C. H. Mackintosh.
Chapter 5 - 7
Chapter 8 & 9
Chapter 13 & 14
Chapter 18 - 20
Chapter 21 & 22
In the Person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ there is an infinite fulness, which meets every necessity of man, both as a sinner and as a worshipper. The infinite dignity of His Person gives eternal value to His work. In the Book of Genesis we have seen "God's remedy for man's ruin" in the promised seed — the Ark of Salvation, and in the rich unfoldings of divine grace, to fallen and sinful man. There we have the Bud, the full-blown glories, and fragrance of which shall yet fill the heavens and the earth, with joy and gladness.
In the Book of Exodus we have seen "God's answer to man's question." There, man is not only outside of Edon, but he has fallen into the hands of a cruel and a powerful enemy. He is the bond slave of the world. How is he to be delivered from Pharaoh's thraldom, from Egypt's furnace? How can he be redeemed, justified, and brought into the promised land? God only could answer such questions, and this He did in the blood of the slain Lamb. In the redemption-power of that blood, every question is settled, It meets Heaven's highest claims, and man's deepest necessities. Through its amazing efficacy, God is glorified, man is redeemed, saved, justified, and brought to God's holy habitation; while the enemy is completely overthrown, and his power destroyed.
And, now, in our meditations on the Book of Leviticus, we find most fully unfolded, what we may call, "God's provision for man's need;" or a Sacrifice, a Priest, and a Place of Worship. These are essentially necessary in drawing near to God, as this book most abundantly proves. But everything therewith connected was appointed by God, and established by His law. Nothing was left to be supplied by man's fertile imagination, or his prudential arrangement. "So Aaron and his sons did all things which the Lord commanded by the hand of Moses." (viii. 36; ix. 6, 7.) Without the word of the Lord, neither priest nor people could take a single step in the right direction. It is so still. There is not a single ray of light in this dark world, but that which is shed from holy Scripture. "Thy word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path." (Psalm cxix. 105.) It is truly happy when the children of God so honour His word as to be guided by it in all things. We need now, as much as the Jew did then, divine direction and divine guidance for acceptable worship. "But the hour comes, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeks such to worship him." (John iv. 23, 24.) More than sincerity or devoutness of feeling is required in the children's worship. It must be in the unction of the Spirit, and according to the truth of God. But we have all, blessed be His name, in the Person and work of our blessed Lord Jesus! He is both our sacrifice and priest, and our right of entrance into the holiest of all. Oh! to be kept near to His wounded side, and in the abiding sense, that He is the ground, the material, and the sweet incense of all our worship.
Let us now briefly notice the three points already mentioned.
I. In the first place, we would observe, that sacrifice is the basis of worship. Acceptable worship to God must be based on a sacrifice acceptable to Him. Man being in himself guilty and unclean, he needs a sacrifice to remove his guilt, cleanse him from his defilements, and fit him for the holy presence of God. "Without shedding of blood is no remission." And without remission, and the knowledge of remission, there can be no happy worship; no real, hearty praise, adoration, and thanksgiving. Going to what is called "a place of worship," and worshipping God, are widely different things. God is holy, and man must approach Him in His own way, and according to what He is. As Moses said to Aaron on the solemn occasion of the sin of Nadab and Abihu, "This is it that the Lord spake, saying, I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me, and before all the people I will be glorified." The Lord alone could give directions as to how the people were to draw nigh to Him. This is the great subject of the Book of Leviticus. The "NOTES" on the first seven, and the sixteenth chapters, will give the reader a very full and interesting view of the ordinance of sacrifice, and the character of Jewish worship.
It was on the ground of offered and accepted sacrifice that the children of Israel were constituted the worshipping people of God. It is on the same ground, namely, offered and accepted sacrifice, that believers in Jesus are constituted the worshipping people of God now. (Read carefully Lev. xvi.; Heb. ix., x.) They have taken Israel's place, but after a much higher order, whether we look at the sacrifice, the priest, or the place of worship. The contrast between them is great, and strongly marked in Scripture, especially in the Epistle to the Hebrews. The Jewish sacrifices never reached the conscience of the offerer, and the Jewish priest never could pronounce him "clean every whit." The gifts and sacrifices which were offered under the law, as the apostle tells us, "could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience." The conscience, observe, always being the reflection of the sacrifice, it could not be perfect, seeing the sacrifice was not perfect. "For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins." Hence, Jewish worship was connected with inefficient sacrifices, a burdensome ritual, and an unpurged conscience, which gendered in the worshipper a spirit of bond age and fear.
But now, mark the contrast to all this in the once-offered and accepted sacrifice of Christ. He "put away sin by the sacrifice of himself." All is done. Having "by himself purged our sins, he sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high." When the worshipper comes before God on the ground of this sacrifice, he finds that he has nothing to do save, as a priest, to show forth the praises of Him "who has called us out of darkness into his marvellous light." Even Christ has nothing more to do as regards our justification and acceptance. "For by one offering he has perfected for ever them that are sanctified." The Jew, by his sacrifice, was merely ceremonially clean, and that only for a moment, as it were; but the Christian, through the sacrifice of Christ, is really so, and that for ever. Oh! that sweet word, "FOR EVER." It is the common privilege of all believers to be perfected as worshippers before God, "through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all." On this deeply-important point the testimony of Scripture is most full and explicit. For the worshippers once purged should have "no more conscience of sins." "The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us from all sin." "And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more." (1 John i. 7; Heb. x.) By the work of Christ for us our sins were all put away. And, now, by faith in God's word, we know that they are all forgiven and forgotten. Hence, we can draw near to God, and stand in His holy presence, in the happy assurance that there is neither sin nor stain upon us. Our Great High Priest has pronounced us "clean every whit." (John xiii.) Believing this, the sense of guilt is taken away; we have "NO MORE CONSCIENCE OF SINS."
This deeply precious truth, observe, does not mean that there is no more consciousness of sins. Far from it. Or that we may not get a bad conscience through failure — or that we need not be exercised "to have a conscience void of offence toward God and toward man." Not at all. It simply means that Christ, by the one, perfect, finished sacrifice of Himself, has for ever put away all our sins, root and branch. And having been led to know and believe this, how can there be sins on the conscience? Christ has put them all away. The precious blood of our once-offered and accepted sacrifice has cleansed us from every spot and stain of sin. There may be the deepest sense of indwelling sin, and of many sins and shortcomings in our every-day life, and the painful confession of them all to God. Still, there is the full assurance that Christ died for our sins, put them all away, and that not one of them can ever be laid to our charge. This is indeed a most wonderful truth; but it is the great, the needed truth for a worshipper. How could we stand in God's presence, where all is perfection, if we were not as clean as He would have us to be? We must be clean enough for the eye of Infinite Holiness. But, blessed be God, all who believe in Jesus, and rest on His finished sacrifice, are forgiven and justified. They have eternal life, righteousness, and peace. The first cry for mercy of the guilty sinner is answered by the blood of the sacrifice. It penetrates to the deepest depths of his need — it raises him to the highest heights of heaven, and fits him to be there, a happy worshipper, in the immediate presence of the throne of God. "For Christ also has once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God." "For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies to the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who, through the eternal Spirit, offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God!" 1 Peter iii. 18; Heb. ix. 13, 14.
II. In the second place, we have, in the rich provisions of God's grace, the Lord Jesus Christ as our Great High Priest in the presence of God for us. He ministers there for us. "We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens. A minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched and not man." (Heb. viii. 1, 2.) His work of sacrifice having been fully completed, He sat down. Aaron is represented as being always in a standing position. His work was never finished. He stood "daily ministering, and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices which can never take away sin. But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins, for ever sat down on the right hand of God." Immediately after the law of the Lord had been given as to sacrifice, the priesthood was established. (See "NOTES" on chapters viii., ix.) The saints have both in Christ. He is our sacrifice and our priest. He appeared once on the cross for us. He now appears in heaven for us. Ere long He will appear in glory with us. To know what He accomplished on the cross, and what He is now doing in the sanctuary above, will nourish in our hearts the hope of His coming, and lead us to long for His appearing in glory.
In the New Testament we only read of two orders of Priests — namely, Christ as the Great High Priest in heaven, and the common priesthood of all believers on the earth. "Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ." (1 Peter ii. 5.) And, again, "Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and has made us kings and priests to God and his Father." (Rev. i. 5, 6.) These passages clearly prove the common standing of all believers as priests to God. There is no mention in the New Testament of any peculiar class, or order of Christians who hold the office of priests, as distinct from other Christians. Christ is the Great High Priest over the house of God, and all His people are, in virtue of their connexion with Him, priests, and privileged to enter, as once-purged worshippers, into the holiest of all. Even the apostles never took the place of priests, as distinct from, or superior to, the humblest child of God. They might know their privileges better than many, and enjoy them more. Their gifts and callings as to the ministry of the word, were distinct and special, but as worshippers they stood on the same ground as all others, and, together with them, worshipped God through Jesus Christ, the Great High Priest of all His people.
In the priestly ministry of our blessed Lord there are many points of special interest; we only notice the two following:
1. As our Great High Priest, He represents us in the sanctuary above. And, oh! what a Representative! God's beloved Son, the glorified Man, whose name is above every name. "For Christ is not entered into the holy place made with hands, which are the figures of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us." (Heb. ix. 24.) Oh! what dignity! what nearness to God is ours! Oh! that our hearts appreciated it more! When Aaron appeared before the Lord in his garments of glory and beauty, he represented the children of Israel. Their names were engraven in precious stones in the beautiful breastplate. Blessed type of our real and everlasting place in the heart of Christ, who appears, not annually, like Aaron of old, but continually in the presence of God for us. The name of each believer is kept continually before the eye of God, in all the glory and beauty of Christ, His well-beloved Son. We stand in His righteousness; possess His life, enjoy His peace, are filled with His joy, and radiate His glory. Although without right, title, or privilege in ourselves, we have all in Him. He is there for us and as us. His name be for ever praised.
"He stands in heaven their great High Priest,
And bears their names upon His breast."
It is by His continual intercession in heaven that saints on earth are succoured and sustained in their wilderness journey, and, at the same time, upheld as worshippers within the veil, in all the sweet fragrance of His own divine excellencies. And neither their ignorance, nor their lack of enjoyment of these things, alters or affects their blessed, glorious, and eternal reality. "Seeing He ever lives to make intercession for them." Heb. vii. 25.
2. As our Great High Priest, He presents to God the gifts and sacrifices of His worshipping people. Under the law, the worshipper brought his offering to the priest, and by him it was presented to the Lord, on His own altar. Everything was arranged by the priest, according to the word of the Lord. How perfectly all this is done for the worshipper now by his High Priest in Heaven! Our prayers, praises, and thanksgiving, all pass through His hands before they reach the throne of God. What a wonderful mercy this is, when we think of our confused and mixed services! So much that is of the flesh mingles with that which is of the Spirit. But the blessed Lord knows how to divide and separate between them. That which is of the flesh must be rejected, and consumed as wood, hay, and stubble, while that which is of the Spirit is precious, preserved, and presented to God in the value and sweet savour of His own perfect sacrifice. "By Him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name." (Heb. xiii. 15.) The kindness of the Philippians to Paul was "an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well pleasing to God." Hence the importance of the exhortation, "Whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him." Col. iii. 17.
III. In the third place, we observe, that the Christian's only place of worship is inside the veil, "whither the forerunner is for us entered." Outside the camp is his place as a witness; inside the veil is his place as a worshipper. In both positions Christ is surely with him. "Let us go forth therefore to him without the camp, bearing his reproach." "Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus." (Heb. xiii.; x. 19.) To know these two positions in communion with Christ Himself, through the teaching of the Spirit, is unspeakable blessedness. The Church has no divinely-consecrated place of worship on earth. Our place is in heaven, in virtue of the sacrifice and of the priestly ministry of Christ there for us. Whatever may be the character of the building in which Christians are gathered together in the name of the Lord Jesus, their true and only sphere of worship is the heavenly sanctuary. Through faith in God's word, and by the power of His Holy Spirit, they worship Him in "the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched and not man."
Israel had "a worldly sanctuary," and, accordingly, the character of their worship was worldly, "the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing," But the way has been opened up by the blood of Jesus. The same stroke that slew the Lamb rent the veil from top to bottom. The way into the holiest of all was then laid open, and Christ, with all His blood-washed ones, entered into the immediate presence of God, without a veil. There is no outer court-worship now for the people, and temple-worship for the priest, as under the law. These distinctions are unknown in the Church of the living God. It is all priestly worship and temple worship now. All are equally near — all have equal liberty — all are equally acceptable, through the presence and intervention of the Great High Priest of His people. The same precious blood that cleansed us from all sin, has brought us near to God as children, and as worshipping priests. And if we really know the wondrous efficacy and power of that blood in the heavenly places, we shall be at home and happy there in all the liberty and dignity of sonship, and in all the official nearness and standing of once-purged worshippers, in the most holy place.
Oh! that our hearts may be kept in the sweet remembrance, knowledge, and power of the rich provisions of God's grace for all our need! Oh! that we may never lose sight of the blood on the mercy-seat, the minister of the sanctuary, and of our holy, heavenly, and eternal place of worship.
We must now leave the dear reader, earnestly commending to his most prayerful and diligent study this precious Book of Leviticus. The light which it sheds on the Person and work of Christ — the ground and character of our communion with God, is deeply blessed to the heart that desires to live in the enjoyment of these eternal realities. He will find the "NOTES" most helpful in unfolding the text, and in giving an interesting and practical view to many of the ceremonies which we are prone to pass over as uninteresting and uninstructive to us. See, for example, the eleventh chapter.
And now, may the Lord graciously own, use, and bless, this little volume, for the glory of His own name, and for the comfort and blessing of many precious souls.
A. M. London, May, 1860.
Preface to the Second Edition
The rapid sale of a large edition of this volume evidences an amount of interest in the study of the Book of Leviticus, for which I unfeignedly bless the Lord. Too many, even of the people of God, seem to think that this section of inspiration contains nothing of any interest or value to them. They regard it as a detail of rites and ceremonies with which they have nothing to do — a record of by-gone institutions, affording no instruction or edification for them. That this is a great mistake, thousands are now discovering. Very many who for years, looked upon the Book of Leviticus as little more than a dry catalogue of Jewish ordinances, are now discovering in it an exhaustless mine of spiritual wealth for which they cannot be too thankful. They have brought its marvellous pages under the light of the New Testament scriptures, and they can only wonder at that which is now unfolded to their gaze. That they may discover yet more of the precious treasure, is my earnest desire on their behalf.
I have carefully revised the following pages, and, I may say, I have left them very much as I found them. An expression, here and there, which seemed likely to be misunderstood, I have slightly touched. I have also added a brief note or two. These trifling matters excepted, the Second Edition is a reprint of the First, and, as such, it is again committed to the care of Him from whom all blessings flow. May He be graciously pleased to crown it, still further, with the stamp of His approval. His seal and sanction are all that any book requires to make it useful; and, truly, we may say, the book that has not these, has nothing.
The Lord grant a more abundant blessing, and His name shall have all the praise.
C. H. M. 47, Mountjoy St., Dublin. August, 1861.