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The Lord called unto Moses, and spake.
The origin and authority of Leviticus
These words evidently contain by necessary implication two affirmations: first, that the legislation which immediately follows is of Mosaic origin--“The Lord spake unto Moses”; and secondly, that it was not the product merely of the mind of Moses, but came to him, in the first instance, as a revelation from Jehovah--“Jehovah spake unto Moses.” And although it is quite true that the words in this first verse strictly refer only to that section of the book which immediately follows, yet, inasmuch as the same or a like formula is used repeatedly before successive sections--in all, no less than fifty-six times in the twenty-seven chapters--these words may with perfect fairness be regarded as expressing a claim respecting these two points, which covers the entire book. The words say nothing, indeed, as to whether or not Moses wrote every word of this book himself; or whether the Spirit of God directed and inspired other persons, in Moses’ time or afterwards, to commit this Mosaic Law to writing. They give us no hint as to when the various sections which make up the book were combined into their present literary form, whether by Moses himself, as is the traditional view, or by men of God in a later day. They simply and only declare the legislation to be of Mosaic origin and of inspired authority. Only, be it observed, so much as this they do affirm in the most direct and uncompromising manner. (S. H. Kellogg, D. D.)
Leviticus is replete with “the gospel of the grace of God.” While it paints the blackness of sin, and the depths to which man has fallen, it paints likewise, in glowing colours, the amazing love of God, in the full, rich, and complete provision He has made to meet man’s every need in Christ Jesus our Lord.
I. “the lord . . . spake.” So they are God’s words, not man’s, to which we are called to listen in this deeply instructive book. Then let us give it attentive hearing (Matthew 11:15). Moses here records the very words of God, and the Holy Spirit alone can bring to our apprehension His own teaching (John 14:26; John 16:13).
II. The lord spake unto moses. God had before spoken unto him, specially on two memorable occasions.
1. From the burning bush (Exodus 3:1-22.), when He came down in grace to deliver His people Israel from bondage in Egypt--as now He delivers from the bondage of sin and Satan--revealing Himself as Jehovah, the self-existent “I AM,” able to destroy their enemies, and rescue them (Exodus 6:1-30).
2. From Mount Sinai, after the deliverance from Egypt, when the people had rashly undertaken (apparently in their own strength) to do all that the Lord had spoken (Exodus 19:8), God spake the words of His “Holy Law,” the “fiery law” (Hebrews 12:18-21; Exodus 19:18-20; Romans 7:12; Deuteronomy 33:2). That law showed the exceeding sinfulness of sin, but provided no way of salvation for those who disobeyed it, therefore could only condemn (Romans 7:13; Romans 7:10-11), as “all have sinned” (Romans 3:23), and “sin is the transgression of the law” (1 John 3:4), or “lawlessness” (R.V.); but in the passage before us--
III. The lord spake “out of the tabernacle of the congregation”; and this tells, not only of deliverance from bondage, but of the Lord’s dwelling in the midst of His people, as their Leader and Guide (Exodus 13:21; Exodus 40:38), meeting and communing with His servant Moses from the mercy-seat (Exodus 25:22; Exodus 30:6; Numbers 7:89), and establishing a medium for worship and access.
IV. “god hath spoken unto us by his son,” who is the Revealer of the Father (John 1:18). But even now, as we listen to the words of God out of the Tabernacle, it is God speaking to us by His Son; for the Tabernacle is a type of Jesus. “The glory of the Lord filled the Tabernacle” (Exodus 40:34); Jesus is the “Brightness,” or outshining of God’s glory (Hebrews 1:3). He is the true Tabernacle, “For in Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily” (Colossians 2:9). “God was in Christ reconciling,” &c. (2 Corinthians 5:19). Christ is the manifestation of the Father’s love (1 John 4:9-10). He brings untold glory to God in the salvation of sinners (John 17:4); and the saved ones He will take to share His glory hereafter (Luke 9:30-31), as the blessed result of “His decease.”
V. The Lord would speak by the church, also typified by the Tabernacle. It was “sprinkled . . . with blood” (Hebrews 9:21); “the Church of God “was “purchased with His own blood” (Acts 20:28). The Tabernacle was anointed with holy oil (Exodus 30:25-26; Exodus 40:9); the Church has “an unction from the Holy One” (1 John 2:20). The Lord dwelt in the Tabernacle (2 Samuel 7:6); the Church is “builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:21-22). The Spirit reveals “the deep things of God,” the things of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:10-12; John 16:14-15); the Church is “the fulness of Him that filleth all in all” (Ephesians 1:23); hence it is God’s purpose that “unto the . . . might be made known through the Church the manifold wisdom of God” (Ephesians 3:10, R.V.).
VI. God would speak through each member of the Church. First He speaks to, and then by them. He spake to Moses, that he might “speak unto the children of Israel.” In like manner He acts now: Have we received blessing to our soul? If so, God would have us help others (Mark 5:19). (Lady Beaujolois Dent.)
The Tabernacle of the congregation.
The way of access to God
I. In our approach to god nothing is left to human invention.
1. There are conditions to our acceptable approach.
2. There are minutely revealed conditions for our approach.
II. For our rightful approach to him, God has made full and gracious provision.
1. A place for meeting God.
2. A sacrificial basis of acceptance.
3. A mediatorial ministry.
III. By such arrangements for our acceptable approach, God has laid us under most solemn obligations to seek him.
1. Shall God wait in vain within the Holy Place, and none draw near?
2. Can sinful man despise the sacrifice of Jesus offered for his propitiation?
3. With such a Priest within the Holy Place, have we no mediation to ask, no sins to confess, no offerings to bring? (W. H. Jellie.)
The essential significance of the Tabernacle
The essential significance of the Tabernacle may be inferred from the names customarily given to it. These names may be divided into three classes:
1. Those which, like “house,” “tent,” “dwelling,” “dwelling of the testimony,” convey the general idea of a place of Divine residence (Exodus 23:19; Exodus 25:9; Exodus 26:36; Exodus 38:21).
2. Those which, like “tent of meeting,” or “tent-house of meeting,” express the idea of a meeting-place for God and man (Exodus 27:21; Exodus 39:32).
3. Those which, like “sanctuary,” draw attention to holiness as an attribute of the place itself (Exodus 25:8). Now a house where God was, or was supposed to be, must be a place for worship, and a place for Divine worship must of necessity be holy ground; thus one fundamental idea lay at the root of all these appellations, viz., that the Tabernacle was a meeting-place between Jehovah and His covenant people. There Jehovah was to be thought peculiarly present, and therefore peculiarly approachable. By the Jew the Lord God Almighty was not to be sought in woods or fountains or valleys, but in this house which He had appointed . . . It must be remembered, however, that approach to Jehovah was conditioned by the terms of the Sinaitic revelation. Whilst, therefore, the Tabernacle as the dwelling-place of the Most High, was by the Divine condescension a place where God and the Jew might come together, that contact was arranged in accordance with the characteristics of the Mosaic dispensation. The whole structure was a place of meeting where man and God could congregate; but it was in the court only that the common Israelite could approach Jehovah, and that by mediation in the person of the appointed priestly representatives; in the Holy Place, to which the priests alone had access, the worshippers also approached the throne of Deity by mediation, being admitted, so to speak, to the anteroom of the Divine audience-chamber by the adoration of their chief; whilst to the high priest alone, and that after solemn preparation, was it permitted on one day in the year to pass within the veil, and gaze unhindered upon that mercy-seat, aglow with gold, where rested the shadowy cloud of the Shechinah. Further, if the Tabernacle was the appointed sanctuary where man might meet with God on the fulfilment of certain conditions, be it noted that the several altars were, so to speak, the points at which those conditions could be best fulfilled. Every square inch of the sacred enclosure was a place of meeting between Jehovah and His people, according to the terms of the Divine revelation: but it was at the altar of burnt-offering in the court that the non-priestly worshippers approached most nearly to their God; it was at the golden altar in the Holy Place that the priests were admitted to closest access; and it was as he approached most directly the space beneath the outstretched wings of the cherubim that the high priest drew nearest to the throne of intercession. The several altars were the shrines, so to speak, of the several sanctuaries, in which their essence was concentrated, and from which their power radiated. The essential significance of the peculiar sanctuary of Judaism lay, then, in the fact that, being the visible dwelling-place of Jehovah, it testified to the possibility of human approach to God so long as the conditions of the related laws were observed--these conditions being, so far at least as the theocratic status of the worshippers was concerned, that the Israelite might come near to God in the person of His priests in the court, and especially at the altar of burnt-offering; that in the Holy Place, and especially at the altar of incense, the priesthood might do homage to Jehovah as enshrined behind the veil; and that in the Holy of Holies, and especially at the high altar of the mercy-seat, the high priest might, by careful obedience to the prescribed conditions, occasionally regard that cloud by which the Almighty condescended to reveal and at the same time to conceal His presence. (A. Cave, D. D.)
God known in the Tabernacle; or, redemptive relations
The redeemed people of God only know God in the Tabernacle; and none, who belong not to that Tabernacle on earth, can belong to God in heaven. All who are “of faith”--all who have fed on the Passover Lamb, belong to the Tabernacle; but Egypt is the type of the position of all besides. How important to remember this, when so many efforts are being made to destroy the distinctions which redemption has constituted, and to speak of man’s natural condition as having in it the elements of saving relation to God! Men wish to sweep, as it were, from the earth the Tabernacle and its lessons, and to sanctify Egypt in the name of God. Israel themselves knew nothing of the Tabernacle whilst in Egypt: it was a gift reserved for them after they had entered the wilderness. They were led into the wilderness not merely to learn its solitude and its sorrows, but to become acquainted with God--His service and His ways. The holy vessels of the Tabernacle, the inner curtains of blue, and purple, and scarlet, the priest robed in garments of glory and beauty, stood in strange contrast with the waste and howling scene around them; yet faith has still to know the same contrast, whilst learning here respecting Christ and the various relations in which we stand to God and to Him. The heart that lingers in Egypt, and refuses, as it were, to enter the wilderness, will little learn the lessons of the Tabernacle; hut all who recognise how truly redemption has separated them for ever from that land of nature and of curse, will find, in the knowledge of the Tabernacle, their daily solace, till the hour comes for them to enter into the abiding rest. In the Tabernacle we typically learn the relations of God to His redeemed people. We are there taught respecting the sacrifice provided for us in Christ--its fulness, its various relations to God and to ourselves. There we learn the ground on which we worship and serve Him, meeting Him in the blessings of peace through redemption. (B. W. Newton.)
God found in His sanctuary
But when the Lord had arranged a tent of meeting with His people, He spoke to Moses out of the tent of meeting. It is all very well for the man who is in the wilderness or on the mountain-top, in the line of duty, to listen for the sound of the Lord’s voice there; but when a man can find his way into the sanctuary there is where he may expect to be spoken to by the Lord. If he leaves the sanctuary to wander among the thorn-bushes, or to clamber the mountain peaks, with the idea that it is in Nature’s temples that he is to find the God of nature, he will miss a meeting with the covenant-making and covenant-keeping God in the place of meeting. There is no more likely place to find God than where God says He may be found; no more hopeful place for meeting God than in God’s meeting-place. “Thy way, O God, is in the sanctuary!” Help us to find Thee there! (H. C. Trumbull.)
The pardoning presence of Jesus
The Tabernacle was a figure of Christ, and was intended to teach us some important lessons respecting Him. We have in the Tabernacle a beautiful illustration of one of the precious names of Jesus our Saviour. Just before He came into our world, the angel Gabriel was sent to Joseph, His reputed father, to tell him about that wonderful Child that was to be born unto Mary his wife. And this is what the angel said: “They shall call HIS name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us” (Matthew 1:23). This name is wonderful. It is full of meaning. But many find it difficult to understand its meaning. And so God ordered the Tabernacle to be built in the wilderness, that in it He might dwell among the people, and thus be a figure, or illustration to them of the way in which Jesus now dwells in the hearts of His people by faith. The Tabernacle was a definition of this name--Emmanuel. As God was present with the Israelites in the wilderness, in the Tabernacle, so Jesus is present with His people in this world. And as we study the different parts of this Tabernacle we are taught much that is interesting and profitable concerning the presence of Jesus with His people. The Tabernacle taught that there was to be pardon connected with His presence. The brazen altar, or the altar of burnt sacrifice, was the part of the Tabernacle that taught this lesson. That was the first thing one would see on entering the court of the Tabernacle. Here the daily sacrifice was offered. Here the blood of the slain animals was shed, that it might be sprinkled both on the priests and on the people. No one was allowed to enter the Tabernacle or to worship God there till he had first been to this brazen altar, and had the blood of the sacrifice sprinkled upon him. And the great blessing represented by the shedding and sprinkling of the blood was the pardon of sin. There was no power in the blood of those animals to put away sin, or to procure pardon. But it pointed to the blood of Christ, through which alone all pardon comes. And this is what the Apostle Paul teaches us, when he says that, “without the shedding of blood there is no remission” (Hebrews 9:22), or no pardon. If Jesus had not shed His precious blood there never would have been any pardon for sin. But that blood was shed. And now there is pardon for all who repent and believe in Him. His presence with His people is a pardoning presence. “He has power on earth to forgive sins” (Matthew 9:6). There is nothing that we need more than pardon. We are born in sin. We sin every day, and we are always needing pardon. And it is a blessed thing to know that we can have this pardon at any time by seeking it in the right way. Jesus is--“ready to forgive” (Psalms 86:5). His promise is that--“He will abundantly pardon” (Isaiah 55:7). Here is an illustration of the pardoning power of Jesus. It was told by a sailor who witnessed it, who was made a Christian by it, and afterwards became a chaplain. “Our vessel lay at anchor,” said he, “off the coast of Africa. The yellow fever had broken out on board, and several of the men had died. It was my duty every morning to go through that part of the vessel used as a hospital, and see if any of the men had died during the night. One morning as I was passing through this sick ward, a poor fellow lying there took hold of me with his cold, clammy hand. I knew him very well. He was an old shipmate, and one of the wickedest men on board. I saw in a moment that he had not long to live. ‘Oh, Jim,’ he said, ‘for God’s sake, let some one come and read the Bible to me before I die! ‘None of the sailors had a Bible; but at last I found that there was one on board belonging to the cabin-boy. I told him to get his Bible, and bring it into the sick ward, and went back there myself. Presently the boy came with a small Bible in his hand. In the meantime a number of the Kroomen, or native Africans, who were working on board, gathered round the sick man, not to see him die, but, as one of them said, ‘to see what de good book do for poor Massa Richie.’ I told the boy to read a chapter. He sat down by the sick man, and, opening at the third chapter of St. John, he began to read. The poor fellow fixed his eyes on the reader, and listened most earnestly to every word he spoke. Presently the boy came to the beautiful words in the sixteenth verse, ‘God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life I ‘I watched the face of the dying man as these words were read. I never saw such earnestness and anxiety in any face as were in his. The boy was going on with the next verse, when the sick man exclaimed, ‘Stop my boy, stop! Bead that verse again, and read it slowly.’ The boy repeated the verse, and was going on again. But he was interrupted a second and a third time with the earnest cry, ‘Stop, my boy, stop! Read that verse again.’ And when he had done so a number of times, the dying man said, ‘Don’t read any more. That’s enough.’ And then, as he grew fainter and fainter, we heard him, in a low voice, repeating to himself those wonderful words, and making his own remarks on them, ‘Whosoever--that means anybody. That means me. Whosoever believeth. I do believe this. Well, what then? Whosoever believeth shall not perish. No, not perish, but have everlasting life. Not perish--not perish--but have everlasting life.’ These were his last words. With these upon his lips, he passed away, and entered into heaven--’one pardoned sinner more,’ saved through the precious Mood of Christ.” The presence of Jesus which the Tabernacle illustrates is--a pardoning presence. (Richard Newton, D. D.)
Bring an offering unto the Lord.
The Levitical sacrifices
I. The sacrifices arising from breach of the covenant--compulsory. Sin and trespass-offerings (chaps. 4-5). Presumptuous--literally high-handed--sins incurred that forfeiture(Numbers 15:30; Deuteronomy 17:12). In contrast to these sins of presumption
1. The sin-offering was for sins of ignorance (chaps. 4., 5.).
2. The trespass-offering (Leviticus 5:14, &c.) differed from the sin-offering mainly in the character of the sin to be atoned for. It was a sin calling for “amends” or compensation.
II. The sacrifices from within the covenant--voluntary. Omitting the meat-offering (chap. 2.), which was an adjunct of the other sacrifices, and involved no shedding of blood, we notice--
1. The burnt-offering. The stated and congregational burnt-offerings of the day, and week, and year, &c., were compulsory. The occasional offering, of which we speak here, was voluntary (chap. 1). The burnt-offering pointed to the entire surrender of a man’s being and life to God. Its characteristic was its entire consumption arid up-going in a flame to God. It was equivalent to a prayer, recognising God’s sovereignty, and His claim of service in all our relations. He who asks, “How can I best serve God?” will commit his way to God, and be at peace.
2. The offering vowed: i.e., made as the result of a preceding vow (Genesis 35:1; 1 Samuel 1:11; 1 Samuel 1:28).
3. The thank-offering, the greatest of the three. The occasions for the thank-offering were innumerable. Joy as well as sorrow calls to religious exercise. “In everything give thanks.” This sacrifice of praise is the one sacrifice of heaven. (W. Roberts, M. A.)
The giving of the sacrificial laws
I. The very same voice which proclaimed the commandments on Sinai Is here said to announce the nature of the sacrifices, and how, when, and by whom they are to be presented. The unseen King and Lawgiver is here, as everywhere, making known His will. Those sacrifices which it was supposed were to bend and determine His will themselves proceeded from it.
II. These words were spoken to the children of Israel out of the tabernacle. The Tabernacle was the witness of God’s abiding presence with His people, the pledge that they were to trust Him, and that He sought intercourse with them.
III. The Tabernacle is represented as the Tabernacle of the congregation. There, where God dwells, is the proper home of the whole people; there they may know that they are one.
IV. “Say to the children of Israel, If any of you bring an offering to the Lord.” The desire for such sacrifice is presumed. Everything in the position of the Jew is awakening in him the sense of gratitude, of obligation, of dependence. He is to take of the herd and the flock for his offering. The lesson is a double one. The common things, the most ordinary part of his possessions, are those which he is to bring; that is one part of his teaching. The animals are the subjects of man; he is to rule them and make use of them for his own higher objects; that is another.
V. The victim was taken to the door of the place at which all israelites had an equal right to appear; but the man who brought it laid his own hand upon the head of it. He signified that the act was his, that it expressed thoughts in his mind which no one else could know of.
VI. The reconciliation which he seeks he shall find. God will meet him there. God accepts this sign of his submission. He restores him to his rights in the Divine society.
VII. Now it is that we first hear of the priests, Aaron’s sons. If there was to be a congregation, if the individual Israelites were not to have their separate sacrifices and their separate gods, then there must be a representative of this unity. The priest was consecrated as a witness to the people of the actual relation which existed between them and God. (F. D. Maurice, M. A.)
Communion with God by a redeemed people through altar-offerings
I. Altar-offerings and tabernacle ministries all reach their completion in Christ.
1. In each offering three distinct objects are present: the offering, the priest, the offerer. Christ is each of and all these: Substitute, Mediator, Innocent Victim.
2. The difference in the several offerings. Different aspects of Christ’s offering.
3. The offerer himself also reflects Christ in His diverse aspects.
4. The different grades in the various offerings: bullock, lamb, dove. Denoting the different estimates and apprehensions formed of Christ by His people. Some never go beyond the conception of Christ as their Paschal offering, securing their redemption from Egyptian bondage and death. Others, however, see Him as their Burnt-offering, wholly devoted to God for them; while to others He is the passive Lamb, silent and submissive in affliction; and to others the mourning Dove, gentle and sorrowful in His innocency.
II. Altar-offerings and tabernacle ministries were designed for Israel’s acceptable communion with God. The types of Leviticus, in distinction from the types of redemption or deliverance from doom, give us the work of Christ in its bearing on worship and communion.
1. They meet the needs of a ransomed people in providing for their access to God. If they come for consecration they bring the burnt-offerings; if for grateful acknowledgment of Divine bounty and graciousness, they bring the food offerings; if for reconciliation, after ignorant misadventure or neglect of duty or temporary transgression, they bring their peace or trespass-offering. But they all provide a basis for access to and acceptance with God.
2. Christ’s work, as connected with the communion of His people, must be viewed under manifold representations. (A. Jukes.)
Of the differences between the giving of the moral law, and these ceremonial laws
1. The moral law contained in the Decalogue was delivered immediately by God Himself, because it concerned all people; the ceremonial law by Moses, because it specially concerned the Jews.
2. They differed in the manner; for the Decalogue was written in tables of stone, but these only in a book; to show that they were perpetual, these not to endure always.
3. The place was different. The moral law was delivered in Mount Sinai; the ceremonial out of the Tabernacle, to show that it served only for the Tabernacle, and was to continue no longer.
4. They differ in the time of delivery. The moral law was delivered at once; the ceremonies were given at divers times, for Moses had not been able at once to have received them all.
5. There was some difference in respect of the people, in whose hearing these laws were delivered. The Decalogue was delivered in Mount Sinai by a loud, thundering voice, that all might hear; but here at the giving of the ceremonial law only the heads, princes, and elders came together, particularly the Levites whom the observations of these ceremonies more nearly concerned. (A. Willet, D. D.)
Essential significance of the Mosaic injunctions
1. At the root of the essential significance of the Mosaic sacrifices two ideas lie--viz., the Mosaic idea of presentation, and that of atonement.
(1) Upon the idea of presentation (or “giving to God,” as it has been otherwise termed), the fundamental idea of all sacrifice, little need here be said. The Mosaic system of worship, like the patriarchal, was based upon the fact that man might approach God so long as his hands were not empty. As Adam worshipped in Eden by the surrender of time and strength in obedient performance of the Divine will, and possibly by the presentation of some of the fruits of his labour, as Abel brought of the firstlings of his flock, the acceptance of his gift opening a way to God which the patriarchs were not slow to follow; so, in the law given upon Sinai, the Jew was bidden to come near his Maker and Preserver, gifts in hand. Offerings of toil became means of grace; things eloquent of cost were channels for what was priceless; pledges of human sincerity in appeal were transmuted into pledges of Divine earnestness in reply; gifts from men to God brought gifts from God to men.
(2) Unlike the preceding idea, which belonged to every sacrifice of whatever name, in some measure or other, the idea of atonement belonged simply to sacrifices of blood. “To make an atonement,” if we probe the Hebrew figure to the bottom, was to throw, so to speak, a veil over sin so dazzling that the veil and not the sin was visible, or to place side by side with sin something so attractive as to completely engross the eye. The figure which the New Testament uses when it speaks of the “new robe,” the Old Testament uses when it speaks of “atonement.” When an atonement was made under the Law, it was as though the Divine eye, which had been kindled at the sight of sin and foulness, was quieted by the garment thrown around it; or, to use a figure much too modern, yet equally appropriate, it was as if the sinner who had been exposed to the lightning of the Divine wrath had been suddenly wrapped round and insulated. The idea of atonement was the so covering the sinner that his sin was invisible or non-existent in the sense that it could no longer come between him and his Maker.
2. Carrying in mind these two conceptions of presentation and atonement which the language of the law associates with every animal sacrifice, the names and express statements concerning each variety of such sacrifice will enable us to add their distinguishing to their general characteristics.
(1) The burnt-offering was at once a sacrifice and an atonement; but it was the element of presentation which was brought by it into especial prominence. It was pre-eminently the sacrifice of worship.
(2) The peace-offering resembled the burnt-offering in the relative insignificance which it attached to the fact of atonement; it differed in laying stress upon quite another affinity which might exist between God and man. As the burnt-offering provided a means of individual worship, the peace-offering provided a worship that was social. Tile peace-offerings were the sacrifices of friendship, and were presented by those who either desired, or lived and rejoiced in, the sense of an established friendship between themselves and their Maker and Preserver.
(3) In the sin and trespass-offerings the fact of atonement is emphasised.
(a) The sin-offerings, as their name implies, were offerings for sin. They may be divided into three classes: those which were presented in processes of purification; those which had to do with the expiation of precise sins, whether committed in church or state, by priest or ruler or common Israelite; and those which had to do with the expiation of undefined sins.
(b) The trespass-offerings were presented in atonement for sins against God or against man which admitted of compensation. There was in every trespass-offering the idea of retribution.
(4) Of the several species of bloodless sacrifices, nothing further need be said as regards their essential significance than that they are gifts pure and simple, without any element of atonement, and that they have for their aim to carry this fundamental conception of worship by presentation into all the ramifying relations of life. By the aid of the meat-offerings and drink-offerings and their priestly analogues, the shew-bread and oil and incense, God might be approached by the produce of labour; by the ransoms and firstfruits, He might be approached in recognition of the gifts of child and beast and produce of the earth; even battle might be consecrated by the presentation of spoils. By gifts God could be approached, and the sources of these gifts being various, the Divine hallowing might be as various.
3. Without minutely investigating the essential significance of the various holy days of the Jewish calendar, it is sufficient to call to mind that, amongst other uses, these holy days were days for “holy convocation.” They were opportunities specially arranged for a more regular and continuous attendance upon the means of grace provided by the Tabernacle and its services. (A. Cave, D. D.)
The Jewish calendar of sacrifice
How laborious, protracted, and intricate a system was this Mosaic worship by presentation! Yet how imposing! No religious ritual of ancient or modern times has appealed more forcibly to the eye or the imagination. It was a stirring and suggestive sight, beyond all question, which greeted such an one as a Levite, as he stood in early morning within the court of the Tabernacle ready to perform those more menial offices to which he had been appointed. Around him ran the white curtains of the sacred enclosure, relieved at regular intervals by the dull gold of the copper uprights and the gleam of the silver capitals. A few paces from where he watches, the more favoured members of his tribe, bearded, clad in their priestly robes of white and their parti-coloured girdles, are standing barefoot near the altar of burnt-offering, on the hearth of which the remnants of last night’s sacrifice are still burning, or possibly purifying themselves at the laver in preparation for their sacred duties. The lamb for the morning sacrifice is slain and burnt before his eyes; and a few moments afterwards, the high priest, in his official robes of white and blue, “Holiness to the Lord” glistening in gold upon his fair mitre, the jewelled breastplate flashing in the sun, is passing to the Holy Place, the golden bells and pomegranates at the fringe of his tunic ringing as he goes, Perhaps, as holy hands draw aside the curtain of the sanctuary, a glimpse is caught of the consecrated space within, lit by the golden candlestick and hazy with incense from the golden altar; or, if the interior is sealed, there nevertheless is the tent of Jehovah, its gorgeous parti-coloured curtain in full view, and its immediate covering of blue and gold and scarlet and purple worked upon white, with cherubim, just visible beneath the outer awnings; and the onlooker knew that within, not far from the ark and the mercy-seat and the Shechinah, which were hidden behind the veil, the high priest was performing Divine service, and meeting with Jehovah under exceptional privileges. As private members of the chosen race come streaming in with their offerings, the more active duties of the day begin. At one time, one who has inadvertently broken some commandment of the law is watching the blood of the sin-offering, which he has just brought and killed with his own hand, as it is smeared in atonement upon the horns of the altar; at another, the priest is listening over the head of a ram to a confession of fraud, and computing the amount of monetary indemnity to be paid. Now a Hebrew woman, but recently a mother, is modestly presenting herself with her offering of pigeons; and now the high priest is passing through the gate of the court, attended by a Levite carrying birds and scarlet wool and hyssop--he has been summoned without the camp to examine a restored leper. Anon an application is made for the means of purifying some tent where the dead is lying. Here, in joyful recognition of the Divine favour, a solitary worshipper is presenting a burnt-offering; there, recumbent upon the holy soil, a whole family are merrily partaking of the remains of a peace-offering. At one hour a householder is compounding for the property which he has voluntarily vowed unto the Lord; the next, a Nazarite, with unshorn hair and beard, is presenting the prescribed sacrifices for release from his vow. Possibly, as the day advances, a consecration to the priesthood is impressively performed. And these and other ceremonies are maintained the whole year round. As the Jewish calendar ran its course in those times, exceptional, alas I when the religious sense of the nation was quick and its practice scrupulous, it was as if one long bleat, one incessant lowing, filled the air; it was as if one long, continuous stream of sacrificial blood choked the runnels of the court. The year opened with the evening sacrifice and the new moon celebration, the expiring flames of which were fed next day by the ordinary morning sacrifice and by a round of individual presentations, which must sometimes have known no interruption until the smoke of the evening sacrifice again rose into the air and another day began. Day after day the customary ceremonial was repeated, till the Sabbath twilight fell and double sacrifices were slaughtered. On the fourteenth day of the first month came the solemn celebration of the Passover, when in every home, with devout recollections and enthusiastic hopes, a Paschal lamb was spread upon the board. Then followed the seven days of Unleavened Bread, with their customary and holy-day ritual, bringing at length, after the repeated diurnal, sabbatic, and mensual formalities, the fuller slaughter of Pentecost. Day after day, Sabbath after Sabbath, new moon after new moon, the authorised worship was again continued, until there came a break to the monotony once more on the first day of the seventh month in the Feast of Trumpets, and on the tenth day of the same month in the awful and grave procedure of the Day of Atonement, followed after five days’ interval by the singular and more grateful worship of the Feast of Tabernacles. The year was afterwards brought to a close by the common series of daily, weekly, and monthly effusions of blood. (A. Caves, D. D.)
Divers sacrifices, but one Christ
1. There were many sorts of sacrifices and yet but one Christ to be signified by them all. This did the Lord in great mercy and wisdom, that so His people, fully busied and pleased with such variety, might have neither cause nor leisure to look unto the wicked idolatries of the heathens, according to the several charges given them of God, “To beware lest they were taken in a snare, to ask after their gods saying, How did these nations serve their gods, that I may do so likewise?” &c. Seeing all the abomination that God hateth, they did unto their gods, burning both their sons and daughters with fire to their gods, and the Lord would have them do only what He commanded, putting nothing unto it, neither taking anything from it.
2. Although Christ be but one, and His sacrifice but one, yet great is the fruit, and many mercies flow from Him and His death unto us. By Him our sins are washed out, by Him God’s wrath against us is appeased, by Him we are adopted and taken for the sons of God and fellow-heirs with Him, by Him we are justified and endued with the Holy Ghost, enabled thereby to die unto sin and to live unto righteousness, walking in His holy commandments with comfort, and longing for our deliverance out of this Vale of misery, “That we may be clothed with our house, which is from heaven,” &c. Divers sorts of sacrifices, therefore, were appointed, to note, by that variety, the variety of these fruits of Christ to all believers, though He be but one.
3. There were many sorts of sacrifices, that so plainly the Church might see that these kind of sacrifices were not the true sacrifices for sins. For if any one had been able to take away sin the others had been in vain added (see Hebrews 10:1). (Bp. Babington.)
The need of varied sacrifices
The commencing chapters of Leviticus present to us five different aspects of the sacrificial service of Christ, varied according to the variety of those needs in us which the grace of the One Sacrifice is designed to meet. The want of that full and unreserved devotedness which is due on our part to God, and claimed by Him, but which is by us never rendered, is met by that abounding grace which has appointed another, perfect in devotedness and self-renunciation, to be a burnt-offering in our room. The manifold deficiences in our personal characters--the presence in them of so much that should be absent, and the absence of so much that should be present, is met by the presentation of Him for us, the perfectness of whose character is here typified by the excellency of the meat-offering. The condition of our nature which is enmity against God, because sin, essential sin, dwells in it, is met by the efficacy of the peace sacrifice, whereby, notwithstanding the enmity of our nature, peace with the Holy One becomes our portion. Sin, even when committed in such intensity of blindness, as that we understand not the heinousness of that which we are doing, and perhaps mistake it for good--such sin is met by the sin-offering; or if it be committed knowingly, not under the blindness of ignorance, but in the wilfulness of a heart that consciously refuses to be restrained, it is met by the grace of the trespass-offering. Such are the aspects under which the perfectness of the One Sacrifice is presented to us in the commencing chapters of Leviticus. The aspects are various, but the sacrifice is one; just as the colours of the rainbow may, for instruction sake, be presented to us separately, but the rainbow which they unitedly constitute is one. After we have learned in distinctness, we combine in unity. Nor is there any division of the perfectness of the One Sacrifice in its application to them that believe. From the first moment we believe, the perfectness of Christ’s sacrifice is in all its totality ours. We may not, perhaps, either appreciate or understand all that is typified by these various offerings, yet the united value of them all is reckoned to us by God. (B. W. Newton.)
Origin of sacrifices
It is a little surprising, upon first view, that God should appoint or sanction rites and services of worship, the observance of which would make His sanctuary look so much like a solemn slaughter-house. But where sin is stayed and quenched, there must be blood. Blood is the substance of life; and as sin involves the forfeiture of life,! “without shedding of blood there is no remission.” Hence “almost all things are by the law purged with blood.” These bloody rites, however, did not originate with “the law.” It is a question with learned men how they did originate. Some refer them to some primitive enactment of God, and others regard them as the natural outgrowth of man’s consciousness of sin, and his desire to appease the Divine anger felt to attend upon it. It is certain that they are nearly as old as man. They date back to Noah, to Abel, to Adam Himself. They have been found among nearly all nations. And when God gave commandment to Moses concerning them, they already formed a part of the common religion of the world. They are not here spoken of as a new institution, now for the first time introduced, but are referred to rather as an ancient and well-known element of man’s worship, to which the Divine Legislator meant only to affix a more specific ritual. That offerings would, and ought to be made, seems to be taken for granted, whilst these new commands relate only to the manner in which they were to be made. “If,” that is, in the ordinary course of things already familiar, or, “when any man of you shall bring an offering to the Lord, ye shall bring” so and so. There is a worship, at least a disposition to worship, which has descended upon all serious men from the very beginning. There is a theology even in Nature, and a faculty of worship or religiousness which is somehow natural unto man. Revelation does not deny this, but takes it for granted, and often appeals to it, and proceeds upon it as its original groundwork. It does not propose to engraft a religious department on man’s constitution, but recognises such a department as already in existence, and proposes merely to assist, and guide, and guard it against falsehood, idolatry, and superstition. “Nature, left to herself, and unassisted by Divine teachings, certainly wanders into mazes of perplexity, involves herself in error and blindness, and becomes the victim of folly, full of all sorts of superstition.” So said the knowing leader of the glorious Reformation; and all the records of time attest the truth of his statement. Man needs to hear a voice from heaven--a supernatural word--to guide him successfully to the true God, and to the right worship of that God. Nature may dispose him to make offerings, and a common religious consciousness may approve and sanction them; but it yet remains for God to say what sort of offerings are proper, and how they are to be acceptably presented. (J. A. Seiss, D. D.)
Redemption by blood offensive to some minds
Redemption by blood is the great theme of the Scriptures, from beginning to end. It ever and again comes up. God will not permit it to remain out of sight for a single chapter. No matter what the figure is, it is made somehow to embrace this. It is repeated at every turn. It stands out boldly at every step. Every imaginable method is taken to write it deep in the soul, to engrave it upon the conscience, to fill the whole mind with it, and to make it the grand centre of all religious thought and belief. It seems greatly to disgust and offend many that we have so much to say about blood. Some verily seem to think, and some sceptics have argued, that the Bible cannot be what it claims to be, because it represents God as appointing and taking pleasure in such sanguinary arrangements and services. But observe the glaring inconsistency of such people in shrinking with abhorrence from the bloody nature of the system which God has arranged for our salvation, whilst they are yet great admirers of the taste and culture of the men and times we read of in the classics. They are charmed with the ancient Greeks and Romans, and are ever putting them forward as our exemplars and guides; and cannot get done talking about their glorious civilisation; just as if the religion of Greece and Rome had no sanguinary rites, or involved no dealing in bloody sacrifices. Never was there a religious system on earth more bloody in its observances, or more shocking in its sacrificial ritual, than those in vogue among these very Greeks and Romans, sanctioned and supported by their laws, and advocated by their greatest men. Their altars flowed, not only with the blood of bulls and goats and various unclean and disgusting creatures, but with the blood of human beings, who were annually slain and offered up in religious worship to propitiate their sanguinary deities. In the worship of Zeus Lycaeus in Arcadia, human sacrifices were regularly offered for hundreds of years, down to the time of the Roman Emperors. In Leucas, a man was every year put to death at the high festival of Apollo. When their great generals went out to war, they first offered up human victims to gain the assistance of their divinities. Before the battle of Salamis, Themistocles sacrificed three Persians to Dionysius. The city of Athens--the very “eye of Greece”--had an annual festival in honour of the Delian Apollo, at which two persons were every year put to death, the one for the men and the other for the women, of that renowned metropolis. The neck of the one who died for the men was surrounded with a garland of black figs, and the neck of the other with a garland of white figs, and both were beaten with rods of fig-wood as they were led forth to a place where they were burned alive, and their ashes cast into the air and sea. And Grecian story tells of many parents, who laid violent hands upon their children, and offered them up as bloody sacrifices to their gods. Nor was it much different with the Romans. In their earlier history it was the custom, under certain contingencies, to sacrifice to their deities everything born of man or beast between the first day of March and the last day of April. Even in the latest period of the Roman Republic, men were sacrificed to Mars in the Campus Martius, by priests of state, and their heads stuck up at the Regia. I mention these things, not to vindicate the Levitical rites, of which they were monstrous and wicked distortions and perversions, but to show the miserable inconsistency of those sceptical people who denounce the atoning regulations of the Scriptures, and hold up the taste and ideas of the Greeks and Romans as the true models of what is beautiful, refined, and elevated. I merely wish to have you know and feel, that if the Hebrew ritual is to be regarded as offensive to a lofty aesthetic taste, the ritual of the most polished nations of antiquity was still more offensive and abhorrent in the utmost degree; and that if the religion of the Scriptures cannot be received as of God by reason of its connection with scenes of blood, there is no system of religion upon earth, ancient or modern, that can be so received; because all others have been equally and still more sanguinary in their services, and that, too, without any of the deep and affecting moral meaning of this. And I freely confess that I see nothing in the doctrine of salvation by blood, or in the Jewish rites, which typified it with so much strength and clearness, either to offend my taste, to shock my reason, or the least to interfere with the readiest and fullest acceptation of the Scriptures as the true revelation of Almighty God. True, I behold in it much that humbles my pride--that tells me I am a very wicked sinner--that proclaims my native condition far removed from what God’s law requires--that assures me I am undone as regards my own strength--and that holds out death and eternal burning as what I deserve. But all this accords with my conscience, and is re-echoed in the deepest convictions of my soul. And with it all, it presents to me a plan of redemption so out of the line of man’s thoughts, so fitted to my felt wants, and so completely attested by its moral efficacy, that it is itself a mighty demonstration to my mind of its Divine original. The very fact that the Bible has but one great subject running through all its histories and prophecies, ordinances and types, epistles and psalms--that salvation by blood is the focal point in which all its various lines of light converge--is to me one of the strongest evidences that it has come from God. When I consider that its writers lived hundreds and thousands of years apart, that they were found in all walks of life, and that they wrote in languages foreign to each other, I can find no way to account for the unity which pervades it but by admitting that these various writers were all moved and guided by the same high intelligence and inspired of God. (J. A. Seiss, D. D.)
The ancient ritual
Here is a singular conjunction of the legal and the voluntary. Jehovah fixes the particulars, but the man himself decides on the act of sacrificial worship. Observe how the Lord works from the opposite point from which the first of the Ten Commandments was given. There God called for the worship: here He leaves the man to offer the worship and proceeds to tell him how. The preparation of the heart and the answer of the tongue are from God. No man was at liberty in the ancient Church determine his own terms of approach to God. The throne must be approached in the appointed way. We are not living in an era of religious licentiousness. There is a genius of worship, there is a method of coming before God. God does not ask us to conceive or suggest methods of worship. He Himself meets us with His time-bill and His terms of spiritual commerce. God is in heaven and we are upon the earth; therefore should our words be few. The law of approach to the Divine throne is unchanged. The very first condition of worship is obedience. Obedience is better than sacrifice, and is so because it is the end of sacrifice. But see how, under the Levitical ritual, the worshipper was trained to obedience. Mark the exasperating minuteness of the law. Nothing was left to haphazard. The worship was to be offered through mediation. The priestly element pervades the universe; it is the mystery of life and service. The service was voluntary. Notice the expression, “He shall offer it of his own voluntary will.” The voluntariness gives the value to the worship. We can only pray with the heart. There is in this great ritual a wonderful mixing of free will and Divine ordination; the voluntary and the unchangeable; the human action and the Divine decree. We cannot understand it; if we are able to understand it then it is no larger than our understanding: so God becomes a measurable God, merely the shadow of human wit, a God that cannot be worshipped. It is where our understanding fails or rises into a new wealth of faith, that we find the only altar at which we can bow, with all our powers, where we can utter with enthusiasm all our hopes and desires. So we come with our sacrifice and offering, whatever it may be, and having laid it on the altar, we can follow it no further--free as the air up to a given point, but after that bounded and fixed and watched and regulated--a mystery that can never be solved, and that can never be chased out of a universe in which the infinite and finite confer. The worship of the ancient Church was no mere expression of sentiment. It was a most practical worship, not a sentimental exercise; it was a confession and an expiation--in a word, an atonement. This fact explains all. Take the word “atonement” out of Christian theology, and Christian theology has no centre, no circumference, no life, no meaning, no virtue. If we could read this Book of Leviticus through at one sitting the result might be expressed in some such words as these--“Thank God we have got rid of this infinite labour; thank God this is not in the Christian service; thank God we are Christians and not Jews.” Let not our rejoicing be the expression of selfishness or folly. It is true we have escaped the bondage of the letter, but only to enter into the larger and sweeter bondage of the spirit. The Jew gave his bullock or his goat, his turtledove or his young pigeon; but now each man has to give himself. We now buy ourselves off with gold. Well may the apostle exhort us, saying, “I beseech you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” Wonderful is the law which lays its claim upon the ransomed soul--none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself; whether we live, we live unto the Lord; whether we die, we die unto the Lord; living or dying we are the Lord’s. We have escaped measurable taxation, but we have come under the bond of immeasurable love. We have escaped the letter, we have been brought under the dominion of the spirit. Let us be careful, therefore, how we congratulate ourselves on having escaped the goat-offering and heifer-offering, and turtledove and young pigeon sacrifices; how we have been brought away from the technicality and poverty of the letter into the still further deeper poverty of selfishness. As Christians we have nothing that is our own; not a moment of time is ours; not a pulse that throbs in us, not a hair of our head, not a coin in the coffer belongs to us. This is the severe demand of love. Who can rise to the pitch of that self-sacrifice? (J. Parker, D. D.)
God’s way out of sin
What an important part the word “if” plays in the opening chapters of Leviticus! At first we did not seem to see it, but by frequent repetition it urges itself upon our notice as a term of vital importance in the argument of the subject, whatever that subject may be. We cannot enter into the subject except through the gate if. It is God’s word. Through the gate if we enter into the temple of obedience. Having crossed the threshold, then law begins to operate. After the if comes the discipline--the sweet, but often painful necessity. Observe the balance of operation: Man must reply; having replied, either in one form or the other, necessary consequences follow. It is so in all life. There is no exception in what is known as the religious consciousness and activity. The great sea says in its wild waves, “If ye will walk on me and become citizens of this wilderness of water, then yon must submit to the law of the country; you must fall into the rhythm of the universe; you must build your wooden houses or your iron habitations according to laws old as God; you need not come upon my waters; I do not ask you to come; when you come I will obliterate your footprints so that no man may ever know that you have crossed me; but if you come you must obey.” We have, therefore, no liberty after a certain time. This is the law of all life. But we never give up our liberty in response to the laws of the universe without our surrender being compensated after God’s measure. The law gave great choice of offering. It said, “If you bring a burnt-offering, bring it of the herd if you have one. If you have not a herd of cattle, bring it of the flocks; bring it of the flock of the sheep; but if you are too poor to have a flock of sheep, bring a goat from the flock of the goats; only in all cases this condition must be permanent: whatever you offer must be without blemish. But if you have no cattle, no sheep, no goats, then bring it of the fowls: bring turtledoves or young pigeons; the air is full of them, and the poorest man can take them.” Is that not mercy twice blessed? We are not all masters of cattle that browse upon the green hills; nor are we all flock-masters, and amongst flockmasters there are rich and poor. God says, “Let your offering be according to your circumstances, only without blemish, and it shall be accepted.” There is no short and easy method with sin. Men have sought by excess of the very thing itself to destroy sin, and if they could have gone forward from indulgence to indulgence, from insanity to insanity, they might have escaped the remorse of this world; but God has so constituted the universe that men have moments of sobriety, times of mental and moral reaction, periods in which they see themselves and their destiny with an appalling vividness, and in those hours it is found that the sin which began the mischief is still there. There is no way out of it but God’s way. (J. Parker, D. D.)
What is our offering to the Lord?
“If any man of you bring an offering unto the Lord.” And is there any man of you who will not bring an offering unto the Lord? Have you brought an offering to Him? When? What was it? You don’t mean to call that trifle that you dropped into the contribution-box because you must keep up appearances in church, you know; you don’t mean to call that your offering unto the Lord! You don’t mean to call your amount paid for pew-rent--so that you could have your own independent sittings, and that in the very best place you could get for your money; you don’t mean to call that your offering to the Lord! Come, now, what has been your offering unto the Lord--an offering that you could fairly point the Lord to, in comparison with what He has given to you, and could say, “There, Lord, that is my offering to Thee”? “If any man of you bring an offering unto the Lord”--well, what is the offering? Let it be fairly recognised. God wants to know what it is. Can you tell Him? (H. C. Trumbull.)
Sacrifice the one great idea of the Bible
As in Beethoven’s matchless music there runs one idea, worked out through all the changes of measure and of key, now almost hidden, now breaking out in rich, natural melody, whispered in the treble, murmured in the bass, dimly suggested in the prelude, but growing clearer and clearer as the work proceeds, winding gradually back until it ends in the keys in which it began, and closes in triumphant harmony: so throughout the whole Bible there runs one great idea: man’s ruin by sin, and his redemption by grace; in a word, Jesus Christ the Saviour. This runs through the Old Testament, that prelude to the New; dimly promised at the Fall, and more clearly to Abraham; typified in the ceremonies of the law; all the events of sacred history paving the way for His coming; the great idea growing clearer and clearer as the time drew on. Then the full harmony broke out in the song of the angels, “Glory to God in the highest; on earth peace, goodwill towards men.” (H. W. Beecher.)
The ceremonies of the law pointed to Christ
The earth bringeth forth fruit of itself, but first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear (Mark 4:28). So did the blade or herb spring out of the law of nature; the ear or culm, in the law written; but we have in the gospel the pure grain or full corn, which is Christ Jesus. Therefore, as the stalk or ear is of necessary use till the corn be ripe, but the corn being ripe we no longer use the chaff with it, so till Christ was exhibited in the flesh, which lay hidden in the blade and spike of the law, the ceremonies had their use; but since that by His death and passion this pure wheat is thrashed and winnowed, and by His ascension laid up in the garner of heaven, they are of no further use (Ephesians 2:15). The Jews were taught by those shadows that the body should come, and we know by the same shadows that the body is come; the arrow moveth, whilst it flies at the mark, but having hit the mark, resteth in it. (J. Spencer.)
The completed design
Bartholdi’s gigantic statue of “Liberty Enlightening the World,” occupies a fine position on Bedloes Island, which commands the approach to New York Harbour. It holds up a torch, which is to be lit at night by electric light. The statue was cast in portions in Paris. The separate pieces were very different in appearance, and, taken apart, of uncouth shape. It was only when all were brought together, each in its right place, that the complete design was apparent. Then the omission of any one would have left the work imperfect. In this it was an emblem of Holy Scripture. We do not always see the object of different portions, nevertheless each has its place, and the whole is a magnificent statue of Jesus Christ. (The Freeman.)
Outlines of Christ
I was looking one day at some of the paintings of the late American artist, Mr. Kensett. I saw some pictures that were just faint outlines; in some places you would see only the branches of a tree and no trunk, and in another case the trunk and no branches. He had not finished the work. It would have taken him days, and months, perhaps, to have completed it. Well, my friend, in this world we get only the faintest outlines of what Christ is. (T. De Witt Talmage.)
If his offering be a burnt sacrifice.
I. In its contrast to the other offerings.
1. It was “a sweet savour” offering; as such in perfect contrast with the sin-offerings. We are not here, therefore, to consider Christ as the sin-bearer, but as the man in perfectness meeting God in holiness. The thought here is not, “God hath made Him to be sin for us,” but rather, “He loved us, and gave Himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God of a sweet-smelling savour.” Jesus, both in the burnt-offering and sin-offering, stood as our representative. When He obeyed, He obeyed “for us”: when He suffered, He suffered “for us.” But in the burnt-offering He appears for us, not as our sin-bearer, but as man offering to God something which is most precious to Him. We have here what we may in vain search for elsewhere: man giving to God what truly satisfies Him. We too often omit this thought when thinking of the offering of Jesus. We think of His death, but little of His life. We look but little into His ways. Yet it is His ways throughout His pilgrimage, even to the way He laid down His life, which God so delights in. Our views are so selfish and meagre. If we are saved, we seek no further. God, however, puts the burnt-offering first: for this was peculiarly His portion in Jesus. And just in proportion as a believer grows in grace, we shall find him turning intelligently to the Gospels; from them adding to the knowledge he has of the work of Jesus, greater knowledge of His ways and person; with earnest desire to know more of the Lord Himself, and how in all things He was “a sweet savour to Jehovah.”
2. But the burnt-offering was not only “a sweet savour”; it was also an offering “for acceptance”--that is, it was offered to God to secure the acceptance of the offerer. So we read--I give the more correct translation--“he shall offer it for his acceptance.” To understand this, we must recur for a moment to the position Christ occupied as offerer. He stood for man as man under the law, and, as under law, His acceptance depended on His perfectness. God had made man upright; but he had sought out many inventions. One dispensation after another had tried whether, under any circumstances, man could render himself acceptable to God. But age after age passed away: no son of Adam was found who could meet God’s standard. The law was man’s last trial, whether, with a revelation of God’s mind, he could or would obey it. But this trial, like the others, ended in failure: “there was none righteous, no, not one.” How, then, was man to be reconciled to God? How could he be brought to meet God’s requirements? One way yet remained, and the Son of God accepted it. “He took not on Him the nature of angels; but He took the seed of Abraham”; and in His person, once and for ever, man was reconciled to God. In effecting this, Jesus, as man’s representative, took man’s place, where He found, man, under law; and there, in obedience to the law, He offered, “for His acceptance.”
3. The third point peculiar to the burnt-offering was, that a life was offered on the altar (Leviticus 1:5), in this particular differing from the meat-offering. Life was that part in creation which from the beginning God claimed as His. As such--as being His claim on His creatures--it stands as an emblem for what we owe Him. What we owe to God is our duty to Him. And this, I doubt not, is the thought here intended. Of course, the offering here, as elsewhere, is the body of Jesus, that body which He took, and then gave for us: but in giving God a life, in contradistinction to offering Him corn or frankincense, the peculiar thought is the fulfilment of the first table of he Decalogue. Thus the life yielded is man’s duty to God, and man here is seen perfectly giving it. Am I asked what man ever thus offered? I answer, None but One--“the man Christ Jesus.” He alone of all the sons of Adam in perfectness accomplished all man’s duty to Godward; He in His own blessed and perfect righteousness met every claim God could make upon Him.
4. The fourth and last feature peculiar to the burnt-offering is, that it was wholly burnt on the altar. In this particular the burnt-offering differed from the meat and peace-offerings, in which a part only was burnt with fire; nor did it differ less from those offerings for sin, which, though wholly burnt, were not burnt upon the altar. The import of this distinction is manifest, and in exact keeping with the character of the offering. Man’s duty to God is not the giving up of one faculty, but the entire surrender of all. So Christ sums up the First Commandment--all the mind, all the soul, all the affections. “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.” I cannot doubt that the type refers to this in speaking so particularly of the parts of the burnt-offering; for “the head,” “the fat,” “the legs,” “the inwards,” are all distinctly enumerated. “The head” is the well-known emblem of the thoughts; “the legs” the emblem of the walk; and “the inwards” the constant and familiar symbol of the feelings and affections of the heart. The meaning of “the fat” may not be quite so obvious, though here also Scripture helps us to the solution (Psalms 17:10; Psalms 92:14; Psalms 119:70; Deuteronomy 32:15). It represents the energy not of one limb or faculty, but the general health and vigour of the whole. In Jesus these were all surrendered, and all without spot or blemish.
II. Its varieties, that is, the different measures of apprehension with which it may be seen. There were, then, three grades in the burnt-offering. It might be “of the herd,” or “of the flock,” or “of fowls.” These different grades gave rise to several varieties in the offering, the import of which we shall now consider.
1. The first difference is in the animal offered. We have in the first grade, “a bullock”; in the second, “a lamb”; in the third, “a turtledove.” Each of these animals, from their well-known character, presents us with a different thought respecting the offering. The bullock, “strong to labour”--for “great increase is by the strength of the ox”--suggests at once the thought of service, of patient, untiring labour. In the lamb we have another picture presented to us; here the thought is passive submission without a murmur; for the lamb is the figure constantly chosen to represent the submissive, uncomplaining character of Christ’s sufferings. The turtledove is different from either of these, and gives again another view of the offering of Jesus. In this class the thought of labour is lost sight of: the unmurmuring submission, too, of the lamb is wanting: the thought is rather simply one of mourning innocence; as it is written, “We mourn like doves”; and again, “Be harmless as doves.” It may be asked, What do we learn by “the goat,” which was sometimes offered in one of the lower grades of the burnt-offering? If I mistake not, this emblem suggests a thought of the sin-offering, reminding us of Christ’s offering as scape-goat.
2. A second distinction between the different grades of the burnt-offering is, that while in the first grade the parts are discriminated, in the last this peculiarity is omitted: the bird was killed, but not divided. In the case of the bullock and the lamb, it is noticed that the offering is “cut into its pieces.” Here “the legs, the head, the fat, the inwards,” are all distinctly noticed and enumerated. In the last case--that of the turtledove--it is otherwise: “he shall not divide it asunder.” “The legs, the head, the inwards,” as we have already seen, represent the walk, the thoughts, the feelings of Jesus. In the first grade these are all apprehended: they are all lost sight of in the last. These grades represent, as I have said, measures of apprehension. Where the measure of spiritual apprehension is large, a saint will see the offering dissected: his eyes will be turning constantly to see the walk, the mind, the affections of Jesus. He will now observe, what once he regarded not, how Jesus walked, how He thought, what were His feelings. On the other hand, where Jesus is but little apprehended all the details of His walk and feelings will be unseen.
3. A third distinction between the different grades of the burnt-offering is, that while in the first grade the offerer is seen to lay his hand on the offering, in the other grades this act is not observed. Not a few see Christ as offering for us without fully realising that His offering was Himself. They see that He gave up this thing or that; that He gave much for us, and that what He gave was most precious. But they do not really see that “He gave Himself,” that His own blessed person was what He offered. This is clearly seen in the first grade of the burnt-offering. It is lost sight of, or unobserved, in the other grades.
4. A fourth distinction, closely allied with the one just considered, is, that in the first class the offerer is seen to kill the victim--in the last the priest kills it. In fact, in the last class, the priest does nearly everything, the offerer is scarcely seen at all; whereas in the first class it is just the reverse, there are many particulars noted of theofferer. The import of this is at once obvious, when we see the distinction between the priest and offerer. The offerer, as I have already observed, sets Christ before us in His person. The priest represents Him in His official character, as the appointed Mediator between God and man. Where the identity between the offerer and offering is apprehended, the offerer is seen to kill the offering; that is, Christ is seen in His person, of His own will laying down His life; as it is written--“No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of Myself.” On the contrary, where the identity of the offering and offerer is unseen or disregarded, the priest is seen to kill the victim, that is, Christ’s death is seen as the work of the Mediator; and is connected with His official character as Priest, rather than with His person as the willing offerer. So with believers, where there is only a limited measure of apprehension, little is known of Christ save His office as Mediator: He Himself, His blessed person, is overlooked or but little seen. Such are the chief varieties of the burnt-offering: how full are they of instruction to the believer; how clearly do they mark the different apprehensions among saints respecting the work and person of our Lord! Some, however--I speak of believers--are content to know nothing of this; and they would rather not be told their ignorance. They can see but one truth--the Paschal lamb--and anything further they neither care nor wish for. (A. Jukes.)
4. Slain by offerer himself.
5. Blood sprinkled.
6. Wholly consumed.
II. Features which distinguish it from the sin-offering.
1. Nothing is said of the voluntary character of the sin-offering. Does not this throw light on the agony and prayer of Christ in Gethsemane?
2. Only parts of the sin-offering were to be burnt on the altar of burnt-offering (Hebrews 4:11-12; Hebrews 13:11-13; 2 Corinthians 5:21). This explains the suffering of Christ and His cry on the cross--“Eloi,” &c.
III. To observe these distinctions important, as bearing upon their typical signification.
1. The Epistle to the Hebrews proves that Christ and His work are typified in the whole Mosaic ritual.
2. The one represents our Lord in His consecration to His Father’s will; the other, as its name indicates, represents Him as the sin-bearer.
(1) His consecration has in it the elements of voluntariness and completeness, and that it was of sweet savour unto Jehovah.
(2) As sin.bearer He is represented as not being permitted to suffer even within the camp. Lessons:
1. As a burnt-offering our Lord is to us an example in our consecration to God, which should be--
(1) Perfect in its sincerity.
(2) Cheerful in its spirit.
(3) Unreserved in its degree.
2. As a sin-offering our Lord teaches us how hateful sin was to Him; yet He endured its imputation, “being made sin for us,” that we might be made God’s righteousness in Him. (D. C. Hughes, M. A.)
Significance of the burnt-offering
To be offered--
4. Cheerfully. (F. W. Brown.)
I. Consider the sort of victim required for this sacrifice: a bullock, or a sheep, or, in case of great poverty, a young pigeon or dove--the very purest, cleanest, and best of creatures--nothing else would answer. And even these had to be the finest and most desirable specimens. Pure and perfect as the bright world from which He came, Christ, our sacrifice, “was holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners”--“a Lamb without spot”--the first, the purest, the gentlest, and the best in all the domain of the great God. He was the very Prince of creation, who knew no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth.
II. Consider next what was done with the victim selected. If a bullock, the Divine command was, “Kill it before the Lord, and flay it, and cut it into his pieces.” If from the flock, the word was “Kill it on the side of the altar northward, and cut it into his pieces.” Who was to do this is not clearly specified. Any one, good or bad, priest or private, the worst or best, may become the executioner of the Divine sentence. When Jesus was made an offering for us, earth and hell joined in the infliction of the sacrificial stroke. If a bird, the word of the Lord was, “Wring off his head, and pluck away his crop with his feathers, and cleave it with the wings.” Fit picture this of the end which awaits the unforgiven, and of what actually befell the blessed Saviour who “was once offered to bear the sins of many.” The plucking and tearing off of the skin was to show how naked the sinner is, and how completely he is exposed to the fires of Divine wrath, and how unprotected Jesus was when He submitted to bear our sins in His own body on the tree. But in addition to this terrible mutilation, the victim was yet to be put upon the altar and burned. The command was, “The priest shall burn all on the altar.” And a particular method was also to be observed in this burning. First, the head and the loose fat were to be placed upon the fire; the head from without, and the fat from within. After that the legs and the entrails were to be given to the flames; the outward and the inward together. Man has a double nature; and in all Divine services, and under all Divine inflictions, both departments fare alike. We cannot give our bodies to God and reserve our hearts, nor serve Him in the spirit without bringing that service out into controlling influence over the flesh also. The whole man must go or nothing. Nor is the ultimate doom of sin a mere bodily suffering, or the mere consuming of the exterior members; nor yet mere mental woe and spiritual grief. As the Saviour says, it is the destruction of “both body and soul in hell.” Christ as our sacrifice, suffered not only in the outer man, but in His whole inner and outer nature conjoined.
III. Consider further what was to be effected by the presentation of this particular kind of sacrifice. If the man who brought it would lay his hand upon its head, and so acknowledge it as that by which he hoped and prayed and trusted to be forgiven, the Lord said “it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him.” That is, the devoting of such a victim to death and fire was to answer as a substitute for the death and burning of the sinner himself. What a beautiful illustration of our reconciliation to God through the death of His Son!
IV. There yet remains one other particular to be noticed with regard to this atoning offering; and that is the perfect freedom with which any and every one might avail himself of its benefits. It was confined to no special time, and demanded no specific juncture of affairs. It was as free at one season as at another, and could be resorted to whenever any one felt himself moved in that way. If the worshipper could not bring a bullock, a sheep would answer. And if too poor to furnish either, a dove or pigeon was just as acceptable. There was no reason why any one should not come and share the benefits of a full expiation through the burnt-offering of atonement. All that a man wanted was the consent and determination of his own heart--the motion of “his own voluntary will.” Now this was not accidental. It was meant to set forth a great gospel truth. It tells of the perfect freeness with which one and all may be saved, if only there is the proper effort made. It was the lifting up of the voice of mercy even in that remote antiquity, crying, “Come; whosoever will, let him come.” (J. A. Seiss, D. D.)
The burnt-offering; or, the Father glorified
I. THE BURNT-OFFERING is placed first in order, when the Lord spake unto Moses “out of the Tabernacle,” teaching that the primary and grand object of Christ’s death was “the glory of God.” The burnt-offering may be said to answer to St. John’s Gospel, where this object is very prominent (see John 12:27-33; John 17:1-4).
1. Atonement, as expiation of guilt, is not the prominent thought in burnt-offering, yet it is seen there, verifying Hebrews 9:22; and the sprinkling of the blood testifies to the righteousness of God in accepting the worshipper whose worship--like all else--needs the atoning blood, being in itself not only worthless, but tainted with sin; and worship is one prominent feature of burnt-offering as regards man. Now look at details.
2. Male without blemish. That is, highest order of offering, whether of herd or flock (Leviticus 1:3; Leviticus 1:10). Nothing with slightest taint or blemish must be used to represent Christ.
II. Acceptance was another prominent characteristic of burnt-offering. It was presented that the offerer might be “accepted” (Leviticus 1:3). “Lo! I come . . . to do Thy will, O God” (Hebrews 10:7; Psalms 40:7), were the words of Jesus. He presented Himself for acceptance; He was “obedient unto death” (Philippians 2:8). His sacrifice was that of devotion and service, as typified in this offering. Thus was the Father glorified in the death of His beloved Son I See, too, how Father’s love drawn forth because He laid down His life for sheep (John 10:11; John 10:17), in obedience to Father’s will (John 6:38-40). Thus the Father’s glory seen to be bound up in the salvation of “sheep”; and His acceptance of Jesus ensures theirs (Leviticus 1:4; Ephesians 1:6).
III. Hand upon head of burnt-offering further shows identification of offerer and offering. The word rendered “put” (verse 4) signifies to lean with whole weight, which implies full reliance, trust, and transfer, so to speak, of whole being to Him, who both amply met God’s claim to entire devotedness to Him and made atonement for His people, that is, “covered” their failures with His atoning merits and sacrifice. Believers are “in Him” (1 John 5:20), and thus God sees and accepts them.
IV. Kill, flay cut into his pieces (verses 5, 6). Significant actions. Not only death, but all laid bare to be exposed to searching fire of God’s holiness, and testify to the perfections of His Christ, whether in part or whole. Believers should look into Christ, and study His perfections in every detail. There is also a “rightly dividing the Word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15), which testifies of Jesus the living Word. Again, His pieces, typifying members of His body, are laid bare before God; all within revealed, i.e., “naked and opened . . . ” (Hebrews 4:13), to the Searcher ex hearts (Psalms 7:9; Luke 16:15); and He requires holiness within (1 Peter 1:15-16).
V. “the priests, Aaron’s sons” (verses 5-8) represent “the Church of God,” “the children” (Hebrews 2:13), an holy priesthood” (1 Peter 2:5): here seen as worshipping saints, offering to God what most “acceptable” to Him.
1. They “sprinkle the blood,” showing ground of acceptable worship (1 Peter 1:2).
2. They “put fire,” and lay all “in order upon the altar.” Christ, the Head, in His entirety, with His rich excellency (fat), offering Him self (voluntary act), through the eternal Spirit (fire), without spot to God (Hebrews 9:14). “Many waters cannot quench love” (Song of Solomon 8:7), such as His, glowing With the fire of the Spirit, shown in zeal and devotion to the Father s will. And no work for God, no offering acceptable, except through the fire of the Spirit (Romans 8:4; Romans 8:8-10; Romans 8:14), sent from above to dwell in believers, and kindle in them flame of love and zeal, which again ascends to heaven.
VI. The washing of inwards and legs (verse 9) rendered the offering typically what Christ is inherently and intrinsically. Perfectly clean and pure, not only in outward walk, but inwardly also; in exact accordance with the requirements of a holy God. Truth, wisdom found in Him who was both (Psalms 51:6; Psalms 15:2; John 14:6; Proverbs 8:11; Proverbs 8:30; 1 Corinthians 1:24).
VII. The priest shall burn all (verse 13). The whole of the burnt-offering was to be consumed upon the altar, because exclusively for God. God requires whole-heartedness in His service; want of devotedness to God is sin; we offend if we keep back part for ourselves, or for the world, instead of presenting all to Him; and these failures, sins, shortcomings, are all met by the precious One in the burnt-offering.
VIII. The ashes carried forth from beside the altar testify to the completeness of the work “finished” on Calvary, and to God’s complete acceptance of the perfect Sacrifice, His own “unspeakable gift” (2 Corinthians 9:15) to man. The “clean place” “without the camp” (chaps. 1:16, 6:10, 11) points to the “new tomb” (Matthew 27:58-66), where the body of Jesus was laid; and He--the risen One--then entered” into heaven itself, now to appear . . . ” (Hebrews 9:24).
IX. “a sweet savour unto the lord” (verses 9, 13, 17). As such the “continual” burnt-offering ascended (Numbers 28:3-8); and so the fragrant merits of Christ’s one all-sufficient sacrifice. For “Christ also hath . . . given Himself for.., a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savour” (Ephesians 5:2). Yes, Jesus, who is feasting the Father’s eyes and heart, is the one in whom He smells “a sweet savour” or “savour of rest” (Genesis 8:21). (Lady Beau-jolois Dent.)
Concerning this offering we note--
I. The principle that acceptable worship must be in accordance with divine direction. Not now the blood of bulls and of goats, but the blood of Christ is the sacrifice by which we come to God (Hebrews 10:9-10). The was is as distinctly and definitely described under the new dispensation as under the old (John 14:6). True religion is a revealed way of approach to God.
II. Its special significance. Its Hebrew name means, “an ascending.” The first symbol by which men sought communion with God expressed a voluntary and entire dedication of themselves to Him. They declared, by it, their aspiration after Him; their desire to do His will; their self-surrender to Him. It was this devotion of soul that made the offering a sweet savour unto Him.
III. The relation of the burnt-offering to christian worship.
1. This offering suggests the holiness of God.
2. The spirit of acceptable Christian worship: Pure.
3. The character of the acceptable Christian worshipper: Constant self-devotion to God. (A. E. Dunning.)
The burnt-offering was one of what might be called the common law offerings of mankind. There were two of these at least--the slain and the burnt-offering. It is not always possible to distinguish these in the early history of sacrifices. The former was one in which slain beasts were laid upon the altar in token of man’s fellowship with God; the latter was one where the animals were burned with fire as incense to Jehovah, expressive of man’s dependence, obedience, and need of forgiveness. The burnt-offering was the most significant of all these earlier sacrifices, and probably included at times all the others. It is fitting for this reason, as well as for its superior importance, that it occupy the first place in the directions of the sacrificial code for Israel. The law of burnt-offerings was one which now became invested with the new sovereignty of a statute. It was not superseded in its significance or any of its associations, but some of these were emphasised. Branches grew out of the stalk which had its roots in the first sinner’s heart and the earliest race history.
I. The idea of self-surrender underlay the gift of the burnt-offering. Save on great occasions, like that of a dedication of the Tabernacle or Temple, this was a voluntary offering. As men were urged onward into clearly marked modes of worship they were not deprived of their upward look. Before there is expiation or justification there must be a relation of fellowship between man and his Maker. The burnt-offering was the best symbol of this confidential self-surrender because it was the sacrifice of a living thing. The blood was regarded as the vehicle of the life. When the Hebrew came of his own choice thus before the Lord he made an offering of himself.
II. The idea of expiation underlay the offering of the burnt sacrifice. The Israelite who came before the altar to make a burnt-offering laid his hand upon the victim in token of his desire to have it accepted as a sacrifice for sin. The great breaches of the moral law were not atoned for by any ceremonial under the Hebrew code. The most flagrant sins which were atoned for or covered by sacrifice were those of carelessness, and had reference to a breach of ceremonial law. Therefore we are justified in emphasising in the burnt-offering the idea of self-surrender. The expiation of the murderer’s sin must come from a sacrifice God should make in His own Son. The sinner took refuge with God in the hope of the holier offering and Mediator God should provide.
III. The acceptable sacrifice of the burnt-offering requires the mediatorial office. The worshipper has accepted the offices of God’s mediator. God has received man’s trust, his surrender, his obedience. The spirit of Abraham with raised hand above his only son is that which must fill the heart of every true worshipper under the Mosaic dispensation. He accepts God’s offering as a sacrifice, whether made before the foundation of the world, at the Tabernacle altar, or on Calvary. Obedience is the best element man furnishes in the atonement. Obedience to the unseen God is the arrow of which faith is the bow-string. (W. R. Campbell.)
The gospel of the burnt-offering
I. The offerer was to bring it to the door of the tabernacle.
1. A voluntary act.
(1) Christ died willingly.
(2) So should we in all our services be a willing people.
2. This points every way to Christ as the cause of our acceptance with God. He is both Door and Tabernacle, Altar and Priest.
3. We are to see God in all oar services, in and by Jesus Christ.
4. We are to worship God in His Church.
II. The sinner that brought the sacrifice was to lay his hand upon the head of it. This ceremony relates to the confession of sin, and the translation of the guilt of it upon the sacrifice (Isaiah 53:4-5; 1 John 1:7; 1 John 1:9).
III. The sacrifice must be killed and slain, and that upon the north side of the altar.
1. The death of Christ (Daniel 9:26; Isaiah 53:10).
2. Christ was killed in Jerusalem and Mount Sion, which was on the sides of the north.
IV. The blood was pourer forth at the foot of the altar, and sprinkled upon it round about.
1. Christ’s blood was shed (Isaiah 53:12; Matthew 26:28).
2. Sprinkled (Hebrews 12:24; 1 Peter 1:2).
V. The priest is to flay it, and cut it into its pieces.
1. This related in general to the sufferings of Christ (Micah 3:2-3; Psalms 22:15-16).
2. As the sacrifice, being dead and slain, did leave a skin for clothing to the priest by whose hand he died, so Christ, our true sacrifice, who was led as a lamb to the slaughter, leaves a garment of righteousness to clothe believers with (Romans 13:14).
3. Whereas the sacrifice in this action was laid open, and the inward parts of it discovered to open view: so is Christ fully and openly discovered in the preaching of the gospel (Galatians 3:1).
4. The skin of the sacrifice went to the priest. It was part of his maintenance (see Corinthians 9:13, 14).
VI. The pieces were to be salted (Leviticus 2:13; Mark 9:49).
1. This signifies the perpetuity of the covenant of grace.
2. Its wholesomeness.
VII. The legs and inwards must be washed. So the bodies of believers are said to be washed with pure water, and their hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience.
VIII. The several parts of the offering must be laid upon the altar, and burnt with fire, till consumed. This is the fire of the justice and wrath of God from heaven, which seized upon Christ; and every part of Him was burnt: His head crowned with thorns, His side pierced with the spear, His hands and feet with nails, His whole body did sweat drops of blood, His soul was heavy unto death, yea, burnt to ashes, as it were, brought to the utmost extremity of misery. His saints also endure the fiery trial (1 Peter 4:12).
IX. The ashes must be carried out of the camp into a clean place (Leviticus 6:10-11; see Hebrews 13:11-13). Christ’s crucified body was not buried within the city, but placed in a new sepulchre where never any man lay before (John 19:41). So the dead bodies of all His saints, when they are spent and consumed to ashes, are regarded and preserved in the dust by God as sacred relics, and He will raise them up again unto eternal life. Lessons:
1. See here the difference between God’s ceremonies and men’s. Divine ceremonies are full of light and spirit; human ceremonies are full of darkness and vanity.
2. See the fierceness of the wrath of God against sin. It is nothing but death and blood and slaughter that will appease offended justice.
3. Direction under the guilt of sin what to do, and what course to take, to make atonement and reconciliation between God and thee. Go and bring your sacrifice to the Priest, and by Him unto God.
4. Unspeakable consolation unto them that have taken this course. (S. Mather.)
An offerer comes. Mark what he brings. If his offering be from the herd, it must be an unblemished male (Leviticus 1:3). It must be the choicest produce from his pastures--the primest flower from his fields. There must be strength in fullest vigour, and beauty without one alloy. Such are the properties required. The purport is distinct. Jesus is here. The victim chosen before worlds were framed is thus portrayed. Strength and perfection are main colours in His portrait. We next approach the chambers of the offerer’s heart. We read, “He shall offer it of his own free will” (Leviticus 1:3). There is no compulsion. There is no reluctance. His step is willingness. This is a picture of faith’s happy actings. Its chariot-wheels move swiftly. It feels sin’s miserable need. It knows the value of redeeming blood. So it flies, with rapid wing, to plead it at the mercy-seat. The eager offerer puts his hand upon the victim’s head (Leviticus 1:4). Do any ask the meaning of this rite? It graphically shows a transfer. Some load oppresses, which is thus cast off. Some burden passes to another’s person. Here is again the happy work of faith. It brings all guilt, and heaps it on the Saviour’s head. One sin retained is misery now and hell at last. All must be pardoned by being brought to Christ. And He is waiting to receive. The victim, to which sins thus typically pass, must die (Leviticus 1:5). Can Jesus, who in reality receives our guilt, not lay down life? It cannot be. The holy Word stands sure: “In the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die” (Genesis 2:17). The sinner’s surety, then, cannot be spared. He gives His life to pay the debt--to satisfy the wrath--to bear the curse--to expiate the guilt. O my soul, “Christ died” is all your hope--your plea--your remedy--your life. “Christ died” opens your path to God. The victim’s blood is sprinkled “round about upon the altar” (Leviticus 1:5). The blood is evidence that life is paid. This token then is profusely scattered. The victim is next flayed (Leviticus 1:6). The skin is torn away. The sacrificing priest received this as his portion. Here is a picture of that heaven-pure robe, in which Christ decks each child of faith. His blood, indeed, removes all curse. But it is obedience, which merits all glory. Because He died, we live. Because He lived, we reign. The piercing knife divides the limbs. Members are torn from members, and all the parts, without, within, to which defilement usually adheres, are diligently washed (Leviticus 1:9). The type of Jesus must be clean. No shadow of impurity may darken it. The parts thus severed, and thus washed, are placed upon the altar. Consuming fire is brought. It preys on every limb. The raging flame devours, until this fuel is reduced to ashes (Leviticus 1:9). Let us now seek the truth, which echoes from this blazing pile. The Garden and the Cross unfold it. There Jesus presents Himself, laden with all the sins of all His chosen race. (Dean Law.)
“If his offering be a burnt sacrifice of the herd, let him offer a male, without blemish.” The essential glory and dignity of Christ’s Person form the basis of Christianity. He imparts that dignity and glory to everything He does, and to every office He sustains. We shall see, when we come to examine the other offerings, that “a female” was, in some cases, permitted; but that was only expressive of the imperfection which attached to the worshipper’s apprehension, and in nowise of any defect in the offering, inasmuch as it was “unblemished” in the one case, as well as in the other. Here, however, it was an offering of the very highest order, because it was Christ offering Himself to God. “He shall offer it of his own voluntary will at the door of the Tabernacle of the congregation before the Lord.” The use of the word “voluntary,” here, brings out, with great clearness, the grand idea in the burnt-offering. It leads us to contemplate the Cross in an aspect which is not sufficiently apprehended. We are too apt to look upon the Cross merely as the place where the great question of sin was gone into and settled, between eternal Justice and the spotless Victim--as the place where our guilt was atoned for, and where Satan was gloriously vanquished. Eternal and universal praise to redeeming love the Cross was all this. But it was more than this. It was the place where Christ’s love to the Father was told out in language which only the Father could hear and understand. It is in the latter aspect that we have it typified, in the burnt-offering; and therefore it is that the word “voluntary” occurs. The guilty sinner, no doubt, finds in the Cross a Divine answer to the deepest and most earnest cravings of heart and conscience. The true believer finds in the Cross that which captivates every affection of his heart, and transfixes his whole moral being. The angels find in the Cross a theme for ceaseless admiration. All this is true; but there is that, in the Cross, which passes far beyond the loftiest conceptions of saints or angels; namely, the deep-toned devotion of the heart of the Son presented to, and appreciated by, the heart of the Father. This is the elevated aspect of the Cross, which is so strikingly shadowed forth in the burnt-offering. “And he shall put his hand upon the head of the burnt-offering; and it shall be accepted for him, to make atonement for him.” The act of laying on of hands was expressive of full identification. By that significant act the offerer and the offering became one; and this oneness, in the case of the burnt-offering, secured for the offerer all the acceptableness of his offering. The application of this to Christ and the believer sets forth a truth of the most precious nature, and one largely developed in the New Testament; namely, the believer’s everlasting identification with, and acceptance in, Christ. “As He is, so are we, in this world.” “We are in Him that is true” (1 John 4:17; 1 John 5:20). Nothing, in any measure, short of this could avail. “And he shall kill the bullock before the Lord: and the priests, Aaron’s sons, shall bring the blood, and sprinkle the blood round about upon the altar that is by the door of the Tabernacle of the congregation.” It is most needful, in studying the doctrine of the burnt-offering, to bear in mind that the grand point set forth therein is not the meeting of the sinner’s need, but the presentation to God of that which was infinitely acceptable to Him. Christ, as foreshadowed by the burnt-offering, is not for the sinner’s conscience, but for the heart of God. Further, the Cross, in the burnt-offering, is not the exhibition of the exceeding hatefulness of sin, but of Christ’s unshaken and unshakable devotedness to the Father. Neither is it the scene of God’s outpoured wrath on Christ the Sin-bearer; but of the Father’s unmingled complacency in Christ, the voluntary and most fragrant sacrifice. Finally, “atonement,” as seen in the burnt-offering, is not merely commensurate with the claims of man’s conscience, but with the intense desire of the heart of Christ, to carry out the will and establish the counsels of God--a desire which stopped not short of surrendering up His spotless, precious life, as “a voluntary offering” of “sweet savour” to God. “The priests, Aaron’s sons, shall bring the blood, and sprinkle the blood round about upon the altar that is by the door of the Tabernacle of the congregation.” Here we have a type of the Church, bringing the memorial of an accomplished sacrifice, and presenting it in the place of individual approach to God. But, we must remember, it is the blood of the burnt-offering, and not of the sin-offering. It is the Church, in the power of the Holy Ghost, entering into the stupendous thought of Christ’s accomplished devotedness to God, and not a convicted sinner, entering into the value of the blood of the Sin-bearer. “And he shall flay the burnt-offering, and cut it into his pieces.” The ceremonial act of “flaying” was peculiarly expressive. It was simply the removing of the outward covering, in order that what was within might be fully revealed. It was not sufficient that the offering should be, outwardly, “without blemish,” “the hidden parts” should be all disclosed, in order that every sinew and every joint might be seen. It was only in the case of the burnt-offering that this action was specially named. This is quite in character, and tends to set forth the depth of Christ’s devotedness to the Father. It was no mere surface-work with Him. The more the secrets of His inner life were disclosed, the more the depths of His being were explored, the more clearly was it made manifest that pure devotion to the will of His Father, and earnest desire for His glory, were the springs of action in the great Antitype of the burnt-offering. He was, most assuredly, a whole burnt-offering. “And cut it into his pieces.” This action presents a somewhat similar truth to that taught in the “sweet incense beaten small” (chap. 16.). The Holy Ghost delights to dwell upon the sweetness and fragrance of the sacrifice of Christ, not only as a whole, but also in all its minute details. Look at the burnt-offering, as a whole, and you see it without blemish. Look at it in all its parts, and you see it to be the same. Such was Christ; and as such He is shadowed forth in this important type. “And the sons of Aaron the priest shall put fire upon the altar, and lay the wood in order upon the fire. And the priests, Aaron’s sons, shall lay the parts,” &c. This was a high position--high communion--a high order of priestly service--a striking type of the Church having fellowship with God, in reference to the perfect accomplishment of His will in the death of Christ. As convicted sinners we gaze on the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, and behold therein that which meets all our need. The Cross, in this aspect of it, gives perfect peace to the conscience. But, then, as priests, as purged worshippers, as members of the priestly family, we can look at the Cross in another light, even as the grand consummation of Christ’s holy purpose to carry out, even unto death, the will of the Father. “But his inwards and his legs shall he wash in water: and the priest shall burn all on the altar, to be a burnt sacrifice, an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the Lord.” This action rendered the sacrifice, typically, what Christ was essentially, pure, both inwardly and outwardly pure. The members of His body perfectly obeyed and carried out the counsels of His devoted heart--that heart which only beat for God, and for His glory, in the salvation of men. Well, therefore, might the priest “burn all on the altar.” It was all typically pure, and all designed only as food for the altar of God. (C. H. Mackintosh.)
In the burnt-offering the atoning element of sacrifice fell into the background, though not wholly absent; there is no special manipulation of the blood, as in the sin-offering; all centres on the entire consumption of the sacrifice upon the altar, which was especially the altar of burnt-offering. The burnt-offering was, then, peculiarly the offering of worship. And the offerer was set forth as being “a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God.” The principal burnt-offering under the law was the daily, or continual, burnt-offering (Exodus 29:38-42; cf. Numbers 28:3-8, Leviticus 6:9-12). Nothing was ever allowed to interfere with this “continual burnt-offering.” The great national offering of Israel,” says Archdeacon Freeman, “the morning and evening lamb, was simply the ancient burnt-offering, or the Mosaic offering of private persons, lifted into a new sphere of power and activity. The directions given in the two eases are, as far as they go (cf. Numbers 28:1-31, with Leviticus 1:1-13)
, perfectly coincident; even to the quantity of flour, wine, and oil. Insomuch that the lofty powers wielded by the continual sacrifice might well seem at first sight unaccountable. But they are fully accounted for when we call to mind the august circumstances with which this particular offering was surrounded. These, joined to the direct command and promise of God in respect of it, render an abundant account of the transcendent powers which are ascribed to it. And though we might on some accounts rather have expected to find the ox or the ram selected, for their physical superiority and greater value, as the national and all-containing sacrifice, we easily perceive, from the standing-ground of the gospel, the superior fitness for this purpose of the feeblest, meekest, and most unresisting of creatures. At the same time, even as the Divine “strength was made perfect in the weakness” of Christ, so this outwardly simple and single sacrifice was seen, on occasion, to carry within it all that was noble and powerful in the sacrificial sphere. On each Sabbath it expanded into two lambs, offered morning and evening; at the new moons, and other feasts, it became seven lambs, two young bullocks, a ram, and a goat; on each day, during the Feast of Tabernacles, fourteen lambs, from eight to thirteen bullocks, two rams, and a goat, became, in a word, “fat burnt sacrifices, with incense of rams, bullocks, and goats.” By all these was manifested forth the might that was veiled under the meekness of the lamb . . . It is of the utmost importance thus to have pointed out the function and capacities of the ancient burnt-offering, because the sacrificial work of Christ is to so great a degree interpreted to us by it, and specially by that loftily empowered instance of it, the Mosaic continual sacrifice. To this is to be referred whatever is said in the New Testament, and in the Liturgies, of His giving Himself, as a most unspeakably acceptable gift to God; as discriminated either from His “giving” or delivering Himself over for suffering and death, to wicked men and powers of evil, which is more especially set forth by the sin-offering; or again, as distinguished from His giving Himself to man as the life of his soul, which was represented by the “peace-offering.” The continual burnt-offering represents also our Lord’s perpetual presentation of His sacrifice in heaven, that sacrifice which St. Athanasius calls “a faithful sacrifice, one which remains and does not pass away.” (E. F. Willis, M. A.)
The leading feature of the burnt-offering consisted in its being wholly consumed upon the altar. “What have we here but a type of the preciousness of Jesus, as exhibited in His wholehearted devotedness, His entire consecration to the will and service of His Father? Is not His language in the fortieth Psalm, “Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of Me, I delight to do Thy will, O My God. Yea, Thy law is within My heart”--precisely the language of the “Burnt-Offering”? Again, in John, “I seek not My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.” Who but Jesus could say, “I do always those things that please Him”? Isolated acts of devotedness we may and do see exhibited by many of His followers. But in the Man Christ Jesus we see one who through life, and in death could say, “My meat and My drink is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work”--One who loved and served “the Lord His God with all His heart, His soul, His strength”--One, therefore, who met in every respect the requirements of the type before us. Before the victim for the burnt-offering was placed upon the altar, it was flayed and cut into pieces, and the parts thereof, “the head and feet,” laid “in order upon the wood.” This was a testing process, and served to try the animal’s fitness for the sacrifice. Jesus was tried. Tried by man. Tried by Satan. Tried by God. His thoughts, the feelings of His heart, His words, His every act--all were laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom He had to do. Yet all bore the test. The minutest examination of His inner as well as His outer life failed to disclose aught but consisted with the purest and most perfect devotion to His Father’s will. He Himself could say, “Thou hast proved Mine heart, Thou hast visited Me in the night, Thou hast tried Me and shalt find nothing.” Whilst His Father from the excellent glory declared, “Thou art My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” In other words, “I rest in Thee and am satisfied. My holiness rests in Thee and is satisfied. My justice, My truth, all the essential attributes which I possess as Jehovah, all are satisfied.” All My most righteous claims are met to the full. Thou art unto Me a perfect burnt-offering. “A sacrifice of a sweet-smelling savour.” But not only was the burnt-offering one of a “sweet-smelling savour” to God, it was rich also in results towards the offerer. It stood in his stead. All its perfectness was regarded as if it had been his. In its acceptance he was accepted. So with Christ’s sacrifice (see Ephesians 5:2; Romans 5:19). (F. H. White.)
The burnt-offerings aptly commence the sacrificial laws
First, they were probably the oldest form of sacrifice. In the next place, they had the very widest application, and could be presented by any person without distinction, a point which is the more significant as the offerer, sharing the sacred functions with the priests, had to perform several important parts of the ceremony himself. And lastly, though originally designed to convey merely the worshipper’s awe and his unconditional surrender to the Divine supremacy, they were, in the Levitical code, invested with the character of atonement (Leviticus 1:4), and were not only commanded on specified occasions, but left to the spontaneous impulse of the heart that yearns for peace and for the expiation of sins known to the transgressor alone. They were therefore meant to serve the highest ends of an inward religion. Thus modified, they marked a decided progress in the path of spiritual faith; they were, in fact, the forerunners of the expiatory offerings which form the very crowning point of the sacrificial system, and beyond which, even at the very next step, the mind leaves the fetters of the ceremonial law and enters the purer regions of freedom and elevation. Hence the Levitical holocausts lead us to a time when the deeprooted tendencies towards pagan idolatry had been conquered, and the intellectual efforts of the more thoughtful and more gifted among the Hebrews had been rewarded by the establishment of a religious creed, which, however far removed from absolute truth, and however repugnant to the true attributes of the Deity and the requirements of philosophy and reason, at least permitted the exercise of noble and exalted humanity, and even facilitated, more than any of the preceding and most of the later systems of theology, an insight into the moral government of the world, and the higher aims of human existence. Thus the very beginning of the Book reveals unmistakably the time and purposes of its composition, and forms the first link in that great chain of evidence which leads to the most pregnant and most interesting historical results. (M. M. Kalisch, Ph. D.)
Here we are so accustomed to fall short of God’s glory, and failure in glorifying Him is so much regarded as the necessary law of our condition, that even believers find it difficult to look on failure in devotedness as sin--sin that needs atonement as much as their most dire transgressions. Even after we have owned the blood of the Paschal Lamb as delivering from the judgment due to our natural condition, and after we have recognised the necessity of the Holy One bearing the curse earned by our transgressions, we nevertheless fail to estimate the want of perfect devotedness as being positive sin; and hence the appreciation of our own condition, as well as of the grace that meets it, becomes proportionately enfeebled. In order to correct this error--an error fatal to all right apprehension of God, and our relation both to His holiness and to His grace--the first lesson given to us in the Tabernacle respects the whole burnt-offering. In other offerings part was sometimes given to the priest, sometimes to the offerer; but the burnt-offering was all (the skin only excepted) rendered to God, and all burnt upon His altar. In the burnt-offering, therefore, there was a distinct recognition of the righteous claim of God on the unreserved devotedness of His creatures; but it was also the confession that that claim was responded to by none. When an offerer presented a victim to be accepted in his room, the very act of substitution implied that the offerer acknowledged himself to be destitute of the qualifications which were found in his offering; otherwise substitution would not be needed, for the offerer would stand in his own integrity. There was the confession, too, that the absence of these qualifications involved guilt--guilt deserving death; for otherwise the offering would not have been substitutionally slain--“killed before Jehovah”; and lastly, there was the acknowledgment that because no unreserved devotedness had been found in him, he needed an offering to be wholly given in his stead as “a sweet savour of rest before Jehovah.” The burnt-offering therefore may be regarded as the type of Christ in respect of that full, unreserved devotedness of service which caused Him, as the servant of Jehovah, in all things to renounce Himself, and to render every energy, and every feeling, and finally His life itself, as a whole burnt-offering unto God. (B. W. Newton.)
Right use of the grace of the burnt-offering
To use aright the grace of the burnt-offering requires, whilst we remain in the flesh, continued watchfulness: else we may sit down under the shadow of its mercies and slumber. When protection in the earth was by the especial gift of God granted to Cain, the opportunities which that protection gave were instantly used by him against God. It may be said, what else could be expected from the unregenerate heart of Cain? But it must be remembered that unregenerate energies are still found in the flesh even of the regenerate. “In our flesh no good thing dwelleth,” but sin--essential sin--is there. “The flesh lusteth against the spirit.” And although the protection vouchsafed to Cain was a temporary mercy only, and although no burnt-offering spread the power of its acceptance over his guilty head, and therefore in him unregeneracy might be expected to work and to bring forth its proper fruits, yet what shall we say of another--him who is first mentioned in Scripture as standing by the side of a burnt-offering altar? Noah offered whole burnt-offerings, and the Lord smelled a sweet savour of rest and made a covenant of blessing, and under it Noah rested: but to what did he devote his energies? To planting a vineyard for himself and cherishing its fruits, till he drank the wine thereof and became drunken and dishonoured. Can there be any other result, when the Church, forgetting its high and separate calling, finds its chief present use of the grace of redemption, in trying to sanctify to itself mere earthly joys? It was otherwise with the Apostle Paul. Who knew, as he, the value of the burnt-offering and the joy of its acceptance? Yet to him, “to live was Christ”; and he laboured on till he could say, “I have fought the good fight, I have kept the faith, I have finished my course with joy.” And why this difference? It was because the apostle better understood that the only true place of blessing was “the new creation.” His soul followed, as it were, the offering to the place into which its sweet savour ascended--even above the heavens. (B. W. Newton.)
Inferior offerings permitted
One offerer might bring a bullock--another an offering from the flock--another only an offering of fowls. There was evidently much mercy in this provision; for if poverty, or even disinclination, prevented an Israelite from bringing the highest offering, he was permitted to bring a lesser, in order that he might not be deprived entirely of the blessings connected with the burnt-offering. Antitypically, there ought to be in believers sufficient enlargement of faith to form a proper conception of Christ as the burnt-offering; bat if this be wanting, there may be a more feeble power of faith, not without its value, which is able to apprehend partially. Such a character of faith is likely to be prevalent at an hour of general weakness like the present. The superior worth of the bullock, as contrasted with the lesser offerings, is doubtless the point chiefly to be rested on. But there seems a peculiar suitability in such a type as the bullock, when our minds are directed to Christ as the Servant of Jehovah. If we are to consider the strength, the patience, the submissiveness, which characterised His service, or the value of that service in result, the bullock is evidently a far fitter type than either the sheep or the dove. When the offering was from the flock, and yet more, when it was taken from the fowls, we find, as might be expected, the ceremonies indicating far less distinct and discriminative apprehension of the value of the burnt-offering than in the former case. A distinct recognition of Him and His perfections, to whom the offering was rendered, was most material. Accordingly, in offering the bullock the offerer presented it “at the door of the Tabernacle of congregation before Jehovah,” and killed it “before Jehovah.” Great prominency is thus given to “Jehovah”; but in this second case there is no such presentation before Jehovah, no laying the hand on the head of the victim, no mention of its being presented for acceptance or for atonement. It was killed also in a different place, not simply “before Jehovah,” but “on the side of the altar northward before Jehovah.” In the former case the offerer advanced to the door of the Tabernacle of congregation before Jehovah; as if recognising Him, and all His attributes in their totality; but in this second case he slew the victim, not in front of the altar, or at the altar, but on the side of the altar northward--indicating, apparently, that his attention was directed, not to the manner in which all the attributes of God were recognised by the altar, as it looked eastward and westward, northward and southward; but that it was fixed peculiarly on its relation to Jehovah in some of His attributes. To speak generally the deficiency in this second class of offerings may be described thus: An insufficient apprehension of Him to whom the offering is brought. Insufficient appreciation of the value of the offering itself, both in its life and in its death. Thoughts not sufficiently discriminative as regards the altar, and the qualities that attach to the offering as there burned. Seeing, then, it is the great object of these ceremonies to expand truth, and to give distinctness of apprehension, that object fails of being attained, just in proportion as there is deficiency of apprehension or confusion of thoughts that should be distinguished. This is still more manifest in the offering from the fowls. (B. W. Newton.)
“Kill it on the side of the altar northward”
One obvious reason seems to be this--there was a necessity, for the sake of order, that there should be a separate place for killing the oxen and the sheep. No quarter of the heavens was sacred; and since, at other times, the sacrifice was presented on the east side, a variety like this answered the purpose of proclaiming that Jesus is offered to any soul in any nation, east or north, i.e., from east to west, north to south; His death is presented to the view of all, to be behoved “by men as, soon as they see it.” Look unto Me and be ye saved, all ends of the earth. (A. A. Bonar.)
The complete offering of self required by God
Give to God ourselves or nothing; and to give ourselves to Him is not His advantage bat ours. The philosopher said to his poor scholar, who told him he had nothing but himself to give: “It is well,” said he; “and I will endeavour to give thee back to thyself better than I received thee.” Thus doth God with us, and a Christian makes himself his daily sacrifice; he renews this gift of himself every day to God, and, receiving it every day bettered again, still he hath the more delight to give it, as being fitter for God the more it is sanctified by former sacrificing. Now that whereby we offer all other spiritual sacrifices, and even ourselves, is love. That is the holy fire that burns up all, sends up our prayers and our hearts and our whole selves, a whole burnt-offering to God. (Archbp. Leighton.)
There are some of the heathens that worship the sun for a god, and they would offer to the sun somewhat suitable; and therefore because they did so much admire at the swiftness of the motion of the sun, they would not offer a snail but a flying horse, a horse with wings. Now a horse is one of the swiftest creatures, and one of the strongest to continue in motion for a long time together; then, having added wings to the horse, they conceived he was suitable to be a sacrifice for the sun. So when we come to God to worship Him, to sanctify Him, to call upon His name, we must not bring the bare calves of our lips, but the fervency of our hearts; we must behave ourselves so as to give Him the glory that is fit for such a God to have. (J. Spencer.)
The best to be sacrificed
The Persian metal-workers will use little or no alloy with their gold, professing to despise, as base and beneath the name of gold, the metal alloyed with silver or copper employed by European and American jewellers, even though it be eighteen carats fine. Christ deserves the best of our best. (Sharpened Arrows.)
It is said of the Lacedaemonians, who were a poor and homely people, that they offered lean sacrifices to their gods; and that the Athenians who were a wise and wealthy people, offered fat and costly sacrifices; and yet in their wars the former always had the mastery over the latter. Whereupon they went to the oracle to know the reason why those should speed worst who gave most. The oracle returned this answer to them: “That the Lacedaemonians were a people who gave their hearts to their gods, but that the Athenians only gave their gifts to their gods.” Thus the heart without a gift is better than a gift without a heart. But both are desirable. (T. Secker.)
The motive in offering
There may be many things that move, and yet their motion is not an argument of life: a windmill, when the wind serveth, moveth, and moveth very nimbly too, yet this cannot be said to be a living creature; no, it moveth only by an external cause, by an artificial contrivance; it is so framed that when the wind sitteth in such or such a corner it will move, and so, having but an external motor and cause to move, and no inward principle--no soul within it to move it--it is an argument that it is no living creature. So it is also, if a man see another man move, and move very fast in those things which of themselves are the ways of God, you shall see him move as fast to hear a sermon as his neighbour doth, as forward and as hasty to thrust himself and bid himself a guest to the Lord’s table (when God hath not bid him) as any. Now the question is, What principle sets him at work? If it be an inward principle of life, out of a sincere affection and love to God and His ordinances that carrieth him to this, it argueth that man hath some life of grace; but if it be some wind that bloweth on him, the wind of state, the wind of law, the wind of danger, of penalty, the wind of fashion or custom, to do as his neighbours do: if these, or the like, be the things that draw him thither, this is no argument of life at all; it is a cheap thing, it is a counterfeit and dead piece of service. (J. Spencer.)
He shall put his hand upon the head.
Putting the hand upon the head of the sacrifice
Two matters were essential in the sacrifices of the ceremonial law; and you have them both in our text: “He shall put his hand upon the head of the burnt-offering,” and “He shall kill the bullock before the Lord.” The appropriation by the offerer and the death of the offering are most fitly joined together, and must neither of them be overlooked. Let us on the present occasion look at the leading act of the offerer: “He shall lay his hand upon the head of the burnt-offering.” All that goes before is important, but this is the real sacrificial act so far as the offerer is concerned. Before he reached this point, the person who presented the offering had to make a selection of the animal to be brought before the Lord. It must be of a certain age, and it must be without blemish; and for this latter reason a careful examination had to be made; for the Lord would not accept a sacrifice that was lame, or broken, or bruised, or deficient in any of its parts, or in any way blemished. He required an offering “without spot.” Now I invite all those who seek reconciliation with God to look about them, and consider whether the Lord Jesus Christ be such an atoning sacrifice as they need and as God will accept. After you have well examined His blessed person and His spotless character if you arrive at the conclusion that He is a fit and acceptable sacrifice for you to present before the Lord, then I long that you may take the much more practical step, and accept the Lord Jesus to be your representative, your sin-offering, your burnt-offering, your substitute, and your sacrifice. Happily you have not to find a sacrifice as the Jew had to supply a bullock; God has provided Himself with a perfect sacrifice; that which you have to bring to God, God first brings to you. Happily, there is no need for you to repeat the examination through which the Lord Jesus passed both at the hands of men, and of devils, and of God, when He was tested and tried and examined, and even the prince of this world found nothing of his own in Him. You have to attend to this one thing, namely, the laying of your hands upon the sacrifice provided for you. To the Jew it was a sacrifice to be slain, to you it is a sacrifice already offered; and this you are to accept and recognise as your own. I pray from my inmost soul that you may immediately do that which was meant by laying the hand upon the victim’s head. What did that mean?
I. It meant four things, and the first was confession.
1. He that laid his hand upon the head of the offering made confession of sin. Your touch of Jesus must be the touch of one who is consciously guilty. He belongs not to you unless you are a sinner. Confession of gin is no hard duty to some of us, for we can do no other than acknowledge and bemoan our guilt f Here we stand before Thee self-condemned, and with aching hearts we each one cry, “Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Thy lovingkindness.” Do any of you refuse to make confession of guilt? Then do not think it hard if, since according to your own proud notions you are not sinners, the Lord should provide for you no Saviour I Should medicine be prepared for those who are not sick? Wherefore should the righteous be invited to partake of pardon? Why should a righteousness be provided for the innocent? Our true place is that of sinners: we plead guilty to the dread indictment of God’s holy law, and therefore we are glad to lay our hand upon the head of the sinner’s Saviour and sacrifice.
2. In this act there was also a confession of self-impotence. ,Oh, what can we do without Christ? I like what was said by a child in the Sunday School, when the teacher said, “You have been reading that Christ is precious: what does that mean?” The children stayed a little while, till at last one boy replied, “Father said the other day that mother was precious, for ‘ whatever should we do without her? ‘“ This is a capital explanation of the word “precious.” You and I can truly say of the Lord Jesus Christ that He is precious to us, for what should we do, what could we do without Him? Because we are so deeply conscious of our own self-impotence we lean hard upon His all-sufficiency. If you could read the text in the Hebrew you would find it runs thus: “He shall put his hand upon the head of the burnt-offering, and it shall be accepted for him to make a cover for him”--to make atonement for him. The word is copher in the Hebrew--a cover. Why, then, do we hide behind the Lord Jesus? Because we feel our need of something to cover us, and to act as an interposition between us and the righteous Judge of all the earth. If the Holy One of Israel shall look upon us as we are He must be displeased; bat when He sees us in Christ Jesus He is well pleased for His righteousness’ sake.
3. There was a further confession of the desert of punishment. When a man brought his bullock, or his goat, or his lamb, he put his hand on ii, and as l e knew that the poor creature must die he thus acknowledged that he himself deserved death.
II. Secondly, the laying on of hands meant acceptance. The offerer by laying his hand upon the victim’s head signified that he acknowledged the offering to be for himself.
1. He accepted, first of all, the principle and the plan. Far too many kick against the idea of our being saved by substitution or representation. Why do they rebel against it? Why should I complain of that which is to deliver me from destruction? If the Lord does not object to the way, why should I? God grant that no one may hold out against a method of grace so simple, so sure, so available! But, then, mind.
2. After you have accepted the plan and the way, you must not stop there, but you must go on to accept the sacred person whom God provides. It would have been a very foolish thing if the offerer had stood at the altar and said, “Good Lord, I accept the plan of sacrifice; be it burnt-offering or sin-offering, I agree thereto.” He did much more than that; he accepted that very bullock as his offering, and in token thereof placed his hand upon it. I pray you beware of resting satisfied with understanding and approving the plan of salvation. I heard of one who anxiously desired to be the means of the conversion of a young man, and one said to him, “You may go to him, and talk to him, but you will get him no further, for he is exceedingly well acquainted with the plan of salvation.” When the friend began to speak with the young man, he received for an answer, “I am much obliged to you, but I do not know that you can tell me much, for I have long known and admired the plan of salvation by the substitutionary sacrifice of Christ.” Alas! he was resting in the plan, but he bad not believed in the Person. The plan of salvation is most blessed, but it can avail us nothing unless we believe. What is the comfort of a plan of a house if you do not enter the house itself? What is the good of a plan of clothing if you have not a rag to cover you? The offerer laid his hands literally upon the bullock: he found something substantial there, something which he could handle and touch; even so do we lean upon the real and true work of Jesus, the most substantial thing under heaven. We come to the Lord Jesus by faith, and say, “God has provided an atonement here, and I accept it; I believe it to be a fact accomplished on the Cross that sin was put away by Christ, and I rest on Him.” Yes; you must get beyond the acceptance of plans and doctrines to a resting in the Divine person and finished work of the blessed Lord Jesus Christ, and a casting of yourself entirely upon Him.
III. But thirdly, this laying of the hand upon the sacrifice meant not only acceptance, but also transference.
1. The offerer had confessed his sin, and had accepted the victim then presented to be his sacrifice, and now he mentally realises that his guilt is by Divine appointment to pass over from himself to the sacrifice. Of course this was only done in type and figure at the door of the Tabernacle; but in our case the Lord Jesus Christ as a matter of literal fact has borne the sin of His people. “The Lord hath made to meet on Him the iniquity of us all.” “Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree.” “Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many.” But do we by faith pass our sins-from ourselves to Christ? I answer, No: in some senses, no. But by faith he that accepts Christ as his Saviour agrees with what the Lord did ages ago, for we read in the book of Isaiah the prophet, “The Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all.”
2. The laying of the hand upon the head of the sacrifice meant a transference of guilt to the victim, and, furthermore, a confidence in the efficacy of the sacrifice there and then presented. The believing Jew said, “This bullock represents to me the sacrifice which God has provided, and I rejoice in it because it is the symbol of a sacrifice which does in very deed take away sin.” There are a great number of people who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ after a fashion, but it is not in deed and in truth, for they do not believe in the actual pardon of their own sin: they hope that it may one day be forgiven, but they have no confidence that the Lord Jesus has already put away their sin by His death. “I am a great sinner,” says one, “therefore I cannot be saved.” Man alive, did Christ die for those who are not sinners? What was the need of a Saviour except for sinners? Has Jesus actually borne sin, or has He not? If He has borne our sin, it is gone; if He has not borne it, our sin will never depart. What does the Scripture say? “He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.” If, then, Christ did take the sinner’s sin, it remains not upon the sinner that believeth.
IV. Once more, this laying of the hand upon the head of the victim meant identification. The worshipper who laid his hand on the bullock said, “Be pleased, O great Lord, to identify me with this bullock, and this bullock with me. There has been a transferring of my sin, now I beseech Thee let me be judged as being in the victim, and represented thereby.” Now consider that which happened to the sacrifice. The knife was unsheathed, and the victim was slain. He was not merely bound, bat killed; and the man stood there and said, “That is me; that is the fate which I deserve.” The poor creature struggled, it wallowed in the sand in its dying agonies, and if the worshipper was a right-minded person, and not a mere formalist, he stood with tears in his eyes, and felt in his heart, “That death is mine.” I beseech you when you think of our blessed Lord to identify yourselves with Him. (C. H. Spurgeon.)
Nothing but laying the hand on the sacrifice will suffice
Now, suppose that the Jew, who went up to the Tabernacle and to the altar, when he came there had been content to talk about the sacrifice without personally placing his hand on it. To talk of it would be a very proper thing to do; but suppose that he had spent all his time in merely discoursing about the plan of a sacrifice, the providing of a substitute, the shedding of blood, the clearance of the sinner through sacrificial death; it would have been a delightful theme, but what would have come of it? Suppose he had talked on and on, and had gone away home without joining in the offering, he would have found no ease to his conscience; he would, in fact, have done nothing by going to the house of the Lord. I am afraid that this is what many of you have done hitherto. You are pleased to hear the gospel, you take pleasure in the doctrine of substitution, and you know true doctrine from the current falsehoods of the hour: for all which I am very glad; but yet you are not saved, because you have not taken Christ to be your own Saviour. You are like persons who should say, “We are hungry; but we admit that bread is a very proper food for men, besides which we know what sort of food makes bone, and what makes muscle, and what makes flesh.” They keep on talking all day long about the various qualities of food: do they feel refreshed? No. Is their hunger gone? No. I should suppose that, if they are at all healthy, their appetite is increased, and the more they talk about food the more sharp set they become. Why, some of you here have been talking about the bread of heaven for years, and yet I am afraid you are no more hungry than you used to be. Do go beyond talking about Christ, and learn to feed upon Christ. Come, now, let us have done with talk, and come to deeds of faith. Lay hold on Jesus, who is set before you in the gospel: otherwise, dear friend, I fear you will perish in the midst of plenty, and die unpardoned, with mercy at your gate. Suppose, again, that the Israelite instead of talking with his friends, had thought it wise to consult with one of the priests. “Might I speak with you, sir, a little? Have you a little room somewhere at the back where you could talk with me, and pray with me?” “Yes,” says the priest, “what ails you?” “My sin lies heavy upon me.” The priest replies, “You know that there is a sacrifice for sin; a sin-offering lieth at the door, and God will accept it at your hands.” But you say, “I beg you to explain this matter more fully to me.” The priest answers, “I will explain it as well as I can; but the whole of my explanation will end in this one thing--bring a sacrifice, and over its head confess your sin, and let an atonement be made. The sin-offering is what God has ordained, and therefore God will receive it. Attend to His ordinance and live: there is no other way. Fetch your offering; I will kill it for you, and lay it on the altar and present it to God.” Do you say to him, “I will call again to-morrow, and have a little more talk with you”? Do you again and again cry, “To-morrow”? Do you go again and again into the inquiry-room? Oh, sir, what will become of you? You will perish in your sin; for God has not appointed salvation by inquiry-rooms and talks with ministers, but by your laying your own hand upon the sacrifice which He has appointed. If you will have Christ; you shall be saved; if you will not have Him, you must perish, all the talking to you in the world cannot help you one jot if you refuse your Saviour. But I see another Israelite, and he stands by his offering, and begins to weep and groan, and bewail himself. I am not sorry to see him weep, for I trust he is sincerely confessing his guilt; but why does he not place his hand on the sacrifice? He cries and he sighs, for he is such a sinner; but he does not touch the offering. The victim is presented, and in order that it may avail for him, he must lay his hand upon it; but this vital act he neglects and even refuses to perform. “Ah,” he says, “I am in such trouble, I am in such deep distress,” and he begins starting a difficulty. You hunt that difficulty down, but there he stands, still groaning and moaning, and producing another difficulty, and yet another, world without end. The sacrifice is slain, but he has no part in it, for he has not laid his hand upon it, and he goes away with all the burden of his guilt upon him, though the sacrificial blood has reddened the ground on which he stood. That is what some of you do. You go about lamenting your sin, when your chief lament should be that you have not believed on the Son of God. If you looked to Jesus you might dry your eyes and bid all hopeless sorrows cease; for He gives remission of sins to all penitents. Your tears can never remove your sins; tears, though flowing like a river, can never wash away the stain of guilt. Your faith must lay her hand on the head of the Lord’s sacrifice, for there and there only is there hope for the guilty. Observe that the Israelite had to put his hand upon a victim which was not slain as yet, but was killed afterwards. This was to remind him that the Messiah was not yet come; but you have to trust in a Christ who has come, who has lived, who has died, who has finished the work of salvation, who has gone up into the glory, and who ever liveth to make intercession for transgressors. Will you trust Him or will you not? I cannot waste words; I must come to the point. John Bunyan says that one Sunday when he was playing the game of tip-cat on Elstow Green, as he was about to strike the cat with the stick, he seemed to hear a voice saying to him, “Wilt thou leave thy sins and go to heaven, or wilt thou keep thy sins and go to hell?” This morning the voice from heaven sounds forth this question, “Will you trust in Christ and go to heaven, or will you keep apart from Him and go to hell? for thither you must go unless Jesus becomes your Mediator and your atoning sacrifice. Will you have Christ or no? I hear you say, “But”--O that I could thrust your “buts” aside. Will you have Christ or not? “Oh, but”--Nay, your “buts” ought to be thrown into limbo; I fear they will be your ruin. Will you trust Christ or not? If your answer is, “I trust Him with all my heart,” then you are a saved man. I say not you shall be saved; but you are saved. “He that believeth in Him hath everlasting life.” (C. H. Spurgeon.)
He shall put his hand upon the head of the burnt-offering
If we want an offering of ours accepted of God, we must show it in some way. If we want a share in that which another offers, we must let that be manifest also. It is not for us to stand off, or to sit upright, while the minister prays, or the choir sings, ourselves having no part in the service of prayer or song. We must in some way put our hand on the head of that offering, and say Amen, or join--feebly and unmelodiously though it may be--in the chorus. If we fail of this, we fail of any share in the offering and in its benefits. The Lord wants us to rest confidently on His provisions of grace for us. He wants us to lean hard on the Substitute offered and accepted in our behalf. We are not able to stand alone. God understands that very well. But we ought to be able to lean on a sure support. That support is provided. Do you rest on it? (H. C. Trumbull.)
For the sake of the substitute
I was led into the church of Dr. Kirk, at Boston, when some special meetings were going on. I did not know my right hand from my left in spiritual things. While the doctor was preaching I got angry, for I thought he was telling the people all about me, and I thought it was very impudent of him to do so. I determined that I would never enter that church again. However, I was there next Sunday. Then I went to the prayer-meeting, and got behind a pillar, but a kind gentleman came and gave me a seat. On coming out, although it was not cold weather, I pulled my coat-collar up that I might not be recognised. When I began to be anxious and to pray, I would not say “for Jesus’ sake.” I did not understand it. I said, “It ain’t for Jesus’ sake; I want it for my own sake.” I could not see what “Jesus’ sake” had to do with it. I was in Boston the other day, and saw the old settee I used to sleep on. I had a good mind to bring it home as a relic; perhaps I may yet. I went home one night and knelt down by that settee full of trouble, and I cried out, “O God! for Jesus’ sake take this load off me.” In a moment it was gone; and I thank God that then, twenty-five years ago, Jesus became my personal Friend, and He has been my Friend ever since. (D. L. Moody.)
A friend of mine was master in a school of black children in Jamaica. He had made a law that every lie told in school should be punished by seven strokes on the palm with a strap. One day Lottie Patti told a lie, and was called up to receive the seven strokes. Lottie was a poor little thing, and pain was terrible to her. But the master must enforce his law. So Lottie had to hold out her hand and receive the seven strokes. But her cry of pain when she had received the first went to the master’s heart. So he looked to the forms on which the boys were seated, and asked, “Is there any boy will bear the rest of Lottie’s punishment?” And as soon as the words were out of his lips up started a bright little fellow called Jim, and said, “Please, sir, I will!” And he rose from his seat, stepped up to the desk, and received, without a cry, the six remaining strokes. What moved this brave boy to bear Lottie’s punishment? It was his gentle heart. And it was the vision of a heart gentler still which filled the master’s eyes with tears that day, and made him close his books, and bring his scholars round about his desk, and tell them of the Gentle One who long ago bore the punishment of us all. (Alex. Macleod, D. D.)
Laying the hand on the victim
The offerer indicated thereby both the surrender of his ownership of the victim and the transfer to it of the feelings by which he was influenced in performing this act of dedication to the Lord. From the practice which obtained during the second Temple, we know that the offerer himself laid both his hands between the two horns of the animal whilst alive, and that no proxy could do it. If several offered one sacrifice, each one laid his hand separately on the victim, confessing his sins and saying, “I have sinned, I have committed iniquity, I have transgressed and I have done this and this, but I repent before Thee, and this is my atonement.” (C. D. Ginsburg, LL. D.)
The substituting sacrifice
In dealing with this lesson the teacher may group his illustrations around the substitute, the accepted offering, and the completed sacrifice. During a recent European war a young man was drawn by conscription for the army. He was very unwilling to join, but the law of his country decreed that he must go unless he could find some one to take his place. At last a friend came forward, went to the front in his stead, and was shot down in his first battle. That was substitution; the volunteer died for his friend. In a fog on one of the American coasts the fishermen heard the steam-whistle of an ocean steamer that was coming direct for the rocks. Out some of them went in a fishing-boat, sailed in before the steamer, shouted words of warning to the captain, saved the ship, and were run down and drowned. They gave their lives for the lives of the passengers on the steamship. That is the law of life--life out of death. The life and liberty of a nation are bought in fields of blood and sacrifice. The death of a mother becomes the occasion of the salvation of a hitherto thoughtless son. Even the continued life of individuals is bought by the slaughter of countless cattle. In picturing out the ceremonies described in the lesson, emphasise the substitutionary offering of a perfect victim. Only, in applying the type to Christ, remember that the meaning of His death for us is greater and fuller than that of any type or illustration. If you tender a clipped coin in payment of what you buy, it will be refused; it is not full value. If a man offer to become bail for an accused person, and it is shown that his property cannot cover the amount of bail, his offer is refused. If a college professor were about to take a week’s vacation, it is not likely that the offer of an illiterate man to fill his place till he returned, would be accepted. So the sacrifice that redeems a human soul must be perfect and without blemish. The typical perfect burnt-offering pointed to the accepted offering of the perfect antitype Christ. Picture out the scene at the burning of the offering--the sprinkled blood, the parted body, the smoke rising from the burning fat. The wounded man does not realise how dangerous a thing that slight wound in the arm is, till he sees the surgeons standing around, and notes the preparations made for cutting the limb off. So the sinner must have realised what a terrible thing sin was, when he saw the bloody sacrifice and the burning fire. Should our hatred and fear of sin be any less when we look upon the completed sacrifice at Calvary? (American Sunday School Times.)
To make atonement for him--
In this word “atonement” we are introduced to one of the key-words of Leviticus, as indeed of the whole Scripture. The Hebrew radical originally means “to cover,” and is used once (Genesis 6:14) in this purely physical sense. But commonly, as here, it means “to cover” in a spiritual sense, that is, to cover the sinful person from the sight of the Holy God, who is “of purer eyes than to behold evil.” Hence, it is commonly rendered “to atone,” or “to make atonement”; also, “to reconcile,” or “to make reconciliation.” The thought is this: that between the sinner and the Holy One comes now the guiltless victim; so that the eye of God looks not upon the sinner, but on the offered substitute; and in that the blood of the substituted victim is offered before God for the sinner, atonement is made for sin, and the Most Holy One is satisfied. And when the believing Israelite should lay his hand with confession of sin upon the appointed victim, it was graciously promised: “It shall be accepted for him,” &c. And just so now, whenever any guilty sinner, fearing the deserved wrath of God because of his sin, especially because of his lack of that full consecration which the burnt-sacrifice set forth, lays his hand in faith upon the great Burnt-offering of Calvary, the blessing is the same. For in the light of the Cross, this Old Testament word becomes a sweet New Testament promise: “When thou shalt rest with the hand of faith upon this Lamb of God, He shall be accepted for thee, to make atonement for thee.” This is most beautifully expressed in an ancient “Order for the Visitation of the Sick,” attributed to Anselm of Canterbury, in which it is written: “The minister shall say to the sick man, Dost thou believe that thou canst not be saved but by the death of Christ? The sick man answereth, Yes. Then let it be said unto him, Go to, then, and whilst thy soul abideth in thee, put all thy confidence in this death alone; place thy trust in no other thing; commit thyself wholly to this death; cover thyself alway with this alone And if God would judge thee, say, Lord, I place the death of our Lord Jesus Christ between me and Thy judgment; otherwise I will not contend or enter into judgment with Thee. And if He shall say unto thee that thou art a sinner, say, I place the death of our Lord Jesus Christ between me and my sins. If He shall say unto thee, that thou hast deserved damnation, say, Lord, I put the death of our Lord Jesus Christ between Thee and all my sins; and I offer His merits for my own, which I should have, and have not.” And whosoever of us can thus speak, to him the promise speaks from out the shadows of the tent of meeting: “This Christ, the Lamb of God, the true Burnt-offering, shall be accepted for thee, to make atonement for thee.” (S. H. Kellogg, D. D.)
The blood of Christ
“The sacrifice which Jesus Christ offered for His people was better than zany or all offered under the Levitical law; for they all combined in Him. It was a richer sacrifice by far in itself, for in the Levitical sacrifice there was only the principle of brute life; but in Christ’s not only human, but holy, and more, it was Heavenly blood, and so much higher in intrinsic value. His was no involuntary sacrifice, no accidental death; for while sentence was pronounced in Pilate’s hall yet “it pleased the Lord to bruise Him.” His sacrifice of Himself procures a more thorough cleansing, for it is no ritual or ceremonial cleanness, but a purged conscience, and eternally settles the question of sin. It brings the soul at once into freedom to serve God; the cleansed spirit is brought into delightful service for the Redeemer; it sweeps all time in its efficacy, and is yet to have a more glorious consummation; for our High Priest is in the Holy Place just now, but the curtain will be drawn before long, and He shall come with stretched-out hands bearing the print of the nails--coming out to bless His people.” (Arch. Brown.)
Redeemed by blood
Some Africans are terribly bloodthirsty and cruel. A chief, one day, ordered a slave to be killed for a very small offence. An Englishman who overheard the order at once went to the chief and offered him many costly things if he would spare the poor man’s life. But the chief turned to him and said: “I don’t want ivory, or slaves, or gold; I can go to yonder tribe and capture their stores and villages. I want no favours from the white man. All I want is blood.” Then he ordered one of his men to pull the bowstring and discharge an arrow at the heart of the poor slave. The Englishman instinctively threw himself in front and held up his arm, and the next moment the arrow was quivering in the white man’s flesh. The black men were astonished. Then, as the Englishman pulled the arrow from his arm, he said to the chief: “Here is blood; I give my blood for this poor slave, and I claim his life.” The chief had never seen such love before, and he was completely overcome by it. He gave the slave to the white man, saying: “Yes, white man, you have bought him with your blood, and he shall be yours.” In a moment the poor slave threw himself at the feet of his deliverer, and with tears flowing down his face, exclaimed: “Oh, white man, you have bought me with your blood; I will be your slave for ever.” The Englishman could never make him take his freedom. Wherever he went the rescued man was beside him, and no drudgery was too hard, no task too hopeless for the grateful slave to do for his deliverer. If the heart of a poor heathen can thus be won by the wound on a stranger’s arm shall not we, who are “redeemed by the precious blood of Christ,” give our whole lives also to His service? (S. S. Chronicle.)
Remission by blood
I would earnestly commend this remission by the shedding of blood to those who have not yet believed. Mr. Innis, a great Scotch minister, once visited an infidel who was dying. When he came to him the first time, he said, “Mr. Innis, I am relying on the mercy of God; God is merciful, and He will never damn a man for ever.” When he got worse and was nearer death, Mr. Innis went to him again, and he said, “Oh, Mr. Innis, my hope is gone; for I have been thinking if God be merciful, God is just too; and what if, instead of being merciful to me, He should be just to me? What would then become of me? I must give up my hope in the mere mercy of God; tell me how to be saved!” Mr. Innis told him that Christ had died in the stead of all believers--that God could be just, and yet the justifier through the death of Christ. “Ah!” said he, “Mr. Innis, there is something solid in that; I can rest on that; I cannot rest on anything else.” (C. H. Spurgeon.)
Sprinkled with the blood of Christ
Martin Luther went one day to see a lad who lay dying. Among the questions asked him was this: “What will you take with you to God?” “Everything that is good,” was the reply. “How can you, a poor sinner, take anything to God?” asked the great man. “I will take to God in heaven an humble and a contrite heart, sprinkled with the blood of Christ,” was the reply of the dying boy. “Go then, dear son, you will be a welcome guest with God,” responded Luther.
He shall kill the bullock
Slaying the sacrifice
Concerning the killing and slaying of the offering, our first point is that it was absolutely essential.
1. The pouring out of the blood of the victim was of the very essence of the type. The death of Christ by blood-shedding was absolutely necessary to make Him an acceptable sacrifice for sin. “It behoved Christ to suffer.” He could only enter into the presence of God with His own blood. He could not be the grain of wheat which bringeth forth much fruit unless He should die. “The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin.” Observe, not the life, not the incarnation, not the resurrection, not the second coming of the Lord Jesus, but His blood, His death, the giving up of His life, is that which cleanseth us from all sin. This is that purging with hyssop whereof David speaks when he laments his sin, and yet looks to be made whiter than snow by the free pardon of his God. This truth is the subject of all true gospel preaching. Do you not know how Paul puts it--“The preaching of the Cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God”; “for,” he says, “the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: but we preach Christ crucified.” It is not Christ in any other position, but Christ as crucified, Christ as made a curse for us up n the tree, that is the first and most prominent fact that we are called to preach among the sons of men.
2. Here let us further consider that death is the result and penalty of sin--“The soul that sinneth it shall die.” “Sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” “The wages of sin is death.” It was meet that the Substitute should bear a similar chastisement to that which should have fullen upon the sinner.
3. This death of Christ was absolutely necessary also for the clearing of the troubled conscience. An awakened conscience will never be quieted with anything less than the blood of the Lamb: it rests at the sight of the great Sacrifice, but nowhere else.
II. Secondly, we will with great delight meditate upon the fact that the death of Christ is effectually prevalent. Other offerings, though duly slain, did nothing thoroughly, did nothing lastingly, did nothing really, by way of expiation; for the Scripture saith, “It is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins” the true purification is alone found in the death of the Son of God. Why was there such cleansing power in the Redeemer’s blood? I answer, for several reasons.
1. First, because of the glory of His person. Only think who He was I He was none other than the “Light of light, very God of very God.”
2. Next, consider the perfection of our Lord’s character. In Him was no sin, nor tendency to sin. He was “holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners.” In His character we see every virtue at its best; He is incomparable. If lie therefore died, “the just for the unjust,” what must be the merit of such a death?
3. Think next of the nature of the death of Christ, and you will be helped to see how effectual it must be. It was not a death by disease or old age, but a death of violence, well symbolised by the killing of the victim at the altar.
4. And then think of the Spirit in which our Lord and Saviour bore all this. Martyrs who have died for the faith have only paid the debt of nature a little before its time, for they must have died sooner or later; but our Lord needed not to have died at all he said of His life, “No man taketh it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself.” O glorious Christ, there must be infinite merit in such a death as Thine, endured in such a style!
5. And then I bid you to remember once more the covenant character which Christ sustained: for when He was crucified we thus judge that one died for all, and in Him all died. He was not slain as a private individual, but He was put to death as a representative man.
III. That the fact of the necessity for the death of the Lord Jesus is intensely instructive.
1. Must the victims die? must Jesus bleed? then let us see what is claimed by our righteous God. He claims our life: He claimed of the offering its blood, which is the life thereof: He justly requires of each of us our whole life. Nor is the demand unjust. Did He not make us, and does He not preserve us? Should He not receive homage from the creatures of His hand?
2. Next, must the sacrifice die? then see the evil of sin. It is not such a trifle as certain men imagine. It is a deadly evil, a killing poison. It is a horrible and a grievous thing, and God saith to you, “Oh, do not this abominable thing which I hate.” God help you to flee from all iniquity.
3. Next learn the love of God. Behold how He loved you and me I He must punish sin, but He must save us, and so He gives His Son to die in our stead. I shall not go too far if I say that in giving His Son the Lord God gave Himself, for Jesus is one with the Father. Next learn how Christ has made an end of sin. His one offering has perfected for ever the set-apart ones. These are but a few of the great lessons which we may learn from the necessity that the Sacrifice should be slain.
IV. And so I shall close by saying that this blessed subject is not only full of instruction, but it is energetically inspiring.
1. First, this inspires us with the spirit of consecration. When I think that I could not be saved except by the death of Jesus, then I feel that I am not my own, but bought with a price.
2. Next, this truth should create in us a longing after the greatest holiness, for we should say, “Did sin kill my Saviour? Then I will kill sin!”
3. Does not this inspire you with great love for the Lord Jesus? Can you look at His dear wounds, and not be wounded with love for Him? Are not His wounds as mouths which plead with you to yield Him all your hearts?
4. Lastly, do you not think that this solemn truth should inspire us with great zeal for the salvation of others? (C. H. Spurgeon.)
The priest shall burn all on the altar.
The sacrificial burning
What was the significance of the burning? It has been often answered that the consumption of the victim by fire symbolised the consuming wrath of Jehovah, utterly destroying the victim which represented the sinful person of the offerer. And, observing that the burning followed the killing and shedding of blood, some have even gone so far as to say that the burning typified the eternal fire of hell! But when we remember that, without doubt, the sacrificial victim in all the Levitical offerings was a type of Christ, we may well agree with one who justly calls this interpretation “hideous.”. . . While it is quite true that fire often typifies the wrath of God punishing sin, it is certain that it cannot always symbolise this, not even in the sacrificial ritual. For in the meal-offering (chap. 2.) it is impossible that the thought of expiation should enter, since no life is offered and no blood shed; yet this also is presented to God in fire. We must hold, therefore, that the burning can only mean in the burnt-offering that which alone it can signify in the meal-offering, namely, the ascending of the offering in consecration to God, on the one hand, and, on the ocher, God’s gracious acceptance and appropriation of the offering. This was impressively set forth in the case of the burnt-offering presented when the Tabernacle service was inaugurated; when, we are told (Leviticus 9:24), the fire which consumed it came forth from before Jehovah, lighted by no human hand, and was thus a visible representation of God accepting and appropriating the offering to Himself. The symbolism of the burning thus understood, we can now perceive what must have been the special meaning of this sacrifice. As regarded by the believing Israelite of those days, not yet discerning clearly the deeper truth it shadowed forth as to the great Burnt Sacrifice of the future, it must have symbolically taught him that complete consecration unto God is essential to right worship. There were sacrifices having a different special import, in which, while a part was burnt, the offerer might even himself join in eating the remaining part, taking that for his own use. But in the burnt-offering nothing was for himself: all was for God; and in the fire of the altar God took the whole in such a way that the offering for ever passed beyond the offerer’s recall. In so far as the offerer entered into this conception, and his inward experience corresponded to this out, ward rite, it was for him an act of worship. But to the thoughtful worshipper, one would think, it must sometimes have occurred that, after all, it was not himself or his gift that thus ascended in full consecration to God, but a victim appointed by God to represent him in death on the altar. And thus it was that, whether understood or not, the offering in its very nature pointed to a Victim of the future, in whoso person and work, as the one only fully consecrated Man, the burnt-offering should receive its full explication. And this brings us to the question, What aspect of the person and work of our Lord was herein specially typified? It cannot be the resultant fellowship with God, as in the peace-offering; for the sacrificial feast which set this forth was in this case wanting. Neither can it be expiation for sin; for although this is expressly represented here, yet it is not the chief thing. The principal thing in the burnt-offering was the burning, the complete consumption of the victim in the sacrificial fire. Hence what is represented chiefly here, is not so much Christ representing His people in atoning death as Christ representing His people in perfect consecration and entire self-surrender unto God; in a word, in perfect obedience. How much is made of this aspect of our Lord’s work in the Gospels! The first words we hear from His lips are to this effect (Luke 2:49); and after His official work began in the first cleansing of the Temple, this manifestation of His character was such as to remind His disciples that it was written, “The zeal of Thy house shall eat me up”--phraseology which brings the burnt-offering at once to mind. And His constant testimony concerning Himself, to which His whole life bare witness, was in such words as these: “I came down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him that sent Me . . . ” And so the burnt-offering teaches us to remember that Christ has not only died for our sins, but also consecrated Himself for us to God in full self-surrender in our behalf. We are therefore to plead not only His atoning death, but also the transcendent merit of His life of full consecration to the Father’s will. To this the words three times repeated concerning the burnt-offering (Leviticus 1:9; Leviticus 1:13; Leviticus 1:17) blessedly apply: it is “an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the Lord.” That is, this full self-surrender of the holy Son of God unto the Father is exceedingly delightful and acceptable unto God. And for this reason it is for us an ever-prevailing argument for our own acceptance, and for the gracious bestowment for Christ’s sake of all that there is in Him for us. Only let us ever remember that we cannot argue, as in the case of the atoning death, that as Christ died that we might not die, so He offered Himself in full consecration unto God, that we might thus be released from this obligation. Here the exact opposite is the truth; for Christ Himself said in His memorable prayer, just before His offering of Himself to death, “For their sakes I sanctify (consecrate) Myself, that they also might be sanctified in truth.” And thus is brought before us the thought, that if the sin-offering emphasised the substitutionary death of Christ, whereby He became our righteousness, the burnt-offering as distinctively brings before us Christ as our sanctification, offering Himself without spot, a whole burnt-offering to God. And as by that one life of sinless obedience to the will of the Father He procured our salvation by His merit, so in this respect He has also become our one perfect example of what consecration to God really is. (S. H. Kellogg, D. D.)
The best offering
Some children lost their Sunday-school teacher by death. The scholars gathered round the open grave, and the little hands dropped in their wreaths of flowers. They talked afterwards about his goodness and his love, and then considered what they should do to keep his memory bright. One little girl said: “Let us keep his grave fresh with flowers,” so every Sunday, after school hours, one of the little girls was told off to beg the flowers she could not gather, and lay them on her teacher’s grave. Twelve months passed away, and one sultry July morning one of the grave-diggers saw, lying on the grave which had been so tenderly cared for, a little slumbering child of five or six years. He took her in his arms and gently woke her up. “Where am I?” exclaimed the aroused sleeper. Then suddenly recalling why she had come there, she added, “Oh, I know; it was my turn to put the flowers on teacher’s grave last night, and I couldn’t find anything half good enough. He used to call me his ‘little flower,’ and I thought I would give myself to him, just to show him how I loved him.” In that cemetery there are two graves opposite each other, the one the Sunday-school teacher, and the other that of the little girl, and on her grave are these words, “Little Flower.” She gave herself to show how much she loved him. (G. S. Reaney.)
A personal friend asked Wendell Phillips not long before his death, “Mr. Phillips, did you ever consecrate yourself to God?” “Yes,” he answered, “when I was a boy, fourteen years of age, in the old church at the north end, I heard Lyman Beecher preach on the theme, ‘You belong to God,’ and I went home after that service, threw myself on the floor in my room, with locked doors, and prayed, ‘O God, I belong to Thee; take what is Thine own. I ask this, that whenever a thing be wrong it may have no power of temptation over me; whenever a thing to be right it may take no courage to do it.’ From that day to this it has been so. Whenever I have known a thing to be wrong it has held no temptation. Whenever I have known a thing to be right it has taken no courage to do it.”
A devoted life
David Brainerd was one of those who might be called God’s men. From the first, it was the vision of God’s splendour which subdued him; it was for the glory of God that he laboured; his nearness to the blaze of the Divine presence enabled him to kindle a light which will never be extinguished. Hear what he says concerning his experience when first he obtained a foothold in the kingdom, “My soul rejoiced with joy unspeakable to see such a God! such a glorious, Divine Being; and I was inwardly pleased and satisfied that He should be God over all for ever and ever. My soul was so captivated and delighted with the excellency, loveliness, greatness, and other perfections of God, that I was even swallowed up in Him; at least, to that degree that I had no thought, that I remember at first, about my own salvation, and scarcely reflected that there was such a creature as myself.” And, again, on his twenty-fourth birthday, “I hardly ever so longed to live to God, and to be altogether devoted to Him, I wanted to wear out my life in His service and for His glory.” He wrote a journal, detailing the exercises of his soul, and recounting his experiences amongst the Redskins. Two early volumes of it he destroyed, lest he might be led to glory in anything he had felt or done; the remaining volumes he also desired to demolish when he came to die; but through the influence of Jonathan Edwards, who had caught a glimpse of their contents, and estimated their worth, he was induced to spare them, and even permit them to be published, though they had not been written with such an intention, but in the weary solitudes had been like a friend, to whom he could pour out the secrets of his heart. William Carey, the pioneer of modern missions, read these journals of Brainerd as he sat on the shoemaker’s bench, and said to himself, “If God can do such things among the Indians of America, why not among the pagans of India?” He was thus led to offer himself for missionary work just one hundred years ago. Henry Martyn read the book, and received an impulse which sent him to live and die for Christ in Persia. John Wesley, in answering the question, “What can be done to revive the work of God where it is decayed?” said, “Let every preacher read carefully over the life of David Brainerd.” McCheyne records, in his journal, that after reading it, he was “more set on missionary enterprise than ever.” (W. Y. Fullerton, “Sword and Trowel.”)
Results of total self surrender
What are the results of total self-surrender to God, as known to universal ethical experience? Peace, spiritual illumination, hatred of sin, admiration of holiness, a strange new sense of the Divine presence, a feeling of union with God, a love of prayer. Even in the sphere which historic Christianity has not reached, there will be, after total self-surrender, as I hold, at least a dim sense of forgiveness, the feeling that one can say “Abba Father”; a new delight in God’s works and in His Word; love of man; loss of fear of death: a growing and finally supreme love of the Father, Redeemer, Ruler, Saviour, which has become the soul’s all. An evangelist of great experience and wisdom, one of whose anniversaries was lately honoured in this city, has distributed many thousands of cards on which were printed the following evidences of conversion. He speaks from the point of view of exegetical knowledge. I have spoken thus far from the point of view of ethical science, strictly so-called. Let me contrast now with my results, these results of a practical evangelist. These are the signs of conversion which Dr. Earle gives--
1. A full surrender of the will to God.
2. The removal of a burden of sin gradually or suddenly.
3. A new love to Christians and to Jesus.
4. Anew relish for the Word of God.
5. Pleasure in secret prayer, at least at times.
6. Sin or sinful thoughts will cause pain.
7. Desire and efforts for the salvation of others.
8. A desire to obey Christ in His commands and ordinances.
9. Deep humility and self-abasement.
10. A growing desire to be holy and like Christ. (Joseph Cook.)
Bring his offering of turtledoves.
The burnt sacrifice of birds
I. We observe, in the first place, that worship and dedication to god are the general ideas connected with sacrifices in the sacred scriptures, and this is most important to a right understanding of them. His own Divine love induced the Saviour to glorify His humanity through sufferings, that He might be a Saviour for ever to bring His children to Himself; and thus He suffered, as the apostle says, the just for the unjust, to bring us to God. He suffered to satisfy His love, not as a punishment to appease the anger of another Divine person. In the sacrifice before us, “it is a burnt sacrifice, an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the Lord. A symbol this of the offering of interior worship from love, the fire of the soul, on the altar of the heart.
II. But secondly, the objects offered up were correspondences of good principles or powers in the mind. The animals used in the sacrifices were lambs, sheep, oxen, goats, turtledoves, and pigeons, and a consideration of the typical character of each will assist us to confirm the truth of our first proposition. The lamb is used in Scripture as the symbol of innocence, and is so expressive of this grace that it is almost a household word for those who are in possession of it. “I send you forth,” said our Lord, “as lambs in the midst of wolves.” Sheep are the types of the gentle principles of charity, or sympathising brotherly love. The sheep described by the Lord Jesus in Matthew 25:1-46. were those who had fed the hungry, clothed the naked, visited the sick and the prisoners, and succoured the strangers. Oxen are the types of the dispositions to duty and obedience. It was the animal chiefly devoted to the plough, and ploughing, in the spiritual sense, means the preparation of the soul to receive the knowledge of heavenly things. The goat, whose delight is in leaping from rock to rock, is the symbol of the disposition to regard the truths of faith with great pleasure, which sometimes degenerates into a love of faith only, and then is strongly condemned by the Lord (Ezekiel 34:1-31.; Matthew 25:1-46.). Birds, from their soaring power, are the symbols of thoughts. Turtledoves and pigeons are correspondences of those tender thoughts and yearnings after the heavenly life which the soul has in the early part of its regeneration. The cooing of the turtledove was first heard in the groves of Palestine, on the return of spring. Its sweet sound was the sign of the approach of a brighter and warmer season. When the soul, therefore, is coming to a more genial condition, the sweet thoughts of hope and trust that encourage its advance towards the heavenly state and kingdom are like the soft notes of a God-sent turtledove. All these types, then, of good affections and thoughts, as well as the mode of offering up by fire, abundantly confirm the view we have drawn from tile Holy Word, that the sacrifices were representative of good things and principles dedicated to the Lord in worship, not of punishment for human sin. May I not ask you if you have no spiritual sacrifice to make? Have not the turtledove, or the young pigeon of heavenward thought, begun to make themselves heard within you? Have you no yearnings after a better land? Have you not felt the aspirations after a fuller conformity to the Lord, after greater purity of heart, and greater usefulness on earth? If you have, follow their leadings, and offer them up to the Lord in love. Let the fire glow on the altar of your heart. Acknowledge that these first yearnings for good are from Him. He will not despise the gift, but bless it, as an offering made by fire, a sweet savour unto the Lord.
III. We observe that so far from the idea of sacrifices being regarded as symbolical of punishment by the Divine Being, the truth is, that outward sacrifices never were in accordance with the divine command at all, but were mere permissions to serve as types during human darkness and degeneracy. A common idea has been entertained that outward sacrifices are frequently commanded by God, and He originated the Divine arrangement with the Israelites; but this is altogether an error. Sacrifices were prevalent among the nations of the East before God spoke from Sinai at all. Pharaoh told the Hebrews they could sacrifice in his land, before a single law respecting sacrifice was given them (Exodus 8:25). In the Book of Leviticus, where the laws respecting sacrifices are all expressly given, they do not command sacrifices, they only regulate them. The language is, “If any man of you bring an offering unto the Lord,” as in Leviticus 1:2; “If his offering be of the flocks” (Leviticus 1:10); “If the burnt sacrifice for the offering of the Lord be of fowls” (Leviticus 1:14); and so on through the book, evidently implying no command, but regulation. The Israelitish people, like all their neighbours, had sunk from worshipping God in the heart and mind, with those affections and thoughts to which animals are the figures and correspondences, and were only too ready to offer up animals instead of offering up themselves. God only regulated this disposition to be a shadow of a better worship to come. The graces of the heart are what God requires, not the slaughter of animals (see Jer 7:22-23; 1 Samuel 15:22; Micah 6:7-8). Let us never suppose, then, that any sacrifice will be acceptable to Him, instead of that devotion of all the principles of the soul to do His holy will, which is the inward meaning of all the sacrifices.
IV. Lastly, To enable us to do this, and thus to return to the order of heaven, and to offer spiritual sacrifices again, the lord himself took human nature upon himself, and purified, perfected, and glorified this, so that all the sacrifices have their highest fulfilment in the lord Jesus Christ, the great high priest and the supreme sacrifice. Now we have seen that in relation to man the sacrifices represent the dedication of the several principles of his nature to the Divine will, by the destruction of selfishness in him, and his consequent regeneration. In our blessed Lord this sanctification of His humanity was far higher; it was the making of it Divine, and thus tile supreme sacrifice. He had the same principles in His humanity which we have in ours, thus He had the innocence represented by the lamb, the charity of which the sheep is the symbol, the obedience typified by the ox, the desire for faith of which the goat is the emblem, the thought and yearnings for the salvation of the human race represented by the turtledoves and young pigeons. As His humanity was from Jehovah interiorly, being the Son of God, but clothed with infirm coverings from His mother, He needed to sanctify and perfect it by a process precisely similar to that by means of which His children are prepared for heaven. (J. Bayley, Ph. D.)
Our Lord’s tenderness in dealing with the offerings of the poor
“Then he shall bring his offering of turtledoves, or of young pigeons.” There is a great deal of tenderness in the Lord’s way of dealing with the offerings of the poor among men; but there is a great deal of meanness in man’s way of giving poor offerings to the Lord. The Lord says, If the offering is of the herd, let it be of the best; if the offerer is too poor to bring a bullock, let him take a choice offering from his sheep or his goats; if indeed he has neither herd nor flock, let him bring the best he can find from among his fowls or his pigeons, and the willing spirit shall enlarge the small offering in the sight of the Lord. But man says, My cows are all Alderney or Durham stock; I must hold on to them. My sheep are South Down and Cotesworth; they are needed for wool and mutton. Some of my fowls and pigeons are of fancy breed: I don’t see how I can let them go. But there is a sickly pigeon, and a chicken with the “pip.” They’ll do for an offering. And the close-fisted believer goes up smilingly to the sanctuary, and passes in his shabby offering, with a self-gratulatory likening of his gift to the “widow’s mites.” There is a world of beauty in the Lord’s regard for the circumstances and necessities of His children. There is a shameful perversion, by ungrateful men, of God’s goodness in His call for offerings according to the means--not according to the meanness--of those who profess to love and serve Him. (H. C. Trumbull.)
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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Leviticus 1". The Biblical Illustrator. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany