Monday, June 5th, 2023
the Week of Proper 4 / Ordinary 9
the Week of Proper 4 / Ordinary 9
Kelly Commentary on Books of the Bible Kelly Commentary
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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Kelly, William. "Commentary on Leviticus 1". Kelly Commentary on Books of the Bible. https://studylight.org/
commentaries/ eng/ wkc/ leviticus-1.html. 1860-1890.
Kelly, William. "Commentary on Leviticus 1". Kelly Commentary on Books of the Bible. https://studylight.org/
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The book of Leviticus has its own character quite as manifestly as Genesis or Exodus. Its peculiar feature is that from its very starting-point it is the revelation of what God saw in Jesus Christ our Lord, the typical application which grace made of Him and His work to souls, to a people and their land. It is the most complete direction-book of the priests, setting forth in all the detail of the Levitical service the various offices of the Lord Jesus. For this reason we see the propriety of the ground and circumstances with which it opens. "Jehovah called unto Moses, and spake unto him out of the tabernacle of the congregation." There is not the rich variety of Genesis, neither is there the special object of Exodus as unfolding redemption or the legal conditions which the people undertook through ignorance of themselves and of God. Here we have, as its characteristic feature, access to God; not God acting in grace toward men to deliver, but Christ as the means of approach to God for a people in relationship with Him, sustaining them there or warning of the ways and consequences of departure from Him. It is admirably calculated to act on the soul of the believer and acquaint him better with God as He reveals Himself in the Lord Jesus.
Thus the Spirit of God begins not with the sinner and his wants, but with Christ, and gives in the opening types a wonderful analysis of His work and sacrifice. This is a familiar remark, but it is well to repeat it. And as He begins with Christ, so in the first place is given the highest thought of our Lord's death in atonement the burnt-offering. It is that aspect of His sacrifice which goes exclusively God-ward an aspect which believers are apt to be in no small danger of attenuating, if not losing sight of altogether. There is no child of God that does not see the need of Christ to be a sin-offering for him, but far too many stop there. In a general way they have the sense of His grace undoubtedly; but as we are now occupied with the offering of Christ in all its fulness, it does not seem too much if one deplores the habitual disposition, in looking at Christ's sacrifice, to think of nothing but His adaptation to our wants. Indeed this is the very reason why many souls so fail to appreciate the boundless grace which has met them in their wants, but which would raise them to enjoy that which is incomparably above themselves.
Hence we here commence with the type of the burnt-offering, the sweet savour of Christ to God for us indeed, but not limited by the circle of human thought, not His bare adaptation to our need. Freely I must grant that the man who begins with Christ apart from his own necessities and guilt is but a theorist where it most of all becomes one to be real. We may well distrust the faith of the soul which, professing to be awakened from the sleep of death, only cares to hear of the profound truth of the burnt-offering in the death of Jesus. Must we not fear that such an one deceives himself? For, when dealing with the sinner God begins with him as he is. And sinners we are, verily guilty. Doubtless God meets the man in the mind and heart, yet never truly saves but through the conscience; and if there be an unwillingness in any one to have his conscience searched in other words, to begin as nothing but a poor sinner in the sight of God, he must be brought back to it some time or other. Happy he who is willing to begin where God begins. Happy he who escapes the painful sifting and humiliation too, when, for the time he ought to be making advance in the knowledge of Christ and of His grace, he has to turn back again through having overlooked his real state in the sight of God; when he has to learn what he is himself, it may be years after he has been bearing the excellent name of the Lord.
In Leviticus then the Spirit of God shows us the all-important truth that, whatever may be the divine way of dealing with individuals, God has Christ before Himself. He surely thinks of His people as a whole but, above all, He cannot overlook His own glory as maintained in Christ.
First of all then we are in presence of the holocaust or burnt-offering. (Leviticus 1:1-17) We have to learn that special aspect of the Lord in which He, "by the Eternal Spirit, offered himself up without spot unto God." This is the burnt-offering. There, if anywhere, it could be said that God was glorified in Him. Apart. from this, Scripture nowhere says that God, as such, was glorified in the Son of Man till Christ gave Himself up to death. The Father had been glorified in Him in every step of His life; but our Lord Jesus refrains from saying that God was glorified in Him, till the fatal night when Judas goes out to betray Him to His murderers, and the whole scene is before His eyes. (John 13:1-38) He "became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross."
And this principle we find in a very lovely way brought before us in John 10:1-42. Undoubtedly He laid His life down for the sheep; but the believer who sees nothing more than this in the death of Christ has a great deal to learn. It is very evident he does not think much about God or His Anointed. He feels for himself and for others in similar wants. It is well that he should begin there unquestionably; but why should he stop with it? Our Lord Jesus Himself gives us the full truth of the matter, saying, "I am the good Shepherd, and know my [sheep], and am known of mine; even as the Father knoweth me, and I know the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep. And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one flock, one shepherd." After these words, we come to what gives the more particular import of the burnt-offering in the total and willing surrender of Himself in death. "Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it again." The only One who, as a man, had a right to life to all blessedness and glory as a living man on the earth is the only One entitled to lay down, His life of Himself. And this He did not merely for the sheep, but He laid it down of Himself; and yet He could say, "This commandment have I received of my Father." It was in His own heart, and it was obedience too, absolutely, with trust in God. It was glorifying God in the very matter of death, and, as we know, on account of sin our sin.
Thus Christ glorified His God and Father in a world where His enemy reigned. It was the fullest proof of One who could confide for everything in Him who sent Him; and this He did. God was glorified in Him; and if the Son of man glorified Him, no wonder God glorified Him in Himself, and also that He straightway glorified Him. This He did by taking Christ up and setting Him at His own right hand in heaven. This of course is not the burnt-offering, but its consequence to Him who was so. The burnt-offering exhibits the absolute devotedness of the Lord Jesus atoningly to death for the glory of God the Father. It is allowed fully that there is nothing here which seems to make blessing to man prominent. Were there no sin, there could be no burnt-offering, nothing to represent the complete surrender up of self unto God, even to death But the expression of sin in its hatefulness and necessary banishment from God's presence was reserved for another offering and even a contrasted class of offerings.
The prime thought here is, that all goes up as a savour of rest to God, who is therefore glorified in it. Hence it is that in the burnt-offering of this chapter, in what is called the meat-offering, and in the peace-offering, no question of compulsion enters. The offering was in nowise wrung out from Israel. So, as we see, in the words of our blessed Lord, no one took His life from Him; He laid it down of Himself. "If any man of you bring an offering unto Jehovah, ye shall bring your offering of the beasts, even of the herd and of the flock. If his offering be a burnt-sacrifice of the herd, he shall offer a male without blemish; he shall offer it for his acceptance at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before Jehovah;" but there was no demand.
This is so much the more pointed, because fromLeviticus 4:1-35; Leviticus 4:1-35 we find wholly different language. We enter on another character of offering there, as we anticipate for a moment. "If a soul shall sin," it is written, "against any of the commandments of Jehovah, then let him bring for his sin," so and so. This was an absolute requirement. There was no discretion left to the Israelite. It was not an open matter. Be must do it; and accordingly it was defined in all respects. A person had no option in bringing what he liked. If he were a ruler, he must bring a certain kind of offering; if he were one of the common people, another kind was prescribed. There was both the command in the first place, and next the signifying of what must be brought to God in case of sin.
But all the earlier offerings inLeviticus 1:1-17; Leviticus 1:1-17; Leviticus 2:1-16; Leviticus 3:1-17, the burnt-offering, the oblation, and the peace-offering, were left to the heart of the offerer were left open, and with the fullest consideration of the means. God would make no burden of that which should be a joy. It was the heart giving to Him what it might otherwise value, but what expressed at any rate its value for the Lord. How perfectly Jesus met this how He surpassed all that it was possible for a type to represent our souls know well. He gave Himself.
The offerer then brought for his olah or burnt-sacrifice which ascended up to God the best animal of its kind according to his heart and means, of the herd or of the flock, of turtle-doves or of young pigeons. In the nobler forms (i.e., when from the herd or flock) an unblemished male was taken, on the head of which the offerer laid his hand. It is a mistake to suppose that this act in itself involves confession of sin, or was always accompanied by it. It was quite as often the sign of the conveyance of a blessing or official honour. And even if we look at it only as connected with sacrifices, it had an import in the burnt-offering quite different from its bearing in the sin-offering. Transfer there was in both; but in the former the offerer was identified with the acceptance of the victim; in the other the victim was identified with the confessed sin of the offerer. The sweet savour of the burnt-sacrifice represented him who offered it. The animal was killed before Jehovah. The priests sprinkled its blood round about upon the altar. The victim itself, if a bull, was flayed; if a bull, sheep, or goat, it was severed. The pieces, head, and fat, were set in order upon the wood on the fire of the altar; the inwards and legs were washed in water; and then the priest caused all to ascend in fumes on the altar, a fire-offering of sweet odour to Jehovah All was laid open; and when in the victim any question of defilement could be, the washing of water made clean the parts, inward or outward, to be a fit type of the Holy One of God.
On another fact let me say a word in passing. Not only is there a tendency to confound things that differ, and to make Christ's sacrifice to be solely one for our sin, for our wants before God, but there is in these various forms of the burnt-offering a little intimation, it seems to me, of that very tendency; for as we gradually go down it will be noticed that the offering approaches in some slight degree that which might be more appropriate for a sin-offering. "And if the burnt sacrifice for his offering to Jehovah be of fowls, then he shall bring his offering of turtle-doves, or of young pigeons. And the priest shall bring it unto the altar, and wring off his head, and burn it on the altar; and the blood thereof shall be wrung out at the side of the altar. And he shall pluck away his crop with his feathers, and cast it beside the altar." There is not the whole animal going up to God in the same marked way as in the first case. That is, the lower the faith (which I suppose is what is meant by the sinking of the value of the offering) the more the offering approaches to the notion of one for our sins: we see what is unworthy and cast away as well as what goes up to God.
In the meat-offering is quite another thought. There is no thought whatever of atonement here. It was really the best of food given up to Jehovah, corn and oil, not without salt, as we see later on. But it was only for priestly food, besides Jehovah's memorial and all the frankincense, not for the offerer or his friends. Here it is well to bear in mind that the word "meat" might convey a wrong impression. This rendering of minchah, , possibly obsolete now, seems somewhat faulty, as the idea is an offering of what was bloodless, emphatically that which never possessed animal life. Clearly therefore the burnt-offering and the meat-offering stand in distinct contrast. The very essence of the burnt-offering is the surrender of life absolutely to God. This no man but a divine person was capable of doing; but, Jesus being such, infinite is the value of His self-sacrificing death on the cross. In the meat-offering the Lord is pre-eminently viewed as a man living on the earth. That there is no thought of death, but of life consecrated to God, is the general truth of the food or cake-offering.
Hence, "when any will offer a meat-offering unto Jehovah, his offering shall be of fine flour; and he shall pour oil upon it, and put frankincense thereon" It is simply the beautiful emblem of Christ as man in this world. His humanity is represented by the fine flour, and the power of the Holy Ghost (which is so set forth in scripture from His very conception) by the oil poured on the flour. The frankincense shadowed His ever acceptable fragrance which went up to God continually. All this was brought to the priests, one of whom took out his handful. "And he shall bring it to Aaron's sons, the priests; and he shall take thereout his handful of the flour thereof, and of the oil thereof, with all the frankincense thereof; and the priest shall burn the memorial of it upon the altar, to be an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto Jehovah. And the remnant of the meat-offering shall be Aaron's and his sons." Therein we see another marked difference. The burnt-offering as a whole went up to God, or in its lowest form a part might be thrown away; but all that was used was solely for God. In the oblation-offering it was not so. Part of it went to the priestly body to Aaron and his sons.
Thus here we have devotedness not in death so much as in life the Holy One absolutely consecrated to God, in whom the power of the Holy Ghost moulded every thought and feeling, and this viewed as a man here below in all His ways and words. Of the oblation-offering not merely has God His portion, but we too are entitled to feed on it. Aaron and his sons represent the Lord Jesus and those that He has made priests; for He "loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood," and made us not only kings but "priests unto God." Clearly then in Christ and Christians we have the antitype of Aaron and his sons. Now we are entitled to delight in that which Jesus was here below; and certainly it were a great and irreparable loss to the soul if a Christian said or thought that he had nothing to do with Christ thus that he had the death of the blessed Lord, but no special portion in Him as He lived for God here below. It is well to resent those who slight or ignore the value of Christ's sufferings, but we must beware of error on the other side. Why such scant measure? why such carelessness? You who by grace are priests to God you at least should value that which is so distinctly marked out as your portion and proper food. Is it not the miserable working of unbelief, similar in principle though opposite in form, to what we have already noticed the heart rising in faint degree above the sense of sins, and after all sins but poorly felt? God would give us communion with Himself in Christ in all that He is.
The first presentation is simply the oblation in its constituents, setting forth Christ as a living man, His nature in the power of the Spirit with every grace offered to God without distraction or deflection or drawback (verse 1-3).
The second part (ver. 4-10) distinguishes between the mingling and anointing with oil holiness in nature and power for service. For there are different forms of which it may be well to speak. "If thou bring an offering of an oblation baken in the oven;" and, again, "an oblation-offering baken in a pan." In the latter case the oblation was parted in pieces, when oil was poured on all, as before sundering it had been mingled with oil. Thus, besides being conceived of the Spirit, Jesus knew this trial to the uttermost; and His suffering in obedience displayed most intimately the power of the Spirit in every pang" when He knew as none ever did rejection, desertion, denial, treachery, not to speak of the ignominy of the cross. The break-up of every hope and prospect which befell Him at the close only revealed His perfectness of spiritual power in an inward way and in the least particular. Surely this is not a mere figure without meaning: there is nothing in vain in the Bible. It is not for us to presume or to exceed our measure, but we may search with at least the earnest desire to understand what God has written.
I take it then that in the first part we have the simple typical expression of the nature of our Lord Jesus as man; that in the second, the oblation baken in the oven, the pan, and the frying-pan, we see the Lord as man exposed to various phases of severe trial. The oven indicates trial applied in a way of which man may not particularly be the witness. The oven does not so much represent public manifestation; the pan does. If the pan means that which was exposed to others, which I suppose to be its force here, the frying-pan* is only another shape of the same principle, the shade of difference being in intensity. Thus we have secret trial, public trial, and this to the utmost in different forms the Lord Jesus tried in every possible way. Fire is always the emblem of that which searches-judicially; and the Lord Jesus, it is not too much to say, in every way was put to the proof. What was the effect? His excellency shown more than ever the manifestation of the perfection, and of nothing but perfection, that was found in Him.
* I know not whether some would translate, with sufficient reason marchesheth as "boiling pot." No doubt among the poor one utensil was made to serve more than one purpose. Certainly sir would seem to express a large pot or cauldron. If boiling be meant here, we should have first the uncooked elements (verses 1-3), which typify Christ viewed in His nature as devoted to God, and tested fully by the fire of trial; next (verses 4-7), the three cases where the oblation was cooked, whether baked, fried, or boiled, representing the blessed Lord viewed as a concrete man here below, and tried as we have seen in every conceivable way, but in all a sweet savour to God.
There is a further point which may be profitably noticed here: the Spirit of God particularly mentions that this cake-offering is "a thing most holy of the offerings of Jehovah made by fire." There is another offering which is said to be most holy. This remarkable phrase the Spirit of God applies in two cases out of the four. Not only is it used about the cake-offering which represents His life as man here below, the very thing in which man has dared to suspect a taint; but in the sin-offering the same expression again occurs the very occasion which man would have suspected, if anywhere, of sullying the perfectness of His glory. He was as really man on the one hand, as on the other our sins were really borne by Him. Nothing seems to exceed therefore the perfect care of the Holy Ghost for the glory of Christ. For in the offering for sin, where man would imagine Him in some way lowered, He takes care most of all to say that it is "a thing most holy." Or again, if man inferred a taint in His humanity, the word of the Spirit, ever jealous to glorify Him, is "most holy." If the golden plate on the high priest's forehead displayed holiness to Jehovah, not less is the stamp "most holy" placed by God precisely where man has allowed his mind to speculate to the dishonour of Christ as man and as a sacrifice for our sins.
Again, in the meat-offering observe other traits, before we pass on (ver. 11). Leaven was absolutely to be excluded from it, the familiar figure of sin as in us. There was none in Him: He "knew no sin." Again, there was the prohibition of "any honey." It means a thing pleasant and not wrong, but incapable of being offered to God. There cannot be a finer proof of the absence in Christ of a sweetness merely natural than the way He acted even where His mother was concerned; for scripture has not recorded it in vain that she did ask our Lord, but had not her requests granted. He came to do the will of Him that sent Him, and to finish His work. As a child He lived subject to Joseph and Mary; for Him when entered on the service of God it would have been mingling honey with the cake-offering if He had answered her petitions. What an anticipation, and indeed rebuke, for the vain superstition of men who would make Mary the chief means of access to God by influencing His Son! He was perfect. He came not to gratify even the amiable side of human nature. He came to do the will of God. This He did, and the oblation or cake-offering shows it. There was the unction of the Spirit, not leaven, and the salt of the covenant (ver. 13), not honey. This did not exclude, as we are told, the offering as first-fruits honey or even loaves baked with leaven (though in this case with an accompanying offering for sin, Leviticus 23:1-44); but they could not be burnt, as not being in themselves a sweet savour (ver. 12).
The oblation of first-fruits, typifying Christ, in verses 14-16, must be carefully distinguished from that which represents the Christian assembly. InLeviticus 23:1-44; Leviticus 23:1-44 we have first the wave sheaf offered on the morrow of the sabbath after the Passover, where there was no sin-offering, but a burnt-sacrifice and meat and drink offerings; and then, when Pentecost was fully come, the new oblation of two wave-loaves offered but not burnt, with a kid of the goats for sin, but with all the other offerings also. For what could be wanting now? In Leviticus 2:14-16 however, as distinguished from verse 13, only Christ appears to be set forth in the tender stalks of corn parched by the fire corn mature out of full ears (or fruitful fields). Oil and frankincense were duly added, and the priest causes its memorial to rise in fumes, a fire-offering to Jehovah.
The "peace-offering" (Leviticus 3:1-17) might be somewhat mistaken. The phrase used in the authorised version does not fully if it truly convey the force, as it appears to me at least. The real idea of it is a feast, or communion sacrifice. It is not a question merely of the word, but of the truth which is intended by it. In no way does it indicate the means of making peace for a sinner with God, though it may, as in the plural, imply things relating to peace, of which communion and thanksgiving are chief. The ground of peace for us laid in the blood of the cross so naturally suggested by the common rendering, is what one would guard souls against: it could only mislead. The thought seems to be a feast-offering. It is not here all going up to God (Christ surrendering Himself to God up to His death); nor only has God His portion, but the priestly family have theirs (Christ surrendering Himself in His life); but Christ is alike the means and object of communion. It rightly therefore follows both the offerings of a sweet savour, the holocaust and the oblation; it approaches the former, in that it supposes the death of Christ; it resembles but it surpasses the latter, in that if part is for God there is part for man. It was pre-eminently therefore what united all who partook of it in joy, thanksgiving, and praise. Hence the fellowship of God, the priest, the offerer and his family, is the impression engraved on it. We need not anticipate more of the details now, as it is in the law of the peace-offering that we find the particulars just referred to.
A few words will suffice for the sacrifice itself. The victim from the herd or flock was not necessarily a male. This more perfect image of Christ was not here sought as in the burnt-offering. The feast-sacrifice descends more to man and his having part in Christ. Still the offering must be unblemished; and here as always the priests alone sprinkle the blood, though anyone might slay. We find here much stress laid on the inwards being offered up to God, "the fat that covereth the inwards, all the fat that is upon the inwards." Some expressions bring this out very strongly, as "It is the food of the offering made by fire unto Jehovah." "And the priest shall burn them upon the altar: it is the food of the offering made by fire for a sweet savour: all the fat is Jehovah's." The fat and the blood were claimed exclusively for Him in the very offering which apart from that admits and displays the communion of others with Him. Now what is the meaning of that? And why such prominence given to the offering of the fat? For of the blood I need say no more here. Where anything is diseased or poor, the fat is the first thing to betray it. Where some state wholly wrong exists, energy in evil would be displayed by the condition of the fat. Where all was good and sound, the fat would manifest that all was perfectly according to normal condition. On the one hand, it was a sign of flourishing in the righteous; on the other, of self-complacent evil in the wicked. Hence, in describing Israel as a proud and self-willed people, we well know how Moses used this very figure as the index of their energy in evil. They waxed fat and kicked. It was evil unchecked in will and its effects, and the extreme sentence of judgment on the people of Israel. In our blessed Lord it was the energy that went forth in the continual business of obeying His Father with joy of heart. "I do always the things that please him."
It is here then that we find our fellowship in Christ Himself, all whose strength of devotedness and self-sacrifice were for God; and here is the basis and substance of fellowship, for this was what the Father tasted there, and delights that we should enjoy. The fat and blood are His "bread," as the prophet says, the blood sprinkled by Aaron's sons round about on the altar, and the fat and inwards burnt carefully there. "All the fat is Jehovah's. It shall be a perpetual statute for your generations throughout all your dwellings that ye eat neither fat nor blood." But save His claim, the peace-offering was for communion in joy, not at all for expiation. It was eucharistic. It was not for Aaron and his sons like the mincha or oblation, but for the united joy of all who partook, Jehovah, the priest, the offerer and his guests. But Jehovah's portion was to be burnt on the burnt-offering; the link was thus manifest on an occasion of joy with that deepest display of Christ's obedience up to death.
In the sin and trespass offerings which follow (Leviticus 4:1-35 Leviticus 6:7) we have another line of truth, in which the person ("soul") as well as the nature of the offence are characteristically prominent. It is not now the truth of Christ's dedication of Himself in death as well as life to God; neither is it the eucharistic character of the thank or peace offering in praise, vow or free-will. We have here vicarious offerings for sin, a substitute for the sinner. Different measures are defined.
In the case of the priest that was anointed (verses 3-12) for this comes first a bullock was to be offered "without blemish unto Jehovah for a sin-offering. And he shall bring the bullock unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before Jehovah; and shall lay his hand upon the bullock's head, and kill the bullock before Jehovah. And the priest that is anointed shall take of the bullock's blood, and bring it to the tabernacle of the congregation. And the priest shall dip his finger in the blood, and sprinkle of the blood seven times before Jehovah, before the veil of the sanctuary." He had to put some of the blood on the horns of the altar of sweet incense. It is of deep interest to note that here is no promise of expiation for the high priest, nor consequently of forgiveness, as in all the other cases. Is this accident? or part of the profound mind of God in scripture?
It is the same thing substantially when the whole congregation sinned (verses 13-20). In this case also a young bullock had to be slain, and the elders must do what the anointed priest did in the former case, The blood was sprinkled precisely in the same way, and put on the horns of the same altar, and the rest poured out as before. So too the fat was burnt on the brazen altar, and the rest of the victim burnt outside the camp as in the former case.
But when we come down to a ruler, there is another procedure. The word in this case is, that he shall offer "a kid of the goats," not a bullock; and the priest was to put of the blood on the horns of the altar of burnt-offering not on the golden altar.
When a private person or one of the common people sinned, there was to be a female kid, the blood of which was put on the same brazen altar. In neither case of the two last was the body burnt outside.
It is evident therefore, we find a graduated scale in these different instances. Why so? Because of a most solemn principle. The gravity of sin depends on the position of him who sins. It is not so man is prone to adjust matters, though his conscience feels its rectitude. How often man would screen the offence of him that is great, if he could! The same might be hard on the poor, friendless, and despised. The life of such at any rate seems of no great account. It is not so with God, nor ought it to be in the minds and estimate of His saints. And another witness of this in the last instance is not without interest for our souls. Only to one of the common people is allowed the alternative of a female lamb instead of a kid (verses 32-35), the offering of which for his sin is reiterated with the same minute care.*
* Does not [the Hebrew translated as 'according to the offerings made by fire'] mean "upon the fire-offerings of Jehovah," rather then "according to" them? De Wette takes it as "for fire-offerings."
When the anointed priest sinned, the result was precisely such as if the whole congregation sinned. When a prince sinned, it was a different matter, though a stronger case for sacrifice than where it was a private man. In short, therefore, the relationship of the person that was guilty determines the relative extent of the sin, though none was obscure enough for his sin to be passed by. Our blessed Lord on the other hand meets each and all, Himself the true anointed priest, the only One who needs no offering who could therefore be the offering for all, for any. This is the general truth, at least on the surface of the sin-offering. The offence was brought forward, confessed, and judged. The Lord Jesus becomes the substitute in this case for him that was guilty; and the blood was put in the case of individuals on the brazen altar, as it only needed to be dealt with in the place of sinful man's access to God. But where the anointed priest, or the whole congregation sinned (either interrupting communion), it was done in a far more solemn manner. Consequently the blood must be brought into the sanctuary, and be put on the horns of the golden altar.
There is a sensible difference in the offerings which follow. It would seem that the sin-offering is more connected with nature, although it might be proved by a particular sin; and that the trespass-offering is more connected with that which, while it might be in the holy things of Jehovah, or at least against Him, involved the offender in a fault or wrong towards his neighbour, and needed amends as well as a confession of guilt in the offering. On this however there is no call for discussion at present. There might be a kind of mingling of the two things, and to this there seems to be regard in the beginning of Leviticus 5:1-13. There is nothing more astonishing than the accuracy of the word of God when we submit humbly as well as honestly search into it.
Let it be observed, moreover, that in all the proper sin-offerings, the priest not only put some of the blood on the altar (golden or brazen, as the case might require), but poured all the blood at the bottom of the altar of burnt-offering It was a substitute for the life of the sinner, and was thus poured out where God, in righteousness but in love also, met him in virtue of Christ, who, lifted up from the earth, drew thither to Himself. There accordingly, precisely as in the directions for the peace-offerings (Leviticus 3:9-10), the fat, especially on the inwards, kidneys, and caul (or lobe) above the liver, were taken and burnt on the altar, while the bullock as a whole, skin, flesh, head, legs, inwards, and dung, had to be taken* without the camp and burnt in a clean place there, in testimony to God's vengeance on sin at least wherever the blood was sprinkled before Jehovah, before the veil. (Compare Leviticus 4:7-12; Leviticus 4:17-21.) In the case of an individual Israelite, whether a prince or a soul of the people of the land, there was neither sprinkling of the blood before the veil of the sanctuary nor burning of the body without the camp, and the blood was put by the priest on the horns of the brazen (not the golden) altar.
*It may not be amiss to give a sample of Bishop Colenso's critical candour and intelligence in his remarks on Leviticus 4:11-12. (Part i. ch. vi. I quote from the fourth edition revised, 1863.) In his citation he ventures to insert (the Priest) after "shall he" and before "carry forth." His comment is: "In that case, the offal of the sacrifices would have had to be carried by Aaron himself, or one of his sons, a distance of six miles (!); and the same difficulty would have attended each of the other transactions above-mentioned. In fact, we have to imagine the Priest having himself to convey, we may suppose, with the help of others, from St. Paul's to the outskirts of the Metropolis the 'skin, and flesh, and head, and legs, and inwards, and dung, even the whole bullock;' and the people having to carry out their rubbish in like manner and bring in their daily supplies of water and fuel, after first cutting down the latter where they could find it." Now even in our language it would be unwarrantable for a man professedly honest or truthful to fix on the words "shall carry" the necessity of personally doing this work in order to cast doubt or ridicule on the record. What shall be said of one ostensibly in the position of a chief servant of Christ so doing by holy scripture? But this is far short of the gravity of his guilt. For a tyro in Hebrew knows that verbs are susceptible of a change in form which gives a causative force. Such is the fact here. The verb originally means to "go forth;" in the Hiphil it means "to cause to go forth," leaving entirely open the agency employed. If it be sorrowful to make blunders in scripture exposition with good and reverent intentions, what can account for such excessive ignorance as is displayed in this instance? Were it a heathen enemy who thus reproached God and His word, one could understand that the haste to blame what is above man's mind often exposes itself thus; but what shall we say of one who so comes to us in the clothing not of a sheep merely but of a shepherd?
In the transition cases of Leviticus 5:1-13, the offering seems to be called both a trespass* and a sin-offering (compare verses Leviticus 5:6-7, and Leviticus 5:9; Leviticus 5:11-12Leviticus 5:11-12); yet only a connecting particle opens the section. The former class regarded sin in itself where the conscience was bad from the first; the transitional class that follows treats rather of sin viewed in its consequences, and admits of consideration, which the first class did not with a single and slight exception. But here we have an option of unexampled largeness, and the more to be noticed because sin was in question. When the sin came to be known, the guilty person confessed it, bringing a female lamb or kid; if his hand were insufficient for this, two turtle-doves or two young pigeons one for a sin-offering, and the other for a burnt-offering; and if his hand reached not to this, the tenth of an ephah of flour was brought by the sinner, but no oil nor frankincense, as it was a sin-offering. The priest grasped his handful, its memorial, and burnt it on the altar in expiation for his sin which should be forgiven, retaining the rest as an oblation. Here, again, what compassion for the poor in divine things! Yet there is the nicest care of holiness, not only where conscience at once told the tale of sin, but where it may not have been bad till it knew the consequence of overlooking some ordinance of government or legal purity. When it thus became bad, there must be both confession and sin-offering in order to forgiveness. On the other hand, God would not let circumstances hinder the poorest from the comfort of atonement as well as the duty of confession. The offering of fine flour for sin is exactly the exception which proves the rule, as it was manifestly owing to destitution on the offerer's part, and only a graciously allowed substitute for a bloody offering otherwise indispensable. A soul may feel its need of atonement, and look to Christ as a sin-bearer without anything like a full perception of His blood and death: will the grace of God shut out from the effects of His work because of untoward circumstances which hindered more knowledge? Assuredly I do not think so.
*I am aware of the confident statements of Drs. Davidson and Fairbairn on this point. The question is whether they are well founded. The former (Introd. O.T. i. 267) says, "Whosoever wishes to ascertain the points of difference between these two classes of offerings must carefully readLeviticus 5:14-19; Leviticus 5:14-19 and Leviticus 7:1-10, relating to the trespass-offering; andLeviticus 5:1-13; Leviticus 5:1-13, Leviticus 6:17-23, which refer to the sin-offering. He should particularly guard against the mistake of referring Leviticus 5:6, to the trespass-offering, since it relates to the sin-offering alone. The passage says, that if one be guilty in any of the things mentioned inLeviticus 5:1-4; Leviticus 5:1-4, he shall confess that he has sinned, and bring his ashamo his debt, his due compensation, or simply his offering. The word has the same sense in Leviticus 5:15; Numbers 5:7. Nothing can be more incorrect than to affirm with Kitto, that the same offerings are called interchangeably sin-offerings and trespass-offerings inLeviticus 5:6-9; Leviticus 5:6-9. Asham has three meanings viz., guilt, as in Genesis 26:1-35; debt, or what is due for contracting for guilt; and sacrifice for certain sins, i.e., sin-offering. Thus the term asham is not appropriated to trespass-offerings wherever it occurs, but is of wider significance. The occasions on which the two classes of offerings were made cannot with truth be pronounced the same; nor were the ceremonies alike, though these assertions have been made."
Dr. F. (Typ. ii. 348) remarks truly that the section to the end of verse 13 was added to the end ofLeviticus 5:1-19; Leviticus 5:1-19 without the formula, "Jehovah spake unto Moses, saying." But does he not go too far in asserting that it was to specify certain occasions in which it should be presented, and to make provision for the destitute? Is it not plain that Leviticus 4:1-35 is the full ordinary case of sin in error, but against commandments of Jehovah, doing what ought not to be done? and that Leviticus 5:1-13 is an appendix of defilement through Jehovah's ordinance, rather than a violation of natural conscience? These oases of refusal under adjuration (1), ceremonial uncleanness (2, 3), and the breaking of rash oaths (4), are specified in a way which is not seen in the more solemn sin-offering, which was also general. Hence, being peculiar, we have a variety of offerings quite as distinct from the usual sin-offering as from the formal trespass-offering where separation was made. It is true that in these appended oases "sin-offering" is used (Leviticus 5:6-9; Leviticus 5:11-12); but I do not think it correct to say that a "trespass-offering" in verse 6 is a mere mistranslation, or that the expression in the original is the same in verse 7. For although asham is not always determinately a trespass-offering, but is used more generally, sometimes for guilt and its punishment, yet it can hardly be assumed without good reason where we are on ground so precise as the distinct offerings. And to me it is evident that the word is not used in exactly the same way inLeviticus 5:6-7; Leviticus 5:6-7, "for his sin" following in the former case, not in the latter, which makes all the difference, and justifies, I think, the Authorised Version, the Samaritan, De Wette, Dr. Benisch, and Mr. Young. The Vulgate is vagueness itself; the LXX. and the Targum of Onkelos seem to favour Dr. F., and so probably Luther. Thus ancients and moderns differ, and the point is evidently not easy to decide The word may be used in a general rather than its specific sense.
Leviticus 5:14 gives a new word of Jehovah to Moses, as we see in the beginning ofLeviticus 6:1-30; Leviticus 6:1-30 also. Both sections however (Leviticus 5:1-19: l4-19 and Leviticus 6:1-7) share the common principle of making amends, or restitution, and the common name of trespass or guilt-offering, which was necessarily a ram, the blood of which (as we learn from its law, Leviticus 7:1-38) was sprinkled round about upon the altar, not poured out or shed at its base as with the sin-offering. The proper offerings for guilt or trespass, then, consist of two classes: first, wrongs done in the holy things of Jehovah (probably firstfruits, tithes, etc.), or by doing something against Jehovah's commands, afterwards found out; secondly, wrongs which Jehovah counts done against Him, though not sacrilegious or transgressive like the former, but acts of fraud and violence with deceit against men. In all such cases, besides an unblemished ram for the trespass-offering, with the payment of the value of the wrong that was done, a fifth was added according to the valuation of Moses, and given either to the priest in the former class, or to the party wronged in the second class.
Then follow the various laws of the offerings. (Leviticus 6:8, Leviticus 7:1-38)
As before, the burnt-offering stands first. Here it is an interesting fact to learn that the fire burning on the altar was never to go out. Nothing can be more express than this repeated injunction. All night it must burn, and never go out. It is night as regards the world not for those that are children of the day in a certain moral sense at any rate. But the fire never goes out, and when God wakes up His people and the nations, how precious to find that the offering has been once offered by reason of which those who submit to His righteousness will be acceptable to God! All was burnt to God, nothing eaten by man.
Next comes the law of the oblation or food-offering, in which we find particularly specified that Aaron and his sons are to eat of it. "With unleavened bread shall it be eaten in the holy place." Those that partake of Christ and are priests to God enjoy by faith His devoting Himself in life unto God, and had better beware of that which ill assorts with it. With unleavened bread, which sets forth absolute separation from the evil of nature, it was to be eaten, as also in the holy place. Is it not most derogatory to the grace which brings us nigh to trifle with Christ thus known? I know nothing more hatefully defiling than the way in which men who have no faith in Christ, nor sense of their sin or need, nor care for the glory of God, affect in an eulogistic way to take up the life of Christ and pronounce on His excellency here or there. Is not this to eat the oblation in the world and with leavened bread?
Besides we have the offering of Aaron and his sons on the day of his anointing a peculiar case of the oblation.
At the end ofLeviticus 6:1-30; Leviticus 6:1-30 is the law of the sin-offering; and in the beginning ofLeviticus 7:1-38; Leviticus 7:1-38 that of the trespass-offering. Here, as in the oblation, the priests were to eat in the holy place: in the former it was communion with His grace as man, in the latter communion with Him on behalf of the sinner through His work.
But, remarkably enough, and nicely distinguished as we shall see, the thank or peace-offering only appears after these, and at great length. Thus it stands last in the list of the laws, whereas it preceded the sin and trespass-offerings themselves. Can it be doubted that all this has designed significance, and that here the Spirit of God reserves for the last place the sacrifice which typifies Christ for communion, when it is a question of the law of its use? For there is nothing finer among the offerings than this sacrifice when we come to practice. Whatever may be the order of communication on God's part as we look at Christ; whatever the application to the sinner as we look at ourselves, the peace-offering is the last when we come to take it up as a matter representing practically the state of our souls. Communion as set forth by the peace-offering is what most of all answers to our soul's state, in order that we be able to turn to God in praise and thanksgiving. There were two chief forms. If offered as a thanksgiving, it was to be offered on the same day, and no part kept. But if it was a vow or voluntary offering, on the morrow the remainder might be eaten. We constantly find the same thing true in our souls now. There are two different measures in worshipping God; both real, but by no means possessing the same power. We see souls thoroughly happy in the sense of what the Lord has done for them, and they break forth in grateful thanks. Who would not join them in it? It is truly delightful, and quite right in its place. It may be elementary, it is true, but real worship of God. Yet it wants the power that sustains. In the vow we see more, where it is not simply a question of what has been done for us, and what we have ourselves received, but the heart can thoroughly delight in what Christ is Himself before God. This abides. There is no change here.
In Leviticus 8:1-36 we begin the history of the consecration of the priests; for now having been given the offerings, with their laws, we in due order come to the persons who had, if not to offer them, certainly to act for the people as to them in the sanctuary. That which had been laid down as a requisition inExodus 28:1-43; Exodus 28:1-43; Exodus 29:1-46 is now carried out practically as to the family of Aaron. "Take Aaron and his sons with him, and the garments, and the anointing oil, and a bullock for the sin-offering, and two rams, and a basket of unleavened bread; and gather thou all the congregation together unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. And Moses did as Jehovah commanded him." And there Moses brings forth Aaron and his sons, and washes them with water. In this we see the failure of any type to represent Christ. Aaron of course, as well as his sons, had to be washed. In Christ there was no need; nay, He came to cleanse others. What the washing did for Aaron, Jesus was, and infinitely more. The absolute purity of Christ as man no doubt fitted Him so far to be a priest. At the same time, we must carefully remember that there is an element in the priesthood of Christ that could not be given in any type, of which the epistle to the Hebrews makes much. The personal basis of the priesthood of Christ consisted in this, that He was the Son of God. Others were merely sons of men; and so in this case a priest was one taken from among men. This was not the ground of Christ's priesthood. It was no doubt necessary that He should be a man, but that which attested His distinguishing character as Priest was that He was the Son of God. And hence the title applied to Him in the second Psalm the Holy Ghost reasons on in the same fifth chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews, in contrasting Him with Aaron and his sons. Accordingly they, as knowing what man was, could feel for poor man, because they were poor men themselves. But the Son of God was altogether different. Immeasurably above man, all His heart could go out for man. He was absolutely above the condition in which man was involved by the fall, not merely in so much as He was a holy man, but as the Son of God. For this very reason there was perfect liberty of heart to take up the need of others; and so He did. This does not at all clash with the distinct truth of His suffering. Much which He endured was just because He was the Holy One. His sufferings therefore essentially differed from that kind of chastening which we, alas! know when buffeted for our faults. There never was in Jesus anything short of sufferings for grace or for righteousness, except when we come to the cross, when there was suffering for sin; but it was ours entirely not His.
In this case then Aaron washed could be but a feeble type of Jesus in His own essential purity. Upon him the coat and the girdle and the robe and the ephod were put, and with the curious girdle bound upon him. "And he put the breastplate upon him: also he put in the breastplate the Urim and the Thummim. And he put the mitre upon his head; also upon the mitre, even upon his forefront, did he put the golden plate, the holy crown; as Jehovah commanded Moses. And Moses took the anointing oil, and anointed the tabernacle and all that was therein, and sanctified them. And he sprinkled thereof upon the altar seven times, and anointed the altar and all his vessels, both the laver and his foot, to sanctify them. And he poured of the anointing oil upon Aaron's head." Mark that it was without blood: a most striking fact. Although a sinful man like the priests, his sons, still (that he might not stand in flagrant contradiction to Him of whom he was a type) Aaron was anointed with the oil before the blood was shed. It is worthy of observation that the tabernacle was anointed (verse 10) and all therein, the altar and all its vessels, with the laver and its base, before the sprinkling with blood. The force of this is plain and momentous as applied to the power of the Spirit in which Christ claims the heavenly things and indeed the universe; especially when we notice that the altar is purified by blood but no anointing follows.
Afterwards (verse 13) we find Aaron's sons brought, and they are clothed too, but they are not anointed. "And he brought the bullock for the sin-offering: and Aaron and his sons laid their hands upon the head of the bullock for the sin-offering." Indeed, Aaron was a sinful man; but there was this careful reserve that Aaron received the anointing oil before the sin-offering was killed, and before the blood therefore was sprinkled on him. Notwithstanding, when the sin-offering was slain, Aaron and his sons alike laid their hands on its head; and Moses took the blood and put it on the horns of the altar to purify it, and poured the rest at the base. Then, after burning the sin-offering without the camp, we are told of one ram for the burnt-offering, and another for consecration, to set forth special devotedness to God as priests. Thereon the blood is put on Aaron's right ear and thumb and foot, as well as on his sons. But we must remember that in the Epistle to the Hebrews, as here, the points of analogy, however strong, always fall short of the full glory of Christ. They were the shadows, and not the very image, as we are told. The anointing oil was not wanting, nor the appropriate oblation and peace-offering Christ in all His acceptance.
In Leviticus 9:1-24 we have the eighth day, when Aaron and his sons were to stand forth fully consecrated, and the glory of Jehovah appears. After the various offerings in their order, all closes with a very striking scene. "Aaron lifted up his hand toward the people and blessed them, and came down from offering of the sin-offering, and the burnt-offering, and the peace-offerings." The eighth day sets forth the time of resurrection glory. Then we read, "And Moses and Aaron went into the tabernacle of the congregation, and came out, and blessed the people: and the glory of Jehovah appeared unto all the people."
The bearing of this cannot well be doubted. First of all the high priest acts alone in blessing on the conclusion of the consecration and according to the efficacy of all the sacrifices. Then Moses and Aaron go into the tabernacle. It is the type of the full character of Christ, when there is the blending of regulative authority with the priesthood. Now Christ acts simply as priest; by and by He will take the kingdom, as well as maintain priesthood. As a sign of this, Moses and Aaron come out together, and bless the congregation, and the glory of Jehovah appears to all the people. It evidently prefigures the day of Jehovah, when the Lord Jesus shall be displayed in glory to every eye, and shall be a priest upon His throne. Our portion is a very different one, and is defined and distinguished from that of Israel, as far as a type could be, inLeviticus 16:1-34; Leviticus 16:1-34; but this I will not now anticipate.
In the next chapter (Leviticus 10:1-20) we have a humiliating fact the total feebleness of man in this new relationship of blessing to which he was called. "And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before Jehovah, which he commanded them not. And there went out fire from Jehovah and devoured them, and they died before Jehovah." The consecration was but complete. Scarce did they actually stand forth as priests of Jehovah, when two of them had so failed that the fire of divine judgment devours them instead of signifying in peace the acceptance of the victims. "then Moses said unto Aaron, This is it that Jehovah spake, saying, I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me, and before all the people I will be glorified."
You will find this always to be the difference between that which is of God and that which is of man. A human religion instinctively makes excuses for its officials, and never fails to allow a certain latitude and license for those that propagate it. The true God nowhere maintains the nice exigencies of His own character so much as in those who are nearest to Him and most favoured by Him. There is not a heart and conscience renewed of God but must feel how right and becoming it is that so it should be. No doubt flesh shrinks from such searching work; but Christianity means and is based on the judgment, not the sparing, of the flesh the gospel of Christ, and the Christian boasts in it with the apostle. There is nothing like the cross for God morally; but it is God acting in our interest, as well as for His own glory. Nothing more dishonouring to Him, nothing less wholesome for us than to give a dispensation for unholiness to sell indulgences; yet it is what every religion under the sun has done in effect, save that which is revealed of God. Even in the lowest form of God's revelation, when it was a question of schooling the first man, not yet of the Second, we see man's way judged unsparingly: how much more where all sin is discerned and dealt with fully, whether in the cross itself or by the power of the Spirit of God in the consciences of those that believe! But immediately God with solemn severity is seen gravely resenting the liberty which two of those standing high in religious rank took that day; so much so that men might taunt and say that the whole building had broken down before the very walls were complete. But the mediator was enabled to meet the occasion, and turns the chastening into matter for holy exhortation. "And Moses said unto Aaron, and unto Eleazar, and unto Ithamar, his sons, Uncover not your heads, neither rend your clothes; lest ye die, and lest wrath come upon all the people: but let your brethren, the whole house of Israel, bewail the burning which Jehovah hath kindled." He felt that it did not become those so near to Jehovah to yield themselves up to natural grief, any more than to allow a carnal excitement in His worship. Henceforward this is forbidden. The outward signs of mourning for death are prohibited for the priests. Certainly the occasion was a serious one, and fully tested the principle. But connected with it we learn that excitement is just as uncomely on their part who enjoy such nearness to God. "And Jehovah spake unto Aaron, saying, Do not drink wine nor strong drink, thou, nor thy sons with thee, when ye go into the tabernacle of the congregation, lest ye die: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations." No doubt it had also a practical bearing. Drinking wine or the like might unfit one for putting difference between holy and unholy. But first and foremost, and most rightly, it did not suit the presence of God: next, it unfitted for the safe and holy help of man surrounded by evil and perplexity.
Afterward oversight appears even in the rest of Aaron's sons, inasmuch as they burnt the goat of the sin-offering, for which Moses was angry with Eleazar and Ithamar. The failure thus was complete. Two of them paid the penalty with their lives; the other two were only spared in answer to the intercession of Aaron.
The next chapter (Leviticus 11:1-47) gives in detail this very difference of clean and unclean, but here the multiplicity of minute points admonishes for this sketch no more than a passing survey. It was not the point to furnish information as to the wholesome or unwholesome; but a moral end is everywhere uppermost. Jehovah would have Israel confide in Him and His choice for them as a peculiar and consecrated people. Doubtless He chose what was good, nay, the best; and His restrictions were not without the discerning insight of One who made each creature and had called out His people to be under His righteous government, and looked onward to a heavenly family who would gather His mind by the Spirit couched under these outward shadows.
It may suffice for the present that these remarks be made as to it that the essential condition in the land animals at any rate allowed for food consisted in this, that there should be a clean and firm walk, and along with it mature digestion. If there was failure in either, it was not fitting food for an Israelite (verses Leviticus 11:2-3). Hence the camel, the coney (or daman), the hare, and the swine, failing in one or other of these conditions could not be eaten nor their carcases touched without defilement (verses Leviticus 11:4-8). Thus, if we apply this practically enough to show its bearing, let us suppose a person ever so clear in apprehending truth, but without conscience as to his ordinary walk, all is good for nothing; or again let us take a person ever so blameless in walk, but his walk in no way flowing from the truth, all is good for nothing. For what can be right that is not the effect of revealed truth received into the heart, and becoming a part of one's vital system by the Spirit's application of it to our souls? Only then surely will the walk be firm, conscientious, free, and holy; such as suits the communications of God. But it is plain that the two things, not merely one of the two, are absolutely necessary, and are the fruit of the Spirit's dealing savingly with the conscience. It is a miserable thing to deceive ourselves on one side or the other. Let none ever content himself with being hoped to be a Christian in what people call the judgment of charity. Let us look well to it that our hearts be open to the searchings of the word by the Holy Spirit, and let us not shrink from suffering the word of exhortation. Others will look for the resulting fruit day by day in our ways and spirit. But it is only where both these features are combined that there can be communion according to God. This seems to be the lesson for us typically couched under eating of that which was clean.
The Israelite was not to partake of each animal which he might meet with. What was monstrous in one way or another was forbidden; what was according to divine order was lawful to him. Thus animals in the waters without fins and scales; winged insects without springing hind legs distinct from their four legs; the ravenous and nocturnal among birds; the carnivorous among beasts were of course excluded; but there were others also in divine wisdom and with a typical regard. When dead too, their touch defiled, even to a vessel or raiment, etc. (verses Leviticus 11:9-35.) Not so a fountain or pit, or gathering of water, which cleansed instead of contracting uncleanness (ver. Leviticus 11:36); not so sowing seed (ver. Leviticus 11:37). The power and life of the Spirit are incontaminate. Reptiles which did not fly or leap were all unclean. Jehovah laid all this on His people, who were to be holy because He was.
In Leviticus 12:1-8 comes in another remarkable type, namely, the condition in which sin has plunged men and women. Every child of Adam suffers from the defilement of an evil nature. In case there was a manchild, as we are told, there was such a result, and with a female child still more manifestly. The Lord never forgets how sin came into the world. His righteousness takes account of the first temptation to the end. So it is remarkable how the Apostle Paul turns this fact even for a matter of practical guidance in the question whether a woman ought to teach in the church. Assuredly our thoughts ought to be formed by the word of God. It is a question of government on earth, not of heaven nor of eternity in all this.
In Leviticus 13:1-59 leprosy is set forth with much detail as a general defilement of the person, also in the head or beard; and in divers forms. Here we have the most characteristic type of sin under the sign of that foul and hopeless disease. There might be other maladies wearing its evil appearance, but in fact only suspicious symptoms. Hence there was this important provision: a man is not made the judge of his own sin. It was laid down in the law that the Israelite should submit his condition to the inspection of another, and this other the type of a spiritual man, for a priest means that. It is really one who is called to have title of access to God, and who therefore should have his senses exercised to discern both good and evil according to the standard of the sanctuary. As such he is bound not to be carried away by conventional opinions, or traditional thoughts, or what men call public opinion one of the most mischievous sources of depraving the holy moral judgment in the children of God.
The leper then, whether so in reality or in appearance, submits to the priest, whatever might be the fact. The spot looked ill; it might be only a rising in the flesh, some passing evil. On the other hand a very trifling symptom in appearance, the least bright spot, with the hair turned white in it, and the plague or sore deeper than the skin, might have real leprosy lurking under it. The priest judges seriously. If these active and deep indications, however small, are there, he pronounces the man unclean. If he has a doubt, the suspected person is shut up, and remains to be seen again. If there are hopeful symptoms, they are noted; if there be no raw flesh, no fresh effects of active disease, but on the contrary the return of vigour, they are cherished, and if continued and increasing after a week's remand, the priest pronounces the man clean. If the hair turned white, if the evil lay deeper than the skin, and if it tended to spread, uncleanness was there. A boil or a burn might issue in leprosy. Nothing is trifled with, nothing passed over, nothing left without watch to work its own unimpeded way of evil. After a certain definite limit the priest looks again. He still perceives evil somewhat deeper than the skin. If it is a well-defined case of leprosy, he pronounces at once on it; if there is still uncertainty, there must be a farther term of waiting.
A plague might be in the head or beard, as well as the body; then if deeper than the skin and in it a yellow thin hair, the priest must pronounce it leprosy; if not so deep, he must delay, when if it did not spread nor deepen, he must delay again, and then if all went on thus favourably, he might pronounce him clean. Other cases are gone through with the utmost care, and I have no doubt that every minute difference is full of instruction; but the proof of this would carry us away from my present object.
The result in one instance (verses Leviticus 13:12-13) is indeed remarkable the whole person was covered with the effects of leprosy. To the inexperienced eye it might look the worst of all; for the leprosy was all out and over the sufferer. Yes, and just because it was, the priest had warrant to pronounce him clean! Thus, when a sinner has got to his worst and felt it, he is forgiven. It was evil no longer at work but manifest and confessed. Instead of going about to establish his own righteousness, he submits to the righteousness of God and is justified by faith. Jehovah entitled the priest to pronounce clean the evidently and utterly unclean. Boldness of faith becomes those who know such a God. Confidence in Him was what suited so desperate a case; it was only the occasion for God to assert His superiority. We should count on Him that it must be always thus. When you see a man filled with a thorough sense of sin yet bowing to God, we may assure ourselves of a blessing, and with full measure too. It only hinders the perception of God's grace, and keeps up uncertainty, when a man endeavours to palliate, cover, and correct himself, instead of confessing his sins in all their enormity. Such striving merely perpetuates vain hopes, denies the extent of mart's ruin, and shuts out the full delivering mercy of God. He at least who alone could cure called the leper to omit no sign of misery (verses Leviticus 13:45-46).
The case of the leprous garment does not call for lengthened remark. It refers to leprosy not so much in the nature as in the circumstances in what was displayed (verses Leviticus 13:47-59).
Leviticus 14:1-57 is occupied with the wonderfully instructive statement of the cleansing of the leper. There is no such thing as the cure of leprosy named here. This belonged to God alone No ceremony, no rite, could really heal, nothing but divine power mediate or immediate. Supposing somehow or another the leprosy stayed, the man must be cleansed. This is the ceremonial laid down in the beginning of the chapter. It presents an obvious and striking type of Christ dead and risen in the two birds. When the blood of the killed bird was mingled with running water (representing the action of the Holy Spirit dealing with man), and seven times sprinkled by the high priest on him, he is pronounced clean forthwith. The living bird dipped in the blood of the slain one is let loose into the field (type of Christ's resurrection); and he that is to be cleansed begins to wash his clothes, shave and otherwise cleanse himself for seven days more; and on the seventh day "he shall be clean." Not till then could he be, though he was not longer outside the camp.
But on the eighth day we have the types of Christ in the fulness of His grace, and all the efficacy of His work before God applied to the man, so that the soul might realize the place of blessing into which it is brought. There is often a danger of our contenting ourselves with the first part without the last. Of how much we rob our souls by this poverty in the presence of the riches of the grace of God! The chapter closes (verses Leviticus 14:33-53) with the leprosy of the house, which is clearly corporate evil, and with a reference to each case (verses Leviticus 14:54-57).
In Leviticus 15:1-33 we have cases of the evil of nature in the aspect of man's utter weakness as he now is through sin. If we find such awful but true characteristics of man, may we delight ourselves that God and God alone brings together in the same book the contrast as the rich and full presentation of Christ's sacrifice in all its variety and perfection! After such an introduction we may well bear to see that dismal picture of man in all his loathsomeness, leprosy in his person, leprosy in his character, leprosy in his connection, with the antecedent uncleanness and the defilements which follow. Yet "Mercy rejoiceth against judgment." We shall find however that it is not bare mercy, but a God who acts in power, and will have us in communion with Himself, while we are in the old scene of folly and evil, instead of having us to wait till we get to heaven. How blessed thus to know Him here! I hope to dwell a little on that which will illustrate this side of His grace, when proceeding with the portion of the book of Leviticus which follows.