PART I THE LAWS AND REGULATIONS RESPECTING SACRIFICES
THE SACRIFICES (chapters 1-7). There are five classes of sacrifices instituted or regulated in the first seven chapters of Leviticus, each of which has its special signification—the burnt offering, the meat offering, the sin offering, the trespass offering, and the peace offering. The burnt offering, in which the whole of the victim was consumed in the fire on God's altar, signifies entire self-surrender on the part of the offerer; the meat offering, a loyal acknowledgment of God's sovereignty; the sin offering, propitiation of wrath in him to whom the offering is made, and expiation of sin in the offerer; the trespass offering, satisfaction for sin; the peace offering, union and communion between the offerer and him to whom the offering is made.
The burnt offering (Leviticus 1:1-17) typifies the perfect surrender of himself, made by the Lord Jesus Christ, and exhibited by his life and death on earth; and it teaches the duty of self-sacrifice on the part of man.
And the LORD called unto Moses. The first word of the verse, in the original Vayikra, meaning "and called," has been taken as the designation of the book in the Hebrew Bible. The title Leviticon, or Leviticus, was first adopted by the LXX; to indicate that it had for its main subject the duties and functions appertaining to the chief house of the priestly tribe of Levi. The word "and" connects the third with the second book of the Pentateuch. God is spoken of in this and in the next book almost exclusively under the appellation of "the LORD" or "Jehovah," the word "Elohim" being, however, used sufficiently often to identify the two names. Cf. Le Leviticus 2:13, Leviticus 19:12. And spake unto him. The manner in which God ordinarily communicated with a prophet was by "a vision" or "in a dream;" but this was not the case with Moses; "My servant Moses is not so, who is faithful in all mine house; with him will I speak mouth to mouth, even apparently" (Numbers 12:8). The Levitical code of laws, therefore, was delivered to Moses in his ordinary mental state, not in trance, or dream, or ecstasy. Out of the tabernacle of the congregation. The tabernacle had just been set up by Moses (Exodus 40:16). It derives its name of the congregation, or rather of meeting, from being the place where God met the representatives of his people (see Numbers 16:42). Hitherto God had spoken from the mount, now he speaks from the mercy-seat of the ark in the tabernacle. He had symbolically drawn near to his people, and the sacrificial system is now instituted as the means by which they should draw nigh to him. All the laws in the Book of Leviticus, and in the first ten chapters of the Book of Numbers, were given during the fifty days which intervened between the setting up of the tabernacle (Exodus 40:17) and the departure of the children of Israel from the neighbourhood of Mount Sinai (Numbers 10:11).
If any man of you bring. Sacrifices are not now being instituted for the first time. Burnt offerings at least, if not peace offerings, had existed since the time of the Fall. The Levitical law lays down regulations adapting an already existing practice for the use of the Israelitish nation; it begins, therefore, not with a command, "Thou shalt bring," but, if any man of you (according to custom) bring. Any member of the congregation might bring his voluntary offering when he would. The times at which the public offerings were to be made, and their number, are afterwards designated. An offering. This verse is introductory to the ensuing chapters, and speaks of "offerings" in general. "Korban," which is the word here used for "offering," derived from karab, meaning "to draw near for the sake of presentation," is the generic name including all offerings and sacrifices. It is used in speaking of animal sacrifices of various kinds, including peace offerings and sin offerings (Leviticus 3:1; Leviticus 4:23 and it is applied to vegetable offerings (Leviticus 2:1, Leviticus 2:13) and to miscellaneous offerings for the service of the tabernacle, such as wagons and oxen, silver vessels for the altar, gold, jewels, etc. (Numbers 7:3, Numbers 7:10; Numbers 31:50). It is translated by the LXX. into Greek by the word δῶρον, equivalent to the Latin donum, and our "gift." These offerings are now distinguished into their different kinds.
If his offering be a burnt sacrifice. The Hebrew term for "burnt sacrifice" is olah, meaning "that which ascends;" sometimes kaleel "whole offering," is found (Deuteronomy 33:10); the LXX. use the word ὁλοκαύτωμα, "whole burnt offering." The conditions to be fulfilled by an Israelite who offered a burnt sacrifice were the following:—
1. He must offer either
2. In case it were a bull, ram, or goat, he must bring it to the door of the tabernacle, that is, the entrance of the court in front of the brazen altar and of the door of the holy place, and there after or present it.
3. In offering it he must place his hand firmly on its head, as a ceremonial act.
4. He must kill it, either himself or by the agency of a Levite.
5. He must flay it.
6. He must divide it into separate portions.
7. He must wash the intestines and legs.
Meantime the priests had their parts to do; they had
1. To catch the blood, to carry it to the altar, and to strike the inner sides of the altar with it.
2. To arrange the fire on the altar.
3. To place upon the altar the head, and the fat, and the remainder of the animal, for consumption by the fro.
4. To sprinkle or place a meat offering upon them.
5. The next morning, still dressed in their priestly garments, to take the ashes off the altar, and to place them at the east of the altar (Leviticus 6:10).
6. To carry them outside the camp to a clean place, the bearer being dressed in his ordinary costume (Leviticus 6:11).
There were, therefore, four essential parts in the ritual of the burnt offering—the oblation of the victim (Leviticus 1:3, Leviticus 1:4), the immolation (Leviticus 1:5), the oblation of the blood, representing the life (ibid.), and the consumption (Leviticus 1:9)—the first two to be performed by the offerer, the third by the priest, the fourth by the fire representing the action of God. The moral lesson taught by the burnt offering was the necessity of self-surrender and of devotion to God, even to the extent of yielding up life and the very tenement of life. As the offerer could not give up his own life and body and still live, the life of an animal belonging to him, and valued by him, was substituted for his own; but he knew, and by laying his hand on its head showed that he knew, that it was his own life and his very self that was represented by the animal. The mystical lessons taught to those who could grasp them were—
1. The doctrine of substitution or vicarious suffering.
2. The fact that without the shedding of blood there was no acceptance.
3. The need of One who, being very man, should be able to perform an action of perfect surrender of his will and of his life. The fulfilment of the type is found in the perfect submission of Christ as man, throughout his ministry, and especially in the Garden of Gethsemane, and in the offering made by him, as Priest and willing Victim, of his life upon the altar of the cross. the burnt offering is to be without blemish, for had not the animal been perfect in its kind, it would not have served its moral, its mystical, or its typical purpose. The word ἄμωμος, used by the LXX. as equivalent to the Hebrew term, is applied to Christ in Hebrews 9:14 and 1 Peter 1:19; and St. Paul teaches that it is the purpose of God that those who are adopted in Christ should also be "holy and without blemish" (Ephesians 1:4). A priest had to certify that the victim was free frorn all defects. He shall offer it of his own voluntary will should rather be translated, He shall offer it for his own acceptance. The animal, representing the offerer, was presented by the latter in order that he might be himself accepted by the Lord. This aspect of the offering is brought out more clearly by the minchah, or meat offering, which always accompanied the burnt offering. The place where the presentation took place was the door of the tabernacle, that is, the space immediately within the eastern entrance into the court of the tabernacle, immediately facing the brazen altar, which stood before the east end of the tabernacle, where was the door or entrance which led into the holy place. "The presenting of the victim at the entrance of the tabernacle was a symbol of the free will submitting itself to the Law of the Lord" (Clarke). Cf. Romans 12:1 : "I beseech you that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service."
And he shall put his hand upon the head of the burnt offering. This putting, or forcibly leaning, the hand on the victim's head, which is the most essential part of the oblation of the victim, was a symbolical act implying "This animal is now for present purposes myself, and its life is my life." It was this act of identification with the offerer which made it be accepted for him to make atonement (literally, covering) for him. The sin offering is the sacrifice which especially symbolizes and ceremonially effects atonement, but the idea of atonement is not absent from the burnt sacrifice. The aspect under which atonement is presented here and elsewhere in the Old Testament is that of covering. But it is not the sin that is covered, but the sinner. Owing to his sin, the latter is exposed to the wrath of a just God, but something intervenes whereby he is covered, and he ceases, therefore, to attract the Divine anger and punishment. No longer being an object of wrath, he becomes at once an object of benevolence and mercy. The covering provided by a sacrifice is the blood or life of an animal, symbolically representing the offerer's own life freely surrendered by him for his acceptance, and typically foreshadowing the blood of Christ.
And he shall kill the bullock. After having made the presentation, the offerer proceeds to the second part of the sacrifice, the immolation or slaying, which was to be performed before the Lord, that is, in front of the tabernacle, on the north side of the brazen altar. Then follows the third part of the sacrifice: the priests, Aaron's sons, shall bring the blood, and sprinkle the blood round about upon the altar. The priests caught the blood (sometimes the Levites were allowed to do this, 2 Chronicles 30:16), and sprinkled or rather threw it round about on the altar, that is, so as to touch all the inner sides of the altar. "A red line all round the middle of the altar marked that above it the blood of sacrifices intended to be eaten, below it that of sacrifices wholly consumed, was to be sprinkled" (Edersheim, 'The Temple'). This was in some respects the most essential part of the ceremony, the blood representing the life (Leviticus 17:11), which was symbolically received at the hands of the offerer, and presented by the priests to God. In the antitype our Lord exercised the function of the sacrificing priest when he presented his own life to the Father, as he hung upon the altar of the cross.
He shall flay the burnt offering. The hide was given to the priest (Leviticus 7:8). The whole of the remainder of the animal was consumed by the fire of the altar; none of it was eaten by the offerer and his friends as in the peace offerings, or even by the ministers of God as in the sin offerings; it was a whole burnt offering. His pieces, into which it was to be cut, means the customary pieces.
The priest shall put fire upon the altar. The fire once kindled was never to be allowed to go out (Leviticus 6:13). Unless, therefore, these words refer to the first occasion only on which a burnt sacrifice was offered, they must mean "make up the fire on the altar" or it might possibly have been the practice, as Bishop Wordsworth (after Maimonides) supposes, that fresh fire was added to the altar fire before each sacrifice.
And the priests shall lay the parts, the head, and the fat, in order. The head and the fat are designated by name, because, with the "pieces," they complete the whole of the animal with the exception of the hide. The order in which they were laid is said to have been the same approximately as that which the members held in the living creature.
The priest shall burn all on the altar, etc. The fourth and last part of the sacrifice. The word employed is not the common term used for destroying by fire, but means "make to ascend." The life of the animal has already been offered in the blood; now the whole of its substance is "made to ascend" to the Lord. Modern science, by showing that the effect of fire upon the substance of a body is to resolve it into gases which rise from it, contributes a new illustration to the verse. The vapour that ascends is not something different from that which is burnt, but the very thing itself, its essence; which, having ascended, is of a sweet savour unto the Lord, that is, acceptable and well-pleasing to him. The burnt offering, the meat offering, and the peace offering, are sacrifices of sweet savour (Leviticus 2:2; Leviticus 3:5); the expression is not used with regard to the sin offering and trespass offering. St. Paul applies it to the sacrifice of Christ, in Ephesians 5:2, "As Christ also loved us, and gave himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savour;" thus indicating, in an incidental manner, the connection between the Jewish sacrifices and the sacrifice of Christ, as type and antitype.
If his offering be of the flocks. The ritual of the burnt offering was the same. whether the victim was a hull, sheep, or goat.
He shall kill it on the side of the altar, northward before the Lord. In the sacrifice of the bullock it is only "before the Lord" (Leviticus 1:5). No doubt the same place is meant in both cases, but it is specified with more exactness here. On the western side of the altar was the tabernacle, on the east side the heap of ashes (Leviticus 1:16), on the south side probably the ascent to the altar (see Josephus, 'De Bell. Jud.,' Leviticus 5:5, Leviticus 5:6); on the north side, therefore, was the most convenient slaughtering place, and this is probably the reason for the injunction.
If the burnt sacrifice for his offering to the Lord be of fowls. A comparison of Le Leviticus 12:8 leads us to infer that the permission to offer a bird was a concession to poverty. The pigeon and the turtle-dove were the most easy to procure, as the domestic fowl was at this time unknown to the Hebrews. The first and only allusion in the Bible to the hen occurs in the New Testament (Matthew 23:37; Luke 13:30, nor is there any representation of the domestic fowl in ancient Egyptian paintings. The domicile of the bird was still confined to India. A single pigeon or turtle-dove formed a sacrifice, and there was no rule in respect to sex, as there was in the ease of the quadrupeds.
The priest shall bring it unto the altar. The difference in the ritual for the burnt sacrifice of fowls is:
1. That the offerer is not commanded to lay his hand on the bird.
2. That the altar is the place of maciation, instead of the space on the north side of the altar.
3. That the priest slays it instead of the offerer.
4. That the blood (owing to its smaller quantity) is pressed out against the side of the altar instead of being caught in a vessel and thrown on it. There is no essential variation here; the analogy of the sacrifice of the animal is followed so far as circumstances permit. It is not certain that the word malak, translated wring off his head, means more than "make an incision with the nail;" but in all probability the head was to be severed and laid on the fire separately, after the manner of the other sacrifices.
With his feathers, rather the contents of the crop. This and the ashes are to be placed beside the altar on the east part, as being furthest from the tabernacle and nearest to the entrance of the court, so that they might be readily removed.
Leviticus 1:1, Leviticus 1:2
The sacrificial system.
The religion of Israel, as exhibited to us in the Law, bears at first sight a strange appearance, unlike what we should have expected. We read in it very little about a future life, and not much about repentance, faith, and prayer, but we find commanded an elaborate system of sacrifices, based upon a practice almost coeval with the Fall.
I. SACRIFICE WAS USED IN ANTE-MOSAIC DAYS AS A MEANS OF APPROACH TO GOD. "In process of time it came to pass that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the Lord. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof" (Genesis 4:4). The covenant with Noah was made by sacrifice: "And Noah builded an altar unto the Lord, and took of every clean beast and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar. And the Lord smelled a sweet savour.… And God spake unto Noah, and to his sons with him, saying, And I, behold, I establish my covenant with you, and with your seed after you" (Genesis 8:20, Genesis 8:21; Genesis 9:8, Genesis 9:9). When Abraham first entered Canaan, he "builded an altar unto the Lord who appeared unto him" (Genesis 12:7), as the means of communicating with him. At his next halting-place, "he builded an altar unto the Lord," as the means of "calling upon the name of the Lord" (Genesis 12:8; Genesis 13:4). On removing to Hebron, again he "built there an altar unto the Lord" (Genesis 13:18). The covenant with Abraham was made by sacrifice (Genesis 15:9); and at Jehovah-jireh, Abraham "offered a ram for a burnt offering in the stead of his son" (Genesis 22:13). At Beer-sheba Isaac "builded an altar and called upon the name of the Lord" (Genesis 26:25). At Shalem Jacob "erected an altar and called it El-elohe-Israel" (Genesis 33:20). At Beth-el he "built an altar and called the place El-beth-el" (Genesis 35:7). At Beer-sheba he "offered sacrifices unto the God of his father Isaac" (Genesis 46:1). During the sojourn in Egypt it is probable that the practice of sacrifice was discontinued through fear of giving offense to the religious feelings of the Egyptians (Exodus 8:26); but the idea of sacrifice being the appointed means of serving God was preserved (Exodus 5:3; Exodus 8:27). Moses, Aaron, and the elders of Israel took part in a sacrificial meal with Jethro in the wilderness (Exodus 18:12). And the covenant made at Sinai was ratified by burnt offerings and peace offerings (Exodus 24:5). Indeed, the Book of Psalms declares the method of entering into covenant with God to be "by sacrifice." "Gather my saints together unto me; those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice" (Psalms 1:5). The Christian covenant was thus ratified (Hebrews 9:15), as well as the covenants of Noah, Abraham, and Moses:
II. THERE ARE THREE CLASSES OF SACRIFICES UNDER THE MOSAIC DISPENSATION, ESSENTIALLY DIFFERING IN CHARACTER—
beside Meat offerings, ordinarily attached to the burnt offerings, and Trespass offerings, a species of sin offering.
III. WHAT WAS THEIR MEANING.
1. In general, they served, as before, as a means of reconciliation between God and man, as a means of access for man to God. This purpose they fulfilled to all humble-minded men, whether their full meaning was understood or no. To the more spiritually minded they were also a means of instruction in sacred mysteries to be revealed hereafter.
2. Specifically, they each taught their own lesson and brought about, symbolically and ceremonially, each their own effect.
The sin offering taught the need of, and symbolically effected, the propitiation of God's anger and the expiation of man's sin.
The burnt offering taught the lesson of self-surrender, and symbolically effected the surrender of the offerer to God.
The peace offering taught the lesson of the necessity and joyousness of communion between God and man, and symbolically represented that communion as existing between the offerer and God.
IV. WHENCE THEY DERIVED THEIR EFFICACY. Their efficacy was derived from representing and foreshadowing the sacrifice of Christ on the cross, the sin offering typifying the propitiation and expiation once for all there wrought, the burnt offering the perfect self-surrender of the sinless sufferer, the peace offering the reconciliation thereby effected and continued between God and his people.
The burnt offering.
It was wholly consumed by the fire of God's altar; nothing was left for the after consumption either of the offerer or even of God's ministers, as in the other sacrifices.
I. IT TYPIFIES THE ENTIRE SELF-SURRENDER OF CHRIST TO GOD.
1. In his eternal resolve to redeem by becoming man.
2. In the humility of his birth on earth.
3. In the silence in which his youth was spent.
4. In the narrow limits within which he confined his ministry.
5. In the victory won over his human will in the Garden of Gethsemane.
6. In his yielding his life to his Father on the cross.
II. EXAMPLE HEREIN TO US.
1. We must surrender what is evil—
Bad habits, e.g. sloth, drunkenness.
Bad affections, e.g. love of money, bodily indulgence.
Bad passions, e.g. ill temper, pride.
2. We must surrender what God does not think fit to give us, though not in itself evil, such as—
III. THE CHRISTIAN TEMPER RESULTING FROM SELF-SURRENDER.
1. Acquiescence in God's will.
2. Cheerfulness in rendering that acquiescence.
3. Spiritual peace and happiness arising from the consciousness of having yielded our wilt to our Father's will.
4. Love to the brethren. Cf. Ephesians 5:2 : "Walk in love, as Christ also loved us, and gave himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savour."
The sacrificial act cannot be completed, though it can be begun, by the offerer alone. The intervention of God's priest is requisite, and it is his hand which performs the most solemn portion of the rite. Thus there is taught the need of mediation and of a mediator when a work of atonement is to be accomplished. "The expiation was always made or completed by the priest, as the sanctified mediator between Jehovah and the people, or, previous to the institution of the Aaronic priesthood, by Moses, the chosen mediator of the covenant.… It is not Jehovah who makes the expiation, but this is invariably the office or work of a mediator, who intervenes between the holy God and sinful man, and by means of expiation averts the wrath of God from the sinner, and brings the grace of God to bear upon him" (Keil). Hence, the great work of atonement, of which all other atonements are but shadows, was performed by the One Mediator between God and man, the man Jesus Christ.
HOMILIES BY R.M. EDGAR
Entire consecration, as illustrated in the burnt offering.
cf. Romans 12:1.—We start with the assumption that the Book of Exodus presents "the history of redemption." It is an account of how the Lord delivered the people he had chosen out of bondage, and brought them to himself (Exodus 19:4). It contains, moreover, an account of the erection of the tabernacle, or "tent of meeting," where God proposed to dwell as a Pilgrim in the midst of a pilgrim people, and out of which would issue his commands as their Guide and Leader. In this Book of Leviticus, then, we have the Lord speaking "out of the tent of meeting" (verse 1), that is, to a people in covenant relations with himself.
This helps us to understand why the "burnt offering" is treated first. Not only was it the very oldest offering, but it was to be the daily offering (Numbers 29:6); morning and evening was a holocaust to be presented to the Lord. It was, therefore, manifestly meant to express the proper state or condition of those professing to be God's covenant people. It is on this account that we entitle this a homily on Entire Consecration.
I. THIS IDEA OF ENTIRE CONSECRATION IS ONE WHICH ALL CLASSES OF GOD'S PEOPLE ARE EXPECTED TO EXPRESS. The poor, who could only bring "turtle-doves" or "young pigeons," the representatives of domestic fowls at that time, were just as welcome at the tabernacle as those who could bring lambs or bullocks. Consecration is an idea which can be carried out in any worldly condition. The poor widow with her two mites carried it out more gloriously than her neighbours in the midst of their abundance. Complete self-surrender is not the prerogative of a class, but the possibility and ideal of all.
II. CONFESSION OF SIN IS AN EXPECTED PRELIMINARY TO CONSECRATION. the Jew, whatever was his grade in society, was directed either expressly to "lean" ( סָמַךְ ) his hand upon the head of his offering, or, as in the case of the fowls where it was physically impossible, to do so by implication; and this was understood to represent, and some believe it to have been regularly accompanied by, confession of sin. Of course, confession of sin is not of the essence of consecration; we have in the case of our blessed Lord, and of the unfallen angels, similar consecration, where no sense of sin is possible. And we are on the way to consecration in the other life, divorced from the sense of sin. Meanwhile, however, confession is only just, since sin remains with us. Indeed, the consecration of redeemed sinners will not prove very deep or thorough where confession of sin is omitted.
III. THE SPECTACLE OF A SUBSTITUTE DYING IN OUR ROOM AND STEAD IS WELL FITTED TO DEEPEN OUR SENSE OF CONSECRATION. The slaughter of the animal, upon whose head the sins have by confession been laid, must have exercised upon the offerer a very solemnizing influence. There is nothing in like manner so fitted to hallow us as the spectacle of Jesus, to whom these sacrifices pointed, dying on the cross in our stead. The love he manifested in that death for us constrains us to live, not unto ourselves, but unto him who died for us and rose again (2 Corinthians 5:14, 2 Corinthians 5:15). The moral power of substitution cannot be dispensed with in a sinful world like this.
IV. THE ACCEPTANCE OF THE BLOOD UPON THE ALTAR, THAT IS, OF LIFE AFTER THE DEATH-PENALTY HAS BEEN PAID, ALSO HELPS TO DEEPEN THE SENSE OF CONSECRATION'. For when the priest by Divine direction, sprinkled the blood of the sacrifice all round about upon the altar, it was to indicate the acceptance on God's part of the life beyond death. It indicated that God was satisfied with the substitution, that the penalty had been paid by the death of the victim, and that in consequence the blood, that is, the life—for the life was in the blood (Leviticus 17:11)—could be accepted. Acceptance in and through another was what this portion of the ritual implied, and this is well calculated to deepen the sense of consecration. For, according to the typology, the Person in whom we are accepted is he to whom we ought to be consecrated. It is when we realize that we are accepted in Christ that we feel constrained to dedicate ourselves unto him. The one good turn deserves another, and we are held. under a sense of sweetest obligation.
V. THE CONSECRATION OF THE CHILD OF GOD IS THE COMPLETE SURRENDER OF SELF TO THE OPERATION OF THE HOLY GHOST. Ewald has most pertinently remarked that among the Greeks and other nations such holocausts as were daily presented by the Jews were rarities. The idea of entire consecration is too broad for a heathen mind. Partial consecration was comparatively easy in idea, but a "surrender without reserve" is the fruit of Divine teaching. Now this is what the burning of the holocaust in the sacred fire of the altar signified. For, since all sensation had ceased before the sacrifice was laid upon the altar, the burning could not suggest the idea to the worshipper of pain or penalty. The fire had come out from God as the token of acceptance (Leviticus 9:24). It is, moreover, one of the recognized symbols of the Holy Ghost. Consequently, the exposure of every portion of the sacrifice to the altar fire represented the yielding of the grateful worshipper in his entirety to the operation of God the Holy Ghost. This, after all, is the essence of sanctification. It is the surrender of our whole nature, body, soul, and spirit, to the disposal of the Holy Ghost. This is devotedness indeed. Nowhere has the idea been more felicitously wrought out than in a little posthumous volume of F.R. Havergal's, entitled 'Kept for the Master's Use.' We cannot better convey the idea of the burnt offering than by copying her simple foundation lines upon which she has built her chapters.
"Take my life, and let it be
Consecrated, Lord, to Thee.
Take my moments and my days;
Let them flow in ceaseless praise.
Take my hands, and let them move
At the impulse of Thy love.
Take my feet, and let them be
Swift, and 'beautiful' for Thee.
Take my voice, and let me sing
Always, only, for my king.
Take my lips, and let them be
Filled with messages from Thee.
Take my silver and my gold:
Not a mite would I withhold.
Take my intellect, and use
Every power as Thou shall choose.
Take my will and make it Thine:
It shall be no longer mine.
Take my heart; it is Thine own:
It shall be Thy royal throne.
Take my love: My Lord, I pour
At Thy feet its treasure-store.
Take myself, and I will be
Ever, only, ALL for Thee."
HOMILIES BY S.R. ALDRIDGE
The weakness of man and the grace of God.
Measureless is the distance between man and his Maker. And it is sometimes emphasized in such a way as to repress thought and stifle the aspirations of the human breast. In Scripture it is not brought forward as a rayless truth, but is shown to be replete with profit and joy. To consider it increases humility, indeed, but also intensifies gratitude and love. For the less has been blessed by the Greater, and we are permitted to say, looking upon the attributes of the Eternal as exercised towards us in mercy and favour, "This God is our God: we will rejoice in his salvation."
I. MAN IS IGNORANT: THE GRACE OF GOD IS SEEN IN THE DISTINCT ENUNCIATION OF HIS WILL. The light of reason, the voice of conscience, the promptings of emotion,—these can inform us only to a slight extent of the worship and service likely to be acceptable to God. Hence the surpassing worth of the full, clear-toned, authoritative utterances of Scripture. That God is Spirit, Light, and Love, that he is holy and almighty, are declarations for which we must be devoutly thankful. The Epicureans pictured the happy gods as dwelling in unruffled serenity far from all cognizance of or interference with the concerns of men. Inspiration removes our suspicions, reassures us with the words, "The eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers." Errors in the manner of our approach are prevented. Some would have presumptuously drawn near without the accustomed offering; others might bring unsuitable gifts—human sacrifices, unclean animals, etc. A God less kind might suffer the people to incur the terrible consequences of ignorance, but not if Nadab and Abihu perish it shall not be for lack of instruction. "Go ye into all the world, teaching them to observe whatsoever things I have commanded you."
II. MAN IS FEARFUL AND PERTURBED IN THE PRESENCE OF GOD: IT IS GRACIOUSLY ORDAINED THAT SPECIAL MESSENGERS SHALL BE THE APPOINTED CHANNELS OF COMMUNICATION. "The Lord called unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel." When God appeared on Sinai and thundered out His Law, the terrified people implored that God might not Himself speak again lest they should die. Their entreaty was regarded, and Moses became the medium of conveying the mind of God. Should Jehovah be for ever appearing in person, his visits would be attended with such overwhelming awe that the purport of his words might be in danger of being lost or mistaken. When embarrassed, man's thoughts are dispersed, and memory fails. It was better, therefore, that holy men should speak unto men as moved by the Holy Ghost. The striking instance is the assumption of our nature by the Son of God, putting a veil over the features of Deity that weak sinful mortals might draw near without trembling and admire the gracious words proceeding out of his mouth. Even children hear and understand the words of Jesus. And here we may remark that the utterances of the messengers retest be received as coming from the Most High. In the appointed place God talked with Moses, and on his repeating the instructions to the Israelites they were bound to attend to them. It is equally incumbent upon us to respect the decrees of God delivered through prophets and apostles, and above all to honour the Father by honouring the Son, believing his words, trusting him as the Teacher sent from God. Preachers are "ambassadors for Christ." We would give thanks without ceasing when hearers receive the truth from our lips, not as the word of men, but the word of God (1 Thessalonians 2:13).
III. MAN IS SINFUL: THE GRACE OF GOD PROVIDES MEDIATORIAL ACCESS TO THE HOLY ONE.
1. Sacrifices appointed. "Bring an offering" without blemish, and place your hand upon its head, to show that it is willingly offered and stands instead of the offerer. And "it shall be accepted to make atonement" for you, to cover your person and works with the robe of mercy and righteousness, so that the Divine gaze may be fastened upon you without displeasure. By the grace of God it was arranged that Jesus Christ should taste death for every man. His was the one offering that, through accomplishing the will of God, sanctifies all who make mention of his name. Who will hesitate to appear before the Most High? Let faith lay her hand upon the Saviour, rejoicing in the conviction that "while we were yet sinners Christ died for us."
2. A priesthood. The Levites were set apart for the service of Jehovah, instead of all the firstborn of Israel. And of the Levites, the sons of Aaron were to minister continually before the Lord, observing all his regulations and maintaining constant purification of themselves, so that without insulting the holiness of God they might interpose between him and his people. Priesthood bridged the chasm between sinful creatures and a pure Creator. The priesthood sanctified the entire nation, which was theoretically a "kingdom of priests." Jesus Christ has concentred the priestly functions in himself. He has entered into the heaven as our Forerunner, to sprinkle the atoning blood on the altar. And now with true heart in full assurance of faith we may draw nigh to God.
IV. MAN'S CONDITION VARIES; THE GRACE OF GOD PROVIDES FOR ITS INEQUALITIES.
1. Notice is taken of the poor, and appropriate offerings permitted. Oriental monarchs often despised and rejected the subjects who were unable to enrich their royal coffers. But God is no respecter of persons. It is one of the glories of the gospel that it has been preached to the poor, and is adapted to their needs. God expects every man to come and testify his respect and affection. The poor may bring "turtle-doves or young pigeons." The way was thus opened for the parents of him who "became poor for our sakes." It is to be feared that many withhold a contribution because it seems so insignificant. But the Lord is as sorry to see the mite retained in the pocket as the gold which the wealthy refuse to part with. "If there be first a willing mind it is accepted according to that a man hath." Do not decline to engage in Christian work on the plea of defective ability! Surely some fitting department of service can be found. It is often the one talent that is hid in a napkin.
2. The offering of the poor is pronounced equally acceptable. Note the repetition of "it is a sacrifice, of a sweet savour unto the Lord" after the 17th verse. It is rather the spirit than the action itself which God regards. Not the results of labour so much as its motives and the proportion of ability to accomplishment.—S.R.A.
The greatness of God.
Too wide a field lessens the thoroughness of observation. Hence it is allowable and advantageous to distinguish in thought what is in reality inseparable, in order, by fixing the attention upon certain parts, to acquire a better knowledge of the whole. Such a method recommends itself in dealing with the attributes of God. To attempt to comprehend them all in one glance is, if not impossible, at least of little result in increasing our acquaintance with His character. Let us observe how the hints in this chapter present us with the greatness of God in varied aspects.
I. THE HOLINESS OF GOD DEMANDS A SACRIFICIAL OFFERING FROM ALL WHO WOULD SEEK HIS FAVOUR. The offerings here spoken of were spontaneous free-will offerings. They indicated a desire on the part of man to draw nigh to Jehovah, and they also manifested a sense of disturbance wrought by sin in man's relations with his Maker. Once man walked with God in uninterrupted harmony. Then transgression chased innocence away, and shame drove man to hide himself from the presence of God. among the trees of the garden. The consciousness of sin renders an offering necessary, under cover of which ("to make atonement for him") we may venture to an audience with the Holy One. Thus can fellowship be resumed. The Antitype of these sacrifices, Jesus Christ, is now our peace. He was "once offered to bear the sins of many." "By one offering he hath for ever perfected them that are sanctified." The old cry, "How shall man be just with God?" is still uttered, and the response comes, "Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus."
II. THE MAJESTY OF GOD REQUIRES THAT THE REGULATIONS FOR APPROACH WHICH HE HAS APPOINTED BE STRICTLY OBSERVED. The condescension of God in manifesting himself to the Israelites might be fraught with danger if it led to presumption and to holding in light esteem his awe-inspiring attributes. Instructions are consequently given relating to the minutest details; everything is prescribed. God is pleased with the free-will offering, and it will be accepted if the precepts are adhered to; but it must in no wise be supposed that the sincere expression of affection can excuse wilful neglect of appointed rules. The love of an inferior for his superior must not prevent the exhibition of due respect. God will be had in reverence by all that arc about him. Nor is it open to man arrogantly to pronounce that a consecrated way of access through Jesus Christ may be set aside as unnecessary. Christianity may have broadened the road. of approach, but it remains true that there is still an appointed road. To refuse honour to Christ is to treat God with disrespect. "Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in him." Christless worship, thanksgiving, and prayer, must be shunned.
III. THE HONOUR OF GOD EXPECTS AN OFFERING TO CONSIST OF the BEST THAT MAN POSSESSES. If poor, a turtle-dove would not be rejected, but for a rich man to offer the same would be treated as an insult to God. And the offering from the herd or flock must be "a male without blemish." Strength and beauty combined are requisite to satisfy the searching eye of the High and Lofty One. We see these requisites embodied in the Lamb of God, the perfect Sacrifice, "holy, harmless, undefiled." He knows little of God who imagines that he will be put off with scanty service, mean oblations. We ought to ask, not what is there can be easily spared, but how much can possibly be laid upon the altar. Let us not mock him by indulging in our own pleasures, and then giving to him the petty remnants of our poverty! Let us strive so to act that the firstfruits of our toil, the chiefest of our possessions, the prime of our life, the best of our days, shall be devoted to purposes of religion! Bestow upon God the deepest thoughts of the mind, the strongest resolutions of the will, the choicest affections of the heart.
IV. THE PERFECTION OF GOD NECESSITATES ORDERLY ARRANGEMENT IN ALL THAT CONCERNS HIS WORSHIP AND SERVICE. There is an appointed place for the offering, "the tabernacle of the congregation." The wood must be laid "in order upon the fire" (Leviticus 1:7), and the different parts of the victim must likewise be placed "in order upon the wood" (Leviticus 1:8).
To constitute a chaos round about the throne is to derogate from the homage a king inspires. It intimates his powerlessness, his want of intelligent forethought and present control. Law reigns everywhere throughout the dominions of Jehovah. The heavenly bodies speak of the symmetry he loves, and plants, animals, and minerals teach the same grand truth. "Order is Heaven's first law." "God is not the author of confusion, but of peace." In the worship of the sanctuary order and decency are of pre-eminent importance. Whatever shocks a devout mind is likely to be offensive to him all whoso ways are perfect. Arrangement need not degenerate into formality. The Sunday dress, the preparation for God's house, and the quiet attitude therein, are all important adjuncts to the spiritual education of the young.
Be it observed further that order means economy of space and time. Those who have no room nor leisure to be orderly do least and retain least. The laws of God are ever synonymous with the true interests of man.
V. THE PURITY OF GOD OBLIGES THAT THE OFFERING BE CLEANSED FROM DEFILEMENT. Those parts of the victim naturally subject to defilement are to be washed in water, "the inwards and the legs." One might deem this a superfluous proceeding, since they were to be so soon burnt upon the altar. But this would mean an extremely erroneous view of the solemnity of a sacrifice. Those who have not time to serve God properly had better not try it at all. He who counts it a trouble to read and pray has little conception of the insult he offers to God. Before we bow before the Lord to render our tribute of adoration and praise, it were well to purify our hearts, to hallow the desires that may have become impure, to call home our wandering thoughts, and to loose the dusty sandals from the feet which have been treading in the ways of the world. The Almighty desires no part to be absent from the offering. The affections, the strength, the time, the money, that have been lavished on unworthy objects are not in themselves sinful, they are unclean and require the sanctifying influence of the blood of Christ, and the water of the Word, and then they are fit to be rendered unto God. and consumed in the fire that testifies his acceptance of the worshipper.—S.R.A.
Our reasonable service.
The burnt offering appears to have been the most general of the sacrifices presented to Jehovah, and to have had the widest