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In this chapter the reader will find two special points, namely - first, that life belongs to Jehovah; and, secondly, that the power of atonement is in the blood. The Lord attached peculiar importance to both these things. He would have them impressed upon every member of the congregation.
"And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto Aaron, and unto his sons, and unto all the children of Israel, and say unto them, This is the thing which the Lord hath commanded, saying, What man soever there be of the house of Israel, that killeth an ox, or lamb, or goat, in the camp, or that killeth it out of the camp, and bringeth it not unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, to offer an offering unto the Lord, before the tabernacle of the Lord; blood shall be imputed unto that man; he hath shed blood; and that man shall be cut off from among his people." This was a most solemn matter; and we may ask what was involved in offering a sacrifice otherwise than in the manner here prescribed? It was nothing less than robbing Jehovah of His rights, and presenting to Satan that which was due to God. A man might say, "Can I not offer a sacrifice in one place as well as another?" The answer is, "Life belongs to God, and His claim thereto must be recognised in the place which He has appointed - before the tabernacle of the Lord." That was the only meeting place between God and man. To offer elsewhere proved that the heart did not want God.
The moral of this is plain. There is one place where God has appointed to meet the sinner, and that is the cross - the antitype of the brazen altar. There and there alone has God's claim upon the life been duly recognised. To reject this meeting-place is to bring down judgement upon oneself - it is to trample under foot the just claims of God, and to arrogate to oneself a right to life which all have forfeited. It is important to see this.
"And the priest shall sprinkle the blood upon the altar of the Lord, at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and burn the fat for a sweet savour unto the Lord." The blood and the fat belonged to God. The blessed Jesus fully recognised this. He surrendered His life to God, and all his hidden enemies were devoted to Him likewise. He voluntarily walked to the altar and there gave up His precious life; and the fragrant odour of His intrinsic excellency ascended to the throne of God. Blessed Jesus! it is sweet, at every step of our way, to be reminded of Thee.
The second point above referred to is clearly stated in 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." The connection between the two points is deeply interesting. When man duly takes his place as one possessing no title whatsoever to life - when he fully recognises God's claims upon him, then the divine record is, "I have given you the life to make an atonement for your soul." Yes; atonement is God's gift to man; and, be it carefully noted, that this atonement is in the blood, and only in the blood. "It is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul." It is not the blood and something else. The word is most explicit. It attributes atonement exclusively to the blood . "Without shedding of blood there is no remission." ( Heb. 9: 22 ) It was the death of Christ that rent the veil. It is "by the blood of Jesus" we have "boldness to enter into the holiest." "We have redemption through his blood , the forgiveness of sins." ( Eph. 1: 7 ; Col. 1: 14 ) "Having made peace by the blood of his cross." "Ye who were afar off are made nigh by the blood of his cross." " The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin." ( 1 John 1: 7 ) "They washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb." ( Rev. 7 ) "They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb." ( Rev. 12 )
I would desire to call my reader's earnest attention to the precious and vital doctrine of the blood. I am anxious that he should see its true place. The blood of Christ is the foundation of everything. It is the ground of God's righteousness in justifying an ungodly sinner that believes on the name of the Son of God; and it is the ground of the sinner's confidence in drawing nigh to a holy God who is of purer eyes than to behold evil. God would be just in the condemnation of the sinner; but, through the death of Christ, He can be just And the justifier of him that believeth - a just God and a Saviour. The righteousness of God is His consistency with Himself - His acting in harmony with His revealed character. Hence, were it not for the cross, His consistency with Himself would, of necessity, demand the death and judgement of the sinner; but in the cross that death and judgement were borne by the sinner's Surety, so that the same divine consistency is perfectly maintained while a holy God justifies an ungodly sinner through faith. It is all through the blood of Jesus - nothing less - nothing more - nothing different. "It is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul. This is conclusive. This is God's simple plan of justification. Man's plan is much more cumbrous, much more roundabout. And not only is it cumbrous and roundabout, but it attributes righteousness to something quite different from what I find in the word. If I look from Genesis 3 down to the close of Revelation, I find the blood of Christ put forward as the alone ground of righteousness. We get pardon, peace, life, righteousness, all by the blood, and nothing but the blood. The entire book of Leviticus, and particularly the chapter upon which we have just been meditating, is a commentary upon the doctrine of the blood. It seems strange to have to insist upon a fact so obvious to every dispassionate teachable student of holy Scripture. Yet so it is. Our minds are prone to slip away from the plain testimony of the word. We are ready to adopt opinions without ever calmly investigating them in the light of the divine testimonies. In this way we get into confusion, darkness, and error.
May we all learn to give the blood of Christ its due Place! It is so precious in God's sight that He will not suffer ought else to be added to or mingled with it. "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."
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Mackintosh, Charles Henry. "Commentary on Leviticus 17". Mackintosh's Notes on the Pentateuch. https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany