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Exodus 29:8. Thou shalt pour it] = veyatsakta from the verb yatsak, to profusely anoint, is the word employed in regard to the anointing of Aaron: but Mashach = to simply anoint is the word used in the case of his sons. Thus the difference in the terms employed indicate that God regarded the High priest with more honour than the other priests. And, as oil is the acknowledged symbol of health, strength, and beauty or purity, we have here an indication of the qualifications and graces which should distinguish the priesthood generally and the High Priest in particular.
Exodus 29:9. And thou shalt consecrate Aaron and his sons] is a free rendering of the words of the text: Umiletha yad Ahron veyad banav, literally, “Thou shalt fill the hand of Aaron and the hand of his sons,” with a reference, no doubt, to (Exodus 29:22-24). The things there enumerated are the various parts of the ram of consecration, besides several other accompaniments which Moses was commanded to place on the hands of Aaron and his sons, and by which evidently the propitiatory character of the priest’s office was indicated, as they were burnt before the Lord as an acceptable offering (Exodus 29:25). And, as in the act of consecration of the priests, they placed the gifts given to them by Moses upon the altar of the Lord, these may be regarded as characteristic of their office, and typified humility and devotedness.
MAIN HOMILETICS OF THE PARAGRAPH.—Exodus 29:1-38
THE CONSECRATION OF AARON AS TYPICAL OF THE PRIESTLY CALLING OF CHRIST
We have shadowed forth here in the public appointment of Aaron some great truths concerning the Great High Priest, who has passed through the heavens.
I. The authority of His calling. “No man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron” (Hebrews 5:4). Aaron does not invest himself with the pontifical attire, and himself assume the priestly functions, but he receives these from the hands of Moses as the representative of God. “So also Christ glorified not Himself to be made an high priest; but He that said unto Him, Thou art my Son, to-day have I begotten Thee” (Hebrews 5:5). Christ is ever careful to keep before us the Divine authority of His character, teachings, and priesthood. Thus with His character (John 14:6-9). Thus with His works (John 14:10-11). Thus with His doctrines (John 7:16-18). Thus with His atonement (Romans 3:25). There is Divine authority in the whole work of Jesus Christ; we see “God in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself.”
II. The glory of His character. In the first ceremony of the washing we have an anticipation of the purity of Christ’s nature, and in the robing and crowning of Aaron we behold, as in a glass, the moral loveliness and glory of the world’s everlasting Priest. Christ’s life was destitute of all the empty pomps of royalty. They that wear soft raiment are in king’s houses: but how irresistible the moral glory of His spirit and work! “What could I do more in royal robes, father, than in this plain garment?” said Edward I. to a bishop who remonstrated with him on his attire as unkingly. The Jews saw Messiah destitute of all material, social, and political glory, and thus when they saw Him, there was no beauty that they should desire Him; but if they had regarded the moral grandeur of His spirit and work and doctrine, they would have felt that He needed no angel’s face, or transfigured robe, or golden crown. He was without sin, His holiness was intense and perpetual, and He is the most glorious Being in earth or heaven.
III. The fulness of His grace, Exodus 29:7. Oil was a type of reconciliation and peace, and the fact that it was poured on the head of the priest indicates the fulness of the grace imparted to the priest, and through him to Israel. This attains its highest meaning in Jesus Christ (Hebrews 1:9.) Christ is full of truth and grace. In His reconciling character He can fill the individual soul with peace; and He can harmonise all the conflicting elements of the world, and fill the earth with peace. “He giveth more grace.”
IV. The efficacy of His atonement, Exodus 29:11–Exodus 29:38. All that is said here of the purification of the priests, by blood and fire, is most significant of the fact that, through the atonement and spirit of Christ, humanity is fitted for intercourse with God. It was only when the animals had borne away the sin of the priests, and when their members and raiment had been purified by the sprinkled blood, that they are fitted to enter into the presence of God; and it is only as Christ atones for us by His death and purifies us by His Spirit, that we are worthy to see the face of God (Hebrews 9:18-28).
HOLINESS AND SERVICE.—Exodus 29:1-38
All these ceremonies attending the consecration of the priests are intended to teach the great lesson, that all who minister before God, that all who minister to God, must be holy. These ceremonies are not so many empty forms, intended merely to impress the people, but full of moral meaning.
I. The necessity of holiness in the service of God. Before the priests can minister before God there must be the washing, anointing, robing—all significant of purification from sin and of the attainment of the beauty of holiness. The services of a priest not thus consecrated would have been rejected. All must be thus washed and beautified who would serve God in all generations. Without holiness of heart—for this is what the ceremonial holiness typifies—our virtues are unacceptable. Our righteousness is filthy rags. The patchwork garment of human fabrication will never do in place of that wedding robe of spiritual righteousness which God gives. Our work is unacceptable. No matter what our work may be, if it is not pure, it is rejected. It may be high work in the world, solemn work in the Church, but if it lack love and holiness it is vain. Our worship is (Isaiah 1:10-16). Our gifts are (Isaiah 1:10-16; 1 Corinthians 13:1-4). Our services for others are. Holiness must be possessed by the priest before he can pray and offer for the people. Our virtues may be many, our work useful, our prayers eloquent, our gifts munificent, our services to our times liberal and salutary; but if in our heart there is selfishness, sensuality, sin, God will reject us. “Be ye holy that bear the vessels of the Lord.” We must be washed in the laver of regeneration, beautified by God’s righteousness, anointed by God’s grace, and then shall God be well pleased in us, and our ministrations for others shall be blessed. And this holiness must be complete and thorough. We feel this if we regard the blood-sprinkling upon the person and garments of the priests, Exodus 29:19-21. “A part of the blood of the ram of consecration was sprinkled upon the ears of Aaron and his sons, to remind them always to listen to the commands of God; upon their hands, to enjoin the duty of activity and zeal in the service of God; and upon their feet, to symbolise their walking in the ways of the law.”—Kalisch. The hallowing of the whole personality and life. And we feel how necessary holiness is in the servants of God, and how thorough that holiness must be, when we read Exodus 29:35, that the ceremonies of consecration are to be repeated during seven days.
II. The source of this holiness. The whole ceremony attending the consecration of the priests teaches that the highest holiness is only realised in Christ. The sprinkling of the blood on the priest and on all his attire typifies this. Christ crucified alone creates in us a horror of sin; Christ alone bears our sin away; Christ’s grace alone cleanses us from the crimson stain (Hebrews 9:11-15; 1 John 1:7). If we are to become a holy priesthood unto God, offering here the living sacrifices of an acceptable service, and at death entering into the Eternal presence, the dying love of Christ must kindle our love, and the righteousness which Christ died to maintain must adorn our nature and life. The theology of the Jewish Temple is full of purity by atonement; so is the theology of the primitive Christian Church; so is the theology of Heaven (Revelation 7:9-17).
THE DIVINE PRESENCE IN THE CHURCH.—Exodus 29:38-46
We are instructed here concerning—
I. The condition of the Divine Presence. God promises to dwell with Israel, and the stipulations which accompany this promise are full of instruction. God is not to dwell with Israel on the ground of their election. God had elected Israel to be the guardian of His Truth, and to accomplish certain great ends in the drama of history, but the presence of God with Israel is neither here nor anywhere else made to rest on the ground of this election. The continued presence of God with Israel is not guaranteed by the magnificence of the Tabernacle. God did not dwell in the Tabernacle because of its gold and scarlet, because of its rich draperies and gorgeous furniture. God will never dwell among us because of the richness or grandeur of a worldly sanctuary. The presence of God is not secured to Israel on the ground of their ecclesiastical polity. “See that thou make it according to the pattern I showed thee in the mount.” So Moses did: the whole Tabernacle and its furniture was according to the celestial pattern shown to the great lawgiver. But not on this ground was God to dwell with Israel. We may have our churches constructed on what we consider to be the scriptural pattern, on what may be a scriptural pattern, and yet God may deny us His presence. The grand condition is moral and spiritual. Everything must be holy. The priests must be holy, as we have already seen; and here again the demand is reiterated. “Whosoever toucheth the altar must be holy,” Exodus 29:37. No unclean individual was allowed to approach the altar; it does not mean, whatever has once touched the altar must be considered holy. And the altar, too, was to be most holy, Exodus 29:37. God dwelt with Israel on the ground of their moral purity, and for their lack of righteousness He deserted them. God’s presence is given still to such as seek Him with pure and penitent hearts. The sacrifices here mentioned symbolised the constant consecration of Israel’s life unto God, and only on this ground will God meet with and bless mankind. Purity is the sign of the true Church. Entirely, daily, permanently, must we yield ourselves to God, and then God’s face shall shine upon us as an unsetting sun.
II. The blessedness of the Divine Presence.
1. It is an enlightening Presence. “Where I will meet you, to speak there to thee,” Exodus 29:42. How truly blessed to have this communion with God! to have a certain spot where we are sure of special revelations of God’s heart and will! Not to have our imagination wandering through infinity, baffled by the vastness, but to be able to enter into our closet, and talk with God. God comes to the door of the Tabernacle to enlighten and bless the people—He will not hide Himself in the Holiest. If we come to God with pure and penitent hearts He will not hide Himself from us, but we shall see the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
2. It is a glorifying Presence. “That it be hallowed by My glory,” Exodus 29:43-44. The glory of gold and crimson was nothing, without the glory of the Divine Presence. Where God dwells He creates that fulness of purity and gladness which we call glory.
3. It is a redeeming Presence. “Which brought them out of the land of Egypt,” Exodus 29:46. And which, therefore, would deliver them from all other evils. God’s presence is a wall of fire.
4. It is an abiding Presence. “That I may dwell among them,” Exodus 29:45-46. Not only “meet” them, but “dwell” among them. “Pleasures for evermore” (Revelation 7:15-17).
REV. WILLIAM ADAMSON
Speech-Symbolism! Exodus 29:1-44.
(1.) An eminent author says that language is the amber in which a thousand precious and subtile thoughts have been safely embedded and preserved. It has arrested ten thousand lightning flashes of genius, which, unless thus arrested and fixed, might have been as bright, but would have also been as quickly passing and perishing as the lightning.
(2.) Trench adds to this, that words convey the mental treasures of one period to the generations that follow; and, laden with their precious flight, they sail safely across the gulfs of time in which empires have suffered shipwreck, and the languages of common life have sunk into oblivion.
(3.) What, then, shall be said of speech which is not man’s but God’s? What, then, shall be said of words in which the thoughts of God are embalmed? Sent safely across the yawning, surging gulfs of time, do they not invite our most searching investigation for our learning and comfort in matters of infinite importance and everlasting endurance?
“Then be not like the hog that hath
A pearl at his desire,
And takes more pleasure in the trough
And wallowing in the mire.”
Priesthood-Consecration! Exodus 29:1. Edwards well says that man’s redemption was a purpose before it was a fact. Hence the Son of God anticipated man’s fall, and immediately on its occurrence, putting aside the gorgeous veil of His dwelling-place, descended to earth to promise deliverance. As Wallis remarks, from that time His atonement was prefigured by slaughtered victims, exhibited in prophetic types. The Redeemer’s sacrifice, therefore, has a retrospective as well as prospective value. He planted His cross between the two dispensations, throwing a radiance over the past and a splendour over the future. Thus He made its glory to glance on the two extremities of time, and set it forth as the centre of associated interest to the good both of heaven and earth.
“The balm of life, the cure of woe,
The measure and the pledge of love,
The sinner’s refuge here below,
The angel’s theme in heaven above.”
Ablutions and Oblations! Exodus 29:3-4.
(1.) The tabernacle, as Atwater remarks, is to be considered as the residence of the Divine King of Israel. The remembrance of this will aid in understanding some parts of the Jewish ritual that might otherwise be comparatively unintelligible. This explains the great importance attached to personal cleanliness and freedom from corporeal blemishes on the part of all the attendants of the sanctuary. Some of the sacrifices, such as the burnt-offerings, were forms of consecration to the service of the sovereign—what in modern phraseology would be called homage.
(2.) Such purification we have in the case of Joseph entering Pharaoh’s presence, of Esther appearing before Ahasuerus, and of Daniel being presented to Nebuchadnezzar. The homage of offerings, when persons acknowledged themselves subjects to a king, is as common to-day in eastern countries as it has ever been from the most remote of historical periods. Hence the ideas were familiar to the Israelites who had just left Egypt.
(3.) But these priestly ablutions and oblations were deeply symbolical; not only as implying man’s moral unfitness to serve Jehovah-King, but also as involving the prayer for Divine Grace, “Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.” The offerings are indicated in the Pauline entreaty: “We beseech you, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.”
“Oh! cleanse my sordid soul within
By Thy Christ’s blood—the bath of sin.”
Aaronic Washing! Exodus 29:4.
(1.) Does this typify the Baptism of the Lord Jesus! Baptism was usually connected with confession of sin, both amongst the heathen and Hebrews. The washing was in itself a symbol of the desire to wash away the defilement of the soul. But Jesus knew no sin, though Aaron did. Nevertheless He offered Himself to God. His Baptism, symbolised by the Aaronic purification, was the purifying of Himself as the Priest and Victim.
(2.) In the upper room when He offered up His intercessory prayer, that God would accept Him in sacrifice for the sins of His people, He says, “For their sakes I sanctify Myself.” What Jesus spoke of the sanctifying of Himself, to be a holy priest and holy sacrifice, is amplified, says Geso in the Epistle to the Hebrews, to the effect that Jesus was both the offerer and offering.
(3.) The Baptismal rite was linked with the descent of the Holy Spirit. It was through the Eternal Spirit that He offered Himself without spot to God. Thus both priest and animal were washed to shadow forth the Baptism not only in Jordan waters but with the Holy Spirit. Having knelt in prayer on the bank to which He had returned from the shallow ford,—
“Lo! on a sudden the blue heavens were rent,
The Spirit descending in corporeal shape,
Dove-like, alighted on His sacred head,
A Dove of plumage whiter than the light.”
Aaronic Associations! Exodus 29:5-6.
(1.) The Aaronic priesthood, as established and perpetuated for long ages in Israel, was in all its aspects and relations eminently symbolic and typical. The selection and consecration of the high priest, the manifold duties and functions of the high office, were all penetrated with spiritual significance. Not more saturated is our atmosphere with ozone, our ocean with salts, our flowers with sweet odours; than are the Aaronic associations with spiritual significations.
(2.) As a natural and inevitable result, names, titles, figures, and symbolic phrases derived therefrom, have been sown broadcast, over the entire area of our religious literature. As Thompson observes, the most precious and significant names and official titles bestowed upon our blessed Lord come to us without modification from this source. This we learn from the Epistle to the Hebrews.
“Where high the heavenly temple stands,
The house of God not made with hands,
A great High Priest our nature wears—
The Saviour of mankind appears.”
Priest-Anointing! Exodus 29:8.
(1.) Jenkyn says that the Agonistes in the Grecian Games anointed themselves with ointments in order to attain quickness, agility, and nimbleness of action; and this gave a grace and beauty to their various movements. Before they could attain this the ointment must have pervaded their frame and not glistened in superficial application.
(2.) In like manner, before the Church can acquire a grace in doing good, and in acting after the Spirit, the unction from the Holy One must penetrate all the muscles of its frame and all the members of its body. Thus the Spirit of Holiness gives to the Church an aptness and a grace in all its movements and efforts for the conversion of the world.
“Come, Holy Ghost, our souls inspire,
And lighten with celestial fire;
Thou the Anointing Spirit art,
Thou dost Thy sevenfold gifts impart.
Priesthood! Exodus 29:8-9.
(1.) The priests were types of Christ in reference to the freedom of access to God, which was allowed to them. They alone were permitted to enter the Tabernacle. Only to the High Priest was it lawful to go into the Holy of Holies, just as Christ our Mediator enters into the immediate presence of God.
(2.) The whole body of the people were required to keep themselves ceremonially pure. But in the case of the priesthood this was enjoined with special urgency, on the ground that Christ was literally without sin.
“Holy Saviour, wash us hourly,
Sanctify us day by day;
Sorely we have need of cleansing,
Purge each stain of sin away.”
Sin-Offering! Exodus 29:10-14. There were three gateways which the Aaronic priesthood had to penetrate before they could minister in the presence of God. One was that of the Sin-offering, the gateway of confession of sin. Another was that of the Burnt-offering (Exodus 29:15-18), the gateway of profession of faith in Christ. The third was that of the Peace-offering (Exodus 29:19-21), the gateway of consecration, i.e., of self-dedication to God. These were the stepping-stones to acceptable ministry in the priesthood. When these steps had been ascended—when these gateways had been passed, the Meat-offering had then to be eaten, to signify
(1) a state of fellowship with God, and
(2) a resolution to bring forth fruit to God. Not less essential are these gateways to the Christian ministry, and to that universal ministry of Christians who are designated as kings and priests unto God.
“Through death the world is raised above
Its alien curse and kindred dust;
We on the Cross read, “God is just,”
But in the offering, “God is Love.”
Midriff-Mystery! Exodus 29:13.
(1.) One of nature’s most painful and deadly maladies is cancer. If within reach of the surgeon’s knife and skill, an operation is performed for its excision. Often the physician fails to extract all the fibres; and to eradicate the roots left behind, he applies lunar caustic. But how many uncertainties surround this operation. The cancer may be beyond reach of his knife. It may be within reach, and yet the operation produce fatal results. The operation may only be partially successful and require burning. The application of caustic may not be successful in eliminating the residue.
(2.) The Divine Physician extracts the cancer in the human nature. Yet is He pleased to allow, for wise and loving purposes, part of it more or less to remain; and by successive operations of “burning affliction and sorrow” to eradicate it entirely. There are no possibilities of failure in His hands. He can reach every sin-cancer. Its excision is certain to be successful. The application of “moral caustic” never fails to achieve the desired results. The Christian is made whole—meet for the inheritance of the saints in light.
“Pain’s furnace-heat within me quivers,
God’s breath upon the fire doth blow,
And all my heart in anguish shivers
And trembles at the fiery glow;
And yet I whisper, “As God will!”
And in His hottest fire hold still.”
Burnt-Offering!. Exodus 29:15-18.
(1.) In nature, both with animals and plants, there are special characteristics for each species or form; and yet, the special characteristic of one species or form may be found more or less prominent in another species or form. The sea-anemone has its own peculiar feature of existence; nevertheless, that feature appears in other and more common existence. The Indian banyan has likewise its particular characteristic, which, however, presents itself in less prominence in another African tree.
(2.) In the Levitical sacrifices, substitution was the special idea implied in the sin-offering. Substitution was most fully shadowed forth in this sacrifice. Nevertheless, though dedication rose prominently to view in the burnt-offering, yet the substitution element existed largely in it. This element presents itself more clearly in the daily sacrifice of Exodus 29:38-42.
“The blood which, as a priest, He bears
For sinners is His own;
The incense of His prayers and tears
Perfumes the Holy Throne.”
Sweet Savour! Exodus 29:18.
(1.) The curtains of God’s pavilion are here thrown back, and each attribute appears rejoicing in redemption. The animal is offered, and there is fragrance throughout heaven. This image is a bright jewel in the Bible treasury. It first flashed its beauty on Noah’s sacrifice after the Flood. It appears again and again through the Patriarchal offerings and those of the Levitical priesthood; and all these are but satellites borrowing their beauties from the shining sun in Ephesians 5:2 : “Christ gave Himself for us an offering and a sacrifice unto God, for a sweet-smelling savour.
(2.) Just as one orb contains all lights, so this brief expression contains the whole purpose of redemption. The children of Israel were taught in twilight-rites the fulness of the work of Christ: “It is a sweet savour, an offering made by fire unto the Lord.” This is the magnifying medium, through which we see that the dying of Jesus is the garden of God’s sweetest perfumes. His one sacrifice is eternal and unbounded fragrance.
(3.) If Christ’s sacrifice is richest odour to God, so ought it to be to man. The joy of God should be our joy. The refreshment of God’s heart should be the refreshment of every man’s heart. The perfume which gratifies the spirit of God should perfume the spirit of each child of Adam. Man’s every faculty should expand and revel in the Calvary oblation. His crucifixion should be the soul’s paradise of every spice and flower. His name should be as ointment poured forth. His sacrifice should smell of myrrh, aloes, and cassia. He Himself should be as a bundle of myrrh, a cluster of camphire.
“As myrrh new bleeding from the tree,
Such is a dying Christ to me;
And while He makes my soul His guest,
My bosom, Lord, shall be thy rest.”
Ram-Rump! Exodus 29:22. Eastern sheep have much larger tails than those of our own land. The broad tailed sheep of Aleppo, Russell says, are known to have tails five pounds in weight. To prevent these being torn by thorns and thistles, the shepherds fasten thin boards underneath them. Some of these boards have wheels to facilitate the movements of the animal. The Abbé Mariti, in his “Travels through Cyprus.” states that the flesh of these tails is juicy and tender. It is not however, eaten separately, but mixed with the lean of other portions. The fat is often used as butter. This explains the Levitical consumption by fire,
Priesthood-Purposes! Exodus 29:29. Almost everything connected with the Levitical priesthood was symbolic. There was a spiritual purpose in each separate act and fact. It is sufficient merely to mention such suggestive things as the mercy-seat covering the ark, in which was deposited the stone-engraved law, and on which the high priest sprinkled seven times the atoning blood. Then there were the cherubims, beneath whose outspread wings ascended the cloud of incense—the prayers of the saints perfumed by the infinite merits of the Great Mediator. How many delightful thoughts gather about it, as bees clustering around some odorous flower or luscious honeycomb! In how many humble prayers, in how many glad songs of praise, is it the central idea, as a sun serves for a centre of attraction to countless satellite-orbs of light and beauty! Thus the priesthood had its purpose. Acting out their sacred functions, they were continually revealing and visibly interpreting the deep mystery of available mediation between God and man.
“I need Thee, precious Jesus!
For I am full of sin;
My soul is dark and guilty,
My heart is dead within.”
Atonement! Exodus 29:33.
(1.) All bloody sacrifices embodied in themselves the idea of expiation. This idea may have existed in the mind of the patriarchs only in a vague and indefinite shape, as marking the earliest stage in the development of the plan of redemption. It may have resembled the pencilled outline which the artist makes upon the canvass previous to his filling in with rainbow hues.
(2.) The patriarchs and priests of the Mosaic dispensation understood that in themselves sacrifices had no atoning power. They could atone for sin only as they were symbolic—anticipatory of the real atonement afterwards effected by Christ. The idea which lies at the basis of atonement is that of covering. The sin atoned for is regarded as if no longer in existence.
(3.) This paved the way for reconciliation—that idea which occurs ten times in the Greek New Testament. In nine of these ten, the Greek is translated “reconciliation;” and in the tenth (Romans 5:11) “atonement,” i.e., at-one-ment. The death of Christ makes a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction for sin; and thus opens up a way for man’s reconcilement to God.
“No more need altar smoke, nor victim bleed;
’Tis finished! the great mystery of love,
Ye sin-condemned, by this blood ’tis decreed
Ye stand absolved: Behold the curse removed!”
Substitution-Shadows! Exodus 29:36.
(1.) The Messianic Substitutionary Sacrifice is the grandest and most distinctive thing in the Bible, for the sake of which, indeed, the Bible has been produced. Many regard it as a discord in nature’s harmonious anthem; clashing with the phenomena of the universe around us. But, as an earnest writer says, this is altogether a superficial view. Nature and human nature present certain aspects of atonement. And the substitution taught by the Aaronic offerings and rites is patent to the student in the laws of nature and human nature.
(2.) We see, writes an eloquent divine, the law of vicarious action at work in the plant yielding up its life in order that the animal may be nourished. We observe it in the sacrifice of the animal that the nobler life of man may be sustained. The doctrine of substitution pervades the whole science of chemistry, in which we find numerous examples of one element of congeners replacing another.
(3.) Thus nature, human nature, and the Mosaic sacrifices are in harmony in teaching each and all the great mystery of substitution. All three are like different aisles in the great cathedral, or different avenues in the vast forest, leading up to the Holy Place—to the central object of Calvary: “He hath made Him who knew no sin, to be sin for us, that we might be the righteousness of God in Him.”
“He seized our dreadful right, the load sustained;
And heaved the mountain from a guilty world.”
Morning and Evening Watches! Exodus 29:39.
(1.) This continual burnt-offering, combining in itself to a considerable extent what belonged to the other sacrifices, might be regarded as embodying the general idea of sacrifice, and as in a sense representing the whole sacrificial institute.
(2.) On the same account Fairbairn says that it was a species of offering to be presented morning and evening in behalf of the whole covenant people; and which, especially during the night, was to be so slowly consumed that it might last till dawn.
(3) This contional burnt-offering, or perpetual sacrifice, symbolised the abiding sacrifice which the Lord Jesus presents before the heavenly Throne night and day, from morn till eve, and from eve to dawn of day. Faith’s eye perceived this.
(4.) In a secondary sense, it signified also the morning and evening watches of Christian prayer. In Deuteronomy 33:10, it says, “They shall put incense before Thee, and whole burnt sacrifices upon Thy altar.” The incense is an emblem of daily prayer, morning and evening—of prayer without ceasing; and the accompanying burnt-offering indicated that in every “incense-supplication” was to be the Propitiation of Christ. The Sacrifice of Calvary should ever be mentioned in, should ever be associated with, the Christian’s morning and evening watches.
“Here I would for ever stay,
Weep and gaze my soul away;
Thou art heaven on earth to me,
Lovely, mournful Calvary.”
Acceptable Service! Exodus 29:41.
(1.) Fragrance has a far-reaching power, a mysterious association with the deep and hidden things of the heart. Because of these virtues, many of the Bible images appeal to our sense of smell. No sense is more closely connected with the sphere of the soul. It is regarded as an important means of communication with heaven, and a direct avenue for the soul’s approach to the Father. The acceptance, says Macmillan, of man’s offerings by God is usually represented in the anthropomorphisms of the Bible as finding its expression in the sense of smell.
(2.) The Apostle Paul, employing the same typical language, speaks of himself and the other Apostles as unto God a sweet savour of Christ in them that are saved and in them that perish. The Psalms and the Prophetic writings are full of the most beautiful and expressive metaphors, applied to the most solemn persons and things, of “sweet savours.” The Song of Solomon is like an Oriental garden stocked with delicious, odorous flowers. But the “sweet savour” that is most acceptable is “the offering by fire,” i.e., the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus amid the fires of wrath.
“The fragrance of which perfect sacrifice
Breathes infinite beatitude, and spans
The clouds of judgment with Eternal Light,”
Burnt-Offering! Exodus 29:42. What is in a name? Words are but empty air; names are but the exterior and useless shell. The thing signified is the kernel. But this is a very inadequate statement. Language is far more than the mere vesture, or even the vehicle of thought. It is both parent and nurse of the thought. There is much in a name; most of all in those divinely given. Such are the words “consecration,” “atonement,” “burnt-offering,” “wave-offering,” &c., occurring in this chapter. They are our teachers and guides, without which we can make no valuable acquisition in the Pentateuch fields of spiritual knowledge. They are self-luminous lamps, hung around the infinite mystery of the invisible God, and penetrating the thick darkness in which He dwells, so far as man’s feeble sight can pierce. Upon the glass of this lamp (“burnt-offering”) may be read letters, burnt in by the fiery process of inspiration, telling us that within the building over whose porch it bangs is a spiritual glory in the shape of the Atoning Sacrifice of the Lord Jesus.
“Nor can the type and symbol take away
The guilt, and for a broken law requite.
The cross unfolds the mystery, Jesus died;
The sinner lives; the Law is satisfied.
Mediation-Meaning! Exodus 29:44.
(1.) Eastern nations, beyond all others, have recourse to mediation. It has been noticed that they seem incapable of transacting business without the intervention of a mediator. The buying of an ass, the renting of a house, the hiring of a servant, or the settling of a trifling dispute, cannot be achieved without mediation at the present day in the East. Yet it is not, as has been remarked, a modern fashion. It appears even in the early history of Abraham at Machpelah, and Joseph in the Egyptian dungeon.
(2.) Such being the custom in transacting temporal matters, it became the most natural thing in the world to resort to mediation in the affairs of the soul. Educated to mediation in things secular, the Israelites were the more prepared to accept mediation in things spiritual. The consciousness of sin would only intensify this feeling and desire to have a Mediator or Intercessor.
(3.) The priests in the Tabernacle stood in this relation officially and by Divine appointment. But even they could only mediate typically. Their mediation had a meaning in the future. Their sacrificial offerings were of no avail, except as they pointed to the one true Mediator, whose blood cleanseth from all sin.
“See Aaron, God’s anointed priest,
Within the veil appear,
In robes of mystic meaning drest,
Presenting Israel’s prayer.”
Divine-Indwelling! Exodus 29:45. It is a remarkable coincidence that as here we have the sacrificial lambs connected with the Divine Presence in the Hebrew Church, so there is a similar conjunction of the two in Revelation 21:0. Whether we regard that chapter at a prophetic vision of the Millennial or Eternal Eras of the Church of Christ matters not. It is the Lamb of God who figures in it with His Bride; and afterwards comes a great voice proclaiming that the Tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them. “Jehovah-Shammah,” i.e., The Lord is there; because “Jehovah-Tsidkenu,” i.e., The Lord our Righteousness is there. As the Lord dwelt between the cherubims as long as the typical lambs were present in the Tabernacle services, so will He tabernacle where the Lamb of God is in heaven. Twice over in one verse is it here said that such shall be the bliss. Oh, amazing honours! The Tabernacle of God with men! We can picture the angelic myriads hovering on silvery pinions over the glowing scene, and exclaiming—“How goodly are thy tents, O Jacob, and thy tabernacles, O Israel!”
“There, wrought with hands no temples rise,
For God Himself their place supplies;
Nor priests are needed in the abode
Where the whole hosts are priests to God.”
Presence-Purpose! Exodus 29:46.
(1.) Compare this chapter with Revelation 7:0, which has been sweetly designated as the “Palace Beautiful.” If Exodus 29:13-17 may be called by one “the mirror set in the Christian Apocalypse, in which the Christian sees reflected his future character and condition;” surely these verses from 36 to 46 may be equally well described as “a mirror placed in the Mosaic Apocalypse, in which the Israelite was to behold reflected his future hope in Christ.” If in Exodus 29:0 we have the ceremonial washing, so in Revelation 7:0 we are told that the myriad-throngs of white-robed beings have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. If in Exodus 29:0 we learn that this was by way of free approach to the throne of God within the Holy of Holies, so it is expressly declared that these bloodcleansed souls are in consequence before the throne. If in the significant speech of symbolic act and fact, Aaron and the priests and people sang, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain,” so it is the same song whose silent echoes down the ages are caught up in audible acclaim by the redeemed hosts. If in Exodus 29:0. Israel, through obedience to the Divine command, hoped for the Divine Presence with them in a land where neither hunger nor thirst should be their lot, so in Revelation 7:0 we are told that these redeemed ones, having been washed in the blood of the Lamb, are in their holy land enjoying the presence of God, and knowing nothing of the pangs of hunger or the tortures of thirst.
“Now before the Throne of God,
Seal’d with His Eternal Name,
Clad in raiment pure and white,
Victor palms in every hand,
Through their great Redeemer’s might,
More than conquerors they stand.”
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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Exodus 29". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the First Week of Advent