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Sanctuary Light; The Shewbread; Blasphemy Punished
Leviticus 24:1-4.—Cause the lamps to burn continually. There is a Light whose radiance never dims, whose glow never pales—self-luminous and eternally lustrous; “that is the True Light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world” (John 1:9). But our illumined lives, made by grace to shine even amid the beauty of God’s sanctuary, these need constant fostering and care, or their glory would wane. Because the virgins slept, neglecting to trim their lamps, their lights faded; and their sudden cry on awakening was, “Our lamps are going out!” (Matthew 25:8). There is a human responsibility in this matter of keeping our “lights burning” (Luke 12:35), and we must “bring the pure oil” by which the flame is fed. Self-watchfulness and prayer for grace are inevitable if Christian character is to shine “continually.”
Leviticus 24:5-9.—Bake twelve cakes and set them upon the pure table before the Lord. Every tribe was to be represented in this sacred food laid before the Lord, none exempted. Jehovah asks from the Church in its entirety, from all within His Church, that His table be spread with the sacrificial offerings of their love, that He may feast thereupon with satisfaction and delight. If He gives riches of salvation to man, we may return Him the offerings of our sanctified lives: “they gave their own selves unto the Lord” (2 Corinthians 8:5). Nor may these sacrifices of righteousness be fitful and intermittent; the loaves must be “set in order before the Lord continually” (Leviticus 24:8), even as the devotion of our affections and services must be unceasing, a life-long consecration. Such fulness and constancy in our piety renders it “most holy unto Him of all the offerings “
Leviticus 24:10-16.—The Israelitish woman’s son blasphemed the Name of the Lord, and cursed. An unwise marriage issued in an evil result. This youth of half blood, in a quarrel with “a man of Israel,” vented his malignity in uttering some vile blasphemy against the Holy Name which the Israelite so solemnly revered. A special revelation of “the mind of the Lord” was sought, in order that this new sin in Israel’s midst might be judged aright, and every one who heard the blasphemy was summoned to join in the administration of punishment (Leviticus 24:14). Surely, “if he that despised Moses’ law died without mercy,” terrible must be the doom of those who insult the grace of God in Jesus, and slight His redemption! (Hebrews 10:28-29). If words of impiety were sufficient to bring death upon an offender, what shall be the consequence of a life of disobedience and of persistent ungodliness! See Romans 2:8-9. Let us guard against anger; it impels to outbursts of wickedness. And let our souls guard jealously the majesty of the Divine Name.
Leviticus 24:17-22.—Breach for breach, eye for eye, tooth for tooth. This was the Mosaic rule of equity: a wrong was punished by demanding its equivalent. Our Lord gave a more gracious law to His followers, whose mission in the world was to expound and foster the spirit—not of revenge, nor even of exact justice, but of forgiveness and love. “But I say unto you, that ye resist not evil” (Matthew 5:38-39). “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves.”
Topic: CONTINUOUS LUSTRE OF A GODLY LIFE (Leviticus 24:1-4)
Darkness might brood over the outer world, but light must continuously glow within the sanctuary. Outside of the Church of Christ there may spread the gloom of error, the night dreariness of delusion; but within the sanctuary “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God” must shine undimmed. Even so, though men in sin dwell in darkness and love darkness rather than light, within the Christian soul there must always shine the marvellous light of the Spirit’s illumination and of the Gospel truth.
I. A BEAUTIFUL LIGHT BEARER: what an ideal picture of the Christian!
“He shall order the lamps upon the pure candlestick” (Leviticus 24:4). A golden candlestick hung with burning lamps! [See Addenda to chapter, Light-bearers.] Here note—
1. A Christian’s intrinsic worth. The candlestick was of “pure” gold. God thus images the preciousness of a redeemed and sanctified life. Worth of character, individual nobleness, must be the basis of a beneficent ministry for others.
2. A lustrous mission. On every branch was hung a lamp. Christians live not for themselves, not even to exhibit their own graces. A candlestick, however precious its metal and exquisite its workmanship, is intended to—not hold attention to itself, but to hold up the light, to show light.
3. Ceaseless luminosity. There are lights, set up for mariners, which gleam and wane; their stream of lustre is not perennial. But the lamps in the sanctuary burned on with ceaseless glow, with unvarying radiance. Piety should maintain its steadiness, not flicker, not burst into splendour at favoured seasons and then wane. “Your light burning.”
4. Every grace aglow. In some Christians only one beautiful quality is conspicuous, while all other graces are obscure. But every branch of the candlestick should bear a lamp, and each lamp should be alight.
II. SANCTITY REQUISITE FOR A CLEAR LIGHT.
“They shall bring pure oil olive, beaten for the light.”
1. Christian grace is divinely “pure.” It is the work of the Holy Spirit. “Oil” is the Scripture symbol of the Spirit, and “pure oil” marks the essential sanctity of each endowment of the Spirit of God. No other source exists whence man can derive what is unalloyed. This is the only “pure” spring of good; all others are unclean. How “pure” is every bestowment which God’s Spirit imparts: knowledge, feeling, energy, enjoyment, aspiration, hope—all unalloyed, unmixed with ingredients of evil!
2. Christian life emits clear lustre. As we are, so we produce. A clean fountain yields clean waters. Pure oil produces clear burning lamps. If our minds are spiritually illumined there will be no emission of error: error indicates a human admixture with the Divine enlightenment. So with emotion; “the fruit of the Spirit is love.” If we shed forth an unlovely and unloving spirit it intimates the presence of deleterious intermixtures. We need to close the lamps, into which the Spirit’s “pure oil” is poured, against all impurities, or our light will not be clear.
III. THE STEADY LIGHT OF TESTIMONY.
“From the evening unto the morning, before the Lord continually.” The golden lamp diffused its light without intermission, clear and constant.
1. The High Priest’s responsibility. “Aaron shall order it, etc.” No secondary hands had charge of the light. It was not left to inferior priests. Ministers of the sanctuary may wish and endeavour to keep Christian life alive and Christian lustre radiant in the Church, in the souls of believers; but they fail. Man’s work is full of peradventures and frustrations. And there must be no risk in the maintenance of the Sanctuary light. If left to one of the minor priests, or assigned as a trust to many, neglect might ensue. Aaron himself, therefore, was charged with this office of keeping the light continually burning. He typified Christ; and our Lord “walketh amid the golden candlesticks” ever nourishing the life and lustre of His Church.
2. The continuous testimony of the Church. Every age has seen the “True Light” shining amid the darkness of error and the delusions of the world. Though virgins slumber who should watch, though indifference to Truth mark the guardians of the sacred light, yet on, age after age, the light has shone, increasingly clear; for Christ keeps the lamps nourished, and will not let the lustre expire. “He shall order the lamps upon the pure candlestick before the Lord continually.”
(a) Here is the guarantee of the Church fulfilling her Lord’s design. “Ye are the light of the world;” “holding forth the word of life.”
(b) In this lies the hope of the constancy of the Christian life. Christ nourishes the flame.
Topic: THE BREAD OF THE PRESENCE (Leviticus 24:5-9)
In the Tabernacle we have a type of the “more perfect Tabernacle,” in which Deity sojourned during the Incarnation—“God manifested in the flesh.” For the physical form of Christ was what the Mosaic Tabernacle was, a shrine of the Divine indwelling, in which He came in nearness and grace to men, holding communion with us.
The table on which the loaves of shewbread were laid was made of acacia wood overlaid with plates of pure gold, symbolic of those sacred and divine qualities of Christ’s person and character, which form the basis of all accepted offerings. Only as ourselves or our gifts are laid upon Christ can they be allowed a place “before the Lord.” Here, then, we have the key to the meaning and suggestiveness of the shewbread: a consecrated people resting on the perfections of Christ.
I. CONSECRATION MUST DEPEND FOR ITS ACCEPTANCE UPON THE PERFECTIONS OF CHRIST.
These loaves represented the twelve tribes of Israel, all dedicated to the Lord; laid “before the Lord”; surrendered entirely to Him. Every one should be devoted to Him, fully and absolutely His.
Is consecration sufficient of itself to ensure Jehovah’s acceptance? Far from it. It is “the altar that sanctifieth the gift”; and it was the golden Table, Christ’s pure and glorious perfections, which—becoming the basis on which the consecrated offerings rested—rendered these loaves an accepted presentation.
No acceptance apart from Christ. Full acceptance for all who place themselves upon Christ.
II. CONSECRATED OFFERINGS MUST BE ALWAYS OUR CHOICEST AND BEST.
On the Golden Table no common bread might be placed. The profanity that presumes on Christ’s perfections, and presents before the Lord faulty things, will ensure rebuke. Christ’s grace adds all the element of acceptableness to what we bring; but God will not accept aught that we bring which is not the purest and noblest we can present. “Thou shalt take fine flour.” These loaves represented, therefore,
1. The dedication of what was choicest. Are any powers too noble, any attainments too exalted, any affections too pure to be yielded to Him?
2. A generous largeness in the act of consecration. The loaves were of double size: “Two-tenth deals shall be in one cake” (Leviticus 24:5). Annanias and Sapphira offered “part of the price,” and were rejected for their cupidity and grudging. Lay lavishly on God’s altar of your beat.
III. CONSECRATION REQUIRES TO BE PERPETUALLY RENEWED.
Every Sabbath fresh loaves were to be substituted.
1. There is no finality in our devotion. It must be repeated, continued; perennially fresh.
2. Sabbath obligations are as imperious as Sabbath privileges are precious. We may not greet the holy day for what bliss we can gain or enjoy, without greeting the day by attempting the re-consecration of ourselves and our services to the Lord. Leave “the things which are behind”; come with renewed zeal and love and devotion before the Lord.
3. Each renewal must be sanctified by our prayers, and the merits of Christ Jesus. That burning of incense symbolises prayer rising from the offerer—for prayer hallows our gifts: but it also betokens “the sweet savour of Christ,” without which nothing rises as a fragrant offering to the Lord.
Topic: THE LAMPS OF THE TABERNACLE (Leviticus 24:1-4)
Israel had to constantly appear in the Tabernacle to present sacrifices and observe ceremonies; it was essential, therefore, that light should be supplied by which divine service might be conducted. The golden candlestick was hung with its seven lamps.
I. THEY WERE SYMBOLICAL OF THE POSITION AND PRIVILEGES OF THE HEBREW NATION.
(a). The light shone in the midst of darkness. However dense the night might be around the Tabernacle, light was within shining upon the altar, lighting up the holy place. So, where the darkness of moral night enwrapped surrounding nations, Israel had the light of the knowledge of God.
(b). The light was derived from a divine source. The lamps were lighted from the sacred fire upon the altar. Israel did not obtain knowledge of divine things from surrounding nations, but direct from Jehovah. Their light was supernatural divine revelation, a lamp unto the feet, light unto the path in the probation and pilgrimage of life.
(c). The light of the best and purest kind. Candlestick was of pure gold. Oil was the finest, even good for food. The light of the knowledge of the glory of God incomparable, inestimable.
II. THEY WERE TYPICAL OF THE CHARACTER AND WORK OF THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH.
(a) In their Purity, (b) Preciousness, (c) Manifoldness, (d) Unity. The Priests had to keep their lamps supplied, for churches need constantly the unction of the Holy One supplied by the Great Head of the Church. Churches are to give light, and save life. Christians are to be lights in the world.
The lamps were outside the veil that enclosed the Holy of holies; so the Church is outside the veil of Heaven, but near and preparatory for it.
No nobler ambition of position than this to live and walk in the light of God. Those who refuse the light, and walk in darkness, secure for themselves despair and death. For the righteous there is reserved light for the eventide, in eternity they shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, and as the stars for ever and ever.—F.W.B.
Topic: THE TABLE OF SHEWBREAD (Leviticus 24:5-9)
Directions, for the construction of the table upon which the shewbread was to be placed, are recorded in the 25 of Exodus. In this chapter we have directions given for making the shewbread, which was to be placed before the Lord continually. The shewbread, being the “Bread of the presence of the Lord,” was a memorial—
I. OF THE NEARNESS OF ISRAEL, TO THE LORD.
The twelve loaves, made of fine flour, and placed In two rows upon the pure table, outside the veil of the testimony in the Tabernacle, corresponded with the twelve stones in the breastplate of the High Priest, which contained the names of the twelve tribes of Israel; and showed, when he went into the most holy place, not only how near the people were to his own heart, but also how near they were to the presence and power of Jehovah. The bread, brought by the people, represented the staff of their life, their strength, and stay; and the Lord, by admitting and adopting those representations, showed how near He allowed Israel to draw to Him. Bread, representing their life, was perpetually in the Divine presence, and the weekly renewal of the loaves denoted that God permitted the perpetual enjoyment of His presence.
II. OF THE UNITY OF ISRAEL BEFORE THE LORD.
The bread was of one kind and size, and placed on one table, though divided into twelve cakes. So, though Israel was divided into twelve tribes, they were one in the presence of the Lord; and not one of them would ever be despised, so long as they obeyed His commandments, and drew near to Him at His appointed meeting place. The Lord had set apart the nation for himself; they were, therefore, one great family, a special religious community, of which He was sole and supreme Head.
III. OF THE DEPENDENCE OF ISRAEL UPON THE LORD.
Some have suggested that the constantly replenished bread upon the table was a memorial of the manna, to remind Israel how mercifully and miraculously they were fed in the wilderness. Doubtless, the loaves would tend to remind them of that great fact; but they would also remind them how, in Canaan, they were constantly dependent upon the Lord, who crowned the year with His goodness, and gave them the finest of the wheat. The loaves were a slight return and acknowledgment of their constant obligation to the Divine bounty. The shewbread may be regarded as an emblem of the pure, sufficient, and satisfying bread of heaven, which, if a man eat, he shall live for ever.
IV. OF THE DEDICATION OF ISRAEL TO THE LORD.
Pure frankincense was put upon each row of loaves; two vessels of wine were also placed beside them, as an accessory to the service, to be poured out withal, when the incense was offered. Under the old dispensation, bread and wine are always spoken of as means and emblems of bodily strength and cheerful service; and those elements on the table before the Lord denoted the complete dedication of the tribes to His service, while the ascending incense would represent the prayers of the people, the rising of their grateful and gladsome hearts to Heaven. The perpetual presence of the bread symbolized perpetual consecration to the Theocratic King.
V. OF THE ACCESSIBILITY OF ISRAEL TO THE LORD.
The Tabernacle was the Divine dwelling-place, and the acceptance of twelve loaves from the people to lie before the Lord, and to be called “the Bread of His presence,” showed that He took the people into His friendship and favour. Sabbath after Sabbath, as the incense ascended, the people would rejoice, that through mediation and intercession their offerings were accepted. God is not only pleased with the faith and love, the praises and prayers of His people, but also with their almsdeeds. Let us present an offering to the Lord, pure, wholesome, valuable, and constant, perfumed with the merits of the sacrifice of our Great High Priest; thus shall we enjoy the presence of the Lord, and pass the days of our pilgrimage in His favour and fear.—F. W. B.
Topic: BLASPHEMY AGAINST GOD’S HOLY NAME (Leviticus 24:10-16)
This is the earliest Scripture record of blasphemy; and, as a newly-developed form of sin, it is treated with rigour for its complete suppression. Yet notwithstanding the swift judgment which overtook this first blasphemer, this is not the last Scripture instance of blasphemy.
The provocation or motive to this act of “the Israelitish woman’s son” seems to have been mere malignity of thought against God and His people, a wish to wound reverent minds by reviling the Name they revered.
“Swearing is a sin that hath more malignancy in it against God, by how much the less is the temptation to it,” says Burroughs; and adds, “I verily believe that if God had never made the Third Commandment, there could never have been so many oaths in the world; but it springs from a mere malignancy of spirit in man against God because He has forbidden, for no profit can arise from the practice.”
Yet, while “no profit” comes to the blasphemer, great ill and grief are thereby caused to others. Dr. Scudder was returning from India with his son, and the lad was shocked to hear from an English passenger on the steamboat God’s name used in dreadful blasphemy. Accosting him, the doctor said, “This boy has been born and reared in a heathen country and a land of idolatry; but, in all his life, he never heard a man blaspheme his Maker until now.” (See Addenda to Chapter, Profanity).
I. THE HISTORIO INTEREST OF THIS INCIDENT.
This act of blasphemy, and the judgment which it called forth on the sinner,
Brought out clearly that the Name of the Lord was Israel’s most solemn trust. The people evidently felt this, by the horror which the reviler’s conduct awakened throughout the whole camp; and by their anxiety to learn how Jehovah regarded the indignity. And this was emphasized by God’s sentence of doom upon the blasphemer. A crime must be great which evokes such condign punishment. That Holy Name was to be guarded with jealous awe. The event showed, therefore, how emphatically God will “not hold him guiltless that taketh His name in vain.”
2. Introduced the significant custom of avoiding the very use of the Name of the Lord. The Jews interpreted this command (Leviticus 24:16) as prohibiting the utterance of the divine Name under any circumstances, and consequently they never after pronounced the word JEHOVAH. When blasphemy was uttered, the person hearing it laid his hand on the head of the transgressor, to indicate his sole responsibility for the guilty act; and then tore his own robe as a symbol of his shame and alarm. Certainly this may admonish us against an undue freeness in the use of the august Name either in pious speech or effusive prayer.
II. THE HEINOUS QUALITY OF THE CRIME.
1. The crime defined. Blasphemy is calumny and insult against the holy God, uttered with the intention to defame Him. It not only expresses the hatred of Him in the speaker’s own heart, but aims at awakening in his hearer’s mind an equal loathing of Jehovah and all His claims. It is held up in Scripture as an assault upon the dignity and sanctity of God’s name: Psalms 74:18; Isaiah 52:5; Romans 2:24.
Real blasphemy consists in intended and direct insult upon God’s honour and holiness. But relative blasphemy consists in the unconscious and indirect effect of a man’s words or acts, as, e.g. the uttering opinions or sentiments which dishonour God’s name and discredit His word. To allow one’s lips to utter with irreverence and familiarity the august Name is near akin to the sin of wilfully maligning Him.
2. The root of the sin. This must be traced to the vileness of the human heart, and its natural enmity to God (Comp. Matthew 15:19). It should be noticed also as being the outgrowth of folly and pride (see 2 Kings 19:22; Psalms 74:18). Of all sins, blasphemy is an indication of a mind mad with impiety.
3. Its great offensiveness to God and man. How hateful to God is evident from the penalties inflicted—[see Leviticus 5:16 and comp. Isaiah 65:7; Ezekiel 20:27-32; Ezekiel 35:11-12; Matthew 12:31-32]—how hurtful to man is manifest from Psalms 44:15-16; Psalms 74:10; Psalms 74:18; Psalms 74:22. They who revere “this glorious and fearful Name, THE LORD THY GOD” (Deuteronomy 28:58) are distressed at its profanation.
Louis IX. of France branded swearers’ lips with a hot iron for this offence, and when some complained that the punishment was too severe, he replied, “I could wish that by searing my own lips I could banish all profanity from my realm.”
III. FACTS EXPLANATORY OF SUCH BLASPHEMOUS SPEECH.
The sin of profanity points to:—
1. An ungoverned tongue. Speech should be held under control. The tongue may be “set on fire of hell.” Allow unbridled speech, and profanity easily grows. “Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth.”
2. Passionate contention and strife. Little do men anticipate to what extremes passion will carry them when they enter upon controversy or strife (Proverbs 17:14).
3. An unsanctified heart. This man was not a true Israelite: not by birth, not by sentiment. He did not share in the nation’s solemn fear of God. Unless a “clean heart and right spirit” is in us, evil may easily get dominion over us.
a. How beautiful the assurance of Solomon—“He that loveth pureness of heart, for the grace of his lips, the king shall be his friend”! If such purity of heart and grace of speech win an earthly monarch’s favour, certainly the King divine will seal with favour now and eternally such qualities of character and conduct.
b. How winning is that Name which in our Christian dispensation we are called to cherish! It is the name of Jesus. And the Father gave it His Son to be “a Name above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow” (Philippians 2:9-10); and it is “given under heaven among men” (Acts 4:12) to be loved as the “sweetest sound on mortal tongue,” and the pledge of grace and bliss.
Topic: BLASPHEMY OF SHELOMITH’S SON (Leviticus 24:10-15)
This incident in the career of Israel is similar in character to that of the two sons of Aaron, who offered strange fire upon the altar, thereby insulting the name of the Lord, degrading His sanctuary, and meeting with sore retribution. When Israel left Egypt, a mixed multitude of camp followers proceeded with them into the wilderness. They encamped outside the tents of Israel, and only occasionally entered the sacred enclosure. A son of an Israelitish woman, whose father was an Egyptian, had an altercation with a man of Israel, and when striving with him in the camp blasphemed the name of the Lord, and cursed. Moses at once sought to learn the mind of the Lord concerning such an offence; and the offender was stoned. The sentence was strictly and solemnly carried out, for “the children of Israel did as the Lord commanded Moses.” From this incident we learn—
I. THAT THE NAME OF JEHOVAH COULD NOT BE BLASPHEMED WITH IMPUNITY.
In all the oldest MSS. “the Name” stands alone, without the words “of Jehovah.” The Hebrew name of God was peculiarly solemn; the Jews, afraid to pronounce it, employed the word “Lord” instead. “Jehovah” meant the underived, infinite, and eternal existence of deity, and was the incommunicable name by which He made His august might and majesty known. It was enthroned above all the names of heathen deities, and enshrined the Divine Glory. Around it was set a sacred fence. To blaspheme it was a sin of the deepest dye. The Jews have always been marked, even in their most degenerate days, by reverence for the great name of Jehovah. Alas! how the name of the Lord is profaned and blasphemed to-day. Because of swearing the land mourneth. Though blasphemers are not now stoned, yet over their heads hangs the sword of His righteous retribution, threatening them with everlasting shame and contempt.
II. THAT THE SANCTITY OF THE CAMP COULD NOT REMAIN DEGRADED BY THE PRESENCE OF A BLASPHEMER.
It is evident that blaspheming in the camp was a very rare thing, for no sooner had the son of Shelomith uttered his oaths than the people arrested him, and demanded that he might be appropriately punished. This shows their jealousy for the honour of the divine name, and for the moral safety and purity of society. Let us beware, lest the name of the Lord Jesus be profaned, lest He be crucified afresh and put to an open shame. The camp of Israel and the Church of the living God, cannot be profaned without incurring the divine displeasure.
III. THAT THE SIGNAL AND SEVERE PUNISHMENT COULD NOT BE INFLICTED UPON THE BLASPHEMER WITHOUT ACCOMPANYING APPROPRIATE SOLEMNITY.
The sentence was to be executed outside the camp, in the presence of witnesses who heard the words spoken; they were to lay their hands upon the head of the doomed man, to show that he bore his own guilt, and was devoted to expiate it. As we see him publicly and solemnly stoned, we learn how fearful a thing sin is, and how fearful it is to fall into the hands of the living God, except we do so in penitence and prayer. We also learn—(a) The danger of anger. (b) How one sin leads to another—F. W. B.
OUTLINES ON VERSES OF CHAPTER 24
Leviticus 24:2.—Theme: THE GOLDEN CANDLESTICK.
That part of the temple exclusively claimed by Jehovah was lighted by a candlestick with seven lamps, which were kept continually burning. This candlestick might possibly be intended to represent Christ as “the light of the world,” but certainly shadowed forth His church in—
I. ITS PRIVILIGES.
I. Christ declared that the candlestick represented His church (Revelation 1:20). Consider—
(1.) Of what it was composed. Pure gold (Exodus 25:31-38). Symbol of the “divine nature” of which saints are made partakers (2 Peter 1:4).
(2.) How it was supplied. With purest oil; symbol of the “unction of the Holy One which we have received” (1 John 2:20; 1 John 2:27), for the enlightenment of our minds and sanctifying of our souls.
(3.) For what purpose it was used. To shine in darkness, that all who were engaged in God’s service might fulfil their duties aright, and that God might be glorified in them (Revelation 1:12-13).
2. The priestly attendant prefigured Christ.
This is affirmed on Christ’s own authority (Hebrews 4:14-15).
(1.) He is constantly employed in inspecting and trimming the lamps.
(2) Not a saint escapes His watchfulness; He sees all our declensions and needs.
(3.) He interposes to correct their dulness, and to restore them to their wonted splendour (John 15:2).
The duties of the saints are—
1. To shine; that God’s power and grace may be magnified among men, and that their fellow-creatures may be benefitted by their instructions, example, and influence (Matthew 5:14-16).
2. To be receiving more grace from Christ, In order to their shining with yet brighter luster.
He has “the residue of the Spirit” (Malachi 2:15); and “of that fulness we must all receive even grace for grace” (John 1:16). Comp. Zechariah 4:2-4; Zechariah 4:11-14.
(a) An important inquiry. Are you as lights shining in a dark place? Judge yourselves.
(b) A solemn admonition. If we would not have “our candlestick removed” we must repent every known defect and seek to be pure as He is pure.
(c) An encouraging reflection. He “will not quench the smoking flax” (Matthew 12:20). “Thou wilt light my candle, etc.” (Psalms 18:28.)—C. Simeon.
Leviticus 24:4.—Theme: THE GLORY OF THE CHURCH. “He shall order the lamps upon the pure candlestick before the Lord continually.”
The high priest caring for the golden candlestick, a type of Christ in His care for the churches (Zechariah 4:2-6; Revelation 1:12-20), God is Light. Light, the firstborn of creation. Light, the beginning of work of grace in soul of man. Christ the Light of the world, a light to lighten the Gentiles, glory of Israel. The lamps before the Lord continually, so churches ever under His eye and care. Consider—(a) how the light of the lamps was derived; (b) it was cheering; (c) it was revealing; (d) it was beautiful; (e) it was constant; (f) it was precious; (g) it was essential. Trace analogy in light vouchsafed to Christian church and Christly souls.—F.W.B.
Leviticus 24:5—Theme: THE SHEWBREAD.
The mystery of the shewbread is applied by some to Christ, who called Himself “the true bread.” But the circumstance of the flour “being taken from all the children of Israel,” and made into “twelve cakes,” denotes that those loaves represented the twelve tribes i.e., the Church of God.
I. THEIR SOLEMN DEDICATION TO GOD.
“For a memorial, as an offering made by fire unto the Lord.” As such, His eyes are upon them continually; and as the frankinscense was to God an odour of a sweet smell, so they are accepted by Him.
II. THEIR PERIODICAL RENEWAL.
While one generation is passing away another comes in to supply their place. Never shall God’s people be removed but others shall be ready to succeed them. There are always souls prepared to be “baptised from the dead.”
III. THEIR ULTIMATE DESTINATION.
The saints when their appointed period here is fulfilled, pass into the possession of Christ, the Great High Priest. “The Lord’s portion is his people” (Deuteronomy 33:9). Christ will claim His people as His “peculiar treasure.”
It is the duty of God’s people, therefore:—
1. To consecrate themselves entirely to God, as being made and “set apart” absolutely for Him (Isaiah 43:21).
2. To occupy themselves in prayer and intercession.
As the loaves represented “before the Lord” all Israel, so Christians should regard themselves as required to “make supplications, prayers, intercession, and thanksgiving for all men.”
3. To wait patiently their removal hence.
“All the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my charge come.”—C. Simeon.
Leviticus 24:8—Theme: SPECIAL TIME FOR SERVICE
“Every Sabbath he shall set it in order before the Lord.”
Forms may exist without formality. Continuous worship does not preclude special seasons for service. The Sabbath a peculiarly holy and consecrated day. The house of God a specially consecrated place. Special seasons for attention to divine things, (a) prevent forgetfulness, (b) arrest attention, (c) secure freshness, (d) awaken inquiry. The bread was never allowed to get mouldy or stale. The frankincense upon each row upon the golden table symbolic of prayer, purity, and praise. In Christian service and worship renewal of strength, refreshment in service, replenishment of sacrifice essential to acceptable worship and spiritual profit. At all times, especially on the Lord’s day, there must be renewed consecration to Him before whose presence we bow.—F. W. B.
Leviticus 24:13-15.—Theme: EVIL CONNEXIONS.
I. THE DANGER OF UNGODLY CONNEXIONS.
As a caution against intimacy with the ungodly we are told that “evil communications corrupt good manners,” and “the companion of fools shall be destroyed.” Whereas in the marriage union such connexion is peculiarly dangerous, because its influence is incessant.
1. Injurious to the person himself. It cannot be productive of happiness, or piety. Comp. 2 Corinthians 6:14-15.
2. Injurious to their offspring. It sorrowfully happens that when parents are divided in relation to religion the children yield most to the influence of the ungodly parent.
II. THE DANGER OF UNGODLY HABITS.
1. The habits of this young man were bad, a son of wrathful nature and reviling habits.
2. The consequences proved fatal to him. Little did he anticipate the issues of his evil habits. “Sin bringeth forth death.”
(a) Check strife and anger in ourselves,
(b) Arrest blasphemy in others.
—C. Simeon, M.A.
Leviticus 24:10-16.—Theme: SLAYING THE BLASPHEMER.
The narrative shows
I. THE EVIL RESULTING FROM CONNEXION WITH THE UNGODLY, “whose father was an Egyptian”—said by the Rabbins to be the man whom Moses killed.
II. The danger ARISING FROM INDULGENCE IN PASSIONATE ANGER: “Strove”; the blasphemy was uttered in a quarrelsome passion.
III. THE BLASPHEMY which, in this case, RESULTED FROM SUCH INDULGENCE.
“Cursed” the Holy Name of Jehovah; which, the Israelite claimed, belonged to none but Israelites.
IV. THE PUNISHMENT WHICH ALL LIKE SIN MERITS.—W. Wayland, B.A.
Leviticus 24:16.—Theme: BLASPHEMY.
“And he that blasphemeth the name of the Lord, he shall surely be put to death.”
A flaming sword here guards the sacred name of Jehovah. Not only were holy services to be rendered to Him, but reverent thoughts entertained of Him, whether uttered or unexpressed. Why were contemptuous or irreverent words uttered impiously against God’s name considered as heinous?
I. Because God’s Name reveals and represents Him. As the Eternal, Infinite, Self-existent. Almighty, Only God.
II. Because to blaspheme God’s Name, indicates the lowest depths of human sinfulness. The blasphemer is capable of doing every other kind of evil without compunction.
III. Because such wickedness exerts a most baneful influence upon others. When contempt is thrown upon the divine name, obedience to divine laws is discouraged, the seeds of rebellion to divine authority are sown.
IV. Because the Divine Name is worthy of all honour and blessing.
V. Because God has justly branded the sin with intensest hatred; and attached to it hopeless doom.
No sin had denounced upon it a severer judgment by the Son of God. How needful that we constantly offer the prayer, “Hallowed be thy name.”—F.W.B.
Leviticus 24:22.—Theme: THE INEXORABLENESS OF THE LAW.
“He shall have one manner of Law.”
To maintain order in the wilderness among the tribes of Israel, it was essential that punishment should not be tardy in its movements, but summary in its infliction. The people needed to be held with a tight rein, chastised with a strong hand. The law of retaliation was,
I. Strictly just. Only fair that punishment should be of the kind and extent of the crime, for crime is an offence against man and society, the sin of the crime is taken cognizance of by God, He only can forgive it.
II. Highly salutary. It would check tendencies to opression, robbery and cruelty. Self-love and fear, where principle was absent, would deter from wrong doing for which severe retaliating punishment would ensue.
The law anticipated and foreshadowed the golden rule, “Whatsoever ye would that men should” etc., for the people would seek to do only such things as they would, should retaliation be done to them.
Under the Gospel, magnanimity supplants retaliation. The beau-ideal of Christian manhood is, lamblike innocence, and dovelike gentleness, patience, love.—F. W. B.
ILLUSTRATIVE ADDENDA TO CHAPTER 24
LIGHT BEARERS. The ancient Insignia of the Waldennian Church was a candlestick, with a light radiating its rays across the surrounding darkness, and encircled with seven stars; with the motto, “Lux lucet in tenebris.” Anything more appropriately descriptive of the position and history of the Church, it would be impossible to conceive.
PROFANITY. A good old man was once in company with a gentleman, who occasionally introduced into conversation the words, “devil, deuce,” etc., and who, at last, took the name of God in vain, “Stop, sir,” said the old man, “I said nothing while you only used freedoms with the name of your own master, but I insist upon it that you shall, use no freedoms with the Name of mine.”
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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Leviticus 24". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24