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Bible Commentaries

The Biblical Illustrator
Leviticus 22

 

 

Verses 1-33

Verse 11

Leviticus 22:11

If the priest buy any soul . . . and he that is born.

Bought, or born

Strangers, sojourners, and servants upon hire were not to eat of holy things. It is so in spiritual matters still. But two classes were free at the sacred table--those who were bought with the priest’s money, and those who were born into the priest’s house.

I. Bought. Our great High Priest has bought with a price all those who put their trust in Him. They are His absolute property. Not for what they are in themselves, but for their Owner’s sake they are admitted into the same privileges which He Himself enjoys, and they shall “eat of His meat.” He has meat to eat which worldlings know not of. “Because ye belong to Christ,” therefore shall ye share with your Lord.

II. Born. This is an equally sure way to privilege; if born in the Priest’s house we take our place with the rest of the family. Regeneration makes us fellow-heirs, and of the same body; and, therefore, the peace, the joy, the glory, which the Father has given to Christ, Christ has given to us. (C. H. Spurgeon.)


Verse 21

Leviticus 22:21

It shall be perfect to be accepted.

A plain man’s sermon

1. The ceremonial law, as ordained by the hand of Moses and Aaron, called the worshippers of God to great carefulness before Him. Before their minds that solemn truth was ever made visible, “I the Lord thy God am a jealous God.” Nothing might be done thoughtlessly. Of every ceremony it might be said, “It must be perfect to be accepted.” God must have the minds and thoughts of men, or He counts that they are no worshippers. We need to think a great deal more about how we come before the Most High; and if we thought more and prayed more, we should become more certain of our inability to do anything as we ought to do it, and we should be driven to a more entire dependence upon the Spirit of God in every act of worship. This in itself would be a great blessing.

2. The ceremonial law also engendered in men who did think a great respect for the holiness of God. They could not help seeing that God required everything in His service to be of the very best. They must have felt that sin was not a trifle, but a thing for which there must be life given and blood shed before it could be removed; and that life and blood must be the life and blood of a perfect and unblemished offering.

3. Under the Jewish ceremonial law, one of the most prominent thoughts, next to a great respect for the holiness of God, would be a deep regard for the law of God. Everywhere that the Israelite went he was surrounded by law. If men do not understand the law, they will not feel that they are sinners; and if they are not consciously sinners, they will never value the sin-offering.

I. First, then, the rule of our text, “it shall be perfect to be accepted,” may be used to shut out all those faulty offerings whereon so many place their confidence.

1. It most effectually judges and casts forth all self-righteousness, although this is the great deceit wherewith thousands are buoyed up with false hopes. “It shall be perfect to be accepted; there shall be no blemish therein.” If you can come up to this rule you shall be saved by your righteousness; but if you cannot reach you must fail of acceptance.

2. Why, look, ye that hope to be saved by your own doings, your nature at the very first is tainted! There is evil in your heart from the very beginning, so that you are not perfect and are not without blemish. Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? Not one.

3. Look again, for I feel sure that there must have been a blemish somewhere as matter of fact. As yet you are not conscious of a blemish; and possibly there is some justification for this unconsciousness. Looking upon you, I feel inclined to love you, as Jesus loved that young man who could say of the commandments, “All these have I kept from my youth up.” But I must beg you to answer this question--Has there not been a blemish in your motives? What have you been doing all these good things for? “Why, that I might be saved!” Precisely so. Therefore selfishness has been the motive which has ruled your life. Moreover, it is not only your nature and your motive which are imperfect. You certainly must have erred somewhere or other, in some act of your life. The Scripture also is dead against you when it says, “There is none righteous; no, not one.”

4. Methinks if I could read all hearts, there is not one here, however self-righteous he may be, who would not have to confess distinct acts of sin. I know how some of you have lived. You were amiable girls and excellent young women, and have grown up to be careful, loving wives; and therefore you say, “I never did anybody any harm; surely I may be accepted.” I wish that there were more like you. I am not condemning you; far from it; but I know that your tendency is to think that because of all this you must in yourselves be accepted of God. Give me your hand, and let me say to you, with tears, “It is not so, my sister; it is not so, my brother. It must be perfect to be accepted; there must be no blemish in it.” This is a death-blow for your self-confidence; for there was a time, some day or other in your life, in which you did wrong. What I have you no hasty temper? Have no quick words escaped you which you would wish to recall? What! have you never murmured against God, or complained of His providence? Have you never been slothful when you ought to have been diligent? Can you say that your heart has never desired evil--never imagined impurity? Have you never gone to live in an old house which looked like new? You had fresh paint, and varnish, and paper in superabundance; and you thought yourself dwelling in one of the sweetest of places, till one day it happened that a board was taken up, and you saw under the floor. What a gathering of every foul thing! You could not have lived in that house at peace for a minute had you known what had been covered up. Rottenness had been hidden, decay had been doctored, death had been decorated. That is just like our humanity. When lusts are quiet, they are all there. The best man in this place, who is not a believer in Christ, would go mad if he were to see himself as God sees him.

5. This text makes a clean sweep of all other kinds of human confidences. Some are deceived in this sort: “Well,” they say, “I do not trust in my works; but I am a religious person, and I attend the sacrament, and I go to my place of worship pretty regularly. I feel that I must certainly be right. I have faith in Jesus Christ and in myself.” In various ways men thus compose an image whose feet are part of iron and part of clay.

II. As this rule shuts out all other confidences, so this rule shuts us up to the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Oh, if I had the tongues of men and of angels, I could never fitly tell you of Him who offered Himself without spot unto God, for He is absolutely perfect; there is no blemish in Him!

1. He is perfect in His nature as God and man. There was not the possibility of sinning about the Saviour--no tendency that way, no desire that way. Nothing that could be construed into evil ever came upon His character.

2. As He was perfect in His nature, so was He in His motive. What brought Him from above but love to God and man? You can find no trace of ambition in Christ Jesus. In Him there is no thought of self.

3. As His nature was perfect, so was His spirit. He was never sinfully angry, nor harsh, nor untrue, nor idle. Tile air of His soul was the atmosphere of heaven rather than of earth.

4. Look at His life of obedience, and see how perfect that was. Which commandment did He ever break? Which duty of relationship did He ever forget? He honoured the law of God and loved the souls of men.

5. Look at the perfection of His sacrifice. He gave His body to be tortured, and His mind to be crushed and broken, even unto the death-agony. He gave Himself for us a perfect sacrifice. All that the law could ask was in Him.

III. Listen, ye that follow after righteousness, ye that know the Lord! You are saved. You have not, therefore, to bring any sacrifice by way of a sin-offering, but you have to bring sacrifices of thanksgiving. It is your reasonable service that you offer your bodies a living sacrifice unto God. If you do this you cannot bring an absolutely perfect sacrifice, but you must labour to let it be perfect in what is often the Biblical sense of perfection. You must take care that what you bring is not blind, for the blind were not to be offered. You must serve God with a single eye to the glory of God. And as it must not be blind, so it must not be broken. Whenever we serve God, we must do it with the whole of our being, for if we try to serve God with a bit of our nature, and leave the rest unconsecrated, we shall not be accepted. Next, they were not to bring a maimed sacrifice: that is, one without its limbs. Some people give grudgingly, that is to say, they come up to the collection-box with a limp. Many serve Christ with a broken arm. The holy work is done, but it is painfully and slowly done. Among the heathen, I believe, they never offered in sacrifice to the gods a calf that had to be carried. The reason was that they considered that the sacrifice ought to be willing to be offered, “and so it must be able to walk up to the altar. Notice in the Old Testament, though there were many creatures, both birds and beasts, that were offered to God, they never offered any fish on the holy altar. The reason probably is that a fish could not come there alive. Its life would be spent before it came to the altar, and therefore it could not render a life unto God. Take care that you bring your bodies a living sacrifice. We must not bring Him the mere chrysalis of a man, out of which the life has gone; but we must bring before Him our living, unmaimed selves if we would be acceptable before Him. It is then added, “or having a wen.” It does not look as though it would hurt the sacrifice much to have a wen; yet there must not be a wen, or spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing. Above all, avoid that big wen of pride. The sacrifice was not to be scabbed, or to have the scurvy. That is to say, it was to be without any sort of outward fault. I have heard men say, “It is true I did not do that thing well, but my heart was right.” That may be, but you must try and make the whole matter as good as it can be. What a deal of scabbed service our Lord gets! Men try to be benevolent to their fellow-creatures with an irritable temper. Certain people try to serve God, and write stinging letters to promote brotherly love, and dogmatical epistles in favour of large-mindedness. Too many render to the Lord hurried, thoughtless worship; and many more give for offerings their smallest coins and such things as they will never miss. God has many a scurvy sheep brought before Him. The best of the best should be given to the Best of the best. Would God that the best of our lives, the best hours of the morning, the best skill of our hands, the best thoughts of our minds, the very cream of our being, were given to our God! (C. H. Spurgeon.)

Offerings to be without blemish

1. This law was, then, necessary for the preserving of the honour of the sanctuary and of the God that was there worshipped.

2. This law made all the legal sacrifices the fitter to be types of Christ, the great Sacrifice, from which all those derived their virtue.

3. It is an instruction to us to offer to God the best we have in our spiritual sacrifices. If our devotions be ignorant, and cold, and trifling, and full of distractions, we offer the blind, and the lame, and the sick for sacrifice. But cursed be the deceiver that doth so, for while he thinks to put a cheat upon God, he puts a damning cheat upon his own soul. (Matthew Henry, D. D.)

Blemishes in our sacrifices

All religious service is of the nature of sacrifice.

I. Read this requirement of perfect sacrifices, and by it let us test our regard for the sabbath services. God has once, at least, read us a very solemn lesson of the manner in which He regards lost Sabbaths. Seventy Sabbatical years the Jews allowed to drop out of their calendar. Seventy years were spent by them in captivity. A fearful presage to us of what might be the national judgment if, as a Church and people, we went on to blot out from amongst us our day of rest. Every one will agree that if the Sabbath be obligatory, then it is assuredly obligatory thus far--

1. That there be regular attendance upon public service.

2. Of the other hours of the day, that a part be spent in private devotional exercises, a part in religious reading; that a higher and more sacred tone of conversation be maintained; that some work of piety and love be performed.

II. By this test let us judge our sanctuary worship. Examine ourselves in the house of God. Difficulty of keeping the mind collected and devout results from want of due preparation.

1. Something may be said respecting the posture of body we assume in the sanctuary. Position of body reacts upon the mind. Indolence is associated with, and leads to, irreverence. Kneeling is required equally by the dignity of God and the weakness of our nature.

2. So with the voice. Difficult to overestimate how much is lost--

(a) to the beauty of our services;

(b) to the glory of God;

(c) to our own souls, by the silence so many of us maintain, both in the responses and in the service of song.

But there are more serious “blemishes” in our sanctuary sacrifices than these. Where is--

Well might St. James say, “Ye have not because ye ask not, or ask amiss.” “Blemish on sacrifice” drives the flame down again.

III. By this test let us examine our observance of the sacrament of the Lord’s supper. A word in solemn affection to some. You never attend the sacrament to celebrate the Lord’s death at all. Others, if at all, so irregularly as almost to turn the attendance into a mockery.

1. Happy for us that we can turn from all our poor “blemished” sacrifices to that pure and perfect sacrifice of Christ, which has been offered “without blemish and without spot” for us.

2. Only let us never forget that he who would safely trust in the power of that “Sacrifice” for his salvation must take the spotlessness of that Sacrifice for his daily pattern. (Anon.)

Giving the worst to God

A pastor went one day to call on a member of his church, who was a farmer. During the conversation the work of Christian benevolences was touched upon, and the farmer proudly alluded to the fact that out of his few acres of ground he always set aside one acre to the Lord’s use. The pastor, hoping to here get the material for an illustration in his own work, asked the farmer brother, “Which acre do you set aside?” This was a question that came very unexpectedly, but the farmer was honest enough to tell the truth, and replied, “When it is a dry season, I select one up there,” pointing to a field on the hillside; “and when it is a wet season, I choose one down there,” pointing to a field of very low land which lay at the foot of the hill. I give this illustration, not on account of its rarity, but because it is a true picture of thousands of professed Christians, who give to God’s service that part of their time and means that is left after first satisfying their own personal selfish ends. (Sharpened Arrows.)

God ought to have the best

One cold morning a little ragged, woeful-looking child came in at our back door, begging for food. “Please, ma’am, mend the children most starved. Only a bit o’ bread.” “Have you no father or mother, child?” asked

I. “Yes’m,” and a look of shame and despair mantled his hollow cheeks. “Don’t they work and earn money?” “Yes’m, little; but they most allus spend it afore they gets home, at the ‘Horn o’ Plenty.’ “Immediately my heart became adamant. The miserable, drunken brutes, thought I, I’ll not feed their children. Then I remembered there is a very stale loaf of bread in the cupboard, scarcely fit for toast. I gave that to the child, very glad to dispose of it. He grabbed it eagerly, with a clutch that reminded one of the grasp of the drowning, when they would fain save themselves. Little Gracie, our six-year-old darling, had been a silent spectator; but after the boy departed, she came to me with deep inquiry depicted upon her spiritual countenance, saying, “Mamma, if Jesus Christ had come and said He was starving to death, would you have given Him that awful dry loaf of bread?” “Why, child,” said I, “why do you ask such a question ?” “Why, when we give to the poor, ought we not to think that we are really giving to Jesus Himself? I thought He said so when here upon the earth.” “Well, Gracie,” said I, kissing her sweet, troubled face, “I think you are right, and I will remember your lesson next time. Yes, Gracie, we, whom the Lord hath blessed in our ‘granary and our store,’ would soon relieve suffering humanity if we gave our alms as if we really were giving to the ‘Blessed Redeemer.’ We are too prone to forget this truth.” “The very best that we have in the house isn’t too good for Him, is it, mamma?” asked she. “No, no, my precious child,” replied I, clasping her to my heart and thinking, “Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings hast Thou ordained strength and wisdom.” (Christian Age.)

Worthless offerings

A missionary in China, describing in the Sunday at Home, the sacrifices which are offered to Confucius at the usual and autumnal equinoxes, says, “We looked at the victims, and they were diseased, scraggy brutes, worthless offerings. Oh, the mockery and the utter insincerity and indifference of the Chinese mind to all sense of honour I My friend explained the matter to me; he said they were allowed so much by the Treasury for this purpose, and the cheaper they could get the animals the more they could pocket.” (J. Tinling.)


Verses 21-25

Verses 31-33

Leviticus 22:31-33

I am the Lord.

Five motives to obedience

Five motives are strewn on their path to constrain them to close obedience.

1. “I am the Lord.” This is authority employed.

2. “I will be hallowed among the children of Israel.” This is His holiness, and His desire to diffuse awe of His holy name.

3. “I am the Lord which hallow you.” Here is an appeal to their privileges as Israelites. Do you not feel that you actually are set apart for Me?

4. “I am the Lord which brought you out of Egypt.” Here is His claim as Redeemer, who paid the price and set free the captives. Is there gratitude in your souls? Is there sense of thankfulness for favour done?

5. “Your God”--as well as your Lord: His claim as Father, Shepherd, King, and whatever else there is that is tender in relationship, or beneficial in office, or sweet in character--all is summed up in “your God”! Who is like “our God”? “Who would not fear Thee?” (Jeremiah 10:7). (A. A. Bonar.)

Unquestioning obedience peremptorily enforced

I. What Jehovah was in Israel. “I am the Lord.”

II. What Jehovah was to Israel. “Your God.”

III. What Jehovah had done for Israel. “That brought you out of the land of Egypt.”

IV. What Jehovah would do with Israel. “I am the Lord which hallow you.” Ceremonially and symbolically priests and people were made holy by--

1. The rights they observed.

2. The sacrifices they offered.

3. The manifested presence of the Lord. (F. W. Brown.)
.

 


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Bibliography Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Leviticus 22:4". The Biblical Illustrator. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/leviticus-22.html. 1905-1909. New York.

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Friday, December 6th, 2019
the First Week of Advent
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