Division 5. (Num. 28 — 36.)

The divine ways, and the end.

The last division of Numbers gives us (as always in the fifth part,) the moral of the book, — divine principles, in which the lessons of time become the wisdom of eternity. In these, of necessity, the ruin of man is owned; yet by learning which, however painful the learning, new and wondrous blessing is experienced. God is exalted, the heart brought back to Him, redemption tells out His heart, the songs of the night become the unfailing, unceasing praise of a day to which night comes no more. The furnace of trial has tried more than those who have been purified in it, — the word of God has been tried, and found pure absolutely; and in the fire has moved, in company with His people, a form like that of the Son of God.

The thread which unites characters like these is not, indeed, easy to follow; although the place of each may be without much difficulty vindicated, and their general character is very plain. We shall therefore go on at once to consider them in detail, without further introduction.

1. For man's own blessing, as for all else, God must have His place, — must be God. Otherwise there will be confusion, and the dissolution of all other bonds with that to Him. Hence, in this closing portion of the book, in which we have the Deuteronomic review and affirmation of divine principles, it is quite in place that we should have first of all insisted on the maintenance of what is due to God, as in sacrifice. The second verse is here the plain statement of what is the purport of the next two chapters: "My offering, My bread of My offerings by fire, a sweet savor unto Me, shall ye take care to present unto Me at their set time." It is His claim upon man that is expressed here, — a claim which grace affirms as well as law, while it provides also for the answer to it, as law cannot. And in sacrifice we have, as we know, just the grace which the symbols of the law inclosed and enshrined. It is sacrifice that is God's sweet savor! And how, then, is it provided? That Moriah had long before declared, — that God would provide Himself a lamb for a burnt-offering. But we have seen this done, and know the blessed Lamb that taketh away the sin of the world. We have thus the material for perpetual worship, and of His own we give Him.

This abides for us after all the experiences of the wilderness have been learned, the joy heightened, not lessened, by them. Out of the failure — in His provision for it — God has built for Himself an enduring name. This the due offering in its set time declares. For these set times we have seen to be the celebration of the steps of almighty power and wisdom on to final rest, and each step furnishing something whereby that rest itself shall be furnished, and made worthy to be the rest of God. Here naturally the sweet-savor offerings are those specially enjoined, although the necessity of a sin-offering is not forgotten.

(1) And this is apparent in the first commandment here, — that as to the daily offering. In this God emphasizes, as has been already remarked (Lev. 6:8, n.) that which is the offering for acceptance, and which speaks of what is in the fullest way sweet savor to Him. To give this due expression, meal-offering and drink-offering must be added to the burnt-offering, — a full Christ in the preciousness of His self-devotedness. The "lamb" naturally speaks of this; two lambs, the number of testimony, a daily witness on the part of a redeemed people to Him who has redeemed them, and through whom, no longer "without God in the world," their hearts enthrone their glorious King.

On the Sabbath, this daily offering is doubled; for eternity confirms the joy of of time, while giving it new power of utterance. Our hope maketh not ashamed."

These two ordinances, then, of the daily and the Sabbath-offering, fall into one section. Together, they give us the perpetual offering, — typically, the abiding preciousness of Christ for time and for eternity, eternity confirming and emphasizing only what every day of time has witnessed to before.

(2) The six ordinances which remain fall evidently into two parallel divisions, corresponding essentially to the two divisions of the feasts referred to, which represent the work of God in Christianity, and in the final blessing of Israel (the feasts of the seventh month). The parallelism is plain; both opening with a new moon, the second section of each giving the work of atonement, the third, the accomplished blessing resulting: thus, —
1. The beginning of months.1. The feast of trumpets, beginning the seventh month.
2. Passover and the feast of unleavened bread. 2. The day of atonement.
3. Pentecost. 3. The feast of tabernacles.

The offerings of the first three, as here enjoined, are precisely the same, except that during the seven days of unleavened bread they are repeated daily. Those of the first two of the seventh month differ from them by the reduction of one bullock from the burnt-offering, thus agreeing again together, and with that of the eighth day of the feast of tabernacles, after the abundant gifts of the first week are at an end. There can be no just doubt, therefore, that the division of these feasts (justified as it is in their typical application also) is to be observed in this place.

This double series, however, come together as the second section of this first subdivision, the salvation-work of Christ being celebrated in it, as in the perpetual offering it is rather Christ Himself, though seen as the Accomplisher of atonement surely. But here it is the salvation itself; first, as known by the Church, and then by Israel. Everywhere, therefore, the goat of sin-offering is found accompanying the other offerings, which in the perpetual offering is not the case.

Let us look now at the first series; and here, at the offerings at the beginning of months or new moon. This reappearance of the light of the moon, — that is, of the light of the sun upon her, — we find in the seventh month associated with the feast of trumpets, Israel's recall into the light of God, when the full time of her blessing shall have come. This shows us what the new moon signifies. The Church as such cannot, of course, be said to be recalled into the light; yet man in her, and characteristically the Gentile fallen away from God, is now brought back. Moreover, her history has shown how dependent she is on God for reviving grace. Like Israel's, it is a record of continual relapses into darkness, and of revivals, through sovereign goodness, again and again. Individually also, what debtors are we to God for constant renewal! Here, then, the two bullocks and the ram, with seven lambs, show the answer on man's part which this grace awakes; testifying of and reflecting what Christ has become to the soul, the subjective state answering to what has been objectively presented. Thus the bullock speaks of service; two bullocks, of adequate testimony in this way to God; the ram, of consecration; seven lambs, of the completeness of redemption apprehended. These things will be found to appear, in fact, in every true revival. Named by itself. the goat bears witness of Him who was our Substitute to effect this. God would have no doubt of the place in which His beloved Son stood, of judgment borne by Him, the "likeness of sinful flesh" assumed.

These offerings go with us through the whole double series, change being only in the number of either of the first three, with which the meal-offering accompanying stands in constant proportion, one tenth of an ephah for a lamb, two tenths for a ram, three for a bullock, — the apprehension of Christ's person growing with that of His work, if this be real. The measures themselves need yet an interpreter. Drink-offerings accompany the rest also in due proportion.

We have next to the new moon the passover and the feast of unleavened bread; a feast of seven days, during each one of which the offerings are as on the new moon. The joy of Christ apprehended by the soul is indeed the necessary accompaniment of the holiness which springs out of redemption. These days begin and end, moreover, with a holy convocation, and freedom from servile work. All these unite easily in meaning, and scarcely need to be dwelt on more.

Pentecost has also its convocation, its enjoyed liberty, its offerings as before. This closes the Christian series.

The seventh month is the time of the accomplishment of God's purposes for Israel, with which is connected the blessing for the earth. Here, the feast of trumpets has as its special accompaniment but one bullock with the ram and seven lambs; though, as the beginning of a month, these are in fact added to the regular offering, as is explained. Thus there are, in fact, three bullocks, two rams, and fourteen lambs, — the number, save as to the bullocks, of the first seven days of the feast of tabernacles. The fourteen lambs, as twice seven, may speak of redemption for Jew and Gentile, — separate companies, however, and no longer united, as in the body of Christ. The two rams may express similarly the consecration of both these. The three bullocks are less simple to be interpreted: may they not show that the service beginning now on earth is not merely outward and ritualistic, but internal and spiritual?

The day of atonement has also other offerings beside those commanded here, and as we know, it is these other that are characteristic of the day. The offerings here added are the same as on the feast of trumpets — one bullock, one ram, seven lambs, beside the goat of sin-offering. If they have decreased in number, as they have, this seems now to speak of absolute unity, as even the 7 does, in contrast with the 14. The glorious work accomplished is thus owned in its unique sublimity, — alone, unapproachable, ruling in human history; one wondrous act of service, one unequaled expression of absolute consecration, one perfect redemption, in Him who stood, the One for the many, the Just for the unjust, to bring us to God. Distinction between Jew and Gentile has no place now in the thoughts of the worshiper: it is the same blessed work for all, — sufficient, infinite, for all; and of this the numbers speak impressively.

But now as if, after the hush of adoration, the out-burst of praise could no longer be restrained, on the feast of tabernacles the lambs double again to fourteen, the rams are doubled, the bullocks mount up to thirteen the first day. It is the exultant out-burst of millennial joy; not perfect as praise, yet rising up toward it, although from this point declining day by day, until on the seventh day there are seven bullocks — a true perfection, though not as full as at first seemed promised. Then on the eighth day (which marks eternity, not time,) suddenly the offerings return to the number of the day of atonement, and beyond all power to praise, the uniqueness of the work is again celebrated. There eternity itself must leave it, — transcending praise.

Thus then, beyond all desert experiences, in the first part of this last division of Numbers God is seen enthroned, sin powerless to blur for a moment the brightness of His glory, which through sacrifice has only the more wondrously displayed itself. True, after all, man's heart is found unable worthily to take it in: he cannot, as he might be expected, answer to it; all the more is it proved that grace is what he absolutely needs, and that to grace he must be debtor. Grace, then, will be his song for eternity.

2. And now we reach a new action of it: the thirtieth chapter treats of a subject, little connected, as it might seem, with what has been just now before us; yet in close connection really, as we may shortly see. The subject is, the confirmation or annulling of vows. If a man vow a vow to Jehovah, he must do without fail all that he has sworn to do. If a woman vow, however, there are conditions which determine whether it shall bind or not. Thus, if she be young and in her father's house, he may disallow the oath, and then it does not bind her; or she may be married, and her husband disallow it. But if these keep silence, or she be a widow or divorced, then her vow remains against her, and she is debtor to fulfill it.

The last chapter of Leviticus has already brought before us the subject of vows. The vow is clearly legal covenant, as such; and, because of our feebleness, forbidden in the New Testament. Israel took at Sinai such vows upon themselves, however, the result proving what a "rash utterance of the lips" it was. "The law made nothing perfect:" grace alone could do this. Yet God in the wisdom of His government, yea, in tender consideration for man himself, though "Father" and "Husband" to them, (Ex. 4:22; Jer. 31:32,) and though the vow was uttered in His hearing, did not disallow it: they have had thus to stand under it, and answer for its breach. Alas, when the gracious proffer of redemption came, though they had been even then long under the penalty of it, they refused redemption, held stubbornly to their broken contract, and remain under it to-day, the enduring lesson, published in every land, of what the law is for those who seek righteousness by it. Would that men would hear!

But there are vows not rashly undertaken by those too feeble to fulfill them, but by One upon whom, as one that is mighty, God has laid help. If the woman's vows stand, thank God, so do the Man's! Of Him it is that it is written, the true David, the man of affliction, "how he sware unto Jehovah, and vowed unto the Mighty One of Jacob: Surely, I will not come into the tabernacle of my house, nor go up into my bed; I will not give sleep to my eyes, nor slumber to mine eyelids, until I find out a place for Jehovah, a habitation for the Mighty One of Jacob." (Ps. 132:2-5.) If, then, Christ has gone up unto His rest, it is because His vow is accomplished: He has found a place for Jacob's God, and in Zion God will rest forever. But this involves the final blessing of those so long wanderers, Cain-like, from the land of Jehovah's dwelling-place; and so it is said again, "Thou hast ascended on high, Thou hast led captivity captive, Thou hast received gifts for men; yea, for the rebellious also, that the Lord God might dwell among them." (Ps. 68:18.)

Spite, then, of Israel's unhappy vow, they shall be brought back: the vow of a stronger One has secured it. And thus there will come a day when the "everlasting covenant" shall be made with them, "even the sure mercies of David" (Isa. 55:3;) and she who has been long a widow shall say in delight, "Ishi," my husband! to Him who has acquired power even then to cancel her vows, and bring her eternal release, — praise to the love that, though wounded, changes not, and which will be finally victorious over all hindrances! Then, indeed, shall Zion,s priests be clothed with salvation; and her saints shall shout aloud with joy."

The lessons and the principles abide for us also as fully as for Israel, whose glorious King is "Ishi" for us also, and whose vows have been paid for us no less. Israel's history is a lesson for all time; yea, for eternity. The law has occupied a large place in the probation of man, and must have an importance equal to the place. Its end is found in the setting aside of the creature in such sort as to establish him in eternal blessing. Law kept would be indeed his exaltation; but grace is much more this, while and because it is the exaltation and glory of God.

3. One of Balaam's last sayings was that the Sceptre to rise out of Israel should "destroy all the sons of tumult." The last official act of Moses — the last deed of the nation before they pass over Jordan into their own possession — is to destroy the Midianites, or as the word means, the men of strife. The correspondence is not merely casual: in the last subdivision we have had Israel's legal vow, and its implied consequences to themselves, under which they are now suffering. Under the heel of the Gentiles as they have been, God has used these as a rod of discipline for their backs; but when this shall have done its work, and their deliverance be come, He will break the rod which He has used, and avenge their cause against their adversaries. For them "the acceptable year of the Lord" and "the day of vengeance of our God" will be coupled together. (Isa. 61:2.) So He declares who comes red in His apparel from treading the wine-press: "The day of vengeance is in my heart, and the year of my redeemed is come." (Isa. 63:4.) It is the time also of the earth,s deliverance, with which that of Israel is bound up; the blow that smites the oppressor of Israel is that which destroys "those that destroy the earth." (Rev. 11:18.) The purification and blessing of the earth are come; and when God's judgments are in the world, the inhabitants of the earth learn righteousness. (Isa. 26:9.)

Thus, just as before Israel take final possession of the land at last, the way of peace will be prepared by the execution of judgment and the "sons of tumult" be destroyed, so here, before Israel now pass over Jordan, the judgment upon Midian, the sons of "strife," takes place, — the shadow of the final one. Every thing shows the character of what is done: it is Israel's vengeance, yet Jehovah's none the less. Phinehas the priest, the "brazen-mouth," with whom the word of God abides, whose unsparing zeal for it has been already proved, is sent as the leader of the expedition, and with him the silver trumpets. Each tribe furnishes its quota and takes its part. The blow falls, swift, irresistible, decisive. The seed of the wicked is cut off, (Ps. 37:28,) while not a man of the Lord's host falls; which they themselves as saved sinners recognize in their offering, not as a mere gift out of what He had given them, but as atonement for their souls.

And thus one of the principles which the history of the wilderness establishes is that God, though great in mercy, will none the less be sanctified in judgment also upon His adversaries; a judgment with which (in the day of it) His people will fully he. Not only will Israel be His battle-axe and weapons of war (Jer. 51:20, ) but the "armies that are in heaven" also, — the heavenly saints, recognized by their fine linen garments, shall follow the Lamb in the day of His wrath. (Rev. 19:14-15.) That which He can lead in, they can follow in; what God can command, they can execute.

4. And now we have a notable lesson. Reuben and Gad having cattle, and looking upon the breadth of pasture-land in the countries which had now been taken, desire their inheritance to be given them in Gilead and Bashan, and not to go over Jordan with the rest. Rebuked by Moses for divorcing themselves from the common interest, they still press the request; only they offer to leave their children in the fortified cities on the east side, and that their men of war shall go over armed before all the rest to help the rest of the tribes to their possession, and not return from the war until they are settled in it. Moses then grants their request, and gives the land to them and half the tribe of Manasseh, (who, it seems, had already taken possession of Gilead,) on these terms.

Commentators in general have little to remark upon this choice of the two and a half tribes, in which, apart from their first unwillingness to go over Jordan with the rest, they ordinarily see nothing wrong. Matthew Henry, however, with his keener spiritual perception, enters more into the truth of what is implied. He says, —

"Two things common in this world induced these tribes to make this choice, and this motion upon it, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life. The land was pleasant to the eye, and it was good for pasturage Too many seek their own things, and not the things of the public good, or of Christ, and so take up short of the heavenly Canaan. Their choice implied: 1. A contempt of the land of promise. 2. A distrust of the power of God. 3. A neglect of the interests of their brethren. 4. An undue consulting of their own convenience and wealth. … It is observable that as these tribes were now first placed, before the other tribes, so long afterward they were displaced before the other tribes."

The typical meaning should be plain; and Moses' comparison of their conduct with that of the spies clearly intimates it. They picture for us those who, as the apostle says, "a promise being left of entering into His rest, seem to have come short of it." (Heb. 4:1.) Christians are a heavenly people, pilgrims and strangers upon the earth; but, according to the parable, the little seed, the word of the kingdom," has struck its root firmly into the earth, and become a tree, Babylon-like, sheltering the powers of evil. (Matt. 13:31-32; Dan. 4:12.) The kingdom has become territorial, instead of individual, and may be marked out on a map. And note, that this territory has been acquired by conquest. The gods of the heathen have been fairly dispossessed by the God of Christianity. Og's territory has been attacked by way of Sihon's: truth has fought its way, and conquered by being truth. Who could desire it otherwise? Must not light of necessity banish darkness! Yes, in a sense: although that remains true on the other side, that there is a sphere in which "the light shineth in darkness," yet "the darkness comprehendeth it not." The unconverted heart yields no kingdom to the truth. If the world surrender in this way, it surrenders on conditions, and the professing kingdom of God becomes a compromise.

Such is Christendom today; and being such, where has been the victory? Such a condition could not be, except as it had sprung from the declension of the people of God themselves: "while men slept, the enemy came." And this sleep, what has induced it? Alas, the influences of the night upon those that are not children of the night; the power of the world upon those that are not of it, so that they "become blind, and cannot see afar off:" the land beyond Jordan lies in the gathering twilight; present things are those seen, — they heed little now that they are temporal; — they build here.

This is but the two and a half tribes again; a number which speaks of division and fracture to the very eye, the people of God divided against themselves. So they build cities the wrong side of Jordan, and nourish there their little ones, although their armed men may go a warfare with their brethren on the other side; yea, and may do praiseworthy deeds there.

But Moses apportions them the land! lie does: but there is no lot cast for them there — thank God, there is not. He does not mean to consent finally, but will be better to them at last than their thought. Yet for the present there must be consent: they must be allowed, as often men must, to have their way. "Ephraim is joined to his idols; let him alone!" Yes, but not forever: "how shall I give thee up Ephraim?" "Ephraim shall say, 'What have I to do any more with idols'" "God has given him his way until he is sick of it. Even so: yet "Oh, that My people had hearkened unto Me," says the Lord. Sorrow in the meantime, — "loss" in a real way forever, — come from that way of our own, to which yet, even finally to save us, He had to give us up.

This, then, is another of those principles which, in connection with the wilderness, we find established; and the failure of the two and a half tribes is full of admonition for us.

5. We have now the record of Israel's journeyings through the wilderness just ended, and under the guardian care of Him who, spite of all their willfulness and folly, had ever "led them by the right way." This record, kept by Moses according to the distinct command of Jehovah, is to us a solemn reminder of how our ways have been marked by Him, and are by us never to be forgotten. The two things are in closest connection and dependence on one another, our ways with Him, and His ways with us, although so different; and who can doubt that the chapter before us gives (or should give) us both of these together. And what intense interest should this have for us! Alas, for the present, we can only to our shame confess that we have not ability to read it with any assurance. With how little clearness indeed do any of us perhaps realize the way by which the Lord has led us individually! How often must it be confessed that it has been but the leading of the blind by a way they know not. Yet the record is with God; and how much should we miss if we were not by and by to find the ability we have not now.

We may say of this chapter, what has so often to be said of such lists as we have here, that while great pains have been taken — often vainly enough — to trace out such things as geographical position, even the meaning of the names have been examined with little care, and for the mass of expositors the very conception of any spiritual significance attaching to them seems not to have been in their minds. May the Lord wake up His people to the sad dishonor which we have thus done to God's holy Word, and which now is bearing but its fruit in those attacks upon its inspiration, no way so effectually answered as by the demonstration of that higher meaning in it which has so much escaped us. Unspirituality is the natural ally of unbelief.

6. We have come now to a part of Numbers which at first sight would seem scarcely to belong to it, and which is at least very distinct from all the rest. It is evident that it gives us neither the history of the wilderness, nor the moral of that history, but that it looks forward to the occupation of the land, and treats of the land itself, — how they are to deal with the Canaanites and the relics of idolatry in the land; where they are to draw the boundary-lines, — within what limits they are to make good their possession, and other things of like nature. Here, indeed, a mere historical view would find no difficulty these ordinances come in very naturally at the point we have reached. Contrary to what is usually the case, it is the spiritual meaning which would seem to have to bear all the burden, and to justify itself as having real existence.

Just here too, unhappily, spiritual interpretation has had almost no enunciation: there has been no account given of the place held by these chapters in connection with the wilderness-book. Yet it must be given. The full perfection we claim for the inspired Word will not permit of the thought that here there should be no spiritual meaning, — that the things that "happened unto Israel" here did not "happen for types." And if such a meaning be, it ought to be capable of being produced, if "written for our admonition upon whom the ends of the ages are come."

We have indeed had chapters before which looked on to the occupation of the land, (as, for instance, the fifteenth chapter expressly does,) but in these the link with the wilderness was more easily to be discerned. Here it is not merely with something that is to be when they are in the land that we are occupied, but with the land itself, — a subject which seems even clearly outside that of the book of the wilderness. The perfection of God's Word does not admit a doubt. It is for us only to inquire reverently what the connection is, and some answer will surely be accorded us.

What, then, does Canaan as a type present to us? Here there would not seem perhaps much room for question. There is a general agreement among all classes of interpreters who are truly such, that Canaan represents heaven, as Jordan is the river of death which lies in front of it, and through which we pass to our rest. So much we may accept as truth without hesitation.

If we turn back, as we naturally do, to the history of Abraham, we find this view in the main confirmed; and yet, in striking contrast to the common thought, Abraham is in the land, a stranger and a pilgrim. Assuredly, this cannot be true of heaven when we actually get there, that we shall be pilgrims in it! And we see easily that the Spirit of God pictures for us, in fact, in him, not final rest in heaven, but a present occupancy of it now by faith, with which indeed a pilgrim walk is not only consistent, but is the only thing consistent: the certain result of a faith which enters into its heavenly portion is just this walk.

Canaan then, as seen in connection with Abraham, typifies for us indeed a heavenly portion, but heaven brought down to earth, as it were, — a thing with which the tabernacle in the wilderness has made us familiar, though in a somewhat different aspect. It will be thought, no doubt, however, that when, as now, we find Israel, after their wilderness-journey finished, going in to take possession of the land, not to be strangers there, but to find settlement and rest, that now this must speak of final rest. The thought is natural: we must take nothing, however, for granted here; Scripture must guide us step by step, or we are not safe: and the least mixture of our own thoughts uncontrolled by it, will bring in confusion into all our views, and envelop us in a fog which will forbid real progress.

Canaan as now to be possessed by Israel was at least to them no final possession, nor their enjoyment of it rest. They entered it sword in hand; they had to gain and to retain possession by the sword. Even now, when giving them the bounds of their inheritance, we find nothing like the full extent of the land promised them, which was "from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates" (Gen. 15:18), or, as more precisely defined, "from the Red Sea unto the sea of the Philistines and from the desert unto the River" (Ex. 23:31.) Their bounds at this time touched neither the Red Sea nor Euphrates; and the reason is plain: they were going into the land under a legal covenant, not as brought in (as yet they will be) according to the fullness of divine grace. If they continued in His covenant, God would enlarge their borders (Ex. 34:24; Deut. 12:20), even to the full extent of the original promise (Deut. 1:7); but this depended upon what never took place. The narrowness of the land with which men taunt Israel now — scarcely the size of Wales, — does not represent what grace has assigned them as their portion, but only their inability to make good their title to it. Even the bounds here assigned them, which included Philistia, Tyre, and all Lebanon, they have never yet possessed; though, with a gleam of coming glory, David's kingdom extended to the Euphrates. But that gleam quickly passed: Israel itself broke asunder, and from this they went down ever further into the ruin in which yet they remain.

On the other hand, when they shall be restored in grace and in millennial days, the land will be indeed the type of heaven. Let any one compare the picture in Ezek. 47 with that in Rev. 22, where in the one case we have the earthly, in the other the heavenly, and see how they correspond; so much indeed that they have been confounded together, though for this there is no excuse. Here is not the place to go into it; but the establishment of the fact is enough to show us in what way Canaan, as we see it in the history before us, is the type of heavenly things. It is the type of them as enjoyed by faith and anticipatively; in conflict, not in rest. Canaan has been indeed hitherto the very centre of opposing forces, which, pouring themselves over the land, Egyptian, Ethiopian, Hittite, Syrian, Assyrian, Babylonian, Persian, Grecian, Roman, could be only repelled by One arm, — the arm upon which Israel were besought to roll themselves, and did not. God never meant rest to be to them in any other way, — a way simple to the simple, of strength to the weakest: but they would not listen.

Similarly the kingdom of heaven has been in conflict among men, — to those that have eyes to see, a constant battlefield of forces not merely earthly; and Christians have as little vindicated their title to their own possessions as Israel did to theirs. Even Romanists have led the way in announcing a Babylonish captivity of the church, Luther more clearly and convincingly following them. While the remnant that came out of this have in various ways repeated the history of Ezra and Nehemiah, of Haggai and Malachi's days.

Thus Canaan is, so to speak, itself in the wilderness, and it pertains to this book to mark out at least the limits of Israel's territory, lying, as it does, encompassed by foes, and subject to influences which are really, and not always plainly, adverse. The line of demarcation must be carried round, from the south-east border of the salt sea to the river of Egypt and the great sea, and then round Lebanon, by Jordan to the salt sea again. And is not this, in some sense, what the apostle is doing in the first part of 1 Corinthians? — defining boundary-lines, before he comes to the internal order of that Church which he addresses in Corinth, the type even among the heathen of that which the beloved disciple characterizes as the "world," the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life"?

The tabernacle, though the "patterns of things in the heavenlies," belonged to the wilderness, though marked off from it by its brazen pillars and white hangings of the court. So Paul marks off for the Corinthians the church from that which is of the world. He stretches out its linen curtains. hanging them by the silver hooks of atonement on the pillars of divine strength: — "Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, … shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God."

This sixth section of the last subdivision of the book ordains, then, the conquest of the land and the limits of it, — limits which we have seen, however, to be enlarged according to their faithfulness, and the multiplication of the people under the blessing of God.

(1) The land is to belong alone to God, and to the people as possessing it under Him; the Canaanites to be driven out, all traces of idolatry destroyed. Christianity according to God is similarly exclusive, as a true kingdom of God on earth. Alas, Christians have been as little true to God in this as Israel of old; and like results have followed: God has been compelled to controversy with His people, the end of which is not seen yet.

(2) As to Israel's boundary lines, it is evident that, temporarily narrow as they were, they never filled them. We. can little trace the spiritual meaning, save only in one part where it is so plain as to compel us to realize that this cannot stand alone, — that only insight is lacking on our part as to the rest. On the south-east Jordan and the salt sea divide the territory proper from Bashan and Gilead, the kingdoms of Og and Sihon, now possessed by the two and a half tribes. This was indeed intended to be held by the people, as Deut. 2:24 proves conclusively, though none the less these tribes failed in choosing their portion there. There are things that are ours in which our portion is not: nay, the apostle ruts the "world" in this category (1 Cor. 3:22); where observe that it is a wholly different thing, nay, in contrast, to have the world belong to you, and to belong to it. In the one case you are its servant, in the other its master. There is nothing secular for the Christian, nothing which is not sanctified for those who are God's saints. And these kingdoms of Sihon and Og, we have found measurably to yield themselves to interpretation in this way. (See Num. 21:21-35 notes.)

Nevertheless, though the world itself in this sense ceases to be secular, yet it is another thing to have our portion in it; and just here between Canaan proper and the Gilead district, fertile as this may be, God has dug deep the trench of the Jordan valley as a memorial, in which the rapidly descending river of death falls into the sea of judgment, out of which no stream passes nor returns! Salt and thus barren, and as if under the curse of God, that sea lies, a veritable "pit," more than thirteen hundred feet below the level of the Mediterranean Sea, its own greatest depth being as much again. "The depression of the lake, both of its surface and of its bottom below that of the ocean," says Mr. Grove, "is quite without a parallel."

7. We have now reached the conclusion of the book; and the appropriate conclusion of ,the book of trial, wandering and failure is rest in the inheritance made permanent by sanctification according to God. In the Levite cities scattered through the land, in the provision of the cities of refuge for freeing it from the stain of blood, and in the provision for the permanence of inheritance in the tribes, we have a combination of assurances that God is still sovereign in, grace above all man's sin, — a grace that secures holiness, and so perpetuates blessing. The very number of this closing section is a sign of this triumph of God which shall be achieved in spite of all apparent contradiction and defeat. It is the full gamut of music, the compass of all melody; which cannot be, except God be thus supreme.

(1) First, in these Levite cities, scattered through the land, we have the fulfillment of the prophetic word as to Levi, "I will divide them in Jacob, and scatter them in Israel." Yet how differently from what we should have thought, is it fulfilled in this case! Grace shows itself in absolute sovereignty over all the sin. What seemed but penalty has become blessing, and in complete accordance with God's way in grace, he who had been the subject of it becomes blessing to others. The number of the cities is thus noteworthy — forty-eight; which is not to be taken as 4 x 12, as Keil supposes, but as 6 x 8, with which the cities of refuge, six in number, are then in harmony. Six speaks here of discipline such as we see in the scattering; eight, of the new character which it assumes. The government of God is maintained, and for Levi's own sake he must be scattered. Seed must not lie in a heap, or it does not fulfill its office. Levi must be God,s witness in Israel, and the seal of the sanctification of the whole land to God, — a people whose portion is God alone: "They shall teach Jacob Thy judgments, and Israel Thy law."

(2) Next we have, and in intimate connection with this, the ordinance of the cities of refuge. Blood was in an especial way — and here is contemplated above all one deed, yet in the future, which was to give the people their "field of blood," through centuries of banishment from the land into which they were now entering, — that which defiled the land before God. The design of the city of refuge was in no wise to turn away judgment from one who was in His sight a "manslayer." (Comp. vv. 16-18.) Where it could be shown that there was intent to slay, the image of God in which He had made man effectually pleaded against pity. God had already long before pronounced in this case (Gen. 9), and there has been, and can be, no revocation of it: "whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God made He man." That ground remains, and the guilt upon the land that does not avenge it here affirmed may well be considered by those who in these days would annul the death-penalty: "the land cannot be cleansed of the blood that is shed therein, but by the blood of him that shed it."

Where, on the other hand, there was not intent to slay, the mercy of God came in to save out of the hand of the avenger of blood; yet still with a gravity which shows what man's life is to Him. He could not, even after being adjudged in this way innocent, simply be set free, but was to abide in the city of refuge until the death of the high-priest and only then could return to his inheritance in the land. Keil argues that the death of the high-priest was regarded as expiatory, and that this "is evident from the clause, 'who hath been anointed with the holy oil,' which would appear unmeaning and superfluous on any other view. The anointing with the holy oil was a symbol of the communication of the Holy Ghost, by which the high-priest was empowered to act as mediator and representative of the nation before God." This, however, gives no particular meaning to the often long detention of the manslayer in the city of refuge, nor does it take in the thought that the blood which defiled Israel's land was above all the blood of Christ shed by them, on account of which they have been so many centuries kept from their inheritance. Yet nationally they have been spared, — the Lord Himself putting in for them the prevailing plea, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." Blinded by their self-righteousness, and implicit following of human guides, they have denied and crucified the Sent One of the Father; yet God can say to them by the mouth of Peter, "I wot that through ignorance ye did it," and thus, though shut out of their inheritance in the meantime, the time shall come in which they shall be restored to it. And that time will be when the priesthood of the Lord as now exercised in heaven shall be at an end, and He shall come forth, Priest and King in one, to bring in the times of restitution of which the prophets speak. This, then, would seem to answer to the death of the high-priest, while it may be none the less true that his being "anointed with the holy oil" here points Him out as the One whose work has been to make atonement. The special high-priestly work of the "day of atonement" would seem referred to, with its ordinance of the scape-goat and its blessing for Israel, when he who went into the holy place comes forth. It is on the day of atonement that the trumpet of jubilee sounds, and every man returns to his possession. All, therefore, unites to convince us of the truth of this interpretation.

But it is not Israel alone who have crucified the Lord. Gentiles united with Jews in that awful deed. "Of a truth, Lord, against Thy holy Servant Jesus, whom Thou least anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, for to do whatsoever Thy hand and Thy counsel determined before to be done." (Acts 4:27-28.) Thus the cross is the guilt of the whole world, but a world which, when He was in it, "knew Him not;" and on this account that which was inflicted by their hands may still avail for them as their atonement. The faith of the Gentile too can be accepted on this principle alone; and in the cities of the Levites, in the provision furnished by the gospel ministry, he finds his city of refuge. Yet he too, sheltered and safe though he be, is away from his inheritance. He too — we all — will get it only at the coming of the Lord. The jubilee-note will then sound for all alike: for the Jew is but the typical man; in his sin, in his exile, in his restoration, we all have personal interest.

Thus this grand type applies to all the redeemed; and as the fitting close to wilderness-wanderings, shows how the inheritance is made good to us after all, and where sin abounded, grace much more abounds. This the third witness now confirms with more than adequate testimony.

(3) Here the daughters of Zelophehad come again before us through the representatives of the chiefs of the families of Manasseh. The former decision in their favor has secured that the inheritance of their father shall become their own but there is danger thus that, if they contract marriages outside the tribe, the inheritance may through them pass out of the possession of the tribe, and the whole stability of the tribal possession be overthrown. It is ordained, therefore, that in such a case as this the heiress of a father shall marry within the tribe, and the inheritance of each tribe be secured to it in perpetuity. Weakness may have come in, and the lack of male heirs seem to give the inheritance into the hand of others, out of whose hand again the very institution of the jubilee would prevent it passing. But all things must give way to the first great necessity that the inheritance allotted of God must remain with those to whom it was allotted. Nothing shall alter this; nothing, blessed be God, shall prevent any of His own from enjoying for eternity the inheritance prepared.