An Exposition of Leviticus 1 - 7
by W. Kelly.
The Burnt Offering
Varieties of the Meal Offering
Meal Offering Injunctions
Oblation of First-Fruits
The Sacrifices of Peace
The Offerings for Sin and Trespass
The Trespass Offering
The Law of the Burnt Offering
The Law of the Meal Offering
The Law of the Sin Offering
The Law of the Trespass Offering
The Law of the Peace Offerings
Prohibition of Fat and Blood
Supplement on Peace Offerings
Final Summary of the Offerings
It is not without importance to observe that, for all these interesting and instructive types in the early chapters of Leviticus, Jehovah spoke to Moses "out of the tent of meeting." He had taken His place and dwelt among the children of Israel, as He said in the book of Exodus. It was not grace only, though most fully so; it was on a basis of righteousness. The passover and the passage of the Red Sea were the types of redemption. The blood of the lamb had sheltered the children of Israel, when the destroyer slew the first-born; and it laid the basis for a deliverance through the waters of death wherein their enemies perished. God henceforth could be their God and dwell among them. Out of that dwelling, the tent of meeting, He can and does speak words of grace and blessing.
But it was not yet eternal redemption. It was still the law, and the law made nothing perfect (Heb. 7:19). It was still the first man; and wherein is he to be accounted of, whose breath is in his nostrils? He was not yet come Who could say, "Before Abraham was, I am" (John 8). But in due time of Israel as according to flesh came the Christ, Who is over all, God blessed for ever, Amen. Born of woman, born under law, Christ came in infinite love to do a work, commensurate with the dignity of His person, in that nature which had sinned against God everywhere and at all times, and only more rebelliously when His law had been given, and every transgression and disobedience received just retribution. That nature in Him was holy, both in virtue of Incarnation and through the Spirit of holiness ever after.
All hope therefore for him who believed hung on the Second man, the last Adam. And He not only glorified His Father in the perfect obedience of His life, though tried to the uttermost in a wilderness world, but glorified Him as God in His death for sin. Therefore has God glorified Him now in Himself straightway, before He receives His universal kingdom and appears in glory before the world. In the cross, which was the blind and daring guilt of Jew and Gentile joined by Satan for once against the Holy and the True, God wrought His work for reconciling all that believe in one body, the church; as He will by-and-by bring in salvation for Israel and all nations in the days of the coming kingdom; yea, He will thereby reconcile all things to Himself, be they the things on the earth or the things in the heavens.
Now it is the various aspects of Christ's work which were represented in these types. But we need to remember what the apostle declares, that the law has but "a shadow." For "the very image" could only be in that work itself in its unapproachable excellence. Here we have such a shadow as God alone could give beforehand in testimony to its many-sided fulness.
First, there are the three offerings to Jehovah of sweet savour, where the whole as the Burnt offering, or a part as of the Meal offering or of the Peace offering, was burnt as a Fire offering to Him on the brazen altar, the point of individual approach (Lev. 1-3). Then, in Leviticus 4, 5 and 6:1-7 follow the offerings for sin and trespass. Lastly, the laws of the various offerings are given in the rest of Leviticus 6 and in Leviticus 7, which bring out communion where given or withheld.
It may be observed, however, that notable offerings are found elsewhere which are not specified in Leviticus, rich as it is on this theme. Thus "the daily" is rather given in Exodus, as the constant offering, one lamb on the altar in the morning and the other between the two evenings. The acceptance of the camp in the midst of which Jehovah dwelt is presented in a continual Burnt offering; and therefore was most suitably named in the redemption book of the Pentateuch.
On the other hand the Red Heifer is given in full detail only in the fourth book, because it is the special provision for defilements by the way; and this book treats of the wilderness path for God's people. So here only we have the gracious means of a second-month Passover for such as missed the first through a passing defilement; whereas the Passover was instituted and most copiously laid down in the second book as the sacrificial basis of redemption, which comes out there as nowhere else. Indeed we do not hear of the blood sprinkled on the door-posts — one of its most striking features — save on that first occasion.
What on the other side can be more characteristic of the fifth book than the offering of the firstfruits as in Lev. 26? The book, written on the verge of the land after the wilderness journeying was closed, contemplates the people's entering on their inheritance, when the Israelite was to take of the first of all the fruit of the ground which Jehovah their Elohim gave him, put it in a basket, and go to the chosen centre where He set His name. To the priest he professed that he was come into the land of Jehovah's gift; and when the priest set the basket before the altar, the Israelite was to say, A Syrian ready to perish was my father who went down into Egypt and there multiplied, and was afflicted to bondage; but Jehovah saw and heard and delivered mightily, and brought into the land flowing with milk and honey. "And now, behold, I have brought the first of the fruits of the ground, which thou, Jehovah, hast given me." There he set down his basket before Jehovah and worshipped; there he was told to rejoice in all the good which Jehovah his Elohim gave him and his house, and the Levite, and the stranger in his midst. So, in union with Christ gone on high, the Christian is entitled to kindred joy in God, that he may the more truly enjoy the good He gives Who with Christ has freely given us all things.
Yet of all the offerings none has such unique value as that of Atonement-day in Lev. 16. There the blood was carried within, and sprinkled upon the mercy-seat and before it. Not the sons of Aaron as at other times, but the High Priest made atonement for the sanctuary and the tent of meeting and the altar, as well as for himself and for his household and for all the assembly of Israel, substitution having as distinct a place as propitiation. It was access to God in the highest degree that the law admitted, the Holy Spirit thus showing that the way of the holies had not yet been manifested, while as yet the first tabernacle had a standing. Now that Christ has come and died, the veil is rent, and we who believe are made free of the holies. And, the priesthood being changed, there takes place of necessity a change of the law also. For a better hope is now introduced whereby we draw nigh to God. The Father has qualified us for partaking of the portion of the saints in light; and we can approach with boldness to the throne of grace, having a great High Priest Who has passed through the heavens. Israel must wait till the High Priest comes out, when they shall know all their iniquities sent away to a land apart never more to appear.
THE BURNT OFFERING.
Let it be noticed that Lev. 1-3 are one utterance of Jehovah. They are the three offerings of a sweet odour to Him, though differing in other respects. They are the positive side of Christ as a Fire offering, a savour of rest to Jehovah. They are not for inadvertent sin against any of His commandments, or for guilt where His name and ritual may enter, or for reparation in His holy things, or in neighbourly wrongs. The first were God's appointed ground and means of approach to Him Who had come down to dwell in their midst, but in His sanctuary, the tent of meeting for His people. From Lev. 4 to Lev. 6:7 are sin and guilt offerings, to remove hindrances or restore interrupted communion with Him Who on the day of atonement established the title of His people to draw near Him.
The most important of the sweet savour gifts or presentations was the Burnt offering. With this the Olah or Holocaust Jehovah began.
"And Jehovah called unto Moses and spoke to him out of the tent of meeting, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel and say unto them, When a man of you presenteth an offering to Jehovah, ye shall present your offering of the cattle, of the herd and of the flock. If his offering [be] a burnt offering of the herd, he shall present it a male, perfect; at the entrance of the tent of meeting he shall present it for his acceptance before Jehovah. And he shall lay his hand on the head of the burnt offering; and it shall be accepted for him to atone for him. And he shall slay the bullock before Jehovah; and Aaron's sons, the priests, shall present the blood and sprinkle the blood round about on the altar that [is] at the entrance of the tent of meeting. And he shall flay the burnt offering and cut it up into its pieces. And the sons of Aaron the priest shall put fire on the altar, and lay wood in order on the fire; and Aaron's sons, the priests shall lay the parts, the head, and the fat, in order on the wood that [is] on the fire which [is] on the altar. But its inwards and its legs shall he wash in water; and the priest shall burn all on the altar, a burnt offering, a fire offering of sweet odour to Jehovah."
Had there been no sin in man, or death through it, we could scarce conceive of a Burnt offering. Yet it is an offering neither for sin nor for guilt, but God glorified where sin was by a victim, the blood of which covered it from God's eyes, as the fire consumed it and brought out nothing but sweet savour. The steer, which the offerer brought near as an offering, presented in type the perfectness of Christ in giving Himself up to death in love and for the glory of God, unreservedly surrendering His life yet in obedience, the plainest contrast with Adam forfeiting his by disobedience. It was for the offerer's acceptance, and it made atonement for him; which could not be without death and the shedding of blood, and the fire-testing of divine judgment which consumed all with no other consequence than a savour of rest to Him.
A sinful man can approach God on this ground only. It foreshadowed Christ, Who through the Spirit eternal offered Himself spotless to God; or as He said beforehand, Therefore doth the Father love Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it up again. No one taketh it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it again: this commandment I received of My Father. So in Heb. 10 quoting Ps. 40, He says, Lo! I am come to do Thy will, O God. By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. He came thus to replace what the first man wrought in wronging God, by His perfect giving Himself up to death and judgment that God might he glorified in Him, now man, and thus clothe with His own acceptance those who believed in Him. Now the Son of man is glorified, and God is glorified in Him. Great as was Adam's sin, infinitely greater is the Second man's obedience unto death; and who can sum up the immense and countless results in blessing for faith now, as for ever and for the universe when power will act publicly to God's glory?
It was not the priest's part but the offerer's to present the victim at the entrance of the tent of meeting, or at the brazen altar (ver. 3). It was he too who laid his hand on the head of the burnt offering (ver. 4). This signified identification by grace with the offering. The acceptance of the Holocaust was transferred to the offerer. As the Son emptied Himself to become not man only but a bondman, and, when so found, humbled Himself in obedience as far as death on a cross, God answered, not by reconciling and forgiving only but, by setting man in His person and through His work in His own glory. Only none share the blessedness but those who believe, certainly not such as despise Himself and God's call by unbelief. After the animal was slain, the proper priestly work began in sprinkling the blood round about on the altar (ver. 5); as it was theirs to put fire on and lay wood to feed it (vers. 7, 8). The washing in water accomplished for the offering inwardly and outwardly the purity which was intrinsically true only of Christ. And this under His absolutely searching judgment went up to God an odour of rest (ver. 9). It has been justly remarked that the word for "burn" here, not in the offerings for sin or trespass, is the same as for burning the incense: a striking if minute proof of their essential difference, though both coalesce in setting forth fully the wondrous death of Christ.
It is observable that not only in the Holocaust but in all the offerings of sweet savour, variety within prescribed limits was left to the offerer. In the Sin offerings it was not so: the offering was fixed by the ordinance of Jehovah, save that a slight degree of licence was permitted to one of the people of the land (Lev. 4). Where sin was not the urgent question, grace exercised the heart which gave according to its means. And special consideration was had of the poor that they should not be debarred from an offering which rose up to God acceptably, the shadow of the infinite excellency which He was in due time to provide, as well as find, in the Son giving Himself to death for His glory. For it was to meet Him from the place and race where sin reigned by death; and this could only be in such a sacrifice as presented Christ in His death of entire and acceptable self-surrender.
Two things were thus made evident, and each of them most precious. If the several forms of the offering represent the differing degrees of faith in the offerers, as we may suppose, Jehovah as truly accepted the least measure of the Burnt offering, as the greatest; His eye beheld the same perfect sacrifice in all. The acceptance of the offerer did not vary, because the offering did that typified Christ. The offering of Christ's body was one and the same perfect value for all that are His.
"And if his offering be of the flock, of the sheep, or of the goats, for a burnt offering, he shall present it a male perfect. And he shall slay it on the side of the altar northward before Jehovah; and Aaron's sons the priests shall sprinkle its blood on the altar round about. And he shall cut it into its pieces, and its head, and its fat; and the priest shall lay them in order on the wood that is on the fire on the altar. But the inwards and the legs shall be washed with water. And the priest shall present all and burn on the altar; it is a burnt offering, a fire offering of sweet savour to Jehovah."
But faith, be it ever so real, is not equally simple or strong in those that believe. And our estimate of Christ is as our faith. It varies in the saints, as their faith does. Happy they who rest on God's estimate of Him and His work.
Where this is the childlike yet unwavering conviction by the word and Spirit of God, rest and liberty, and the deepest enjoyment follow. We know, as the apostle Peter wrote, that we were redeemed, not with corruptible things as silver and gold, but with the precious blood of Christ as a lamb without blemish and without spot, fore-known as He was before the world's foundation, but manifested at the end of the times for our sakes, that through Him believe in God Who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory that our faith and hope should be in God. Scripture is clear and conclusive, as the apostle Paul preached without reserve, that in (or, in virtue of) Christ every believer is justified from all things from which they could not be justified by the law of Moses.
But feebleness of faith has its effect nevertheless in proportionately impairing the soul's present happiness and power. How many saints, instead of looking for peace outside themselves in Christ and His work for them, occupy themselves with searching within for signs of the Spirit's work in them as born anew! Peace is thus an impossibility; for it was only made by the blood of Christ's cross. Thus only have we peace with God as justified by faith. Where one sees new birth on the contrary the Spirit gives one to see and abhor, not only past sins, but this evil and wilful nature, the old man, which gave them being.
No doubt the Christian is called to prove himself, and thus to partake of the Lord's supper; and if we scrutinised ourselves, instead of walking carelessly, we should not fall under His faithful discipline, that we may not be condemned with the world. But peace with God by the faith of Christ, is intended to strengthen salutary self-judgment, which in itself, if thorough, could only produce misery or despair. For it would then rest on the mistaken basis of our state, and therefore must fluctuate as we see fruits of the Spirit or the lack of them. The more upright in this case, the less could we be satisfied with what we find, and should be therefore exposed to any illusive nostrum which ministered self-complacency under the name of holiness.
It is obvious in the second and third alternatives that there is no such declaration of acceptance before Jehovah, and of atonement made for the offerer as in vers. 3 and 4. The rest is pretty much the same. Faith in every case is blessed; but the fully known result is according to the fuller estimate of Christ and His work.
The least form of this offering is mentioned naturally in the last place. How gracious of God not only to accept it as distinctly as the greatest, but to give the offerers the express assurance that so it was!
"And if his offering to Jehovah be a burnt offering of fowls, then he shall present his offering of turtle-doves or of young pigeons. And the priest shall bring it near to the altar, and wring [or, pinch] off its head, and burn it on the altar; and its blood shall be drained [or, pressed] out at the side of the altar. And he shall take away its crop with its feathers [or, refuse] and cast it beside the altar on the east into the place of the ashes; and he shall split it at its wings, [but] not divide [it] asunder; and the priest shall burn it on the altar on the wood that is on the fire: it is a Burnt offering, a fire offering of sweet savour to Jehovah."
Jehovah would give the poorest of His people the means of presenting to Himself the shadow of what was most precious in Christ's offering of Himself to God. For among the ordinary sacrifices the Burnt offering had an unequalled place. All the others were partaken of more or less by man; the Meal offering was largely for the use of the priests; of course also the Peace offering, which pre-eminently expressed the privilege of fellowship; and even of the Sin offering or of the trespass offering, unless in the special form when the blood was put within the veil, every male among the priests was enjoined to eat in a holy place, as they ate of the Meal offering. But in no case did a soul of man, not even the high priest, eat of the burnt offering. It was offered to God, assuredly on behalf of His people for their acceptance, but only to God.
But if the offering of turtle-doves or of young pigeons, as truly brought before the eyes of Jehovah the efficacious death of His Son as that of the bullock or of the sheep, it is the more remarkable that part, not of the larger, but of the smallest Burnt offering, was thrown away. It was to be split, not divided; but the offerer was to take away the crop with the feathers, or refuse, and cast it beside the altar on the east into the place of the ashes.
Thus there is a marked falling short of the complete idea of the Burnt offering where all rose up to God as a savour of rest. Poverty of faith has its effect now at any rate. Christ is the same perfect Saviour of all that are His. The acceptance of each is according to all that God appreciated in Him and His work. All have been and are not only sanctified as a settled fact through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all, but He has thereby perfected the sanctified without even a break, not for ever merely but continuously. Their standing is secured uninterruptedly.
How is it then that feebleness of faith works? It fails to give adequate glory to God. It detracts from the soul's fulness of enjoyment of Christ and His work. Part of the fowls was "cast away," and "into the place of the ashes." Weak faith does not undo the perfecting of the saints before God. The acceptance which Christ's work confers on the believer abides untouched. God sees all that are His according to Christ, His standard; but the weaker the faith, the more the believer mingles the sense of drawback because of his failures with the blessedness to which the Holy Spirit bears His testimony. Hence the distinctness of what the Burnt offering means is impaired. In the soul's apprehension it is made to approach an offering for sin. Of God glorified in Christ's death, and ourselves identified with Christ thereby, such a one enters into little if at all. One is content then to look at no more than His bearing our sins in His own body on the tree: in itself a most necessary blessing, but assuredly short of appropriating the distinctive truth of the Burnt offering.
Deterioration as well as difference of degree appears in others of these types as may be shown in due time. This tends to confirm the thought here. But, however this may be judged, the fact is certain among believers; and the result of not entering into the various aspects and relations of Christ's sacrifice is that souls lose not a little in clear and bright perception of the truth, and of their own blessing consequently. Hence the importance of heeding every divine intimation of the revealed mind of Christ, that we may thus grow in and by the knowledge of God.
The Flour or kindred offering accompanied the Burnt offering closely. They were of a common character in this that they were never offered to clear a soul from sin; yet the Burnt offering was to make atonement, which the Flour offering was not, but consequent on it. The Burnt offering therefore was of a living thing put to death; whereas the Flour offering was always of a vegetable nature and therefore there was no question of blood. There was equally the searching fire of divine judgment to bring out the odour of rest, no less than in the Burnt offering.
"And when any one [a soul] presenteth an oblation (or, gift) to Jehovah, his offering shall be of fine flour; and he shall pour oil upon it, and put frankincense thereon. And he shall bring it to Aaron's sons the priests; and he shall take thereout his handful of the flour thereof, and of the oil thereof, with all the frankincense thereof; and the priest shall burn the memorial thereof on the altar, a fire offering of sweet odour to Jehovah. And the remainder of the oblation shall be Aaron's and his sons': [it is] most holy of Jehovah's fire offerings" (vers. 1-3).
What could more distinctively and emphatically set forth the Lord, not in His sacrificial death, but in the entire devotedness of His life? The one was as pure and holy as the other. Indeed, while the ox or the sheep must be a male without blemish for the Burnt offering, the Oblation is expressly "most holy" of the fire offerings of Jehovah. And so we read of our Lord Jesus only that He was "the holy thing that should be born" (Luke 1:35). Of none others are, or could be, said such words, not even of John the Baptist, who was filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother's womb. In Jesus was no sin. Even in "taking part of the same" with the children (Heb. 2:14), He was to be called Son of God, which He was in His own eternal title. Of Him only it could not be said without blasphemy, as of every other child of Adam, "I was shapen in iniquity and in sin did my mother conceive me." He and He alone as born here below was absolutely untainted, the Holy One of God; and this He preserved in the power of the Holy Spirit all through and presented as an oblation to God.
Man's mind, we may be assured, would have put the Minchah or Oblation before the Olah or Burnt offering, as the order of what we may call history would render natural. But scripture in an unlooked for way gives us divine wisdom, to which faith implicitly bows and thus appropriates the truth: we grow, as the apostle says in Col. 1, by the true knowledge of God. It was when man was fallen that these figures of Christ and His work came in, and therefore the need of the Burnt offering in the first place when Jehovah was making known to His people the resources of His grace in Christ, as well as the primary truth of Himself glorified as to His nature to the uttermost. This given, the oblation beautifully follows. The Son of man, in Whom God was glorified by His death, glorified the Father on the earth and finished the work which He had given Him to do.
All was in the same perfection, His activities as a living man, and His suffering in self-surrender without limit, both in obedience unswerving. But, we see in chap. 1, that death was as essential and manifest in the Burnt offering, as here it is no less conspicuously absent. He was the obedient One, tried and proved every day, in the midst of the little passing circumstances of each moment, as well as in the great temptations of the wilderness. Jesus, and Jesus alone, was always "the same": yesterday, and today, and for ever, since it made no difference as to His personal glory, so none more as to His flawless obedience in every detail. Was there an approach to this in any saint that ever breathed? We need not speak of Abraham, Isaac, or Jacob, blessed men as they were. Take John and Peter and Paul, walking as none other ever did in the power of the Spirit. Yet the scriptures, which make their holy and devoted service plain, do not hide from us the profitable lesson of their failure, and on critical occasions too. Christ never had a word or deed to recall, never even a look or feeling to judge. He could say to His enemies, "Which of you convinceth me of sin?" without a reply, but not without the vilest of reproaches and vituperations. He walked without a waver in the Spirit, never on the ground of rights, but in obedience. His food was to do the will of Him that sent Him and to finish His work. Did He not do it perfectly, an offering to God for a sweet-smelling savour? and this in entire rejection by man, most of all by the ancient people — His own people.
This was what the oblation typified: the fine flour, oil poured on it, and frankincense added (ver. 1). The fine flour was an apt symbol of His humanity sinless and in harmony with God. Oil is the known figure of the power of the Spirit, not His cleansing agency which man's impurity demands, but His energy in contrast with the wilfulness of sinful and selfish man. And frankincense represents that fragrance which God the Father alone, and perfectly, appreciated in His Son a Man on earth, the object ineffable of His delight. The sweet odour might "fill the house"; but it was burnt to God as His own. All the frankincense therefore went with the handful which the offering priest burnt on the altar to God (ver. 2). The fire, which tried as nothing else can, only and fully brought out of the oblation a savour of rest to Jehovah.
The remnant of the oblation was Aaron's and his sons' (ver. 3). In this was marked difference from the Burnt offering. There as the rule all was consumed and went up to God acceptably and for the offerer's acceptance. Here a handful only was burnt, but all the frankincense. The rest was for the great High Priest and the priestly family; the Christian body. For no truth in the N. T. is plainer than this. And is not Christ the food of all that are His? Does not John 6 prove this, and much more than this type imports? "Most holy" was it, but not therefore kept from but given to Christ and His own to enjoy. And so it is that those who have the entrance into the holies find in Christ Himself, and Christ here below as shown in the Gospels, their living priestly food. But it is in this as with other things that what all have in title, only those in fact enjoy who have faith in it and by the Spirit walk in that faith.
VARIETIES OF THE MEAL OFFERING.
The opening verses present the broad character of the Minchah or Meal offering, as distinguished from the Olah or Burnt offering. There was the fullest testing by fire, but not shedding or sprinkling of blood. It was not therefore atonement in view of God's glory, the offerer being sinful, and withal Christ's perfectness in the offering of Himself in His death, there rising up wholly as a sweet odour to God. The Meal offering oblation does not atone; but, after Jehovah had His handful, the rest was for Aaron and his sons to eat. Christ and His disciples enjoy it together. Yet it was no less an offering by fire to Jehovah, and expressly "most holy"; it thus excludes the profane thoughts of men who talk of Christ's limitations so as to lower His infinite personal worth. Of no person in the Godhead is scripture more jealous. For the Holy Spirit, while fully attesting the reality of the Son's assumption of humanity in His person, and the place of bondman which He took in grace, upholds His glory as Son of man, that all might honour the Son (even with especial care, all judgment being given to Him) as they honour the Father. Thus as He quickens all who believe, so will He judge all that believe not, to their ruin as everlasting as the blessing faith enjoys by His grace.
Now we come to the various forms in detail, having had the constituents of the oblation in general as the preliminary.
"And when thou presentest as oblation of a meal offering a baking of the oven, [it shall be] unleavened cakes of fine flour mingled with oil, or unleavened wafers anointed with oil. And if thine oblation [be] a meal offering on the plate, it shall be fine flour unleavened, mingled with oil. Thou shalt part it in pieces, and pour oil thereon: it [is] a meal offering. And if thine oblation [be] a meal offering in the earthen pan (or, cauldron), it shall be made of fine flour with oil. And thou shalt bring the oblation that is made of these things to Jehovah; and it shall be presented to the priest, and he shall bring it to the altar. And the priest shall take from the meal offering a memorial thereof, and shall burn [it] on the altar, a fire offering of a sweet odour to Jehovah. And the remainder of the meal offering [shall be] Aaron's and his sons': [it is] most holy of Jehovah's fire offerings" (vers. 4-10).
In all these cases it was the finest of the flour of wheat duly sifted and bolted; in each of the three the baking had a different form according to intensity, display, or admixture. The perfect and sinless humanity of Christ is there in the power of the Holy Spirit, and in such fragrant grace as suited Jehovah and only appreciated in full by Him. But it was also variously proved here below, before the final burning on the altar, when made a Fire offering to Jehovah.
The general principle, as applied to the Antitype, may be seen in our Lord, baptised by John and praying, when the heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended in a bodily form as a dove upon Him, and a voice came out of heaven, Thou art My beloved Son; in Thee I am well pleased (Luke 3:21, 22). There was the Second man, the last Adam, not yet risen and glorified as the Man of divine counsels, but as come of woman no less holy and acceptable to God the Father. In Him was no sin. Not only did He never sin, but He was absolutely without sin in His nature as man. This the Minchah everywhere sets forth in type, as the N.T. declares and demonstrates it in fact. It was indeed as essential to His person from the moment the Word became flesh, as His Godhead had been and is eternally. Him, the Son of man, God the Father sealed.
But He must be proved in this world; and this is here shown typically, as the Gospels present it in the days of His flesh. Compare Heb. 2:10.
First of these is the Meal offering baked in the oven, or great pot. There the heat brought to bear was as concentrated and extreme as could be at this time for unleavened cakes of fine flour mingled with oil, or unleavened wafers anointed with oil. In both cases the absence of leaven is specified, as to which 1 Cor. 5 can leave no doubt of the intended meaning. It is the negation of all corruption. Christ, and Christ alone of all born of woman, could be so designated. But here we have the two-fold positive fact of the Holy Spirit, the mingling of the oil, and the anointing of the oil, the former being the more intrinsic and characteristic of the two. For to none does it apply but to the Lord Jesus absolutely in His generation here below. And the answer to this type appears as clearly in Luke 1:35, as we have the other, or the anointing, in Lev. 3, as also referred to in Acts 10:38. There is indeed a measure of analogy in every Christian; who first is born of the Spirit when converted to God, and then, when he rests on the redemption that is in Christ, has the Holy Spirit given to dwell in Him. But of Christ alone could it be said that the Holy Thing to be born should be called Son of God. The humanity of His person was holy as truly as the deity. Though of His mother, it was by the operation of the Holy Spirit's power wholly apart from evil. This was due to His person as the Son; it was no less indispensable for the offering of Himself spotless to God in due time. He, and He alone, was incarnate; He, and He alone, propitiation for our sins. Perhaps we may compare with the oven the temptation away from the sight of men, which He knew more fiercely from the great enemy than Adam and all his sons.
The second was the converse, trial before the eyes of men. Here the Meal offering which typified a character of trial so familiar to us in the Gospels, as it had been also predicted by the prophets, is said to be baked on the plate or flat iron girdle. Hence not only was the trial in contempt, opposition, detraction, hatred, to say nothing of want and homelessness, but we have details implied specifically. It was as before fine flour, unleavened, mingled with oil; and when parted in pieces, oil was poured thereon. The power of the Spirit only the more constantly shone in small things as in great.
The third is when the Meal offering was baked in an earthen pan or cauldron, which seems more general than the foregoing, and the statement is according to this broader character, "with oil" (ver. 7), without defining the modes of application, or repeating even the absolute purity which is of course implied. The figure here appears to imply the combination of public trial with inner also. This the more intelligent Christian can scarce fail to recognise in what the Lord underwent in His rejection.
For indeed and in every way He was beyond all "a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief," yet in unwavering obedience, whatever the power that rested on Him. He also had that holy nature of man which sought only God's will and glory, the perfection of a Son, and that Son a man on an earth filled with all the evil of which the race under Satan are capable.
When the Meal offering, whatever the form, was brought by the priest, its memorial was taken and burnt on the altar, a Fire offering of a sweet odour to Jehovah. This was of course the severest test of all; for it was His consuming judgment, and yet drew out nothing but fragrance before God. No creature, still less a fallen one, could stand such a trial. He is our acceptance; and it is perfect. Without Him the grace wherein we stand were impossible. We are in Christ Jesus, as well as justified through Him. All things are ours, we may joyfully re-echo. And this is here the more evidently verified, in that we see in our Christian position of being priests (as well as kings), that it is ours to eat "the remainder" of the Meal offering in communion with Christ the great High priest. It was for Aaron and his sons. What a privilege to eat of what was offered up to God! It was "most holy" of Jehovah's Fire offerings; yet, after His portion with all the frankincense, it is ours to feed on the perfectness of Christ here below where only and above all it was proved to the uttermost. To enjoy such food we need to appreciate our priestly nearness to God. Alas! how few saints in these degenerate days of earthly-mindedness even think of their actual relationship to God in the true sanctuary. Such unbelief soon opened the door, as we see in the Fathers, to a human caste and earthly priesthood now rampant in Christendom.
MEAL OFFERING INJUNCTIONS.
We have, next laid down, injunctions of much interest and spiritual weight. On the one hand leaven and honey were never in any Fire offering to Jehovah; on the other, as oil we have seen was to be variously used, so salt was not to be lacking but offered with all.
"No meal offering which ye shall offer to Jehovah shall be made with leaven; for ye shall burn no leaven and no honey as a fire offering to Jehovah. As to offering of first fruits, ye shall offer them to Jehovah; but they shall not come up for a sweet odour on the altar. And every offering of thy meal offering shalt thou season with salt; neither shalt thou suffer the salt of the covenant of thy God to be lacking from thy meal offering: with all thine offerings thou shalt offer salt" (ver. 11-13).
There is no shadow of doubt on the symbolic force of leaven. It is used for corruption that spreads and contaminates, unless the contextual employment modify it otherwise. This force is plain in the first and standing type of the O.T., the peremptory exclusion of leaven from the passover and its accompanying dependent feast of unleavened bread. On and from the very first day they were to put away leaven out of their houses; for seven days none should be found there. Nothing leavened was to be eaten on pain of cutting off from Israel. In 1 Cor. 5 the reference is express, and the antitypical meaning certain. As leaven, even a little, taints the whole lump; so does known sin, if tolerated, the Christian assembly. It is vain to plead the old man. For was not Christ, our passover, sacrificed? and is it not our obligation now, as being unleavened in Him, to purge out the old leaven, that we may be a new lump? Leaven is characterised here as evil in itself and wickedness in its effect. Likewise in Gal. 5:9 it is applied to the pravity in doctrine of requiring a ritual ordinance, which upset grace in justifying by the faith of Christ. Both are hateful to God, and incompatible with our calling: if either enter, we are bound to clear ourselves at all cost.
Yet we know as a fact that the church, or the Christian, differs in this essentially from Christ: that He was the Holy One of God, absolutely in and from His birth; we only as born anew and in virtue of His sacrifice. Hence in the type of Him as the wave-sheaf (Lev. 23:10-14), it was waved before Jehovah with Burnt offering and Meal offering and Drink offering; whereas the new Meal offering of the wave-loaves which represented us was baked with leaven. The sin of our nature is clearly taken account of, and a Sin offering requisite, with Peace offerings, as well as the Burnt and Drink offerings. A similar principle obtained in the Peace offerings for thanksgiving. In no case was uncleanness more solemnly denounced (Lev. 7:19, 20); but it is recognised that leaven was there, though not actively working, and leavened cakes were prescribed accordingly (ver. 13, Amos 4:5).
Honey set forth the sweetness of nature. It was good in its place and allowed for use, but not too much. Nevertheless it was forbidden in an offering to God, however wholesome and pleasant to man's taste. No one approached the perfectness of Jesus, the Child or the Man. If He grew and waxed strong, He was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon Him. Yet even as a Youth, He said to His parents (tried by His staying behind in the temple), "Did you not know that I ought to be in the things of my Father?" And when His mother appealed to Him at the marriage in Cana, saying that they had no wine, His answer was, "Woman, what have I to do with thee? Mine hour is not yet come." Certainly there was not an atom of disrespect; but it was not what answered to honey. Rather was it the salt of the covenant, which must not be wanting in a Fire offering to Jehovah. Christ was doing then as always the things that were pleasing to the Father. He would not act on a human motive, were it even to hearken to His mother. He was come to do the will of God. All must be a sweet odour to Him.
We have already noticed the deeply important truth taught by the oil, whether as mixed with the flour in the composition of the cakes, or as poured thereon. There too the bearing on Christ is plain. In His birth, in His incarnation, was the former verified as nowhere else. He was the true and only-begotten Son of God here below, as He was Son of God eternally. The believer has an analogy as being born of God. He is quickened by the Spirit's power, born of water and the Spirit; but this leaves his old nature where and what it was. Christ on the contrary had "no old man." By the Spirit's power His humanity was free from all taint and evil. Not only He sinned not, but no sin was in Him. His anointing or sealing was at His baptism, the reception of the Spirit in power for His service; and here by virtue of His work of redemption the analogy in our case is quite as close, always remembering that Christ received the Spirit as Himself the Holy Son of man, we after His blood-shedding and by the faith of it.
As the oil may be viewed in contrast with honey, so may salt, which the Lord pronounces "good," stand opposed to leaven, the type of corrupting evil. Its use among men as preserving purity without any violence fits in with such an application. Our Lord said "Everyone shall be salted with fire, and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt." So the apostle exhorts that our speech be always in grace seasoned with salt. As the salt of the covenant was a pledge on God's part of a savour that passed not away, so is there the need on ours of a holy separative energy Godward to keep from corrupt words and ways. Christ and His offering of Himself to God for us could alone be the ground of such a pledge and perpetuity. But how wondrous that such a figure should be extended from His offering of Himself to our speech as it should be seasoned! But, as our Lord exhorted at the close of Mark 9, "Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another." The separative power applies here to ourselves, the gracious spirit is for one with another. Without holiness peace mutually would be an illusion.
Ver. 12 seems to be the new Meal offering (fully described in Lev. 23:15-20) where the oblation in an exceptional instance was expressly made with leaven as already shown. It was necessarily leavened in order to express the truth; but its exceptional nature was fully provided for. Even these first-fruits could only be presented to Jehovah they could not rise up on the altar for a sweet savour.
OBLATION OF FIRST-FRUITS.
Quite distinct from the Meal offering of the waveloaves on the day of Pentecost, wherein leaven was put because it was the needed type of man's fallen nature with its accompanying Sin offering, we have in the closing verses what is more in keeping with the wave-sheaf. Only here it is not the prescribed oblation at the annual feast, but a voluntary offering at any time.
"And if thou offer an oblation of first-fruits to Jehovah, thou shalt offer for thine oblation of thy first-fruits green ears of corn parched with fire, corn beaten out of full ear. And thou shalt put oil on it, and lay frankincense thereon; it is an oblation. And the priest shall burn the memorial of it, of the beaten corn thereof, and of the oil thereof, with all the frankincense thereof; [it is] a fire offering to Jehovah" (vers. 14-16).
It is still a shadow of Christ, but of Christ as man on earth in a point of view distinct from what has already passed before us in this chapter, or from the wave-sheaf which alone from its place in the series of the feasts presented Him risen on the morrow after the sabbath of passover week, on that great first day of the week after the great sabbath day when He lay in the grave.
That any of them represent Him as glorified seems quite a misapprehension. So it is to regard the drying by the fire as the infliction of wrath He bore in atoning for our sins. For whether the Meal offering had a principal place, as in the Feasts, etc., or was only an accompaniment to the Holocaust, it had a wholly different aim and character, setting forth our Lord not in bearing our sins but in the perfection of His activities here below, and therefore never said to be atoning as the Holocaust or yet more the Sin offering in their respectively distinct ways. But if our Lord was not forsaken of God till He was made sin for us on the cross, He was tried to the utmost through His life and increasingly; so that the divine sifting served only to bring out His entire subjection, devotedness, and obedience, in the face of such difficulties and sufferings as none but He ever knew.
This is what the Meal offering distinctively exhibits. The constituents of His humanity in the abstract, if such a phrase may be used reverently, we have seen in the opening verses; then the concrete man, Christ as He was on the earth; next, the variety of the forms of His trial as here below in the central verses; now we see Him typified, apart from those divine tests, as Christ the first-fruits, offered up to God, yet spared no trial and His life taken from the earth, His days shortened. To the feeble saints in God's mercy it could be said, that no temptation has befallen them but a human one. Our Lord was subjected to far more, to every sifting possible, yet only bringing out perfection as thus proved, and this in dependence and obedience, as became Him Who deigned to become man that He might be God's bondman (Phil. 2).
Hence we may observe the plain distinctness of the oblation of the first-fruits from the wave-sheaf which set forth Christ as risen from the dead. We hear nothing of the wave-sheaf but waving it before Jehovah, with its Holocaust and Meal offering and its Drink offering. As to the first-fruits we are told of green ears of corn roasted or parched with fire, bruised corn of the fresh ear or corn beaten out of full ear. Yet is it Christ only and none else, and Christ here below, not reigning in righteousness without end of days for ever and ever, with gladness of joy in Jehovah's presence, and making all enemies as a furnace of fire in the time of the same presence. Here on the contrary it is the evil day as in the day of the temptation in the wilderness; and on Christ, as the fresh and early grain and moreover rubbed out of full ears, came fiery trial. The Holy One of God, He was a Man in a world at enmity with God, and in the midst of a people still more bitterly hating Him because of their blind self-complacency in an exclusive title to be God's people when God had long written on them Lo-ammi (not My people). Hence again both oil was to be put on these first-fruits, and frankincense; which is not said of the wave-sheaf, whatever might be true of the Meal offering proper. Thus the difference is clear enough when the word is duly examined.
The Puritan interpretation, as in M. Henry's Commentary, may be as good as that of the Fathers or of the Reformers; but they are all short of the truth, because they stop short at man or even reduce Christ to that level. Hence Henry talks of not expecting from green ears what we may justly look for from those left to grow full ripe, and says of the oil and frankincense added, that wisdom and humanity must soften and sweeten the spirits and services of young people, and then their green ears of corn shall be acceptable. How deplorable is the lowering and the loss when Christ is thus left out! But if this humanitarianism wrought of old grievously to hinder the joy of faith, what is the danger and the evil now when the pride of man is swelling far more portentously?
There is no remedy, no preservative power, like the truth; and Christ is the truth. So He was when presented of God to man that he might believe in Him. And this abides in the written word applied to our souls by the Holy Spirit. Now that we have thus received Him, how precious and instructive are all these shadows of Him!
THE SACRIFICES OF PEACE.
This is the last of the freewill offerings. Like the Burnt offering it was the sacrifice of animals; like the Meal offering or Minchah it was in part to be eaten. As with the former, the offerer laid his hand on the head of his offering, and slaughtered it at the entrance of the tent of meeting; and Aaron's sons the priests scattered rather than sprinkled the blood on the altar round about. It was, of course presented like the Burnt offering before Jehovah but no more than the fat that covers the inwards and also the fat that is on the inwards, and the two kidneys, and the fat that is on them which is by the flanks, and the net or caul upon the liver was to be taken away as far as the kidneys and burnt on the altar. The special feature of this offering, the Shelem, was to complete, as the cognate verb means. The aim was to express communion; and this it did with fulness indeed if we knew not Who He is that inspired these communications through His servant Moses.
In the law of the sacrifice of Peace offerings (Lev. 7:11-21) we find this distinction in point of character or motive. They might be offered for a thanksgiving with their appropriate unleavened cakes mingled with oil, and unleavened wafers anointed with oil, and cakes mingled with oil, of fine flour soaked, but not without cakes of leavened bread also; for man's taint is in his rendering of thanks. In this case the flesh of the sacrifice had to be eaten on the day of the offering, and none of it was to be left until the morning. But if the sacrifice of this offering were a vow or a voluntary offering, not only the flesh might be eaten on the day that it was presented, but the remainder of it on the morrow also, though the rest, if any, must be burnt on the third day. For if eaten then, so far from being accepted, it should be imputed an abomination to the offerer, and he that ate of it should bear his iniquity, just as uncleanness upon the eater would bring on him cutting off from his people. Thanksgiving is simple, and looked for from the simplest believer; but it has no such sustaining power as that devotedness of heart which Christ and His sacrifice more deeply known create in some that know God's grace better. There is no real communion apart from faith in Christ's sacrifice and the thanksgiving it calls forth. Separate from Him and the faith that owns His work, it is fleshly, abominable to God, and ruinous to man; but the energy of the Spirit which fills the heart with Christ and forms devotedness has greater permanence; and it produces greater vigilance against all that defiles, though this in principle is true of those born of God, however feeble they may be.
It is in the appendix of the same chapter (Lev. 28-34) that we find the distinctive communion that belonged to the Peace offering. The offerer's own hands were to bring the first offering to Jehovah. The breast, for Aaron and his sons, was to be waved before Jehovah, as the fat was to be burnt upon the altar. The right shoulder was to be as a Peace offering to the offering priest. The rest was for the offerer, his family or friends. Thus Jehovah had His portion, Christ as signified by the priest that presented the blood and the fat, He and His house ("whose house are we"), and the believers one with another, all entering into and enjoying the fellowship of Christ's work. But all uncleanness is peremptorily treated as incompatible with the feast on that sacrifice. If man's communion be prominent, the more care is taken that he forget not what is due to God and His holiness.
THE PEACE OFFERING OF THE HERD.
The Peace offering emphatically, and among the sacrifices distinctively, expressed fellowship. Here, however, it is the highest aspect which is put forward. It is only in "the law" of these offerings that we find the larger communion set out. Meet it is that God should be honoured in the first place; and this is carefully done throughout the chapter.
"And if his oblation [be] a sacrifice of peace offerings, if he present of the herd whether male or female, he shall present it without blemish before Jehovah. And he shall lay his hand upon the head of his oblation, and slaughter it at the entrance of the tent of meeting; and Aaron's sons the priests shall sprinkle of the blood round about on the altar. And he shall present of the sacrifice of peace offerings a fire offering unto Jehovah: the fat that covereth the inwards and all the fat that [is] on the inwards, and the two kidneys and the fat that [is] on them, which [is] by the flanks, and the net above the liver which he shall take away as far as the kidneys; and Aaron's sons shall burn it on the altar upon the burnt offering which [is] on the wood that [is] upon the fire: a fire offering of sweet odour to Jehovah" (vers. 1-5).
As usual, the most abundant offering occupies the first place. It represents Christ entered fully into according to God's mind, not for atonement as in Lev. 1, still less for sin or trespass as in chaps. 4, 5, yet slain and the blood sprinkled or dashed round about upon the altar, and so distinguished from every form of the Meal offering. Simple faith is ever strong and intelligent; subject to the written word, it rests through grace on divine righteousness; it owns according to the Spirit's testimony man wholly evil as well as guilty and lost, but it no less owns the believer forgiven and saved according to God's estimate of Christ's work, so that doubt henceforth is treated as sin, and the gospel is received in full assurance of faith. Christ therefore is apprehended in the richest form of this fresh presentation of God's grace, where His enjoyment of the Saviour's death in its positive excellency as the deepest ground of communion is set forth for the joy of faith. We may see a beautiful answer to it, as well as to the Holocaust, in our Lord's expression of His death in John 10:17, 18. "Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life (soul) that I may take it again. No one taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have authority to lay it down, and have authority to take it again: this commandment I received of my Father." In this point of view, the objects of compassion and their clearance by atonement vanish to leave the absolute devotedness of Christ to the divine glory alone; so as to furnish the highest motive for the Father's love, independently of evil to be judged and benefits to be conferred righteously. How wondrous that once guilty and selfish creatures, and such as we, can be let in to share such divine delight, finding in it even now the spring of our deep worship!
Latitude ordinarily was left, as compared with the Burnt offering; male or female might be presented; for man was to share as well as God. But it must be "without blemish," for it typified Christ. And in both cases the offerer laid his hand upon the head of his oblation, the witness of identity with the victim's efficacy; as indeed though for another end in the sacrifices for sin. Burnt, Meal, and Peace offerings, were alike Fire offerings and an odour of rest to Jehovah. But here it was the fat: all the inward fat, expressive of the sound state and intrinsic energy of the victim, no less than the blood, was for Jehovah only. Abel we see led thus by faith to honour God in his acceptable sacrifice, when Cain in unbelief sinned against Him.
It was exactly in place, and in due homage, that God should be shown thus honoured. Even though fellowship of others, yea, of all that are His, should be afterwards taught with careful minuteness, His part alone appears here in the type. The blood was for Him alone; the fat exclusively His. What excellency He found in that which was the meaning and substance and end of these shadows! To every other, the blood, the forfeited life, was prohibited utterly; and the fat elsewhere, the proud rebellious self-complacency that kicked against God's will and His glory. In Jesus, for both cases, what savour of holy and gracious devotedness to His name, inwardly and outwardly up to death, yea, death of the cross! What a new and mighty motive for infinite love, which there found its adequate object and its constant delight in "the Lord's death!" What an unfailing source and everlasting sustainer of worship to His own who in faith taste of His joy — joy in God!
We may observe (Lev. 17) that in the wilderness, whenever one of the house of Israel killed an ox, lamb, or goat within the camp, or killed it without the camp, he was bound to bring it unto the door of the tent of the meeting and present it as an oblation to Jehovah, Who was entitled to the blood upon His altar and to the fat also. All such flesh, before being eaten, must be thus sacrificed as Peace offerings to Jehovah. So were Israel to walk, even in their daily food testifying their communion with Him Who gave them it and all things. Are we, Christians, to fall short of Israel? Have we not the "better thing?"
THE PEACE OFFERING OF A SHEEP.
There was a certain latitude allowed as to the Peace offering as compared with the Burnt offering. In the latter a male was required, in the former the animal presented might be either a male or a female. Where the entire victim was consumed on the altar save the skin which went to the offering priest, the highest form of the animal was demanded, whether of herd or of flock. It was to make atonement, for the offerer was a sinful man, though not occupied then with particular offences for which a Sin or Trespass offering was needed. But the peculiarity of the Peace offering lay in its being not only offered up to God but participated in by man also. It was meet accordingly that a lower standard should be prescribed than where He exclusively was in view.
"And if his oblation for a sacrifice of peace offerings to Jehovah [be] of the flock, male or female, he shall present it without blemish. If he present a sheep for his oblation, then shall he present it before Jehovah, and he shall lay his hand on the head of his oblation, and slaughter it before the tent of meeting; and Aaron's sons shall sprinkle the blood thereof upon the altar round about. And he shall present of the sacrifice of peace offerings a fire offering to Jehovah: the fat thereof, the whole fat tail, which he shall take off close by the back bone, and the fat that covereth the inwards, and all the fat that [is] on the inwards, and the two kidneys and the fat that [is] on them, which [is] by the flanks, and the net [or, caul] above the liver which he shall take away as far as the kidneys. And the priest shall burn it on the altar: the food of the fire offering to Jehovah" (vers. 6-11).
Hence also, though the hand was laid on the head of the offering, and it was offered like the Burnt offering at the entrance of the tent of meeting, not a word is said of its being accepted for him, still less to make atonement for him, though it was alike slaughtered there, and Aaron's sons the priests alike dashed the blood on the altar round about. Nothing is here said about flaying it. as with the Burnt offering, nothing about cutting it up in its pieces as in that case for the convenient and complete burning it up on the altar. The sacrifice of the Peace offering was to be presented no less truly as a fire offering to Jehovah. Whatever the privilege enjoyed, it is inseparable from sacrifice, and God has His honour in the first place. How could it be a type of Christ without such homage as this? And assuredly it is here expressly and carefully enjoined.
But it is on the fat that unusual stress is laid. In the Burnt offering a term is employed which does not appear otherwise. Here it is the more general expression, but pressed with emphasis and descriptive care, "and the fat that covereth the inwards and all the fat that [is] on the inwards, and the two kidneys and the fat that [is] on them, which [is] by the flanks, and the net [or, caul] above the liver which he shall take away as far as the kidneys." Indeed where a sheep was offered, the whole fat and tail also was specified besides, which was to be taken off close by the back bone, and burnt on the altar. The fat represents, not the life as in the blood of the animal given up to God, but its inward energy. The richest part is here claimed sacrificially for the altar.
In the offering from the herd the fat or other inward appurtenances was formally declared to be burnt on the altar upon the Burnt offering which was on the wood upon the fire. This was the fullest pledge of divine acceptance. In the offering from the flock the word is more brief; but a new and blessed phrase is added; it is "the food" or "bread" of the fire offering to Jehovah. How wondrous for Him and us to enjoy the same offering! Here again what a falling away from the truth of Christ to find, in this burning of the fat, "the offering up of our good affections to God in all our prayers and praises," or, far worse even, "the mortifying of our corrupt affections and lusts, and the burning up of them by the fire of divine grace." Yet I am citing, not Augustine nor Chrysostom, not Bossuet nor Pusey, but Matthew Henry; and Scott is no better. Think of either alternative being "the food of the fire offering to Jehovah for a savour of rest!" No; it was neither our good offered up, nor our bad mortified, but the inward energy of Christ Himself, as the ground perfect and abiding of communion for God and His family. For God's grace would have His children to enjoy a common portion with Himself; and it in the special aim of the Peace offering to show how the sacrifice of Christ secures this blessed fellowship to us. Christ offered up to God could alone furnish it in Himself. Quite another thing is what He produces in us, and yet more what He delivers us from.
We can perceive even in Lev. 3 that comparatively little of this sacrifice was burnt on the altar. What was burnt there was the choicest and most intimate; but besides this we shall see from Lev. 7 that part was given to Aaron and his sons in general, part to the offering priest in particular, and that the larger portion remained for the offerer, his family and his friends. In the same victim this remarkable fellowship of Jehovah, of the priestly body, of the true Priest, and of the faithful at large, is the distinctive property of the Peace offering. It is urged forcibly by the apostle in 1 Cor. 10 when insisting on the communion of Christ to guard from all inconsistent with it. "Behold Israel according to flesh: are not they that eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar?" By eating of these they had fellowship with the altar. This was their communion, which made it morally impossible to be in communion with the heathen and their idols behind which were demons. How much more hatefully incongruous for us who drink of the Lord's cup and partake of His table! For the Lord's Supper is the standing and solemn act of communion for the church of God. It is the communion of Christ's blood and of Christ's body; and as we therein remember Him in death and in deeper than death for us, so He would the more strengthen us in self-judgment and abhorrence of all that offends God or sanctions the enemy.
No doubt whether we eat or drink or whatsoever we do day by day, we are called to obedience and to holiness, doing all to God's glory. But we have one special act in the breaking of the bread, constantly before us on each "first" of the week, the Lord's day. This agrees in spirit with the eating of the Peace offering, though the Lord's Supper becomes deeper, as Christianity exceeds the Law, and Christ Himself the victim which typified Him in certain respects.
THE PEACE OFFERING OF A GOAT.
This sacrifice did not admit of such latitude as the Burnt offering, nor yet as the Meal offering. It allowed nothing less than a goat, which now claims our attention as a third alternative.
"And if his oblation [be] a goat, then he shall present it before Jehovah; and he shall lay his hand on the head of it, and slaughter it before the tent of meeting. And the sons of Aaron shall sprinkle the blood of it on the altar round about. And he shall present thereof his offering, a fire offering to Jehovah the fat that covereth the inwards and all the fat that [is] on the inwards, and the two kidneys and the fat that [is] on them which [is] by the flanks, and the net above the liver, he shall take away as far as the kidneys. And the priest shall burn them on the altar, the food of the fire offering for a sweet odour. All the fat [is] Jehovah's. [It is] an everlasting statute for your generations throughout all your dwellings: no fat and no blood shall ye eat" (vers. 12- 17).
Though the goat could not be compared with the worth of the bullock or even with the harmless sheep, so suited to represent the patient blameless Sufferer, Jehovah comforted the Jew who could not bring either, yet desired to pay his thanks or his vow. A goat was perfectly valid and assuredly acceptable. He was to present it before Jehovah, lay his hand on its head, and slay it before the tent of meeting; nor did Aaron's sons sprinkle its blood with less zeal or care on the altar round about. He was directed to present thereof his offering, a Fire offering to Jehovah: all the inward fat, etc., precisely as he that offered the internal fat of a bullock.
One thing was expressly asked indeed, when a sheep was offered, which was peculiar necessarily to that form of the offering; "the whole fat tail, he shall take it away close by the backbone." In the sheep of Syria no portion was more prized or valuable, not only for its size but for its quality as fat with the delicacy of marrow. This was therefore claimed for Jehovah, and ungrudgingly given, "hard by the backbone." So surely had the Antitype devoted all His energies to His Father, not His life only. No wonder that such a type in the sheep's case drew out the beautiful recognition, "It is the food [or, bread] of the fire offering to Jehovah. "
It is all the more striking in the case of the goat, which had no such fat tail; and consequently no such demand held in this respect. Yet here sovereign grace consoled the offerer of the goat, "It is the food of the fire offering for a sweet odour." It also was His bread, and an odour of rest to Him.
How much more may we not rejoice in His joy, Who knows the infinite reality that we have correspondingly found in the sacrifice of Jesus, His blood and death, and His inward energies without stint offered up to His glory! What delight to the Father in Him Who gave Himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for an odour of a sweet smell! If all the fat, the inward richness of the victim, was Jehovah's, if no such fat was to be eaten by the Israelites any more than the blood, how blessedly Christ has made it all good for us, as the basis of our communion with our God and Father! The law of the offering says more of the deepest worth; but we need say no more now.
THE OFFERINGS FOR SIN AND TRESPASS.
Now we come to a new and necessary class of offerings. Unlike those which have hitherto occupied us, they were not voluntary nor for a sweet savour. They were compulsory, to clear the conscience, to make reparation, and to vindicate God's honour injured by wrongs in His people to God or man. Forgiveness was sought and secured thereby; and as it was needed by all from the highest to the lowest, so it was imperative on each guilty individual, and no less by the assembly as such when it had failed corporately.
The sacrificial character was preserved at least as carefully in these offerings for sin, etc., as in the Holocaust or in the Thank offering. The notable principle of transfer was ineffaceably maintained in both classes. It was the provision on God's part for those hopelessly lost otherwise. Grace has given Christ for saints as well as sinners; the love of God goes out fully to both, if the form differ as it must. Alike they are typical of the atoning work of the Lord Jesus; alike they attest through faith in His death man's acceptable approach to God, his guilt effaced. But the application of the transfer is as notably different; for in the sacrifices of sweet savour the transfer is from the acceptance of the offering to that of the offerer, in those for sin or guilt the offerer's evil was transferred to the offering. For in very deed Christ's own self bore our sins in His body upon the tree. Cf. also Eph. 5:2.
How does divine mercy shine in either case! Each is most admirable, both are requisite to present an adequate insight into the work of Christ. Yet are they but shadows, not the very image; and they leave much unexpressed which even Himself left among other things for the Holy Spirit to guide His disciples into, when His work of redemption accomplished on earth and His session in heavenly glory should prepare them to receive all the truth. But where is Christendom now? where are those who boast highly of themselves, and slight the inspired word of God?
"Safety" is all but universally the evangelical measure of the gospel; some add "certainty," others "enjoyment" too. But the system of all in their respective way is utilitarian. They make man's wants the horizon of their faith, and can dimly see "the salvation of God," as scripture habitually presents His mind, because it is filled with His glory in His Christ. Salvation accordingly goes far beyond these human thoughts of safety. The once sinful woman, now penitent (whose faith drew her into the Pharisee's house to stand weeping behind the Lord as He reclined at meat, lavishing on His blessed feet every mark of sorrow, love, and reverence), was as "safe" when she entered as when she left. But only before leaving she knew from Him that her sins, her many sins, were forgiven; and when unbelievers questioned His title to forgive, He added, "Thy faith hath saved thee: go in peace." Is not this much more than safety? It is salvation. With this fact in Luke 7 observe the Lord's teaching in Luke 15. The prodigal son in his rags was "safe" enough assuredly when the father ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. But it was salvation according to God's gospel, when the best robe was put on him, and the slain fatted calf was eaten with glad hearts, yet to the joy far deeper in Him Who created it than in the prodigal with all who shared it. And the Son was just the One thus to make known the Father's love. How miserably short of the truth fall the Creeds and Catechisms and Articles of man! and this because in them Christ is not all.
So in these offerings revelation begins, not (as man would) with that which his misery and guilt stand in need of, but with the witnesses, as far as could then be consistently imparted, of Christ's perfectly acceptable work, and positive excellency, and sweet savour to God, made over fully and for ever and now to the believer. It is the more striking that Leviticus should open thus from God's side; because, in point of fact, defiled and guilty man had to commence with his offering for sin or trespass.
Without the removal of the delinquency by the prescribed offering it would have been lack of conscience in man, and a wrong to God instead of honouring Him. Where all was thus cleared righteously, he was free and encouraged to let out his heart Godward by presenting the offerings of sweet savour. The reader of the N. T. may see in the opening verses of Eph. 1 a characteristically high expression, yet analogous to this. For instead of rising as Rom. 3 does from the remission of sins by the blood of Christ to the bright triumph of faith in constant grace, the hope of glory, and even boasting in God Himself, as Rom. 5 shows, we have the God and Father of our Lord Jesus beginning with His eternal purpose, and blessing the Christian with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies in Christ, and then descending to point out the possession of redemption in Him through His blood, the remission of offences.
There is another preliminary remark which it seems well to point out in the offerings for sin. In none is there more stringent requirement of holiness. Like the Minchah or Meal offering, those for sin might have been thought rather lower from representing, one, the concrete person of our Lord in His life, the other, His identification with the consequences of our sins in divine judgment. Both are called, and they only, "most holy." See Lev. 2:3, and Lev. 6:17, compared with Lev. 6:25, 29, Lev. 7:1, 6. So, even when the body of the victim was carried forth without the camp and burnt with fire, all the inward fat was burnt on the brazen altar. How perfectly this separation to God at all cost was verified in Christ suffering for our sins, though all His life and services bore unswervingly the stamp of holiness! Therein indeed the Son of man was glorified, and God was glorified in Him in such a sort and to such a depth as He never was before, and could never be again, though the entire course here below was to the glory of His Father. No wonder that God thereon glorified Jesus in Himself, and this immediately, before He receives the kingdom and returns to introduce it visibly in power.
THE SIN OFFERING FOR THE HIGH PRIEST.
In this chapter four cases demanded a Sin offering. The first two had no limit in the consequence entailed. It was all over without that for the entire people of God; for in both cases the communion of the whole camp was interrupted: in the second because the whole assembly of Israel had sinned and were guilty; in the first, because the high priest had sinned, which had the same result for all as for himself. We shall see how grace provided against that which was in itself ruinous. In the last two cases of the chapter the ill result did not go beyond the individual concerned.
"And Jehovah spoke to Moses saying, Speak to the sons of Israel, saying, If a soul shall sin inadvertently against any of Jehovah's commandments that ought not to be done, and do any of them; if the anointed priest sin to the trespass (or, guilt) of the people, let him offer, for his sin which he hath sinned, a young bullock without blemish to Jehovah for a sin offering. And he shall bring the bullock to the entrance of the tent of meeting before Jehovah; and he shall lay his hand upon the head of the bullock, and slaughter the bullock before Jehovah. And the anointed priest shall take of the blood of the bullock, and bring it into the tent of meeting. And the priest shall dip his finger in the blood and sprinkle of the blood seven times before Jehovah, before the veil of the sanctuary. And the priest shall put of the blood on the horns of the altar of sweet incense before Jehovah, which is in the tent of meeting; and he shall pour all the blood of the bullock at the bottom of the altar of burnt offering, which is at the entrance of the tent of meeting. And all the fat of the bullock of the sin offering he shall take off from it: the fat that covereth the inwards, and all the fat that is on the inwards, and the two kidneys and the fat that is upon them, which is by the flanks, and the net above the liver which he shall take away as far as the kidneys, as it is taken off from the ox of the sacrifice of peace offerings; and the priest shall burn them upon the altar of burnt offering. And the skin of the bullock, and all its flesh, with its head, and with its legs and its inwards and its dung, even the whole bullock shall he carry forth without the camp unto a clean place, where the ashes are poured out, and burn it on wood with fire: where the ashes are poured out shall it be burnt" (vers. 1-12).
As the law, we are told by divine authority (Heb. 7:19), made nothing perfect, so it spoke of nothing perfect for the most guilty. It was exactly a ministry of death and condemnation. Grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. The law, being a system of human righteousness, could not be but partial. It was the test of fallen man, not the transcript of God, nor yet the rule of the new creation. It provided, as we see here, for no more than inadvertent or unwitting sin. If this were all that the gospel meets, who could be saved? No more is here contemplated (ver. 2).
Then comes from ver. 3 the particular case of the anointed or high priest. If he should sin to make the people guilty — this is the true force of the phrase, and the real effect of his sin in the ways of Jehovah. "According to the sin of the people" as it stands in the A.V. seems doubly defective, and scarcely in fact an intelligible proposition, unless one consider it to mean tantamount to the sin or rather guilt of the people as a whole; which, though true in itself, hardly appears to be intended here. The R. V. gives the meaning. If the anointed priest "sin so as to bring guilt on the people," i.e. without their sinning.
As the high priest represented the people, so his acts brought, not only blessing on them, but also the guilt of his sin. How blessedly in contrast is the High Priest of our confession, a great High Priest, passed through the heavens as He is, Jesus the Son of God! For though tempted in all respects in like manner, it was apart from sin, not merely from sinning. Sin was absolutely excepted. In Him was no sin; on the contrary He was holy (and graciously so), harmless, undefiled, separated from sinners, and become higher than the heavens.
But if the anointed should sin, as indeed was not infrequently the case, "let him offer for his sin which he hath sinned, a young bullock without blemish to Jehovah for a sin offering." It must be the largest offering. Option was not permissible. He must bring this victim, and no other. "And he shall bring the bullock to the entrance of the tent of meeting before Jehovah; and he shall lay his hand upon the head of the bullock, and kill the bullock before Jehovah" (ver. 4). As Jehovah's command had been infringed, the high priest must bring the prescribed animal before Him to the appointed place, and there slay it before Him, with his hand laid on its head: the token of transferring the guilt to the victim — how precious for the sinner!
"And the anointed priest shall take of the blood of the bullock and bring it into the tent of meeting; and the priest shall dip his finger in the blood and sprinkle of the blood seven times before Jehovah, before the veil of the sanctuary. And the priest shall put of the blood on the horns of the altar of sweet incense before Jehovah, which is in the tent of meeting; and he shall pour all the blood of the bullock at the bottom of the altar of burnt offering which is at the entrance of the tent of meeting" (vers. 5-7). Without or within the sanctuary what is done is "before Jehovah." He is the One Who has to be vindicated. Blood is brought not only "to" but "into" the tent of meeting, and sprinkled before the veil of the sanctuary. Only on the solemn and single day of atonement did the high priest go with incense within the holiest and sprinkle of the blood upon the mercy-seat and before it. Here it was only within the holy place, where he put of the blood upon the horns of the golden altar; and all the rest of the blood was poured out at the base of the brazen altar.
"And all the fat of the bullock of the sin offering he shall take off from it," etc. Just as was done with the ox of the sacrifice of Peace offerings (8-10, compared with Lev. 3:3-5), so the priest was to burn it on the brazen altar: a blessed witness, not only in the blood but in the fat, of the intrinsic acceptability of Christ sacrificed for us and our sins. These were shadows most instructive: His the one offering infinitely agreeable to God, everlastingly efficacious for us that believe on Him.
Still there is the witness not less plain that it was a Sin offering; and so we read in vers. 11, 12 what quite differs from the eating of the Peace offering. "And the skin of the bullock, and all its flesh, with its head and with its legs, and its inwards and its dung, even the whole bullock shall he carry forth without the camp unto a clean place, where the ashes are poured out, and burn it on wood with fire: where the ashes are poured out shall it be burnt." There too does it differ from the Burnt offering which was burnt within the court on the brazen altar. The Sin offering must be burnt without the camp: holy, most holy, but thoroughly identified with the sin thereon confessed. How it was all more than verified — enhanced on every side to the highest degree — in Him Who suffered for our sins!
THE SIN OFFERING FOR THE CONGREGATION.
The first of these compulsory offerings attested the specially representative place of the anointed priest. His sin involved the whole congregation of Israel. Communion for all was at once interrupted. Now we learn in the second case of the Sin offering that the high priest was identified with the congregation in its collective defilement. It was not so ordinarily when an individual sinned, no matter how high his position, though this too had its effect as we shall see. But in the former cases there was a suspension of communion for all; and the requisite Sin offering must be to restore.
"And if the whole assembly of Israel err [or, sin inadvertently] and the thing be hid from the eyes of the congregation, and they have done any of all the commandments of Jehovah which should not be done, and are guilty; and the sin wherein they have sinned against it is become known; then the congregation shall present a young bullock for the sin offering, and bring it before the tent of meeting. And the elders of the congregation shall lay their hands upon the head of the bullock before Jehovah; and the bullock shall be slaughtered before Jehovah. And the anointed priest shall bring of the bullock's blood into the tent of meeting; and the priest shall dip his finger in the blood, and sprinkle it seven times before Jehovah before the veil. And he shall put of the blood on the horns of the altar that is before Jehovah, which is in the tent of meeting; and he shall pour out all the blood at the bottom of the altar of burnt offering, which is at the door of the tent of meeting. And all its fat shall he take off from it and burn it on the altar. And he shall do with the bullock as he did with the bullock of the sin offering, so shall he do with this. And the priest shall make atonement for them; and it shall be forgiven them. And he shall carry forth the bullock without the camp, and burn it as he burned the first bullock: it is a sin offering of the congregation" (vers. 13-91).
Jehovah would have the sin judged in every case; but in every case He provides for its removal from before Him. There was, there could be, no respect of persons in His sight. Yet He makes a difference according to position, and especially in the anointed one who represented all. How blessed for us that He Who bore all our sins in His own body, before He entered into the holies for us, is there now not only to sustain us in our weakness and represent us in His perfectness, but as the Advocate for us with the Father if any one sin! It was He Who when here was tempted in all things in like manner, sin excepted. "Such a high priest became us" is the wonderful word of God, holy, guileless, undefiled, separated from sinners, and become higher than the heavens: no need ever had He as the high priests, His types, to offer up sacrifices for any sin of His. All the more was He alone competent to act efficaciously for those of others; and this He did once for all, having offered up Himself, a Son perfected for ever. But the assembly — ah! this is another matter. They indeed could sin, and sin as a whole. For this He made atonement, as we see here in the shadow, that it might be forgiven them. It may be noticed that in the counterpart of the great priest this assurance is omitted. That his sin when atoned for was forgiven him cannot of course be doubted; but the omission points to the only One Who had no sins to be forgiven, though He be the One Who made atonement for all.
But Jehovah would have His people exercised in conscience as to any sin of theirs when it became known; and so the congregation was to present a young bullock for the Sin offering and to bring it before the tent of meeting (ver. 14). As all could not lay their hands upon the victim's head, the elders of the congregation were directed to lay their's representatively (15). When it was killed before Jehovah (for sin ever refers to God), the anointed priest was called to act on behalf of the congregation as in his own case, not so in those that follow: any priest was competent ordinarily, here the high priest only. And he must bring of the bullock's blood into the tent of meeting (16), dip his finger in it, and sprinkle it seven times before Jehovah before the veil, as for his sin (17). He must as then put of the blood on the horns of the golden altar that is before Jehovah; for the communion of all had to be restored. It is the more in striking distinction from the individual cases, because in all the others the blood of the sin offering that remained was all poured out at the bottom of the brazen altar (18). And there all the fat was burned, not outside but on the altar (19), and with the same particularity as in the Sin offering for the anointed priest (20). There was thus the fullest witness to the intrinsic holiness of the victim; while verse 21 carefully shows how thoroughly it was identified with the sin of the congregation, and burnt on a clean place outside the camp, where as a whole the carcase was carried. The word for burning even was carefully varied as before to suit the twofold truth.
What wondrous forethought such minute differences indicate! What jealousy for the honour of the Great Priest, so long before the time of His manifestation! and for that of the incomparable sacrifice of Himself, so acceptable to God, and efficacious for sinners! Not only is the book the authentic and the genuine writing of Moses, but it approves itself to be the work of God through him. Who but He Himself could have foreseen all?
THE: SIN OFFERING FOR THE RULER.
There is an important difference which presents itself here. The guilt attaches to the party concerned; others are not involved. The first case is that of a ruler, or principal man.
"When a ruler sinneth and through inadvertence doeth any of all the things which Jehovah his God hath commanded not to be done, and is guilty; if his sin wherein he hath sinned come to his knowledge, he shall bring his offering, a buck of the goats, a male without blemish. And he shall lay his hand on the head of the goat, and slaughter it at the place where they slaughter the burnt offering before Jehovah; it is a sin offering. And the priest shall take of the blood of the sin offering with his finger, and put it on the horns of the altar of burnt offering, and pour out its blood at the bottom of the altar of burnt offering. And he shall burn all its fat on the altar, as the fat from off the sacrifice of peace offerings; and the priest shall make an atonement for him from his sin; and it shall be forgiven him" (vers. 92-26).
Peculiar care is taken to impress a chief with his responsibility. In his case only do we hear of Jehovah "his God." His position honourable and public renders his offence the more serious. For Israel were bound to own their God with them in the world, and making one to differ from another in a way that the nations never conceived (Eph. 2:12). In his measure he was to rule as well as walk in the fear of God.
Nevertheless it was not of the same large consequence as when the high priest sinned or the whole congregation, which demanded a steer. For the ruler a buck of the goats was enough, but an unblemished male was requisite. No latitude was left in any respect or degree more than in the graver cases. As there was nothing to hinder his compliance, so his God would have the sin felt and judged, when it came to his knowledge.
The ruler brought his offering then, and laid his hand on its head, and killed it in the place where they killed the Holocaust before Jehovah. It was for sin; and death alone could expiate sin, the victim's death for him who, by his hand laid on its head, transferred his guilt by God's provision to the slain beast. Whatever the difference in the form, they every one agreed in this; and they all pointed to Him Who knew no sin, yet Whom God made sin for us, that we might become divine righteousness in Him.
But it will be noticed that the priest was to take of the blood with his finger, and put it on the horns of the brazen altar, as well as pour the rest of the blood at the bottom of the same. No more was needed than to meet the individual's need, even though a prince, at the altar which is the means of the individual's approach to Jehovah. Only his communion had been interrupted as it was now restored. Had it been either the high priest or the congregation as a whole, the golden altar would have been defiled, and the blood must have been sprinkled on its horns. Here the brazen altar being alone in question, the blood was put there accordingly, and the individual Israelite, even if a ruler, returned to the enjoyment of his privileges.
It is of all moment to appreciate the contrast the Epistle to the Hebrews establishes for the Christian by Christ's work. It is done once and for ever. There is no repetition. Not only is the believer now sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all, but he is perfected by it in perpetuity, i.e. without a break. This is due exclusively to the absolute and everlasting efficacy of Christ's sacrifice. Less than this would be His dishonour, which God would not tolerate. Would that believers now knew what a standing His blood has given them!
Hence it is that not in the Epistle to the Hebrews do we find provision for failure, but in the Gospel of John (13) and in 1 John 2:1. It is not fresh sprinkling of Christ's blood, or repeated recourse to it; but according to the figure, washing the defiled feet in the water of the word, and according to the doctrine of the advocacy of Christ — Jesus Christ righteous as He is, and the propitiation for our sins. He pleads for us and works in us by the Spirit and word of God the self- judgment needed to restore the communion which one's sin interrupted; as we may see practically in Simon Peter with all its detail, and at length rich comfort and blessing, through grace.
We need, as Christians, both these truths fully held, without sacrificing one to the other. If we do not rest on the one offering of Christ in all its everlasting and uninterrupted efficacy, we cannot know the perfect clearance before God which the Epistle to the Hebrews claims for faith. If we do not bow to the doctrine of 1 John 2:1 in accordance with John 13, how can we taste the grace that restores us to the enjoyment of the communion interrupted by a sin? Our God would have us enter into our portion as worshippers once purged; but as our Father He loves us too well to allow any thing in our walk unworthy of the grace wherein we stand. And here it is that the advocacy of the Saviour applies, to the cleansing of defilement by the way, while He abides as our righteousness and the propitiation too in all its value.
THE SIN OFFERING FOR ONE OF THE PEOPLE
It is full of interest to notice the care bestowed by Jehovah on the Sin offering for the ordinary Israelite. He marks the difference between him and a ruler or chief man, by demanding "a male without blemish" from the latter, "a female without blemish" from the former. They were to bring a kid of the goats; but there was this distinction; and Jehovah directed it. He provided in His goodness for both; but He did not leave it to man's discretion; He directed each how to efface the sin.
"And if one (a soul) of the people of the land sin through inadvertence in doing any of the things which Jehovah hath commanded not to be done, and be guilty; if his sin which he hath sinned come to his knowledge, then he shall bring his offering a goat, a female without blemish, for his sin which he hath sinned. And he shall lay his hand on the head of the sin offering, and slaughter the sin offering at the place of the burnt offering. And the priest shall take of the blood thereof with his finger, and put [it] on the horns of the altar of burnt offering, and pour out all the blood thereof at the bottom of the altar. And all the fat thereof shall he take away, as the fat is taken away from off the sacrifice of peace offerings; and the priest shall burn it on the altar for a sweet odour to Jehovah; and the priest shall make atonement for him, and it shall be forgiven him" (vers. 27-31).
Jehovah would have the lowliest soul among His people feel that He entered into his concern about his sin, done unwittingly, and now troubling him when known. He therefore would impress it on his soul when he brought the unblemished female goat, by the stress even then laid on "for his sin which he sinned." For the gracious effect of the offering is felt all the more if the sin be also. To the ruler it was but "the goat," and "it" in ver. 24 though with "it is a sin offering" at the end. Here (ver. 29) it is "he shall lay his hand on the head of the sin offering, and slaughter the sin offering." Yet more striking is the consolation given to the poor Israelite in ver. 31; where he alone is expressly assured, that the fat burnt by the priest on the altar should be "for a sweet odour to Jehovah." "Before Jehovah" was said in the ruler's instance about slaying the offering (as it was yet more emphatically where the whole assembly sinned), and about the use made of the blood. But He deigned to consider the lowly man by the special expression of the mark of communion in the burning of the fat for him when the offering for his sin was made.
Nor is this all. For the poor man alone was there an alternative offering. He might have a difficulty in providing a goat, and yet might find a sheep or lamb more readily. Hence for him alone this was permissible.
"And if he bring a lamb as his offering for a sin offering, he shall bring it a female without blemish. And he shall lay his hand on the head of the sin offering, and slaughter it for a sin offering in the place where they slaughter the burnt offering. "And the priest shall take of the blood of the sin offering with his finger, and put it on the horns of the altar of burnt offering; and all the blood thereof shall he pour out at the bottom of the altar. And all the fat thereof shall he take away, as the fat of the lamb is taken away from the sacrifice of peace offerings; and the priest shall burn them on the altar with (or, upon) the fire offerings to Jehovah; and the priest shall make atonement for him concerning his sin which he sinned, and it shall be forgiven him" (vers. 32- 35).
Here again we should not overlook the kindness of Jehovah in giving consolation. The blood of the lamb was no less efficacious as a figure than that of a goat. There was no loss incurred by the alternative. But in the dealing with the fat there is indeed the peculiar mention of burning on the altar "upon the fire offerings to Jehovah," as in Lev. 3:5; although there it was a question of Peace offerings, here of an offering for sin. Gracious acceptance was implied, and not merely the removal of the sin or its forgiveness.
THE SIN (TRESPASS) OFFERING.
This section, it may be observed, is a sort of appendix to Lev. 4, and of transition to the proper Trespass offering which begins in Lev. 5:14. For this reason, while it falls under the same revelation from Jehovah to Moses as the chapter before, it is called both a Trespass offering and a Sin offering in ver. 6. Four distinctions in the circumstances calling for the offering are laid down in the four opening verses. They were defilements incurred by special inadvertent offences against ordinances of Jehovah; as in Lev. 4 provision was made for inadvertent sins in general which simply violated the conscience.
"And if a soul sin, and hear the voice of an oath, and he is a witness whether he hath seen or known, if he do not inform, then he shall bear his iniquity. Or if a soul touch any unclean thing, whether it be the carcase of an unclean beast, or the carcase of unclean cattle, or the carcase of unclean creeping things, and it be hid from him, he also is unclean and guilty. Or if he touch the uncleanness of man, any uncleanness of him by which he is defiled, and it be hid from him, when he knoweth, then he shall be guilty. Or if a soul swear rashly with his lips, to do evil or to do good, in everything that a man shall say rashly with an oath, and it be hid from him, when he knoweth, then shall he be guilty in one of these. And it shall be when he shall be guilty in one of these, that he shall confess wherein he hath sinned; and he shall bring his trespass to Jehovah for his sin which he hath sinned, a female from the flock, a lamb or a goat for a sin offering; and the priest shall make atonement for him from his sin" (vers. 1-6).
Adjuration was all the more solemn for an Israelite, as Jehovah dwelt in their midst to judge. It was not secret providence, or waiting for a final assize. He was there to deal according to His law and their relationship as His people. Even in a day of utter ruin and in proceedings which mocked all righteousness, we hear our Lord, silent before man's profound hypocrisy and false witness, at once answer the wicked high priest when adjuring Him, though He knew it would seal His condemnation unto death. Did one shrink and keep back or prevaricate, one must bear one's iniquity if left there. Then came cases of defilement from contact with death, either unclean beasts or cattle, or crawling things, or again from uncleanness of man, whatsoever its form. Lastly, there might be defilement from a hasty vow unperformed, it mattered not what its shape, "to do evil or to do good," which on reflection one shirked, dreading to do or not to do. Think of Jephthah's vow!
What then was he that feared God in such circumstances to feel, when it comes before his soul? Was he not guilty? If in any of these cases he was defiled, he was called on to "confess wherein he hath sinned," not after a vague general sort. It is the first time we hear of it. Was it not due to carelessness before Jehovah? But more; nothing but sacrifice could remove the stain. "And he shall bring his trespass offering to Jehovah for his sin which he hath sinned." What more specific for the clearing his guilt away? Here, as in the Sin offering for one of the people, a female sufficed, lamb or goat, and was called an offering for trespass and sin; and the priest should make atonement for him to clear him from his sin.
The tender consideration of the poor (to us the young or feeble in faith) is marked in the alternative that is next given.
And if his hand be not able to bring a lamb, then he shall bring to Jehovah for his trespass which he hath sinned two turtle-doves or two young pigeons; one for a sin offering, and the other for a burnt offering. And he shall bring them to the priest, who shall offer that which is for the sin offering first, and pinch off its head at the neck, but shall not divide it asunder; and he shall sprinkle of the blood of the sin offering on the wall of the altar; and the rest of the blood shall be wrung out at the bottom of the altar. And he shall offer the second for a burnt offering according to the ordinance. And the priest shall make atonement for him from his sin which he hath sinned; and it shall be forgiven him" (vers. 7-10).
Jehovah was even more minute in His concern for him who could not bring a sheep or goat. The victim's blood was sprinkled unusually, or at least there is a fuller expression given to it. The offering of less pecuniary value He prized for the conscientious soul, and gave a witness of acceptance as well as of sin judged and gone.
The same principle is yet more conspicuous in a third case.
"But if his hand cannot attain to two turtledoves or two young pigeons, then he that hath sinned shall bring for his offering the tenth part of an ephah of fine flour for a sin offering; he shall put no oil on it, nor shall he put frankincense thereon, for it is a sin offering. And he shall bring it to the priest, and the priest shall take his handful of it, the memorial thereof and burn it on the altar with Jehovah's fire offering: it is a sin offering. And the priest shall make atonement for him from his sin which he hath sinned in one of them, and it shall be forgiven him; and it shall be the priest's as the oblation" (vers. 11-13).
Here we have the most abject need of all: even pigeons are beyond the means. But grace has its resource for the least condition of faith. His pity was shown, not in dispensing with an offering, but in suiting the need. Though no part of this form of the offering could have the character of Burnt offering like the second bird, Jehovah would accept an offering of fine flour. But unlike the oblation proper, neither oil nor frankincense must be there. It was for sin. The quantity was just that of the manna for a day's food. Of this the priest took his handful to burn according to the Fire offerings to Jehovah, though for one ceremonially unclean; and as this was valid to atone, so the rest became the priest's as in the ordinary oblation of meal. Truly God was good to Israel, even to such as owned their uncleanness in the humblest way He prescribed.
Here again, as has been already noticed elsewhere, the lowest form of an offering passes from its proper distinctness into assimilation with others: in the second alternative, with the Burnt offering; in the third with the Meal offering. The stronger the faith, the less can one relish vague apprehension of Christ's work: one seeks, cherishes, and enjoys God's side as well as our own in the fulness of divine revelation. The weaker it is, the more one is disposed to be content with a view so misty that the wondrous and instructive differences in its manifold relations vanish in a comprehensive but hazy sense of efficacy. The value of Christ is the same to God, whatever shape the offering might take in God's condescension. The absence of blood-shedding in the last instance is just the exception which proves the rule. Jehovah testifies His consideration for such poverty as could bring no animal to die, where there was real concern about the trespass and an offering to Him in acknowledgement of it.
THE TRESPASS OFFERING.
A fresh intimation from Jehovah introduces the proper Trespass offering.
"And Jehovah spoke to Moses, saying, If any one commit a perfidy, and sin inadvertently in the holy things of Jehovah, then he shall bring his trespass offering to Jehovah, a ram without blemish out of the flock, according to thine estimation by shekels of silver after the shekel of the sanctuary, for a trespass offering. And he shall make restitution for what he hath done amiss in [lit. from] the holy thing, and shall add the fifth part thereto, and give it unto the priest; and the priest shall make atonement for him with the ram of the trespass offering; and it shall be forgiven him" (vers. 14-16).
We may discern another shade of evil met in the Trespass offering as compared with the more general and public one for sin. The word for the latter is chata which literally signifies departure from right; whereas asham which is translated trespass expresses guilt. It was an act of treachery (maal) in the holy things of Jehovah, though supposed to be done not presumptuously but through inadvertence. Still, though not a moral wrong before the eyes of others, it was a secret perfidy against Him with Whom they stood in holy relationship, and guilt was contracted thereby.
Hence for one who had failed thus in his responsibility a ram without blemish was required in every case. Compare also Lev. 19:20-22, where the offence, though morally wrong also, is viewed as guilt against Jehovah, and the ram of atonement was required as in Num. 5:5-10, where, as in Num. 6, as a modified case, a lamb was offered. We shall see appended to this first instance an added provision in vers. 17-19; but there is no difference allowed in the victim Jehovah required. A new ordinance follows which in the English is so strangely relegated to Lev. 6, but in the Hebrew text continues the fifth chapter as vers. 20-26, and treats of a trespass done to a neighbour, a failure in responsibility which Jehovah counted an act of treachery against Himself; but there also an unblemished ram must be brought by the guilty soul. We may and surely ought to enquire why this animal and no other was suitable to meet the occasion.
Now, in setting apart Aaron and his sons to Jehovah for their priestly place and functions, we know that a ram of consecration had its distinctive importance. There were indeed two rams, one of which was for an olah or Burnt offering, that followed the bullock slaughtered for a Sin offering. But the special feature of that rite was the second ram, the ram of consecration, the blood of which was not only sprinkled like that of the first ram on the altar round about, but, before that, Moses was directed to put of it, first on the tip of Aaron's right ear, and on the thumb of his right hand, and on the great toe of his right foot, and then on those of his sons also.
The ram accordingly was the fitting animal to offer for the inverse question of desecration; and such was just the aspect of evil which was met in the Trespass offering. It was not simple wrong for which the Sin offering was provided, but treachery in relation to Jehovah. And this is confirmed (ver. 15) by Moses' "estimation in silver by shekels after the shekel of the sanctuary." For as gold typifies divine righteousness in God's presence, silver figures His grace rather, as we may see in the atonement money for the children of Israel, and indeed wherever it appears.
There was another element distinctive of the Trespass or Guilt offering. "He shall make restitution for what he hath done amiss in the holy thing." More than this; as Jehovah commanded the tithe of the Israelite's increase as blessed of Him, so He demanded as the fine of the Trespass offering the fifth part, or a double tithe. All this was to go to the priest; which again keeps up the relative character already seen. "And the priest shall make atonement for him with the ram of the trespass offering; and it shall be forgiven him."
The appendix which follows adds words even more precise as to ignorance and worthy of all attention.
"And if any one sin or do against any of all the commandments of Jehovah what should not be done, and hath not known, yet is he guilty, and shall bear his iniquity. And he shall bring a ram without blemish out of the flock according to thine estimation for a trespass offering unto the priest; and the priest shall make atonement for him concerning his inadvertence wherein he sinned inadvertently, and knew it not; and it shall be forgiven him. It is a trespass offering: he is certainly guilty before Jehovah" (vers. 17-19).
Here while inadvertence is stated plainly, the case goes beyond this. But though the ram was the normal victim required for this character of evil, the demand was modified where the ritual failure differed. Thus for the leper's cleansing (Lev. 14) a lamb was to be offered as a Trespass offering, and the priest put its blood on the person of him that was being cleansed, as Moses did on Aaron and his sons on the day of their consecration, where the oil followed the blood (vers. 12- 18). Then came the Sin offering (ver. 19), and after it the Burnt offering. Thus the distinction of Trespass and Sin is made clear, whatever be the "great controversy" as to the difference among theologians, and the uncertainty of their sound to this day. And it is intelligible why in the consecration of the priests the Sin offering (whether bullock or calf) was brought, but no Trespass offering, any more than on Atonement Day, the tenth of the seventh month.
We may see too, in the visions of God vouchsafed to Ezekiel of the coming kingdom on the earth, there is provision for the Burnt offering, the Sin offering, the Trespass offering, and the sacrifice of the Oblation (Ezek. 40:38, 42; Ezek. 42:13; Ezek. 44:29). The Epistle to the Hebrews is in no way at issue; for it treats of the abolition of these shadows for the Christian only. Vain self-sufficiency denies the future hopes of Israel in Jehovah's mercy, and, counting itself the sole object of grace, seeks the exaltation proper to Israel, and loses its own special privileges of suffering with Christ while awaiting glory on high.
It is distinctly laid down that, though the person in question "hath not known, yet is he guilty." Jehovah would exercise His people in the sense of what was due to His relationship and their privilege who had the sign of His presence in their midst. He would have them read or hear His word with serious spirit and submissive heart. It was no matter of conscience, or of open immorality, such as the Sin offering was prescribed for; but perfidy in respect of those commandments of Jehovah in their favoured position toward Him.
Hence the necessity of diligent heed to His statutes and judgments. Ignorance was no tenable excuse. They were Israelites, and Jehovah had imposed commandments with which they were responsible to comply. If any one did not know, yet was he guilty. Indifference to His requirements must have been the antecedent state; and what is this in His eyes? What did it detect in the Israelite? Was Jehovah to be blind, because he failed to know what was plainly written in His law, though not in the ten words? He was guilty, and must bear his iniquity (avon). Therefore was he to bring an unblemished ram from the sheep according to Moses' estimation for a Trespass offering unto the priest. Neither inadvertence nor ignorance availed to screen his guilt or do away with the offering indispensable for it. But it should be forgiven him that thus offered. Even with greater energy is the language here, "It is a trespass offering: trespassing he trespassed before Jehovah." Man otherwise might have readily excused it.
THE TRESPASS OFFERING.
There is another form of the Guilt offering, which meets treachery against a neighbour, or falsehood as to something lost. This Jehovah counted against Himself indirectly, as the former case affected Him directly. Ignorance is not supposed in question with a neighbour, as it might easily be alas! in the things forbidden to be done by the commandments of Jehovah. It is obvious that these seven verses, though a fresh precept which Jehovah spoke to Moses, are the proper conclusion of chapter 5 as in the Hebrew Bible. They ought not to be the opening section of Leviticus 6 as in the English Bible. Why the Revised V. did not rectify the mistake seems strange; as it shows how hampered they were by prejudice or restriction. For it severs the true complementary link with Leviticus 5:14-19, and interferes with the due order of the laws of the offerings which begin with what is thus made of Leviticus 6:8.
"And Jehovah spoke to Moses, saying, If anyone sin, and commit a perfidy against Jehovah, and lie to his neighbour as to a matter of trust, or a loan, or of robbery, or cheat to his neighbour; or have found what was lost and lieth therein, and sweareth falsely; in any of all these that a man doeth, sinning therein, then it shall be, if he hath sinned and hath trespassed that he shall restore what he robbed, or what he defrauded, or the trust entrusted to him, or the lost thing which he found, or all about which he swore falsely, and be shall restore it in the principal and shall add the fifth part more thereto: to whom it belongeth shall he give it on the day of his trespass offering. And his trespass offering he shall bring to Jehovah, a ram without blemish out of the flock according to thy valuation as a trespass offering unto the priest. And the priest shall make atonement for him before Jehovah, and it shall be forgiven him concerning anything of all he did to trespass therein" (vers. 20-26).
What grace on Jehovah's part thus to regard wrongs against a neighbour as wrongs against Himself also, and to require a reparation and a like Guilt offering! Yet was it due to His glory and needed by man that a distinct ordinance should draw the line between them. The trespass against a neighbour brought out a new speech from Jehovah to Moses, instead of being a simple appendage as verses 17-19 were to verses 14-16, an appendage which refuses to allow the excuse of ignorance in the holy things of Jehovah.
Yet there is, as might be expected, no small variety in these wrongs which demanded a Trespass offering. The first form of the guilt here denounced appears to be a failure in private trust. It might be any valuable or document of use committed to the custody of a friend; it might be only an animal, book lent or an axe borrowed or money confided however small. But Jehovah took notice and bound up the trustful Israelite's rights with His own name. The next would seem to be a matter public, of barter, or of virtual partnership perhaps in business, where the evil done was not viewed as a wrong but as a failure in responsibility, however fair in appearance. Here our version like the Septuagint renders it "in fellowship," as distinct from the preceding case of private trust. The Vulgate translates loosely and confounds the two. The better Jewish authorities distinguish the second as a loan, from the former as a deposit. Then we have a violent exercise of power, followed by one of deceit as in withholding wages, etc.: both apt to be common and covering many a failure which Jehovah resented. Next, we have the finding of what one's neighbour lost, and falsehood about it, even to perjury.
In every such case Jehovah demanded a Trespass offering as rigorously as in His holy things. Not only must there be restitution of the principal, but a double tithe, or fifth part, rendered as a penalty. And as His own honour was concerned, in the failure to maintain the holy relationship of Israel, an unblemished ram was prescribed as the one unvarying Trespass offering permissible. By this, and this only, the priest should make atonement for the guilty offerer, "and it shall be forgiven him," with the striking addition here only "for any one of all which he did to trespass therein."
But it is well to take note of the difference in the order prescribed between the guilt in Jehovah's holy things (14-19) and that incurred in the cases of one's neighbour (20-26), with which we are immediately concerned. In the former the offering took the first place; in the latter the reparation. Both were required. Jehovah regarded either as His dishonour: and the ram was equally necessary as the reparation with the added fifth part. But the difference of order was made to impress the Israelite's heart with what touched Jehovah directly as compared with what was indirect in defrauding the neighbour. Who but God could have provided thus holily for His people in distinctions so nice and profitable? Neither Moses nor Aaron, nor Samuel, nor David, still less men later in a dark, fallen, and comparatively careless state. It was Jehovah from the beginning.
It was not yet nor could be under the law to proclaim remission of sins absolutely and for ever to every believer. This awaited the Lord Jesus and His accomplished work of redemption in the gospel. For "the blood of Jesus Christ, God's Son, cleanseth us from every sin." But it was no niggardly comfort the righteous Jehovah even then and thus gave the penitent Israelite, conscious of having sinned shamefully, and of desecrating the holy status of His people.
THE LAW OF THE BURNT OFFERING.
We followed the Hebrew text in taking the first section of the sixth chapter (vers. 1-7) as the end of Lev. 5 to which it unquestionably belongs; so that Lev. 6 begins with the new subject, the laws of the offerings, and Lev. 7 concludes it.
These laws add supplementary particulars of distinct moment, which bring into relief the characteristics of each, especially marking where communion was permissible and enjoined. The first, or Burnt Offering, was the exception, though even there the skin of the victim was the priest's perquisite. The portion of man, where and as far as it was allowed, is noticed carefully.
"And Jehovah spoke to Moses saying, Command Aaron and his sons, saying, This [is] the law of the burnt offering: this, the burnt offering, [shall be] on the hearth upon the altar all night unto the morning, and the fire of the altar shall be kept burning on it. And the priest shall put on his linen raiment, and his linen breeches shall he put on his flesh, and he shall take up the ashes to which the fire hath consumed the burnt offering upon the altar, and he shall put them beside the altar. And he shall put off his garments, and put on other garments, and carry forth the ashes without the camp unto a clean place. And the fire upon the altar shall be kept burning on it, it shall not go out; and the priest shall burn wood on it every morning, and lay the burnt offering in order upon it, and shall burn thereon the fat of the peace offerings. Fire continual shall be kept burning upon the altar; it shall not go out" (vers. 1-6).
Spoken to Moses, this was a command for the priestly house. All that composed it were concerned; and they, as we are taught, point to Christ and His own, as Son over His house whose house are we (Heb. 3:6). The law of the Burnt Offering is here set out clearly. It was to be on the hearth upon the altar all night unto the morning; whereas save for this it might have been thought that it was but for the day, that the offerer might rejoice in seeing that which was for his acceptance. Here on the contrary stress was laid on its burning "all night unto the morning, and the fire of the altar shall be kept burning on it."
Here as elsewhere we discern the bearing of these types, save in an exceptional reference. It is for the comfort of faith now in the day of temptation in the wilderness. The morning without clouds has not yet dawned. It is the night still for Christ rejected of men, though the night is advanced, and the day has drawn nigh. But all through the darkness rises up uninterruptedly the witness of our acceptance. Propitiation is made for every one associated by faith with the Burnt Offering. Man may slumber, the world be wrapt in darkness; but the offerer had the satisfaction of knowing that the fire that was kept ever burning upon the altar consumed that which was on his behalf a Fire Offering, an odour of rest to Jehovah.
What is here so carefully enjoined can scarcely be said to appear in chap. 1 which enters fully into the general instruction as to the Burnt offering, and its several kinds, the immaculate purity requisite for each, again the presentation of the victim, with the priest's sprinkling of the blood, cutting it in pieces, and washing as specified, here passed over, save the fact of laying all on the wood upon the fire of the altar. Here, not there, is the stress laid on the continual burning all the night through till the morning. While Israel slumber during the dark, the sweet savour rises in unfailing efficacy for him that offered: even Israel are kept, however impenitent yet, for the blessing that will surely come, when they say, Blessed He that cometh in the name of Jehovah.
Then in vers. 3, 4 we read of the careful clothing of the offering priest with the linen garments that spoke of spotless righteousness. These were what the high priest wore when he entered into the holy of holies on atonement day; and these the priest must put on even when he should take up the ashes of the Burnt offering that the fire had burnt upon the altar to put them beside it. But of these he divested himself for other garments to take away the ashes at last to a clean place outside the camp.
Lastly in vers. 5, 6 the burning of the fire on the altar is again emphatically mentioned. Not only was the priest to burn wood on the fire of the altar every morning and to set in order then the Burnt offering, but thereon also was he to burn the fat of the Peace or Prosperity Sacrifices. And the law concludes with the fire to burn continually upon the altar; never was it to be extinguished. Is it possible that any shadow could more forcibly point to acceptance maintained with unchanging savour of rest before Jehovah?
It appears to me not to be the truth intended by the type, that the ever burning fire during the night pointed to the smoke of the torment of the lost ascending for ever and ever. Rather did it testify the wondrous meeting-place with God for a sinful man who brought the Burnt offering. But the unbeliever either foregoes the Burnt offering, or treads under foot the Son of God, and profanes His blood as a common thing. So the Epistle to the Hebrews speaks, not of God abstractly but of "our God" as a consuming fire. It was a sacrifice wholly burnt for acceptance. It shadowed Christ giving Himself up absolutely to God in death for us; and nothing but a sweet savour rising up, however tested to the uttermost. Therein was God glorified as to sin in Him Who knew no sin; and the issue for the believer is an efficacy perfect and everlasting.
So will it be for Israel at the end for the age to come, when they wake up from their long sleep in the dust of the earth. They will behold, as it were in the morning, the Burnt offering despised during the dark night. They will penitently acknowledge their shameless unbelief, when they considered the Messiah as stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted; whereas they will thankfully own that He was pierced because of their transgressions, bruised because of their iniquities — that the punishment for peace to them lay upon Him, and through His stripes came healing to them. The fire ever burning on the altar is in contrast with the smoke either of Babylon or of the Beast's worshippers (Rev. 14:11, Rev. 18:8-10, Rev. 19:4). It is Christ the holocaust to God for all believers.
THE LAW OF THE MEAL OFFERING.
Under this law comes to light the great prominence given to the eating of the Minchah, or Meal offering, by Aaron and his sons. This is one of its most marked characteristics. All the males among the children of Aaron were to eat of it. Here too is one of its strongest points of contrast with the Olah or Burnt offering, whereof no part was eaten but all rose up to God. However requisite and important the Minchah, it only accompanied the Burnt offering; and so here it is not a fresh or separate word from Jehovah but a sequel as in Lev. 1, 2.
"And this is the law of the meal offering: the sons of Aaron shall present it before Jehovah, before the altar. And he shall take of it his handful of the fine flour of the meal offering and of the oil thereof, and all the frankincense which is on the meal offering, and shall burn [it] on the altar: a sweet odour of the memorial thereof to Jehovah. And the remainder thereof Aaron and his sons shall eat: unleavened shall it be eaten in a holy place; in the court of the tent of meeting shall they eat it. It shall not be baked with leaven. As their portion I have given it of my fire offerings: it is most holy, as the sin offering and as the trespass offering. All the males among the children of Aaron shall eat of it: an everlasting statute in your generations, from Jehovah's fire offerings; what [or, who] ever toucheth these shall be holy" (vers. 7-11).
Varieties of form such as came before us in Lev. 2 are wholly omitted now. From the law here given we could not gather anything as to this, but the one great general truth: the shadow of Christ, not giving Himself up in atoning death to Jehovah without blemish and unreservedly, but rather in the perfectness of His life on earth, all pure and in the Holy Spirit's power, the fire only bringing out His matchless fragrance, the one like the other a fire offering to Jehovah for an odour of rest. Yet even the early chapter gives us the marked difference from the Burnt offering. For the Meal offering had only the priest's handful of its flour and oil with all the frankincense taken out and burnt as its memorial on the altar: the rest went to Aaron and his sons.
But the law opens with "the sons of Aaron" offering it "before Jehovah before his altar." One might be the offering priest, to leave the memorial (ver. 8); but they were all concerned. It was priestly food, not properly man's, whatever might be true of the corn and the oil generally. This was the Minchah or Meal offering to Jehovah, following the Burnt offering, and not otherwise. For the offerer in either case was an Israelite, a sinful man, though the offering was not in view of his sin or guilt like their appropriate offerings, but of the divine provision for his acceptance in drawing near. None but One could answer to this absolute fitness for being offered before Jehovah, before His altar. Every other needed first an offering for sin. Death in the Burnt offering was rather and fully the glorifying of God in the suffering Son of man, Himself morally glorified therein as God was. The fire of God drew out nothing, again, from all His activity here below, from the smallest no less than the greatest, but perfect fragrance before God. Only He could estimate it aright; so that "all the frankincense" with a sample of all the rest was burnt to God.
But here stress is laid on what remained: "and the remainder thereof Aaron and his sons shall eat," not Aaron's sons only, but Aaron with them (ver. 9). It is the entire priestly house, Christ and His own, whose house are we, those who now partake of a heavenly calling (Heb. 3:1-6: cf. Heb. 2:11-13). The manna figures the Lord given from heaven for Israel's food: and in John 6 the Lord declares Himself the bread of life for every one who beholds the Son and believes on Him, the Living Bread that came down from heaven, so fully and freely that if any man (not the Jew only) eat of this bread, he shall live for ever. It is for the sinner that believing on Christ he may have life eternal. But by grace through the same faith we become also a holy priesthood (1 Peter 2) and, so brought nigh to God, we eat in a general way what pertains to the family (as the daughters did equally with the sons), the offering of the holy things, the first-fruits of a goodly land, etc.
Besides that holy fare, there was the more restricted privilege as here, of which the males alone partook. These types find their counterpart now in those that are Christ's, where feeding on Christ pertains to the sanctuary, and appropriation their right according to the believer's realisation of his nearness to God. The more we make our own the place in His presence by the work of Christ, the more also we enjoy Him as the food of our souls, not now merely as indispensable to having life, but in the way of communion and appreciation in the Spirit of all the perfection that God found in Him when thoroughly tried in His path here below. Hence it is that the Gospels afford to the spiritual mind such especial delight and divine joy in that which they furnish of Christ here below; whereas those who do not enter into their present nearness to God by His atoning work turn rather for comfort to the Epistles, especially such as those to the Romans, Galatians, and Hebrews, besides the first of Peter. This is well and of God; but as priests we are entitled to far more of Christ.
It will be observed that the right sense of what follows in ver. 9 is not "with unleavened bread," but itself unleavened was to be eaten, and this not in "the holy place" but a holy place, rather in the court than in the house appropriated exclusively in its use to Jehovah, as indeed the last clause specifies expressly.
In ver. 10 the exclusion of all corruption is carefully repeated, as we know it was in the original institution of Lev. 2. So of Christ the written word declares that not only in Him was no sin, but that He knew none. What a contrast with every other man! Yet did He become very near, and knew manhood incomparably better than the first man (when created, made of full growth, instead of "come of woman" like the Second): a babe, a youth, a man, tested as none ever was, least of all Adam before he fell. Yet as become flesh, and put to the proof beyond all in a world of evil He is the Holy One of God, as demons cried out; and as the Father's voice said, This is My Beloved Son in Whom I found My delight. If the Burnt offering witnessed the perfectness of His work in death, the Meal offering shows us the no less perfectness of what He Himself was here below under all conceivable trials. What a privilege to feed on Him thus given of God as our portion of His fire-offerings! Assuredly it is "most holy," as the Sin offering and the Trespass offering, where absolute freedom from taint must be: else how could there be atonement before God? How forgiveness for the offender? It could be none but Christ, Whom unbelief would fain lower to level up wretched self and dishonour God, making His glory as impossible as man's deliverance through the wreck of Christ's person and work.
The last verse (11) reiterates solemnly the exceeding privilege Jehovah secures for ever to "all the males of Aaron's children" in partaking of the Meal offering (in communion with Himself of Christ). As man He was the delight of God on the earth, only appreciated by those free of His presence; for even converted Israel will own, as their exceeding sin, that in seeing Him of old there was no appearance in Him to give them pleasure. He was despised and forsaken of men; not because of a single flaw in Him Who was wholly perfect, but because man alike was blind and evil, yea, God's enemy. But Christ being what He was and suffering atoningly as He did, all is changed now for the believer. "Whatever [or, whoever] toucheth these [Jehovah's fire-offerings] shall be holy." Not only was the Meal offering "most holy," but all that came in contact with it was separated from common use to Jehovah.
THE LAW OF THE MEAL OFFERING OF AARON AND HIS SONS.
There is a new divine communication for the next law. It was indeed a special case, peculiar to Aaron and his sons, and limited to the day of his anointing. The general word of the Meal offering on the contrary fell under that of the Burnt offering, of which it was the regular supplement. Hence, as it had no separate application, it had no separate law here any more than in the institution of Lev. 1, 2. First and last they were bound together. So should we honour the Lord Jesus in our faith: not only His devotedness in giving Himself up to death sacrificially, but in all the holy and obedient activities of His life. In Him the Father found His delight; and so His voice declared. But is it not full of instruction, that in revealing those divine pictures the Burnt offering stands first, not the Meal offering? This simply and always follows as an adjunct, whatever might be the reversed order in the sequence of Christ and His work. How differently they speak who dwell on the Incarnation to disparage the Atonement? God sets aside what we might deem the order of nature, even in Christ Himself and His work.
"And Jehovah spoke to Moses, saying, This [is] the offering of Aaron and his sons, which they shall present to Jehovah on the day when he is anointed: the tenth part of an ephah of fine flour, as a continual meal offering, half of it in the morning and half of it in the evening. "In a pan with oil it shall be made; saturated thou shalt bring it in; baken pieces of the meal offering shalt thou present, a sweet odour unto Jehovah. And the anointed priest that shall be in his stead from his sons, shall make [or, offer] it: an everlasting statute, it shall be wholly burnt unto Jehovah. And every meal offering of the priest shall be wholly burnt; it shall not be eaten" (vers. 12-16).
In the Meal offering ordinarily, where an Israelite made his oblation to Jehovah, after his portion was taken by the offering priest and burnt on the altar, the remainder was for Aaron and his sons. It was Christ an offering to God throughout all His days here below, wholly separated to God's will and glory. None but those who draw near to God, the priestly class, could appreciate Christ thus; not the Israelite simply as such, but those only who were free of the sanctuary. It was theirs to feed on Christ thus living on account of the Father. So in the First Epistle of John the fathers in the christian family, as distinguished from the young men and the babes (the παίδια, not the τεκνία who embrace all the three): they are described as knowing Him that was from the beginning, that is to say, Christ as He was here below declaring God and manifesting the Father.
All disciples believed that He was the Christ and were born of God (1 John 5:1); only the fathers knew Him that was from the beginning; only they found their delight and their food in His person as He walked on earth perfect God and man in one Person, solving all questions as they arose day by day, as only God could manifested in flesh and by ways no less than words. It is not meant that any, even of the twelve, could be thus characterised while He was here. Not even they then were "fathers." It was when the Holy Spirit was given that such a class began to be; and thank God, it was not confined to apostles or prophets, to evangelists or pastors and teachers, who might or might not be fathers. It in no wise depended on such gifts, but a Spirit-taught entrance into Christ as here manifested, and as He is presented in the Gospels. Fathers have communion with Him there and then. How comparatively few such appear to have ever been! Biographies and autobiographies, writings and letters, even of the most valued servants of the Lord, abundantly prove it, as does living experience.
But the essential difference of the Meal offering before us is that it was wholly burnt to Jehovah. Of the tenth part of the ephah, or the omer here prescribed, the same measure as of the manna for an Israelite (Ex. 16), no part was reserved for priestly food. For a Meal offering perpetual it was to be half in the morning and half in the evening; but not a morsel was to be eaten: the whole must be burnt on the altar. The reason is plain. It was for the priests, and therefore wholly went up to Jehovah. What an Israelite offered for himself, they were privileged to eat, all the males in a holy place; but their offering on the day of anointing was all for Jehovah, like the Burnt offering. It was no question of fellowship with others, but of Christ wholly offered up as a sweet savour to Jehovah on their own behalf.
THE LAW OF THE SIN OFFERING.
The right division of chapters fails here again. As verses 1-7 of the A.V. (assigned to Lev. 6) ought to belong to chap. 5, so verses 24-30 ought not to be severed from Lev. 7:1-21, of which they form the proper beginning. They all were expressly parts of one communication from Jehovah.
"And Jehovah spake to Moses, saying, Speak to Aaron and to his sons, saying, This [is] the law of the sin offering. In the place where the burnt offering is slaughtered, the sin offering shall be slaughtered before Jehovah: it [is] most holy. The priest that offereth it for sin shall eat it; it shall be eaten in a holy place, in the court of the tent of meeting. Whatsoever toucheth the flesh thereof shall be holy; and if there be sprinkled of the blood thereof on a garment, that whereon it was sprinkled thou shalt wash in a holy place. But the earthen vessel wherein it was sodden shall be broken; and if it was sodden in a copper vessel it shall be both scoured and rinsed in water. Every male among the priests shall eat thereof: it [is] most holy. And no sin offering whereof blood is brought into the tent of meeting to make atonement in the holy [place] shall be eaten: it shall be burnt with fire" (vers. 17-23; or, 21-30).
No slight even in appearance could be tolerated in the Sin offering. Undoubtedly it had a character as remote as possible from the Burnt offering, as this was to impart acceptance, that was to get sacrificial quittance from positive sin. But the Sin offering must be slaughtered before Jehovah in the place where the Burnt offering was slaughtered. So indeed Christ alone was the adequate fulfilment of both in His death on the cross. Yet He was the last One in the universe to be thought of: grace alone gave Him, one with the Father and His dearest object throughout eternity. On earth too He became flesh. He was the Holy One of God. Yet never was holiness so proved and manifested as when God made sin for us Him Who knew no sin. Always absolutely separate to God from all evils and doing nothing but the things which pleased His Father, on the cross He gave Himself up without reserve to God and His glory, to suffer the judgment of sin, cost what it might; and it cost Him everything, even what was the extremest horror to Him Who, being His beloved Son, became His righteous Servant, the True and faithful Witness. What was it for Him, abandoned by disciples, rejected by Israel, crucified by Gentiles, to cry, "My God, my God, why forsakedst thou me?" He was made sin for us. This He has left us who believe to confess as the answer. No wonder that even of the type the descriptive word is "most holy" (vers. 18, 22 or, 25, 29).
"The priest that offereth it for sin shall eat it." Singled out thus the offering points to none other than Christ; and here in His eating the Sin offering is meant, not of course His work in suffering for sin, but His identification with him for whom the offering was presented. If holiness was conspicuous in the victim and righteousness in the judgment executed, what grace was in Christ thus making the offerer's sin His own? So we know in His advocacy with the Father "if any one sin" (1 John 2:1). His atoning death was not all. It is eating the Sin-offering is realised in Christ; as alive again for evermore that the offering priest's here it was directed to be eaten in a holy place, in the court of the tent of meeting (26 A.V.).
The sanctifying power of this offering was strikingly attested in vers. 27, 28. "Whatsoever toucheth the flesh thereof shall be holy; and if there be sprinkled of the blood thereof on a garment, that whereon it was sprinkled thou shalt wash in a holy place. But the earthen vessel whereon it was sodden shall be broken; and if it was sodden in a copper vessel, it shall be both scoured and rinsed in water." It was for God on behalf of sinners. For no other, no common, purpose could it be. For vessels of earth or copper no trace must remain. To the offerer it brought forgiveness of the sin.
But ver. 29 lets us into a truth, larger far than ver. 26, though not to be compared for its depth. "Every male among the priests shall eat thereof." This was not confined to the offering priest. All the priestly males were to eat of it. Those who have access to God are called to identify themselves with a brother's sin; as Christ does pre-eminently, so they too are to follow, strong in the grace that is in Him, confessing another's sin as their own. For if He loves them, did He not both wash them from their sins in His blood and make them a kingdom, priests to His God and Father? Here it will be observed that we have the repetition of "it is most holy." Wise and opportune this is. For many a male among the priests might on the one hand forget to eat, as did even Eleazar and Ithamar (Lev. 10:16-18); as others more profane still might grievously transgress in their eating like Eli's sons (1 Sam. 2:12-17), so that men abhorred the offering of Jehovah. Indeed "it is most holy," and to be eaten only in a holy place.
Ver. 30 draws the line between these ordinary Sin offerings, where the priests thus partook of them, and the more solemn cases wherein the victim was burnt in a clean place without the camp, the blood being carried into the sanctuary for propitiation. So it was, if either the anointed priest sinned, or the whole congregation, as in the earlier cases of Lev. 4. In neither did the priests eat; in both communion for all was interrupted and must be restored. And the contrast is yet more marked in the day of atonement, when the foundation was laid for all, priests and people, during the year. All fasted, none eat, on that day. There was another exception, characteristic of the wilderness and therefore only given in Num. 19, the institution of the bête noir of the Rationalists, which, perplexing them beyond most things, becomes the occasion for their rancorous abuse of God's word. For their principle of unbelieving, or as they say scientific, criticism blinds them, so that they can perceive neither its intrinsic truth nor its suited place. But there the Red Heifer stands, wholly burnt (save some of the blood previously sprinkled seven times before the tent of meeting) without the camp, and the ashes kept as a purification for sin. It has its own distinctive traits full of instruction spiritually for us of heavenly calling as exposed to the defilement of the desert world through which we pass to the rest of God.
When therefore it was a question of propitiating blood brought into the sanctuary, there was no eating on the part of the priests. The victim was burnt without the camp. How brightly and on both its sides was this fulfilled in Christ, glorified within, crucified without! Our place is with Him in both respects. Where it was only the restoration of an individual, the priests were called to eat of the Sin offering, as we now sympathise in loving intercession.
THE LAW OF THE TRESPASS OFFERING.
There need be no surprise that the same word of Jehovah should include the law of the Trespass offering and that of the Sin offering, as they are closely allied. But it embraces other regulations more widely as we shall see.
"And this [is] the law of the trespass offering: it [is] most holy. In the place where the burnt offering is slaughtered shall the trespass offering be slaughtered; and the blood shall be sprinkled on the altar round about. And he shall offer of it all the fat thereof: the fat tail, and the fat that covereth the inwards, and the two kidneys, and the fat that [is] on them, which [is] by the flanks, and the net above the liver which he shall take as far as the kidneys. and the priest shall burn them on the altar, a fire offering to Jehovah: it [is] a trespass offering. Every male among the priests shall eat thereof: in a holy place shall it be eaten; it [is] most holy. As the sin offering, so is the trespass offering; one law [is] for them: it shall be the priest's that maketh atonement therewith" (vers. 1-7).
The notion was advocated by one who was once well-known to many, and his thoughts still more widely read, that the Sin offering was for sin in the flesh, and the Trespass offering for acts of evil. But this is wholly untenable. No such distinction was meant, nor could it be in O. T. times: it was Christ Who made that difference manifest. Moral evil generally, as we have seen, was contemplated in the one case; in the other, wrongs done to Jehovah in holy things or to a neighbour, yet against Him by violation of confidence; and reparation was due accordingly.
Here, in its law, the Trespass offering is pronounced "most holy." Granted that the offering was to meet special delinquency whether against God or against man, not moral wrong simply, but failure in their relationship before Jehovah. The more imperative that the Trespass offering should be most holy: even if in human things, it was "against Jehovah;" and it demanded adequate satisfaction in both respects. It is found perfectly and alone in Jesus Christ and Him crucified; and it produces results even now manwards as well as Godwards. See Saul the persecutor become Paul the sufferer; see the proud abusive man a lowly servant of God and of man for Jesu's sake. And never did the holiness of God so stand out and receive so immeasurable an evidence as when God made sin for us Him Who knew no sin, yea, a curse for those accursed; that those who believe on Him should be cleared for ever.
Here therefore are given the details of the slaughter and the sprinkling, or dashing, of the blood on the altar round about. In the institution the ram was specified for the reason stated there, with the mediator's estimation by shekels of silver after the shekel of the sanctuary, and the amends made by adding the fifth part given to the priest, none of which things is now represented. "The law" dwells on what directly, minutely, and sacrificially concerned Jehovah: whether for sin or for trespass, "most holy" is the offering. If Jesus was the Holy One of God, nowhere was it so proved as when forsaken of God on the cross; nowhere was His glorifying God so manifestly and profoundly absolute. And therefore did God glorify Him in Himself, and this straightway. The Burnt offering testified the perfect acceptance of His death; but where it was slain, were slain also the offerings for sin and trespass. And here again not in the original directions for the Trespass offerings, we have care taken to claim the offering of all the fat thereof, the fat tail, and the fat that covers the inwards, and the two kidneys, and the fat on them, being expressive not of the life given up, but of the inward energy that perfectly pleased God, and yielding only sweet savour when searched by His full judgment. For the priest, we are here told, was to burn this on the altar, a Fire offering to Jehovah, instead of carrying forth and burning the animal as a whole without the camp, as we may see in the great cases or in priestly eating ordinarily.
Another word is carefully laid down here, "Every male among the priests shall eat thereof: in a holy place shall it be eaten." Nothing was said on this head in Lev. 5:14-19, or 6:1-7. So little do these added regulations lie open to any fair charge of useless repetition. Aaron's family alone could eat of these offerings for sin or for trespass. But every male was called to eat of them, but this in a holy place only. Here again it is designated "most holy;" yet was it apt to be forgotten as a rite and command of Jehovah then, and still more its application spiritually now. For are not "holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling," the antitype of Aaron's sons? Are we not then privileged and responsible to eat not only the Meal offering, and our given portion of the Peace offering, but also of those for sin and trespass?
But just as Eleazar and Ithamar burnt the goat (Lev. 10), instead of eating it in a holy place, so may we fail to make the sins of a brother our own, bearing the sin and shame before God as if we ourselves had been guilty. To condemn him is easy and natural; to identify ourselves with him in confessing and mourning the failure is the clear privilege of the priestly family, at least of "every male" i.e. of every one strong in faith whether of one sex or another, for distinction of this fleshly kind cannot be in Christ Jesus (Gal. 3:28).
THE PRIEST'S PORTION IN GENERAL
Here are given supplementary rules about the priest's perquisite in the Burnt offering, and in the Meal offering. These Jehovah was pleased to add at this point, before entering on the law of the sacrifice of Peace offerings, where the offering priest had his prescribed part, while the high priest and his sons had theirs, and others too with unusual width, as we shall consider in its place.
''And the priest that offereth any man's burnt offering, the priest shall have to himself the skin of the burnt offering which he hath offered. And every meal offering that is baken in the oven, and all that is prepared in the cauldron and in the pan, shall be the priest's that offereth it; to him it shall belong. And every meal offering, mingled with oil and dry, shall all the sons of Aaron have, one as another" (vers. 8-10).
''And the priest that offereth any man's burnt offering, the priest shall have to himself the skin of the burnt offering which he hath offered. And every meal offering that is baken in the oven, and all that is prepared in the cauldron and in the pan, shall be the priest's that offereth it; to him it shall belong. And every meal offering, mingled with oil and dry, shall all the sons of Aaron have, one as another" (vers. 8-10).
It is notorious that the commentators are here remarkably silent; or, if they speak, they bring in Jehovah Elohim clothing Adam and Eve with the coats of skins He made for them (Gen. 3:21). Some of them add Jacob personating Esau by the kid-skins Rebekah's craft put upon his hands and neck to deceive his dim-sighted father (Gen. 27). Such applications cannot stand; especially as it is here no question of providing for the offerer's nakedness or need, but of the offering priest, who as usual represents Christ in His official capacity, if we are consistent in reading the type as we surely ought to be.
In what sense then may we, according to the analogy of faith, regard Christ as the Priest receiving for Himself the skin of the Burnt offering which He had offered? It would not become one to speak boldly where the scripture of the N.T. leaves the matter simply to spiritual judgment; but it is suggested that the Priest has for Himself the memorial and the display of that which set forth beyond all other offerings His giving Himself for us to God unreservedly. To the holocaust therefore was this significant token here appended. There could be no eating in this case, as in the Meal offering and in the sacrifice of Peace offerings as well as in the common or lesser offerings for sin or trespass. And the skin of the Burnt offering seems only reserved for the priest on the occasion of "any man's burnt offering," i.e. in ordinary cases. But there is no hint of the priest clothing himself with it: he certainly was not naked. Yet his perquisite it was, the abiding token and remembrance to Him of His offering and sacrifice to God for an odour of sweet smell.
But the Meal offering denoted Christ in His life, not in His blood-shedding or death, yet tested no less by the supreme judgment of God in the fire that consumed and drew out nothing but a savour of rest. Here the offering priest was to have every such oblation that is baken in the oven, and all that is prepared in the cauldron (or, frying pan) and in the pan (or, flat plate). Christ in every way put to the proof here below answers to the type, not merely kept but eaten. There were trials of Christ which He only could enter into and appreciate. Even of the great temptation in the wilderness, none of the details is revealed to us. How well He knows them! But what, to take another example, did the sleeping apostles know of that in the garden of Gethsemane?
Yet we have the closing efforts of Satan, when the forty days were completed, revealed to us carefully in both Matt. 4 and Luke 4. Accordingly we learn in ver. 10 that, "every meal offering, mingled with oil and dry, shall all the sons of Aaron have one as the other." Christ and His own enjoy thus together the offering of all His life here below as an oblation to Jehovah.
THE LAW OF THE PEACE OFFERINGS
The institution in Lev. 3 took cognisance of the offerings, whether of the herd or the flock, the kine, the sheep, or the goat. Here we have other particulars of instructive moment, especially as to eating, the sign of communion.
"And this is the law of the sacrifice of peace offerings, which [one] shall offer to Jehovah. If he shall offer it for a thanksgiving, then he shall offer with the sacrifice of thanksgiving unleavened cakes mingled with oil, and unleavened wafers anointed with oil, and cakes mingled with oil, fine flour soaked. Besides the cakes, he shall offer his offering of leavened bread with the sacrifice of his peace offerings for thanksgiving. And of it he shall offer one out of the whole offering as a heave offering to Jehovah; to the priest that sprinkleth the blood of the peace offerings it shall be. And the flesh of the sacrifice of his peace offerings for thanksgiving shall be eaten on the day of his offering: he shall not leave any of it until the morning. And if the sacrifice of his offering be a vow, or voluntary, it shall be eaten on the day he offereth his sacrifice, and on the morrow the remainder of it shall be eaten; and the remainder of the flesh of the sacrifice on the third day shall be burnt with fire. And if [any] of the flesh of the sacrifice of his peace offerings be eaten on the third day, it shall not be accepted, nor shall it be reckoned to him that offered it; it shall be an unclean thing, and the soul that eateth of it shall bear his iniquity. And the flesh that toucheth any unclean thing shall not be eaten; it shall be burnt with fire. And as for the flesh, all that are clean may eat the flesh; but the soul that eateth the flesh of the sacrifice of peace offerings that are for Jehovah, having his uncleanness upon him, that soul shall be cut off from his peoples. And if a soul touch anything unclean, the uncleanness of man or unclean beast or any unclean abomination, and eat of the flesh of the sacrifice of peace offerings that are for Jehovah, that soul shall be cut off from his peoples" (vers. 11-21).
First of all comes a distinction peculiar to these offerings. Some were simply for thanksgiving; others might be for a vow, marking special devotedness, or they might be voluntary, and so quite as powerfully representing love and delight without any direct occasion to elicit them. They had therefore a deeper character than where the offering was for thanksgiving. But this will come again before us later on.
Next we see that with the sacrifice one had to present also unleavened cakes mingled with oil, and unleavened wafers anointed with oil, and cakes mingled with oil, fine flour soaked. It is in substance the Meal offering. Christ is before the heart, not only sacrificed for us (without which fellowship were impossible), but also in all the perfection of what He was here below, as the One absolutely agreeable to His Father, always doing the things which pleased Him. His death had a character and result which nothing else could furnish; but He Himself was the object of continual and perfect satisfaction to the One Who had never found it before in man on earth; and this, where the Holy Spirit had the fullest operation inwardly and outwardly, is just what such an accompaniment here presented to God. But we need to say the less now on the subject, as we have had the type itself before us fully in Lev. 2.
Here however a very notable difference follows. "Besides the cakes, he shall offer his offering of leavened bread with the sacrifice of his peace offerings for thanksgiving" (ver. 13). It is the more striking, because every Israelite began the holy year with the Passover where leaven in every form was altogether prohibited; and this prohibition extended to the Meal offering in pointed terms, as the chapter devoted to it makes plain. Yet in the Peace offering for thanksgiving, as in the two loaves of the Feast of Weeks, leaven was not only allowed but prescribed. And the reason in each case was the same. Divine wisdom was providing for man and his fellowship. It was man believing and saintly. Still it took account of his nature. There was that in him which was not in Christ. In what represented Him leaven was not nor could be. But in what represented the saints and their fellowship there must be that which intimated the corruption of nature, if the account were to take the stamp of truth. Not that it was leaven at work but baked: in both cases we hear of "leavened bread (or, cakes)." Still there the leaven was and there only. One out of the whole, or of each, offering was to be presented as a heave offering to Jehovah; and this fell to the blood-sprinkling priest as his portion. Christ has and loves to have His part in our thanksgiving, He without Whom we could have none.
Then we learn the superior power of a vow or voluntary offering, representing devotedness of heart in the offerer, over simple return of thanks for blessings received, however good and right. The flesh, in the latter case, must be eaten the same day as the sacrifice. The communion was then only acceptable and sound. But if it had devotedness or spontaneity, there was a power of sustainment that lasted. The flesh was to be eaten on that day, but "on the morrow also its remainder shall be eaten." After that there must be no eating. "The remainder of the flesh of the sacrifice on the third day shall be burnt with fire." Separation from the sacrifice beyond the second day could not be allowed. Fellowship in joy and peace is encouraged, especially where Christ draws and fills the heart in the power of His sacrifice; but the feast must not be too far severed from its source. To guard from such profanity, the remainder after the second day must be burnt with fire; to eat on the third day was intolerable.
Indeed, as the danger was great of abusing holy fellowship, we find in vers. 18-21 warnings of peculiar solemnity. The attempt to prolong the appearance of communion is perilous. Not only should it not be accepted nor reckoned to the offerer, "it shall be an unclean thing, and the soul that eateth of it shall bear his iniquity." We read in 1 Cor. 11 an analogous dealing of the Lord where His supper was taken without discerning His body and with the lack of discerning themselves. His hand lay heavily in chastening such grievous irreverence toward His body and blood. Yet it was not for "damnation" as the superstitious conceived, ignorant of His grace, but for temporal chastisement, in some cases up to death: all its measures were, that they should not be condemned, i.e. "damned," with the world.
Holiness then is to temper, guard, and govern the joy of fellowship. "And the flesh that toucheth anything unclean shall not be eaten; it shall be burnt with fire." Undue familiarity is an offence in the expression of praise and blessing. What is it to sing to God that which we know is neither true nor becoming? How solemnly we are bound that it disappear!
Again, while every Israelite was eligible to be invited and share the feast, there was an inflexible condition: he must be clean. "And as for the flesh, all that are clean may eat the flesh. But the soul that eateth the flesh of the sacrifice of peace offerings which are for Jehovah, having his uncleanness upon him, that soul shall be cut off from his peoples. And if a soul touch any thing unclean, the uncleanness of man or unclean beast or any unclean abomination, and eat of the flesh of the sacrifice of peace offerings that are for Jehovah, that soul shall be cut off from his peoples." If we are free by grace to enjoy the fellowship of Jehovah, and of Christ the Priest, of His priests as a whole and of the very simplest of His people; we are bound to refuse all irreverence and all iniquity. If we associate with that fellowship what is offensive to God's nature and will, we do so at our peril before Him Who will surely vindicate Himself and His word. To be a Christian, ever so truly, does not suffice, indispensable as it is. The apostle in 1 Cor. 11:27 does not speak of unworthy or unconverted communicants, but of eating and drinking the Lord's supper "unworthily."
PROHIBITION OF FAT AND BLOOD.
A fresh word comes next, specifically dealing with the fat and the blood. The Israelite is forbidden to eat of the blood absolutely, but of the fat in those parts of sacrifices devoted as a Fire offering to Jehovah, as it would seem.
"And Jehovah spoke to Moses, saying, Speak to the children of Israel, saying, Ye shall eat no fat of ox, or sheep, or goat. And the fat of a dead carcase, and the fat of that which is torn, may be used in any other service; but ye shall in no wise eat it. For whosoever eateth the fat of the beast of which men offer a fire offering to Jehovah, the soul that eateth shall be out off from his peoples. And ye shall eat no blood of fowl or beast, in any of your dwellings. Whatever soul [it be] that eateth any manner of blood shall be cut off from his peoples" (vers. 22-27).
This is evidently the appropriate place for inserting the prohibition before us. It follows the law of the Peace offerings, where the general rules of eating or not eating had been carefully laid down. In that sacrifice, as in the Sin offering, the utmost stress was laid on the fat, especially of the inwards, which Aaron's sons were to burn on the altar, the food of the Fire offering for a sweet odour to Jehovah. The fat represented the intrinsic excellence and energy of what was offered in sacrifice to Jehovah. It was therefore not for the priests to use, but an odour of rest to Him Who alone could fully estimate it in the Antitype
On festive occasions, at any rate the Feast of Tabernacles, the people were taught that the day was holy to Jehovah their God, and that they were not to mourn or weep, as they did on hearing the words of the law. Joy has its privileges through His grace, as well as the sorrow that befits our shortcomings and yet deeper failures. The word therefore was, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto him for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord; neither be ye grieved, for the joy of Jehovah is your strength (or, stronghold). But the fat here allowed was not of course what was exclusively reserved for Him in the sacrificial portions. It was meet that He should have His proper delight in that which glorified Him in Christ; it was wondrous grace that we should have not merely pardon or justification but express fellowship in the same Christ, though we could not have it in the same measure or way. If God shares His joy with us in Christ's sacrifice, all the more those that are His should heed His call to reverence and godly fear.
Nor is this forgotten in the licence where no sacrifice was in question. "And the fat of the dead carcase, and the fat of that which is torn, may be used in any other service; but ye shall in no wise eat it." What died of itself or through another animal's violence, as a whole, had been forbidden already in Ex. 22:31, and was to be thrown to the dogs; much more was its fat unlawful to Israelites, as they were holy to Jehovah. In any other way it might be used. "For whosoever eateth the fat of the beast of which men offer a fire offering to Jehovah, the soul that eateth shall be cut off from his peoples."
But the blood was universally interdicted to the people who knew, as none others did of old, that life belongs to God. It mattered not what the animal might be, fowl or beast, all was forbidden absolutely. "And ye shall eat no blood, of fowl or of beast, in any of your dwellings: whatever soul [it be] that eateth any manner of blood shall be cut off from his peoples." It denied the rights of God, the Creator; and if man forfeited his by sin, Jehovah maintained His title over it unimpaired. He instituted government by man in the first place to take cognisance of death by violent intent. Shed blood is its sign, and it belongs to God exclusively; man has no title to appropriate it. So we see that, long after the Holy Spirit was given, and Gentile freedom from circumcision was insisted on, eating of blood was still prohibited, as well as personal purity enjoined. The Christian is the last who should make light of a "faithful Creator." The principles laid down for Noah are not Jewish statutes, and subsist: so the apostles decided in Acts 15.
SUPPLEMENT ON PEACE OFFERINGS
This is in no way, as has been said, a recapitulation. It conveys from Jehovah a fresh communication of moment for the entire body of the priesthood, and also for the priest ministering on each occasion of this offering. And the truth which we Christians are meant to learn thereby is of special interest.
"And Jehovah spoke to Moses, saying, Speak to the children of Israel, saying, He that offereth the sacrifice of his peace offerings to Jehovah shall bring his oblation to Jehovah of the sacrifice of his peace offerings. His own hands shall bring Jehovah's fire offerings: the fat with the breast shall he bring, that the breast may be waved as a wave offering before Jehovah. And the priest shall burn the fat on the altar; and the breast shall be Aaron's and his sons. And the right shoulder (or thigh) shall ye give to the priest for a heave offering out of the sacrifice of your peace offerings. He of the sons of Aaron that offereth the blood of the peace offerings and the fat shall have the right shoulder for a portion. For the breast of the wave offering and the shoulder of the heave offering have I taken of the children of Israel from the sacrifices of their peace offerings, and have given them to Aaron the priest and to his sons from the children of Israel, as a due portion for ever. This is [the portion] of the anointing of Aaron, and of the anointing of his sons, from Jehovah's fire offerings, in the day he brought them near to serve Jehovah as priests, which Jehovah commanded to be given them by the children of Israel in the day that he anointed them, as a due portion for ever throughout their generations" (vers. 28-36).
It is worthy of notice that, while all three offerings of sweet savour fell under one communication from Jehovah in Lev. 1-3, "the law" of the sacrifice of Peace offerings formed the close of the word from Jehovah as to the Sin offering and that of Trespass. We can understand a plain reason for the change of arrangement in "the law;" because there, not in the original institution, the weighty fact appears that, besides unleavened cakes mingled with oil and unleavened wafers anointed with oil, which typified the Lord's holy humanity born of the Spirit and in His power, there were cakes of leavened bread here (Lev. 7:13), and here only, save also in the new Meal offering at the Feast of Weeks. For there also the two wave-loaves were not only of fine flour but baken with leaven (Lev. 23:16-19), and needed an accompanying Sin offering. For man in both cases entered; saintly man no doubt, but having still the old nature, and therefore requiring the blood that atones for sin. In Christ there was none: in us, even in our thanksgiving, it is there, even if it act not; and faith feels and owns the humbling fact that it is only through Christ's death it is annulled. In that "law" is recognised also the "abomination" of separating the eating or the communion of the Peace offering from the sacrifice. The sacrifice of thanksgiving must be eaten the same day; even the vow or voluntary offering of greater energy could not be sustained more than the day after: beyond this, in any case, the rest must be burnt. Thus is our saintly communion closely conjoined with Jehovah's food in the Peace offering: not only Christ sacrificed to Him for us. Here too while the liberty was large, the indispensable need of cleanness is required. To eat when defiled is peremptorily denounced for every soul (vers. 19-21).
This last truth accounts too for the separate communication that follows in Lev. 7:22-27. The Peace offering was that which alone of these offerings admitted of eating on the part of Jehovah's people. Hence the necessity for rigidly forbidding any abuse of the privilege. To all without exception this prohibition reached. To Aaron and his sons the word came in Lev. 6:24, 25, stretching down to this point in Lev. 7 where Moses is told to speak to the children of Israel, No fat of the sacrificial animals was to be eaten, nor of what died of itself, or was torn. And all blood was absolutely forbidden to be eaten: not only the inward energy, but the life too was sacred to Jehovah, Who would brook no meddling with His sole right and title here.
On a similar principle a fresh communication from Jehovah in vers. 28-36 claims out of the Peace offering the wave-breast and the heave-shoulder. The breast was for the whole priestly family, Aaron and his sons; the shoulder for the offering priest: both as the respective and fixed portion for ever from the children of Israel. Thus, Jehovah had His part, and the Israelite was free to enjoy, himself, his family, and any Israelite he might invite to share, provided all and only if they were clean. We find solely in this last communication, and in language of emphatic solemnity, that Jehovah reserved an especial portion, not to weaken but to deepen the fellowship. Aaron and his sons we have seen to mean Christ and His own. For us communion is altogether short which does not contemplate the Head and the body, even all saints. So if the apostle writes to the church of God which is in Corinth, to sanctified persons in Christ Jesus, saints called, he adds "with all that in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ both theirs and ours." And for the saints and faithful in Christ Jesus who were in Ephesus he prays, that Christ may dwell through faith in their hearts, being rooted and grounded in love in order that they may be fully able to apprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and depth and height, and to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge, that they may be filled to all the fulness of God.
The Heave offering was more absolute than the Wave offering, though the same offering might in cases be called by either name according to the respective aspect. The former was not the whole of what was offered, but part offered to Jehovah. The breast as a whole was waved, the right shoulder heaved, the symbols of the affections as a whole, and of strength which could best sustain the burden. Christ and His own in nearness to God enjoy the love together; He as the Priest that offered has His special joy in that which represented the support of the weak. But the fat or inward energy, as the blood, was Jehovah's portion. Thus while all had their communion in Christ, each had what specially was due on immutable grounds and for ever. The communion of saints could not be in Israel as it is enjoyed in the church of God since redemption; but this type was a beautiful anticipation in its measure.
FINAL SUMMARY OF THE OFFERINGS.
The institution, or particularly "the law" of the Offerings, closes in verses 37, 38.
"This [is] the law of the burnt offering, of the meal offering, and of the sin offering, and of the trespass offering, and of the consecration offering, and of the sacrifice of peace offerings; which Jehovah commanded Moses in mount Sinai, in the day that he commanded the children of Israel to present their offerings to Jehovah, in the wilderness of Sinai" (vers. 37, 38).
Christ, the offering of Christ, is the reality in which all these shadows meet. The varied colours of each and all blend as it were into that perfect light, in which God delighted as the display of His nature in His Son, become man in grace and truth for man, who else had neither, and now by faith received both; and this in a sacrifice, which not only bore the sins of the first man but transferred to him the acceptance of the Second in a savour of rest before God.
Undoubtedly the rich grace in the work of Christ has a real and permanent, as it should have a deep, effect spiritually on the believer. We love Him because He first loved us; we hate the sins, of us and of all, the judgment of which we behold by faith, unsparingly and beyond creature thought, dealt with by God in the cross. But it is a mistake and a perversion of the word to read in the Burnt offering, or the Meal or the so called Peace offering, our own devotedness, whatever impulse the truth in them may give to our souls. Rather are we called in faith to recognise, not only our utter lack but the radical contrariety of our fallen nature to what we have learnt Christ to be in life and death, searched as He indeed was by such a test of fire as neither Adam nor any of his sons had ever known. For in every living detail He was as perfect as in the surrender of Himself to death, and this in obedience for God's glory, no less than as bearing our sins in His own body on the tree; and as the result He brings us to enjoy communion with God, the Priest, and all the saints, whether they enter into that holy nearness or be vague, as so many of the faithful are.
Thus learnt we the Christ, as we heard Him and were taught in Him, even as the truth is in Jesus, Who is the truth. Doubtless the apostle could add not a little more, seeing that He was not only the Firstborn or Chief of all creation, but the Beginning, the Firstborn from the dead, yea Head of the body the church. He could bring out our having put off according to our former course the old man that corrupts itself according to the lusts of deceit; and our being renewed in the spirit of our mind; and our having put on the new man that according to God was created in righteousness and holiness of the truth. Such privileges transcend what is implied in the offerings; but what is there, if rightly interpreted in the light of Christ, shines bright to faith.
The offerings for Sin and Trespass were comparatively negative and essentially occupied with the sad variety of sin in general or guilt in responsible relationship to Jehovah. They could not indeed proclaim full remission, for the blood of Jesus His Son was not yet shed to cleanse from all sins. Yet do they tell of Him Who is full of compassion and grace, slow to anger and plenteous in mercy and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin. But as the sweet savour offerings proved divine love in Christ by positive and overflowing goodness, so did those for sin and guilt testify it by meeting man in his abject evil, misery and ruin. Without doubt faith and self-judgment are supposed; but the efficacy is solely in Christ prefigured by the offering. Those who rested on the form and letter got nothing that sanctified beyond cleanness of flesh; but such as looked in heart to the Messiah got spiritual blessing, and walked in all the commandments and ordinances of Jehovah without blame.
The commanding truth that appears everywhere, no matter what may be the difference of shape in the shadow of things to come, is that the body or substance is of Christ. The Holy Spirit works effectually as the Father draws. But to the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ is God's power and God's wisdom. The world may count Him crucified to be folly; but the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. And of Him it is, that as Christ died for our sins, so we are in Christ Jesus, Who was made to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and holiness and redemption, leaving us to boast in none but Jehovah.
This therefore casts the soul, tried by the consciousness of its unworthiness and the failure of all efforts, on Christ and His work. There only does the Spirit direct for peace; Christ made it through the blood of His cross. The believer is thus entitled to enjoy it; he rests on God's value for it, and as this never changes, such should be his peace also. The Spirit bears witness, not only that there is no work comparable, no work therefore to share its place, but that God will never remember more the sins and iniquities of those that believe. The cleansing of their feet defiled in the miry ways of the world is needed, and never fails through Jesus the Advocate with the Father. But the propitiation abides in its constant value; and the washing of water by the word is applied whenever the need arises; not as if the worshipper once purged loses his relationship and nearness to God, but to restore the communion which has been interrupted by a sin. The one offering remains undisturbed in its blessed effect; but Christ's advocacy works by the word and Spirit of God to conciliate the believer's failure with that standard. God is indeed faithful; and we have in Christ a living Saviour, not His death only, immense and precious as it is: He is the all (the complete object), and in all.