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This chapter is a continuation of certain laws relating to the temple service, particularly of the order to be observed in the burning of the lamps, and supplying the show-bread. This Chapter is rendered the more remarkable, in that it hath introduced in the body of it, a short historical relation of Shelomith's son being convicted of blasphemy, who is in consequence thereof stoned.
Reader! do not overlook in those verses the account which is given of the lamps always burning. Doth not this represent to us the unceasing light which is kept up by the HOLY SPIRIT in his churches; by the spirit of judgment and by the spirit of burning. Isaiah 4:4 . The Reader will not forget, what was said on this same subject in Exodus 27:20-21 . And let us further observe, on these verses, that the oil which was ordered for this use was to be pure. Yes! Everything that is typical of the HOLY GHOST's divine agency, must be pure, as he is pure. And it is not an object of small moment further to observe on those verses, that the children of Israel were to provide the oil, and Aaron to apply it. Means of grace are with us; but JESUS, our great High Priest can only make them subservient to the purpose intended. Ordinances are precious things, but if the LORD of ordinances be not in them, the lamp of grace will not burn. Dear LORD! I would say for myself and Reader, do thou keep alive thine own work in my heart, that in times of languishing, and a decay of spiritual ministry, or ordinances, the HOLY GHOST may sweetly convey to my soul his holy oil of grace. See Zechariah 4:2-6 .
Is not JESUS'S priesthood, as an unchanging, never-ceasing priesthood, here represented? And subordinate to him, are not the services of his ministers also intended to be set forth? While we pray that our great High Priest from the evening even to the morning, continually, will keep our souls alive, that his lamp of grace may never go out; Oh that everyone who acts in that high department, as a minister of the sanctuary, may learn from hence to hold forth the word of life, and daily in the temple, and from house to house, cease not to teach and to preach JESUS CHRIST. JESUS! do thou, who holdest thy ministers as stars in thy right hand while walking amidst the golden candlesticks, do thou be their light, that they may be burning and shining lights to thy people; that the lamp of thy sacred word may, by their ministry and thy blessing, be always shining clear in the midst of thy churches! Before we dismiss these verses, let me just further observe upon them, that the word which in the second verse is translated lamps, is in the original lamp; but in Leviticus 24:4 the word is plural, lamps. Perhaps the design was this: All the lamps in the temple service represented one and the same, even the HOLY GHOST; and who is, in the Revelation, described by seven spirits which are before the throne. Revelation 1:4 . and seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven spirits of GOD. Revelation 4:5 . The sacred language hath various ways of expressing this glorious truth, by way of representing the various gifts and operations of the HOLY GHOST; but they all refer to one and the same; for saith an apostle, though there be diversities of operations, yet all these worketh that one and the self-same spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will. 1 Corinthians 12:11 .
The order for keeping the LORD'S table always furnished with bread, was appointed in Exodus 25:30 . And no doubt this was a sweet type of him who is the bread of life, which came down from heaven, implying that there is no famine where JESUS is; but he that eateth of him shall live forever. Well may we be ever using the apostle's prayer, John 6:33-35 . Observe, the number of loaves, or cakes, was twelve; implying, no doubt, thereby, that there was one for each tribe of the house of Israel. And it is yet worthy of further observation, that even after the defection of the two tribes, this service of the show-bread was continued, 2 Chronicles 13:11 . Perhaps a remnant of each tribe remained, or if not, the LORD'S mercy is not straitened by man's undeservings. The apostle reasoneth very sweetly upon this, Romans 11:1-5 . Two tenth deals, in point of quantity, was two omens. Exodus 16:22 . How precious is the thought, that JESUS is both the altar and the show-bread; and all that come to GOD by him, find him as a table spread with living bread, every day, and all the day, even in this wilderness. The frankincense for a memorial, is no unapt representation of the fragrance of his merits. Revelation 8:3 .
The constant supply of new loaves every sabbath, and the removal of those which had been brought before, was a delightful type of gospel mercies, in the supply of the LORD'S family from Sabbath to Sabbath. JESUS is the bread of life to his people, presented by his ministers new and pure in every LORD'S day's ordinances. We are told from the tradition of the Jews, that the priests were so exact and cautious in this ministry, of the removal of the old show-bread, and the supply of the new, that as the priest took off one loaf; in the same instant another priest put down another; so that the LORD'S table might never have less nor more than the twelve loaves appointed. Whether this tradition be true or not, it may at least serve to teach the ministers of JESUS CHRIST this lesson; that his table-service, and his temple-service, should never be without supply; for his family want bread, even the bread of life in a preached word, from one LORD'S day to another; and that they should bring forth as scribes well instructed in the kingdom, things new and old. Matthew 13:52 .
The first thing observable in the case of this man is, the sad effects of unlawful connections: such alliances generally produce unhappy consequences. That is a most important precept of the apostle, 2 Corinthians 6:14 . What can a man expect but sad departures from the faith of a true Israelite, who is linked to an Egyptian?
Observe the awfulness of the crime; not simply blaspheming holy things, but the tremendous name of the LORD himself: and not content with cursing, but most probably uniting blasphemy and cursing together. What a loud and decisive testimony doth it carry with it of the dreadful apostacy of our fallen nature!
But observe, though the crime was so enormous, yet we find there is no haste in the punishment. What a sweet lesson ought men, in their little provocations with each other to learn from hence. Oh! that we were to wait to know what the mind of the LORD is upon all occasions. Ephesians 5:17 .
That all the congregation should engage in the punishment was no doubt meant to convey the idea how dreadful the sin was. And moreover, it tended, under divine grace, to keep others from such daring presumption. For who that had joined in stoning another for blasphemy, at the command of GOD, could himself hope to escape, if afterwards found guilty of it? That is a suitable prayer of the Psalmist, Psalms 19:13 .
In reading this verse, I would look up earnestly for grace for myself and the Reader, and say, LORD grant that I may never be brought into that awful state, to bear my own sin, the weight of which must sink the soul to everlasting destruction. Blessed JESUS! thou sin-bearing LAMB of GOD, how precious here again is the view of thee in this glorious character. Oh! may I know my own personal interest in that blessed scripture. Isaiah 53:5-6 .
Upon the occasion of this man's transgression, opportunity is taken to repeat some of those laws which had been before delivered. And the punishment of Shelomith's son is related. Reader, do not close the chapter without taking with it the conclusion which it carries; that the wages of sin is, and must be, death. The soul that sinneth it shall die. Precious Redeemer! how reviving under all the sins and transgressions of my nature, whereby I stand most justly exposed to the dread sentence; how reviving is the view of thy righteousness, and the interest of thy redeemed in it, that as sin hath reigned unto death, so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life, through JESUS CHRIST our LORD.
READER! may it be your happiness and mine, to have our souls kept alive by the quickening influences of GOD the HOLY GHOST. I would bring, O LORD, continually, as the Israelite of old, the pure oil for thy service. I would present myself, my soul and body, a living sacrifice, a reasonable service before GOD, through JESUS. But all I have is incompetent to serve; and everything too impure to offer. LORD, undertake for me, and let the lamp of thy grace in my soul be kept alive by thy power. Dear JESUS! be thou the show-bread to me, and in thee, and thy complete salvation, may I see a constant and never-ceasing supply to feed, not only my soul, but all thy church and people. May thy ministers, who serve in holy things, be enabled to bring forth things both new and old in thy sanctuary. LORD! give me grace, in reading the awful account of the blasphemer in this chapter, to drop an earnest prayer before the mercy-seat, that our GOD may turn the heart of blasphemers in this guilty land. Oh LORD! in judgment remember mercy. Turn thou us, and so shall we be turned.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Leviticus 24". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29