it had been slain in the midst of the throne--and He enables us sinners by nature to enter into the holiest by His blood, "by a new and living way, which He hath new made for us, through the veil, that is to say, His flesh."
We have no threat of "lest he die" held out to us in our approaches to God; but our very way is a living way, made new in contrast to all other ways of old, and ever new with the fresh sprinkled blood, in contrast with the blood only sprinkled once a year. The sacrifice of Christ is as fresh in all its life-giving value, and in all its cleansing power today, as it was on the very day it was first offered. The blood of Christ has ever its full, and fresh, and living value, in contrast with the blood of victims which had to be renewed daily and yearly.
(The word translated "consecrated," is as the margin of the Bible has it, "new made." The word "new" is a remarkable one, literally meaning "fresh slain," (_prosphaton), and is used by the Spirit of God apparently to mark the contrast between the way on the day of atonement of old, when the blood must have at once ceased to keep its value, because it became stale, and had to be renewed every year, and the constant fresh value of the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb just slain.)
Aaron had to make atonement for the holy place, and for himself, his household, and the congregation of Israel. "The holy place," throughout this chapter where the word "place" is in italics, signifies the "most holy," verses 2, 16, 17, 20, 23, 27. Called "the holy sanctuary" in verse 33. No one was to be with him, or enter the tabernacle until he had completed that important work of atonement. Atonement properly speaking is all Godward; and is accomplished by one alone. The sinner who is atoned for has no part in the work. It is accomplished entirely by another. He is passive, and ignorant of the fact, until God reveals it to him by His Spirit through the Word. It is most important for the peace of the soul that this should be fully understood. And this type makes it very plain. Not one of the congregation, nor one of Aaron's house was with him whilst he thus acted for them before God. They could not be aware whether even he was alive in the sanctuary, or what he had accomplished there. They were not in any attitude of prayer or supplication outside; but they silently waited in suspense till he came out; then they knew he had fulfilled all God's requirements; this being proved by the fact that he was alive.
The whole work of atonement, from beginning to end, has been accomplished by Christ alone; whether we look at the commencement of the work in the shedding of His blood on the cross, or at its completion in His resurrection as the great High Priest, and entering in, "once for all, by His own blood into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption" (Heb. 9:12). This is emphatically stated in the Epistle to the Hebrews: "when He had by Himself purged our sins," 1:3; "this He did once when He offered up Himself," 7:27; "He hath appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself" 9:26. Alone upon the cross, the Lamb of God slain on account of sin. Alone in resurrection, the firstfruits of them that slept. Alone in the holiest with God, the great High Priest. He has offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, and has by Himself perfected the whole work of reconciliation which God committed to Him.
The sinner troubled in conscience on account of his sins, is not called upon by efforts of his own to reconcile God to himself. Every attempt of his own of this kind is the expression of an unbelieving heart, calling in question the full eternal redemption which Christ has obtained for us. He has to believe in a reconciliation accomplished. An atonement completed. A salvation finished. And that by the Lord Jesus Himself alone.
The "atonement for the holy place was because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel, and because of all their transgressions in all their sins"; or it might perhaps be rendered, "he shall make atonement upon the holy place, from the uncleanness of the children of Israel, and from their transgressions in respect to, or on account of all their sins."
Throughout this chapter uncleanness is in the plural (Heb. _tumoth). Uncleannesses twice in verse 16, and once in verse 19. It seems especially to refer to personal defilements originating from man's very nature, the constitution of his body, or from disease. Transgressions are also mentioned. Sin is that evil thing in which we are conceived, which renders us utterly unclean from our very birth; children of wrath by nature. The corrupt body is an outward evidence of the evil taint which pervades us. Our mortal flesh, moral as to every part; without a spot of it free from death and corruption, is a proof of what we are by nature as regards our whole being, unclean perishing sinners.
Transgressions are sins made manifest in direct acts contrary to the revealed mind of God. Atonement had to be made with reference to the uncleanness of Israel, and their transgressions. These two manifestations of evil indicating their sins.
The law had no full type of the entire corruption of man. One of the objects for which it was given, was to develop that corruption in overt acts: "wherefore then the law? It was added because of transgressions" (Gal. 3:19).
"Moreover the law entered that the offence might abound" (Rom. 5:20). It was "the strength of sin" (1 Cor. 15:56). In the types therefore which form part of the law, we do not discover that great truth, that a man is so irremediably a sinner by nature as to need new birth, a new existence.
Perhaps leprosy affords the nearest type of the entire uncleanness of the human being. But even here the priest could only deal with the manifestations of the disease. In interpreting these shadows therefore we have to go deeper than the types themselves. The atonement made by Christ does not only answer to God for us as regards our uncleanness, but also in respect to the unclean nature itself, in which we entered this world as children of the first Adam. Our unclean selves; and here we must be careful to distinguish between ourselves and our corrupt nature. The atonement made by Christ has not in any way cleansed, improved, or reconciled our flesh, our evil nature; for that is so irremediably bad that all that God could do with it was utterly to condemn it. In the death of Christ for sin, God has "condemned (damned) sin in the flesh" (Rom. 8:3). "Our old man is crucified with Him that the body of sin might be destroyed," (Rom. 6:6). The body of the sins of the flesh have been put off from us as regards all judgment and wrath of God. We (not our evil nature) have been reconciled to God (2 Cor. 5:18; Col. 1:21).
This is the great aspect of atonement. For what troubles us most is the constant presence of an evil heart, an evil nature; an inclination for sin, which will make itself to be felt notwithstanding all our efforts towards practical holiness, and notwithstanding we are new creatures in Christ, and notwithstanding the presence of the Holy Spirit dwelling in us. As believers we have a right to look at this, the old man, and say, it has been crucified; it has been condemned once for all; it has been judged under the full wrath of God, poured out upon His own Son for us. And there is "now no condemnation" of any kind to us--no condemnation on account of this evil nature which we still know to exist--no condemnation on account of weakness, failures, ignorances, sins. The uncleannesses and transgressions of the people entered the sanctuary of God, and had to be met by the blood of atonement; or otherwise wrath must have burst forth from before the Lord upon the people, or God must remove His dwelling-place from the midst of them.
"The patterns of things in the heavens were purified with these (sacrifices), but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us" (Heb. 9:23, 24). (This is the only place where the word sacrifices occurs in the plural, when the death of the Lord Jesus is spoken of In all probability it is used to express the fact of His one sacrifice embracing every varied aspect of the many sacrifices offered under the law.)
Notwithstanding our manifest sins and uncleannesses, of which to a great extent we are unconscious, Christ has opened the way for us into the very glory of God--He has preceded us there with His own most precious blood--and now we can draw near with confidence, without defiling with our presence the holiest of all. We can confess our sins before the mercy-seat itself. We can bring our deep necessities, and find mercy and grace to help us. We can offer thanksgiving, praise and worship which God can accept because of the sweet savour of that precious blood. We can say, without fear, thou hast set our iniquities before thee, our secret (sins) in the light of thy countenance" (Psa. 90:8), because we know Christ is in the presence of God for us; His precious blood is in the very light of the glory of God on our behalf The sins which have reached to heaven have been covered; blotted out by that sprinkled blood. "We have come to God, the judge of all." We have heard His sentence pronounced upon us as guilty and defiled sinners. We have seen that sentence executed in the death of His own Son. We have been justified from sin through that death, "justified by his blood" (Rom. 5:9; 6:7).
We have come "to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant"; the High Priest in the presence of God for us, ministering to us all the blessings of that new covenant. We have come "to the blood of sprinkling that speaketh better things than that of Abel"; the blood of sprinkling upon the mercy-seat, and before the mercy-seat. God said to Cain respecting the blood of Abel, "the voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto me from the ground, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother's blood from thy hand" (Gen. 4:10, 11). The blood cried for vengeance. The blood of sprinkling to which we have come, speaketh incessantly mercy and grace; answers every accusation; calls down ceaseless blessings; cleanseth from all sin; utters a voice which delights the ear of God; and which enables Him to open His hand and fill us with good. The word "speaketh" is a blessed word, in contrast not only with the blood of Abel which cried for vengeance, but with the blood of bulls and of goats, which spoke but for a moment, and effected nothing in reality. Whereas this blood speaketh on and on with a ceaseless still small voice of power, until the day of full redemption, when the resurrection of the Church in glory will manifest for ever its mighty efficacy: and the voice of the precious blood will continue to sound until Israel, God's chosen nation, and others redeemed out of the world during the 1000 years reign of Christ, are clothed with immortality (Henry Soltau).