Division 2. (Lev. 8 — 15.)

Association with Christ (the priests with the Priest) and fellowship resulting.

We have now had in the five offerings that commence the book that which is the basis and type of true sanctification. Is it a fancy that in this number five we are to read of "God with man?" At any rate we now certainly come to that fellowship with God which is implied in this; none-the-less so that it is fellowship with Christ, and through Christ, the priests with the Priest, association positional and practical with Him who has, nevertheless, His own peculiar place and glory, as is fully maintained at the beginning of what is here before us. Although we have already had in Exodus (Ex. 29) the instructions as to the anointing and consecration of the priesthood which are here carried out, and looked at them there, yet as the repetition is neither purposeless nor mere repetition, we shall not be hindered from again considering, if briefly, what the Spirit of God here leads afresh to contemplate. A grand and inspiring scene it is, which may He who only can interpret to us!

The two subdivisions are clear enough: in the first (Lev. 8 — 10) we have in the main, positional association — though never disjoined from the other: "in Christ" unites inseparably life and standing; and in the second (Lev. 11 — 15) that practical discernment which is fellowship with the Holy One.

Subdivision 1. (Lev. 8 — 10.)

Positional association.

1. In the first subdivision there are also two sections, the first of which gives us the setting up of the priesthood; the second, a breach once more through sin, but which (God's forbearance having been proclaimed) does not again break up what has been established under the second covenant.

In the first section we have on the other hand a septenary series which naturally points to the fullness and perpetuity of what is contained in it, seven steps by which we rise into full blessedness. The type here manifestly has to do with those who are now God's "holy priesthood" (1 Peter 2:5), and in following it out there should be a most lively interest on our part. We find in it the application of the sacrifice of Christ to the bringing us into settled relation with God, a place eternal, heavenly, and of communion in the fullest sense, for all this is implied in priesthood as here detailed to us.

(1) Priesthood was what God proposed to Israel as what was in His mind connected with redemption. "Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles' wings, and brought you to Myself: now, therefore, if ye will obey My voice … ye shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation." To this which is His original thought for them He had all through adhered, although it could not then be carried out; and in Christianity the redeemed are in fact priests, as the apostle of the circumcision shows. "I brought you to Myself," fully realized, is priesthood in one at least of its essential characters, ability to draw near to God: “the priests which come near to the Lord" (Ex. 19:22), is one of the earliest titles descriptive of them.

For this holiness was an absolute prerequisite: a "kingdom of priests" implies a "holy nation;" and thus in Israel the official nearness was only external, because the holiness was so largely external. God was, as we know, teaching spiritual truths by means of outward representation. In Christianity we have the substance of these shadows.

In the type here "Aaron and his sons" appear together: the high-priest is head of the priestly family, who derive all their title to the priesthood from their relationship to him. How much this is insisted on all through these books is apparent at a glance: "the sons of Aaron, the priests," is constantly their description. In Christ's own case His High-Priesthood is founded on His Sonship: "so also Christ glorified not Himself to be made High-Priest, but He that said unto Him, Thou art My Son: today have I begotten Thee." (Heb. 5:5.) This Sonship, begun in time (or what could be called "today") must be carefully distinguished from His eternal Sonship. It is as Man, as in the announcement to Mary (Luke 1:35), that He is thus addressed. The priest is the representative of men, "ordained for men," and must for this be man; but the human race being defiled with sin, and no natural product of an unclean thing being clean (Job 14:4), there must be a new fountain opened, and Christ must be the "Second Man" by a new birth of humanity in the power of God. Thus a new race of men find in Him their new Adam Head, — a priestly race in accordance with their origin, children of God and priests, as He is Son of God and Priest. "Aaron and his sons" have here their antitype.

This birth involves for us a new and a divine nature, essentially holy therefore, that which is born of the Spirit being Spirit (John 3:6.) There is a foundation of priesthood, the ability to draw nigh: in the type this is emphasized by that washing of water which, as the first necessity, Aaron and his sons first receive. It was not as afterward, when they went into the tabernacle, a washing simply of hands and feet, but of the whole body. To this the apostle refers as a necessary prerequisite to entering the sanctuary — "our bodies washed with pure water" (Heb. 10:22): "the washing of regeneration" (Titus 3:5). This of course could not be applied to Christ, except as humanity might be said in Him (by the very fact of what He was) to be regenerate: within as without this child of a human mother was yet "that holy thing."

For a moment, then, we see "Him that sanctifieth and those who are sanctified" linked together here; but then the sons fall behind and Aaron himself is alone before us, and now we see in him that in Christ which is unique. He is indeed with the high-priestly dress which marks out the special service for others he has undertaken: "this was equivalent," says Kurtz, "to an investiture with the office itself, the official dress being a visible expression of the official character." The word "investiture," is indeed a key to the meaning.

After this comes the anointing, first of the tabernacle, the altar, and the laver, and then of Aaron alone, no blood yet sprinkled or shed, atonement, therefore, not the basis of anointing, none as yet needed, Christ being thus borne witness to in His own personal perfect acceptability to God. The anointing of the tabernacle in connection with Aaron has been taken as showing Christ's personal claim to the universe, but for this the order must be reversed, and the reason for the anointing of the altar and laver does not appear. These last are certainly connected with the work of human recovery, while the tabernacle itself, though an undoubted pattern of heavenly things, was in fact the dwelling-place of God in the midst of the people. May this anointing not rather show that those delights with the sons of men which the tabernacle expresses, (even though fallen, as altar and laver show,) find their justification in this wondrous Person who has become Man, and upon whom for the first time the Spirit of God can rest? This seems at least in perfect harmony with what is before us in this place.

(2) But now the sons of Aaron are invested, and then immediately we find Aaron along with them, and their hands together upon the head of the sin-offering. That our High-Priest has for Himself no need we have been fully told; but now He is "bringing many sons unto glory," and we may in these hands of Aaron put along with his sons' hands see (together with Aaron's personal need) that confession of the guilt of men and their need of redemption which, for the Lord, involved so much. Then follows the actual sacrifice, and the blood is put upon the horns of the altar, where the "power" of it is seen in its appeal as an offering to God. That the altar itself is thus also purified seems to carry on the thought of its anointing before. Looked at as typifying Christ personally — which we have seen it does — there could be no meaning in such purification; but taken as the expression simply of means needed for the restoration of fallen men, the blood of atonement justifies the employment of such on their behalf. The righteousness of God is thus in accordance with the love of God in their salvation.

The altar in its true typical character we have seen not to be placed in the highest grade of the sin-offering, where as in this case, the victim is burned without the camp, except, indeed, for the burning of the fat upon it, which is never omitted, save in the case of the red heifer, — and which of course is not omitted here.

The burnt-offering follows, a ram, the witness not merely of sin removed but of positive acceptance: atonement is thus emphasized now on both sides, and the link between Christ and His people is sustained.

(3) We have now the consecration of the priesthood, or, as the Hebrew expresses it, the filling of their hands. Another ram is taken, and after hands have been laid upon it as before, is slain, and the blood put on the ear, the hand, and the foot of Aaron and His sons. The meaning of this can scarcely be mistaken: sanctification by the blood of Christ is here taught, of the ear to listen to the word of God, of the hand to do service, of the foot to walk in His ways; we can do no acceptable work, we can live no acceptable life, until the blood of atonement has set us apart for this as saved and purified. Thus saved, the apprehension of what has been done for us makes us His who has done the work: we joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have received the reconciliation." (Rom. 5:11.) This joy in God is necessary devotedness to Him.

Kurtz objects to this meaning of the application of the blood, that it inverts the order of the ritual, for the blood that anoints the ear and hand and foot of the priests has not yet been put upon the altar, and has thus not yet gained the power to atone. He refers, of course, to the passage in the seventeenth chapter, which we have already partially examined, "I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls;" but we have already seen that this cannot be intended to show that the blood of Christ had a value distinct from that of His death, or is indeed any thing else than the symbol of it. Nor can it mean that the blood itself receives power from any thing outside itself. The connection of the altar with the blood is this that it testifies to the blood as the blood of sacrifice, the symbol of a death which was not a martyr's merely, but a vicarious offering to God. This is the simple and necessary truth, and will be seen as such as soon as we get the eye on Christ. Thus it is already atoning blood that is applied to the priests, although it is only atoning blood as connected with the altar: truth in Scripture is not seldom paradox.

If Aaron still represent Christ here, as it would seem, we must take the application of the blood to him as speaking of His devotedness to all that His atoning work accomplishes and secures. It may thus have an easy and unstrained interpretation, which prepares the way for what we next find, the fat of the ram and the right shoulder, with some of the unleavened bread of the meal-offering, put upon the hands of Aaron and his sons and waved for a wave-offering before they are burned upon the altar. This is the "filling of the hands," or practical consecration — that occupation with Christ, in which we have necessary communion with the Father and the Son. The oil and blood together are now sprinkled upon Aaron and his sons and their association with him is complete.

(4) We have next the feeding upon the ram and the unleavened bread. The flesh of the ram is boiled, a thing forbidden as to the passover-lamb, which was to be roasted with fire. There evidently the endurance of wrath, and so removal of it, is that which is before the soul. Here this is not in the same way prominent; as we have seen in the case of the meal-offering, the sufferings here indicated seem to be those into which the word led Him, for the fulfillment of which He came. This would not, of course, exclude the bearing of wrath upon the cross, the special "cup" which He dreaded, but took obediently from the Father's hand: it would only enlarge the scope of what here the priests of God have presented before them, not merely to behold, however, but to appropriate, which the "eating" in a striking manner expresses. It is the laying hold, not by mental apprehension simply, but in heart and conscience, prompted by the need and hunger of the soul. And it is expressly the "ram of consecration" that we thus feed upon as priests. Consecration without it would be but outward. For it the toil of the way, if it be the road with God we travel, gives but needed appetite; and thus we are reminded here that our consecration goes on for the whole seven days of our human life, while we abide but as it were at the tabernacle door, and keep Jehovah's charge.

With this, four of the seven sections of this series end, and we find that as usual, there is a distinct break here, and that the last three are connected together as occurrences of the eighth day, a number of which we have abundant proof that it indicates a new beginning.

(5) We come now then to the eighth day and the appearance of the glory of Jehovah, and this as the fruit of the offering of the sacrifice for the people. Thus the time of the consecration of the heavenly priesthood being finished, the eighth day shows us the new covenant coming into effect for Israel, — the people being as in many other places, their own type — and then it is that the glory of the Lord will appear on the earth. We have first of all, however, a new offering for the priests, their seven days being complete, — a sin-offering and burnt-offering as before. Typically it is the completion of the earth watch — at the door of the tabernacle — of the heavenly people, and at the close of this they are found once more, as still needing it, under the shelter of the blood of atonement. Christ, first and last, is our only acceptance. The offerings show that this alone is what is in question here, there being no peace-offering any longer; and this the numerical stamp would impress upon us as the moral lesson — the summing up — the end as the beginning.

(6) Then come the offerings for the people. Israel also find acceptance with God in the value of that which they had so long rejected. The meaning of the sacrifice is already clear to us, and need not be dwelt upon. The number attached may speak of the victory of divine grace at last.

(7) Finally comes the blessing of the people, Aaron first giving it, for the priest must do His work before the king, but then Moses and Aaron together appear out of the tabernacle, the double type of Christ as King and Priest — Melchisedek: and then the glory of the Lord is manifested. In Christ, when He appears, all this will be found united together. The King, the Priest, and He in whom the divine glory shines, will be found one.

2. After this blessed picture, which carries us on to a time yet future, we are brought back sorrowfully to the reality in that day. In the first day of the establishment of the priesthood, it fails: Nadab and Abihu offer strange fire before God, and are cut off.

(1) The sin is will-worship — "strange fire which He commanded them not" — the will of man dictating in spiritual things, a sin which is now thought little of. Nay, with some the exact prescriptions of the Levitical service would be considered only as a contrast with the liberty of Christianity. Liberty, however, is never found in following our own wills, but in obedience to that which as given us by God is in thorough conformity to a new nature which, having been begotten in us by the word of truth, cannot find submission to that word servitude. True, the Spirit of God is come: and that glorious fact alters the whole character of worship from what it was in Judaism. We have a living Guide, but this does not affect the need of complete surrender to the control of that which He has written for us, and which is able to furnish us thoroughly to every good work. To take from that Word under whatever pretext is disobedience, and to add to it (as if it were not enough) is, in fact, to take from it. Alas! nowadays who can bear this? Yet in Nadab and Abihu the sin is not said to have been in doing what God had forbidden, but simply in doing what He had not commanded.

(2) The prohibition of wine and strong drink when going into the tent of meeting connects itself, of course, with the sin of Aaron's sons: and for us plainly covers all fleshly stimulus, which prevents clear discernment of what is or is not according to the mind and nature of God. For us also who are called to walk in the light of God's presence continually, this is not a casual, but a constant rule. The impulse of nature needs the restraint of Christ's yoke; even where, as the apostle says, things are lawful to us, we must still not be brought under the power of any (1 Cor. 6:12). And how easily do they acquire power!

(3) The injunction to eat the meal- and peace-offerings follows here because the entering into and enjoyment of our own portion is necessary to deliverance from what in nature would gain power over us. This is a lesson often given, but which cannot be too often or too emphatically enforced. What is the world to a heart that enjoys Christ? But on the other hand, no knowledge of the world will suffice to keep us out of it, if this enjoyment is not a present reality. Most fitly, therefore, does this come in here.

(4) Lastly, the sin of the priest is seen as entailing feebleness upon others who have not sinned. It is not meant that this must necessarily be. There is surely power with God to avert whatever consequences of even general failure: and yet so it is that at such a time there are few perhaps who do not exhibit some of the consequences of it. Aaron acknowledges a lack of power which we easily excuse in him under the circumstances. May we never excuse ourselves, however; for to throw the blame of what we are upon our circumstances is really only a covert way of laying it upon God. How good on the other hand, is it to realize our accountability in every thing of this kind, when for all realized feebleness there is so sure a remedy in that strength which is perfect in weakness!

Inability to eat the sin-offering is how common a case! It was for others that it was to be eaten: and to enter into the sin of others before God, while realizing the grace that has provided for it, a grace needed by ourselves as fully as by any, tests our spirituality. Only the males of Aaron's house could eat the sin-offering, and that as a most holy thing in the holy place. May we know better how to do it!

Subdivision 2. (Lev. 11 — 15.)

Putting a difference.

We come now to look at the other side of our associations. We have seen how God has in grace associated us with His dear Son. Thus belonging to the priestly family, and brought near to God, fellowship with Him must mean dissociation from all that is contrary to His mind and will. Linked with God upon the one side, we cannot upon the other link Him with what would dishonor Him. Our associations become in this way a matter of the most vital importance to our highest interests here. Innocence is gone from us; the knowledge of evil is that from which we can no longer escape; and God in His wondrous way has turned this into a means of holiness, and of fellowship with Himself: "the man has become as one of Us, to know good and evil;" and we are of those "who by reason of use" are to "have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil" (Heb. 5:14).

Even when born again, and our hearts turned to God, it has not pleased Him to deliver us at once from that indwelling sin, which if any man saith he hath not, he deceiveth himself (1 John 1:8). Nay, it is then we are brought face to face with it, not surely to fulfill its lusts, but to realize it in its abominable character, and to learn in the light with Him His own hatred of it.

In the world around too we find it in ten thousand shapes, many gross, many alluring, and in beings like ourselves connected with us in various ways, and exercising various influences upon us. From these we cannot withdraw ourselves: the prayer of our High-Priest was, "not that Thou shouldst take them out of the world, but that Thou shouldst deliver them from the evil" (John 17:15.) We have thus to conquer, not to flee, — to conquer where we stand; separated from that in the midst of which we are, "in the world, not of it," and to carry out this separation while alive to all the infinite claims upon us of those who are with ourselves of Adam's fallen race, — yea, in sympathy with the tears of Him who wept over His rejectors.

Here on every side is evil ready to defile us, and in those in whom we have to distinguish its various workings, for their sakes and our own learning to "make a difference:" of some having compassion; others saving with fear (Jude 22, 23); others only able to withdraw from utterly with horror. Such things we come to look at now in the fruitful types in which God once taught to a people just emerged from association with the heathen around, His holiness. Of this man, fallen from his place, had in himself so little knowledge, that God must take up the beast below him, to teach it to him. In truth, nature is one great parable, and God, in drawing out such lessons from it, but uses it for what it is.

1. First, then, we have to learn here as to food, what is clean and what is unclean. The German materialist's bald sophism we are taught to realize in another sense as a most important truth, "man ist was er iszt," — "what we eat we are." Spiritually, our food declares our character, as it also forms it. He that eateth Christ shall not only live by Him, but His life will be practically assimilated to His also. Thus, in what is here permitted to be the food of the people of God, we find depicted the spiritual life of the people of God. And this is the real and ultimate meaning of these divisions. That wholesomeness as diet should go with this would not be wonderful in view of this very symbolism which is in all things round us. That which is fullest in meaning is also truest in fact, as there need be no doubt. Nevertheless, the matter of health is never brought forward: it is not of what is wholesome or unwholesome, but of what is clean or unclean that the law treats.

(1) Of clean beasts — mammals, as they are best distinguished — there is but one class, those that ruminate, or chew the cud; but among these also those are excluded who have not a hoof entirely divided. There must be the union of these two characters, the power of rumination and the divided hoof, to constitute the animal clean for the Israelite.

It is not hard to realize the spiritual meaning of rumination: we are well accustomed to the use of it for "meditation," quiet reflection; and it would seem almost needless to insist upon the necessity of this for proper apprehension of the truth. The cloven foot, besides its suitability for a light, firm tread, and so for speed, prevents miring in soft ground. These opposed hoofs, uniting to give stability in this way, may perhaps intimate to us how the truths of the Word that seem most opposed to one another, in fact only give balance and firm tread to him that rests on them; while they certainly prevent being mired in the very place of pasture. The speed for which the foot is, above all, made surely reminds us that where spiritual digestion is found in the believer, faith that looks at what is unseen makes the Christian course a race. Altogether the type here is a bright and suggestive one: may it speak to our souls with all the power the Spirit of God can give it!

But now look at the exceptions: of the really ruminating animals only one — the camel. It is plain he is no racer: two and a half to three miles is his pace, and he travels it with a burden. Made for the desert, not for the pasture-lands, ungainly, irritable, not like the rest of his class, — may he not remind us of how many Christians, while ever learning, as one would think, the things of God, go yet heavily burdened through the world, as if the desert was their all? The camel-Christian may be indeed a real one, as his representative is a ruminant, and yet what a poor bungled copy does he seem! Cares of this world burden him. He is earthly-heavenly: according to the Word of God "unclean."

The other animals named here are not ruminants at all, and many have wondered that the hare and the coney — the hyrax — should be put among them. But it has been well urged, that these are practical directions for simple people, and not studies in natural history; and to people ordinarily the hare and the coney, though merely grinding their teeth, appear to be ruminating. They are professors of rumination without reality, taken here as God takes men according to their profession: but it cannot make them clean.

The last animal here is a very different one from the rest, and the very type of uncleanness. In the swine there was no pretense of rumination, but there was the cloven foot; if one looked only at that, the swine would seem clean. Surely they are the type of such as, openly slighting faith and the Word of God, plead their good conduct. "He can't be wrong whose life is in the right." In fact, the life is not right: loving the mire, and rooting up the ground, the swine is a typical destroyer. God judgeth not as man judgeth, but His judgment alone is true.

(2) We now come to the inhabitants of the waters, and here that which was clean had fins and scales, means of movement and defense; but the opposition of a denser element than before — the water — seems to make movement itself here a conflict in which the "fin" is the offensive, as the "scale" is the defensive weapon. So we are reminded here that the life of faith is a warfare also, and one from which we cannot be excused: we cannot be non-combatants and clean; to be unarmed is to be overcome; every step of progress must be a victory.

(3) The birds speak to us of that heavenly character which as Christians surely belongs to us; yet here also in what assumes to be that, there may come in that which is unclean, and then we have proportionately what is worst. In the parables of Matt. 13 the birds of the heavens carry off the good seed, and are devils.

Here there is no rule given for distinguishing the clean, in general to belong to this class was to be so: individual exceptions are named, without any specified characters to distinguish those either. Certainly each one of them has meaning, and the name alone is given, probably the name is enough, as in Bunyan's allegories, but I can attempt nothing as to this. It has been remarked that the list consists almost exclusively of birds which feed on flesh in whole or in part; under which come necessarily also the omnivorous; while in the bat we have an illustration of those flying things that go upon all fours mentioned just afterward, although, of course, a much larger class. "We can trace," says Mackintosh, "in the habits of the above three classes the just ground of their being pronounced unclean; but we can also see in them the striking exhibition of that in nature, which is to be strenuously guarded against by every true Christian. Such an one is called upon to refuse every thing of a carnal nature. Moreover, he cannot feed promiscuously upon every thing that comes before him. He must 'try the things that differ.' He must 'take heed what he hears.' He must exercise a discerning mind, a spiritual judgment, a heavenly taste. Finally, he must use his wings: he must rise on the pinions of faith and find his place in the celestial sphere to which he belongs. In short, there must be nothing groveling, nothing promiscuous, nothing unclean, for the Christian." — (Notes on Leviticus.)

The "flying creeping things" would seem to be unclean as belonging to two spheres at once, from which those whose mode of progression was a leap were excepted, the leap being perhaps a repulsion of the earth (?). The earth-taint here in question accounts for the introduction of legislation as to death, the touch even of the carcasses of the unclean defiling. Here too, naturally from this point of view, are mentioned as unclean the beasts that go upon their "hands," — i.e., whose feet are unprotected by hoofs. The classification in this way shows clearly how a moral symbolism governs it: there is otherwise no order apparent.

(5) The reptiles follow, but along with these also the weasel and the mouse, — showing the same absence as before of any merely natural classification. Nor indeed does there seem at first a reason for the specification of certain species here when the whole class of creeping things is presently declared unclean (v. 41). Commentators seem only able to say that these are mentioned as being of those from whom there was special danger of defilement in the way immediately particularized as dropping into vessels, etc, being generally found in houses or in the abodes of men. But we see also how differently they affect what they come into contact with — the comparative receptivity of defilement. Thus every vessel of wood, or garment or skin or sack, upon which they fell when dead, was to be put into water and would be clean at even; but the earthen vessel could only be broken. The fountain or well could not be defiled; nor seed intended to be sown, but if it had been moistened with water, to be used for food, then it would be defiled. That which died of itself also, though otherwise clean, became unclean, — death in this way being the type of that which had come in through sin. Whether we can read these things or not, it is plain that they imply a different susceptibility as to evil, and a difference in the treatment of that which was defiled, which should be to us suggestive and important.

 2. Through the woman death had come in, and through the woman life comes in, but the life which she brings in is tainted with its origin: "who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean?" asks Job. We must answer with him, Naturally, "not one." Hence the truth that we are taught here, that human increase is human defilement. Every child born into the world but adds to the evil in it: although this is not permitted to stand alone, but we are made to see also that "where sin abounded grace has much more abounded."

In the case of a man-child the mother remains seven days wholly unclean, and rendering unclean all she touches. Thus the child also, if for no other reason, begins life defiled by the uncleanness of its mother. These seven days over, the child is circumcised, the eighth day showing us that cleansing can only come through new creation, so inveterate is the evil he has derived. Circumcision spiritually also is the "putting off the body of the flesh" (Col. 2:11) condemned in the cross of Christ, "our old man crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be annulled, that henceforth we should not serve sin." (Rom. 6:6.) "We are the circumcision who worship God in the Spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh." (Phil. 3:3.)

God's grace has thus come in, yet the mother remains thirty-three days more in the blood of her purification, completing the full number of forty days. For the female child all these numbers are doubled, — the witness, no doubt, to the entrance of sin by the woman. In either case, purification is completed by the offering of a lamb for a burnt-offering and a young pigeon or a turtle-dove for a sin-offering. The reversal of the usual order in which these are mentioned is emphasized by the disproportion of the offerings, God putting foremost that perfect obedience of Christ which has glorified Him in view of Adam's disobedience. Only where poverty required, another dove or pigeon might take the place of the lamb.

The number of this section most naturally points, I think, to sin as an inheritance, two being evidently, as an ordinal number, that which speaks of succession and dependence. It is in theology the doctrine of "original sin."

3. We now come to the subject of leprosy, which is treated at length. As the most inveterate and loathsome of diseases, so slight in its beginnings, so sure in its retentive hold and in its power to spread both within and around the unhappy subject of it, so awful in its end, it is used as the fit type of the corruption of sin. God Himself therefore takes it into His own hand, as indeed the only One competent to deal with it, and with whom alone its cure was found. All researches into its nature, which have been many, have proved of singularly little help in the interpretation of the Word, which is (as ever,) sufficient for itself. The spiritual meaning is really the whole thing — what even for Israel God had in mind always; and now fully opened — or lying open — to us, "upon whom the ends of the ages are come." Thus, if there is no natural remedy given or hinted at for this disease, for the spiritual malady we shall surely find it in the ordained means for cleansing the leper.

Leprosy speaks of the outbreak of that which the last chapter has shown us to be in the nature of every one that is born of a woman. In the child of God it still remains as "flesh," which "lusteth against the Spirit;" but we are not left helpless under the power of it. Circumcision we have seen to be its remedial antidote, — the cross its judgment before God for our deliverance, and the effect of this for the true circumcision "no confidence in the flesh." Our boasting, then, is in Christ Jesus, and our "walk in Him," His strength perfected in our confessed and utter weakness. If we walk thus in the Spirit, we "shall not fulfill the lusts of the flesh;" but the evil is there, and if we do not maintain a humble and subject mind, it will break out: the power of the world will act upon us, the energy of an independent will will carry us away, and this is leprosy.

Here it is in Israel, among the people of God, and this gives it peculiar importance. The Israelite is in relation to God and to His people. All this has to he considered and provided for. The tabernacle of God must not be defiled; the camp of Israel must be kept holy. The question raised by the mere suspicion of leprosy has mainly to do with this. As for the man himself, if it be true leprosy, others are powerless: he must be left to God; but the glory of God must be maintained, and the blessing of His people not sacrificed. Here, for us, now that God has a Church on earth, the house in which He dwells, and where membership is in the body of Christ, there is what is of gravest meaning and deepest solemnity, though little heeded, — nay, practically unknown to the mass of even true Christians today, whose associations are so largely characterized by man's will, often by even contemptuous disregard of Scripture, and whose fear of God is so often "taught by the precept of men." May God give us ears to hear! for His Word will, in the end, vindicate itself against all the reproaches and slights which may be cast upon it — nothing can be more sure than that: no syllable that He has uttered shall be lost or in vain; no truth of His, if it seem ever so practically dead, but shall have its resurrection-day, and face its opposers in the time to come!

(1) The identification of leprosy is of course the first thing; and for this the marks are given at length. Not every thing that might appear to be this was so in fact, while that which did not appear so might in result turn out to be. Thus there was need of patient discrimination, giving full heed to all existing signs, and opportunity for new developments. And of these the priest was to be the interpreter — for us the spiritual man, able to draw near to God, and having the mind of God. In no case could the judgment be left to him who was in question. His opinion was not sought and could not be accepted, an opinion of that in which he was too much concerned to be dispassionate.

If, then, there were certain indications that looked like leprosy, the man who showed them was to be brought to the priest. It was not to be expected that he would volunteer. Nor was suspicion in this case wrong, when there was that which would naturally provoke it. On the other hand, suspicion was not to be acted upon: there must be positive proof before any thing could be pronounced leprosy; and there were signs which (though patience might be needed,) would not deceive.

First, the hair turned white is the sign of departing strength, and decay of spiritual strength will be very plainly discernable in such cases: freshness and vigor are gone, although there may be as much activity apparently as before, but with more effort, perhaps even more external life, while internally it is weakened and languishes.

Then the spot looks "deeper than the skin." This requires much closer attention than the white hair, and it is correspondingly difficult to indicate its spiritual counterpart. Of course, it is simple enough to say that it means what is not superficial; but how is this to be known in the case of sin before us for judgment? Here is what is designed, no doubt, to give us exercise, and make us realize our need of God; and we are never left without reminding of this. God's Word itself only furnishes "the man of God." His precepts are not meant to mark out a way for us apart from living guidance. Were they of this sort, they would do us injury. On the contrary, they bring us to God in the conviction of our need of wisdom, and then there is no uncertainty about the meeting of the need: "If any man lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not, and it shall be given him." (James 1:5.)

The New Testament reaffirms this distinction between two things which to ordinary eyes might look much the same, but where one was superficial and the other not. The one who is called a brother, but is "covetous, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner, with such an one," we are, "no, not to eat." (1 Cor. 5:11.) Not all these things can in every case be decided off-hand. The case of one "overtaken in a fault" (Gal. 6:1) may be confounded with such, if there be not due care, and power to discern between things that really differ.

If these two things were really found together — the white hair, and the fact of its being deeper than the skin, — then the man in whom they concurred was to be pronounced unclean. If not, and still there was room for doubt, he was to be shut up for awhile — not shut out, but shut up. Israel must not be defiled by a possible leper, while on the other hand the man must not be treated as what he may not be. God's people must not act in the dark, but in the light. The great decisive point would now be, whether or not the disease would spread or was stopped. If it did not spread, he was to be bidden wash his clothes, and he would be clean — minor uncleanness there had been, or there would have been no need of this suspension of judgment; but if on the other hand, even after this, the disease spread, the former decision must be recalled: the man was unclean.

In the next case supposed, the appearance of living raw flesh was the decisive proof. In addition to the characteristic spot, there was an ulcer which had bared the flesh. It was a genuine uprise from beneath — something clearly not superficial, but working deeply, so as to manifest the very man himself. Here was uncleanness, and no need of hesitation. On the other hand, suppose that the disease had come all to the surface, the man was covered with it, and yet in fact the vital power had thrown it off: here, if there were no raw flesh, the man was to be pronounced clean. Sin thus manifested in confession and open assumption of the shame — a genuine, hearty, unreserved break-down before God and man, — here God's grace has wrought, and grace must be shown.

This is a principle which applies both to the sinner who is brought to God and the saint who is brought back to Him. The latter is what the type supposes here, but the apostle's application of the similar thirty-second psalm justifies it in this case. It is a principle of God's dealing with men, which is the necessary result of what He is. Grace is His delight, but it is where truth is in the inward parts it can be shown; — not to self-righteousness, but to sinners truly convicted and confessed.

We are next shown how leprosy may develop out of an abscess or out of a burn. An infirmity unwatched may thus become an occasion of the most serious defilement. But however it may arise, the signs of leprosy are the same substantially, and the treatment of the leper is ever the same. His clothes rent, his head bare, his upper lip covered, he is to take his place and proclaim his shame. He was to dwell alone, outside the camp. Separated from the assembly, and in his true place, he might yet hope in God, from whom alone could come help and healing in so great a strait.

(2) In the garment, we have what is related to man, but separable from him. Leprosy may manifest itself here, as in our occupations, must etc. Here again extension and incurability are the fatal signs. The judgment must still be that of the spiritual man; there must be patient examination where there is any cause for doubt; the Word of God must be brought to bear on it, as in the washing; or the part in which the evil was might be taken out, and the rest remain. If still it showed itself unchanged, and even though not spreading, the garment must be burned.

(3) We have now to look at what is God's way of restoration when the plague of leprosy is healed in the leper. The healing and the purification are different things; the man healed is not thereby cleansed for God: no work in the soul, however needful, can in the proper sense restore; for this, God's grace in Christ must come in, and, while it is certain that that grace will not be wanting when the sinner, or the saint that has wandered from God, takes his place in true confession before Him; yet He will have us to know, both for His own glory and our true blessing, the power of that work of Christ which alone brings nigh, whether in position or in inward reality.

There are in this work of restoration two distinct parts, which must not be confounded: first, the restoration to a place among the people of God, from whom he had been separated; and this is done upon the first day, when he returns to the camp; secondly, on the eighth day, there is a new and only now complete cleansing, by which he is brought fully to God, and restored to his tent also. In the first part, the man who has been in living death is restored, as it were, to life; in the second part, he is brought back into communion with God, and thus with His people.

In the application of the first part to the believer who has been away from God — the strict application of the type, as is evident, — there is needed a word of warning, that here, as in so many places, the law, which had a shadow of good things to come, was not the very image. Israel were the people of God, and in this, what Christians are today, and yet standing on what a different footing! in how different a relationship! They were a nation taken from among the nations of the earth; brought, in a sense, nigh to God; and having the adoption — God a Father to them (Rom. 9:4; Isa. 64:8; Jer. 31:9). But all this was — however different under the new covenant it is to be, — as yet on the ground of a legal covenant, which was only condemnation, and by which they could not really draw nigh; and if God were the Father of the nation, the individuals composing it were not, as such, His children. To be Israelites, they needed no new birth, were partakers of no new life, were not justified by faith, or accepted in the Beloved: in a word, they were only natural men, — as to whom adoption, redemption, sanctification, were but the figures of these to us so precious realities.

Among them God had, of course, ever a true people, and these were surely born again as we, children of God by faith, though but a little flock scattered among and hidden in the mass of the nation. It is the nation with which we have in the Old Testament to do; and to confound the believing remnant with this, or to substitute it for it, would introduce the most entire confusion into a large part of Scripture.

But we have to remember, therefore, in such a type as that before us, that the Christian's place in Christ is his in absolute grace, not on any legal or conditional footing. He cannot, therefore, lose it, or need to be restored to it, although to the enjoyment of it he may. The repeated offerings have found their antitype in that one perfect offering which needs and can admit no repetition, and by which "He hath perfected forever them that are sanctified." (Heb. 10:14.) Let us now look at the restoration of the leper.

Beautiful is the picture of divine grace here! "This shall be the law of the leper in the day of his cleansing, he shall be brought unto the priest; and the priest shall go forth out of the camp." The person to be restored is thus sought out, not bidden to seek out himself the means of restoration. Hands are ready to minister: "And the priest shall command to take for him that is to be cleansed two birds, alive and clean." The kind of bird, otherwise than that it must be clean, is not stated, and its being a bird, i.e., its belonging to the heavens, is so much the more emphasized. Two birds are needed, as the double symbol of Christ, dying and risen, come from above, and returning thither again. This thought of a heavenly being is further emphasized in what might seem a contradiction to it, for the one bird that dies is killed in an earthen vessel over running water, and this earthen vessel, if there could be doubt about its meaning, the apostle has explained to us (2 Cor. 4:7.) It is that humanity filled with the Spirit of God, (the running, or "living water,") in which the Son of God acquired capacity to die. This heavenliness of the Son of Man is insisted on because the heart is to be lifted for true cleansing out of the world which had enslaved it, and lifted up to heaven with Him in resurrection. "The life which I live in the flesh," says the apostle again, "I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me." (Gal. 2:20.)

It is contended by Kurtz and others, that the bird slain does not speak of atonement, because there is no presentation of the blood to God; but there is more, for this living bird, identified with the slain one by the blood in which it is dipped, speaks of that which is already the proof of acceptance of the work on God's part, and of the justification of him to whom it is applied: "He was delivered for our offenses, and raised again for our justification." (Rom. 4:25.) Resurrection was the answer of God to Him, the open sentence of God in behalf of all who believe in Him. Thus the blood-sprinkling upon the person implies "the heart sprinkled from an evil conscience." And in this way is the freed heart bound with eternal links to the person of the Deliverer.

These thoughts are supplemented and reinforced upon the other side by the cedar-wood and scarlet and hyssop, — from the highest to the lowest thing in nature, and all the glory of the world — being dipped along with the living bird in the blood of the slain one. In the type of the red heifer which has its strong points of resemblance to the present, they are put into the fire of the offering and consumed. Here the thought is surely analogous: all that is of the world is stained in its glory with the blood of Him who died at the hands of the world; "whereby," says the apostle again, "the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world." (Gal. 6:14.)*

{*Is it not perhaps on this account also, that the bird is not killed by the priest? In the burnt-offering of birds the priest does slay the victim: and for this and other reasons it cannot, I believe, be sustained that it was an unpriestly thing to do. But the bird of the heavens thus slain by an unpriestly hand seems to give the idea of rejection and violence, which harmonizes perfectly with the glory of the world being stained with the blood that it has shed. It will be noticed that in the case of the red heifer, so akin to this in many ways, we have the same thing expressed in a way very suitable to such a meaning: "one shall slay her before his face."}

There is, then, an entire and wonderful harmony in all the details in this beauteous type, which shows us the so to speak dead man restored to life, and the life a heavenly life outside of the world, in Him who having come from heaven to surrender himself to death, returns to heaven again, the justification of His own being assured to them by His resurrection. Therefore now the restored leper having washed his person and his clothes (his "habits") and shaved off all his hair, returns to his place in the camp of Israel.

But he is not yet fully restored, and for seven days he remains outside his tent: spiritual relationship is in the new creation, which he reaches typically on the eighth day. On the seventh another purification takes place; and on the eighth day he is brought up with his sacrifice, and offerings to be presented before Jehovah.

In what follows the special feature is the trespass-offering, which we have seen is the restitution-offering. With the blood of the trespass-offering the leper is anointed on three parts which together give us the man in his whole responsibility. The ear is restored to God to listen to His word; the hand to serve Him; the foot to walk in His blessed ways. It is to this that the blood shed for him sanctifies, the oil being then put on the blood to signify that by the power of the Holy Ghost this sanctification is practically accomplished. After this the oil is poured upon the head, the whole man being thus invigorated and refreshed, and united together by that which unites us to Christ Himself, for "he that is joined to the Lord is one Spirit." (1 Cor. 6:17.) The conclusion of the sentence, "and the priest shall make atonement for him before Jehovah," refers of course, not to the anointing with oil, but to the trespass-offering of which the anointing is the accomplishment. Atonement for the Israelite could be and needed to be constantly repeated, for the blood of bulls and of goats could never really take away sins. (Heb. 10:1-4.) For the Christian, once cleansed by the blood of Jesus, it cannot be, but there can be a deepening realization of what it means. And the more we go on to know what self-surrender to God really is, the more profoundly shall we be conscious of the value of that by which alone it is possible. The most active worker, the most patient sufferer for Christ, the most devoted in life, will be just the one to sing most realizingly —
"Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to Thy cross I cling."

The accumulation of these types of atonement in the Jewish ritual beautifully reminds us of how God would put Christ before us in every aspect of His work, in every way in which He Himself sees Him. Here, after the trespass-offering the sin-offering follows: what sin is before God is to be learned nowhere so fully as in the cross of Christ; and we need to learn it thus: not merely that our sins are put away by it, but the divine abhorrence of sin which it expresses. Next the burnt-offering comes to show the completeness of acceptance in that obedience of Christ which has nowhere else any thing that comes near to it; and finally the meal-offering engages us with the Person of Christ, three-tenths of fine flour mingled with oil, "humanity having in it all the strength, the taste, the savor of the Holy Spirit in its nature." In the fullness of all this is cleansing according to God found: now at last the man is what God would have him, and fitted for the enjoyment of relationship among the people of God, — he comes into his tent.

In the provision for poverty which follows we find the full character of the trespass-offering still maintained, for consecration to the Lord must not be lessened, the ear, the hand and the foot must be as unreservedly His, whether we have little or much with which to serve Him. But two turtle-doves or two young pigeons take the place of the lambs for the other offerings — the thought of the heavenly One again as in that of the first day, yet here not fully the divine thought. Yet it is Christ, and Christ is God's, and the warmth of the heart is more than accuracy as to Him.

(b) And now we come to leprosy in a house, a supplementary section, as it seems to be, applying no longer to the individual but to the house, that is the place of association, which in the New Testament would be the assembly; and here it may be the church of God at large, or the assembly in any place, — the local gathering.

The so-called "fathers" (says Gardner, in Lange's Commentary,) "consider the leprous house-symbolical of Israel (See e.g. Theodoret, Qu. 18): Israel was examined and purified, and the evil stones of its building removed by the many judgments upon the nation, and especially by the carrying away 'without the camp' to Babylon. But at last, when its incurable sin broke out afresh in the crucifixion of the Lord of Life, the whole house was pulled down and its stones cast out into an unclean place." It is not to be denied that there seems truth in such an application; and as history repeats itself, man being the same through all his generations, and the unchangeable God the same in His necessary holiness, that there may be easily seen a more unwelcome application to the Christian church, as God's house in the world. It too has had, as Luther wrote, but in a way beyond his judgment of it, its Babylonish captivity, and after its partial deliverance in these present times, the incurable evil will break out again in an open apostasy which seems even now coming in, and which will be completed when the true saints are caught up to heaven. Then the solemn words to Laodicea, "I will spew thee out of my mouth," will be fulfilled, and the present gospel light go out in that "gross darkness" which the sure word of prophecy foretells is to "cover the people" when the glory of the Lord arises once more for Israel. (Isa. 40.) Men do not like to think this, and a harder saying can scarcely be for man today. Yet this will not in the least hinder its fulfillment. The word of God is as plain as it is certain to be fulfilled.

But the principles of God which are thus seen in their application to the dispensations are not thereby deprived of necessary application to the ecclesiastical associations of every Christian. We have seen how they apply to the individual; they apply therefore to every collection of individuals, and above all to those religiously "yoked together." The holiness of God is not relaxed when in relation to these; man's will is no more acceptable to him in one way than in another: as obedient to God ourselves we must refuse all disobedience, yea, all sanction to disobedience; a fellowship for which we give up the most simple, single-eyed subjection to the Word of God is then but disfellowship with God, — it is iniquity.

According to Scripture the church of God is but one: it is the body of Christ, and there cannot be different bodies. Membership is in the body of Christ, not in a local church, nor something that we can at our own will assume, nor into which we can be introduced by the will or act of other men. "By one Spirit are we all baptized into one body," says the apostle; and Christ is He who alone "baptizeth with the Holy Ghost." (1 Cor. 12:13; John 1. 33.)

But this "assembly which is Christ's body" (Eph. 1:22-23,) cannot as yet assemble. It is scattered over the world, and the practical assemblies are therefore the assemblies of those who belong to this body in each place. Thus the local assembly represents the body at large, and as that which can alone actually assemble has duties and responsibilities for the whole. Here is the sphere of our fellowship, and here is the divine organization for all spiritual purposes in which every one has his place given of God, so that in the maintenance fully of his individuality is found the blessing of the whole. How precious an expression of the divine love which has bound and fitted us together, each ministering to all, and all to each, Pentecost realized in spiritual things, where no one calls that which he has his own, yet finds it multiplied by the whole number of those who share it with him. Too fair a conception to be long realized in a world like this. Where is this church of God in every place? Yet our duty to it and in it remains the same, while the difficulties and needs in a day of ruin only call out the more the grace which ministers to us and the power of the arm that carries us through.

In the type of leprosy in the house we find the full acknowledgment of the power of evil which may come in, and of our responsibility with regard to it, — the case submitted, as before with regard to the individual, to the judgment of the priest, who is first of all surely Christ, and then he or they with whom is the mind of Christ. Here the owner of the house (and there is but one Owner of what is God's house,) starts as it were the question, exercising thus the soul by it, as to a plague in the house. The signs of it are much as in the case of the individual, above all the progress of the evil, a fretting canker which spreads continually. Patience must be exercised, without indifference; if it proceed, the stones wherein the plague is must be taken out, — i.e., the persons put away in whom the evil is manifested, — and the house scraped, new stones and plaster taking the place of the old, (the judgment of ways and conduct as well as of persons.) If the plague is then stopped, it is well, and the house is clean; but if after all this, it break out again, then on the other hand it is to be broken down, and cast out into an unclean place. Coming into the house renders him temporarily unclean who does so; and he who lies or eats in it must also wash his clothes.

All this can be read by one that will. It has but little interest, alas! for the mass of real Christians even in our day. The carefulness as to association with evil implied in it is looked upon as the sign of a legal and illiberal spirit. How many of the countless associations of the day, religious or philanthropic, could abide the test of such principles? Yet the day of the Lord is at hand, when His judgment will at last be the whole matter for us, and man's day will have had its end forever. Oh, that Christians would now accept beforehand what God has written, and what the light of that day will force upon all!

The cleansing of the house is according to that prescribed for the cleansing of the individual leper in its first part: the last is omitted. Separation from the world in the power of the grace of Him who has come into it for our salvation, and whom the world has rejected and crucified, is the evident lesson of the two birds. While there is thus a corporate purity which must be preserved, the living activities which are connected with the second part of the cleansing are necessarily individual, and therefore omitted in what refers to the assembly. Conscience and heart are individual things, and true fellowship with others must be maintained, and can only be, in the maintenance of our individuality intact.

4. It is the frailty of nature that is depicted and provided for in the fifteenth chapter, as it is confirmed and determinate evil in the regulations concerning leprosy. Throughout we have impressed upon us how searching and all-inclusive is the holiness of God, and how readily defilement is communicated and received. These are unwelcome thoughts; but if they are true, what gain shall we find in refusing them? what gain shall we not find in admitting them into our hearts? If our desire be really a walk with God, two cannot walk together except they are agreed; and for agreement, we must come to His terms, not He to ours. A solemn question results: How much real communion with God is in fact enjoyed by His people? Grace is not less holy than law; it is far more holy, — nay, the perfection of holiness: and the difference otherwise consists in the ability which grace gives for that which the law, because of the hardness of men's hearts, could not even insist upon. "Sin shall not have dominion over you; because ye are not under the law, but under grace."

The sexes are the natural institution of God for the recognition of mutual dependence, for the establishment of special relationships among men, and for the enjoyment of spiritual intercourse — the communion of spirit with spirit — in the most intimate way. It is just here that sin, having entered, has wrought such destructive work as to pollute and poison the race at its fountain-head, and corrupt all the sweetest natural affections into impurity. Of this a large part of the Levitical code is the necessary reminder. God's Word must reach to the secret holds of sin — there where the "shame" that came in with the fall most of all manifests itself and is witness of corruption. If we cannot say much to one another as to such things, may His Word yet have its place and show its power!