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Shadows Of Good Things To Come
The Gospel In Type

by Russell R. Byrum

Chapter IV
The Aaronic Priesthood

Priesthood, or an attorneyship in sacred things, is one of the most ancient of religious institutions, and has been characteristic of almost every known religion. The first mention of a priest in the Bible is that of Melchisedec, king of Salem and priest of the most high God. To him Abraham paid tithes of the spoils from his battle with the kings. The priesthood of Aaron and his sons is the next mentioned of the true religion.

But the priests of heathen religions are often mentioned in the Bible and history. The priests of Egypt were a powerful and privileged class to whom Pharoah gave a special portion of the land (Gen. 47:22). The king of Egypt honored Joseph, his prime minister, by giving him the daughter of Potipherah, priest of On. Moses married the daughter of Jethro, priest of Midian. Four hundred and fifty priests of Baal ate at the table of the wicked queen Jezebel. Mention might also be made of the druids of Gaul and Britain, the Magi of Persia, the Sacerdotes of Greece and Rome, the califs of Mohammedanism, the medicine men of various savage tribes, and of the influential orders of priests in heathen lands today.

But why is priesthood thus coextensive with religion? Like the altar, that other most ancient religious institution, the priesthood is the answer to a fundamental need in man’s religious nature as he is now constituted. The guilt of sin is upon his soul, and he feels himself unfitted to come into the presence of a holy God. Therefore he needs a daysman, an arbitrator, or a mediator to deal with his offended Creator for him. Not only do the ethnic religions ancient and modern have such a middleman, and of the true religion not only the Israelitish, but, thank God, Christianity has its great High Priest, our blessed Lord Jesus Christ. He is the true mediator between God and men. He intercedes for us.

Priesthood, or an attorneyship in sacred things, is one of the most ancient of religious institutions, and has been characteristic of almost every known religion. The first mention of a priest in the Bible is that of Melchisedec, king of Salem and priest of the most high God. To him Abraham paid tithes of the spoils from his battle with the kings. The priesthood of Aaron and his sons is the next mentioned of the true religion.

In the religion of the patriarchs no priesthood existed. Every man was his own priest for himself and family. Abel offered his own lamb. Noah officiated at the altar after leaving the ark. Nothing is more characteristic of the life of Abraham than his altar to Jehovah, on which he himself laid the offerings. Job also offered burnt offerings for his sons: this may be accounted for by the fact that they were either in an undeveloped state of society or sojourners among idolaters. Certainly God’s original design was that every man should have personal acquaintance with him and worship him directly. In view of this it has been suggested that Mosaism was a step backward in religion in this particular. But may we not rather allow that the spiritual-minded Israelite, like David, still had direct spiritual intercourse with God, and added to this and as an aid to it this typical priesthood to remind him of that true Priest greater than Aaron?

Also the existence of the priesthood would the more forcibly remind the sin-burdened Israelite of that awful truth which he already knew instinctively, that sin had I separated between him and his God. He is too sinful to be looked upon by the holy eyes of God. He is not worthy to commune with his Lord. He is as the guilty criminal before the righteous judge. He is a fugitive fleeing before infinite justice. An impassable gulf yawns between him and his Maker, and he himself can not bridge it. He is a rebel against his rightful Sovereign and needs a friend of that Sovereign to entreat for him. Like guilty Adam he would hide from God. He shrinks from the presence of the Holy One, and, like the terrified Israelites at the foot of Mount Sinai when the voice of God spoke the Decalogue in tones of thunder, he tremblingly looks about for one who can approach the holy God for him, and says with them, “Let not God speak with us, lest we die.”

On the other hand God also, desiring to become reunited to his sinful subjects, needs a middleman. He can not sacrifice his infinite dignity and righteousness to receive to himself vile sinners. If he was ever to forgive his ungrateful, unworthy creatures one must be found who could serve as a connecting link and who could bring man to God by way of atonement for a broken law. To unite God and man there must be a spiritual attorney who can lay his hand upon both. There must be one such as is but dimly foreshadowed in those ancient priests, who shall reconcile God to man by making man holy as God is holy.

The Levitical Priesthood
(Exodus 28, 29)

The priesthood in Israel is called the Levitical priesthood because the priests were from the tribe of Levi. The priesthood was the ministry of worship as the tabernacle was the place of worship for the Israelites. The priests had a very close connection with the tabernacle in its constitution and as a complement of it in that ancient religion of types and shadows. The tabernacle would have been useless and meaningless without a priesthood. So close was this relation that the inspired writer stops his description of the furniture of the tabernacle at the end of the twenty-seventh chapter of Exodus, before giving the description of the golden altar found in Exodus thirty, to devote the twenty-eighth and twenty-ninth chapters to the calling and consecrating of Aaron and his sons.

The command to Moses was. “Take thou unto thee Aaron thy brother, and his sons with him, from among the children of Israel, that he may minister unto me in the priest’s office.” (Exod. 28:1). Aaron was to be the high priest, and the sons common priests. Viewing the Israelitish priesthood in its broadest phase, it contained three classes:

1. The whole tribe of Levi was a priestly tribe, and the Levites were divinely appointed helpers of the priests proper, to assist them in caring for and transporting the tabernacle from place to place, and in teaching the law to the people. Because of these important duties the Levites were given no regular inheritance in the land of Canaan, but were scattered among the other tribes and made dependent upon the tithes from the other twelve tribes for their living.

2. The common priests were of the sons of Aaron, who was of the priestly tribe of Levi. These were consecrated with Aaron to the sacred service of Jehovah, but it is worthy of notice that in the calling of them with Aaron it is said that “he” may minister in the priest’s office. Aaron was the priest. They were priests only because of their relationship to their father the priest. They were merely his helpers in serving at the altar and in instructing the people in divine things.

3. The high priest, whose office was the basis for those of the other class, was the real mediator of the Mosaic religion. He stood between the sinful people and their holy God. He it was only who entered once each year into the holy of holies to make atonement and to intercede before Jehovah for them. He bore their names ever upon his breast. As far as that ancient service is concerned, there would have been no other priests if he could have performed this service alone.

Aaron and Melchisedec

In the Old Testament we read of two great priests, Aaron and Melchisedec. Much is said of Aaron, of his ancestry, call, anointing, duties, descendants, and death. But to Melchisedec a very small niche is given in the annals of Old Testament history. Turning, however, to the New Testament, we find him given a place of more prominence than is given to Aaron, and he is shown to be superior to Aaron, and typical of Christ in a special way as Aaron was not.

For but one brief instant Melchisedec appears on the scene of Old Testament history. He was a priest of Jehovah in the ancient city of Salem; and Abraham, the father of the priesthood of Aaron, therefore greater than Aaron, acknowledged that this extraordinary character was still greater than himself, as the writer of the Hebrew epistle reasons, by paying tithes to him. We do not know how this devout priest of the true God happened to be dwelling there among those idolatrous people; neither do we know anything of his birth, death, parentage, nor descendants. For the Aaronic priests it was necessary that they be able to trace their ancestry back to Aaron. But Jesus, the great High Priest, is not of the family of Aaron. Consequently he is described in the epistle to the Hebrews, quoting from the prophecy in the Psalms, as being “a priest forever after the order of Melchisedec.” Aaron died and so could not continue to mediate for his people, but we have no record of Melchisedec’s death. In that his priesthood is apparently without beginning and without end, but perpetual, so it is reasoned that his priesthood is like that of Jesus. Christ is a priest of the order of Melchisedec, but he exercises the office after the manner of Aaron. Melchisedec well typifies the fact of Christ’s continuous priesthood, but Aaron is a more exact type of him as the true mediator between God and men.

The Antitype of the Priesthood

That our blessed Lord is the antitypical high priest is abundantly shown in the New Testament. “Consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus.” (Heb. 3:1). “We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens.” (Heb. 8:1). As Aaron entered into God’s presence with the blood of vicarious atonement, so Jesus intercedes for us by his own atoning blood. As Israel’s high priest bore into God’s presence the names of his people inscribed in the precious stones upon his breast and shoulders, so Jesus our “advocate with the Father” represents us every one before God’s throne in heaven now. That ancient high priest resembled Christ in several particulars and yet was much inferior to him. He was divinely appointed, and so was Jesus (Heb. 5:5). He was ceremonially pure in that he was consecrated; must not defile himself by touching any dead thing; and must marry a wife in her virginity, not a divorced woman, a harlot, or a widow (Lev. 21:14): so Christ was intrinsically holy (Heb. 7:26). The ancient high priest was to be physically perfect (Lev. 21:16–24); but Christ is morally perfect. The common priests as assistants of Aaron in offering sacrifices were also typical of Christ, who offers the true sacrifice for sin. But in another sense they are represented as being typical of God’s people. “Ye are … a royal priesthood, a holy nation” (1 Pet. 2:9). “And hast made us unto our God kings and priests” (Rev. 5:10). Believers are represented as priests by various New Testament writers, and it is not unreasonable to regard them as antitypical of those ancient common priests. Believers are holy as those priests were regarded by God as being more holy than others. Also as those priests entered that ancient house of God, so we have been admitted into the “house of God which is the church.” Again we are analogous to them in that as they offered the sweet incense in worship to God, so we “offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.” (Heb. 13:15). These offerings to God are acceptable to him because we are chosen of God as priests; we do not become priests by means of such offerings. As those Levitical priests had to wash at the laver before entering the sacred precincts of God’s house, so we have become truly holy by the regenerating power of the Holy Ghost. Every Christian is a priest of God, and needs no priestly order such as exists in the Greek and Roman Churches to stand between him and God today; for he is made holy by the offering of our great High Priest.

The “Golden Garments” of Aaron

The clothing commonly worn by Aaron in his priestly ministrations was made by a divinely given pattern, and was called by Jewish writers the “golden garments” because of the much gold used in them and to distinguish them from the plain white linen garments which he wore in token of humiliation during the solemn services of the great day of atonement. These golden garments are described as “holy” and “for glory and for beauty.” And they were indeed beautiful. Probably the dress of no potentate of earth has surpassed them for beauty and richness. The vestments of the pope of Rome on great occasions, though patterned somewhat after these and those of the pontifex maximus of pagan Rome, doubtless would dwindle into insignificance if compared with this imposing attire of the high priest of Israel. Probably no grander sight ever greeted the eyes of an Israelite than that of Aaron with hands uplifted to bless his people, while fourteen large jewels on his breast and shoulders glittered in the bright light of the desert sun and the gold of his garments gleamed and blazed in its glory. It was such as became the dignity of the representative of him whose “face shone as the sun” and whose “raiment was white and glistening.”

These holy vestments of Aaron are regarded by God as very important doubtless because of their typical significance. They are minutely described; almost two entire chapters of Exodus, twenty-eight and thirty-nine, being devoted to them. They consisted of seven pieces. In the order in which they were put upon him when he was consecrated they were: the linen breeches, the broidered coat, the robe of the ephod, the ephod, the curious girdle, the breastplate, and the miter.

The White Linen Garments. —The linen breeches or drawers for Aaron are not listed in the Bible with the other articles of the high priest’s garments, but with those of his sons, because they were similar to those of the common priests. The broidered coat was of fine white linen, having sleeves, and reaching probably nearly to his feet. It was embroidered with needlework, but this was likely also in white. It seems to have had a linen girdle other than the curious girdle or belt of the ephod (Lev. 8:7; 16:4). These white garments were similar to if not the same as those worn by the common priests. Also the white linen miter of Aaron was of the same material if not of the same shape as the bonnets made for his sons. These pure-white linen robes, which were worn next to the flesh, were symbolic to them of purity, and probably typify the fine linen which is the righteousness of saints—God’s spiritual priests of the present. They are called the “holy garments.” (Lev. 16:4).

The Robe. —Of the robe it is not mentioned what kind of material was used, but its color was to be blue, and it was to be woven in one piece with a hole for the head and doubtless holes for the arms. It reached probably somewhat below the knees, and it had hanging from its border pomegranates of blue, purple, and scarlet. Alternating with these were golden bells, the sound of which was heard as Aaron entered or came out of the sanctuary. The sound of these bells indicating the mediation of the high priest typified the proclamation of the gospel tidings, that Christ is now making intercession for our salvation before the Father. These are the antitypical gospel bells.

“The gospel bells in music tell
The story that we love so well,
Of ‘Peace on earth good will to men;’
Ring out, sweet bells, ring out again.”

The Ephod. —The ephod was of special importance. It was made of the kingly colors of blue, purple, and scarlet, because though the Israelitish high priest was not a king, yet he typified him who is Prophet, Priest, and King. Threads or wire of pure gold were woven into the ephod. It consisted of two pieces of such cloth, one of which covered the back and the other the front, being fastened together by the gold settings of the onyx stones on either shoulder. It was fastened together below by the belt or “curious girdle,” which was made of the same material. But the two large gems, one on either shoulder, which were attached to it (or rather to which it was attached, because it existed for them, not they for it), were the important part of it. These were held in place by settings of gold, and on them were engraved in raised letters the names of the twelve sons of Israel, six on the stone of the right shoulder and six on the left. These are said to have been for a memorial that Aaron might bear the names of the children of Israel before the Lord for a memorial. Aaron was their representative in intercession for them. These stones with the names on them remarkably typify Christ’s bearing his people before the Lord as their advocate with the Father today. On his mighty shoulders they rest. They trust in his unfailing power to save them, and they need not fear.

“Before the throne my Surety stands,
My name is written on his hands.”

The Breastplate. —The breastplate was attached to the ephod and seems sometimes to be reckoned as a part of it. It was made of cloth similar to that of the ephod, and was a span, or about nine inches, square when doubled. On this were fastened by ouches, or settings, of gold twelve costly gems of as many different kinds arranged in four rows, one above another, with three in a row. On these were inscribed in raised letters the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. The names differed from those of the stones of the ephod only in naming the twelve tribes instead of the twelve sons of Israel. The names of Levi and Joseph, which appeared on the stones of the ephod, were omitted from the breastplate and the names of Ephraim and Manassah, Joseph’s sons, were substituted. But as Levi, the priestly tribe, belonged to all the tribes it was represented on the breastplate.

It was important that all the Israelites be represented by the priest. And this was done by this double enumeration of them, so none needed to feel he was missed. The names on the breastplate were connected to those on the stones on the shoulders by golden chains, made of twisted threads of gold, which furnished a support for the breastplate, which was also tied to the ephod with blue ribbon below. As Aaron, Israel’s representative before God, bore their names on his breastplate and on the stones on his shoulders, so our Representative before God ever bears us on his heart of infinite love and upon his shoulders of almighty power. Our cause is safe in his care. He will not fail as our Advocate because of lack of interest nor because of lack of ability. And all the people of God are represented there. Reuben, “unstable as water,” is represented as well as lionlike Judah. Thanks be to God, each of us is there; our High Priest pleads my cause and yours, and all who will may have the benefits of his intercession for them.

The Miter and Crown. —The head-covering of Aaron was not a deeply cleft high cap such as has been worn by the Pope or other modern ecclesiastic, but rather a white linen turban, according to Josephus. But the important feature of Aaron’s head-covering was the holy crown, the plate of pure gold which was fastened to the miter by a band of blue cloth. On this plate of shining gold was engraved in raised letters, “Holiness to the Lord.” Aaron not only represented the sinful people to God, but he also represented their holy God to them. He not only represented them by bearing their names on his breast and shoulders, but he represented God by the golden inscription that was so prominent on his forehead.

Likewise our High Priest is both God and man. He partakes of sinful flesh to identify himself with us; but he retains the holy and divine nature of God, which identifies him with the Godhead. In interceding for the forgiveness of the sinner he does not ask God to disregard his own holiness. He upholds God’s holiness and at the same time consistently asks pardon for the guilty. He reconciles justice and mercy. How wonderful! God’s marvelous plan of saving sinful men is worthy of the infinite wisdom and perfection of Him who doth all things well. And the typification of these wonderful Christian truths in those ancient vestments of Aaron likewise bear the same mark of divine wisdom in their remarkable resemblance to these truths.

The Urim and Thummim. —What the Urim and Thummim were is not known. Some have supposed they were merely the stones of the breastplate. A more probable theory seems to be that they were objects separate from the breastplate that were deposited in the pouch formed by the doubling of the cloth of the breastplate. They may have been similar to or identical with seraphim, which were images or other objects used in divination. Some ground is furnished for this view by those texts which connect seraphim with ephods (Judg. 17:5; 18:14, 17, 20) and also by the statement that Israel’s desolation should consist partly in being deprived of the ephod and seraphim (Hosea 3:4). Also if the evil spirits can make things known through such means, there is no reason why we should not allow that God used such a device in connection with his chosen priest. While we may not be certain concerning the nature of the Urim and Thummim, we do know they were for the purpose of revealing the will and mind of God. David and others often applied to them for this purpose. And here again the high priest is like Christ, who reveals to us God’s mind and will.

Consecration of Aaron and His Sons
(Exodus 29, Leviticus 8)

Almost a year had passed since the departure of Israel from Egypt, and the tabernacle had just been set up, when, at the divine command, the vast host of Israel were gathered at the tabernacle to witness the elaborate rites of the consecration of the priestly family to their important office. Of course, not more than the elders of the tribes could crowd into the court, but doubtless the common people gathered about the door and probably thronged the surrounding mountain-sides. We may well imagine, when all were thus gathered, a small procession issuing from the tents of the priests and, while a solemn hush rested upon the gathered multitude, passing into the court before the door of the sanctuary. First in the procession is Moses, the giver of the law—the meek man of God. Next is Aaron, whom God had chosen for the high priesthood.

Following their father come his four sons, Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar. Next come four Levites with the offerings, one leading a bullock, a second and third each leading a ram, and a fourth carrying a basket containing unleavened bread, unleavened cakes, and unleavened wafers with oil poured over them.

The rites of priestly consecration, like others of the shadows of good things, held great typical significance, and were performed in the exact order of the antitype. Aaron’s dedication represents that of Christ to his great work, while that of his sons is typical of our consecration—as priests of our God. Of course, Aaron had to be made ceremonially clean to become a type of Christ; but Jesus needed no such cleansing, for he was intrinsically pure from the beginning. With this exception the type and antitype are parallel.

Their Washing. —First Moses washed them, probably at the laver. The laver represented regeneration, as we have already shown. So, likewise, those who believed upon Him whose coming John the Baptist announced, were regenerated (Luke 16:16 and John 3:3). Logically the sin-offering belongs here also, but historically, as it was in Jesus’ ministry, the great sin-offering must come after the anointing of the high priest and immediately before the consecration and anointing of the common priests. So it was in the type. Men were regenerated and in the kingdom long before Calvary.

Robing and Anointing of Aaron. —Next the holy garments, already described, were put upon the high priest, after which came the holy anointing-oil. This anointing of Aaron was highly significant. The oil was made by God’s special formula as described in Exodus 30:22–33. God had a patent on it, and penalty was death for infringement by making it for any secular use. This is “the precious ointment” that was poured out “upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron’s beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments” (Psa. 133:2). Its pleasant odor reminded the Psalmist of the sweet fellowship of brethren in unity.

This specially compounded ointment was a type of the Holy Spirit. This is made clear in the first epistle of John, chapter two, verse twenty-seven: “But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things.” And it is the Holy Ghost that teaches. That this is the antitypical meaning of that holy oil is shown by the plain statement of the New Testament that “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power” (Acts 10:38). From this verse it is certain that the holy chrism on Aaron’s head typified the Holy Spirit’s coming in bodily form like a dove and resting upon Jesus as he ascended from the baptismal waters of the Jordan. There was fulfilled Daniel’s prophecy, “To anoint the Most Holy” (Dan. 9:24).

As Aaron’s anointing was before the sin-offering was offered, and his sons did not receive the oil until after, so our great High Priest, Jesus, received the Holy Ghost three years before the cross, and the disciples, the common priests, not until fifty days after the crucifixion and resurrection, on the day of Pentecost. Jesus fully predicted on the night of his betrayal that he would send the Holy Ghost to them later. This was fulfilled when with a sound as of a mighty wind he came on them as tongues of fire. The prophet Isaiah predicted Christ’s anointing long years before. “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings” (Isa. 61:1). Jesus said in the beginning of his ministry and before his crucifixion that this prediction was fulfilled (Luke 4).

The oil was poured upon Aaron, while it is said to have been merely sprinkled upon his sons. Aaron received a copious measure of it so that it ran down over his person. So of Jesus it was said, “God hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows” (Heb. 1:9). And he said of himself, “For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him” (John 3:34). The Spirit is given by measure to men so they may constantly become more filled with his working; but Jesus had him in unlimited measure for power, wisdom, and knowledge. Jesus was infinite in all his capacities.

The Sacrifices at the Altar. —The bullock was first offered for a sin-offering for all the priests. It was like an ordinary sin-offering of a priest except that the blood was put upon the horns of the brazen altar instead of the golden altar, as was ordinarily done. This was doubtless because they were not yet priests, but only being made such. Next the first ram was offered for a burnt offering, a symbol of acceptable worship only through atonement. Then the second ram was offered for a peace-offering, and the meat-offering of bread and cakes accompanied it. The peace-offering was also the consecration-offering. Otherwise these offerings were simply the various kinds of sacrifices of the Levitical system. These will be considered in detail in our next chapter.

The Blood of Consecration Applied to the Priests. —When the ram of consecration was slain, some of its blood was taken and applied to the person of Aaron and of each of his sons. It was put upon the tip of the right ear, the thumb of the right hand, and the great toe of the right foot. It was to consecrate them. The blood-stained ear signified that they were consecrated to listen faithfully to God’s commandments, the blood-stained hand that they were to do diligently the duties God had assigned to them, and the blood-marked foot that they should tread the courts of God’s house and walk in his way. This shadow of good things contains an important lesson for us today who are of God’s holy priesthood. Too often there is a failure of this complete consecration of every power of the being to God’s service. While many see only this consecration in sanctification, others see only cleansing. But God had both in the type, and intends it so in the antitype. The cleansing is in order to the devotion of our powers to God’s service. God saves us that we may obey him, serve him, and follow him.

The Anointing of Aaron’s Sons. —We have already seen Aaron himself anointed before the bloodshedding as the great High Priest was anointed by the Holy Spirit. Now we come to the anointing of the sons. Aaron was anointed as typical of Christ with pure ointment because Christ was holy and needed no cleansing by blood, but the only anointing the sons received was by the oil mixed with the blood from the altar. That this was the blood of the ram of consecration is evident, because the blood of the sin-offering had been poured out at the foot of the altar and not sprinkled upon it, the blood of the burnt offering was sprinkled upon the altar but had been burned with the burnt offering, and the ram of consecration is being dealt with at the time this anointing is enjoined. Fairbairn and Moorehead both understand it this way. Moses mixed this oil and blood together and sprinkled it upon them. This was applied to Aaron as well as his sons, as the sin-sacrifices were. Because he was a sinful man, this had symbolic meaning, but not typical meaning as did his anointing with the pure oil without blood and as the oil and blood did of his sons.

But why the blood in the oil for anointing the sons? It has already been shown that the oil was typical of the Holy Ghost and that believers, the common priests of this dispensation, first received the anointing of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost. Does the blood of Christ have a part in our anointing with the Holy Ghost? On the same occasion as Jesus promised the Holy Ghost to his disciples who had believed on him, had been regenerated, had been sent to preach, and whose names were written in heaven, he prayed that they might be sanctified, that they might be kept from the evil. We showed in the preceding chapter that the New Testament teaches a cleansing of the heart from native depravity after conversion, also that the Holy Ghost baptism is subsequent to conversion, as shown by every example recorded in the New Testament. As further proof that a cleansing of the heart takes place in connection with the Spirit’s baptism, we quote Acts 15:8, 9 where Peter is describing the experience which Cornelius and his household received at the time he visited them. “And God, which knoweth the hearts, bear them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; and put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.”

The blood is the means of sanctification (Heb. 13:12), and the Spirit is the agent who applies it (Rom. 15:16). Is it not reasonable, therefore, to believe that in this anointing of Aaron’s sons with oil mixed with blood, after the sin-offering had already been offered for their justification, we have a remarkably accurate type of the fact that a cleansing is wrought when we are anointed by the Holy Ghost, which second cleansing is also typified by the two rooms of the tabernacle?

The Eating of the Ram of Consecration. —The eating of the ram of consecration being a part of the regular rite of the peace-offering, its typical meaning will be discussed in that connection. The continuation of these rites of consecration of Aaron and his sons for seven days indicates doubtless the completeness of their consecration, seven being the number of perfection. When the consecration was ended on the eighth day, and Aaron with Moses had entered the sanctuary, then Aaron came out and lifted up his hands and blessed the people. So Jesus, when he had accomplished the antitype of the ancient shadows we have been considering, ascended into the presence of God, from where he has ever blessed his people as a merciful and faithful High Priest, who can be touched with a feeling of their infirmities.

Chapter V
The Offerings the Altar
(Leviticus 1–7)

Sacrificial offerings did not have their origin with the Mosaic law. It merely directed specifically how such offerings should be made by those under it. Like the altar on which they were offered, they date from the earliest dawn of human history, and have characterized religion in almost all ages and countries.

Cain and Abel, Noah and Abraham offered sacrifices. The priests of Baal did likewise in the days of Elijah, and the devotees of the ancient fire-god Moloch placed their infant children in the extended hands of the great brass image of their god to be burned to death by the flames of a roaring fire kindled on the altar beneath, while the cries of the little victims were drowned by the beating of the drums and the blowing of trumpets. Human sacrifice has been common in different heathen religions. At one time the bloody goddess Kali of India was worshiped by the sacrifice of many thousands of human lives each year. When Europeans first visited Mexico, the Mexican Indians offered human sacrifice by placing the living victim on the altar before the idol, cutting a slit in his left side, pulling the heart out and pressing it against the idol. How men first got the idea of offering sacrifices we can not be certain. If it was originally by a direct injunction of God, as some suppose, it must still be allowed that a deep need of man’s nature has impelled him to continue the practice. Serious-minded men in all places and times have had a tendency to worship a higher being. A bent to religion is deeply implanted in human nature. Also as at present constituted men feel estranged from God by sin. They therefore seek by these sacrifices to obtain favor with him.

Sacrifices by Blood

At first thought it seems strange that the kind Creator should appoint such rites that his holy sanctuary should have the appearance of a solemn slaughter-house. But such must have been the general aspect around that ancient altar of Jehovah. The grand reason for such an arrangement was that “without shedding of blood is no remission,” as a New Testament writer has put it. And unless sins were remitted, the Holy Lord could not associate himself with a sinful people. God’s holiness and man’s sin lie at the bottom of all that ancient bloodshedding on God’s altar.

But why must blood be shed? Would not a live lamb placed upon God’s altar answer as well? Or why might not the agriculturist bring an offering of the fruits of the field, as did Cain, and be accepted of God? The answer to these questions is quite clearly given in Lev. 17:11, where the eating of blood is forbidden and the reason is given why it must not be eaten: “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.” The full force and exact meaning of this text is often missed because of the last three words, “for the soul.” According to Fairbairn the Hebrew preposition here translated “for” is much better rendered as in the American Standard Version, where the last clause reads, “for it is the blood that maketh atonement by reason of the life [soul, margin].” The reason, then, why the blood is appointed to atone for the soul of the guilty is because of the life of the animal that resides in the blood, as is brought out in the first clause of the verse.

Moses told us more than three millenniums ago a truth which by modern science has not been discovered and announced until in recent years—that the physical seat of animal life is in the blood. Harvey, the discoverer of blood circulation, says of the blood, “It is the fountain of life, the first to live, the last to die, and the primary seat of the animal soul.” Now, the sinner had forfeited his life by sin, for “the wages of sin is death.” Justice demanded that the penalty be paid. But God, desiring to forgive the sinner, made an arrangement so that His holiness could be maintained and His good law respected by the sacrificing of another life, one that had not been forfeited, instead of the life of the sinner so the sinner might go free. Therefore the blood, the physical seat of life, is chosen as the most appropriate symbol of that intangible life that must be laid upon the altar of God to cover from his holy eyes the guilt of the sinner.

Inefficiency of Animal Sacrifices

Because the souls of those dumb animals sacrificed for sin were unforfeited unstained by guilt they were in this particular a fit substitute for men, but in almost every other point they lacked the requisite qualities to atone for sin. “It is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins” (Heb. 10:4). The penalty for sin is represented as being infinite everlasting. Then how could the suffering of mere physical death by a finite creature be a proper substitute for that penalty? Especially is this not possible when we consider that those creatures, unlike the sinner, were irrational and non-moral, and so incapable of sin or holiness. Also they could not constitute a proper sacrifice for sin because their offering was unlike the sin to be atoned for—by voluntary choice. They suffered, not willingly, but by the hand of another. The priest and the offering were divided, which cannot be true in a proper atonement for sin. Passing by the question of whether the suffering of atonement must equal in extent the suffering of the sinner, it is clear that the putting to death of an irrational animal was insufficient to represent to men the extreme sinfulness of sin, and the awful holiness of God and of his commandment that has been violated.

A nobler sacrifice must be sought. These might serve as a temporary basis for the pardon for sin, but even as such only on the ground of an adequate sacrifice being provided in God’s plan. Those animal sacrifices had no intrinsic value in themselves, but only as they represented the true sacrifice, much as paper money—a one-dollar silver certificate has value only because of the silver dollar that is deposited in the treasury of the government issuing it. The silver dollar has intrinsic value, the paper dollar merely representative value.

But we need not therefore conclude that the Israelite must have clearly comprehended the nature of the true atonement to be accepted by his animal sacrifice, as one need not understand the nature of the value of paper money to be benefited by it, or as one today need not comprehend the philosophy of Christ’s atonement in order to be saved. Doubtless it was enough that he should have faith in the mercy of God according to the plan by which he had chosen to show his mercy. However, it is very probable that the more spiritual-minded of the Israelites saw dimly the real sacrifice for sin, the Lamb of God, in the distant future that was foreshadowed by the lamb they offered.

The Antitypical Sacrifice for Sin

It scarcely needs to be stated here that Christ in his sacrificial death is the true atonement for man’s sin and the antitype of all those Levitical offerings. He is “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29). We are redeemed “with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.” (1 Pet. 1:19). “How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” (Heb. 9:14). Each of the various kinds of bloody sacrifices points to him and represents different aspects of his sacrifice, as the different parts of the tabernacle were needed to symbolize various phases of his saving work, or elaborate priestly attire and services were required to show him as mediator in various ways.

Only Christ could be fit sacrifice for sin. When the sad news reached heaven that the two holy beings whom God had created and placed on probation in the Garden of Eden had broken the divine commandment and must be forever banished from himself, God began at once to seek for their recovery. In the fifth chapter of Revelation he is described as sitting upon his throne with a book in his hand sealed with seven seals. This book which symbolized the plan of salvation, “no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open.” Then it was said, “The Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.” No man nor any angel was qualified to save a world of sinners. Only he who is infinite, who could combine in his own person divinity and humanity, who could make an infinite sacrifice could redeem sinful men.

He it was who laid aside his royal robes and kingly crown, stepped down from his exalted throne before which cherubim and seraphim bowed in adoration and worship, and came from that world of bliss to this world of sin, sorrow, and death. Though he was rich, yet for our sakes he became poor, that we through his poverty might become rich. He “loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood.”

Classes and Quality of Sacrifices

The Levitical sacrifices, excluding those of a special nature such as the Passover, were of five kinds, which are Scripturally divided into two main classes:
Sweet-savor Offerings: —Burnt, Meat, and Peace.
Sin-Offerings: —Sin, Trespass.

The main idea of the sweet-savor offerings was acceptance and worship. The latter class had for its primary purpose the expiation of sin. In the detailed description of all these sacrifices in Leviticus 1–7 the sweet savor sacrifices are described before the sin-offerings, but in practice the sin-offering, came first and the worship offerings afterward as in the consecration of the priests. (See also 2 Chronicles 29.) Worship can not be acceptable until atonement is made for sin.

The offerings consisted of animal and of vegetable offerings, although the vegetable sacrifices were never offered except in connection with a bloody offering or as its substitute. The bloody offerings were bullocks, sheep, goats, turtle-doves, and pigeons, the fowls being acceptable from those too poor to provide a more expensive sacrifice (Lev. 5:7). The vegetable sacrifices were fine flour, oil, unleavened bread, cakes, wafers, or green ears of corn. No leaven was to be burnt upon God’s altar because its decayed condition was symbolic of sin. Also no honey was to be offered there. But salt must accompany every sacrifice (Lev. 2:13). Also frankincense was offered with the meat-offering.

The animals brought for the “bread of God” must be the best of their kind. They must be without physical blemish, because they were typical of him who had no blemish of sin. The prophet Malachi severely reproved and pronounced a curse on the Jews of his time who brought the torn, the lame, the sick, and the blind. As was stated in our consideration of the nature of types, an unholy thing can not typify a holy thing. An essential quality of the true Sin-offering was that he himself should be sinless, that his own life should not have been forfeited by sin. The typical sin-offering must be like him “who was a Lamb without blemish and without spot.” (1 Pet. 1:19). He “offered himself without spot to God.” (Heb. 9:14). Both priest and offering in the type must be physically perfect properly to represent him who was combined Priest and Offering—the sinless Son of God.

The Burnt Offering
(Leviticus 1)

The holocaust or whole burnt offering was the most common of all the bloody sacrifices and the most comprehensive in its significance. Probably this is the reason why it is described first in the law of the offerings contained in Leviticus 1–7. The burnt offering was the most ancient variety of bloody sacrifices and was the sort offered by the devout patriarchs, Abel, Noah, Abraham, and Job. It was the one composing the Israelitish daily sacrifice each morning and evening (Exod. 29:42).

Kinds of Victims. —For a burnt offering the worshiper might bring of the herd, flock, or of fowls. It might be a bullock, a sheep, or a goat, in each case a male without blemish; or if the worshiper be very poor, as were evidently Joseph and Mary when they offered a burnt offering for the child Jesus (Luke 2:22–24), he may substitute for these animals a turtle-dove or a young pigeon (Lev. 5:7). But for this important sacrifice, observe that the victim must be a male for superior dignity, and without blemish to symbolize perfection, that it might be a proper type of the true Atonement for men’s souls.

Nature of the Ceremonial. —Whether the offering was of the flock or of the herd the details of the ceremony were practically the same. Come with me in imagination to the ancient brazen altar and witness the observance of the elaborate details of this offering. Let us stand here at the east side of the altar just inside the gate of the court. Here comes an earnest-appearing Israelite leading a bullock by a halter. A priest robed in white linen garments approaches him and directs him with his animal to the north side of the altar. The offerer here solemnly places his hand upon the bullock in token of his identifying himself with it that it may suffer in his stead, that it may die for his sins, that its life may be poured out that his may be retained. Then he slowly reaches for and unsheathe a large knife provided for the purpose. With one quick stroke he cuts the bullock’s throat and it falls prostrate and quivering upon the ground. While it struggles in the throes of death, the skillful hand of the priest holds to the wound a vessel provided for the purpose to catch the blood, while it spurts and gurgles from the cruel, ugly wound of the poor, suffering animal as its struggles grow weaker.

But I hear a kind-hearted reader saying, “I can not bear this sight of suffering, and must turn my face away.” But, reader, let me direct your view to a sight infinitely more awful—the dreadful scene of Calvary. There is dying, not a dumb animal, but the Son of God, the Creator of the universe. He is not dying the sudden, easy death of the bullock, but the slow, torturous death of crucifixion. His awful agony is not physical pain merely, and that the result of the clean stroke of a knife. His physical suffering is the result of four large spikes heartlessly driven through the quivering flesh of his hands and feet and which tear the tender flesh still more as the weary hours drag by. But especially does he suffer because of the awful weight of the sins of all mankind weighing down his spotless spirit. And, not like the animal, which is an involuntary victim, he willingly suffers all this because of his boundless love for you and me—oh, matchless mercy!

But let us turn back to the shadow, the gory spectacle at the altar. When the blood has ceased to flow, the priest carries the blood to the altar, where it is dashed or sprinkled over the altar to symbolize the important fact that this life is given to God for atonement. The most important parts of the ceremony have already been performed. The laying on of the hand, the killing, and the sprinkling of the blood are characteristic of every kind of the animal offerings.

Next the offerer flays or skins the animal and gives the skin to the priest, whose property it becomes (Lev. 7:8). Then, while the priest arranges the fire and the wood upon the altar, the offerer cuts into proper pieces the victim, and after washing the legs and inwards with water delivers all to the priest, who lays it on the wood on the altar. And as the wood crackles in the fire and the flames leap up more fiercely, amidst the smell of burning flesh the offering ascends a sweet savor unto the Lord, while the happy offerer turns homeward with the blessed assurance that he is accepted of God.

Typical Meaning. —Very definitely is the burnt offering in Leviticus 1 said to be to make atonement for the offerer. Therefore it is certainly typical of Christ, the true Atonement for God’s people. That this is so is doubtless shown by Eph. 5:2: “Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savor.”

The bullock, sheep or goat offered there typified him who is the Prince of the pasture, the choicest of offerings. The burnt offering represented the atoning work of Christ in its broad aspect, not as the sin-, trespass-, or peace offering, which made prominent certain particular aspects of his atoning work. Various kinds of sacrifices were needed to set forth the different phases of Christ’s propitiation. Some of these were represented very definitely in certain of these offerings. But the burnt offering, the most general one, both before and after Moses, was typical of atonement in its general effects. It set forth, not especially the idea of remission of particular sins, but rather of atonement for the offerer’s sin generally so that he and his worship were accepted of God. It was a sort of worship-offering. Because of this it was usually offered after the sin-offering, which was especially for expiation. So it is only through Christ that we today can worship God acceptably. Only after the blood of Jesus has been sprinkled upon our hearts can our worship and service be a “sweet savor unto the Lord.” Those who reject the precious blood of Jesus and yet attempt to worship the holy Lord, ignore the great truth of the burnt offering, and their prayers and service are rejected by God as was that of Cain, whose followers they are.

Another fact worthy of mention concerning this offering is that it was voluntary. No particular juncture of affairs was needed, as with the sin-offering, to require it. It was free and possible to all at any time. So Jesus is not only the lamb for the rich, but also the dove for the poor. And here is illustrated the great word “whosoever,” so prominent in the gospel.

The Meat Offering
(Lev. 2; 6:14–18)

The meat-offering was entirely different in its nature from the burnt offering, which precedes it in the sacred record. That was an animal sacrifice, this is a vegetable oblation. There blood was offered, here it was not. That was wholly burned, this was but partly burned. That was for atonement, this unbloody oblation must necessarily have represented another idea.

The most natural sense of the name of this offering according to modern usage would lead one to think of it as an animal sacrifice rather than as being a vegetable oblation as it is described. When our common English translation of the Bible was made, the word “meat” signified food in general and not merely flesh, as with us. The Revised Version translates it “meal offering,” which is better.

The meat-offering was not an uncommon kind of sacrifice in Israel, and it was probably offered in connection with the burnt offerings of the patriarchs, before Moses’ time. Each morning and evening a meat-offering was offered by the priests in connection with the lamb of the daily burnt offering (Exod. 29:40). In fact it seems usually to have been offered as a complement of the burnt offering (Lev. 23:18; Ezra 7:17; Num. 28:7–15, 29; Judg. 13:19). A careful study of these and other texts bearing on this subject has led students generally to believe the meat-offering was never offered alone. Cain attempted offering it alone and was not accepted.

Materials Used. —According to the detailed description given in Leviticus 2, there were three varieties of meat-offerings: first, unbaked flour; second, cakes or wafers, third, green ears of corn parched or dried by the fire. Oil was to be offered with each of these varieties. With the first and third and sometimes with the second it was simply poured on, but in some forms of the second the flour was mixed with the oil before it was baked.

Besides the flour and oil of the meat-offerings, salt was to be added, as with all the sacrifices on Jehovah’s altar (Lev. 2:13; Mark 9:49). A fourth ingredient was frankincense, which was laid upon the flour, oil, and salt. This was somewhat like a resin or gum, brittle, glittering, and of a bitter taste, from a tree of the turpentine-bearing species. When burned it gave out a very fragrant odor, and, as incense, was called “frank” because of the freeness with which it gave out its aroma.

No leaven nor honey was to be offered on God’s altar (Lev. 2:11). Leaven is a form of decaying matter, and honey is fermented by heat. No corruption must come on God’s altar; but only that which is holy. Leaven is commonly used as a type of sin. Jesus uses it as a symbol of corrupt doctrine—“the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees” (Matt. 16:12). “The leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy” (Luke 12:1). “The leaven of malice and wickedness” (1 Cor. 5:8). Leaven, the symbol of corruption, was excluded from the offerings; but salt, the symbol of incorruption, was always to accompany them.

Its Ritual. —The offerer brought the meat-offering to the altar. The priest took a portion of the flour, cakes, or corn, and a portion of the oil, and all the frankincense, and laid it on the fire on the altar to be burned as a “memorial” of the whole. This was God’s part. The remainder was to be eaten by the priests. The offerer ate no part of it. When it was offered by the priests for themselves all was burned (Lev. 6:23).

Symbolical and Typical Significance. —Of all the Levitical sacrifices, probably the typical meaning of the meat-offering is most difficult to determine. Able exegetes have differed here both as to its primary meaning and as to what is represented by its details. The New Testament scriptures give no definite clue to the typical meaning of this offering. In view of these facts it would probably be unwise for us to be very dogmatic as to what Christian truth is set forth in this shadow of good things. Yet some great truth must be contained in this minutely described rite, and may we not venture to discover it by the aid of God’s Spirit and a careful following out of those principles of typical interpretation that have been set forth and referred to several times in foregoing pages?

To begin, it is well to notice certain limitations that must be observed. First, it was not a bloody sacrifice, so probably did not have to do with cleansing from sin. Second, it was always to be offered in connection with and immediately following a bloody sacrifice for atonement which was to furnish a ground for, and to make acceptable, the meat-offering. It must never be offered without that bloody offering preceding it. Third, it was to be offered without any of the leaven of sin in it. Other similar points might be mentioned. Then where shall we look in the work of our salvation for that which is analogous to the meat-offering? Notice first that the meat-offering was to be of flour or bread, the staff of life, the daily common food of the offerer. It was equivalent to his offering himself to God. Though he could not give his own body to God on the altar, yet the offerer by this sacrifice gave that which otherwise would go to compose his body if he ate it. Also the original word for meat-offering, minchah, means offering or tribute, according to Dr. Moorehead, and expresses the idea of devotedness.

The meat-offering, then, typifies the Christian’s consecration, devotion, or dedication to God after he has been accepted on the merits of the atonement by the sprinkling of Jesus’ blood that was typified by the burnt offering that immediately preceded the meat-offering. Mere forgiveness of sin is not enough. The pardoned sinner must keep holy, by a practical consecration of himself and his life to God’s service. He must no longer live for himself. Therefore, the meat-offering followed the burnt offering for atonement and acceptance. This is in remarkable accord also with Paul’s exhortation to the Roman brethren, “I beseech you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed” (Rom. 12:1, 2). In other words, these to whom God had so graciously extended pardon of sin through Christ, should now devote themselves and their service to God by refraining from worldliness and by living according to the will of God.

And the details of the meat-offering are also easily shown to be in perfect accordance with this view of its typical significance. Besides the analogy already shown between the food and the offerer himself, the oil poured over and mingled with it was symbolic. We have already shown that oil is a symbol of the Holy Spirit. Therefore that oil is evidently typical of the working and regenerating power of the Spirit, by whom we become acceptable to God in our consecration. The apostle Paul beautifully expresses this thought as follows: “That the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost” (Rom. 15:16).

Also to be an acceptable meat-offering to God we must be free from the leaven of sin—hypocrisy and wickedness, and the pride that puffs up. As certainly as no leaven was permissible in the meat-offering, so also it is not permissible in the hearts or lives of believers notwithstanding the not uncommon teaching that all Christians sin more or less every day (1 John 3:8–10). Not only must God’s people be free from the leaven of corruption, but must also have the salt of incorruption in them, or the keeping power of God indwelling. “Have salt in yourselves” (Mark 9:50). “Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt” (Col. 4:6). “Ye are the salt of the earth” (Matt. 5:13). The frankincense of this offering, like that on the loaves of shewbread, was all God’s. Its sweet fragrance represents the pleasure God has in those who are dedicated fully to his blessed service.

Before passing from our consideration of the meat offering, notice again that it was a proper complement of the atonement offering that preceded it. Too often in our modern religious life this idea of devotion of ourselves and service to God is not properly taught and practiced. Not only must we be pardoned of past sins, but we must keep ourselves from sinning again else past pardon becomes ineffectual. And not only must we avoid doing evil, but, as dedication implies, we should do positive good. While we trust in the atoning sacrifice of Christ, let us not forget the meat-offering—the giving of ourselves to God. Let us keep out the leaven of sin, and have in us the keeping salt of divine power that we may be an offering well-pleasing to God.

The Peace Offering
(Lev. 3; 7:11–21, 28–34)

The name suggests the nature of this offering. In Scripture, peace means not mere tranquility or absence of hostilities or disturbance, but joy, happiness, prosperity, welfare, or blessing. This then was the joy-offering. It was sometimes in connection with a vow, and sometimes a voluntary offering, but always a time of rejoicing.

The religion of Jehovah has ever been a religion of joy for his devout worshipers. Heathen religions contain much fear and sadness. Some well-meaning but misinformed professors of Christianity have tried to bind upon Christians such fear and burdens, including penance in many forms, asceticism, and other such things; but the gospel announces to us the unspeakably glad news that Jesus bore all that for us and we may now have “all joy and peace in believing.” God intends religion to be a source of gladness, not of gloom. Again and again the apostle Paul exhorts those to whom he writes to rejoice, “and again I say rejoice.” And though, like Paul we have sorrow, we should in the midst of it be always rejoicing.

Materials Used. —The peace-offering was a bloody offering and of the sweet-savor class. It might be taken from the herd, the sheep, or the goats, as was the burnt offering, but unlike it, the peace-offering might be not only a male but a female. Yet it must be without blemish, for it is a type of Christ. If it was of the thank-offering variety of peace-offerings, then with the animal were brought also “unleavened cakes mingled with oil, and unleavened wafers anointed with oil, of fine flour, fried.” Also leavened bread was brought.

How Offered. —The animal was brought “before the Lord” to the altar where the offerer, as in the burnt offering, laid his hand upon it to identify himself with it, killed it, and the priest sprinkled its blood over the altar. Then certain portions were taken for the Lord to be burned upon the altar. They were all the fat of the inwards, or the suet (and in the case of a sheep the rump or broad, fat tail, which is common to the Syrian sheep, and which often weighs fifteen pounds or more), the two kidneys, and the caul above the liver (what is meant by the “caul” so often mentioned in this connection is a matter of much uncertainty among students of the subject). These, the richest parts of the animal, were burned on God’s altar, with the blood containing the life, which had been sprinkled there. Why the two kidneys should have been especially offered to God in this and the sin-offering is not clear. Some modern writers have supposed the ancient Hebrews located the seat of intelligence there, as the Chinese locate it in the stomach, and as we locate it in the head.

After these were burned, the breast was brought for a wave-offering. This was offered by waving it first backward and forward and then from right to left, or toward the four corners of the heavens, according to Jewish writers. Then it was given to the priests to eat. Next the right shoulder or leg was brought for a heave offering, which was offered by raising it up and down in dedication to God. Then it was given, to be eaten by him, to the particular priest who sprinkled the blood and burned the parts for the Lord. With this was also heaved and given to the officiating priest one of the leavened loaves. This leavened bread in no case was burned upon the altar.

What remained of the animal was to furnish a feast for the offerer, his family, friends, and any Levites he might invite. They also ate the vegetable part of the offering. The flesh of the animal was to be eaten on the day offered if a thank-offering, and if another kind not later than the second day. What was not then eaten must be burned.

What It Typified. —According to all our records of the peace-offering, it always followed the sin-, burnt-, and meat-offerings. What they effected was assumed as accomplished before this one was offered. The spiritual import of this feast is evident at once. It was a communion feast. In it God, the priest, and the offerer had a portion, which typifies the communion together of God, Christ, and the believer. Much the same thought is presented here as in the eating of the shewbread in the holy place and the burning of its frankincense on the golden altar, and the Christian’s Lord’s Supper, except that in this another member, Christ, partakes of it besides the offerer and God. Through Christ’s atonement, not only do we commune in most intimate friendship with God, but also Christ ‘sees of the travail of his soul and is satisfied,’ and enters with us into this blessed communion.

In the sprinkling of the blood of the peace-offering the idea was not expiation, as in the sin-offering, nor acceptance, as in the burnt offering, which had already been offered, but rather that communion with God could be only through Christ’s blood. The peace-offering coming after the meat-offering signified the other great truth that only those can have communion with God who have dedicated themselves to him. Christian, do not miss the point. If your soul longs for a closer walk with God, if you hunger for more of his love and Spirit, look to see if you are giving him first place in your heart and life. Consecration is the basis of communion. Do not try to put the peace-offering before the meat-offering.

The peace-offerings were praise- and thank-offerings. God seems to come nearest us when we give him our thank-offerings. As human beings we feel especially drawn to those who appreciate us and what we do for them. How much more must our provident Father? Let us offer more peace-offerings, and God will give us more of his peace and blessings.

The Sin-Offering
(Lev. 4–5:13)

The sin-offering and also the closely related trespass offering were very different in their aim and purpose from the sweet-savor offerings already considered. Those had for their primary object worship, these expiation of sin; those made atonement a means to an end, in these covering of sin is the end; there sin was viewed in its general aspect, but here in a very definite act; those offerings were voluntary on the part of the offerer, but these are demanded by God to cover sin; there the offerer came as a worshiper, here as a sinner.

The sin-offering was not offered for every sin. Some sins under the law of Moses were unpardonable and punishable by death. But the sin-offering might be offered for other than unpardonable sins whether they were ceremonial or actual, sins done intentionally or unintentionally. To suppose, as some have done, that it was to be offered only for unintentional ceremonial defilement is probably taking a narrower view of it than that described in the Scriptures. It was to be offered for these, as described in Leviticus 4, but it was also to be offered by witnesses who failed to tell the truth (5:1), and the trespass-offering, which was one variety of the sin-offering, for lying, violence, deceit, stealing, swearing falsely (6:2, 3), or adultery with a betrothed slave (19:20).

It seems it was to be offered for the easing of the conscience of any who had intentionally or unintentionally violated God’s commandments, that he might again feel himself right before God. We need not suppose, however, that God never forgave sin without a sin-offering. Doubtless it was not essentially necessary to God’s pardon of sin, but was necessary to clear the conscience of the sinner because of God’s command to offer it. It was intended to help the sinner to comprehend more vividly the ground on which God pardoned him, and to point him to the great antitype Sin-offering, the coming Messiah.

The Animals Offered. —The sin-offering had a larger variety of definitely required offerings than had any other of the Mosaic sacrifices. For the high priest was offered a bullock, and also the same for the congregation collectively; for a ruler a male kid; and for one of the common people a female kid or female lamb. In every case the animal must be free from blemish physically as was Christ the true sin-offering morally. The various animals were graded to denote the sinfulness of sin according to the dignity of the one who sinned. So today God rates sin according to the enlightenment of the worshiper rather than according to the act committed. If one were too poor to provide a kid or lamb, two turtledoves or two young pigeons might be brought, and in extreme poverty a small portion of fine flour would be accepted as a lower-grade offering, which of course much less perfectly typified the true Sin-offering. No meat offering was to accompany the sin-offering because the sinner is not fit to consecrate himself to God until he is first made holy through the atonement. Neither was oil and frankincense to accompany the fine-flour sin offering because the sinner is void of the Holy Spirit and cannot properly offer the sweet incense of praise to God.

How It Was Offered. —The laying on of the hand and the slaying were the same as in all the other bloody offerings, but the action with the blood was different. For a ruler or one of the common people some of it was put upon the horns of the brazen altar; but if the offering was for the priest or for the congregation collectively it was put upon the horns of the golden altar and sprinkled in the holy place before the veil seven times. In every sin-offering the remainder of the blood was poured out at the bottom of the altar of burnt offering. Next the fat, the kidneys, and the caul were burned upon the altar. If the offering was for the priest or the whole congregation the remainder of the animal was to be burned outside the camp in a clean place, but if for a ruler or one of the common people the priests ate it (Lev. 6:24–30). The flesh of the slain sin-offering is said to have been most holy. The sin for which it was offered had been expiated, therefore it was holy as the offerer was before he sinned. The eating of it by God’s priests symbolized the great fact that the offerer was acceptable to God because expiation had been made. How remarkable, even in minute details, are the great facts of redemption symbolized in these ancient shadows! How can any devout student of them fail to see in them the proof of the divine authority of the Bible, and that they are not mere “expressions of natural religion”?

Antitypical Sin-Offering. —As already mentioned, the true sin-offering, typified by those ancient sacrifices for sin, is the Lord Jesus Christ as the bearer of our sin. This need scarcely be stated as it is clear from the very name of the offering. It definitely sets forth the idea of substituted suffering for sin—the wonderful truth that he atoned for our sin and by the sprinkling of his blood we may be as free from sin as was Adam in his primitive purity. “He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities.” (Isa. 53:5). “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” (2 Cor. 5:21). The word here translated “sin,” some versions give “sin-offering,” which is a better translation.

The Trespass-Offering
(Lev. 5:14–6:7)

The trespass-offering, like the sin-offering proper, belongs to the general class of sin-offerings. It does not have various grades of animals to suit the dignity of the offerer. A ram is the only animal to be sacrificed for a trespass-offering. It is introduced with the words, “The Lord spake unto Moses” (Lev. 5:14), not at the beginning of the chapter, as some have held. We are told in Lev. 7:1–7 how it was to be offered. It was to be killed the same as the sin-offering and the same parts burned and eaten, but the blood was to be sprinkled or dashed on the altar as in the burnt and peace-offerings and not put upon the horns as in the sin-offering.

The principal peculiarity of the trespass-offering was that the restitution must accompany the bloody sacrifice. This restitution must be the principal and a fifth part added, and given to the person wronged.

God requires that those who do wrong to others shall make that wrong right as much as is in their power. It is not enough that he who stole steal no more. He must also “give again that he hath robbed.” This requirement in connection with the trespass-offering like many other of the ceremonial requirements served an immediate practical purpose. It served the Israelites a beneficent purpose in upholding righteousness among them. But along with this, the required restitution was typical of a great Christian truth in the work of our salvation.

This, like the other bloody offerings, found its antitype in Christ, and like each of them it set forth a particular phase of his atoning work. The sin-offering made prominent the idea of expiatory suffering for sin, the trespass-offering compensation for the evil done. The sin-offering represented Christ as saving us from the penalty for sin, the trespass-offering typified the other phase of his work—the undoing of the wrong in its effects as pertain to God and his holy law. These two classes of sin offerings showed remarkably these two aspects of the effects of atonement that make possible God’s free pardon of our sins. Of course the restoration of what was taken wrongfully from another is a principle of right that applied then and also now, but we should not suppose that that restoration to one’s fellow men was typical of a similar restoration to those we have wronged. But it was properly a type of that higher making right of wrong done against God, which Christ did in his sacrificial death.

“Not all the blood of beasts
On Jewish altars slain,
Could give the guilty conscience peace,
Or wash away the stain.

“But Christ, the heavenly Lamb,
Takes all our sins away;
A sacrifice of nobler name,
And richer blood than they.

“My faith would lay her hand
On that dear head of Thine
While like a penitent I stand,
And there confess my sin.”
—Isaac Watts

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