Thoughts on Sacrifices

C E Stuart

Second edition revised, publisher: G Morrish; the first edition was 1871, publisher: R L Allan (this copy inscribed Catherine Stuart).

Preface.

In preparing this Second Edition for the press, opportunity has been taken to revise these "Thoughts on Sacrifices," and to add two papers formerly published in the Bible Treasury, one on "Heave-offerings," etc., and the other on "Drink-offerings."

Contents.
1. — The Offerings of Cain and Abel
2. — The Sweet Savour of the Sacrifice
3. — The Passover
4. — The Sin-offering
5. — Discipline and Restoration to Communion
6. — Propitiation
7. — Cleansing from Defilement
8. — Heave-offerings and Wave-offering
9. — Drink-offerings
10. — The Crucifixion
11. — The Penitent Thief
12. — The One Alternative
13. — Christian Sacrifices

Chapter 1. — The Offerings of Cain and Abel

There are two points of view from which we may study the lives of men, according as we place ourselves with the spectators, or with the actors. With the former we may scrutinise the conduct, and mark the consequences which flow from it; with the latter we become cognisant of the motives, and trace upwards to their source the otherwise hidden springs of action. The history of Cain and Abel affords us an illustration of this.

In reading the account handed down by Moses we are placed in the position of spectators; in reading the brief notice of the history in the Epistle to the Hebrews we understand the position of Abel, and learn the guiding principles of the two brothers. No antediluvian record, if any such existed, survived the flood; to revelation, therefore, we are wholly indebted for what we do possess. Fifteen centuries elapsed between the date of the writing of Genesis and that of the Epistle to the Hebrews, during which the outward history (that is, what a spectator might have recorded) of their sacrifices was all that God had been pleased to disclose. But when, in the fulfilment of His counsels, ordained before the foundation of the world, the message of His grace went forth to all men, and the seed of Jacob had to renounce the earthly promises made to their fathers, if they would receive God's salvation, the secret history of that day's offerings was revealed. God unfolds truth in season. Till then its application would not have been understood, for it concerns not Israel merely but all men, as it speaks in language clear and loud of a sinner's acceptance before his God. "By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh." (Heb. xi. 4.)

What a value God has put on this history! "By it he being dead yet speaketh." A voice then comes to us from the other side of the flood to which man would do well to give ear: and as we listen to it we can be at no loss how to understand its purport, or how to translate its language; for God the Holy Ghost has given us His divine comment on that history. So, whilst we read in Genesis of the awful wickedness to which a child of Adam can stoop, we learn in Hebrews the principle on which one born in sin can be held righteous before God. Of the sacrifices of Adam and Eve we have no record. They were created in innocence, and fell through positive transgression. Their example, then, as to sacrifices, men might plead, did not meet their case. Adam and Eve were directly answerable for their fallen condition, but we enter the world sinners from our birth. Hence the sacrifices of Cain and Abel just meet our case. For like us they were children of Adam, born in sin, inheriting by birth an evil nature. Their position is ours as children of the same father; the ground of their acceptance is the ground of ours likewise, as they possessed by natural generation, in common with us, a nature at enmity with God. Hence, on the first occasion that could arise, this question of a sinner's acceptance before God, so intimately connected with the everlasting welfare of man, was clearly raised, and the controversy definitely and plainly set at rest, as "the Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering; but unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect." (Gen. iv. 4, 5.) A look from the Lord settled the question between them, and has taught us that the question was then settled for us.

"By faith Abel offered," etc. Then with Abel it was obedience to a revelation from God, but how communicated it has not pleased Him to record — nor does it concern us. It is the fact of a revelation having been vouchsafed, and not the manner of its communication, we require, to throw light on Abel's actions. With him, then, what he should offer was no question of choice; he learned what God required, and brought it. Thus, at the outside of the garden of Eden, in the wilderness of Sinai, and at Mount Calvary, we behold how in all ages God has declared what that sacrifice is which He can accept. Before the flood, as well as after it, souls to be accepted had to learn this. Yet with all the light of revelation, the accumulated knowledge of ages, and the boasted enlightenment of this nineteenth century, are not many souls even in this country in as thick darkness about the teaching of Cain and Abel's offering, as if that history had never been written, or God's word they had never heard of? Few there are, probably, who have never heard of Cain and Abel; but how many are there among that class who, acquainted with the statements of Moses, have understood the meaning of that voice which, though he is dead, yet speaketh? Are we strangers in our day to such language as this — "That men may be saved in different ways, if only they are earnest and upright?" The narrowness of past generations must be overcome: the bigotry of those who refuse to divorce salvation from the atonement can no longer be endured! Are such voices from the altar of Abel? or are they echoes from the offerings of Cain?

Turning to the Mosaic account, we learn that on one point both the brothers were agreed; they owned that it was right for a creature to bring an offering to his God. Cain seemed as ready as Abel to yield up to the Lord something of what he possessed. There did not appear any backwardness on his part in bringing an offering to the Lord. The ground had yielded increase to reward his toil, and he was willing to present part of it to Him by whose power and goodness the earth was fruitful at all. The occasion on which they thus approached God is not mentioned. Sufficient for us is it to remark that Cain, by his offering, though he acted wrongly, condemns many a one in this day who receives favours from God, enjoys them, learns the value of them, and looks for a renewal of them each morning, without once stopping to think of the Giver, or inquiring in what way He can be approached and worshipped.

"Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering to the Lord. And Abel he also brought of the firstlings of his flock, and of the fat thereof." The amount of Cain's offering has not been revealed, nor the number of Abel's sheep, but both, doubtless, drew nigh with no niggard hand; and now these two sons of Adam, born in sin, stand with their respective offerings before the Lord. Cain, doubtless, brought of the choicest of his harvest, the fattest of the fruits of the ground — beautiful sight, we may believe, for the outward eye to admire; whilst Abel, doubtless, stood with the finest of the firstlings of his flock, with their fat. Observe, there is no mention of the blood. This is in perfect keeping with the character of their service that day. Throughout the book of Genesis, it may be remarked, there is no mention of blood in connection with sacrifice to God. It is not till the institution of the passover in Egypt, and the law was about to be given at Sinai, "added because of transgressions," that blood is mentioned at all, and its efficacy is brought out. "Without shedding of blood is no remission" is a truth never to be forgotten; but on that day it was not, it would appear a question of sins to be forgiven, for we read not before this of a single thing that they had done wrong. The question raised was about the acceptance of a sinner, not about the remission of sins. This is an important distinction, and gives great weight to this history of Abel. It was the nature, and not the acts of that nature, that Abel's sacrifice brings into prominence. The blood makes atonement for sins, but a nature can only cease to exist by death. Death therefore must come in ere a nature can be put away. So we have here the death of the firstlings and the offering with them of their fat, without the mention of the blood. The death of the animals foreshadowed the death of the substitute; their fat, as we learn from the Levitical ritual, the perfect obedience to the will of God of the Substitute, in the inmost recesses of His nature. For, observe, it is not fat lambs that we read of, but the firstlings, with their fat. Doubtless the firstlings were the best of their kind, the fattest of the flock, but that explanation will not satisfy the term "and the fat thereof." "All the fat is the Lord's," we read in Leviticus iii. 16, and, with the inwards, formed "the food of the offering made by fire for a sweet savour." How expressive must the mention of the fat with Abel's offerings have been to the children of Israel, hearing that history for the first time probably, just when they had learnt at Sinai the value of the fat in God's eyes. The mention then of the fat has a voice, and the offering of Abel a meaning which we can interpret. Cain acted in self-will in the offering he brought. Abel approached as a sinner, put the death of the substitute between him and God, and offered with the animals their fat, thus prefiguring the perfect answer within of the true victim to the will of God; as it is written of Him, "My reins also instruct me in the night seasons." (Ps. xvi. 7.) Abel then drew near acknowledging his need of the death of a substitute. Cain approached as a righteous man who had already a standing before God. He ignored His condition by the fall, so was rejected; Abel owned it, offering accordingly, and was accepted. The fruits of the ground were witnesses against Cain of the fall, for the ground was cursed for Adam's sake; the dead victims likewise testified of it, for death entered the world by sin; but they spoke also of the divinely-appointed way of putting away sin by the sacrifice of God's own Son. Hence "the Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering; but unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect." Neither of them drew nigh without offerings which spoke of the fall (whatever they offered must have done that); but Cain thought to set himself right with God without the death of a substitute, whilst Abel acknowledged the need of another's death ere he could stand in acceptance before God. Abel thus confessed that, as far as man was concerned, his condition was irremediable, for he was a sinner; Cain manifested a disposition by his fruits to make good his standing, and miserably failed, as all must who act in the spirit in which he acted, and refuse to accept the atonement made by the Lord Jesus. Abel took the place of a sinner — a lost sinner; Cain of a soul able to maintain its ground before a holy God. Was this thought confined to the days before the flood? Is it not largely entertained still?

But, it may be asked, why were the fruits of the ground an offering God could not accept from Cain when He afterwards commanded the children of Israel to offer of their first-fruits unto Him? The answer is plain. Their cases were very different. Israel, as a nation, were already redeemed, and had a standing before Him; with Cain it was the question of an unredeemed sinner's acceptance. Cain should have learned that the only ground of his standing before God was through the death of another.

Do we not discern the difference of these conditions in the language addressed in the New Testament to sinners and to saints? To sinners the message is, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved." To saints the word comes, "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service." (Acts xvi. 31; Rom. xii. 1.) As redeemed by blood, God looks for that from His people, which it would be presumptuous for the unsaved soul to offer.

Now the identification between the offering and the offerer comes out — "The Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering." Could He have accepted Abel without his offering? Impossible. Could He have accepted the offering without the offerer? Impossible. For by faith Abel offered. He manifested the obedience of faith, and so received the sure consequence — acceptance before his God. "He obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts." He had no need to ask his father and his mother (if they were present) whether he had been accepted, the Lord would have him learn it direct from Himself, so he could leave the place of sacrifice with his mind at rest about it. Abel knew all about it, Cain did likewise. To both was it made plain, that the one was owned as righteous that day, who had taken the place of a lost sinner needing the death of a substitute; and Cain's conduct comes out to us in all its enormity and presumption, when we learn what Abel's firstlings foreshadowed.

But, how graciously did the Lord deal with Cain, when He manifested displeasure at his rejection. Was the Lord unrighteous in His dealings with the two brothers? "If thou doest well shalt thou not be accepted?" Or, as the margin reads, "have the excellency." But to do well was to own, like Abel, what one born in sin needed. How little do men understand this! Yet, what higher or truer ground could Abel take, than simply to confess what he was? It was in this Cain had failed. Yet the Lord would not for that finally cast him off, so He added, "If thou doest not well, sin," or, as is by some understood, a sin offering "lieth at the door:"* and, if offered, his sin would be forgiven, and his position as first-born would still remain to him: "unto thee shall be his desire [that is, Abel's] and thou shalt rule over him." Here we have the first mention of an offering for sin. God told him what to do, but he refused to obey, and instead of the sacrifice, as pointed out, he took his brother's life. Was he desirous to secure the rights of the first-born, and so slew his brother, as others afterwards could say, "This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance shall be ours?" It may have been so, but scripture is silent about it. One thing, however, is clear, the way of acceptance, even after he had sinned, was pointed out to him, so he was left without excuse, when he turned from the place of sacrifice without having brought the sin-offering. The Lord would not allow him to be ignorant of what he should do, any more than Abel of the results of what he had done. Multitudes have fallen into Cain's mistake, but what the Lord told Cain He tells them. For Cain, and for them a sacrifice must be offered up. But in Cain's case it was the offering up of one from the flock; in the sinner's case now, it is trusting wholly to the sacrifice of God's Lamb on the cross. How clearly then is the whole question of a sinner's acceptance shadowed forth in this brief history! How has this history spoken to the heart of the readers of these lines? If hitherto it has been read simply as the record of a bygone age, with which we are not concerned, now may its voice penetrate to the depths of the heart, and it be found speaking directly to each soul. We read here what Cain and Abel respectively offered: but we read in it also what men are doing in these days, and how each one should act, if desirous to be found on the same side as "righteous Abel."

{*Others take the word as the action, consequent on his state, "sin lieth at the door," so the Authorised Version and other versions.}

From that day the paths of the two brothers outwardly diverged. Abel's body was shortly afterwards laid in the grave, and Cain went out from the presence of the Lord, and builded a city, and called it after his son, Enoch. His posterity became famous as inventors of instruments of music, and workers in brass and iron. The flood came and obliterated all trace of his city, if it existed till then, and all trace, too, of Abel's grave: and the strains of music Cain's family had first evoked, were hushed for ever into silence as the waters overflowed the earth, But there is a voice which Cain's malice could not silence, nor the overflowing waters drown; and, whilst all of Cain's race, with their arts and works, perished in the deluge, this voice still speaks to sinners, telling what they need, as Abel found, who by faith offered a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, and by it, though dead, yet speaketh!

Chapter 2. The Sweet Savour of the Sacrifice

Genesis viii. 20 — ix. 17.

Fifteen hundred years and more elapsed between the death of Abel and the next sacrifice mentioned in scripture, for the Book of Genesis is not a diary of all that took place before the flood. It records just that, and all that which it pleased God should be preserved by His servant Moses. The waters had abated from off the earth, the face of the ground was dry, and the earth was dried before the living freight was discharged from the ark. In the second month, on the seven and twentieth day of the month, the earth was ready for man, and at the Lord's word Noah and his family came forth from their hiding-place provided by God.

Before the flood Noah had been occupied with building an ark for himself and his household. After the flood he is found intent on building an altar for God. Preservation from the coming judgment, in obedience to God, necessarily was uppermost in his thoughts then — thanksgivings for the wonderful and perfect deliverance just experienced surely filled his mind now. So of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl he offered burnt-offerings unto the Lord. He did not withhold one of the small stock of acceptable animals which issued forth with him from the ark. Taken in with him to preserve seed alive on the earth, it was right he felt to offer of them on the altar to God so by his offering we see expressed the thankfulness of his heart, but by it we discern something more, the ground on which all blessing could now rest — that of a sacrifice accepted by the Lord. Noah, clearly in his sacrifice, thought of the past, but did he understand anything of the future? The amount of his intelligence has not been revealed, for it would not concern us: but what God saw in the sacrifice, and how He could act in consequence, is set forth, for in that we are deeply interested. To it let us turn our attention.

"The Lord smelled a sweet savour, and the Lord said in his heart," etc. Thus we are permitted to learn what were His thoughts, called forth by the sacrifice, before He addressed a word to Noah and his sons; as before the flood we read of the settled purpose of his heart, ere the patriarch was made acquainted with His mind. (Gen. vi. 3, 13.) Then, beholding the great wickedness of man, He was grieved at His heart. Now, witnessing the column of smoke ascending from that solitary altar (for on all the earth there was not another), He "smelled a sweet savour."

On the sixth day of creation God beheld all His works that He had made, and "behold they were very good." Perfect they all were, for nothing short of perfection could come from His hands. Beautiful must His works have been when Adam first surveyed them; and beautiful must that new world have been, as Noah cast his eyes over a scene full of freshness and life. But neither the works of creation, nor the world as it appeared after the flood, caused a sweet savour to rise up before God. For great, wonderful, and beautiful as are His works in creation, no mention is made of a sweet savour rising up before Him till Noah's altar was reared, and the burnt-offerings, foreshadowing the Lord's death on the cross, were consumed before Him. Then the sweet savour was smelt, and the fact is noted. And wherein, it may be asked, consisted the sweetness? Noah did nothing to sweeten it. No fragrant herbs, no incense imparted a sweetness to it in God's eyes. The sacrifice itself was, and is, a sweet savour. Man could add nothing to its fragrance. The obedience to death of God's own Son has glorified Him, and enabled Him righteously to act in blessing to sinners.

When Adam sinned God cursed the ground — when all flesh had corrupted its way on the earth He sent the flood. But, neither the manner of His dealing with Adam, nor the fearful exhibition of His just wrath against sin could change man's heart. After the flood he was the same as before it. Punishment effected no change in his nature; the knowledge gained as an eye-witness, that God must act in judgment against the impenitent, left man, as regards radical alteration, just where it found him. This God saw, however much those just out of the ark might be ignorant of it, and seeing it spoke of it to Himself, "I will not again curse the ground any more for man's sake; for the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every living thing, as I have done;" a statement the more remarkable because none of the human race were alive that day on the earth but Noah and those who, in obedience to the word of the Lord, had entered the ark with him. Of them, the sole representatives of the human race on earth, before they had opportunity to manifest what they would be, God thus expressed His estimate, which differs very little from what He said before the flood.

Estimating man aright, He intimates He would deal with him now in a different manner; but what that would be is not here set forth — what is intimated, however, is this, that by virtue of the sacrifice, man having given Him no reason to change, God would alter His method of dealing with him. For us to understand fully what that manner of dealing is, we must turn from Genesis viii. to Romans iii., and there we learn it (21-26), as set forth after the sacrifice had been offered up on the cross.

But this is not all the change which the sacrifice would introduce. With the new method of procedure towards men, an element of stability would be introduced unknown before. "While the earth remaineth, seed-time and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease." To man in innocence no such announcement was made. The permanence of paradisaical blessing depended on his obedience. By the flood, the natural order of the seasons was interrupted: seed-time and harvest for a year ceased; by virtue of the sacrifice, the order of the seasons will never be interrupted as long as the earth remains, Man can count on this; and man has proved it. God has repeatedly withheld the increase of the earth in its fulness; but the seasons have regularly run their round. The sun has stood still on Gibeon, and the moon in the valley of Ajalon for a whole day: the shadow on Ahaz's dial has returned ten degrees; and supernatural darkness has covered the land of Canaan for three hours, commencing at midday; these things have happened, yet day and night have never failed to succeed each other: and cold and heat, and summer and winter, have annually been experienced wherever man has found a dwelling-place for himself on this globe. An unvarying order was then announced, to continue as long as earth shall last. We can speak of a permanent, because eternal, character of blessing which exists now, on the ground of the accepted sacrifice. Eternal life, eternal redemption, eternal inheritance, eternal glory — an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens — are truths with which believers are familiar: statements describing blessings secured for ever to those who owe everything to, and are willing to receive everything on the ground of, that sacrifice offered up once for all, and never to be repeated, because of abiding efficacy before God.

From speaking "in his heart," God turns to speak to man. God spoke not in answer to any request, but of His own will. The burnt-offerings needed no prayer to make them acceptable, or to render God propitious. Before He discovered to man His thoughts, we read what they were; and unasked by man, He declared to Noah and to his sons how He would deal with them and with the earth, involved as it was in the consequence of man's sin. He addresses Noah, but He addresses Noah's sons likewise.

Here again we meet with something new, for it was new ground on which man and the earth were to stand. God had held intercourse with Noah, because he was righteous before Him. Often had He addressed the patriarch, but never before his sons. What the Lord could not do before the flood, or even before Noah and his family left the ark, that He could and did do, as soon as the sacrifices were offered upon the altar. In chapter viii. 15, God spake to Noah alone; in chapter ix. 1 He spake to his sons with him. To the righteous one God could speak apart from a sacrifice; to others only on the ground of it. Noah had a place before Him on earth because of what he was; his sons only because of the sacrifice.* This, the shadow of what was to come, is clear to us, who live after the resurrection and ascension of the Lord. What place had we before the Lord's death in the presence of God? Atonement accomplished, the sacrifice accepted, one with Christ through the Holy Ghost, we stand in Him before the Father, and know a place is ours now which never was, or could have been, had He not died. And do we not discern the propriety of God's method of acting, in speaking to none but Noah till the ground was publicly prepared on which others could stand before Him?

{*Throughout this history (chap. vi. 9 — ix. 17) the sons of Noah are never mentioned apart from the patriarch himself, and those souls only were brought through the flood in the ark to dwell on the newly ordered earth, who could prove their connection with him — the righteous man.}

The standing and the ground of it made plain, we see also that God can act towards them in a manner to which their fathers had been strangers. "God blessed Noah and his sons." A strange yet welcome sound must this have been, for since the days of paradise God had blessed no man. He blessed His works on the sixth day; He blessed Adam and Eve on that day, and He blessed the seventh day, and there His blessing ended. Sin came in, and never again (as far as is recorded) was a blessing bestowed on man, till Noah and his sons received it after they came out of the ark, This too we understand. A creature in innocence God could bless, but a fallen creature He could not till the sacrifice was offered up. And now that the Lord has died, and is risen, God has blessed His people fully on the only ground on which such a favour could be based, as Noah and his family that day learned.

Was there not something peculiarly suitable in the time when God did this? He could not do it before the flood and Noah's sacrifice, but He would not do it after the confusion of tongues had taken place. He did it before man had done anything in the new world worthy of reward, that all should see the blessing rested solely on the sacrifice; and He did it before men were scattered abroad after the flood, so that all men might be assured, without the possibility of misconception, of what Noah and his family had heard. Had the blessing been given after the confusion of tongues, all might not have understood what God had said. He bestowed it before that event in language common to all, that all might learn on what principle it is that fallen man can be blessed by his God.

How full was the blessing! It was an earthly blessing it is true, but a full one, and in one respect fuller than man had even known in the garden of Eden. There Adam might eat of every tree but one, and of every green herb bearing seed which is upon the face of all the earth. He fell, and the trees, in which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed, were taken from him, the herb of the field being his allotted portion outside the garden. (Chap. iii. 18.) Now Noah and those with him, have flesh, fish, and fowl, besides all vegetable productions allowed them.

In Eden man was placed under restriction, outside it he suffered deprivation, but now, in connection with the altar, Noah received a grant larger than had before been enjoyed, "even as the green herb have I given you all things." Not one single article of food is withheld, everything fit for food is placed unreservedly at their disposal. All this too we understand, and the subject receives further illustration when we next meet with restrictions in food. At Sinai, when Israel undertook to stand on their own responsibility before God, restrictions in food appear, as the ordinances about the clean and unclean animals are promulgated. But, as soon as the great sacrifice had been offered up, we learn the removal of all such restrictions, as we read the words — "Whatsoever is sold in the shambles eat?" "I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself:" "Every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving — for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer" (1 Cor. x. 25; Rom. xiv. 14; 1 Tim. iv. 4): for, when God deals with man on the ground of sacrifice, there is not anything that is good for man that is withheld.

To Noah and his sons He said, "As the green herb have I given you all things;" to us the word declares, "Blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ." Though God gave them more than He gave Adam, they had to learn it was not restoration to his original position, but a new one altogether that they entered upon. The difference between the place in creation of a fallen and an unfallen creature was not forgotten. "Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth," God had said to Adam: "Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth," He also said to Noah and his sons. But to Adam He added, what to Noah He did not, "and subdue it." Was this omission accidental? To subdue the earth was God's original design for man on earth. By the fall he lost that place, and never can regain it. Another man will effect this — the Head of the new creation. No fallen creature could ever fill this place. Their position, then, as regards the earth, told of the fall, whilst their grant of the articles of food told of the sweet savour of the sacrifice.

One more point must be noticed. By virtue of the sacrifice God established. His covenant with Noah, his sons, their seed after them, and with every living thing that was with them, of fowl, cattle, beasts of the earth, and all that went forth of the ark. The earth and all connected with it thus shared in the benefits of the sacrifice; as far as the consequences of man's sin had reached on earth, there would be felt the blessed results of the burnt-offering. "And the bow shall be in the cloud! and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth." Earth besides man was interested in the covenant, as the creature will one day rejoice in the liberty of the glory of the sons of God.

Slight is the sketch here presented: yet sufficiently clear it is hoped, to enable the reader to seize the salient points of the history, and as he reads of what God said and did, to give thanks in his heart for what that sacrifice prefigured, and what God's dealings with man on that occasion shadowed forth of the blessings believers do and will enjoy.

Chapter 3. The Passover

Exodus 12.

As we read in the book of Exodus of the institution of the Passover, we meet for the first time with blood in connection with sacrifice, and we learn the value of it.

God's wrath was to be poured out on the Egyptians, but Israel were to be sheltered from it. In the land, at the very moment of the divine visitation, they were to be exempted from its desolating power. The angel of death would be busy around them, but they would be secure, and would know it also, from all risk of his entrance into their dwellings. God had announced, by Moses to Pharaoh the hour of the terrible judgment (chap. xi.), and to Israel the day when it would take effect. (Chap. xii.) Midnight, when all would naturally be asleep, was the appointed hour for Pharaoh and the Egyptians, to feel the weight of God's arm. On the 14th day of Nisan the deliverance of Israel out of Egypt would take place.

Twice before had God signally interposed to rescue His people from a judgment impending over the ungodly. He saved Noah in the ark, and drew Lot out of Sodom. Now He would manifest something different, namely, the security of His people in the midst of judgment, by virtue of the blood of the lamb. Noah and his family entered into a hiding-place of God's appointment, shut in by the Lord before the windows of heaven were opened. Lot and his two daughters were drawn outside the area about to be visited by the fiery rain. But Israel remained in their dwellings, their abode for two hundred years, awaiting in confidence the passage through Egypt of the Lord and the angel of death.

What gave them this confidence? Of Noah God had said that he was righteous. Lot, too, was righteous, as Peter testifies. But what of Israel? They were defiled with the idolatries of Egypt (Ezek. xx. 6-8), and in heart and practice were no better than their oppressors. As to righteousness they had none. As to hope of deliverance from anything they could plead in extenuation of their sins there was none. But God's righteousness as faithful to His promise, was manifested, and the obedience of faith was exemplified, as the people sprinkled the blood outside on the lintel and the two side posts. It was a new position in which they found themselves. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had proved the faithfulness of God, but had never waited in the scene of His judgment, assured that it would not fall on them. This Israel did, resting on the word of the Lord.

"I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the first-born in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment. I am the Lord." (Chap. xii. 12.) They knew then what would take place. Neither man nor beast would be exempt. God was visiting Egypt in anger and sore displeasure, and the very beasts would feel the consequences of man's sin. A terrible hour it surely was for all who realised it. All ranks of Egyptians would feel it, and neither the power nor the wealth of Pharaoh could avert the death of his first-born; nor the miseries already endured by the captive in the dungeon avail to spare his child. For when God executes judgment on man neither human power can successfully resist the blow, no worldly wealth purchase immunity from its visitation, nor previous suffering mitigate the severity of the stroke. The captive in the dungeon must participate with the king in the punishment God awards to man. It is well to remember this, for men are prone to forget it, hoping that suffering on earth may be pleaded as a set-off against the endurance of the just judgment of God. It was not so in the day of Egypt, it will not be so in the day of the Lord.

But whilst the king and the captive must feel the anger of God, there were those who would be sheltered from it, but sheltered by blood. Accordingly one marked feature in this history is the prominence given to the blood, here for the first time spoken of in connection with a sacrifice. The blood of Abel had cried to God for vengeance against Cain; and the blood of any man whether killed by his fellow or a beast, God would surely require. In these cases the blood shed claimed vengeance on the slayer, but in the paschal rite it exempted from divine wrath all who took shelter behind it. "The blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are, and when I see the blood I will pass over you." Such was God's promise to Israel, and that all should know how to sprinkle blood on the house, Moses was directed to say, "Ye shall take a bunch of hyssop, and dip it in the blood that is in the bason, and strike the lintel and the two side-posts with the blood that is in the bason; and none of you shall go out at the door of his house until the morning. For the Lord will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when He seeth the blood upon the lintel and on the two side-posts, the Lord will pass over the door, and will not suffer the destroyer to come in unto your houses to smite you." (Chap. xii. 22, 23.) All then for Israel depended on the blood, and that outside the house. It was the blood the Lord would look for, and the blood would be the only barrier against the entrance of the destroyer. Had any in Israel sat within, saying they believed what Moses had said, yet refused to sprinkle the blood as directed, the destroying angel would have found his way to the first-born of that family. Assent to the truth without a corresponding action was valueless to ward off the blow. Had anyone sprinkled the blood inside instead of outside, the angel of death would have made known his presence within that house, for man had no choice left him as to what he would do. He had to obey implicitly the command of the Lord by Moses, and await in confidence the result. The blood, God was to look at, not man. It was a new method of escape, but a sure one, a plan which man had not devised, but God; for the judgment to be averted was the judgment of God.

So all Israel were preserved from the loss of their first-born. With unerring precision did the destroyer pass through the land, entering each house inhabited by the Egyptians, and notifying by the death of the first-born the fulfilment of the word of the God of Israel. Every house of the children of Israel the Lord passed over, for the blood outside showed clearly who were within. What a picture of security have we here, as with closed doors the household awaited the visitation of God. For what were they doing? Cowering from fear? Praying for deliverance? Very different was their occupation, for they were eating of that lamb whose blood had been sprinkled on their door-posts. To revel in the prospect of impending desolation, uncertain of deliverance, is the act of a fool; but to eat when divine wrath is to be poured out, becomes the man of faith. This Israel were doing, for God's word was their authority; and, observe, it was not their estimate of the blood which barred the entrance of the destroyer, "When I see the blood," etc., the Lord had said. Which of them could value it aright? Who amongst them knew what it spoke of? Had their security depended on their apprehension of its value, in common with the Egyptians must they have been found lamenting their bereavement of their first-born. We know what they doubtless did not, to whose sacrifice it looked forward; but which of the sons of men can even now fully appreciate the value of the blood of God's Son? As they were sheltered because they acted as directed, apart from the question of their appreciation of the value of the blood, so with souls now. To wait till we can fully estimate it, will be to wait for ever; but to be saved at all, to be saved for ever, to be saved now there is needed only the obedience of faith. Beautifully simple is all this, and the position of the children of Israel on that night is a clear illustration of the principle of salvation by faith. The immediate object of faith is now different, but the principle is the same; they rested on the blood of the paschal lamb — we rest on the precious blood of Christ.

Two points must now be briefly noticed ere closing this article. The people eat the passover, but with girded loins, sandalled feet, and staff in hand. In haste did they partake of it, ready to march forth at a moment's notice. Strangership was now their position in Egypt — which for so many years had been their home. Their very attitude, whilst feeding on the lamb, proclaimed the altered condition in which they found themselves. The link with Egypt of two hundred years' duration was snapped at once, and they marched that very night from Rameses to Succoth, with their wives, their children, their cattle, their substance, even all that they had, with the "dough before it was leavened, their kneading troughs being bound up in their clothes upon their shoulders." But owning themselves to be strangers in Egypt, they learned what it was to be the Lord's people. They went out, but He went before them. They marched along, because the Lord had brought them out. They were His, and He charged Himself with the providing of all they wanted by the way. "The Lord went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night." How altered was their condition now! Lately slaves, now free: pilgrims and strangers in the only land they had ever known as home, with no symbols among them of earthly majesty to rally round, so long associated in their minds only with oppression, but preceded by the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night, those sure marks of God's presence with them, they started on the road to the land of their inheritance.

The lesson they learned has to be learned still, "The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness." (Rom. i. 18.) As surely as the threatened blow fell on the firstborn of the Egyptians, so surely will God's wrath be poured out on all who are not sheltered from it. He revealed the former by Moses, He has reminded us of the latter by Paul.

Similar then as the position of man is now to that of the Egyptians before that fourteenth day of Nisan, being forewarned of the coming judgment, similar too is the manner of escape. By the blood of the lamb alone was there deliverance then, by the blood of God's Lamb is there deliverance now. But there is a difference to be noted. Moses told Pharaoh and his princes of the stroke that would fall on them, but did not, as in the previous plague of the hail, offer any of them an opportunity of escaping it. To Israel he announced the judgment, but with it he disclosed the divine plan of exemption from its infliction, as it is now declared to all in the gospel. And greater interests are at stake now than then. The death of one's firstborn is a grievous blow, but the everlasting ruin of one's soul is a more awful calamity. That men should be saved from this last, God has spoken, and pointing all to the blood of the Lamb, tells us, that He "gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have everlasting life."

Chapter 4. The Sin-offering

As we trace out different aspects of the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ, typified in the offerings of old, we discover different features and phases, which unfold themselves to the heart subject to God's word, like the different features of the landscape, which open out as we pass through beautiful scenery. At every turn something fresh strikes the eye, but each point, as it discovers itself to the diligent observer of the scene, is found to be in harmony with the rest, and really needful to make the whole complete. Without it we should feel there was a want, when all the salient points of the landscape had passed before us in due order. And as the great Architect of the universe has arranged the whole in beautiful order, which His creatures, the more they search into it the more they admire and find delight in it, so He, who knows the end from the beginning, alone knew beforehand how He would glorify Himself through the death of His Son, and therefore could alone by the Spirit so direct the saints of old in their worship, as to bring out at different epochs, yet in perfect order, the varying features of that one perfect sacrifice "which taketh away the sin of the world."

These remarks are suggested by noticing the difference in the manner of presenting the sacrifices in the book of Exodus and in the book of Leviticus. In Exodus those are mentioned which concern, directly or indirectly, the congregation of Israel as a whole. The Passover, the ratification of the covenant at Sinai, the daily burnt-offerings had to do directly with all Israel; whilst the sacrifices, offered up at the consecration of Aaron and his sons on their individual behalf, indirectly concerned the whole congregation, because needful ere the people could avail themselves of a divinely appointed and duly consecrated priesthood. In Leviticus we have something else, for there we read how the Lord provided for the wishes and wants of individuals. Gracious surely was this. God thought of individuals, whilst He charged Himself with the welfare and daily sustenance of the whole congregation in the wilderness. Was any man's heart filled with a sense of God's goodness? — He provided the way by which he might give vent to it. Was any one bowed down under a sense of sin? — God revealed the plan by which he might be delivered from it. He would have His redeemed people to be at ease before Him. None need be straitened from an overwhelming sense of His favours — none need be overcome by the weight of his guilt. Joy of heart could be expressed, as the offerer approached the brazen altar with his burnt-offering or peace-offering; and there, at the same altar, the sinner could find relief, as he witnessed the priest busied with his sin-offering or trespass-offering. "It shall be accepted for him, to make atonement for him," was God's mind about the burnt-offering; "It shall be forgiven him," was Jehovah's gracious declaration annexed to the law of the sin-offering and trespass-offering. Not that the blood of bulls, or of goats, could take away sins, or lay the ground on which man could have communion with his Creator; but this blood spake to God (however ignorant the offerer may have been of it) of that precious blood, the blood of His own Son, to be shed on the cross for the glorifying of the Father, and the forgiveness and justification of the sinner.

Sheltered by blood in Egypt, the people learn at Sinai that no sin could be passed over by Jehovah God of Hosts. Holy and righteous He was, and must ever act in accordance with His nature. What man might have been inclined to pass over or excuse, that He must take notice of. But whilst all would acknowledge that a glaring trespass could not be passed over in silence, God would teach the people that sins done in ignorance, when remembered, must be noticed, and the appointed sacrifice offered up. Where then was the need, if so inclined, to palliate or pass over as of no moment an act of sin for which Jehovah had provided for the offender's forgiveness? How could they, if they had any just conception of God's omniscience or holiness, suppose He had not seen it, or imagined it needed no atonement? But a consciousness of sin and its deserts, without any knowledge of the sacrifice, must only drive a soul to despair; whilst a knowledge of the way of forgiveness, or the necessity of a sacrifice, would maintain in the soul a sense of God's holiness, and impart to the sinner a knowledge of His grace.

For a trespass-offering the animal to be brought was the same for all. (Chap. v. 14 — vi. 7.) For one class of sin-offerings the Lord took knowledge of the ability of the offerer (chap. v. 1-13), and for another class the measure of his responsibility. (Chap. iv.) If the offender was unable to bring anything out of the flock, he might draw near with two turtle doves or two young pigeons. If unable to meet the expense of the birds, he might offer the tenth part of an ephah of flour. Where the sin consisted in doing anything through ignorance against any of the commandments of the Lord which ought not to be done, for the anointed priest, if he sinned according to the sin of the people, and for the whole congregation, a young bullock was to be offered up; for a ruler, a kid of the goats, a male, was the appointed sacrifice; whilst for any of the common people, a female, a kid of the goats, or a lamb of the flock, was the animal prescribed. None could select for himself what he would bring. God decided what was the suited offering, and each must conform to what He had enjoined. How could it be otherwise? The sin was against Him; the creature had acted contrary to the command of the Creator, to God therefore alone belonged the right of saying what should be offered up, for the sinner to have the sense of forgiveness. But though for different classes different sacrifices were enjoined, in each of these cases death must come in, and the blood be poured out in all. Nothing less than this could do — "The wages of sin is death." The death of the substitute must, then, take place, whether the sinner had offended through ignorance or not. Without shedding of blood is no remission; so the blood was shed, and placed where the offerer had his standing. How dearly this speaks of the sacrifice of Christ, needed for each and all, whilst it tells us of the difference of standing of the anointed priest, and of the ruler, or common person, dispensationally before God. (Chap. iv. 7, 17, 18, 25, 30.)

The proper victim selected, unblemished in body, the sinner drew near to the appointed place, and killed it; then the priest dealt with its blood, and burnt the fat and the kidneys on the altar of burnt-offering. Till death had taken place the priestly service could not begin — for the priest's work had to do with the altar and the blood. The animal slain, the priest took of the blood, and sprinkled it before the Lord — before the veil of the sanctuary, putting some of it on the horns of the altar of sweet incense within the tabernacle, or on the horns of the altar of burnt-offering, in the court of the tabernacle of the congregation, and in both cases poured out the rest at the bottom of the altar of burnt-offering. What sacrifice this prefigured all may understand. As the burnt-offering and peace-offering, the other offerings in which death took place, typified the Lord Jesus who died on the cross, so did the victims offered up as sin-offerings or trespass-offerings. Those typified the Lord as He was in Himself, these latter what He was made for us. And in these sin-offerings we have a double aspect of the sacrifice, namely, the intrinsic holiness and fragrance of the true Victim, and God's judgment on sin; for besides the death and the blood we have mention of the fat of the inwards, and the ultimate disposal of the carcase. In common with the peace-offering, the fat of the inwards was burnt on the altar of burnt-offering (chap. iv. 31); but, differing from the ordinance of the peace offering, the carcase was wholly consumed by the priests, independent of the offerer. The blood spoke of the life of the great sacrifice poured out to make atonement for sinners; the fat of the inwards spoke of the will, which in man's case as evidenced by the offering, had not been subject to God; but in His case, whom we have here presented in type was always subject to His Father. I do always those things which please him" was His word when on earth. This, then, which typified His will wholly surrendered to the Father, was burnt on the altar for a sweet savour unto the Lord (chap iv. 31); for whatever spoke of Christ as He was in Himself must have been a sweet savour to the Father. But that which spoke of Him as made sin for us was differently treated, being either burnt without the camp, or consumed by the ministering priest and the males of the priesthood.

The victim, then, identified with the sinner by the laying of his hands on its head was never seen by him again. If he had sought for it he could not have found it, nor could the question of that particular sin have been re-opened; for the death of the animal had taken place, and its blood been duly dealt with. How carefully did God thus provide that the sinner's conscience should be at rest about the sin. This is God's way, and He would signify to the soul what can be effected by sacrifice. *By the burning of the carcase by fire God's judgment on sin was expressed, the fire of His wrath having fallen on it; but, burnt outside the camp, it also typified Him who, "that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate." (Heb. xiii. 12.) So, when sacrifices shall again be offered up with acceptance on God's altar at Jerusalem, the carcase of the sin-offering will be "burnt in the appointed place outside the sanctuary." Outside the camp, outside the gate, outside the sanctuary, speak of the heinousness of sin in God's eyes; but the holy character of the flesh (for it was most holy) tells of the untarnishable holiness of the sin-offering; and as God showed what sin was before Him, He also manifested, by the injunctions about the flesh, the holy nature of the antitype. If the flesh was eaten, it could only be eaten in the holy place, or, as Numbers xviii. 10 expresses it, in the most holy place — "Whosoever shall touch the flesh thereof shall be holy;" "All the males among the priests shall eat thereof: it is most holy." And none but the males of the priests could eat of it, for it was the work of a priest alone to put away for ever out of sight the sin now identified with the victim.

{Note by the author — Were I issuing a third edition of this little book I should alter a sentence on page 38 line 20, to run as follows: "By the burning of the inwards on the altar the bearing divine judgment was typified; the fire of God's wrath having fallen on them. The burning of the carcase outside the camp spoke of Him who would suffer without the gate. (Heb. xiii. 12.)" (Written in manuscript and glued in.)}

The sacrifice rightly offered up, the sinner could turn away from the altar, and retrace his steps to his tent. But how did he return? With his heart full of hopes of forgiveness, or buoyed up with the consciousness that he had done all he could to make amends? Would that satisfy the conscience? His conscience told him he had offended against God; nothing short, then, of God's assurance of forgiveness could satisfy him, and meet the requirements of the case. But that the offerer had, yet mark how he got it; not from man, not even from the priest, but from God Himself. He could leave the altar with the words, "It shall be forgiven him," sounding in his ears, and awakening a response of thanksgiving from his heart; for they were the words of Jehovah Himself on behalf of His poor sinful creature. The priest could not make more sure what Jehovah had promised; all that he could do was to reiterate the words as God's revelation, "It shall be forgiven him." Thus the sinner was brought to the word of God, and thereon was to rest as on a rock which nothing could shake. He had not to wait till the morrow to know it, for it depended on the offering up of the sacrifice; yet these gracious words were not forthcoming till the blood had been rightly dealt with, and the fat of the inwards, with the two kidneys, had been burnt on the altar for a sweet savour. Had it been otherwise, it might have been assumed that forgiveness was based on something connected with the offerer. But the words were recorded, only after all had been spoken of, that was to be done, that the sinner might learn his forgiveness was based on atonement by blood, and on that only. As soon as all had been done according to the law, those words could be taken by the sinner as Jehovah's declaration to the burdened heart. He who formed the heart knew what it wanted, and would meet that want as soon as He righteously could.

This is always God's way; and never do we read of man being authorised to absolve another from his sins as before God. When it is a question of acceptance before God, or restoration of soul, He speaks by His word to the sinner, and bestows forgiveness as from Himself. A fellow creature might tell him of it, and minister to his need, but could not bestow forgiveness or absolve him from his sins. As priests we can intercede for one another (1 John v. 16; James v. 16), that the hand of God in government may be removed from the offender. The assembly in any one place, or those (if only two or three, Matt. xviii. 19, 20), acting as becomes the assembly, can forgive the sin which has called for discipline, and receive the sinner back to the table (2 Cor. ii. 10); but the question between the soul and God He reserves to Himself — "Who can forgive sins but God only?" stands good still. Thus the Lord appeared to Peter after He rose from the dead, but alone; afterwards He publicly commissioned him to feed His sheep. This distinction between discipline on earth and the soul's restoration to communion with God not being observed, much confusion has in consequence arisen, and men have arrogated to themselves, and assumed the power of transmitting to others, an authority which no priest under the Mosaic economy ever exercised, nor the apostles in the New Testament ever claimed. There is the outward dealing with an individual in the exercise or remission of discipline, and there is the inward dealing of God with the heart. This last must always come first, if the assembly are to act in accordance with God's mind; and what they do is to be ratified in heaven. God deals with the heart, and imparts the sense of forgiveness consequent on confession of the sin; the assembly deals in discipline, consequent on the failure of the individual to judge himself (Matt. xviii.); and the remission of discipline, if rightly done, only takes place when preceded by restoration of the soul to communion with God. In the sin-offering we have the latter brought out — God's assurance to the sinner of forgiveness. In the cleansing of the leper we have an instance of the former; the reception, again, to the enjoyment of all rights on earth of the redeemed people, when the individual has been cleansed from that which defiled. This has the character of discipline remitted — the former of sins forgiven.

Chapter 5. Discipline and Restoration to Communion

Leviticus xiii., xiv.

"Command the children of Israel that they put out of the camp every leper, and every one that hath an issue, and whosoever is defiled by the dead. Both male and female shall ye put out, without the camp shall ye put them, that they defile not their camps, in the midst whereof I dwell." (Num. v. 2, 3.) Relationships however close, and friendships however strong, could raise no plea on which disobedience to this command might be justified. "Without the camp," spoke of the divinely appointed place for such; "shall ye put them," expressed the responsibility which rested on all to act aright; and none could excuse themselves from submission to this order, who shared in the privileges belonging to that nation. To the nations around them God gave no such injunction; for none but Israel stood before Him on the ground of redemption, and in none but Israel could it be said He dwelt. His presence among them necessitated the removal of the unclean; their position as redeemed involved prompt obedience to the word. "How unnatural," it might have been said, "thus to act against members of one's family;" "How uncharitable to put outside the camp one's dearest bosom friend;" "A merciful God could never require such an act to be done in His name." Such thoughts as these might have passed through many a mind, and the natural man might have endorsed them as correct; but the one taught of God would see they were wrong. Jehovah had spoken, and He must be obeyed. Claims of kindred and affection must give way before the paramount claims of His holiness.

Deeply solemn was this matter. Certainty, therefore, as to the case was to be arrived at, before the terrible sentence went forth against the individual, or even the garment, or the house; but when the case was clear, no word in mitigation or extenuation could be received. How the disease had been contracted, by wilful or accidental contact, was nothing; its hated presence had been manifested, and judgment must accordingly take its course. The priest saw, and pronounced sentence, and forthwith it had to take effect; but, till he could pronounce with certainty, the case was watched. In doubtful cases, after seven days' confinement, the individual, or garment, or house was examined again. If the plague on the man or in the garment had not spread, another week's confinement was ordered, and the garment was washed. If, after this, the plague was found, to be known by the marks given of it in God's word, the awful words pronounced by the priest, "It is a leprosy," betokened the cessation of further forbearance. The man was put outside the camp, and the garment was burnt in the fire. In the case of the house, the diseased stones were taken out, new ones were put in their place, and the house plastered with new mortar. If, after that, the disease still manifested its presence, the whole house was to be pulled down, and its stones, timber, and mortar carried forth outside the city into an unclean place. Thus most careful was the priest to be, that none should be excluded from the camp who ought to be in it, and none be kept inside who ought to be put forth; for with the priest, as having the mind of God, rested the duty of pronouncing that sentence against which we read of no appeal.

But what, it might be asked, was there in the leprosy which drew forth such stringent regulations? It was a contagious disease, committing frightful ravages, destroying by slow degrees, and in a loathsome manner the body of its victim. Is this all that we see in it? Were these laws concerning it mere sanitary regulations for the bodily welfare of that large encampment, and quarantine directions, as it were, for the people when settled in their land? Doubtless there was that in them, but there was more, as the sacrifices to be offered up when the house was clean, or the leper was to be received back, clearly set forth. Leprosy betokened the working of the flesh. In the case of the man it might be an old sore breaking out afresh (chap. xiii. 11), or a new one for the first time displaying itself. But it was the working of evil within which thus manifested itself, and, whilst it continued to work, the man was unclean. When, however, he was covered all over with the disease, the priest pronounced him clean. "It is all turned white, he is clean." The evil within had worked itself out; its activity had ceased. He was clean. The leprosy in the house broke out in the stones thereof (chap. xiv. 40), typical, it would seem, of evil in an assembly, and was connected with the dwelling of the people in the land. (Ver. 34.) Leprosy in a garment, that which wraps round the individual, typified something evil in the circumstances in which the man might be moving. This might occur in the wilderness, or in the land. At all cost the evil must be got rid of; yet nothing more was to be destroyed than was needful to attain that end. But if the cutting out of the diseased part, and the washing of the garment, sufficed not to arrest the plague, the whole garment had to be burnt; so, if need be, all one's surroundings must be got rid of, by the individual getting out of the circumstances in which he has been involved. In this there was something analogous to the dealing with the house, the diseased stones being first taken out, their places supplied with fresh ones, and the whole plastered anew with mortar, if possible thereby to avert the destruction of the whole building; but should that measure prove ineffectual, the disease having spread among stones hitherto free from it, the whole house had to go — the priest broke it down. Now, as the garment typifies circumstances surrounding us, and the house an assembly of believers, we can see why, for the cleansing of the garment, washing was ordered without sacrifices; and why, for the cleansing of the house, sacrifices must be offered up. And, whilst the sacrifices the leper had to bring, were more numerous than those offered up for the house — as both represented God's people cleansed, either an individual or an assembly — we can understand why there were sacrifices common to both, having reference to the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus.

And here God's grace manifests itself. Had the laws concerning leprosy stopped with the injunction for excluding the leper from the camp, and for shutting up the house, God's holiness would have been cared for; but the individual or house must have been left in perpetual and irremediable uncleanness. Such, however, was not His mind. No compromise could be admitted between holiness and defilement, but He worked that the leprosy should be removed, and the individual reinstated into all the privileges of God's redeemed people. These chapters then illustrate the exercise of discipline on the people of God. It is not the sinner in his natural distance from God that we have before us, for we meet first with the man inside the camp, but put out of it, whilst the leprosy was working in him. It might have been an old leprosy breaking out afresh, or the plague appearing for the first time. Outside the camp must then be his place, though he had his tent inside it all the time (chap. xiv. 8), till the priest was satisfied he was healed, and all the rites connected with his cleansing had been duly performed. For the garment and for the house there was a provision for the plague proving irremovable; for the individual we read of nothing of the kind. "All the days wherein the plague shall be in him, he shall be defiled," was God's provision for the preservation of the camp from his uncleanness, whilst the opening words of the following chapter speak of the days of his cleansing. There might be special cases for which there would be no cure, for example, Gehazi, Uzziah; but none could sit down in an ordinary way and say their case was hopeless. And who healed him? Physicians could not do it. The priest, too, in this was powerless. God must deal personally with the leper and effect the cure; for observe, the sacrifice was to be offered up after the priest was satisfied he was healed, and not in order to heal him. "Offer for thy cleansing those things which Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them." (Mark i. 44.) How the leper was healed is not stated, that was a matter between him and God, as it must always be in what we believe leprosy to prefigure. Restoration of the soul with God must precede the restoration to one's place in the assembly. But restoration of the soul with God is a private matter between the soul and God; restoration to the assembly, as to the camp, is public and before all. The priest pronounced the leper clean, after he saw God had healed him, as he had pronounced him unclean when the evil of the flesh was working. He pronounced on his state, but could not alter it, but God could. So the leper, shunned by his fellowmen, as he cried, "Unclean, unclean," found an eye resting on him whilst outside the camp, and a heart occupied with him unceasingly. For God was working for his healing.

Healed in mercy, he had to show himself to the priest; and now he has to feel keenly his helpless condition, induced by the leprosy. As yet he is outside the camp, and the priest must go out to him. He knew he was healed, else the priest's inspection would be of no avail; but the mere fact of his having been healed by God did not give him the right to re-enter the camp of Israel. It is well to see this — a rule which still holds good in the government of the assembly of God on earth. There is the secret intercourse between God and the soul, and there is the public acknowledgment of having judged oneself, and the owning before all the only ground on which one can stand in the assembly. This is shadowed out in the action, and in the sacrifices which the leper brought. On the first day we read in his sacrifices what the standing is, and the identification with Him who has died and is risen. On the eighth day we see typified the acknowledgment of failure in walk, and consecration, as it were, afresh to the service of Him who died for us on the cross. Sovereign grace can restore, as sovereign power healed the leper; but only on the ground of sacrifice was there then, and is there now, a road for outward reinstatement into the place and privileges of the redeemed company.

The priest, satisfied that he was healed, commanded to be taken for him that was to be cleansed two birds, alive and clean, and cedar-wood, and scarlet, and hyssop. One bird having been killed over running water, the other was dipped in its blood with the cedar wood, scarlet, and hyssop, and the individual was sprinkled with blood* seven times, after which the living bird was let loose into the open field. To the cleansed leper this may have been a mysterious rite — even the priest may not have been able to interpret it — but to us it has a language, and its voice is one of no uncertain sound. It speaks of death and resurrection — even of His who died and rose again, and of the application of that death in power to the soul by the Holy Ghost, through the word. The living bird became identified, by dipping it in the blood of the one which had died; and, flying away from the scene of the death of its fellow, shadowed forth the Lord's resurrection from the dead. The cedar-wood and hyssop seem to be emblematic of the products of nature — comprising, as the two ends of a long chain, all that grows on the earth (see 1 Kings iv. 33); the scarlet is an emblem of the glory of the world. All that was of nature, and the glory of the world, he was to view dipped in the blood of the slain bird; as now, what answers to those emblems should be viewed through the medium of the cross. The cedar-wood, and hyssop, and scarlet were not destroyed, but they appeared, when dipped in the blood, in a new light: so should it be with us. That death as a practical truth, when forgotten, must be brought home afresh to the soul in power. If nature has been allowed to work where death should practically have been known, that failure must be judged, and the soul, reminded of it, confess the need of the Lord's death and resurrection first, and the need, too, of their application to its walk on earth.

{*When cleansing the house the living bird was dipped in the blood and the water, and the house sprinkled, it would seem, with both. This may have been done in the case of the leper, though the text does not state it.}

But this work of restoring an individual to outward communion with God's saints, is one for which we must be indebted to the ministrations of others. "Restore such an one in the spirit of meekness." ''Confirm your love toward him." So the leper stood by whilst the bird was killed for him, and he was sprinkled with its blood. But, this service performed, he was able to act, and the first thing he did was to wash his clothes, shave off all his hair, and wash himself in water, that he might be clean: after which he could enter the camp. This was the work of the first day, and this the happy result. Thus, as exhibited in type the death and resurrection of the Lord and the individual's identification with him being acknowledged, cleansing himself is the next and proper work.

Thus far, as regards the sacrifices to be offered up, the cleansing of the leper as well as of the house are accomplished in the same manner. In both what is the real standing is thus typified, as well as the need of that death, and the application of the word by the Spirit to cleanse from the uncleanness which necessitated such stringent measures of isolation. For the individual other sacrifices had to be offered up, as he typified one who had transgressed. But for the house, as we here see, though there were none but clean stones in it, because the disease had manifested itself in the wall, the sacrifice of the bird was necessary ere it would be acknowledged as clean.

Turning back to the leper, he is in the camp a dean man, yet not at home there, having to tarry abroad out of his tent seven days. Whatever might have been his thought of the leprosy, God shows what He thinks of it, and of that of which it is the figure. So, besides the recognition of the standing, there must be typified the acknowledgment of the trespass, and how alone that can be forgiven. This work began on the seventh day, as the man manifested his willingness to cleanse himself by shaving all the hair from his head, beard, and eyebrows, emblems of natural strength and personal comeliness, and by washing his clothes and his flesh in water. That done, the special sacrifices of the eighth day remained to be offered up.

On the first day the priest went out to the leper, on the eighth day the former leper took his place at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, but only with the appointed sacrifices. Without them he could have had no business there, for on the ground of sacrifice, and on that alone, could he again stand at the place where the people assembled to meet with God. Had he presumed to come there on the ground of having washed his flesh, and shaved off all his hair, would he have been received? Assuredly not. Unless he had washed and shaved it, it would have been presumption to have drawn near; but without the sacrifices as well, he had no right to approach; and even with these, he needed the priest to present him before the Lord. Now, however, rightly presented, he stood where he might often have stood before without the need of a sacrifice, or any priestly presentation, and learned that a way back into God's presence there was, but death alone could open it. A trespass-offering, a sin-offering, a burnt-offering, and a meat-offering, the Lord appointed for his cleansing. "And the priest shall take one he lamb, and offer him for a trespass-offering, and a log of oil and wave them for a wave-offering before the Lord. And he shall slay the lamb," etc. The significance of the order of these sacrifices we can well understand, since the trespass-offering takes the precedence. The significance, too, of the action of the priest, we may note, as he brought near the trespass-offering with the log of oil, and waved them, the animal whole and still alive, before the Lord. After this it was killed. Nowhere else have we such an action as this, the waving of the whole animal before the Lord. Can we not interpret its meaning? The leper typifies one who has failed to own himself belonging to the Lord as a man on earth, that is, on this side the grave. This failure is in type acknowledged in the waving of the animal before death. Its death next took place, and the sprinkling of its blood; prefiguring to us in the waving what the redeemed ought to be, and in the death of the animal shadowing out the death of the substitute, and the atonement made, by His blood. The failure requires the death of the substitute that restoration may take place, but that same death God uses to re-consecrate, as it were, to His service the one who has been acting after the energy of his own will. Therefore the priest took of that blood, and put it on the tip of the right ear of him that was to be cleansed, on the thumb of his right hand, and on the great toe of his right foot; and then anointed each place, where the blood had been put, with the oil. "And the remnant of the oil that is in the priest's hand he shall pour upon the head of him that is to be cleansed; and the priest shall make an atonement for him before the Lord." How richly God provides for the one who has so grievously sinned, does the leper's offering teach us. Consecrated, as it were, afresh by the remembrance of the sacrifice, the full divine energy of the spirit of service, as seen in the type, is graciously poured out on his head. After this the other offerings were offered up as prescribed, the work of restoration was complete, the leper was clean. Healed by God outside the camp, the way for re-entering pointed out and conformed to, full restoration to his tent took place, with perfect competency for service. The leprosy itself was removed, and every disqualification it had entailed was removed likewise, and the man could feel himself at home in the camp; but only on the ground of sacrifice. In the sin-offering the words were, "It shall be forgiven him;" here it is, "He shall be clean" — each in its place significant of what it prefigures.

But, whilst we see God's mercy portrayed, which will not rest satisfied till the leper is completely reinstated in his tent and position among the people, we also learn in the subsequent verses how God took knowledge of the circumstances of the individual. If he could not get all that was prescribed, God would receive smaller offerings for the meat, sin, and burnt-offerings. None should be kept outside because they had not the means of being fully reinstated. Yet all had to bring the sacrifice appointed for the first day, and the lamb for the trespass-offering. These could not be dispensed with, for all alike had to own by the type what the ground of standing is, and the need of a sacrifice for restoration. How true are the words of the woman of Tekoah — and this ordinance of the leper reminds us of them — "God deviseth means that his banished be not expelled from him." (2 Sam. xiv. 14.)

Chapter 6. Propitiation

Leviticus 16.

Sin excludes the sinner from God's presence. "From thy face," said Cain, "Shall I be hid." "Depart from me ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels," will be the language of the Son of man when sitting on the throne of His glory, to the goats placed on His left hand at the judgment of the living. (Matt. xxv.) Cain felt the consequences of his sin as regards earth, the goats will feel the consequences of theirs, as here expressed, for eternity. Perpetual exclusion from God's face on earth Cain saw was his doom; everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord will be the portion of the impenitent sinners (2 Thess. i. 9), and who can lift up a finger in token of dissent from the justice of Cain's sentence, or the final condition of the impenitent? God is righteous in taking vengeance, else how could He judge the world? But man can do nothing to earn His favour, or restore himself to the position forfeited by Adam for himself and his posterity. A terrible conclusion this is to come to for one who has nothing to hope for, but what he thinks he can merit by his own conduct, but a blessed thing surely it is, when the sinner arrives at this, the right platform to stand on before God, as he learns how God can open a door of entrance into His presence in righteousness, when man, because of his sin, has been excluded in justice.

Shelter by blood has been taught as a type in Egypt; forgiveness of sins, and restoration to communion on the ground of sacrifice, have been illustrated in preceding chapters in this book of Leviticus. Now we learn how propitiation is made, that the sinner should righteously have a standing before God. He needs forgiveness, and he needs justification, and both are effected by blood. (Eph. i. 7; Rom. v. 9.)

Holiness being the necessity of God's nature, no sinner unauthorised could be suffered to intrude into His presence, and no fire could be used, when the priest drew nigh, but that connected with the burnt sacrifice. Unauthorised, and with unhallowed fire, had Nadab and Abihu drawn nigh, and paid the penalty of death for their presumption. But the consequences of their sin did not cease with their death, as the opening verses of this chapter show: "And the Lord spake unto Moses after the death of the two sons of Aaron, when they offered before the Lord, and died: and the Lord said unto Moses, Speak unto Aaron, thy brother, that he come not at all times into the holy place within the veil, before the mercy-seat which is upon the ark, that he die not; for I will appear in the cloud upon the mercy-seat." How gracious of the Lord thus to speak! "That he come not," would dispel all hope, but "at all times" immediately revives it. Unquestionably He has a right to say who should approach Him, and when.

What mercy is manifested in not shutting out a sinner for ever! Aaron then could enter within the veil, as God's high priest in Israel, the type of Him who has entered the holy place by His own blood.

God's choice of the one who should enter the holiest (though only on that one day in the year) having been made known, we next read of the manner of his approach, of the sacrifice he must bring with him for himself and his house, of his dress, and of his work. God prescribed everything. Aaron had no choice in the services of that day, nor was anything left to his discretion. He could suggest nothing, he could alter nothing, for who but God knew about the antitype, or what was needful to prefigure Him and His work? To keep Aaron in mind of the only ground of approach, he hears of his sacrifice before he hears of his dress. His dress needed to be described, for he could not have entered the holiest in any other garments; he did not, however, find acceptance because of his garments, but because of the blood of the sin-offering. Having washed himself in water, he put on the holy linen garments, for the garments of glory and beauty could not be worn on that day, nor could the high priest's garments of daily attire be then in requisition. There was a work to be done which only one who was pure could do, so he wore holy garments expressive of purity. It was a work which, when once really done, could never be repeated. So he wore garments kept for that particular service only. The garments of glory and beauty told out by their colours the heavenly character of the great High Priest, as well as His death and royalty. The holy garments for the day of atonement spoke of His spotless holiness. Was Aaron the one who answered to all this? No; for by the washing of his flesh in water before he thus clothed himself, he showed he was only the type.

Arrayed aright, we next read of the sacrifices he was to take for the children of Israel, two kids of the goats for a sin-offering, and one ram for a burnt-offering; for there is a distinction made between the offerings for himself and his house, and those for the congregation of Israel. The burnt-offering was the same for both, but the sin-offering was not. One bullock for himself and his house was God's command, and two kids of the goats for the congregation of Israel. Aaron and his house are thus classed together, and throughout that day have precedence of the congregation of Israel. A distinction and order this was which probably they did not understand, but we learn the meaning of it, and how beautifully the characteristic feature of this dispensation was thus traced out. All the priests were classed together as one family with the High Priest. All believers now are a holy priesthood, in close association with the High Priest, the Lord Jesus Christ. For Aaron and his house one animal only was needed, for the congregation of Israel two were required: the one, the Lord's lot, to be killed as the sin-offering, the other, the scape-goat, to be sent away alive into the wilderness.

Another special feature of this day's service should be noticed; the Lord was first thought of, then what the sinner needed was provided for. This was in character with the special truth brought out that day, propitiation, not redemption. By the blood of the paschal lamb God was righteous in sheltering Israel from His judgments; by the blood on the mercy-seat His holiness and justice were vindicated, and He could righteously have sinners in His presence. But Israel were also redeemed. Redemption looks at the people, propitiation meets all that God is in Himself. How this speaks of what He desires for the sinner, when He provides the way of access for him into His immediate presence! For what was the holiest but the presence chamber of the divine majesty? "I will appear in the cloud upon the mercy-seat," God said to Moses. Behind that veil, concealed from all eyes (for what sinner could behold it in its brightness and live?), was the Shechinah to be found, in connection with the throne. The cloud was the cloud of glory, the mercy-seat the place of His throne on earth, who dwelt between the cherubim. Into this place Aaron, a sinner, and a typical character, was to enter, but not without blood. His entrance at all might show that sinners would be one day allowed access within, his entrance with blood spoke of the only ground on which such could ever enter, and his entrance in a typical character, that of High Priest, told of the need of one to represent the redeemed before God, and to open out the way for them.

Before the cloud on the mercy-seat Aaron was to stand, but how could he behold it and live? God provided for this in a manner as beautiful as perfect. "He shall take a censer full of burning coals of fire from off the altar before the Lord, and his hands full of sweet incense beaten small, and bring it within the veil; and he shall put the incense upon the fire before the Lord, that the cloud of the incense may cover the mercy-seat that is upon the testimony, that he die not." The incense thus came into requisition, and supplied him with what was wanted, but connected with the altar of burnt-offering, for no strange fire could be used, and all else was strange but that which descended from heaven on the altar of burnt-offering. With the cloud of incense, typical of the merits of Christ, rising up between him and the cloud of glory on the mercy-seat, Aaron could stay, for the brief time he did his work, without being consumed by the brightness of the divine majesty.
"We meet our God in Jesus Christ,
And fear and terror cease."

But on what grounds could entrance into the holiest be based? Propitiation by blood must be made, which Aaron proceeded to do. Israel had sinned, so death had to come in, the death of the sin-offering, and the sprinkling of the blood, that God in righteousness should accept Israel in the person of Aaron their representative. Here also God is first thought of, as Aaron sprinkled of the blood on the mercy-seat, and afterwards seven times before it. Both were needed, but the order must be observed. Unless the blood had been put on the mercy-seat, there had not been manifested an adequate ground on which God could accept sinners. Unless it had been sprinkled before it, there would have been no ground on which they could stand before Him. Nothing short of blood-sprinkled ground would meet the sinner's need here. How this tells of man's inability as a sinner to make good for himself his ground before God, as it tells likewise of God's desire that he should have before Him an unassailable standing. Did men read this sacrifice aright, what room could there be for hoping to make good a standing before the throne? and what need would there be for attempting to effect that, which has been already perfectly and everlastingly settled?

A way then into the holiest for sinners, and an unimpeachable standing before God, are here shadowed out; but that way was not opened, nor that standing secured, by the sacrifices then offered up; for Aaron repeated them each year, and the veil unrent maintained inviolate the inner sanctuary of God. Then, one man entered, the high priest; now, all enter who are priests. Then, he went behind the veil; now, we enter through it, and discern the great change that has taken place by the sacrifice and the sprinkling of the blood of God's own Son, as we read, "Having therefore boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus," etc. (Heb. x. 19.) Unpeopled was that inner sanctuary when Aaron entered it, and left it. Is the holiest unpeopled now? All who will have access to it may not have entered therein, but how many thousands and even millions are there whose place within the veil is a present possession! Thus God gathers round Himself sinners saved by grace, and where they too never were before, admits into His presence for ever, by virtue of the blood of His Son, souls who deserved everlasting banishment and destruction.

Is it that He thinks less of sin than He did in the garden of Eden? His nature forbids that. He is and must be holy, and Aaron and all Israel, as they read this chapter, could see how defiling and grievous a thing sin is in His presence. The presence of the blood proved the need of a substitute's death, and the making "atonement for the holy place because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel, and because of their transgressions in all their sins," as well as the making atonement for the golden altar (ver. 18), and the tabernacle of the congregation, demonstrated what it was in His sight. None but Aaron could enter within the holy place (that is, the holy of holies), and none but priests could enter within the tabernacle of the congregation, yet atonement must be made for these because of the uncleanness, as well as for the sins, of the whole people of Israel. Where their standing really was before the throne, there atonement had to be made for their uncleanness and for their transgressions.

Does not this help us to understand those words in Hebrews ix., "The heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these"? As those places into which Israel never personally entered had to be purged with blood, because of what they were, unclean, as well as what they had done, so the heavenlies, our place, though in person we have never entered them, must be purged likewise by blood — the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. Thus carefully does God exclude the thought of man finding entrance into His presence by any thing he can do, as He tells us that the uncleanness of His people, what they are, must be atoned for, as well as what they have done. The sanctuary purged by blood, Aaron went out, and confessed all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them on the head of the live goat, and sending him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness. The standing and communion of the people with God was made good, and maintained by the blood on the mercy-seat. This they knew was secured when the high priest came out of the tabernacle, for his presence outside in safety told of acceptance within. His re-appearance was the proof of this, as the re-appearance of Him who is God's High Priest, will tell the believing remnant of Israel of the work of atonement long ago accomplished. "They shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn." (Zech. xii. 10.) Besides this, God would have them at rest about the remembrance of their sins, and read in the scapegoat's dismissal, the complete and everlasting putting away of all their transgressions. All were confessed on the scape-goat, all that were confessed were carried away in type on its head. It bore them all away to a land not inhabited.

For Aaron and his sons there was no scape-goat provided. Why was this? Had there been, the peculiar feature of the present dispensation would have been wholly ignored. As typical of Christ and His people now, Aaron and his house stood on that day. Israel will know forgiveness when the Lord returns in person to them. We know it now, though He is yet within the sanctuary. The presence of the Holy Ghost on earth tells us what has gone on in the holiest of all. Israel of old only knew what had been done within when Aaron came out, as Israel of a future day will only know what has taken place in the heavenly sanctuary, when the Lord is seen again on earth. We wait not till then, but know now that He has done all that was needful for propitiation, and we are accepted in Him.

Thus we understand why the scape-goat was for Israel, yet, like Aaron's house, we can make use of it, as teaching in type the complete putting away out of sight and remembrance of all the transgressions and sins of God's redeemed people. How plainly in this, as in other matters, we see that none could have delineated the work of the Lord as High Priest, hidden from mortal eyes, and the difference between the position of Israel at a future day and God's saints now, but He who had pre-arranged it all. These sacrificial rites are evidences of the divine origin of the word.

The scape-goat dismissed, Aaron re-entered the tabernacle and changed his dress, first washing himself with water in the holy place, and then he offered the burnt-offerings, and burnt the fat of the sin-offering. All connected with the sin-offerings that day had to wash themselves; all were defiled by them, whether the man who took away the live goat, or he who carried the carcases outside the camp. It needed one undefilable really to make propitiation; and that one must, like Aaron, be High Priest according to God's appointment, for that was priestly work which he must do alone. For in it none could share, or be present even in the sanctuary whilst it was being done, for till done there was no right of entry for God's people into His presence.

Helpless were the people in all this. They might see Aaron cast lots over the goats, they might catch the last glimpse of his skirt as he entered the tabernacle of the congregation, but nothing could they do to help him. Their part was to rest, and to afflict their souls. The need of the work Aaron did they were to own, for it intimately concerned them. To share in it was impossible. Entire rest from all work, like the sabbath day, characterised this tenth day of the seventh month. In this, in common with the sabbath, it stood out in marked distinction from all other days of general observance. Both spoke of perfect rest: the sabbath of God's rest after creation, in which man and earth shared; this of man's rest from all effort to repair the ruin caused by sin, that God might work to establish in righteousness everlasting blessing for man and the world, and unhindered communion between His people and Himself.

Chapter 7. Cleansing from Defilement

Numbers 19.

Sin in God's sight is a far more serious matter than it often appears to man. God views it in the light of His nature, man generally in the light of the consequences to himself. God judges that to be sin which man would often pass over or excuse; hence, whilst sins committed needed a sacrifice to put them away, a sacrifice was required ere a person could be cleansed, who became unclean by defilement from without. This is the characteristic of that special sin-offering set forth in Numbers xix.

It was an offering for sin (see vers. 9, 17), yet the one to be sprinkled might have done nothing that he could have avoided, and might, indeed, only have acted aright. That, however, was not the question here, and all reasonings on such ground must have been silenced at once, for the Holy One of Israel had spoken to Moses and to Aaron, and communicated this ordinance of the law, that none in Israel, whether of the seed of Jacob, or a stranger that sojourned among them, should defile the tabernacle of the Lord. He who is Light was alone competent to say what would defile the sanctuary. Great was the privilege of Israel to have Jehovah's tabernacle in their midst, but great was the responsibility resting on all within the camp, because that tabernacle was the sanctuary. Defilement permitted in them would have tarnished the purity of the sanctuary, and compromised the character of Him who was pleased to inhabit it; so, whilst the sin and trespass offerings were needful where sin had been committed, this was absolutely requisite because Jehovah dwelt among them. Thus, in Leviticus we see God providing against the breaking out of sin in those whom He had redeemed out of Egypt, and in Numbers we read of His gracious provision for putting away defilement contracted by contact from without.

In accordance with the laws of the offerings, those for whom the sacrifice was needed brought the victim. "Speak unto the children of Israel, that they bring thee a red heifer, without spot, wherein is no blemish, and upon which never came yoke." As the ashes were to be kept for the use of any in the camp who might need the water of separation, none could say (the high priest excepted) he would never require it; so all are concerned in the bringing of the animal. And here, as elsewhere, God decides what the animal should be, for it is His holiness that has to be thought of and maintained. Unmixed in colour, unblemished in person, unbroken by the yoke so as to be subservient to man's bidding, such are the characteristics to be sought for, and found, in the victim God could accept, conditions answering to Him who unvaryingly did His Father's will, in whom is no sin, and who, as the faithful and true witness, suffered death at the hand of His creatures.

The heifer was brought to Eleazar, not to Aaron. The High Priest could not defile himself for the dead, though the priests could for those of their family. (Lev. xxi. 2, 11). Eleazar therefore officiates here, and is found with the heifer outside the camp. Slain by some one (not by the priest), the priestly work of sprinkling the blood began, after which the whole animal — its flesh, blood, skin, and dung, were set fire to before his eyes. Again the priest came forward, and cast cedar wood, and hyssop, and scarlet into the midst of the burning of the heifer. Having sprinkled of the blood seven times towards the face of the tabernacle of the congregation, and having cast into the fire the symbols of nature and worldly glory to be consumed with the heifer, his part in the work of preparing the ashes was done. Another person had already set fire to the animal, whilst a third collected the ashes, and laid them up without the camp in a clean place, to be mixed with water for use as often as occasion required.

Very simple was the rite, but very telling. In common with other sacrifices of the Mosaic ritual, the blood had a prominent place; but, differing from all other offerings, the blood of the heifer was sprinkled towards the front of the tabernacle of the congregation. It did not reach the altar, for it was sprinkled outside the camp, though in the direction of the entrance to the tabernacle of the congregation. In common with the offerings at the cleansing of the leper we have mention of cedar wood, hyssop, and scarlet, but then they were dipped in the blood of the bird that was slain, while here they were consumed with the animal itself. Like the sin-offering, whose blood was brought inside the sanctuary, the heifer was burnt outside the camp; but then the inwards were burnt on the altar, here they were consumed with the rest of the heifer, for it was not an act of sin, done even in ignorance, with which the perfect obedience of the Lord was contrasted, that was here to be set forth in its true character, but the terrible nature of sin so contrary to the nature of God. And, as on the day of atonement, the priest had to wash his flesh in water after he had concluded the special rites of that day; and both the man who burnt the sin-offering, and he that led the scape-goat away, had to wash their clothes in water, and bathe themselves, and after that re-enter the camp; so, the priest who sprinkled the blood of the red heifer, and the man who burnt her carcase, as well as he who gathered up the ashes, had to wash their clothes in water, and the two first to bathe their flesh as well; but, differing from the special ordinance of the day of atonement, all those who were concerned with the preparation of the ashes of the red heifer, were unclean until the evening. How all this tells of the holiness of God, and the character of sin in His eyes!

An offering for purification for sin as this was, all the rites connected with it took place outside the camp, inside of which was God's dwelling-place on earth. Without the camp was the leper's place till healed in the goodness of God. Without the camp everyone that had any issue, and all that were defiled by the dead, both male and female, were to be put, in accordance with God's command. (Num. v. 2.) So here, to mark what sin is in God's sight, without the camp was the heifer killed, and without the camp were the ashes kept. Holy was the sacrifice, else it could not have been a sacrifice fitted for His acceptance; clean were the ashes, and they were to be kept in a clean place, for both the heifer and the ashes spoke of One in whom is no sin: the heifer, of Him who offered up Himself; the ashes, of the fiery judgment of God He has endured; but, as connected with sin in any way, God would mark by the words "without the camp" what sin really is in the eyes of the High and Holy One, and those concerned with the preparation of the ashes had themselves to acknowledge it. Ceremonially clean when they began their work, they were ceremonially unclean when they had properly done it.

The ashes prepared, the occasion of their use is next declared — the sprinkling of any one defiled by the dead. Here also we see shadowed forth what sin is before God. "He that toucheth the dead body of any man shall be unclean seven days." To touch the dead body of a clean beast which had died, rendered the person unclean till the evening (Lev. xi. 39); to touch the dead body of a man, however good he might have been, rendered the man unclean seven days. How humbling to the pride of man! A descendant of Adam, who was made in the image of God, after His likeness, was more defiling when dead than the body of a beast. Why was this? By man came sin, and by sin came death. Death witnessed of the presence of sin, for death was the consequence of it. Surrounded with the consequences of sin, and often made to feel them keenly, as death entered the family or the tent, yet a man could not always help being in the tent where death had entered, or refrain in the call of duty from touching a dead body, or a bone, or a grave. God knew this. It might not be a wrong act on the man's part, for God did not command them to refrain from this (the priests, outside certain family relationships, excepted), yet He pronounced whoever did touch the dead body, etc., unclean for seven days. And mark this, the period of uncleanness could not be shortened; no excuse, no argument could avail to set aside God's word, or procure a relaxation of this stringent rule. On no ground could defilement by the dead be passed over as a thing of little consequence, or be excused by the exigencies of the occasion; for, even if the Passover was nigh at hand, those unclean by a dead body must wait for the following month, before they could again commemorate the redemption of the people from Egypt. Touching a dead body was a serious thing in God's sight, whatever it might have been in man's; for He judged according to the holiness of His nature, not according to the necessity of the case.

What an illustration this affords of the nature of God! All that came into the tent, and all that was in the tent where death entered, were rendered unclean by its presence. Contact with defilement defiled, and entrance into the place where death was became a cause of defilement likewise. Inflexible was the standard of God's holiness, which must be maintained, whatever it might cost His creatures. "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts," cried the seraphim (Isa. vi. 3), and here we see exemplified in some degree what that holiness is. Had it been an atrocious act of sin which called forth this stringent rule, to guard the holiness of God from being sullied by the sinner's presence, all must have agreed in the justice of his exclusion. But here, where man might not have been able to avoid it, born in God's providence into a world in which death has found an entrance, whatever excuse he might have been prepared to offer, or whatever plea of inability to have kept himself clean he might truly have urged, nothing could avail when the holy character of God was in question. Unclean he was, and unclean he must be, till the appointed epoch had passed away. God could admit of no compromise. The man had not sinned, it is true, but he was unclean, because death, the wages of sin, was there. It was no question, then, about the measure of a man's guilt, but entirely a question about the nature of God. How little, surely, is this understood even in these days.

Made to feel in himself how sin excludes from the presence of God, and how holy He must be who so jealously guarded the purity of His sanctuary, the man, whilst learning the defiling character of sin, and all connected with it, might learn also the gracious provision of His God for the effectual removal of his uncleanness by the sprinkling of the water of separation. How to be made clean when defiled he could not have discovered, but God had disclosed the means to be used, manifesting thereby the utmost care for the sanctuary, but manifesting also His real desire for the defiled one. "He shall purify himself with it on the third day, and on the seventh day he shall be clean; but, if he purify not himself the third day, then the seventh day he shall not be clean." The water must be used on both days. Purified he would be if he conformed to God's law, but the full time must elapse before he could be clean. The clean person must use the water with hyssop, and twice must the unclean one be sprinkled. A little thing it might seem to touch the dead body, or to be in the tent; but the man must deeply feel what sin, and all connected with it is before God. On the third day, and on the seventh day was he sprinkled. It was no hasty work, done in a moment and forgotten. Sprinkled on the third day, he must wait till the seventh day arrived, and then be sprinkled afresh before he could be clean. The condition he was in as unclean must be pressed home on him. He must feel it fully, as a whole period of time elapsed between the act which defiled, and the final act of bathing himself on the seventh day at even. Besides this, he had to own himself indebted to a clean person for the sprinkling of that water, by which alone he could begin to emerge from his state of ceremonial uncleanness. Without the sprinkling with the water on the two separate occasions, he could not have been cleansed, and without the washing of his clothes and himself in water, the cleansing must have been imperfect.

Of what does this rite speak to us? It tells of the death of the Lord Jesus Christ under the judgment of God for us, brought home to the conscience in power by the Holy Ghost. His death was needed to atone for our sins, His death was also requisite to put away sin, and to be applied to the believer as an adequate motive for his walk in separation from evil on earth. How great then was the need of that death, and how rich are the provisions we have in it. By it God's holiness is maintained, and because of it the defiled one can be cleansed. And, as the type sets forth what was needed, so the order therein enjoined is the order with God's people now. First, the death of Christ is applied to the conscience by the Holy Ghost, then separation from what is unclean around us will take place; just as the man was first sprinkled, and then he washed himself. He washed himself because he had been sprinkled, and that twice; not to fit himself to be sprinkled, for another — a clean man, must move in that matter first of all on his behalf. Humbling fact! And since it was a question of cleansing from what had defiled him by contact, or by his presence within the tent where death was, and not of standing before God, he needed not the immediate services of the priest (they had been rendered in the preparation of the ashes), but the offices of one that was himself ceremonially clean. The aspect of priestly work is towards God, so the blood of the heifer had been sprinkled by the priest towards the face of the tabernacle of the congregation. None but the priest, the type of the Lord Jesus Christ, could do this; but the using the water of separation on behalf of another was an act of a different character, for it shadowed forth that service which one believer can do for another, as, beholding him entangled in that which is defiling, he applies by the power of the Holy Ghost the word — which tells of the death of Christ, and the consequent position of His followers on earth — to free the soul from all that communicates only uncleanness.

And as the sprinkled one purified himself, and washed his clothes, and bathed himself in water; so those, to whom such a service is rendered, must themselves acquiesce in it, and act accordingly. "Blessed are they that wash their robes [so we should read], that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. (Rev. xxii. 14.) There is such a thing as "cleansing ourselves from all filthiness of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God" (2 Cor. vii. 1), besides having our feet washed by the service of another. (John xiii.) But, to minister to one in need of such offices, the individual must be clean himself.

Another thing comes out. Though only an individual was defiled, the consequences of his act were not confined to himself. Outside the camp because defiled (Num. v.) he was nevertheless a member of that, in the midst of which God dwelt. So, if the means prescribed for his cleansing were despised, or even neglected, God must have acted, because he defiled the sanctuary of the Lord. Hence, there was but one alternative. Death must come in in any case; but it was either for the man to avail himself of the death of the heifer, or to suffer death himself under the judicial hand of God. He might say he did not want the cleansing. That would show how completely he disregarded the peculiar privileges of the people of Israel, but that plea would not avail him. He could not shelter himself from what flowed from his position as an inhabitant of the camp, on the ground of his individuality. It mattered not what he desired, action must take place, because he belonged to the congregation in the midst of which was the sanctuary.

How holy then was that place! All connected with his cleansing felt it. The person who sprinkled him had to wash his clothes, and the man who touched the water of separation was unclean until the evening, whilst the poor defiled person, unable to sanctify himself, imparted pollution to whatever he came against. What a state to be in! But death, the death of God's own Son, provided all that was needful. No compromise of God's holiness, nor continuance of defilement could be allowed for a moment, nor was there the need of either; for that death, as viewed in the type, maintained the one, and purified the individual from the other.

Chapter 8. Heave-offerings and Wave-offerings

The heave-offering (t'rumah) and wave-offering (t'nuphah) formed part of the provision made by the Lord for the priests and their families. By a grant, everlasting in its duration, God thus endowed the house of Aaron; "And this is thine, the heave-offering of their gift, with all the wave-offerings of the children of Israel: I have given them unto thee, and to thy sons, and to thy daughters with thee, by a statute for ever; every one that is clean in thy house shall eat of it." (Num. xviii. 11.) To this law there was annexed one exception: "If the priest's daughter be married to a stranger, she may not eat of an offering (t'rumah) of the holy things. But if the priest's daughter be a widow, or divorced, and have no child, and is returned unto her father's house, as in her youth, she shall eat of her father's meat: but there shall no stranger eat thereof." (Lev. xxii. 12, 13.) Whilst the people were in their land, before the captivity, as well as after it, the priests received these offerings (Neh. x. 37-39; xii. 44; xiii. 5); and when faithfully surrendered by the people, they were found to be a plentiful provision. (2 Chron. xxxi. 10.)

When the nation shall be restored, never more to be exiled from the land of their fathers, this grant made in the wilderness shall be again acknowledged; and in God's holy mountain, the mountain of the height of Israel, there will He require their offerings (t'rumah), and the people shall bring them, that the priest may cause the blessing to rest in their houses. (Ezek. xx. 40; xliv. 30.) The need of bringing the offerings Malachi iii. 8 makes plain. The returned remnant had robbed God of tithes and offerings: so the announcement of the prophet follows, "Ye are cursed with a curse, for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it." The tithes and offerings were God's; though the portion of the priests. Defrauding the priests of their just due, they robbed God, and lost the blessing. When finally restored to their country, the law being written on their hearts, they will bring all the appointed offerings, and the priests provided for will cause the blessing to rest in their houses.

The terms in which this grant was made distinguish between the heave-offering and the wave-offering. The heave-offering was a portion of their gifts — "heave-offering of their gift;" the wave-offering might be the whole of the thing offered. The idea conveyed by a heave-offering was the taking up a part to offer it to God; whereas the idea of the wave-offering is more general, implying consecration to God, for it was waved before the Lord. A gift might therefore be termed both a heave-offering and a wave offering; but every wave-offering could not be also called a heave-offering. To heave required a residue from which it was lifted up; to wave, the gift itself only was requisite.

When the people were permitted to contribute of their substance for the tabernacle, their gifts were called heave-offerings (Ex. xxv. 2, 3; xxxv. 5, 21, 24; xxxvi. 3-6), for they offered of their possessions; but in Exodus xxxv. 22; xxxviii. 24, 29, the gold and the brass which they brought were called wave-offerings, because consecrated to the service of God. Again, in Leviticus ix. 21, we read of the breasts and right shoulder of the peace-offerings of the congregation, at the consecration of Aaron and his sons, being waved before the Lord. But in Exodus xxix. 28 the breast and right shoulder are termed a "heave-offering from the children of Israel of the sacrifice of their peace-offering, even their heave-offering unto the Lord;" for looked at as a part of the sacrifice of their peace-offering, they could together be called a heave-offering. The distinction between these terms is clear, and always kept up; for whilst, as above, the breast and the right shoulder could together be called a heave-offering, scripture, when describing them as separate portions, with one exception, noticed lower down (Num. vi. 20), speaks of the wave-breast and the heave-shoulder; for the whole breast was waved, but only one shoulder was heaved. A portion of that which the shoulders symbolise was thus claimed by God, whilst all that the breast shadowed forth was declared to belong to Him. By the shoulder, capability for service seems to be symbolised; and by the right shoulder, that that, which was best able to bear the burden, should be yielded up to Him. (See Gen. xlix. 15; Josh. iv. 5; Ps. lxxxi. 6; Is. ix. 4, 6; x. 27; xxii. 22.) Compare also Nehemiah ix. 29; Zechariah vii. 11, where disobedience is described as "withdrawing the shoulder." By the breast affection would appear to be symbolised.

The heave-offering included the right shoulder of the peace-offering (excepting in the case of the Nazarite referred to below), and one* out of the whole oblation which accompanied the animal offered up as a peace-offering (Lev. vii. 11-14); the first of the dough (Num. xv. 20), and the tithes (Num. xviii. 24), including the corn, wine, and oil for the priests' use. (Neh. x. 39.) Besides these regular heave-offerings, the atonement-money when the congregation were numbered (Ex. xxx. 13-15), the Lord's portion of the spoil of Midian (Num. xxxi. 29), and the king's present, and that of his counsellors, with the offering of the children of Israel for the second temple (Ezra viii. 25), are called heave-offerings. And when the land shall be divided among the tribes afresh, the portion to be set apart for the Levites and the sanctuary will be regarded as a heave-offering. (Ezek. xlv. 6, 7; xlviii.) Differing as these offerings do the one from the other, they have one feature in common, namely, that they are all portions taken out of a residue, whether of fruits, of animals, of money, or of land, and as such are called heave-offerings.

{*For the constituent parts of the oblation see Leviticus vii. 11-14.}

Turning to the wave-offerings, beside the breast of the peace-offering, and the rites at the consecration of Aaron and his sons, already referred to, there was the sheaf waved before the Lord, the first-fruits of the harvest, on the morrow after the sabbath in the passover week; and the two wave-loaves, with their accompanying sacrifices, offered in the feast of weeks. (Lev. xxiii. 10, 17-20.) In addition to these were the offering of the leper on the eighth day of his cleansing (Lev. xiv.); the jealousy-offering (Num. v.); that of the Nazarite at the completion of his vow (Num. vi.); and the taking of the tribe of Levi for the service of the priests in lieu of all the first-born of Israel. (Num. viii.)

Understanding by the act of waving before the Lord consecration to Him, the breast of the peace-offering was waved in token that the affections should be, and in Him whom the sacrifice prefigured would be, consecrated to God. So also the waving of the sheaf on the morrow after the passover sabbath, typified the sanctification, or consecration, as risen from the dead, of Him who is the first-fruits (1 Cor. xv. 23), and who rose on that day. At the expiration of the seven weeks, the two loaves baked with leaven were brought out of Israel's habitations, and were waved before the Lord with the prescribed offerings. But here we meet with a most significant injunction. They were waved with the sacrifices still entire, though killed. Death had taken place, but not dismemberment. The whole animals were waved with the two loaves. (Lev. xxiii. 19, 20.) Remembering what these two loaves typified — the Jew and Gentile together offered to God as the first-fruits of the harvest (James i. 18), we can see the reason of this peculiar feature in that day's ritual, the whole animals waved, but waved after death. Those who compose the church are thus, as it were, consecrated to God as a whole. But since the church was only formed after the resurrection of the Lord, and has its standing in resurrection, the animals were first killed, and then waved. Death took place before the significant act of consecration was performed. Then, death having taken place, the animals were waved whole before the Lord by the priest, presenting thus in type the saints who form the church as a whole consecrated to God, belonging for evermore to Him.

The sacrifices of the leper on the eighth day of his cleansing bring before us another thought, beautiful surely, because true, and clearly shadowed forth in the act of the priest. In the leper cleansed we have an individual formerly redeemed, now restored to communion with God's people. The disease which had its seat in his flesh having broken out, he had been put outside the camp; but healed, the priest had looked on him, and pronounced him clean, and his offerings had to be completed on the eighth day of his cleansing. "And he shall take two he-lambs without blemish, and one ewe-lamb of the first year without blemish, and three tenth deals of fine flour, for a meat-offering, mingled with oil, and one log of oil . . . and the priest shall take one he-lamb, and offer him for a trespass-offering, and the log of oil, and wave them for a wave-offering before the Lord: and he shall slay the lamb in the place where he shall kill the sin-offering and the burnt-offering, in the holy place; for as the sin-offering is the priest's, so is the trespass-offering; it is most holy." (Lev. xiv. 10, 12, 13.) On the day of Pentecost they waved the sacrifices after they had been killed, here the trespass-offering was waved with the log of oil before death. Why this marked difference? In both cases the whole animal was waved, to show that all connected with, or typified by, the sacrifice should be held as consecrated to God. In the case of the leper, however, the living animal was waved, to show that man as alive on earth should be really given up to God. Redeemed in grace, a member of the assembly which had God dwelling in their midst, all his life ought to be consecrated to God. In this he had failed, so the offering waved was a trespass-offering, not a peace-offering. The peace-offering spoke of communion enjoyed, the trespass-offering, of communion interrupted by sin on the part of the offerer. With the trespass-offering there was waved a log of oil, with which the quondam leper was to be anointed on the tip of his right ear, his right thumb, and the great toe of his right foot, and the rest of the oil in the priest's hand was poured over him, in token that now his ear must hear, and his hand act, and his feet walk, as directed by the word of God, and the rest poured over him, to show that whilst he had failed before, he was evermore to remember he had been consecrated to God.

The jealousy-offering, too, was waved. The charge against the woman was one of unfaithfulness to her husband, so the offering (a tenth part of an ephah of barley-meal) was waved before the Lord. Consecration to her husband as his wife should characterise her: this the offering spoke of, and this her husband had charged her with violating. So the priest was to take the jealousy-offering from her hand, and wave it before the Lord. (Num. v. 25.)

In the Nazarite we have special consecration, separation unto the Lord. When that time of special dedication was ended, the Nazarite presented himself at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and brought his sin-offering, his burnt-offering, and his peace-offering, with the accompanying meat and drink-offerings. The sin and burnt-offerings having been properly offered up, he presented his peace-offering, a ram, with the basket of unleavened bread. The ram was brought because it was a question of special dedication to God, just as in the consecration of the priests, the ram of consecration was enjoined to be offered up. When the ram had been killed and dismembered, the right shoulder sodden, with one unleavened cake and one unleavened wafer, was placed in the Nazarite's hand by the priest, and then waved by him (that is, the priest) for a wave-offering before the Lord. (Num. vi. 19, 20.) In the ordinary peace-offerings the shoulder was heaved with the cakes, here it was waved; for this offering did not spring from a thankful heart rejoicing in its blessings, and desiring to present something of its substance to the Lord in recognition of His goodness; but it was the public declaration that the time of special separation to God had ended, so the right shoulder, with the cakes, was waved before the Lord. The man had been wholly separated by his vow to God; now he was to pass out of that state which he had voluntarily entered. Hence all was waved, not heaved, and the shoulder symbolising service was the portion commanded thus to be offered.

One more wave-offering has to be noticed — that of the Levites, taken for the Lord's service, instead of the first-born in Israel. When that was done in the wilderness, the Levites did not only bring a burnt-offering and sin-offering, but were waved by Aaron as an offering themselves. "And Aaron shall wave the Levites before the Lord for a wave-offering of the children of Israel, that they may execute the service of the Lord." (Num. viii. 11, 13, 15-21. See marginal reading.) On that day all the Levites were publicly consecrated to God's service — all the first-born in Israel belonged to Him (Ex. xiii. 2), but He accepted the Levites in their stead, as far as they would go, man for man. A heave-offering here, as in the other cases, would have been out of place. It was not some of the first-born whom God claimed, nor some of the Levites that He accepted. He claimed all the first-born, but took all the Levites, as far as they would go, in their stead, a wave-offering of the children of Israel.

Comparing the different passages, then, in which the heave-offerings and wave-offerings are mentioned, the distinction between them comes out, and the teaching regarding more especially the latter is made plain. We see that the language of scripture is indeed accurate, and may note in this, as in other things, that the substitution of one term for another (often found in the writings of men) would introduce confusion in the things of God, and mar the beauty of the lessons intended to be conveyed by the divine author of the book.

Chapter 9. Drink-offerings

Drink-offerings, like burnt-offerings, were known amongst men before the giving of the law. At what period they were first introduced, or on what occasion a drink-offering was first poured out, are facts shrouded in obscurity; for we read not of them till the days of Jacob, and then not till his return to Bethel from Padan-aram, where God had on a former occasion spoken to him. There, on the stone he set up for a pillar, he poured out, as far as we know, his first and only drink-offering. In this action however there was method and perception. He knew evidently when to erect a pillar, and when to pour out a drink-offering thereon.

He set up pillars several times in his life — a favourite practice, it would seem, with him. He erected one by Galeed, east of Jordan, to stand as a witness of divine intervention on his behalf, and which served with the heap, raised by him and his brethren, to point out the boundary, across which neither he nor Laban were to pass to the injury of the one by the other. (Gen. xxxi. 24, 25, 52.) He set up another on Rachel's grave, in the way to Ephrath (Gen. xxxv. 20), an abiding memorial to point out the spot where the body of his beloved was laid. But neither at Galeed, nor at Rachel's grave, did he pour out a drink-offering. It was not the fitting time, nor were they the places for such an expressive action, and doubtless he understood that.

His action in erecting a pillar at Galeed betokened his sense of the propriety of having a monument pointing heavenwards, to remind all whom it might concern of that eventful passage in the history of Isaac's younger yet favoured son. The pillar on Rachel's grave, erected by her sorrowing husband, attested his deep concern in what had there taken place. Years however before he had thus left his mark at Galeed, a pillar had been erected by him at a place afterwards to be known by the name of Bethel, that is, God's house; a name which he on that occasion gave it, where God had just bestowed on the benighted traveller (Gen. xxviii. 11) promises of the land, of a numerous seed, and of divine protection. Here he did not content himself with raising up the stone for a pillar, but he anointed it likewise, owning thereby that to him it was holy and consecrated ground. Yet he did not then pour out a drink-offering thereon. Had he trusted God implicitly, he might have done that; but evidently, from the compact Jacob made with Him, to be fulfilled if He really brought him back to his father's house in peace, Rebekah's son manifested a want of trustfulness in the promises of God.

Galeed and Rachel's grave were places ever to be remembered; so was Bethel, but with this difference, not only was it henceforth to be connected with the fortunes and history of the patriarch, but he had learnt to look on it as God's house, where He had unexpectedly to Jacob discoursed with him. Years passed away before he re-visited that spot in Canaan. The sanctity of the place however was indelibly impressed on his mind. It was to Jacob like no other spot on the whole earth. His act of anointing the stone on the first occasion that he visited it makes clear what he thought of the place; and his command to his household, and to all that were with him, to put away the strange gods that were among them, and to be clean, and to change their garments, when he was about to re-visit it, showed that his thought about it had remained unchanged.

Arriving there he built an altar, which he had not done before, and during the night God appeared to him, and confirmed and even amplified in detail what He had on the former occasion promised him. So now, his heart being full, the patriarch sets up again a pillar; but this time, before anointing it, he poured out a drink-offering upon it. It was one thing to start forth on his journey from Bethel to visit lands to him unknown with God's promises given, but as yet unfulfilled; and quite another thing to be there on his homeward journey with wives, children, and a plenitude of earthly possessions, such as one engaged in pastoral pursuits would most value. What then he did not do before that he does now. It was fitting to erect a stone for a memorial, of that he felt sure. It would be proper, too, to repeat his former act, and to anoint the pillar in token of the place being to him and his family a holy one.

But more than that was needed. God had confirmed promises made on the occasion of his first visit to Bethel, and the patriarch could see in his altered and improved outward circumstances proofs in a measure of the fulfilment of that which awaited its complete accomplishment. Hence in his eyes the time had come to pour out a drink-offering, in token of his joy in that which God had so graciously bestowed on him. So he poured out his drink-offering on the stone, and that before he anointed it.

On his first visit to Bethel, the holy character of the place struck him — God was in it. On his second visit the grace and faithfulness of God were prominently before him; so his first action after again erecting the pillar was one expressive of the feelings of his heart, called forth by what God had just said to him.

Many years intervened between that visit to Bethel and Jacob's dying communication to his children in Egypt; but we never read of a similar act on his part to express the feelings of his heart. Halting on his journey to Egypt at Beersheba, he offered sacrifices there unto the God of his father Isaac (Gen. xlvi.); the number and the character of which are to us unknown. It is evident however, that he sacrificed with no niggardly hand, for more than one animal must have been slaughtered by him that night; but, though blood flowed freely, no drink-offering, it would seem, was brought by the patriarch on that occasion. He sacrificed at Beersheba before God spake to him; he raised up the pillar at Bethel after God had appeared to him. A drink-offering with the sacrifices would have been, judging from the order at Bethel, an anachronism. For he poured it out, not to ask for a favour, but in token of his joy at receiving one.

Then too he had returned to the land, now he was about to leave it: so, though starting forth on his journey to Egypt by divine permission, with promises of divine protection and assurances of a return to the land given to him and to his seed, we can understand from the character of Jacob, as previously developed, that, even after he had received God's gracious communication, he was not in that condition of spirit which required for its manifestation, and to give itself vent, the pouring out a drink-offering, which told not less plainly what was in the heart, than the clearest enunciation of the human voice.

Turning over the pages of the word in chronological order, we read next of what Job was accustomed to do in the way of sacrifice for his children after their festal celebrations, each one of his day; and what God commanded his three friends to offer on their own behalf. (Job i.; xlii.) In neither chapter however are drink-offerings mentioned. Nor is this surprising: for as we learn from the ordinance about them, subsequently given to Israel, they were never commanded to be brought when men sacrificed on account of sin. And it was on account of sin that burnt-sacrifices were provided by Job for his sons, and were offered up by his friends.

The patriarchal period ended, we next meet with sacrifices on the occasion of the visit of Moses' father-in-law to the camp of Israel at Sinai. That time Jethro officiated as priest (Ex. xviii. 12); but neither then, nor subsequently when by the lawgiver's command the young men offered burnt-offerings, and sacrificed peace-offerings under the hill, at the ratification of the covenant with the Lord by the congregation of Israel, have we any hint of the patriarch Jacob's example at Bethel having been followed by those encamped in the wilderness of Sinai. Certainly on the latter occasion, when the people had the blood of the covenant sprinkled on them in token, of what they deserved, and incurred if they failed in the performance of it, a drink-offering would have been quite out of place.

From the time of Jacob, then, till the erection of the tabernacle, and the consecration of Aaron and his sons to minister at the altar, that simple but telling rite is never mentioned in the word. From the day however that the Aaronic priesthood was fully established, no day was to pass on which a drink-offering could be omitted. It was always in season in connection with the morning and evening burnt-offering (Ex. xxix. 40-42); for there was that in type offered up every day on the brazen altar, which was fitted to cheer the heart of every one who understood anything about it. And now we are taught of what the drink-offering was to consist — strong wine, to be poured out unto the Lord (Num. xxviii. 7); for wine it is, as Jotham in his parable expresses it, "which cheereth God and man." (Judges ix. 13.) And surely there was that in type on the altar, which was eminently fitted to do this, the lamb of the burnt-offering, foreshadowing the perfect surrender of the Lord Jesus Christ to do His Father's will.

Let us pause here a moment to contrast the action of Jacob with the injunction of the law. Jacob out of the fulness of his heart, of his own voluntary will, without any divine command, poured out his drink-offering on the stone. God on the other hand enjoined the drink-offering as an invariable accompaniment of the daily burnt-offerings. Jacob's action was dictated surely by what he felt at the communication made to him, and the favour he already enjoyed. But the drink-offering under the law, being commanded by God, could not be considered as the measure of the people's joy in the sacrifice on the altar. It did surely portray what those concerned in the sacrifice might feel; but their measure of apprehension, and their joy in that which the lamb pre-figured, fell doubtless far short of the mark. And we must admit that our apprehension of the work of Christ, and the joy therefrom derived, falls far below that which God discerns and has found in the sacrifice of His Son. The measure of the offerer's joy did not then govern the measure of the drink-offerings; but the drink-offering expressed the full measure of joy, which could be found in that which the burnt-offering prefigured. Now as none but God could fully estimate that, He it was who prescribed in the law how much wine was to be poured out each morning and each evening in connection with the daily burnt-sacrifices. Jacob's drink-offering was not connected with a sacrifice. Under the law the drink-offering with a meat-offering was the invariable adjunct to the morning and evening oblation, and we never read of a drink-offering commanded apart from a sacrifice. Jacob then gave expression to what he felt. The drink-offering under the law typified what those concerned in the sacrifice on the altar might feel.

Turning back to the law, we learn that, though at times we may concentrate our thoughts on the death of the Lord Jesus Christ in one or other of its aspects, as set forth in the different sacrifices which typified it, yet to have a just estimate of its value, so as to share in the joy which flows from it, we must ever remember His life as manifested on earth before the cross. Of this the meat-offering, which accompanied the daily burnt-offering was a type. His death we should remember; but who it was who died, as evidenced by His life, must ever be kept in view. When both are before us, His life and His death, the drink-offering finds its place.

But no drink-offering was commanded apart from the sacrifice. No drink-offering was enjoined in connection with the meat-offering by itself. No drink-offering would the sons of Aaron have poured out in connection only with the animal on the altar. A whole Christ, as it were, must be before the worshipper before a drink-offering would be in place. When that was before the eye and the heart, the drink-offering was not to be withheld: the wine which cheereth God and man could then be poured out in token that in the Lord Jesus Christ, who lived and died, there was that which gave joy to God, and in which those by whom it was offered could share. And as atonement was portrayed in type upon the altar, God made known that men could have joy in common with Him, though only in connection with, and with reference to, that which the sacrifice on the altar prefigured. And this was to hold good for Israel, for those born in the land, and for the stranger which sojourned with them as well. (Num. xv. 13-15.) Yet, never, let it again be observed, was this offering commanded to be brought apart from the sacrifice on the altar, though Israel, it would seem, did separate the two in their idolatrous rites.

But not only was the drink-offering to accompany the daily oblation, for in Numbers xv. we are instructed that, after the children of Israel had entered their land, as often as anyone, whether of the race of Israel or not, brought a burnt-offering of the herd or of the flock, a sacrifice in performing a vow, or a free-will offering, and at Israel's solemn feasts, a meat-offering and a drink-offering were to be the accompaniment for every animal offered up. In Exodus xxix., where the daily burnt-offering was spoken of, the measure of the drink-offering was fixed at the fourth part of an hin of wine. In Numbers xv. however, we learn that the measure of the wine varied with the size of the animal. But though it varied with the size and character of the animal offered up in sacrifice, it always corresponded to the amount of oil appointed to be used in the accompanying meat-offering. The offerer knew that he had to increase his drink-offering the larger the animal he brought; but the measure of oil, appointed for the accompanying meat-offering, was the measure of wine, which he had to provide for the drink-offering. From this rule we read not of any deviation, and its propriety we can surely discern. For if the wine was the expression of joy to be found in the Lord Jesus Christ in His life and in His death, the measure of joy derived therefrom corresponded to the measure of the Holy Ghost within Him, of which the oil in the meat-offering was typical.

Thus corn, wine, and oil, products of the earth, were all called into requisition with the slain animal, either to delineate what He was, or to express what was found in Him. In Christ, and in Him alone, of all who ever trod this earth, was there no failure. His life, His ways, His acts, fully corresponded to the Holy Ghost in Him. Hence joy in Christ was, and is, exactly proportionate to the Spirit which dwelt in Him. In His life, and in His death, He acted throughout only as led of the Holy Ghost.

Such then was the drink-offering under the law, foreshadowing the joy which God and man could find in the man Christ Jesus. A common subject of joy then there is between God and us, but its measure varies not with our apprehension of what there is in His Son to delight the heart. God has told us what the measure is which can be found in that perfect, spotless One, who was holy, harmless, and undefiled. What an idea of God's delight in His Son do the sacrifices of sweet savour bring before us! Noah was a perfect man in his generations. Job had none like him in all the earth. Abraham was called the friend of God, and on him, to order his house aright, God declared He could count. David was the man after God's own heart. But each of these, though thus described by God, fell short of answering perfectly to what a man on earth should be. The Lord alone has done that; and the measure of the drink-offering, varying, but always commensurate with the oil of the meat-offering, tells it us in type, as His life and His death afterwards exemplified and proved it. Thus what the Lord was, as made known by the New Testament, sheds a bright light on the types and shadows of the Old.

And now for a time all such offerings as the law enjoined have ceased, to be renewed however when God again takes up Israel as His earthly people. Then sacrifices will be offered up afresh on the altar, and drink-offerings of wine be poured out again to the Lord. (Ezek. xlv. 17.) And Israel surely will have understanding as to their meaning, and partake intelligently in God's joy in Christ, as derived from His life and from His death. And then too will they see, as we can now, how abhorrent it must have been to the Lord, when that action, which expressed joy in the Lord Jesus, was made use of in connection with idolatrous rites, of which Jeremiah so often complains. They burnt incense, he tells us, and poured out drink-offerings to the queen of heaven, and to the false gods. Incense spoke of the merits of Christ, drink-offerings (as we have seen) of the joy to be found in the life and death of the Lord Jesus; yet the people by the incense they burned to idols, and the wine they poured out (Jer. vii. 18; xix. 13; xxxii. 29; xliv. 17), professed by their action to have learned the merits attaching to false gods, and to have found joy in a rite which, little as they knew it, was really the worship of demons. (1 Cor. x. 20.) What an insult it was to God, and to Him who was represented in the sacrifice, for Israel to give drink-offerings to idols! We understand the heinous character of such a practice, when we learn what the offering, as appointed by God, really expressed. And we can enter into Joel's sorrow, when the meat-offering and drink-offering were withheld from the house of the Lord. It was true, as he exclaimed, "Joy and gladness are cut off from the house of our God." (Joel i. 16.)

Chapter 10. The Crucifixion

(Matthew xxvii. 38-52.)

Turning from the Old Testament to the New to investigate the subject of sacrifice, we turn from types to the antitype, from the shadows to the substance, from the laws about the sprinkling of the blood of bulls and goats, to the history of the shedding of the blood of Christ, God's own Son, the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world. In the Old Testament we have traced out God's gracious provision for fallen man — a sacrifice; in the New we learn what man really is, as God saw him from the earliest days of his disobedience and estrangement of heart. In the cross is displayed God's great love, and how far it could go on the sinner's behalf; and, at that same cross was brought out, in a manner never before manifested, what man is, as his treatment of God's Son is set forth by the inspired historians.

That the heathen, who were without God, should persecute in ignorance God's Son, might not have surprised any of us. But, to learn that He appeared on earth among His own people according to the flesh, and found that His bitterest enemies and most determined opponents were the chief priests and Pharisees, affords proof of the utter corruption of man's heart (however richly he may be blessed on earth, or highly favoured with a divine revelation), which could not otherwise have been credited. Knowledge even of the word of God, unless the Holy Spirit applies it to the soul, cannot impress his heart, nor temporal blessings, however great, subdue his enmity to what is of God. The rulers of the Jews knew Messiah would come; in Christ, too, they saw One who did good to all who were in want of it, as no man had ever before done; yet many a time did they attempt His life, and at last succeeded in their design. Had Pilate hearkened to the entreaties of his wife, or acted in accordance with the dictates of his conscience, he would have saved the Lord from death; for the chief priests it was and the elders, who "persuaded the multitude that they should ask Barabbas, and destroy Jesus." (Ver. 20.) It was in obedience to the popular cry, reiterated when Pilate had remonstrated, and to show his fidelity to the Roman Emperor, that, though conscious it was from envy the Jews had delivered Jesus unto him, he handed Him to the soldiers for immediate execution.

Crucified between two thieves, but recently scourged, and unable alone to bear His cross to the place of execution (Luke xxiii. 26) surely it might have been supposed that at the sight of His sufferings, man's enmity would have been changed into pity, and his bitterness have given way to compassion. Three people were crucified together, but to one only do we read that revilings and taunts were addressed, and that one was the Lord Himself. Had they taunted the thieves, it would not have been surprising, for they had offended against society; but He had only "gone about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil." Had they reviled them all indiscriminately, it might have been set down to popular ignorance. But the Lord Jesus alone was thus treated, and none of the chief priests, who witnessed what took place, interfered, that we read of, to check the malice of the people, or to lift up a voice on His behalf. Man, there unrestrained by God's hand, showed of what he was capable.

The passers-by "reviled him, wagging their heads, and saying, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross." Power manifested would in their eyes be proof of His divine Sonship. To their taunt He vouchsafed no reply; but, because He was God's Son, He remained on the cross. They associated power with Sonship. He owned that obedience was involved in the relationship, and showed His perfect obedience to the will of His Father by staying on that cross. They knew not the value of their words as they thus reviled Him. How could the Son have acted in contravention of the Father's will? Their words spoke of relationship, which, if real, implied subjection to the Father. Their use of them at such a time proved how little subjection to the Father was in their thoughts. "Save thyself." Such language revealed the current of their thoughts, that self, not the Father's will, should be the guiding principle for man's conduct. Unconsciously, surely, by this they justified the sin of Adam and Eve, and proved their descent from them, begotten in Adam's likeness.

Another class of the people of Israel witnessed Him, who was the sacrifice, offering up Himself, and as they witnessed His sufferings, they mocked Him. It was the chief priests, and scribes, and elders who said, "He saved others, himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him." They acknowledged His works done on behalf of others, yet refused to admit the claims which those works substantiated. Of His life on earth they were not ignorant — of His acts of kindness and power they could speak. Those acts testified that He was God's servant — the Christ — as the men who professed to expound God's word should have known; yet they asked, after all they had heard and seen, that His claim to be the Messiah should be settled by His immediate descent from the cross. Power exerted for the benefit of others was a proof of His Messiahship — power, put forth to save Himself from death when on the cross, was never predicted as a proof that the King of Israel was on earth. They rejected what the word of God would have led them to look for, and asked for a sign which no prophet had authorised them to expect. It was right to connect the presence of the King with the display of power, but it was wrong to connect it with the exercise of that power to save Himself. The passers-by had proved their ignorance of the subjection due from the Son to the Father — the chief priests here showed their ignorance of the word of God; and, stranger than all, they unwittingly fulfilled the Psalms as they taunted Him with being forsaken of God. (Compare v. 43 with Ps. xxii. 8.) How strange that those who professed to teach from the word should have fulfilled the prediction, as they hurled at Him this taunt, the bitterest and most cruel of all. If such was the conduct of the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders, can we wonder at what follows? — "The thieves also, which were crucified with him, cast the same in his teeth."

What an exhibition, then, have we of man, the religious man by profession, as the Jew was; and the educated man, who professed to know God's word, as the chief priests and the scribes. They had crucified the Lord between two thieves, but, by their behaviour to Him, they proved themselves to be the true companions of those whom they had associated with God's Son. Man's trial of four thousand years was ended. He had acted as the tool of the enemy, and driven out God's Son from the world He had originally created; for Jesus, "when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost."

What could God do under such circumstances? That He should immediately act in power, who had been a silent spectator of man's atrocity and sin, was only what could be expected. He did act in power, for we read, "And behold the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent." But, whilst acting in power, He did not act in judgment against man, because He had acted in judgment against His own well-beloved Son. For during that time of darkness, mysterious to man, when all nature mourned for the death of the King,* brought about by the creature's iniquity, whilst men on earth, as far as we read, were silent — awe-struck apparently by the strange, unnatural gloom in which the land was enveloped — God's well-beloved Son, who had always done on earth that which pleased His Father, was experiencing the full weight of God's anger against sin. "The Lord laid on him the iniquity of us all." Death took place, the death of the sin-offering, and the shedding of that blood without which there could be no remission; but, now shed, the ground was laid, and all could see it, on which God could publicly deal in grace with those who deserved His everlasting wrath. Here, then, we learn, at the earliest possible moment at which it could be displayed, what that sacrifice is in God's sight, and what He can do in consequence.

{*There are passages in Ezekiel xxxi. 15; xxxii. 7, 8, which may help us to understand the suitability of the darkness at the time of the Lord's crucifixion. The language of Ezekiel is figurative, the language of the evangelists must be taken in its literal meaning. God by the prophet spoke of the mourning of nature at the fall of the Assyrian, that great cedar which towered over all; and at the fall of the Egyptian monarch, "the young lion of the nations." If such language could be used even figuratively concerning the fall of such monarchies, how suitable and expressive was that supernatural darkness when the true King of Nations (Rev. xv. 3, margin), under whose rule alone all can be blessed, was about to leave the world by death!}

"The veil was rent." By His command it had been erected; by His power it was rent in twain, Under the eye of the mediator of the first covenant that veil had been first erected; because of the sacrifice of Himself, the Mediator of the new covenant, the veil was rent in twain. He who had caused it to be erected, alone had authority to part it asunder. He caused it to be reared up when first there was a redeemed nation on earth. He caused it to be torn asunder when first redemption by blood had been accomplished. So soon as the Lord had died, there was manifested in the temple what had taken place on Calvary. Outside the gate the Lord had suffered, but inside the sanctuary God showed what His death was in His sight, as the rent veil betokened the way into the holiest, opened out for sinners, by virtue of the blood of Jesus Christ.

Outside, in the most public manner, God also acted, as inside the temple He had severed in twain the veil; and the earthquake which took place told of something extraordinary that had come to pass, for "the rocks rent, and the graves were opened." "By man came death." The existence of graves bore witness to his sin, and its temporal consequences — death. "By man came also the resurrection of the dead." The graves, opened by divine power on that day, illustrated this truth. By divine power were they opened, not by power from within, the inhabitants forcing their way out; for though the graves were opened by the rending of the rocks and the earthquake, none of the saints arose till after the Lord's resurrection, an earnest of what will be when the present resting-place of the bodies of God's saints shall be tenantless, and death be robbed of its prey. Thus, before the descent from the cross, and the Lord's entrance into the grave, by the exercise of divine power, there was seen, what through the sacrifice was effected, namely, entrance for sinners as worshippers into God's presence, and recovery from the grasp of death. The consequences on earth of man's sin were not removed; but what he had lost by the fall he could enjoy in a new way, and what he had incurred by sin he could see the way out of. Before the fall Adam could hold direct intercourse with God in the garden. After the death of God's own Son, the sinner could be admitted into the holiest of all. By sin man was brought under the power of death; by the atonement the way out of death, not return from it, was made plain to all God's saints.

Without the intervention of a prophet, without the sound of a voice, God spoke on that day in terms all may understand. Man, by his acts and words, had testified of his deserts; God, by the exercise of power, without the utterance of a syllable, proved what the death of Christ was in His sight, as He thus acted on man's behalf. Great was the convulsion of nature, yet we learn not of any disaster. No house engulphed its inmates, no tottering wall fell on the passer-by. Power was displayed — all must have felt it; not, however, to make man suffer according to his deserts, but to display openly, and that immediately, the blessed results for man of the death of God's only Son.

Chapter 11. The Penitent Thief

Luke 23: 34-46.

In the history of the crucifixion as given by Matthew all is dark — unrelieved by the faintest streak of light — till after the Lord Jesus had given up the ghost. In the history of what then took place, as revealed by Luke, there are rays of brightness at the beginning, in the middle, and at the end of that wondrous time.

In Matthew we have no utterance of our blessed Lord recorded, from the time that He stood before Pilate, and acknowledged that He was the King of the Jews, till He cried with a loud voice, "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani." But in Luke we read of what He said to His Father, and the words which He addressed to the thief, and these sayings shed a gleam of light and sunshine on what in Matthew is a picture of midnight darkness, enwrapped in the murky clouds of human wickedness and brutality. In Matthew, as Emmanuel and as Messiah, He is seen rejected, but suffering for men; in Luke, as Son of man, He is presented suffering as Man, yet caring for men. Thus we read in Luke how, on His way to the cross, He took notice of the company of the women which bewailed and lamented Him, and bid them not weep for Him, but for themselves and their children, for the consequences which would follow His cutting off as Messiah. With the cross before Him, He was concerned for the sufferings, justly deserved indeed, of those who would be visited for the great crime about to be perpetrated. For, if such things were done in the green tree — Himself — what would be done in the dry? the Jewish nation, fruitless, sapless, fit only for the burning.

On the cross the same spirit was displayed, when He interceded with His Father for His murderers, and assured the penitent thief of the immediate future before him. It was others He thought of, commiserated, prayed for; or to whom He announced the welcome news of companionship with Himself in paradise. From Matthew we learn what God thought of the sacrifice; in Luke we discern who it is that suffered, for He could speak to God as His Father, and yet hold intercourse with the convicted thief. Equal to the Father as touching His Godhead, yet One with whom the thief would be that day in paradise, He accepted the prayer of the man dying by His side, and granted him more than he had asked. He prayed, and yet answered prayer. He prayed to the Father as the Son, and answered prayer as God. He prayed for others, "Father, forgive them," and spoke to the Father about Himself, "Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit." God, and yet man, the Son from all eternity, having life in Himself, yet surrendering up life on the cross in obedience to the Father's will, He died in love for sinners — He entreated for them forgiveness. Where before had such language been used? — where had such a spirit been manifested? The Jews might righteously ask for judgment on their enemies — He sought divine forgiveness for His, for a new epoch had commenced on earth, and a spirit very different to that which was consistent with Judaism was now displayed.

If anything could have softened man's heart, or stopped him in his mad career, surely we might have thought that this prayer for His murderers would have had such an effect. But they gave Him hatred for His good will, hating Him without a cause.

They heard His prayer, yet paused not in their course, for we read in the sentence following it, "and they parted his raiment, and cast lots." The evangelist, by this manner of telling what took place, brings out, in striking contrast, the difference between His spirit and theirs. He had thought of others; the soldiers, intent only on gain, concerned themselves with their share of His garments; and the chief priests and people availed themselves of the opportunity to display the bitter enmity of their hearts.

They were ignorant of the heinousness of their guilt; but He interceded for them, and by His intercession showed His sense of the enormity of their crime. For why ask forgiveness if they had never needed it, why pray for them if they could have procured it for themselves? His act testified of their sin, and His words told of His relationship to God, against whom they had offended.

They were ignorant of what they were doing, therefore He prayed for them; yet their ignorance was no valid plea for acquittal in God's sight, so that the Lord's intercession was needful. God does show mercy to those who sin grievously in ignorance of that which is pleasing in His sight; witness Paul, who thought he ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. "I obtained mercy," he writes, "because I did it ignorantly in unbelief." God could be gracious, but He could not gloss over his iniquity; so with them who crucified His Son. And the Lord, by His prayer, showed what their guilt was, whilst He offered up Himself as the true sacrifice, and petitioned the Father for their forgiveness.

Besides addressing His Father, He gave ear to the penitent thief. Had we only His communication to the thief, apart from all else, the grace He therein manifested must strike the most cursory reader; but reading it in close connection with His prayer to His Father, its value is enhanced. He had rightly gauged the measure of their sin who then took part against Him, amongst whom must be classed the thief, now penitent, but lately a reviler, for which, as for his lawless acts, he had need of divine forgiveness. A trophy of grace when the chief priests and people were still deriding the Lord, and the other thief reviling Him, he stood out before all, in the very agonies of death, as a disciple of the crucified and rejected One by His side. He rebuked his companion, acknowledged the justice of their sentence, but fully justified the Lord. "We receive the due reward of our deeds, but this man hath done nothing amiss." And, turning to Him, he owned Him as no common man, even the only One who had a kingdom on earth, of which death could never deprive Him. "Lord, remember me when thou comest in thy kingdom."

What words were that day uttered at the cross! The Lord interceded for His persecutors, and the-dying thief acknowledged his sin, yet desired to be remembered by the King in His kingdom. Had he been innocent, such words would have been natural; but, being guilty, they must have sounded strange to any who heard them, for in the presence of his future Judge he was not afraid to confess his guilt, nor desirous that it should lie in merited oblivion. How completely was he at ease with the Lord, of whom naturally he had every reason to be afraid. He was a sinner, and he acknowledged it. There was something, however, in the Lord, which gave the thief unbounded confidence in His presence. He did not ask for any sacrifice to be offered up on his behalf; his prayer tells us that he did not feel the want of it, and the Lord's answer shows us there was no need of it. "Remember me when thou comest in thy kingdom," not into, but in — that is, in the royal pomp and power which belonged to Him who was then, and is still, the King. The thief looked on to a future day, and assuredly that prayer will be manifestly fulfilled; but the Lord, in answer, spoke to him of what would take place that day. "Verily, I say unto thee, To-day shalt thou be with me in paradise."

Nothing had been done by the dying man to put his sins away. On the cross he had added to the sins of his past life by reviling God's well-beloved Son. But, ere he breathed his last, and indeed immediately after he had given utterance to that petition, the communication was made to him to set at rest for ever all doubts about the future, for the real sacrifice was being offered up by his side, and the effect of it to himself the Lord made known to his heart. "To-day shalt thou be with me," The convicted thief was in the company of the Saviour, and never should they part. But observe the language. There was a difference between them, and He would have the man know it. He did not say, "We shall be together," but "Thou shalt be with me." With Him was the portion of the converted soul, and in paradise. Here, then, we meet with the earliest possible example of the fruit of the atoning work applied to an individual, and the example is a fine one. Of the man's guilt there was no doubt, of his everlasting blessing there can be no two opinions. His confession tells us of the one, the Lord's words assure us of the other. In Genesis iv. we have the earliest possible teaching as to the standing before God of one born in sin; in Luke xxiii. we have the earliest possible proof of the value of the sacrifice to a sinner, of which Abel's lambs were types. So perfect was the work, so all-sufficient the sacrifice, that for ever and ever this converted thief shall know companionship with the righteous One then by his side. What a public testimony this history is to the sufficiency of the Lord's atoning work, to make a sinner meet to be a partaker of the inheritance of the saints in light. "With me," not merely saved, not simply a hope of heaven, but with Christ, the Holy One of God.

"In paradise." There had been one on earth, and Adam had walked in it. In the Old Testament, however it is spoken of as connected only with what is past; in the New Testament we read of it as present and future. "With me in paradise," were the words of the Lord to the thief that day. "To eat of the tree of life which is in the midst of the paradise of my God," is the same gracious Saviour's promise to those who shall overcome now. Ceasing to be found on earth, there is a paradise elsewhere, and the redeemed — not the innocent — shall enjoy it for ever, eating of that tree in its midst, which would have entailed everlasting misery on Adam and his descendants, had he partaken of it after the fall. The dying man was to enter it that day — Paul was once caught up into it, and the heavenly saints will one day be in it. Forfeited for himself and his descendants by the first Adam, it has been won, and is for ever secured to the saints above, by the obedience unto death of the last Adam.

Are we wrong in saying, for ever secured? It is true that the Lord did not say this to the thief. He spoke of the end of that day, but did not speak of the morrow. "To-day," were His words. He told him when that blessed condition would begin, for it must have a beginning, but He spoke not of a time when it was to end. Cannot each one, who reads that history, draw the conclusion? He spoke not of its ending, for it never will end; for ever and ever will that believer be with His Lord, a witness of the exceeding riches of His grace, a vessel fitted to tell out His praise.

Singular must this soul ever be, as the one who was converted when crucified by the side of the Lord, yet his portion with Him is not peculiar to himself; it is for all, and will be shared in by all who, like him, shall have confessed God's Son during the time of His rejection by the world.

Chapter 12. The One Alternative

When Christianity first claimed man's attention, and asserted its divine origin, there was another system of religion indisputably of divine appointment, and confessedly of great antiquity.

Before Romulus had laid the foundation of Rome, and the era of Nabonasser of Babylon commenced, and centuries before the Trojan war, a people had been brought out of Egypt to whom God gave a ritual in the wilderness at Mount Sinai. Miracles, which the Egyptian magicians rightly ascribed to the finger of God, were wrought by Moses, as a witness that Jehovah had sent him to lead forth His people from Egypt. Miracles, which the Jews were unable to deny, were done by the apostles of the Lord Jesus — proofs of their divine mission. In the presence, then, of these two systems of religion — the one inaugurated in the wilderness, the other in an upper room in Jerusalem, the former claiming attention by its imposing display, and acknowledged antiquity; the latter demanding the obedience of all men to its fetching, as God's provision for the salvation of Jew and Gentile — which were men to follow, to which were even the Jews to be conformed? He who is wonderful in counsel, and excellent in working, was pleased to allow both to exist for a time together, that the superiority of Christianity over Judaism might be seen; and, what the Mosaic ritual pointed to as man's requirement, might be found supplied in the one sacrifice of which the first teachers of Christianity had to speak.

Between these two creeds there were truths in common, and characteristics somewhat similar. Repentance from dead works, faith in God, the doctrine of baptisms, laying on of hands, and resurrection of the dead, were acknowledged, and taught, when the Lord appeared on earth. Both, too, spoke of a sanctuary, a sacrifice, and a high priest. The Jews had a sanctuary on earth, recurring sacrifices, and a priesthood, which by reason of death was transmitted from father to son. The followers of the Lord Jesus spoke of a sanctuary in heaven, of one, and only one sacrifice, which had been offered up on earth, and the unchanging priesthood of the Lord Jesus, who ever liveth to make intercession for all who come unto God by Him. (Heb. vii. 24, 25.) Thus the followers of the Mosaic ritual of necessity took the place of expectants. The sacrifices which were offered up year by year, proved by their recurrence never to have made the comers thereunto perfect. They told of a want, but confessed they could not meet it. The disciples of the Lord, on the other hand, looked back to His sacrifice as all that was needed, and to which no addition could ever be made. They, too, waited, it is true, but not for an effective sacrifice; they waited only for complete salvation, to be fully known when He shall appear the second time. (Heb. ix. 28.) So to turn back from Christianity to Judaism was to take a retrograde step, and in renouncing it, souls were taught that they renounced the only hope of escaping the wrath to come.

For men then, when once the truth had reached them, there was really no choice. If they left Judaism, they confessed by their very act that it could not provide what they needed; if they remained in it, they owned by the recurring sacrifices that it had not procured what they wanted. If they left Christianity, what other divine provision was there, which could avail them before the throne of God? This the word of God makes very clear. "If we sin wilfully, after that we have received the knowledge of the truth [and what is sinning wilfully, verse 29 tells us], there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins." Outside of Christianity, then, there was nothing for the sinner. "There remaineth no more sacrifice for sins" — a solemn statement, which shuts the door against everything besides the sacrifice of Christ, and tells at the same time what that claimed to effect. How decided is the language, that none should be mistaken as to the future — "no more sacrifice for sins" — then a sacrifice was required; for, why speak of none remaining, if men could get to heaven without one? But, if the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus could not put away sin, nothing else would — the last, the only resource was gone if that had failed. So if men rejected it, they rejected the only sacrifice of divine appointment which ever professed to put away sin, to embrace a future of despair, and the certainty of divine judgment. "There remaineth . . . . but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries."

With such an alternative, the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ, or nothing, to stand between the soul and the outpouring of God's wrath, the question might arise — is it sufficient for this end? In trusting to it do I trust to that which can do what I need? Have I in it an effectual shelter from a future of divine vengeance? How full, how clear is the answer! "No more sacrifice for sins," is the statement of God's word, if the atonement made on the cross is rejected. "No more conscience of sins," if that sacrifice be accepted. Without it the worshipper can never be purged; by it he is purged once for all. Imperfection was stamped on the Mosaic ritual, hopeless despair is attached to the final surrender of Christianity, whilst perfection, as to the believer's standing, is ensured by the true reception of it. For, as before the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus on the cross, none, which could put away sins, had ever been offered up; so, since that sacrifice has been accomplished, none can be substituted for it. And do we not trace the same hand, and discern the same mind, as we read the ritual of Leviticus, and peruse this portion of the epistle to the Hebrews? At the altar of burnt-offering the sinner could know of his forgiveness; and God desired He should be assured of it. Turning to the cross the sinner can rest satisfied of the complete and everlasting remission of his sins, and the Holy Ghost is a witness of it "Their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. Now, where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin;" no uncertainty, as far as God is concerned, shall cloud the sinner's prospect. The one meditating apostasy is warned, the believer is assured.

How secure is the basis on which all now rests! The sacrificial ritual, in which man could take part, could never purge the conscience. The one sacrifice — in the offering of which man could take no part — is the only one which can. The priests offered, and that rightly, many sacrifices — the Lord Jesus offered up Himself. And now statements are made concerning believers, which were never made before. Sanctified by God's will through the offering of the body of Jesus once, by that same offering they are perfected for a continuance, and find a way new and living into the holy of holies, which He has consecrated for us by His blood through the veil — that is His flesh. All is ascribed to His sacrifice and work, who is the One in whom the Father is well pleased. All is done for us by a man it is true, but it is the Man Christ Jesus. Sanctified, perfected, forgiven, with boldness to enter the holiest — such is the order traced out. Sanctified, set apart for God; perfected, so complete in standing before Him; forgiven, so at rest about our sins; what could follow, but the free right of entry into the innermost chamber of the sanctuary?

How the Spirit delights to dwell on the perfectness of the sacrifice! Of the sacrifices according to the law, and of the priests that offered them, we learn the hopelessness of trusting to the one, or of looking to the other. "Can never" is spoken of them; "once for all" and "for ever" is spoken of the sacrifice of Christ. To him who turns from this sacrifice there remains no more offering for sins; for him, who accepts it really, there can be no more remembrance of his iniquities. What need, then, is there of any other? It has done all we want, yet we stop not there. It has done far more than we could have thought of, and procures all that the creature can for ever take in and enjoy.

Abel outside the garden offered up the lambs, and received witness that he was righteous, yet never re-entered paradise. Outside the gate Jesus died, and the holiest is in consequence opened to the believer for ever. Aaron entered the holiest on earth, and found it an unpeopled place, for men could not enter the presence of the divine Majesty. Believers enter by faith the holiest in heaven, and know it is their place for evermore. At Sinai, when God appeared in majesty, the people retreated from the place assigned them, and stood afar off. (Ex. xx. 18-21; Deut. v. 5-27.) Now we read different language. Bounds were set round the mount, which they were not to overstep, lest death should overtake them. We are invited to draw near with true heart, in full assurance of faith, having the heart sprinkled from an evil conscience, and the body washed with pure water. And, as the words of the exhortation remind us of what we are in ourselves, they disclose to us what that one offering has done for us who believe. Where man never was before, there we can be, and what he never could have done for himself, that we are made through the work of the Lord Jesus once for all on the cross.

From Abel to the cross the different aspects of a sacrifice, such as the sinner needs, have been traced out in the word of God; but whilst each fresh sacrifice told of the want, by none were the requirements of God's justice and man's need met, till once in the end of the ages God's well-beloved Son appeared to put away sin. Then each offering found its antitype in the sacrifice of Christ, and offering a sacrifice for sin ceased, not because the case was hopeless, and nothing could be found to meet the sinner's need, but because the full atonement had been made, and the value of that sacrifice then offered up remains ever the same in the presence of His Father and our God.

Chapter 13. Christian Sacrifices

During four thousand years sacrifices were offered up, and accepted by God, which told of man's condition as a sinner; for eighteen hundred years God has desired from His people no sacrifices but those suited for saints. Taught of God, men brought the former; instructed by the Holy Ghost, God's children should present the latter. An altar, of which they have no right to eat who serve the tabernacle, is ours now who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. This marks a difference between Christianity and Judaism. But, as the priests of the house of Aaron fed on the sacrifices, being partakers of the altar, in spirit in the most holy place (Num. xviii. 10), but in person in the holy place in the court of the tabernacle of the congregation (Lev. vi. 16, 26; vii. 6), so we, as priests, have something to feed on, in the heavenly sanctuary to which we now have access; and, as feeding on what God has provided, should bring the offerings He has appointed, and, strengthened in our souls for service, present those sacrifices with which He is well pleased.

When the truth of man's condition by nature as a sinner is apprehended, that he is dead in trespasses and sins, a lifeless soul before God, the folly of his doing anything to earn a title to divine favour, or to commend himself to Him against whom he has been living in rebellion, is manifested and admitted. Life, it is seen, must precede activity. The sinner must be born of God before he can please God. The quickening power of God in grace is as much needed to act on his soul, as the Creator's power was requisite to bring him forth from the womb. This is the lesson which man is slow to learn, and, till he has learned it, if his conscience has been at all aroused, he is the subject of a grievous delusion, attempting as an unsaved soul what none but a saint can effect. The sinner must receive from God; the saint should render to God. For the sinner God has provided and accepted the sacrifice; from a saint He is willing to receive one. The sacrifice of Christ meets all the sinner needs, and because of it, when trusted to, believers have something which they can offer.

Of old, in the sanctuary was the appointed place for the worshipper to draw near; now, outside the camp, bearing the reproach of Christ, believers must be found. To one familiar with the history of Israel in the wilderness, these words "without the camp" present no vague idea: for, when the people at Sinai had departed openly from God in making the golden calf, all, who were true-hearted in the midst of the general defection, went outside the camp to the tent which Moses had there pitched. (Ex. xxxiii. 7.) So again, when the Hebrews in the Apostle's day, obedient to Moses, gave heed to the prophet for whom he had directed them to wait (Deut. xviii. 18), they found that their place, like that of the faithful before them, was outside the camp. Profession without life would not do, and obedience to God's word forced them into this trying position. A new place befitted them, as a new calling characterised them. A heavenly calling was theirs, with a place on earth outside the camp. The temple ritual, with the instruments of music David made, they had given up to go outside the camp, but not as silent sufferers from the malice and hostility of their brethren. They bore a reproach, it is true, a reproach which for flesh and blood is hard to bear, they bore His reproach who had suffered without the gate. Jerusalem, Canaan, with all the promises of earthly glory in connection with Messiah on Mount Zion, they gave up; the land, in which they had lived as theirs by divine favour, they came to regard as no longer their home; pilgrims and strangers, they journeyed forth afresh, like the patriarchs with a home in prospect; like the people in the wilderness, with a country in promise, but of which, though tasting the fruits, they had not the full enjoyment. They had on earth no continuing city, but they sought one to come. What a change this was for them! Peter tells us something of it, as he directs the eye of the faithful among the dispersion from earth and earthly hopes to heaven and the appearing of Christ.

As strangers, then, and pilgrims, they went forth outside the camp as to their place; but able to offer a sacrifice of praise to God continually, the fruit of their lips, confessing Christ's name. Often had the temple courts resounded with the service of song; still the same Psalms might be chanted which David composed, and the sons of Korah, generation after generation, had taken up; but the sacrifice of praise which God could now accept, the Apostle lets those believers know, would be continually offered up elsewhere. No time would henceforth be unseasonable, no place unsuited, where a heart, conscious of God's grace, was occupied with His goodness and mercy towards sinners. In the inner prison at Philippi, and at the unusual hour of midnight, that sacrifice was offered and accepted. From the apostle at Rome, as from his brethren in the faith in Jerusalem, it could ascend at all hours to the throne of God. The strangers of the dispersion in Asia Minor could render it, and from the rugged island of Patmos, John, the apostle and evangelist, offered it. (Acts xvi.; Eph. i.; Col. i.; 1 Peter i.; Rev. i.) Without restriction as to time or place, or the frequency with which it might be brought, one condition regarding it was, and is indispensable, "By him," that is, Christ, "let us offer," etc. On the ground of His death, and by Him alone, can any draw nigh with it. Where that is unknown, or He Himself is rejected, no such sacrifice can God receive. It is connected with the Lord Jesus, and with His finished work on the cross. That must be first known, and He must become the object of the soul's faith, before it can offer this sacrifice which God delights to receive. What Paul states, Peter also affirms (1 Peter ii. 5), that spiritual sacrifices are acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. He first struck the right note by Whom alone they can be presented. "In the midst of the assembly will I praise Thee" were the words of prophecy, of which we know the fulfilment. He who hung on that cross, bearing God's judgment against sin, was heard and delivered; so, He has sounded the key-note, for those who share in the deliverance and redemption effected by His blood.

But varied are the sacrifices the redeemed can offer. Romans xii. 1 tells us of one kind; Hebrews xiii. 16, of others. The mercies of God are the grounds for the one, the word and example of Christ (may we not say it?) furnish them for the others. To do good, to act as He acted, are sacrifices well pleasing to God; to share with God's people what belongs to us, is a service saints can render. On earth the Lord Jesus went about doing good (Acts x. 38), in this we may imitate Him. As on high we shall learn to the full what it is to share with Him, called by God into the fellowship of His Son Jesus Christ, our Lord (1 Cor. i. 9), so on earth we may thus follow Him.

To give to God, to communicate to His people, to do good to all, these are christian sacrifices, but all closely connected with the death of the Lord Jesus on the cross. That alone furnishes the basis on which they can be brought. Because recipients of grace, and conscious of it; because partakers of a new — the divine nature, godlike activity should characterise His saints, and praise proceed from their hearts. The word provides for this, and supposes it. (Eph. v. 19, 20; Col. iii. 16, 17.) But sacrifices attempted to be offered on other grounds, or apart from Him in whom we have access by one Spirit unto the Father, must, like the first-fruits brought by Cain, be rejected by Him to whom professedly they may be presented. For to bring a sacrifice which shall supplement the one offering of Christ on the cross, to ensure the sinner's acceptance, or to attempt to approach the throne of God apart from the atoning work of His well-beloved Son, is either a denial of the value of that work, or of the truth of God's holy word. But offering by Him the sacrifice of praise to God, the sufficiency of His finished work is acknowledged, and the soul's state by nature is thereby confessed. These things really owned, full scope is afforded for the relief of the heart by thanksgiving, and for the activity of the new nature by service. But it must ever be remembered that, what God can receive from His children He will reject when offered by an unsaved soul. Like Israel, His people can bring the first-fruits, which from Cain He would not accept. All, however, whether for sinners or saints is ordered. The former must accept the sacrifice of Christ; the latter, as standing on it for acceptance, are privileged to render the service of praise.
"Jesus, Captain of Salvation,
Conqueror both of death and hell!
Thou who didst, as sin's oblation,
Feel what Thou alone couldst feel:
Through Thy sufferings, death, and merit,
We eternal bliss inherit,
Thousand thousand thanks to Thee,
Jesus, Lord, for ever be!"