Thoughts on the Offerings.

The Meat Offering
The Peace Offering
The Sin Offering
The Trespass Offering
The Law of the Burnt Offering
The Law of the Meat Offering
The Law of the Sin Offering and of the Trespass Offering
The Law of the Peace Offering
Association With Christ
Offering Strange Fire

At the close of Luke's Gospel we have the Lord Jesus setting the seal of His divine approbation on the Old Testament Scriptures, when He said to His disciples, "O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into His glory." Having thus admonished His disciples, He began "at Moses and all the prophets," and "expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself" (Luke 24:25-27). In verse 44 of the same chapter the Lord Jesus with His divine authority shows that all the Old Testament is inspired, where He says, "These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning Me."

The offerings, which we are about to consider, are found written in the law of Moses … concerning Me;" and they set forth in language chosen by the Spirit of God the superlative greatness of the Person of Christ, the matchless perfection of His life, and the stupendous import of His death, Godward and manward. In the four Gospels we have a four-fold presentation of Christ; in Matthew He is "Son of David, the Son of Abraham;" in Mark He is seen "in the form of a Servant;" in Luke He is found "in fashion as a Man;" while in John we behold "His glory, a glory as of an only-begotten with a father … the only-begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father." If the Person of Christ is brought out in this four-fold way in the Gospels, the work of Christ is brought out in its distinct and varied aspects in the typical language of the book of Leviticus.

Out of the five offerings of Leviticus 1 – 6, while one (the meat offering) very clearly presents the character of the perfect matchless life of the Lord Jesus, the four others, clearly identified in their distinct application by the out-poured blood, present His atoning work in all its varied glories and perfections. How sweet and wonderful it is to contemplate these precious things in their detail, in the transforming light of the Word of God, and to find the pages of the Old Testament corresponding to each other with pleasing exactitude as type to antitype, these wonderful offerings of Leviticus being but the picture of the living reality that is found in the Gospels. The Christ of God, in all the superlative excellence and greatness of His Person and work, is mirrored in the Old Testament Scriptures, for, is He not the centre of all divine revelation, and the glorious object and theme of all Scripture? Let us seek therefore to explore this rich field of divine wealth, which is ever ready to yield its exhaustless treasures to the searchings of the earnest seeker, assured indeed that there is "much increase in the tillage of the poor."

It is remarkable that our apprehension of these sacrifices, and their adaptation to our need, stands in reverse order to the manner of their institution. The burnt offering is the first presented, and the highest in character of all the sacrifices, but as sinners we first know Christ as the trespass offering, "delivered for our offences." Led on by the Holy Spirit into the fuller knowledge of Christ and His work, we travel upwards till we stand as worshippers around the altar of burnt offering, and wonderingly worship and adore as the ascending flame, laden with divinely-prepared perfume, goes up to Jehovah for the satisfaction and rest of His heart.

The sacrifice in which God finds His eternal delight is also that which provides the answer to our need as sinners and our communion as saints. Atonement was effected by the burnt offering and by the sin offering, but not by the meat or peace offerings. In the burnt offering we see the sacrifice of Christ in its deep and matchless perfection, His voluntary surrender of Himself even unto death in the carrying out of the will of God, and also God's delight in and acceptance of the sacrifice. The burnt offering was to fulfil what had been written of Him, "Lo, I come …to do Thy will, O God" (Heb. 10:7). It is that aspect of the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus which directly and exclusively has reference to God. Atonement in the sin offering was to secure forgiveness for the sinner; atonement in the burnt offering is for our acceptance.

Let us not forget that the supreme and impelling motive which actuated the blessed Lord in coming into this world was to accomplish the will of God, and to glorify Him, even in death. It was when He took our sins upon Him, and was made sin, that God was glorified in relation to sin. Anticipating this, the Lord Jesus said, "Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in Him" (John 13:31). Do we not find in John's Gospel the Spirit of God bringing before us the burnt offering character of the work of Christ? There we have opening before us the deepest and fullest glories of the Son of God, as well as the highest character of His work. In John 14:31 we have the love and obedience that ever marked the Lord Jesus down here in His relationship with His Father, "But that the world may know that I love the Father: and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do. Arise, let us go hence." He, the doer of the Father's will, and the object of the Father's delight, goes forth to consummate in death His perfect obedience. He had authority to lay down His life, and authority to take it again, and could say, "And He that sent Me is with Me: the Father hath not left Me alone; for I do always those things that please Him" (John 8:29).

It is very instructive to note that different animals could be offered in approach to God. A bullock without blemish, a sheep or goat without blemish, or turtle doves or young pigeons, could be offered. These are presented in a descending scale of values, suggesting varying apprehensions that we might have of the death of Christ. The ground of our acceptance however does not depend on the measure of our apprehension, but solely on the unqualified acceptance of the wondrous sacrifice of Christ by God, Who alone can fully appreciate the infinite value of Christ's death.

Whether a bullock, a sheep or goat was offered, it is specifically stated that it must be a male without blemish, as indicating the matchless dignity and unblemished character of Him they set forth typically. The offering of doves or young pigeons bespeaks the poverty, feebleness, and perhaps even faulty apprehension of Christ's death, for we read that the priest "shall pluck away his crop with his feathers, and cast it beside the altar on the east part, by the place of the ashes." The rejection of the crop and feathers suggests that a worshipper might mix up unworthy and unacceptable thoughts of Christ's death with what is worthy and acceptable. How different in the case of the bullock and the sheep; all was burned on the altar.

The birds were to be cleft in two, but not divided; suggesting that while the offerer had some little apprehension of Christ's death, he was not able to enter into the precious details of that wondrous sacrifice. Yet how blessed it is to see the delight that God finds even in the feeblest apprehension of His beloved Son and His sacrificial work: and how richly His grace shines forth in the words which are used in the case of the fowls as in that of the bullock and the sheep, "It is a burnt sacrifice (an ascending offering), an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour (savour of rest) unto Jehovah."

There is no room here for the erroneous idea that the death of Christ was only that of a martyr, for the Spirit of God is very careful to maintain, in each offering, the sacrificial character of that death, by giving specific instructions regarding the blood.

How blessed also to consider how the unblemished animal was treated! It was killed, flayed and cut in pieces. The parts enumerated, the head, the fat, the inwards and the legs, denoting the intelligence, will, motives and walk of the blessed One in thus offering Himself wholly, and in intelligently surrendering Himself in death for the glory of God. All were laid upon the altar, and subjected to the fire — the searching judgment of God. What the offering was ceremonially, as washed in water, the Lord Jesus was intrinsically. The fire of divine judgment searched Him inwardly and outwardly; the motives and springs as well as the walk and ways, and in result all went up to God as a sweet savour.

Through sovereign grace we are identified with the One Who so perfectly glorified God in death, for it is written, "And he shall put his hand upon the head of the burnt offering; and it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him." We are accepted before God in all the abiding and unchanging value of Christ's Person and work.

God's eternal delight in Jesus as the burnt offering is beautifully told out in the words, "The fire shall ever be burning upon the altar; it shall never go out" (Leviticus 6:13).

The Meat Offering.

This gift offering, which in the law, was restricted to bloodless offerings, derives its impressiveness from the simplicity of the terms used by the Holy Spirit in portraying the distinctive glories of Jesus as Man presenting to God an unblemished life with all its grace and moral perfectness — the matchless life of Him Who is holy, harmless, undefiled and separate from sinners. It is not only a sweet savour offering, but "most holy of Jehovah's offerings by fire" (Leviticus 2:3), and it was based upon and its value declared by what God found in the burnt-offering, and as setting forth the holy humanity of the Lord Jesus.

In the meat-offering Jesus is presented to God as the Second Man, a true and perfect Man, yet essentially in contrast with other men and with the world by which He was surrounded, and in which He was in result a Man of sorrows. Across His pathway, marked by every moral perfection, lay the dark shadow of man's unceasing and unrelenting hatred and enmity, the quality of which was accentuated by the glory of that divine and heavenly light which was accompanied by the Father's voice expressing His unqualified delight in the Man of His good pleasure.

It is very blessed to see the close relation of the burnt-offering and the meat-offering to each other as intimated in the expression frequently used, "The burnt-offering and its meat-offering," which is never, and could never, be reversed, since the death of Christ is that alone by which the immeasurable distance between God and man has been removed, and in virtue of which we have "boldness for entering into the (holy of) holies by the blood of Jesus" (Heb. 10:19). We marvel at the prescience of the Spirit of God in providing this necessary safeguard against the erroneous ideas of ungodly men that the blameless life of the Son of God is that by which righteousness is vicariously reckoned to them. Such deceive themselves by the fond yet ensnaring delusion that Jesus kept the law for them during His life, and so the righteousness of His life is reckoned to those who believe; but there is not a shred of support in the Word of God for such satanically inspired theorizings of men.

Scripture does assure us that Christ Jesus has been made to us from God, "righteousness, and holiness, and redemption" (1 Cor. 1:30); and that "Him who knew not sin He has made sin for us that we might become God's righteousness in Him" (2 Cor. 5:21), but this is in resurrection consequent upon His death. No, we must not reverse the order of precedence — "the burnt-offering and its meat-offering;" beyond all question and objection the meat-offering is supplemental to the burnt-offering, and this not because of any element of inferiority attaching to the latter offering, which indeed speaks of the perfections of the Manhood of Christ, but because our approach to God is not through the perfect life of Christ, but through His death. Other Scriptures, such as Numbers 15:1-12, show that the meat-offering was normally offered with sacrifices of blood, not independently.

It is essential that the momentous truths respecting the holy life and the sacrificial death of the blessed Lord should be held with divine power in all their peculiar and distinctive teaching in our souls, lest we fall an easy prey to the specious doctrines so prevalent among men, which endeavour to set aside the "offence of the cross," and to rob the cross of its true character and glory.

Another has written of this offering, "This meat-offering of God, taken from the fruit of the earth, was the finest wheat; that which was pure, separate and lovely in human nature was in Jesus under all its sorrows, but in all its excellence and excellent in its sorrows. There was no unevenness in Jesus, no predominant quality to produce the effect of giving Him a distinctive character. He was, though despised and rejected of men, the perfection of human nature. The sensibilities, firmness, decision (though this attached itself also to the principle of obedience), elevation and calm meekness, which belong to human nature, all found their perfect place in Him. In a Paul, I find energy and zeal; in a Peter, ardent affection; in a John, tender sensibilities and abstraction of thought united to a desire to vindicate what he loved, which scarce knew limit. But the quality we have observed in Peter predominates and characterizes him. In a Paul, blessed servant though he was, he did not repent, though he had repented — in him in whom God was mighty towards the circumcision, we find the fear of man break through the faithfulness of his zeal. John who would have vindicated Jesus in his zeal, knew not what manner of spirit he was of, and would have forbidden the glory of God, if a man walked not with them. Such were Paul, and Peter, and John."

"But in Jesus, even as Man, there was none of this unevenness. There was nothing salient in His character, because all was in perfect subjection to God in His humanity, and had its place, and did exactly its service, and then disappeared. God was glorified in it, and all was in harmony. When meekness became Him, He was meek; when indignation, who could stand before His overwhelming and withering rebuke? Tender to the chief of sinners in the time of His grace; unmoved by the heartless superiority of a cold Pharisee (curious to judge who He was); when the time of judgment is come no tears of those who wept for Him moved Him to other words than, "Weep for yourselves and your children," — words of deep compassion, but of deep subjection to the due judgment of God — Such was Christ in human nature"
(J. N. Darby. Synopsis Vol. I., pp. 151-153).

Let us now consider the accompaniments to the meat-offering, which we cannot doubt are used with the divine intent of throwing into more blessed relief the surpassing glories of the Man, Christ Jesus, the One Who graced this defiled scene with His own blessed presence, displaying in that matchless, blameless life which He lived in a world that witnessed to God's dishonour and Satan's apparent triumph, all that God was for man, and all that man ought to have been for God.

On the fine flour oil was poured, expressing in a very precious way the anointing of the Lord Jesus with the Holy Spirit, even as we read in Acts 10:38, "God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power — for God was with Him." His anointing declared His perfection and the Father's delight in Him. Frankincense also was to be put on the fine flour, speaking to us of Christ's moral graces and excellencies. In that wondrous pathway of Jesus, in all His words, His ways, His actions, and in all the lovely traits exhibited in His path trodden for the glory of God, there was ever that exquisite fragrance ascending to delight the heart of the Father.

A handful of flour with all the frankincense was burnt upon the altar for a "memorial" — a beautiful word, used by the Spirit to indicate God's constant remembrance of a life lived entirely to Him, fragrant with His praise, and which He alone could appreciate. What remained of the offering was the portion of the priest — the worshipper.

The whole of the matchless life of the Lord Jesus, from the manger to the baptismal waters of Jordan, was covered by the Father's "well pleased." It could not be otherwise, for from His conception by the Holy Spirit, He was the true meat-offering, "fine flour mingled with oil" (Lev. 2:4). There were three distinct forms in which this offering was prepared. It might be "baken in the oven," or "in a pan," or "in the frying pan." The increasing severity of the tests to which the personal devotedness of the Lord Jesus would be subjected seems to be indicated in these different modes of preparation. The first might cover the thirty years of His private life — these were not open sufferings, so to speak, as suffering violence. Baken in the oven suggests trial in the heated atmosphere of a world estranged from God, and at enmity with Him, where the unrestrained will and passions of men were seen on every hand. Another has said, "In this world of sin and misery Christ necessarily suffered — suffered also because of righteousness, and because of His love. Morally, this feeling of sorrow is the necessary consequence of possessing a moral nature totally opposed to everything that is in this world." The second form might apply to the three and a half years of the Lord's ministry, for the pan seems to speak of open suffering.

The third form of testing, "in the frying pan," or "cauldron," might have reference to that last awful trial in which the personal devotedness of that Blessed One was tested to the full — the dreadful hour of the power of darkness, and the judgment of the cross. The cauldron combined the action of the fire and the water, the water speaking of Christ being directed in all His ways, even in His hour of greatest trial, by the word of God. (See Matt. 26:53-54; John 19:28). His unwavering devotedness to His Father's will enabled Him to pass through every trial, the greatest of which was when He suffered at the hand of a righteous and holy God, on the cross, as the sinners' substitute.

Fine flour mingled with oil would speak of "That holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called Son of God" (Luke 1:35). Leaven and honey are both forbidden to be put into any offering made by fire to Jehovah, the former invariably speaking of evil, as in "The leaven of malice and wickedness," producing the ferment of the lust of the flesh, and the revolt of the human will from God. With regard to the prohibition of leaven, there is a notable exception, in Leviticus 23:17, where the wave loaves set forth the church at Pentecost, sanctified and presented to God. Because these loaves set forth those in whom there was sin, a sin-offering was offered with them.

Honey speaks of the sweetness of nature, and of human affections which, though not evil in themselves, have no part in the worship of God. Salt symbolizes that which opposes corruption, and is therefore the opposite of leaven. On no account was salt to be lacking in any offering; it was "the salt of the covenant of thy God," a God Who is of holier eye than to behold iniquity, and who can only be satisfied with what is holy.

In "the oblation of thy first-fruits," it is the same Blessed One Who is brought before us. The first-fruits represent the new harvest, the revival of the buried seed, and fruitfulness out of death. The "green ears of corn roasted in fire" recall the Lord's solemn words to the women that followed Him, "If they do these things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry." He alone was the green tree, full of the sap and vigour of true spiritual life: all other men lay under the desolating power of death. He was also the green ears that were "full," complete and perfect, even unto death.

As these glories of "Christ, once humbled here," pass in vision before our souls, may it result in a sincere upsurge of affection toward the blessed Son of God.

The Peace Offering.

We can readily understand and appreciate the appropriate place which this offering occupies, in the divine record, in relation to the burnt offering and the meat offering, which we have already considered. The heart discerns, in some feeble measure, the infinite care, the faultless precision and the purposeful intention of the Holy Spirit, not merely in the choice of materials with which to set forth the matchless and unrivalled glories of the Person of the Christ, and the character and the magnitude of the work He has accomplished, but also in respect of the progressive order in which they are presented in the Scriptures of truth.

The essential character of the peace offering is communion, and the true child of God would do well to ponder its meaning and implications, for it derives its character from the sacrifice of Christ as accepted by God: from the burnt offering and the meat offering in which God has found perfect delight. Of the Lord Jesus, the apostle Peter says. "To whom coming, a living stone, cast away indeed as worthless by men, but with God chosen, precious … Behold, I lay in Zion a corner stone, elect, precious." How beautifully he adds, "To you therefore who believe is the preciousness." Well does the hymn writer exclaim, "And to know the blessed secret of His preciousness to Thee." Through the death of Christ we have the privilege of communion with God, with Christ and with each other. What immense and exalted privilege!

God claimed for Himself exclusively "The food of the offering," which was all the fat and the inward parts. How beautifully this speaks of the excellency, energy of will, the feelings, motives and affections of that Blessed One, which none but God could rightly or fully appreciate. All were tested by fire, and the action of the fire on the fat would bring out its supreme excellence. Everything in Jesus was divinely tested, and the trial only brought out His deep perfections; the more intensive the trial the greater the manifestation of the excellencies that were His. All went up to God as a sweet savour of rest; yea, more, God fed upon it, finding rest and delight in every movement of the heart and will of His beloved Son. In connection with this offering God claimed, as a perpetual statute, the fat and the blood; that which spoke of the will and the life of the Lord Jesus.

It is not without significance that a male or female could be offered. In Scripture, the male signifies position and the female state. Our communion with God has been secured through the death of Christ giving us a new place and a new state before Him: "We have also access by faith into this favour in which we stand," and we are "Sprinkled as to our hearts from a wicked conscience, and washed as to our body with pure water."

The peace offering has been taken by many as typifying the work of Christ making peace with God, but it is rather a praise or thanksgiving offering; in the French it is a "Sacrifice of prosperity." It is unquestionably a communion sacrifice, and thanksgiving and praise naturally flow from communion. This is confirmed in Leviticus 7:12 by the expression, "If he offer it for a thanksgiving." In chapter 3 we have what the offering is for God; it is reserved for the law of the offering to reveal the part of the priest and the offerer.

How blessed it is to note the repetition of the details in relation to each sacrificial animal; indicating that God never wearies of speaking of His beloved Son. Nothing was left to the imagination of man; all was carefully, minutely and divinely prescribed, so that God's people had only to obey.

In the seventh chapter we are told what was to be done with the various parts of the sacrifice: the fat, Jehovah's portion, was burned as incense, on the altar of burnt offering; the breast, which speaks of the devoted love of Christ, was fed upon by Aaron and his sons, who are typically Christ and His saints as the priestly family. We have been brought into a relationship where we can feast upon the love of Christ which passes knowledge; where each one can say, "The Son of God loved me, and gave Himself for me," and where together we can say, "Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it."

It was a love, divine in its source, mighty in its power, measureless in extent, quenchless in its character, eternal in its duration, that brought Him from the profound solitudes of an eternity that is past, into this world where man regards God as someone austere, Reaping where He had not sown, and gathering where He had not strawed. Into such a world, characterized by estrangement from God, and in a state of enmity towards Him, came the Son of the Father's bosom to lay bare the heart of God.

Is it not when we come together to partake of the Lord's Supper that we taste in a peculiar way the depth and sweetness of Christ's love? It is as those who love the Lord that we are brought together, drawn by the cords of His love; the bread and the cup speaking simply and yet so affectingly of the blessed Lord giving Himself in love to carry out the will of God. One has said, "In the Lord's supper, man is nothing, but Christ and His love is everything;" and another has touchingly remarked, "We have nothing to do in this retreat, but to sit down and enjoy what the Lord is."

In the assembly we are on the distinct footing of being part of Christ's company, associated with Him in resurrection. The breast was waved as a wave offering before the Lord, and in the assembly, as gathered around the Lord at His supper, we have the privilege of presenting to the Father the precious features of the Lord's love made known in death.

We are associated with the risen Christ, being suited to His company, for "Both He that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause He is not ashamed to call them brethren." How beautiful, therefore, in the light of this, are the words, "And the breast shall be Aaron's and his sons." With Christ we can enter into the deep joy that comes from feeding upon His love made known in His death for us.

When we come together, and function as priestsbefore God (1 Peter 2:5), we not only feed upon the breast, but also upon the right shoulder, upon the mighty strength of Him who went down into the depths of death, and ascended far above all heavens that He might fill all things. He is the true Benjamin, the One in whom there is strength, the Son of God's right hand: "Let Thy hand be upon the Man of Thy right hand, upon the Son of Man whom thou madest strong for Thyself" (Psalm 80:17).

Christ the Son of God was strong to resolve in His death the great and momentous question of sin, and to effect the conciliation of mercy and truth, righteousness and peace, in accordance with the requirements of God's holiness; and He was strong to take His great power to reign, consequent upon the overthrow and subjugation of every enemy: "Arise, Jehovah, into Thy rest, Thou and the ark of Thy strength" (Psalm 132:8). When he comes forth to reign His sceptre will be a sceptre of righteousness, as indicating the character of His reign, and there shall be no evil occurrent.

After the wave-breast and the right shoulder had been given to those for whom God had reserved them, the rest of the sacrifice was to be eaten on the day, or the day after, it was offered; whatever remained on the third day was to be burned with fire. Communion cannot be prolonged beyond the measure of spiritual power, and any endeavour to keep up a semblance of communion by fleshly effort is "An abomination" in the sight of God (Lev. 7:18).

The peace offering presents a truly wonderful picture of God, Christ and the saints together feeding, delighting together in the Lord Jesus and in His love, in His Person and His work. May the language of another be the sincere prayer of every heart: "Precious Saviour, Thou joy of our hearts, Thou infinitely Blessed One, maintain our communion uninterrupted until we see Thee face to face."

The Sin Offering.

The accustomed phrase "And Jehovah spake unto Moses," with which the Holy Spirit marks the fresh revelation of Leviticus 4, will no doubt arrest the attention of the devoted reader of Scripture. While we have three distinct offerings in the previous chapters, they all belong to the same revelation, and they are all similar in character, since they are all declared to be a sweet savour to God, which the sin offering and the trespass offering are not.

This notable distinction furnishes us with another convincing illustration of the infinite care and faultless precision of the Holy Spirit in His choice of words, for every expression of sin is infinitely abhorrent to the nature of a holy God. By its very nature the sin offering could not be regarded as a sweet savour offering, for in it God's holiness is expressed in unmitigated wrath against sin. God has no delight in judgment; it is His "strange work"; but His righteousness demands judgment on sin.

It is also significant that different words are used with regard to the burning of the sacrifices, words which in themselves distinguish between what was sweet savour and what typified or implied the wrath of God. The word relating to the former means to burn as incense, while the other signifies consuming to ashes. Let it, however, be remembered that even in those sacrifices which represented Jesus made sin for us, and thus only on the cross, He never was more dear to His God and Father, for the blood was sprinkled before God, and in certain cases put upon the horns of the golden altar; while all the fat which speaks of His excellence, was burnt as a sweet savour to God upon the altar.

God alone can rightly value and appreciate that "Sacrifice of richer blood" than those that were offered under the legal covenant, and which were but faint shadows of Him who is the glorious substance. May our thoughts be so controlled and governed by the Word of God as we consider these wonderful types, that we shall glean from the minute details given by the Spirit of God His own divine thoughts of the perfection of the work of the Lord Jesus.

The various sin offerings being identified with that which was in itself abhorrent to God, were not burnt on the altar. Those for the anointed priest, or for the sin of ignorance of the whole assembly of Israel were wholly consumed "outside the camp," like the sin offering of the Day of Atonement. The flesh of other sin offerings was eaten by the males of the priestly family (see Leviticus 7:6-7) in the holy place.

It is well for us to recognise the character of sins for which God made provision in the sin offering, as the divine command to Moses is, "Speak unto the children of Israel saying, if a soul shall sin through ignorance or inadvertance against any of the commandments of Jehovah, in things that ought not to be done, and do any of them … " The sacrifice was for unintentional sins, committed through unwatchfulness and lack of proper exercise in the fear of God. There was no provision made for sins of deliberate intent which manifested the high-handed assertion of man's will in defiance of God's commandments. Of wilful sin, it is written, "But the soul that doeth ought presumptuously … that soul shall be cut off from among his people, because he hath despised the word of Jehovah, and hath broken His commandment, that soul shall be utterly cut off: his iniquity shall be upon him" (Numbers 15:30-31).

There were many cases in which the soul was compelled to look outside the sacrificial forms, and to say like David, "Thou desirest not sacrifice, else would I give it; Thou delightest not in burnt offering"; and "Deliver me from blood-guiltiness, O God, Thou God of my salvation; and my tongue shall sing aloud of Thy righteousness" (Psalm 51:16, 14). Faith laid hold for salvation upon that to which these typical offerings pointed, but which they themselves were unable to effect.

No ignorance, however, avails to lessen the need for or alter the character of atonement. Sin is sin no less because we are too ignorant or indifferent to recognise it as such, and God must bring us to recognise His standard; He cannot come down to ours; and for the least sin, the wages of sin is death — the atoning victim dies. It is upon the penalty of sin that this offering insists more strongly than any other, as its name unmistakably implies. If the burnt offering speaks of the perfect obedience of Jesus, even unto death, in which we are accepted; and the peace offering gives us the ground of sweet communion that we enjoy with God consequent on the work of redemption; the sin offering declares the judgment of God which the sin-bearer must remove by coming under it.

It is rather remarkable that while we have three grades of burnt offerings, and three — though not quite so precise and distinct — of peace offerings, the sin offering has no less than seven forms. This is all the more remarkable when we consider that the voluntary element so conspicuous in the offerings of the earlier chapters is entirely lacking in the sin offering. The former offerings were an expression of the devotion of the worshipper, apart from any commandment, and according to his means. It was not so with the sin offering and the trespass offering; these were the inescapable claim of God upon the sinner, which could neither be diminished nor added to.

How precious it is to note the various grades connected with this offering, seven in all, the complete provision which God has made to meet every need of the sinner. All is perfectly apportioned in strict relation to the status of the offender, and how the heart is moved with a sense of the great mercy of God, as in the descending scale of apportionment we take account of the large concessions God makes, so that even the most impoverished can meet His righteous demands.

The various grades in the burnt offering express the different measures of apprehension found among the people of God in respect of the infinitely great and precious sacrifice of Christ. If there are measures of apprehension, there are also degrees of sin, and these latter are indicated in the different sin offerings. The gravity of sin must be measured in a two-fold way; first, with regard to the dignity of the offended One; secondly, with regard to the relative position of the offender.

We have therefore, first, the sin of the anointed priest (Lev. 4:3-12); secondly, the sin of the whole congregation (Lev. 4:13-21); thirdly, a ruler's sin (Lev. 4:22-26); fourthly, the sin of one of the people of the land (Lev. 4:27-35). If the priest, who represented the people before Jehovah, or if the whole congregation sinned, the blood, which was the witness of death, was sprinkled seven times before Jehovah, and was put upon the horns of the golden altar. God's claims were perfectly met in the blood sprinkled seven times before Him, and the worship and communion of the redeemed congregation restored by the blood on the horns of the altar.

When a prince, or ruler, or one of the people of the land transgressed, the worship of the host of Jehovah was not interrupted, and in such a case the blood was put upon the horns of the brazen altar. That the consequences of the sins of the anointed priest and of the whole congregation were most serious is not only seen in the place of the application of the blood, but also in the burning of the body of the victim outside the camp.

It may be remarked that so thoroughly is this aspect of the death of Jesus identified with the sin of man, that in the original tongue, the word for "sin" and "sin offering" is the same. In the light of this, does not that wonderful verse in Romans 8 assume a more significant aspect? "God, having sent His own Son, in likeness of flesh of sin, and for sin (or as a sin offering) has condemned sin in the flesh."

All these sacrifices, and the solemn and momentous teachings based thereon, speak with increasingly solemn voice to us, and read us deeply impressive lessons; and as we look more closely at some of the more outstanding features, may the Holy Spirit engrave these lessons upon our hearts.

"The priest that is anointed" is the first case considered. As has already been shown, the consequences of the sin of one near to Jehovah in priestly office are much greater than those of one not so highly favoured. But as having Christ before us in all the perfection of His work as the true sin offering, it would not be true to assert that the greater sins require a greater offering. No greater offering could be offered than that of the Blessed One who, by the Eternal Spirit, offered Himself without spot to God. This offering of infinite and eternal value avails for the sins of all who trust in Him, no matter how near or how far off they may have been in privilege to God, or whether they are five hundred pence or fifty pence debtors.

It is very sad when one who enjoys priestly relationships with God sins "according to the trespass of the people." How grave is the defection that brings into evidence the workings of the flesh in some form or other, which not only brings personal consequences, but which causes the assembly of God to suffer.

Nor is it without significance that in connection with the priest it does not speak — as in the cases of the assembly, the prince and the people — of his sin becoming known. Would not this suggest in regard to the three cases mentioned that there would be an interval of time between the sin and its becoming known to them? The omission in the case of the priest suggests that he would at once have the conscious, instinctive knowledge that he had sinned against the commandments of Jehovah.

From this we can readily discern that in those who are habitually near to God there is a holy sensitiveness that at once detects anything that is displeasing to God in the life and service, and which immediately turns the heart to God in self-judgment and confession. Is it not in this way that we can estimate how far we have advanced in our apprehension of the holiness of God? by our sensitive reaction to what is contrary to it. How we ought to covet the development of the spiritual sensibilities whereby we should detect instinctively the merest deflection from that which is pleasing to God.

With many of us, when there have been actions or words or feelings which are distinctively of the flesh, some time may elapse before there is any true movement towards self-judgment. Does this not indicate that nearness has not been known or preserved? Otherwise the distance that sin produces would have been more quickly and keenly felt. If we are not habitually near to God, we may go on for a long time with what is of the flesh without detecting it, and it may take a sharp word of warning from that Word which is "Living and operative, and sharper than any two-edged sword," to awaken us to the reality of our state, or it may even necessitate a season of humbling discipline to arouse us from the stupefying effects of the activity of the flesh.

Sin is never quiescent, and by its innate virulence it saps our spiritual vitality until we reach such a state of powerlessness as to be unable to resist its onslaughts: but God, in His faithful love, would by His Word, and also in His disciplinary ways with us, open our eyes to see that "The way of transgressors is hard." With what conviction can the beloved Psalmist say, "Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep Thy Word."

Our true liberty lies in judging what is of the flesh inwardly, so that although it is fully discerned by us, and we are humbled in discerning it, there is no outward manifestation of it by which occasion would be given for "The way of truth to be evil spoken of." How comforting then to reflect that the very moment there is the consciousness of having sinned, the divine provision is seen to be at hand.

Such indeed is the wondrous grace of Him who is the God of all grace — Christ is at once introduced as the true sin offering. Let us therefore turn to God at once when there has been a movement of the flesh, and avail ourselves of the rich and effectual provision which God has set forth in Christ as the sin offering.

That deep and holy self-judgment that God desires is not brought about by undue occupation with the sin committed, but by apprehending Christ in relation to it, and by taking up with God what it has cost Him to deal with it and put it away. The enemy would seek to keep sin before us, and darken our spirits with it, and in this way hinder us from turning to God to learn the all-sufficiency of Christ in relation to it. It will be seen therefore that from God's side restoration is not necessarily a lengthy process, nor need it be from ours if there is that sensitiveness to what is so abhorrent and so dishonouring to God.

How blessed it is to realise that "if any one sin, we have a patron with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous." J. N. Darby helpfully remarks, "The word Patron is the same word translated Comforter in John 14, etc. Christ manages all our affairs for us above, the Holy Spirit below. There is no word satisfactory to embrace both passages in English. I use Patron in the sense rather of the Roman patron who maintained the interests of his client in every way. So Christ on high: the Spirit here for saints." The advocacy of our blessed Lord produces in the soul of the one who has offended those healthful exercises which result in complete restoration to that place of communion with the Father which had been lost by reason of sin. In the light of this, how touching and how deeply significant are the words of the blessed Lord to Peter, "I have prayed for thee."

The sin offering, in each case, is brought to the entrance of the tent of meeting, or to the place of the burnt offering. While it is not necessary or desirable to speak indiscriminately of our wrong-doing, there must be perfect transparency and willingness to acknowledge our sin. There can be no attempt to cover things up; there must be the full realization, and complete acknowledgment, of the enormity of our guilt. How readily we can do this if we have a true apprehension of Christ as the sin offering. As we place, so to speak, our hand upon the head of the sin offering, thereby signifying complete identification with it, the thought presents itself to the heart and conscience, that in Christ the offering is greater far than the sin.

The priest then brought the blood into the tent of meeting and sprinkled it "before Jehovah, before the veil of the Sanctuary," not once, or twice, but seven times, thereby indicating that God would have the offender in the sense of the perfection of the efficacy of the blood of Christ that removes the stain of sin before Him, and from the conscience. The blood is then put on the horns of the altar of fragrant incense. Would not this intimate how the offerer is restored to full liberty of communion and confidence in prayer?

All the blood of the bullock being poured out at the bottom of the altar of burnt offering seems to provide the basis, as it were, for the offering of the fat, which speaks of Christ in all His excellence. While Christ is viewed as the sin offering, His blood shed fully vindicating every righteous claim of the altar, yet His value could not be limited to the removal of sin, for in the offering of the fat, all of which was burnt on the altar, we see the infinite satisfaction and good pleasure of God in the excellence of Him who offered Himself to secure His glory.

In the burning of the whole bullock outside the camp, we see typically the complete consumption in holy judgment of what was so offensive to God; and the ashes speak of judgment eternally exhausted.

Having dealt in detail with the sin offering of the anointed priest, it will suffice to mark some of the outstanding features connected with the other offerings mentioned in the chapter, since the same wonderful Sacrifice is more than sufficient to meet every demand, no matter how exacting those demands may be. The sin of "The whole assembly" is a very serious matter since, like the sin of the anointed priest, it interferes with the service of God. The thing may be "hid from the eyes of the congregation," but it is not hid from the eyes of Him before whom everything is "open and naked."

All around us today we see unmistakable evidences of the sin of "The whole assembly," and this is brought before us in a very marked way in Revelation 2 and 3. The assembly has left its first love, and has ceased to be in subjection to Jesus as Lord. It does not hold Christ as Head, nor does it own in a practical way the blessed reality of the presence of the Holy Spirit. What we see around us is an established order affiliated to the world, which is of man and not of God. The Lord has called upon the assembly to repent, and gives space for repentance (see Rev. 2:5, 16, 21, 22; Rev. 3:3, 19), and grace has provided the sin offering. Alas! Alas! The professing church is found in Laodicea with Christ outside its door.

A prince or ruler was one who cared for God's order among His people. It was more serious for such to sin than for "one of the people of the land." So it is today; failure in one who leads among the saints of God, or who professes to be a leader, is viewed by God very seriously. The restoration of such calls for a more mature and intelligent apprehension of Christ as the sin offering as the means of forgiveness and restoration, and for deeper self-judgment, since the measure of self-judgment is the measure of our apprehension of Christ as the sin offering. So the prince who has sinned brings a "male" offering.

The blood being put on the horns of the altar of burnt offering, and the fat burnt on the altar, links the sin offering with the burnt offering. How precious the thought that in passing through the deep exercise of self-judgment with God in regard to our sin, we are brought into the blessed realization of what Christ is to God as the true burnt offering. It would not be in keeping with God's movements towards us in grace to leave us merely with the negative thought of being relieved of our sin; He would also give us the precious sense of the sweet odour of Christ as the burnt offering.

Little need be added regarding the sin of "one of the people of the land," save to note that the offerer brings a female goat or sheep, thereby indicating a weaker apprehension of Christ than the prince. Let it not be thought, however, that this infers his sin is more easily atoned for, or that anything less than the full value of the death of Christ could atone for it.

In all that has passed before us in these pages the dominant thought has surely been how Christ and His death is apprehended by the faith and affections of the saints of God, and in this we cannot go beyond our measure. How blessed to find in the all-sufficiency of Christ the perfect and absolute answer to every need, whether as sinners or as saints. It was sovereign mercy that met us in all our deep need as sinners; it is divine mercy that sustains us in all the trying and difficult circumstances of the pilgrim pathway as we "await the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life."

To understand the book of Leviticus, it is essential to understand that access to God in His dwelling place, the tabernacle, is in view. The burnt offering was for the acceptance of the offerer before God. Even the sin offering, as brought before us here, is to meet the errors and failures of those who had been brought to God through redemption. Israel had been sheltered from divine judgment by the blood of the paschal lamb, and the sin offering of the Day of Atonement secured their relations with God.

In Leviticus 5:1-6 we have three specific cases, which in principle appear to cover every kind of failure in the practical ways of God's people. The first is failure in respect of witness; the second is failure as to the maintenance of separation; and the third is failure regarding sobriety or self-control.

The first instance of guilt concerns one who, forgetting that there is a "time to be silent," forgets also that there is a "time to speak," and has failed to divulge that which he was responsible to make known. It is not unknown among the people of God that those who could have borne witness have maintained a reprehensible silence so as to shelter an evildoer. This is a serious matter, especially in relation to the things of God, for it is said of such, "If he do not give information, then he shall bear his iniquity."

The Blessed Lord is in this matter, as in all others, the great Exemplar. When before the High Priest, He heard the voice of adjuration, and witnessed a good confession (Matt. 26:63). It is not merely a great privilege, it is our bounden duty to be confessors of the truth, witnesses to Christ in every sphere and in every circumstance. Alas! how often we fail to speak well and worthily of Him who witnessed the good confession before Pontius Pilate (1 Tim. 6:13). We shrink from the reproach attaching to His precious Name.

The words of the hymn-writer come with a definite challenge to each of us, "Jesus, and shall it ever be, a mortal man ashamed of Thee?" What an example the apostles give us in Acts 5:41, "They therefore went their way from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to be dishonoured for the Name."

It will no doubt be readily acknowledged that the character and energy of our testimony will only be in proportion to the measure in which we have apprehended the truth concerning the Person of Christ; as the beloved apostle could say in 1 John 1:3, "That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us." Our witness is to be of what we have seen or known in Jesus. He is the great subject-matter of all divine testimony; He is the inexhaustible source from which it flows, and the peerless object to which it is directed.

Let us not discount the value, nor the importance of our testimony for the Lord Jesus. It may not partake of the character of what was seen in the great apostle — strong, positive, robust, and unyielding. Natural timidity and a reserved disposition, such as were in Timothy, may mark us, but even these will not hinder a valiant testimony to Christ, for "God hath, not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind" (2 Tim. 1:7).

In Leviticus 5:2-3 we have another instance of failure; failure to maintain a walk in separation from defilement. The word of God speaks with no uncertain voice as to the true character of the world through which the children of God pass as pilgrims and strangers. God's word tells us that "The whole world lies in the wicked one"; and exhorts us, "Love not the world, nor the things of the world. If any one love the world, the love of the Father is not in him; because all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world" (1 John 5:19; 2:15-16).

The world's system, in all its ramifications, is inherently and implacably hostile and antagonistic to God and His Christ. Do not temporise, dear saint of God, with its alluring approaches, do not parley with its plausible and seductive sophistries. Men have christianised the world, substituting other names to make its contours less offensive, but in spite of all his purposive and well-intentioned activities, that friendly outstretched hand of the world is still darkly stained with the blood of the Son of God.

How necessary, therefore, it is for us to maintain that inflexible and uncompromising separation from such a world, not in the spirit of legality which results in a state of austere monasticism, but in the all-conquering, overcoming power of the Spirit by which we shall be able to say with the beloved apostle, "But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified to me. and I unto the world" (Gal. 6:14).

On this subject, the late J. N. Darby wrote, "Whatever Christ's present relation to the world is, that is the Christian's too — the place which the Lord is in above, and the place that He is not in below, defines our place. Whence is all this? Will it surprise anyone to hear that Satan is the god of this world … the manager of this stupendous system? His is the energy, his the presiding genius; he is its prince. When Jesus was on earth the devil came and offered Him all the kingdoms of the earth and the glory of them; for, said he, that is delivered unto me, and to whomsoever I will I give it, if thou therefore wilt worship me all shall be thine. Here we have the curtain lifted, and the real object of all human religious worship exposed. Scripture describes him as "full of wisdom, perfect in beauty" arraying himself "like an angel of light." Who can wonder if unthinking men, yea, and the more thinking ones, are deceived and deluded."

Privilege and position always carry with them weighty responsibility; and so the child of God, heavenly in character and origin, finding himself in a world where defilement is so easily contracted, realizes that it is incumbent upon him to keep himself unspotted from the world. How sweet therefore to us the word of the Blessed Lord as He pours out His heart to the Father concerning His own, "They are not of the world as I am not of the world. I do not demand that Thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that Thou shouldest keep them out of evil" (John 17:14-15).

Many kinds and degrees of uncleanness are presented in figure in the touching of the things mentioned in these verses. In a world of forfeited life, the defilement of death lies heavily on the whole sphere where he who wields the power of death holds sway. We cannot be on terms of intimacy and friendship with those who belong to this world, or make companions of them, and walk with them, without being rendered unclean.

The unclean creatures of verse 2 would perhaps typify that which is outside of ourselves — associations with unbelievers, as referred to in 2 Cor. 6; while the uncleanness of man in verse 3 would perhaps suggest what we have in 2 Cor. 7:1, "Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God." Surely the Spirit of God places these promises before us as providing the necessary stimulus to practical personal purity. Can anything be more obnoxious than the pretension of separation from the world along with indifference to true holiness?

Of the saints collectively the apostle Paul writes, "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?" and of us individually he writes, "Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you?" In the light of these solemn Scriptures it is surely our clear and habitual duty to cleanse ourselves from every kind of pollution.

In verse 4 of our chapter we have the third form of sin specified, "talking rashly with the lips, to do evil or to do good, in everything that a man shall say rashly with an oath." If it was to do evil, one ought never to have said it; if it was to do good, one ought not to say it without doing it. The more rash a man is in his speech, the more likely he is to strengthen what he says by an oath. Peter was guilty of great rashness when confronted with his association with Jesus the Galilean. He denied with an oath, "I do not know the man"; and at the third challenge he began to curse and swear. A man whose words and ways are formed in subjection to the Spirit and word of God does not speak rashly with his lips, he heeds the word, "But let your word be Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil" (Matt. 5:37). How often does the unsubdued state of the heart expose itself in the rashness of the lips. Indeed, James says, "If anyone offend not in word, he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body too."

If one has sinned therefore in any of the ways referred to, the moment comes "when he knoweth it." The probe of conviction, employed so skillfully by the Searcher of all hearts, reaches the conscience through the word. A cloud comes over the joy which comes through communion; our spiritual strength is enfeebled; our faith sensibly weakened, and there is the surrender of liberty in the service of the Lord, in prayer and in fellowship with the saints.

One who is upright cannot remain long in this state of defilement, and so turns to God in confession, and learns afresh the abiding value of the work of Christ regarding our sins. This secures the restoration of the offender to the joy of his acceptance, and to the joys of communion.

There are differences in capacity in the saints of God, and He has graciously made provision for this. The one considered in verses 7-10 is feebler in his exercises and in his apprehension of the work of Christ, but he receives the needed forgiveness though he can only bring "two turtle doves or two young pigeons."

There is even a feebler apprehension in him who brings "the tenth part of an ephah of fine flour." He has no true perception that his sin necessitated the death of Christ; he fails to measure it in its true gravity, and does not realise that sin is such a heinous thing in God's sight that death alone is the measure of its condemnation. Yet he has the sense that he has done wrong, and with this the sense of the perfectness of Christ and that only through Him can he be restored to communion with God.

Whatever our apprehension of the death of Christ, how blessed it is to realise that our acceptance and forgiveness rest, not on our apprehension, but on the intrinsic value of Christ's sacrifice as known to God alone.

The Trespass Offering.

Lev. 5:14-26; Lev. 6:1-7.

While there is a strong correlation between the sin and trespass offerings, the distinguishable features belonging to each are sufficiently outstanding to permit of the following distinctions being made. Trespass refers to acts done against God or man, and to the root from which these acts proceed. No doubt it has been noticed, when considering the sin offering, that specific acts are not enumerated, since the primary object to which our thoughts are directed is the condemnation of that which is totally abhorrent to the holiness of God, and in the light of which man is shown to be a sinner; but with the trespass offering specific offences are recorded, and man is regarded as a transgressor.

Without question, all transgression is sin, but all sin does not necessarily partake of the character of trespass. It can be confidently affirmed therefore that in the sin offerings the condemnation of sin is the main point to be considered, whereas in the trespass offering the confession of sin is necessary. In the sin offering the victim and the offerer are identified, the laying on of hands on the head of the victim being the suited expression of this; but this was never done in cases of trespass, although confession, full and ample, was required.

It cannot be too often asserted that sin is not measured by conscience or by the knowledge of what is evil, but exclusively by the holiness of God; so that, as we saw in Leviticus 4, sins of ignorance were neither ignored nor lightly passed over, but were provided for in the most solemn manner possible. The mention of sins of ignorance or inadvertence is not made in the spirit of indulgence, for the child of God having the word of God and being indwelt by the Spirit of God should not be guilty of negligence.

In the trespass offerings to meet offences done against the Lord, whether known or unknown, the blood of a victim alone could suffice; and added to this the offender had to make ample amends for the harm done. In cases of trespass against one's neighbour, adequate restitution had to be made for the wrong done; not only had the principal to be restored, but a fifth part added. Even when human claims were met, forgiveness and atonement could only be obtained through the death of another, "for without the shedding of blood is no remission."

How blessed it is to see all that is signified in the trespass-offering divinely met in Christ's sacrifice, who restored that which He took not away, and who brought glory to God in doing so.

In this brief review of the contrasting aspects of these offerings it would appear that in the sin offering the offence is regarded in relation to God and His dwelling place, hence self-judgment and confession are needed. But there is another aspect, equally important, in which sin is viewed as an offence against God's government; and it is in this connection that restitution has to be considered.

We read in Leviticus 5:15, "If a soul commit a trespass, and sin through ignorance, in the holy things of Jehovah." It is very evident that such an one has failed to render what was due to God, and is therefore guilty of an offence. What was true of God's earthly people is alas also often true of saints in these days; we fail to render to God what is His due.

It is very blessed to note that it is not left to the capricious judgment of men to determine the measure of trespass inflicted. Christ, as typified by Moses, is the only One competent to estimate the degree of unfaithfulness in accordance with divine requirements. When Christ brings this before the soul, one who is intelligent in God's mind would be concerned to make good the deficiency, and even go beyond it.

Following this there is the presentation of the divine standard, the shekel of the sanctuary, by which the trespass is measured. It ought to occasion great concern to see how holy things are trifled with and made the plaything of the mind of man; God's rights of redemption are ignored, and the holiness of his sanctuary defiled in many ways. May we be found therefore acting with reference to these holy things in intelligent concert with Him who rightly estimates everything in accordance with that invariable standard, "the shekel of the sanctuary." In Revelation 2 and 3 we see the Lord Jesus estimating the church's failure according to the divine standard.

Another marked difference between the sin offering and the trespass offering is that in the former the offering is according to the capacity of the offerer, the one who has sinned, but in the latter all is according to the valuation of Moses — typical of Christ. How suitable it is that in every case the offering is a ram; speaking of Christ who, in the selflessness of a love in which every-thing was subordinated to the will of God even unto death, displayed in complete consecration to that will a steadfastness of purpose which resisted every attempt to deflect Him from the path of unquestioning obedience upon which He had entered for the glory of God.

A ram indicates maturity and energy, and suggests, in accordance with divine evaluation, a definite and distinct apprehension of Christ as affording in His death that adequate covering of the sin which has been committed in the "holy things." In keeping with this, the measure and character of self-judgment must be in perfect correspondence with the divine estimate of our sin which can only be met by the "ram of the trespass offering."

In Leviticus 5:17-19 we have one who does not even know that he has sinned, "Yet is he guilty, and shall bear his iniquity … he has certainly trespassed against Jehovah." One should always realise the possibility of having sinned without knowing it. What carefulness and sensitiveness this would produce in the path of one who desires to walk with God, even as Paul could say, "I am conscious of nothing in myself; but I am not justified by this; but He that examines me is the Lord" (1 Cor. 4:4). We may not know that we have trespassed, but the One who measures all by the inflexible standard of the shekel of the sanctuary knows. The words of the Psalmist, in this connection, come home with much-needed reproof and admonition to each one of us, "Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting."

It is truly remarkable to see the spirit that actuated Job; how concerned he was lest his sons should have offended in word or in deed to provoke the displeasure of God; and with divinely given intelligence he provided sacrifices to meet God's claims. Nor was this a fitful exercise, for it is recorded, "This did Job continually."

We shall no doubt have the Lord's valuation at the judgment-seat, but is it not desirable to have it beforehand? The trespass offering is available now, and those healthful exercises connected with this offering would lead to an increased appreciation of Christ, and an enlarged apprehension of the value which God places upon Christ's offering of Himself as being more than sufficient to meet every trespass occasioned by our failure to walk in subjection to the will of God.

As already stated, the trespass offering involves restitution. Grace comes in to enable one to make full reparation. It is not only that atonement is made, but what is due to God or one's neighbour is fully rendered with a fifth part added. Nor is it only being forgiven, and going on with God as forgiven, but the failure is made good, so that the one whose rights had been infringed is better off than before. If we have injured a brother in any way, having said anything untrue about him, or the like, and have really brought the trespass offering according to the Lord's valuation, we shall restore in full. The Lord will enable us to take a low place in the acknowledgment of the fault, and the injured will rejoice in the display of grace.

The opening verses of Leviticus 6 are concerned with "If any one sin and act unfaithfully against Jehovah, and lie to his neighbour as to an entrusted thing or a deposit." As children of God, being partakers of the divine nature, and as having the Spirit of God indwelling us, we can take account of each other as vessels in which there has been deposited precious heavenly treasure. This divine grace, given according to the measure of the gift of Christ, we must regard as a "good deposit entrusted," and we must see that this priceless treasure suffers no diminution or damage in our hands, but that it is held faithfully for the Lord and His saints.

All that the Lord has given to us we hold on trust, and we are under obligation to use it to full advantage for the good of all His own. The beloved apostle Paul was deeply conscious of having things entrusted to him, and how exercised he was that he should not be guilty in regard to them, as we can see in such Scriptures as Romans 1:14-15; 1 Cor. 9:16-23; 1 Tim. 1:11. Like the apostle, each saint in his measure, is to be faithful in regard to what the Lord has entrusted to him.

"Earthen vessels, marred, unsightly,
Bearing wealth no thought can know;
Heavenly treasure, gleaming brightly,
Christ revealed in saints below."

The Law of the Burnt Offering.

In Leviticus 6 and Leviticus 7 we come, in our consideration of the offerings, to a very important and instructive portion of the Word of God. The oft repeated phrase "Aaron and his sons" brings into prominence the thought of the priestly family to which every child of God, without exception, belongs: and it is connected specially with "the law of the offerings," which indicates the principle on which the service of God relating to the offerings must be carried on.

Before considering the detail of this attractive and absorbing subject, let us view the divine order in which these offerings are brought before us here by the Spirit of God. (1) The Burnt Offering, of which the central thought is "it shall not go out." There is constantly before God the voluntary and absolute surrender of Christ in which He delights, the unhesitating obedience and devotedness of the Son to the Father. The fragrance of that one offering, unchanged in character and its fulness unimpaired, ever ascends to God.

(2) The Meat Offering, of which a memorial, with all the frankincense, was claimed for God; Aaron, his sons, and all the males among his children eating what remained. (3) The Sin Offering, which is constantly referred to as "most holy." (4) The Trespass Offering, all the fat of which was burned on the altar to the Lord, the flesh being eaten by the priests in a holy place. (5) The Peace Offering, which in the earlier chapter came after the meat offering and before the sin offering, here comes last. Jehovah, Aaron and his sons, the offerer and his friends, feast and joy together. Joint communion is generally last to be apprehended when considering the meaning of the sacrifices.

The type with which we are now engaged has manifestly to do with those who are now God's "holy priesthood" (1 Peter 2:5), a precious thought which cannot fail to arouse and hold the attention of every redeemed heart. We find in this type the application of the sacrifice of Christ as bringing the saints into all the unspeakable blessedness of fullest communion with God. Our place before God as priests is brought before us in the consecration of the priesthood, in chapter 8.

How very significant is the statement "the burnt offering shall be on the hearth on the altar all night unto the morning." For the saint of God this is the night period, the time of Christ's absence. Our adorable Saviour and Lord, whose claims we own, has been disowned by this world over which a usurper exerts his baneful power; but amidst the darkness the saints in fidelity to their absent Lord are privileged to witness for Him.

The professing church is in irretrievable ruin, the object of disrepute and dishonour in the eyes of a hostile world, the refuge of every God-dishonouring religious faction that takes the name of Christ though shorn of every vestige of divine approval, and which in a coming day will have the unqualified repudiation of Him whose witness it claims to be. How dark indeed is the night as the moral darkness settles down with ever increasing intensity upon this deluded world.

Those who are patiently waiting for the dawning of that wondrous day which knows no decline will be cheered with the words "it shall never go out," knowing that they tell us that the value and the sweet savour of the great sacrifice of Christ is as fresh before God as the day on which it was offered. Despite our waywardness, our wilfulness and our unfaithfulness, our acceptance before God remains unimpaired because of the abiding efficacy of the work of Him "who by the eternal Spirit offered Himself spotless to God." And when we reach the glorious consummation of all God's ways in grace, where God shall be all in all, the fragrance of that offering shall still pervade the sublime scene where God eternally smells that sweet savour of rest.

Christ's offering of Himself was a "whole burnt offering," in which all that He was in complete devotedness to the will of God in the place of sacrifice was found to be infinitely perfect and fragrant to the heart of the Blessed God.

It was the priests' business to keep the fire burning, "all night unto the morning," and the fragrance of Christ is ever kept in remembrance in the praises of the saints. Fervent affections in which the preciousness and perfections of Christ are maintained and cherished in the hearts of the saints by the Holy Spirit rise in glad songs of praise to the Father. Neither natural activity, no matter how intelligently directed, nor fleshly ardour, can have any part in these responsive movements of the heart and spirit.

In the oil for the Candlestick (Ex. 27:20) there is a beautiful type of the Spirit maintaining the light of Christ in refreshing ministry to His own during the night of His absence; and can we not see in the "continual fire" the Spirit as the power in which we present Christ in all the fragrance of His Person in our praises to God the Father; as we sometimes sing:
"His deep perfections gladly sing
And tell them forth to Thee."

It is a most inspiring thought that the Father should in the Son be seeking worshippers from among men. How wonderful to find the Son of God in Samaria ministering to the woman at the well the precious things of heaven, pouring into the heart of a weary sinner in copious measure those streams of heavenly grace which find their source in the heart of the Father Himself. Here we find the branches running over the wall in blessing to those who were "sinners of the Gentiles."

The worship the Son sought for the Father was "in spirit and in truth." In spirit is according to what God is essentially; and in truth in accordance with that full revelation of Himself in the Son. What a blessed place is this where we can so worship God! As another has said, "Here is the true Beulah land for the saint, where the birds sing ever, and the heart goes forth in perpetual melody. God delights to have us remind Him — though He can never forget it — of the work of the Son of His love: how sweet our occupation!"

As we read of the work of the priest in relation to "the ashes" do we not learn that God would have us brought into practical conformity with that which calls forth the worship of our hearts. The linen garments indicate that we should be characterised by practical righteousness, and in taking up the ashes we should live in conformity to the death of Christ. How fittingly does the passionate utterance of Ruth rest upon the lips of those who have been brought into God's favour through Christ's death: "Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried."

We have a similar thought in Acts 8, where Philip had spoken to the Ethiopian eunuch about Jesus, whose life was taken from the earth. The response of the eunuch was, "See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?" As though he would say, "I want to accept the place of death with Him whose life was taken from the earth." It is only righteous that we should accept death here, and we can only act in the current of God's thoughts when we do so. Paul makes this the basis of his appeal in his epistle to the Colossians, "If ye be dead with Christ" (Col. 2:20); and again in 2 Timothy 2:11, "If we be dead with Him, we shall also live with Him."

Having taken our place before God as having died with Christ, we "put on other garments." Do not the other garments suggest the character we bear as walking before men in conformity with the death of Christ? We go forth "without the camp unto a clean place." We must leave everything here that has a name, or a place, or a religious sanction upon earth, to bear the reproach of One who has no place here, save in the hearts of those who love Him, even as exhorted in Hebrews 13:12-14, "Therefore let us go forth unto Him without the camp, bearing His reproach. For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come."

The Law of the Meat Offering.

In the pursuance of the wonderful theme of these richly expressive types, which are descriptive of Him who is the glorious substance of these shadows, we are deeply conscious that without the sustaining power of the Spirit the heart would be overwhelmed with such a presentation of the excellencies and perfections of Christ. And nowhere is the truth of this more greatly emphasised than in the Meat Offering. In Leviticus 1 we have what relates to the offering itself, but in the law we have the relation of the priests, "Aaron and his sons," to the offering.

Every child of God is a priest, and God would have all His children aware of the holiness which becomes His house at all times, and realising the necessity for unrelaxed vigilance with respect to our comportment before men, lest we should allow anything inconsistent with priestly ways and behaviour. As priests we should ever be marked with the holy concern consistent with handling the holy things of God.

We come in Leviticus 6:14 to the law of the meat offering or oblation, which means "gift offering," or "food offering," which the sons of Aaron offered "before the LORD, before the altar." What an accept-able offering to bring to God! that which speaks of Christ as the food of His people. And how wonderful that we should be able to feed on Him who is thus acceptable to God, Christ in all the perfections of His Manhood, the One conceived by the Spirit, and the anointed Man for God's pleasure in this world.

In John 6:51-57 we feed upon Christ as the Bread of God, the Living Bread. Under law the privilege of feeding on the sacrifices was sometimes restricted, but it is the privilege of all believers in Christ to feed upon the provision that God has made for us in Christ. We feed upon Christ not only for the maintenance of the life that God has given us, but also for its development. Let us consider some of the ways in which we may feed on Christ.

When the feast of the Passover was instituted, God commanded the children of Israel to take a lamb and kill it and sprinkle its blood upon the door-posts and the lintel of the houses in which they were to eat the flesh of the lamb "roast with fire," saying, "When I see the blood, I will pass over you." They were to eat it with bitter herbs and with girded loins, with shoes on their feet and a staff in their hands. How touchingly this speaks of our own deliverance from a bondage greater far than that out of which the children of Israel were delivered, even from the bondage of sin.

Awakened by the Spirit of God to a sense of our perilous position, and alarmed at the thought of impending judgment, how eagerly we fed upon the spotless Lamb that had passed through the fire of God's holy judgment, borne for us upon the tree. It was indeed with bitter herbs we ate the Lamb, as we realised it was our sins that brought Him to that solemn hour in which He was alone.

The second time we read of Israel keeping the Passover was in the wilderness, and it is as pilgrims and strangers awaiting our absent, yet soon-returning, Lord that we feed upon Him. Again, in the land, Israel kept the Passover. Over the Jordan it was not only a memorial of deliverance, but of accomplished redemption. So with the believer now: we have a position corresponding to being "in the land," for not only have we been quickened together with Christ, but are already raised up together, and made to sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus (Eph. 2:6).

Another character in which the Lord Jesus is presented as food for His people is as the Manna, and the fulfilment of this type is seen in the passage to which we have already referred in John 6. Manna was food for the wilderness, and presents to us Christ, a humbled Christ in this world. This singularly attractive type brings before us the matchless, heavenly grace which marked Him in His lowly path of pleasure for His God and Father, exhibiting His obedience, meekness, gentleness, dependence, the love of righteousness, the hatred of lawlessness, and every other feature of perfection.

All these traits of beauty came down from heaven in the wondrous Person of "the Son of Man who is in heaven," and were displayed in a life of lowly grace here upon earth, and now provided for us as food — the true Manna. Another has said, "For instance something may make me impatient during the day; well, then Christ is my patience, and thus He is the Manna to sustain me in patience. He is the source of grace, not merely the example which I am to copy."

A third character in which the Lord Jesus is food for our souls is as the Old Corn of the land (Joshua 5:11). In verses 10-12 of this chapter we have the three kinds of food mentioned of which we have spoken, the Passover, the Manna and the Old Corn (or Stored Corn) of the land. The Old Corn speaks to us of the Glorified Christ: He is the true food of the heavenly land that strengthens us for the conflict against principalities and authorities (Eph. 6:12), who would contest our right to the possession of the inheritance God has given to us in Christ.

Coming back to the Law of the Meat Offering our attention is drawn to the portion of the priests. In feeding upon the Meat Offering we are not then contemplating what is found in the other offerings, atonement and acceptance, but are engaged pre-eminently with the perfections and matchless beauty of Christ in Manhood that were so delightful to the Father. As occupied with Jesus in this way we enter in sweet communion into the enjoyment of the Father's thoughts concerning His Son, and under the Spirit's guidance the heart wells up and overflows in praise and worship.
"His deep perfections gladly sing
And tell them forth to Thee."

In the presentation of the gift before Jehovah we have indicated the privilege of our coming before God to present Christ in His perfections, the heart delighting in the display in Him of every feature of Manhood before the Father's eye. A new kind of humanity has come in the Person of Jesus, perfect in every detail, and suitable to be anointed by the Holy Spirit. No flaw of mortality lurked in His blessed Person, and even in the grave his flesh saw no corruption. How touchingly the Father has expressed His unqualified delight in the Man of His good pleasure; how fittingly therefore in the type before us that God has the first portion as the priest takes or heaves his handful of fine flour of the oblation and of the oil, and all the frankincense, for Jehovah.

The remainder was for Aaron and his sons to eat. There was no feeding on the Burnt Offering: all went up to Jehovah on the altar. We can in varying measures appreciate what this offering means, but it is not ours to feed upon; it speaks of what Christ was to God His Father in the giving of Himself upon the cross. But how wonderful that we can feed upon Christ as the True Meat Offering! It is as feeding upon Him in this way that the moral sensibilities and characteristics which are descriptive of Christ are formed in us.

It was to be eaten in a holy place, unleavened, "in the court of the tabernacle of the congregation they shall eat it." Does not this indicate that it is only as we are withdrawn in spirit from the sphere of human thoughts and activities that we can feed on Christ? In the tabernacle the priest was surrounded with God's interests, and it is as engaged with what belongs to God that we feed on Christ.

Feeding on the Manna we receive the grace that enables us to meet all the trials and temptations of the wilderness, but the oblation is the suited provision to sustain those who stand in relation to the testimony of God in this world, and to strengthen us in the worship of God. Feeding on Christ as the oblation will give us spiritual vitality for our exercises in communion with the Lord.

The oblation was to be unleavened. The insidious, fermenting motions of the flesh could not be tolerated by Jehovah. As most holy, it calls for a consistent walk in the Spirit, and for continual self-judgment; for true sanctification in occupation with Christ.

Then we read "It shall be a statute for ever in your generations concerning the offerings of the LORD made by fire: every one that toucheth them shall be holy" (Lev. 5:18). Feeding on Christ produces moral separation from the world and sin and the flesh. What then are we nourishing our affections on? Is it Christ or the worthless, enervating things of the world?

In Lev. 5:20 another offering is mentioned, which was to be presented by the priest on the day of his anointing; it was not a voluntary offering, it was obligatory. Half was to be offered in the morning, the other half at night, indicating that the day was to commence and finish with thoughts of Christ. The normal oblation was either mingled with oil or anointed with oil; this offering was to be saturated with oil, a more intensive thought. As Mr Darby has said, "The Son of God in power, who, in the midst of sin walked by the Spirit in divine and absolute holiness (resurrection being the illustrious and victorious proof of who He was, walking in this character). That is to say, resurrection is a public manifestation of that power by which He walked in absolute holiness during His life. … Here it was no question of promise, but of power, of Him who could enter into conflict with the death in which man lay, and overcome it completely; and that in connection with the holiness which bore testimony during His life to the power of that spirit by which He walked, and in which He guarded Himself from being touched by sin."

Is this the Blessed One with whom we begin the day? as the Psalmist said, "When I awake, I am still with Thee." And can we, after the busy day is over, present to God in all the freshness of sustained communion our appreciation of that wondrous Person in correspondence with the measure in which we began the day? A day which begins and ends thus will be filled with the fragrance of that which is peculiarly for the Father's delight, for this offering "shall be wholly burnt: it shall not be eaten" (Lev. 5:23).

"The baken pieces of the meat offering" (Lev. 5:21) might suggest that spiritual discernment by which every part and detail of Christ's wondrous life can be discovered by those who find Him truly to be "all things and in all."

The Law of the Sin Offering and of the Trespass Offering

Leviticus 6:24-30; Leviticus 7:1-10.

It is solemn to reflect that no matter what relationship God has been pleased to establish with men, holiness can never be dispensed with. We have this emphasized in the song of Moses: "Who is like unto Thee Jehovah among the gods? Who is like unto Thee, glorifying Thyself in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders? Thou by Thy mercy hast led forth the people Thou hast redeemed; Thou hast guided them by Thy strength unto the abode of Thy holiness" (Ex. 15:11-13). We would do well to consider that these are the choice and elevated expressions of a people who stood only in a place of external relationship to God, who moved still in the twilight of types and shadows, for God was but partially revealed; yet holiness was essential in all their dealings with a God who is of holier eyes than to behold iniquity.

To us therefore, who stand in an immeasurably nearer and more intimate relationship to God these wonderful expressions are pregnant with divine meaning and instruction. How forcibly the truth of this is brought home to us in Peter's first epistle, "But as He who has called you is holy, be ye also holy in all (your) conversation; because it is written. Be ye holy, for I am holy" (1 Peter 1:15-16). As another has said, "The word used here in relation to God speaks of Him as holy, knowing good and evil perfectly, and absolutely willing good and no evil. When applied to men, it designates them as separated, set apart to God from evil and from common use." These brief remarks will serve as a fitting preface in our consideration of the law of the sin offering.

In no other offering is holiness so insisted upon as in this; four times within the narrow compass of a few verses the Spirit of God states of the sin and trespass offerings (there is one law for them) "It is most holy." Let not the simplicity of this phrase take away from its deep, searching significance and solemn import. How easy it is for us, when our loins are not sufficiently braced with the girdle of truth, to be carelessly tolerant of that which ought to be unsparingly judged and confessed before God. Let us be watchful, lest we are snared by the sentimental philosophies and moralizings of men who declare that to "Err is human, to forgive divine"; with little or no thought of how abhorrent our "erring" is in the sight of God, and are entirely ignorant of the holiness without which "no man shall see the Lord."

There are men of the world who naturally favour the beautiful and more attractive things of life, recoiling with marked distaste from what is gross and offensive; but this is not holiness; their abhorrence has no reference to God whatever; and all sin is against God. In deep penitence the Psalmist confessed, "Against Thee, Thee only have I sinned, and done what is evil in Thy sight: that Thou mayest be justified when Thou speakest, be clear when Thou judgest. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise" (Ps. 51:4, 17).

Of precious significance are the words, "At the place where the burnt offering is slaughtered shall the sin offering be slaughtered before Jehovah." The sin offering is necessary where there has been the allowance of that which has been condemned in the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ — sin in whatever aspect or measure. We are to take up this solemn matter according to the mind of God, in the sense of the deep perfections and excellence of that there is no breaking, but there is the intense application of the word in its searching and discriminating power, as suggested by the scouring. There is also the rinsing, suggesting the sanctifying and purifying virtue, so that moral suitability might be maintained.

Regarding the trespass offering we read, "As the sin offering, so is the trespass offering; there shall be one law for them." The priests who made atonement with the sin or trespass offering, received the offering for his service, suggesting the gain for our souls in taking up this priestly exercise. The priest who presented any man's burnt offering, received its skin, so that he might be shod and adorned with the beauty of the offering that gave such pleasure to Jehovah.

The offering priest also received "all the meat offering that is baken in the oven, and all that is dressed in the frying pan, and in the pan." There is always great personal gain in having to do with the things of God; how profound is the enrichment of soul in ministering to the pleasure of God of that which savours peculiarly of Christ. The one so engaged feeds with unspeakable delight upon that blessed One as the food of his soul, nourished inwardly as he finds in Him the all-absorbing object for his heart.

The Law of the Peace Offering.

Leviticus 7:11-38.

How powerful is the divine constraint laid upon us, as we consider these precious types, to walk in the practical reflection of all that has been portrayed of an offering of superlatively greater worth, and which in all its sacrificial aspects has ministered unspeakable delight and satisfaction to the heart of God. We can discern in the offerings something of the order and purpose with which the Spirit presents the truth, which in all its fulness and perfection is seen in Christ; and it is so presented that the devoted and exercised heart should be furnished with powerful inducements to bring its practical ways and behaviour into correspondence with all that is set forth in Christ.

This divine order can also be observed in Paul's writings to the various assemblies: first, there is the comprehensive unfoldings of the truth, which is then used as the basis for an affectionate and earnest appeal to the saints, so that they might be marked characteristically as those coming under the formative power of the truth.

When we consider "the law of the sacrifice of peace-offering," we are impressed with the indication of spiritual exercises relating to our practical ways, and to our fellowship with each other — a fruitful and profitable field for our tillage, surely. If these spiritual exercises are entered into intelligently, according to the mind of God, we shall be able to maintain and enjoy the communion to which God has called us. Submission to the Word and Spirit of God will give us the necessary spiritual state in which alone we can enjoy together Christian fellowship.

In considering the shameful disorder and confusion that existed in the assembly at Corinth, it is not difficult to perceive that it resulted from their low moral state. As we look around us today, and note with deep sorrow of heart the desolations the adversary has made among the saints of God, we would venture the question, has the solemn warning come too late, or has it fallen upon ears grown dull of hearing? "He that thinketh he standeth take heed, lest he fall." It is not therefore without significance that in the law of the offerings, the peace offering comes after the sin and trespass offerings.

Since the law of the peace offering brings before us the enjoyment of the spiritual blessing and profit that we have together in communion, does it not show the propriety of bringing in the sin offering first, as relieving us of any tendency to self-occupation because of our state, and the trespass offering, as having to do with any infringement of the rights of God or trespass against the saints. What this fellowship involves for us is brought out in 1 Corinthians 10, where all true believers are spoken of as partakers of the Lord's Table.

It is only as we are true to the fellowship of Christ's death that we can really enter into the sweetness and joy of the Lord's Supper, the truth of which is brought out in 1 Corinthians 11. This fellowship with its divine provision for us is in marked contrast to all that is in the idolatrous world around. If we seek the pleasures of this world, we cannot properly enter into the enjoyment of the fellowship of the Lord's Table.

The first feature mentioned in respect of the law of the peace offering is that of thanksgiving: "If he present it for a thanksgiving." How fittingly does thanksgiving and praise rest upon the lips of every child of God as he contemplates the wonderful place of divine favour in which he stands, as one who can give "thanks to the Father, who has made us fit for sharing the portion of the saints in light" (Col. 1:12); and as he feasts upon the blessed Son of God, the true peace offering, who is the object of the Father's heart.

With the "sacrifice of thanksgiving" is offered "unleavened cakes mingled with oil, and unleavened wafers anointed with oil, and fine flour saturated with oil, cakes mingled with oil." There is not only the thought of the death of Christ, and all that has come to us as a result of that death, but there is also an enhanced conception of the Kind of Man it was who died for us: One who knew no sin, who walked through this scene in the grace and power of the Holy Spirit; marked out the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by resurrection of the dead.

In our fellowship together we are to display those precious features of Christ, which are the fruits of the Spirit, "love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness," etc. If these are not expressed, our coming together may degenerate into mere sociability, such as the men of the world seek after. How blessed it is therefore for us to walk in all the grace and power of the Holy Spirit, whose gracious work it is to form us in the features of Christ.

There is the recognition of what we are in ourselves in verse 13, where we read of "his offering of leavened bread." Though rejoicing in the wonderful place that sovereign mercy has accorded us as members of the one body, united to the Risen Head in glory, yet are we ever conscious that we are in a mixed condition, with the flesh still in us; even as it is written, "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves " (1 John 1:8). The constant realization of this would engender that spirit of self-judgment and self-distrust, which is essential for the development of the spirit of lowliness that is so attractive in our relations with each other.

Then "the flesh of the sacrifice of his peace offering of thanksgiving shall be eaten the same day that it is presented" (Lev. 7:15). Our communion with each other must not be separated from that which is the basis of it — Christ as the True Peace Offering. Only by observing this will our communion be maintained in its true character. Moreover, our communion with each other must spring from communion with God; a daily communion, which expresses our appreciation of the blessed Son of God.

In the case of "a vow" or "a voluntary offering" the flesh could be eaten the next day. Do we not learn from this of the greater spiritual energy and devotion manifested in these special sacrifices? The vow implies a deeper work of the Spirit in the soul, which results from sustained communion with the Father and the Son. The voluntary offering is the expression of the pleasure that belongs to a devoted heart that has found its joy in the Person of Jesus.

Pointed emphasis is laid on the necessity for cleanness on the part of those who have part in divine communion. In the Book of Leviticus, discernment of, and discrimination between, what is clean and unclean is not left to the capricious judgment of men; but is stated in clear, precise and unequivocal language by the Spirit of God. So also must we, in this dispensation of immeasurably greater light, refuse with uncompromising decision any-thing and everything that falls short of the divine standard of holiness set forth in God's word. There was unsparing judgment for those who, in Israel, compromised God's holiness with their uncleanness upon them.

The fat and the blood of the offerings were for Jehovah: they could not be eaten. Christ's unique excellence, as the One who said, "I delight to do Thy will, O God," could only be rightly appreciated by the Father. God alone could measure the immense issues involved in the unreserved acceptance of His will, which included all the suffering and shame of the cross. In the light of these solemn considerations, how appropriately does the Spirit refer to the fat as "the food of the offering." It is Jehovah's exclusive portion; that which He alone can appreciate. As another has said, "We can contemplate what is not given us to appropriate."

The blood also is reserved for God as being wholly for His pleasure, and chapter 17 tells us why, "For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul" (Lev. 17:11). On the night of His betrayal, the Lord spoke of "The cup of the New Covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you" (Luke 22:20). How richly is the truth of atonement, embracing substitution and propitiation, brought before us in the types, and in their fulfilment in the work of our Lord Jesus Christ.

In the closing section of this chapter it is clearly stated that the offerer shall with his own hands bring Jehovah's offering by fire, "the fat with the breast shall he bring " (Lev. 7:30). God would have us hold in a very personal way what Christ is for Himself, in all His excellence and affections. In Ephesians 3:19, where the Apostle prays that we might know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge, do we not see the "fat with the breast" in his hands?

The priest waved the breast before it was eaten by "Aaron and his sons." The waving would speak of our apprehension and enjoyment of the love of Christ, in correspondence with the delight that God has in it. None of the priestly sons are excluded from the enjoyment of "the love of Christ"; it was the portion of all to feed upon the breast. But the right shoulder was the portion of the priest that offered the blood and the fat of the peace offering. As presenting Christ to God in communion, we can feed upon Him who, in His walk down here, was ever for the will and pleasure of God, and in this way would we acquire the strength to walk "even as He walked" (1 John 2:6).

Only as we are formed by these things, which are brought before us by the Spirit in these extremely instructive types, can our fellowship with each other be maintained in its true Christian character and in the spiritual energy that will preserve it from deterioration and diminution.

Association With Christ

We come now to consider Leviticus 8, a chapter of profound interest and instruction for every true believer in Christ, and a fitting climax to all the precious truth concerning the various offerings and the laws respecting them. From the very commencement of God's dealings with the children of Israel priesthood was in view, even as we read, "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 a kingdom of priests and a holy nation." From 1 Peter 2:9 we learn that God's purpose, as set forth in this Scripture, is fulfilled in the saints of the present dispensation.

The remarkable expression, "Take Aaron and his sons with him," draws our attention to the precious truth that our title to priesthood is derived from our relation-ship with Christ, even as that of Aaron's sons was because of their relationship with him. Aaron was called of God to the high honour of priesthood, and as such was a type of Him to whom God said. "Thou art My Son." and "Thou art a Priest." How the heart delights to linger over the Spirit's utterances concerning Christ as Priest, the One who is a "merciful and faithful High Priest in things relating to God"; and "who has passed through the heavens"; a "High Priest of good things to come" (Heb. 2:17: Heb. 4:14; Heb. 9:11).

Although the priesthood of believers is not expressly mentioned in Hebrews, it is implied in our drawing nigh to God, and in our having boldness for entering into the holy of holies, as also in the offering of the sacrifice of praise. We can see from 1 Peter 2:5-9 that all believers are now priests, and from Hebrews 10:19 that all alike have liberty of access into God's presence.

Aaron is therefore a type of Christ when viewed alone; but when he is mentioned in company with his sons, he with them is a type of the assembly as the priestly family; but, be it carefully noted, the assembly in association with Christ. What distinction this gives to the words, "Take Aaron and his sons with him!" It is not sons of Adam, but sons of Aaron. The saints are not here viewed in their natural condition, but in association with Christ as being the subjects of God's workmanship and grace, and as knowing our relationship with Christ in divine affection.

God's command for the consecration of the priests is given in Exodus 28, 29; but Leviticus 8 describes how Moses, who was faithful in all His house, carried out the divine command.

The first action in the work of consecration was the washing of the priests with water at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. Aaron, considered by himself, bathed with water, typified Him who, in His own Person was ever spotless and undefiled, Aaron, in association with his sons, presents to us the Christian company that has been cleansed by the washing of water by the Word, and made morally competent by the Spirit of God to minister in the holiest of all. Reference to this cleansing is found in Hebrews 10:22, "our bodies washed with pure water." Only those in whose hearts God's mighty work of grace has been effected can be regarded as priests according to the thought of God. How grievous the perversion of the thoughts and intentions of God by presumptuous and lawless men who have arrogated to themselves the right of priesthood, unrecognised and unsanctified by the Word of God.

In the next action, Aaron is separated from his sons; he is robed and anointed alone. As a figure of Christ he is anointed without blood, for that Holy One, "Who knew no sin," and "Did no sin," being absolutely holy needed not the application of the blood. At the Jordan, He was anointed by the Spirit of God in virtue of His own intrinsic holiness, the designation of Holy Spirit speaking of perfect correspondence with the One upon whom He had rested.

Of the garments for glory and beauty the ephod was pre-eminently the priestly garment. The gold, emblem of divine righteousness and glory, signifies the character of Him who exercises before God the priestly office; One who is spoken of as "Jesus Christ, the Righteous"; and who is priest because He is Son. The blue sets forth His heavenly Manhood; the purple and the scarlet, His glories as Son of Man and Son of David. His spotless, flawless purity is indicated in the fine twined linen, for He is the "Holy, harmless, and undefiled, separate from sinners."

The materials considered reveal the unique character of Christ's priesthood. His royal glories are portrayed as well as His divine nature and heavenly character. He will indeed yet be a priest upon His throne, displaying the glories of His kingdom as King of righteousness and King of peace.

Two girdles are mentioned here; one was on the vest, but the other, to which our attention is particularly drawn, is described as "the girdle of the ephod." The word for girdle here is only used for this peculiar girdle of the ephod, and it means "of skilful workmanship," indicating the unique perfection of the service of Christ as our Great High Priest. There is no service like His, who ever lives before the face of God to make intercession for us. The girdle is throughout Scripture the emblem of service. How beautifully is this seen in the Lord, where he says, "Blessed are those servants whom the Lord when He cometh, shall find watching; verily I say unto you that He shall gird Himself, and make them sit down to meat and will come forth and serve them" (Luke 12:37). This perfect Servant ever delighted to do His Father's will when in this world, and remains a Servant in His place of exaltation and glory, carrying on unremittingly His work of unwearied intercession on our behalf, securing for us those never-failing ministrations of divine mercy to meet us in our weakness, and grace for sustainment in the midst of many and varied temptations.

Each name of the children of Israel was on a separate stone on the breastplate: on the two onyx stones, which were on the shoulders of the priest, there were six names on each. The names on the onyx stones were "according to their birth," but on the breastplate of judgment they were for "the twelve tribes," speaking of the people of God as set here according to the sovereignty of God in relation to the truth committed to us. The people of God are borne on the heart of Christ according to the manner in which God has been pleased to set us here in testimony. It is a very precious and strengthening thought that not only are we borne upon the shoulders of Christ's strength, but we also have a place in His heart and affections before God continually.

Christ bears us up on the shoulders of His everlasting strength, which can never fail, for "No one shall seize them out of my hand"; and he presents us as the objects of His everlasting love — changeless in its character, measureless in its extent, "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?" He has bound us upon His shoulders, as supporting us with His own omnipotent strength, and He has fastened us upon His heart with His own deathless and unfathomable love. Who can doubt therefore the prevailing efficacy of His priestly intercession on our behalf based as it is on His sacrificial work? As another has said, "He presents us as that which He has on His heart, to God. He cannot be before Him without doing so; and whatever claim the desire of Christ's heart has to draw out the favour of God, operates in drawing out the favour on us. The light and favour of the sanctuary — God as dwelling there — cannot shine out on Him without shining on us, and that as an object presented by Him for it." These are soul stirring words; but how far have our souls entered into them practically.

Then we have the Urim and the Thummim, placed in the breastplate of judgment, and meaning "lights and perfections." In Nehemiah's day there were matters which could not be settled until a priest stood up with Urim and Thummim. In the Lord Jesus we have such a Priest; One in whom is all the mind of God, in whom all light and perfections are found.

In the bells and pomegranates, which were on the hem of the robe of the ephod, we have presented to us the fruits and testimony of the Spirit. How blessed was the sounding of the golden bells on the day of Pentecost as the Spirit bore testimony through the apostles of the "going in" of the Lord Jesus, when He ascended up on high; and how rich and abundant the fruits accruing from that testimony. Can we not say that on the day of Pentecost, as is written in Psalm 133, the anointing oil ran down to the hem of His garment, where were the golden bells and pomegranates in orderly alteration?

Graven on the plate of gold were the words "Holiness unto the Lord," so that the priest might bear "the iniquity of the holy things." How precious is the truth suggested in this typical language, for in this we have God's provision for all the defilement and imperfections of our service and worship during our sojourn in this scene. Everything presented to God must bear the stamp of holiness, for He can only accept that which is in perfect suitability to His own nature. Despite the fact that we have been cleansed and brought into relationship with Him, and having title to approach, left to ourselves our offerings would be wholly unacceptable. But this need has been fully met, for our Great High Priest bears the iniquity of our holy things, and blessed be God, He is "Holiness to the Lord," so that our worship as presented through Him is acceptable in every way to God.

How rich is the consolation in knowing that we have such an High Priest over the House of God! As these rich and varied glories and excellencies of Jesus, the Son of God, the Great Priest, pass before the vision of our souls in ever-deepening concentrations of grace and beauty, how suited is the language of the hymn to express our own thoughts and feelings:

Each thought of Thee doth constant yield
Unchanging, fresh delight.

Offering Strange Fire

It is clearly discernible to the diligent and careful reader of Scripture that in the oft-repeated phrase "Aaron and his sons," the Spirit of God is indicating in typical language those who are truly born of God, and are kindred to Christ. The apostle Peter speaks of such as constituting "a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God by Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 2:5). The ignoring of this truth has resulted in the formation of exclusive priestly casts in some of the great systems in Christendom, which have arrogated to themselves a travesty of priestly functions, unsanctioned by and unknown to the Word of God.

If we desire to understand and enjoy the wonderful place of association that God has given us in amazing grace with the Son of His love, this precious truth of the priesthood of all believers must be maintained in its unalloyed purity, free from the adulterations of human philosophy. Our place in the priestly family, in nearness to God, involves dissociation from all that is contrary to His mind and will. Our associations are of vital importance to the highest interests of Christ in this world, so that it behoves us not to link His Name with anything that would dishonour it.

At the beginning of Leviticus 10 we are brought face to face with grievous failure on the part of Aaron's two elder sons, and this is used by the Holy Spirit, as in many other instances, to instruct us as to that which is unsuitable in the worship of God, and which calls forth His displeasure and condign judgment. Because of our nearness to God it is necessary for us to remember that "our God is a consuming fire," and to heed the exhortation of the apostle Peter, "But as He who has called you is holy, be ye also holy in all your manner of life."

"And the sons of Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, took each of them his censer, and put fire in it, and put incense on it, and presented strange fire before Jehovah, which He had not commanded them." So reads the divine record of an act of man's presumptive will, which met with the righteous judgment of God, summarily executed. The sin of Nadab and Abihu is not said to be in doing what God had forbidden, but in doing what He had not commanded. It was a case of the will of man obtruding itself upon the holy things of God, independent of divine instructions; the will of man dictating in spiritual things, a sin now thought little of, and which has become regularised in the religious systems of this world. All around us today we see countless instances of ungodly men offering "strange fire before God which He has not commanded them;" but the day of judgment will assuredly overtake the religious system of men, when Babylon the great, which has been a constant reproach and dishonour to the Name of Christ will be overthrown, never to rise again.

Strange fire indicates what is of the world or of the flesh. It would appear that Nadab and Abihu went outside for their strange fire; and this is the secret of all the failure in that which has professed to be a public witness for God. Is it not significant that in Leviticus 8:33, it expressly states, "And ye shall not go out from the entrance of the tent of meeting seven days, until the day when the days of your consecration are at an end"?

This has direct reference to Lev. 8:35: "And ye shall abide at the entrance of the tent of meeting day and night seven days and keep the charge of Jehovah."

How solemn, yet how blessed, is the thought of "keeping the charge" day and night during the whole period of our consecration, for our whole lifetime in this world. The Lord has entrusted His saints with that heavenly deposit of divine truth, which constitutes our testimony for Him here; that which is contained in the Holy Scriptures, all made known in the Son of God, all connected with Him in heaven, the formation of the assembly by the Spirit in one body, and as God's habitation by the Spirit. We have the privilege of "going in" with Christ, into the presence of the Father; but also the privilege of holding fast His word in the place of testimony.

In bringing the two thoughts together, the keeping of the charge at the entrance of the tent of meeting, and the offering of the fragrant incense, have we not clearly indicated that nothing but the fragrance of Christ is acceptable to God in worship, and that everything offered apart from Christ is "strange fire" and utterly unacceptable?

The action of the fire brought out the essential fragrance of the incense; and the fire used for this purpose was taken from the brazen altar (Lev. 16:12-13). It must be God's fire, taken from the altar of burnt offering, with all the sweet savour of Christ's death. Whether on the altar of burnt offering, or on the golden censer, the fire, which speaks of the holiness of God in its searching and judicial character, served only to bring out all the sweet, fragrant perfume that was in Christ.

Aaron, on the day of atonement, entered into the holiest to sprinkle the blood upon and before the mercy-seat, and he was covered by the overshadowing cloud of incense. So our blessed Lord entered into the heavenly sanctuary, having obtained eternal redemption, the fragrance of His deep perfections filling the heavenly place.

The essence of all true worship lies in communion with God in regard to all that Christ is and all that He has done, and in the contemplation of all the precious and eternal results flowing from that stupendous work of redemption. Neither our thoughts nor our feelings have any place here, only what delights the heart of God, of Christ Himself, who could say, "I have glorified Thee on the earth, I have completed the work which Thou gavest me that I should do it." True worship is alone by the Spirit, even as we read, "We are the circumcision who worship by the Spirit of God."

How sad it is to consider the foreign elements that man has introduced from without, those adulterants which have completely falsified the true character and spirit of worship, and this because the Word and Spirit of God have been set aside in favour of the wisdom of a world that knows not God. Let us be certain of this, that no matter in how pious a garb the philosophy of men may be presented, they will be found to be basically opposed to the divine and heavenly order which God has established. Only those indwelt by the Spirit of God can apprehend that which is pleasing to God.

Still, we can rejoice that God, in His faithfulness, has preserved a remnant within the rack and ruin of the public testimony, characterized by the brightest features of the original, the fruit of His own grace. Undue occupation with man's failure would dishearten, so that it is good to realise that God will not be frustrated by human failure in giving effect to all that He has purposed with regard to maintaining a testimony, though it be in weakness, for His own glory, and the glory of Christ. And so in Lev. 8:6 and 7 we are encouraged to maintain that which is for God.

To bewail the burning is a right and proper exercise with those who desire to act in intelligence and sympathetic concert with the mind and ways of God in regard to the grievous failure of the witness for God in this world; but it is only as we are in spirit superior to all that would affect us naturally that there can be the continuance of priestly dignity in our approach to God as worshippers. There is the tendency to exclaim, "all is over, the ruin is complete and beyond remedy." But this is not the language of faith, nor of the remnant of the true children of God, for "the foundation of God standeth sure… And, Let every one that nameth the Name of the Lord depart from iniquity" (2 Tim. 2:19).

In Lev. 8:9-11 we have a statute which is of permanent importance, "Thou shalt not drink wine nor strong drink, thou and thy sons with thee, when ye go into the tent of meeting." The probability is strong that Nadab and Abihu were acting under the influence of stimulants when they offered "strange fire." Natural emotions and natural fervour have no part in divine worship, which is only by the Spirit of God. The effects of wine simulate those produced by the Spirit (Acts 2:13-15). Religious excitement, produced by music, art, eloquence and other stimulants for the flesh, have each contributed to the presentation of "strange fire" in the worship of God.

In spite of the failure there are still "sons" to eat of the priestly food, and there is something left for them to eat (Lev. 8:12). We can eat of the true meat offering, the One in whom there was no failure or possibility of it. There was nothing that savoured of natural exhilaration or excitement in Him: we can feed on Him "beside the altar," as realising that this holy food will strengthen us for our priestly service before God.

Then "the breast of the wave-offering and the shoulder of the heave-offering shall ye eat in a clean place." Here we have the thought of fellowship, shared by all in the priestly family, daughters as well as sons. The weaker vessels are not debarred from enjoying sweet fellowship in the enjoyment of the love of Christ, or of appropriating His grace for strength for walking here for Him.

The oblation was to be eaten in "a holy place," for it pertained to priestly function; the parts of the peace offering in "a clean place," referring to the purity of our associations, which must be free from anything dishonouring to God.

Spite of the public breakdown we can come before God with our hands filled (Lev. 8:15), a company of consecrated priests, presenting Christ in His love and strength to God. Shall we not avail ourselves of these adequate and never-failing divine resources, and so ensure that there will be the strengthening of the things that remain for God's pleasure?

Now we come to another important matter which deals with failure among the people of God: the goat of the sin offering should have been eaten by the sons of Aaron that were left, but instead it had been burnt. This had to do with "the iniquity of the assembly," and it was a great and solemn matter in the eyes of Moses. It is easier to burn the sin offering than to eat it, since the eating requires a moral state not always possessed. We may have righteous indignation against evil, and deal with it in a harsh and judicial way; but God would have us deal with it as if it were our own.

In the attitude of Moses to Aaron we have another remarkable touch of grace. Conscious of being under the discipline of God in relation to what had happened to his sons, Aaron was not free to take up before God the sins of Israel. It was not indifference, but the burden of the failure of his own house, and Aaron owned his weakness and inability, pleading also what was appropriate in the sight of God in the circumstances. In the solemn pleading of Aaron there was spiritual judgment as to what was acceptable to Jehovah in a time of failure. On hearing these things, "Moses was content."

Aaron had to do with one who was faithful in all God's House as a ministering servant: we have to do with Him who is Son over God's House. May we be given grace to own how becoming it is for us to eat the sin offering, but confessing how little spiritual ability we have to take up this solemn and much-needed exercise.
A. Shepherd.