Pulpit Commentary Homiletics
Leviticus 71 Corinthians 9:13; 1 Corinthians 10:18. We have in this chapter a detailed account of the disposal of the offerings already referred to. The leading idea of the passage is the perquisites of the priests, and the Christian counterpart of this is ministerial support. And in this connection let us observe -
I. IN ALL THE OFFERINGS THE FIRST CONCERN WAS TO ALLOCATE TO GOD HIMSELF HIS DUE. In particular he had appropriated to his own use, that is, to manifest atonement, the blood of all the sacrifices; and consequently it was never to be eaten, for this would be a profane use of such a sacred thing (verses 26, 27). ]t is only when we come to the realities out of the types and shadows, that we find Jesus declaring, "Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed" (John 6:54, 55). Atoning blood can only be partaken of by faith. Moreover, the Lord appropriated the fat - the large amount of suet about the animal - which was absolutely necessary to feed. the fire. This was to be devoted, therefore, to this sacred use and withdrawn from all profane use. There were other portions, such as the sheep's tail, the kidneys, and the caul above the liver, which were burned always on the altar as God's portion. The general principle, therefore, is plain of first giving unto God his fine. Now, in this particular question of ministerial support, it is with this idea of stewardship unto God that we must begin. Men rest first realize their obligation to God above before they will do justly by his ministers. The human obligation is best enforced by emphasizing the Divine. If men give God his due, if they are faithful stewards unto him, if they keep zealously the first table of the Law, they will not wrong their neighbours by disregarding the second table; above all, they will not wrong God's ministers.
II. AFTER GOD'S PORTIONS WERE DEDICATED, THE BEST OF THE RESIDUE BECAME THE PRIESTS. In some cases the priest got the whole; for example, in a private sin offering or trespass offering, and when, as in the peace offerings, the remainder was shared with the person presenting the sacrifice, the priest's portion was always the best. The wave breast and the heave leg, the "choice cuts," as we would now call them, of the carcass, were assigned to the priests. In fact, there is peculiar generosity enjoined in supporting the officers of God. There is a fashion in a business age of regarding the minister very much as an ecclesiastical tradesman, who is to be dealt with on business principles; that is, as ranch work is to be got out of him as possible for the minimum of pay. The sooner such poor notions cease, the better for the cause of God. "And we beseech you, brethren," says the apostle, "to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; and to esteem them very highly in love for their work's sake" (1 Thessalonians 5:12, 13). If ministers are rightly regarded, the people will feel it to be their duty, as Israel was instructed to do, to give them the best support they can.
III. A PROPERLY SUSTAINED PRIESTHOOD WAS IN A POSITION TO EXERCISE FAITHFUL DISCIPLINE IN THE CHURCH. This ministerial support chapter, as we may properly regard chapter 7, is most particular in debarring the unclean from Church privileges. Whether we are to understand the "cutting off from the people" as death, as the Vulgate appears to do, or as only excommunication, one thing is certain, that the priesthood, assigned its true dignity and supported accordingly, were thereby encouraged to be faithful in the exercise of discipline. And this relation of proper ministerial support to Church discipline is most important. It is when the office is degraded in men's minds to a mere profession, and they consequently refuse it adequate support, that they are unwilling to submit to the discipline God's ministry should wield. To the elevation of the office in the eyes of men, and to the consequent increase of its support, all wise members of the Church of Christ should devote their attention. - R.M.E.
I. THAT THE TRESPASS OFFERING IS DESCRIBED AS MOST HOLY.
1. It was most holy as typifying Christ.
(1) Intrinsically there could be neither sin nor holiness in the animal that was offered up. It was not a moral being. Nor could it be most holy in the sense of removing moral guilt; for it could not do this. For this purpose God never "required" it; never "desired" it (1 Samuel 15:22; Psalm 40:6; Psalm 51:16; Isaiah 1:11; Hosea 6:6; Hebrews 10:1-4).
(2) But the guilt offering of Calvary can literally "take sin away," and so accomplish the will, the desire, and the requirement of a just and merciful God (Psalm 40:6-8; Hebrews 10:4-10). Christ is therefore indeed "Most Holy;" and the guilt offering of the Law was so called putatively as typifying him. Accordingly,
2. It was killed at the north side of the altar.
(1) "It is most holy. In the place where they kill the burnt offering shall they kill the trespass offering" (verses 1, 2). But the burnt offering was killed at the north side of the altar (Leviticus 1:11). So was Calvary at the north side of Jerusalem.
(2) Because this is given as a reason why the trespass offering was to be accounted "most holy," the Jews have countenance here for their tradition that the less holy sacrifices were slain at the south-west corner of the altar.
3. It was eaten in the holy place.
(1) "Every male among the priests shall eat thereof: it shall be eaten in the holy place: it is most holy" (verse 6). This was what the Jews distinguished as "the eating within the curtains,' in allusion to the court of the tabernacle, which was enclosed with curtains.
(2) In these feastings the priests cultivated fellowship; and the fellowship was religious in proportion as they had the vision of their faith clear to look to the end of the things to be abolished. Faith is the true principle of religious fellowship.
(3) The females "among the priests" might eat of the "holy things ;" but of the things distinguished as "most holy" they had no right to eat. Since the Fall down to the coming of the "Seed of the woman," a distinction between male and female was maintained, but now it is abolished. God's curse upon the woman has strangely been converted into the greatest Messing to mankind. Even in anger God is love.
II. SUNDRY DIRECTIONS GIVEN TO THE PRIESTS.
1. With the blood of the guilt offering they were to sprinkle the altar.
(1) The altar was the raised platform upon which the sacrifices were offered up to God. The eminence of Calvary was, more particularly considered, the altar upon which the Great Sacrifice was offered. But in the grander sense, when the great universe is viewed, as Paul views it, as the true temple of God, the earth itself was the altar. The welfare of the universe is concerned in the death of Christ (Ephesians 1:10; Philippians 2:9, 10; Colossians 1:20).
(2) The sprinkling of the altar with the blood, in tiffs view, would show that the earth, the common inheritance of man, which was cursed for his sake, is redeemed with the price of the precious blood of Jesus, And being redeemed by the price of his blood, it is destined also to be redeemed by the power of his arm (see Ephesians 1:14; Ephesians 4:30). What glorious things are in reversion!
(3) The Mishna records a tradition thus rendered by Bishop Patrick: "That there was a scarlet line which went round about the altar exactly in the middle, and the blood of the burnt offerings was sprinkled round about above the line, but that of the trespass offerings and peace offerings round about below it." But these traditions are generally refinements without authority. Let us be thankful for the "sure word of prophecy."
2. They were to burn the fat upon the altar.
(1) Not the fat intermingled with the flesh. This was not offered upon the altar, except, of course, in the holocaust; nor was it forbidden as food. Had it been so, what embarrassments must tender consciences have suffered! There is nothing unreasonable in the service of God.
(2) The fat burnt was chiefly that found in a detached state, viz. the omentum, or caul, the fat of the mesentery and that about the kidneys, with the rump or tail of the sheep. This last was in the East so enormous that it had in some cases to be supported by a little cart fastened behind the animal (see Ludolf's 'History of Ethiopia,' page 53).
3. They had the privilege of claiming the skin (verses 7, 8).
(1) This privilege probably dates from the days of Eden. Immediately after the Fall, our first parents covered themselves with the leaves of the fig, symbolically to express their sense of shame on account of their sin. In exchange for these, God graciously clothed them with skins, which we may presume were those of animals offered in sacrifice. Here, then, was the robe of an imputed righteousness to cover their sin and shame.
(2) If these skins were those of animals offered in sacrifice, then Adam must have acted as a priest, and of course by Divine appointment. As a priest, then he would receive the skins. To this hour those descendants of Adam who act as spiritual priests are those who are invested with the robe of the righteousness of Christ. - J.A.M.
I. THE WAY IN WHICH HE WAS APPROACHED IN WORSHIP. Distinctions were drawn between different offerings, the import of which we now find it hard to trace. Though, indeed, it is stated that "as the sin offering so the trespass offering; there is one law for them" (verse 7), yet there were differences in the way in which the blood was disposed of by the priests, etc. (cf. verse 2 and Leviticus 4:6, 7). Minute details were entered into respecting the disposal of the various parts of the animal (verses 3, 4, 8). Precise directions were given regarding the eating of the offerings by the priests (verses 5, 9, 10). It appears to us that there must have been but very faint moral significance in these arrangements to the mind of the Hebrew worshipper. But if this were so, the very particularity of the precepts indicated God's determination that his people should show the utmost vigilance and attention in their approaches to himself. We may wisely learn therefrom that, though our Divine Master has left all details in worship to our spiritual discernment, he is far from indifferent to the way in which we approach him. We should show the utmost care:
1. To draw nigh to his throne of grace in a right spirit - a spirit of reverence, trust, expectation, holy joy.
2. To use those methods of approach which are most likely to foster the true spirit of worship - having enough of simplicity to favour spirituality of mind; having, at the same time, enough of art and effort to meet the cultivated tastes of all who take part in devotion.
II. THE FACT THAT SIN MEANS DEATH IN HIS SIGHT. The first "law of the trespass offering" (verse 1) relates to the killing of the animal and the sprinkling of its blood "round about the altar" (verse 2). The thing in these sacrifices is the application of the blood for atonement: no offering on the altar, no eating of the flesh, until life had been taken, until blood had been shed and sprinkled. The sinner must own his worthiness of death for his trespass, and, if he is to find acceptance, must bring a victim, whose life shall be forfeited instead of his own, whose atoning blood shall make peace with God. This is the foundation truth of Old Testament sacrifices; it is the ground truth of the sacrifice on Calvary.
III. THE TRUTH THAT OUR VERY BEST, OUR OWN SELF, IS TO BE CONSECRATED TO GOD. The best of the slain animals, the vital parts, had to be presented in holy sacrifice on the altar (verses 3-5). When the atoning blood has brought reconciliation, we are to present our best, our very selves, in acceptable sacrifice to our Saviour.
IV. THE TRUTH THAT ALL WHICH IS PRESENTED TO GOD IS TO BE REGARDED AS HOLY IN HIS SIGHT. Only the priests might eat of the flesh of the offered animal, and they only "in the holy place," for "it is most holy" (verse 6). Everything became holy when brought to "the door of the tabernacle" and presented to Jehovah. When we dedicate ourselves to his service in the act of self-surrender, we yield everything to him. And then:
2. Our whole lives are to be lived and spent before him as holy (1 Corinthians 10:31). - C.
Leviticus 7:1-10Leviticus 7:1-10. The trespass offering, burnt offering, and meat offering, affording support to the minister of the sanctuary and occasion for feasting.
I. It is the intent of true religion that those consecrated to its service should be provided for liberally.
II. Acknowledgment of sin and atonement made lead to rejoicing, and the festival life of man grows out of reconciliation with God.
III. TYPICALLY; Christ the High Priest is rewarded in the sanctification of his people "He shall see of the travail of his soul, and be satisfied." - R.
I. THE PEACE OFFERING OF THANKSGIVING.
1. There is fitness in this association.
(1) The peace offering has its name, שׁלמים (shelamim), from שׁלם (shalem), to complete or make whole. It was instituted to express the manner in which our breaches of the covenant are made up by Christ. How the variance between God and man is composed through his atoning sacrifice!
(2) What, then, more fitting than that we should express our thankfulness to God in connection with the peace offering? Praise breaks spontaneously from the heart that is "reconciled to God through the death of his Son" (see Isaiah 12:1).
2. A bread offering accompanied this.
(1) One portion of this bread offering was unleavened (verse 12). This portion was presented upon the altar. As leaven symbolized evil dispositions, no trace of it should be found in anything that touched God's altar (Leviticus 2:11).
(2) But the other portion was leavened (verse 13). This portion was eaten by the worshipper, and expressed that he had evil dispositions that needed purging out. What a difference there is between the holy God and sinful man! What a merciful provision is that of the gospel of peace, that reconciles sinners to God!
II. THE THANKSGIVING IN THE HEAVE OFFERING. (Verses 14, 15.)
1. This was taken from the whole oblation.
(1) The word for oblation, משּׂאת (masseath), denotes that which is borne or carried, from נשׂא (nasa), to bear or carry. It generally describes anything which was carried to the temple to be offered to God. It also expresses the design of all sacrifices to be the carrying or bearing of sin (see Exodus 28:38; also Leviticus 10:17; Leviticus 16:21).
(3) From the number of these typical sin-bearers borne to the temple, the heave offering was to be taken. It was a representative of the whole of them, and suggested that what was specifically expressed in it might be predicated of any of them.
2. It was lifted up in faith and gratitude to God.
(1) The heave offering had its name, תרומה (terumah), from רם (rum, to lift up), because it was lifted up, viz. toward heaven, by the priest.
(2) This action expressed thankfulness to the source whence all blessings come to us, and especially those of redemption. Christ is the "Lord from heaven," the "heavenly gift" of a gracious Father (see John 3:13, 16, 31; John 4:10; John 6:32, 33; 1 Corinthians 15:47; Hebrews 6:4).
3. It became the priest's who sprinkled the blood of the peace offering.
(1) Those who make their peace with God through the blood of the cross not only offer thanks, but enjoy the blessings of thanksgiving. Thus a grateful heart is a" continual feast."
(2) It was eaten the same day that it was offered. In the very act of thanksgiving to God for his blessings we are blessed. Those who in everything "give thanks" can "rejoice evermore "(1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).
(3) It was shared by the priest in his own community (see Numbers 18:8, 11, 18, 19). Shared domestically. Shared religiously. The stranger had no part nor lot in the matter. - J.A.M.
I. THAT THERE IS A JOYOUS AND SOCIAL ELEMENT IN SACRED SERVICE. There were not only sin and burnt offerings, but also meat and peace offerings, in the Hebrew ritual. Those who were reconciled unto God might rejoice, and might rejoice together, before him. They might hold festive gatherings as his servants and as his worshippers; they might eat flesh which had been dedicated, to him, and bread, even leavened bread (verse 13), and they were to "rejoice in their feast" (Deuteronomy 16:14). The prevailing tone of the true Christian life is that of sacred joy. Even at the remembrance of the Saviour's death humility and faith are to rise into holy joy.
"Around a table, not a tomb, II. THAT THERE IS A SPONTANEOUS AS WELL AS A STATUTORY element in sacred service. "If he offer it for a thanksgiving then he shall offer," etc. (verse 12). "If the sacrifice... be a vow, or a voluntary offering, it shall be eaten," etc. (verse 16). God's Law says, "thou shalt," but it finds room for "if thou shalt." There are many things compulsory, and we have nothing to do but cheerfully and unquestioningly obey. There are also many things optional, and we may allow ourselves to act as devotional and generous impulses may move us. The mind which is constitutionally legal should cultivate the spontaneous in worship and benefaction; the impulsive must remember that there are statutes as well as suggestions in the Word of God. III. THAT THERE MAY BE NOT ONLY FUTILITY BUT EVEN GUILT in connection with sacred service. Disregard of the prohibition to eat on the third day entirely vitiated the worthiness of the offering: in such case it would "not be accepted," neither "imputed unto him that offered it;" it would be counted "an abomination," and the soul that so acted was to "bear his iniquity" (verse 18). The service we seek to render God may be: 1. Wholly vitiated so as to be entirely unacceptable, and draw down no blessing from above; or may even be: 2. Positively offensive in the sight of God, and add to our guilt, if it be (1) unwilling, grudging; (2) unspiritual, soulless; (3) slovenly, careless, the offering of our exhaustion instead of our energy; (4) ostentatious or (still worse) hypocritical; (5) much mixed with worldly, or vindictive, or base thoughts. IV. THAT PERSONAL SPIRITUAL PARTICIPATION IS NECESSARY in sacred service. "His own hands shall bring the offerings" (verse 30). God would be approached by His people themselves, and though he had graciously granted human mediation in the form of a sacrificing priesthood, yet he desired that every Israelite who had an offering to present should bring it with his own hand to the door of the tabernacle. Religion is a personal thing. We may accept human ministry, but we must come ourselves to God in direct, immediate devotion and dedication. Every man here must bear his own burden (Galatians 6:5). There is a point beyond which the most ardent affection, the most earnest solicitude, the most burning zeal cannot go - for others. They must, themselves, approach in reverence, bow in penitence, look up in faith, yield in self-surrender, present daily sacrifices of gratitude, obedience, submission. - C.
II. THAT THERE IS A SPONTANEOUS AS WELL AS A STATUTORY element in sacred service. "If he offer it for a thanksgiving then he shall offer," etc. (verse 12). "If the sacrifice... be a vow, or a voluntary offering, it shall be eaten," etc. (verse 16). God's Law says, "thou shalt," but it finds room for "if thou shalt." There are many things compulsory, and we have nothing to do but cheerfully and unquestioningly obey. There are also many things optional, and we may allow ourselves to act as devotional and generous impulses may move us. The mind which is constitutionally legal should cultivate the spontaneous in worship and benefaction; the impulsive must remember that there are statutes as well as suggestions in the Word of God.
III. THAT THERE MAY BE NOT ONLY FUTILITY BUT EVEN GUILT in connection with sacred service. Disregard of the prohibition to eat on the third day entirely vitiated the worthiness of the offering: in such case it would "not be accepted," neither "imputed unto him that offered it;" it would be counted "an abomination," and the soul that so acted was to "bear his iniquity" (verse 18). The service we seek to render God may be:
1. Wholly vitiated so as to be entirely unacceptable, and draw down no blessing from above; or may even be:
2. Positively offensive in the sight of God, and add to our guilt, if it be
(1) unwilling, grudging;
(2) unspiritual, soulless;
(3) slovenly, careless, the offering of our exhaustion instead of our energy;
(4) ostentatious or (still worse) hypocritical;
(5) much mixed with worldly, or vindictive, or base thoughts.
IV. THAT PERSONAL SPIRITUAL PARTICIPATION IS NECESSARY in sacred service. "His own hands shall bring the offerings" (verse 30). God would be approached by His people themselves, and though he had graciously granted human mediation in the form of a sacrificing priesthood, yet he desired that every Israelite who had an offering to present should bring it with his own hand to the door of the tabernacle. Religion is a personal thing. We may accept human ministry, but we must come ourselves to God in direct, immediate devotion and dedication. Every man here must bear his own burden (Galatians 6:5). There is a point beyond which the most ardent affection, the most earnest solicitude, the most burning zeal cannot go - for others. They must, themselves, approach in reverence, bow in penitence, look up in faith, yield in self-surrender, present daily sacrifices of gratitude, obedience, submission. - C.
I. THE DUTY OF THANKFULNESS.
1. It should be cheerful, glad, pure, speedy.
2. It should be religious, expressed towards God as the Author and Giver of every good gift.
3. It should be social, recognizing both the house of God and family life.
II. THE NECESSITY OF HOLINESS in all things and at all times. Thanks - vows - voluntary offerings; - in all there must be separation to God, and from the corrupt and unclean.
1. In nothing more need of vigilance than in expressing the heart's more joyful feelings. Possibility of prolonging the joy till it becomes corrupt. Hilarity overbalancing the soul. Intemperance in enjoyments.
2. The uncleanness of the world is apt to cling to us. We should especially watch against carrying the impure spirit into the sanctuary. The mind should be free, the heart calm, the soul hungering and thirsting alter spiritual delights, when, on the Lord's day, we enter the courts of his house to offer sacrifice.
3. Fellowship with God's ministers and his services. One voice, but many hearts. True mediation when all alike by faith depending on Christ. - R.
I. GOD'S UNIVERSAL SOVEREIGNTY. As these parts of the animal were solemnly directed upwards and downwards and laterally, in all directions, the offerer intimated his belief that the realm of Jehovah was a boundless kingdom, reaching to the heavens above, to the dark regions below, to every corner and quarter of the earth. We do well to meditate on the truth thus pictorially presented; but in so doing we are necessarily reminded how much more we have learned both from revelation and human science of the wide reach of his reign. We may think of his Divine kingdom as including:
1. Heaven and all its worlds and inhabitants.
2. Hades - the grave and those who have "gone to the grave."
3. The earth and all that is thereon:
(1) all human Beings;
(2) all unintelligent creatures;
(3) all vegetable life;
(4) all inanimate treasure - gold, silver, etc.
We are reminded of the propriety of -
II. OUR FORMAL RECOGNITION OF THIS FACT. The Hebrew worshipper was encouraged to bring his peace offering to the altar, and then to go through this simple but suggestive ceremony, thus formally acknowledging the truth. No similar provision is made for our utterance of it; but it is open to us to declare it in sacred words and in most solemn forms:
1. In adoration. "Thine, O Lord, is the greatness and the power... for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine," etc. (1 Chronicles 29:10, 11; 1 Timothy 1:17; Deuteronomy 10:14; Psalm 24:1).
2. In praise. When we "sing unto the Lord," there should be full and frequent ascription of everything "in the heavens above and. the earth beneath" to him as the Author and Owner and Ruler of all. We also see -
III. OUR APPROPRIATE ACTION THEREUPON. The Jewish worshipper was directed to "wave" and "heave" the breast and shoulder; these joints in particular and in preference to any other, "probably from their being considered the more excellent parts." When the fat had been burned upon the altar (verse 30, these joints were reserved "unto Aaron the priest and unto his sons for ever" (verse 34). We gather therefrom that we are to make practical recognition of the truth that God's kingdom extends everywhere, and includes every one, by:
1. Dedicating our best to his service: our affections (suggested by the breast); our strength (suggested by the shoulder).
2. Bringing our offerings to his cause - for the support of those who minister in holy things, and for the maintenance of those various agencies which are working for the glory of his Name. - C.
I. STRICT OBSERVANCE IS DEMANDED, EVEN THOUGH THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE PRECEPT BE NOT PERCEIVED. Little explanation is afforded in the Law of the many ceremonies instituted. The Israelites were treated as children, whose chief virtue is unquestioning obedience. Why should the flesh be so quickly consumed? The devout Israelite might not know, yet must he rigidly conform to the order. He is not to reason, but to do. This course may be recommended to the many who wish a full explanation of the reasons for the institution of the ordinances connected with the Christian Church. Reliance may be placed upon the wisdom of the Divine Legislator, and faith rather than knowledge may glorify God. "The secret things" (the explanations, the reasons) "belong unto the Lord our God; but those things which are revealed" (the facts, the commands) "belong unto us for ever, that we may do all the words of the Law." That Jesus Christ has ordained Baptism and the Lord's Supper is sufficient to lead us to practice them, however confused may be our apprehension of the mysteries and principles involved. And in relation to the counsels addressed to us for the guidance of our lives, and the events that are seen to necessitate certain action upon our parts, it may stall be said, "What I do thou knowest not now, but thou shall know hereafter."
II. MORE LIGHT MAY BE EXPECTED TO DAWN UPON US CONTINUALLY AS TO THE MEANING OF DIVINE ORDINANCES. Faith is not intended to exclude or supersede knowledge, but to form a basis for it, an avenue through which it may pass to the mind, an appendix by which its volume may be supplemented. Patient and prayerful study is ever rewarded with keener appreciation of the will of God. If the Israelites reflected for a moment, they would call to mind warnings against desecrating holy things, and against treating what was offered to God as if it were a portion of common food. Surely God would distinguish thus between ordinary slaughter and sacrificial victims, and would guard against that additional risk of putrefaction to which flesh is liable in a hot climate, and which, if it occurred, would be an insult to his majesty. For us at any rate the types and ceremonies of Judaism have been interpreted by Christianity. The Great Prophet has revealed the obscure, and, endowed with his Spirit, apostles have Been inspired to comment authoritatively upon the preceding dispensation. And. we need. not limit our aspirations after an intelligent perception of the meaning of Christian laws. Events as they occur, and reverent, persevering investigation, may unfold to us with increasing clearness the ways of God. But we ought not to delay observance of his precepts until their design is fully manifest. That servant is slothful who refuses to work by candle-light, and waits for the brightness of the sun.
III. PARTIAL DISOBEDIENCE NEUTRALIZES THE EFFECT OF A RELIGIOUS OBSERVANCE, AND MAY APPEAR MORE OFFENSIVE THAN TOTAL NEGLECT OF THE DIVINE COMMANDS. Let the worshipper trifle with the Law and venture to eat the flesh on the third day, and he shall find to his cost that the whole of his offering is rejected; it is not pleasing to God, and will not procure him favour. His effort proves useless, it shall not be reckoned to his credit. Worse still, his offering "shall be an abomination" in the eyes of God; there shall be no grateful odour exhaled, but it shall be a stench in his nostrils. Sin has not been obliterated but augmented by the sacrifice. When the Earl of Oxford would honour King Henry VII by the presence of a large body of retainers, the king only saw in the men an infraction of the law, and could not consent to have his laws broken in his sight. Honour and dishonour are an ill-assorted pair. The partially obedient worshipper shows himself as knowing God's will and doing it not. Total abstinence might have proclaimed him sinful through ignorance. Half-heartedness is often as productive of evil effects as fiat rebellion. It is not for us to presume to say what may be disregarded and what not. To follow the Lord fully is the path of duty and of safety. - S.R.A.
I. CAREFUL PRESERVATION OF PURITY. The "flesh of the sacrifice of his peace offering" was to be eaten on the very day of its presentation (verse 15); that of another kind of offering might be eaten partly on the day following (verse 16), but on no account might anything offered in sacrifice be partaken of on the third day (verses 17, 18). It was one of the objects, probably the primary intention, of this restriction, that nothing offered to God should be allowed to become unsound. No danger was to be incurred in the way of putrefaction. Another statute in defense of purity in worship! In the service of the Holy One of Israel we must be pure in thought, in word, in act. He is "of purer eyes than to behold evil," etc. (Habakkuk 1:13), and can find no pleasure in any service tainted with iniquity. The connection in which this restriction occurs suggests that, especially in those religious engagements in which we find social pleasure, we should be careful to maintain purity of spirit, integrity of heart.
II. CAREFUL RETENTION OF SACREDNESS OF THOUGHT. The partaking of the flesh and the bread which had been presented to God, though these were eaten at home, was to be regarded as a sacred act. It was sacramental. Therefore it was fitting that no great interval of time should come between the act of presentation and the consumption. For the consequence would inevitably be that the sacred festival would tend to sink to the level of an ordinary meal. Sacred thoughts would be less vivid and less frequent; the engagement would become more secular and more simply social as more time intervened. We learn that we should take the greatest care to retain in our mind the sense of the sacredness of religious acts during their performance. When they become mechanical, or wholly bodily, or simply social; when the realization of the religious and the Divine element falls out, then their virtue is gone; they are no longer "an acceptable offering unto the Lord." We must accomplish this end by:
1. Studious spiritual endeavour to realize what we are doing.
2. By wise precautions, judicious measures, which will tend to preserve sanctity and to guard against secularity of thought.
III. UNSELFISHNESS IN RELIGIOUS SERVICE. The commandment to consume everything within one or two days pointed to an increase in the number of partakers; it suggested the calling together friends and dependents; also the invitation of the poor and needy. This was not only the design but the effect of the injunction (see Deuteronomy 12:18; Deuteronomy 16:11). The Israelites, in "eating before the Lord," showed a generous hospitality while they were engaged in an act of piety and of sacred joy. Let unselfishness be a prominent feature in our religious institutions. It is well to remember:
1. That selfishness is apt to show itself here as elsewhere.
2. That it is never so inconsistent and unsightly as in connection with the service of God.
3. That it is a painful exhibition to the Lord of love.
4. That the more generous and self-forgetting we are in sacred things, the more we approach the spirit and life of our Divine Exemplar (Philippians 2:4-8). - C.
Leviticus 19:5-8). In connection with this subject, we are admonished of the sanctity of the service of God; and similar admonitions arc given in what follows.
I. WE SEE THIS SANCTITY IN THE SANCTIONS OF THE LAW OF THE PEACE OFFERING.
1. Consider the precept.
(1) Look at it in the letter. "It shall be eaten the same day that he offereth his sacrifice." The same day in which the fat is burnt on the altar, the flesh is consumed by the worshipper and his friends. What remains must be eaten on the morrow. If any remain over to the third day, it must not then be eaten, but burnt with fire.
(2) The first reason for this is hygienic. The flesh would, of course, be wholesome on the day it was killed, and so it would continue to be on the day following. But on the third day, in a hot climate, it would tend to corruption. The laws of health are well considered in the Levitical system, upon which account the study of that system may be commended to the votaries of social science.
(3) But there must be a deeper reason still, else the penalties would not be so formidable as they are. The peace offering was undoubtedly a type of Christ in his passion (Ephesians 2:13-18). Our Lord was two days in the tomb after his death without seeing corruption. Then rising from the dead on the third day, the typical sacrifices of the Law, having answered their end, were abolished, This abolition was foreshadowed in the burning of what remained of the peace offering on the third day (1 Corinthians 15:3). To eat of the typical peace offering on the third day would be therefore highly improper, as it would suggest return to the "beggarly elements" after the "bringing in of the better hope" (Galatians 3:3; Galatians 4:9-11, 30, 31; Galatians 5:1-4).
(4) If the" third day" represent the Christian dispensation in which typical sacrifices are done away, how are we to view the "two days" during which they were serviceable? There were exactly two great dispensations before the Christian, in which typical sacrifices were ordained, viz. first, the Patriarchal, from Adam to Moses; and secondly, the Levitical, from Moses to Christ.
2. Consider the penalties.
(1) If the flesh of the peace offering be eaten on the third day, the sacrifice "shall not be accepted." The reason will now be obvious. In the third, or gospel, dispensation, there is a better Sacrifice. Typical sacrifices are now out of place and worthless, since the Antitype is come.
(2) "It shall not be imputed to him that offereth it." The typical sacrifices were useful in procuring the "forbearance of God" until the true atonement should be made; but now it is made, Christ will profit them nothing who return to the Law,
(3) "He shall bear his sin." He shall be treated as the sacrifice was treated. He shall himself be sacrificed for his own sin.
II. THIS SANCTITY IS FURTHER SEEN IN THE PENALTIES IMPOSED IN OTHER CASES. Thus:
1. When the flesh of sacrifice is unlawfully eaten.
(1) This would happen if it had touched "any unclean thing" (verse 19). Instead of being eaten, it should then be "burnt with fire." The teaching is that an unclean thing is of no use for purposes of atonement. The sacrifice of Christ could not be accepted were he not immaculate.
(2) It would happen if the cater were unclean. "As for the flesh, all that be clean shall eat thereof" (Hebrew, "The flesh of all that is clean shall eat the flesh"), i.e., every clean person shall eat the flesh of his peace offering. As Christ is without spot of sin, so is his flesh meat only to the holy. "But the soul" etc. (verses 20, 21). To the wicked, the very gospel becomes the savour of death (1 Corinthians 11:29; 2 Corinthians 2:15, 16).
2. When holy things are profaned.
(1) When the fat is eaten (verse 23) - the fat of such animals as were offered in sacrifice. There is no law against the eating of the fat of the roebuck or the hart. And that portion of the fat which was offered in sacrifice. The fat mingled with the flesh, which was not burnt on the altar, was not forbidden. There must be the most careful avoidance of whatever would profane the sacrifice of Christ. The fat even of an animal of the sacrificial kind, which by any accident might be rendered unfit for sacrifice, must not be eaten (verse 24). The moral here is that the very appearance of evil must be avoided.
(2) When the blood is eaten. This law is universal. Blood, viz. of every description of animal, is forbidden. The Jews properly expound this law as forbidding the blood of the life as distinguished from the gravy. And the reason given for the prohibition is that the life maketh atonement for the life. Our life, which is redeemed by the life of Jesus sacrificed for us, must be wholly given to God. The highest sanctity is associated with the blood of Christ.
(3) "That soul shall be cut off from his people" (verses 20, 21, 25, 27). The penalty in all these cases is extreme. It means separation from religious and civil privileges, if not also death. The penalties of the Mosaic Law terminated in the death of the body; but "a much sorer punishment" is reserved for those who despise and desecrate the blood of Christ (Hebrews 10:28, 29). - J.A.M.
I. APPARENT DIVINE SEVERITY.
1. That God sometimes seems to be severe in his dealings with men. These particular injunctions must have had to the Jews an aspect of rigour. An Israelite excommunicated for one of these offenses probably felt that he had been hardly dealt with. God's dealings have an occasional aspect of severity (see Romans 11:22). So with us. In his providence comparatively slight faults, errors, transgressions, are sometimes followed by most serious evils - disgrace, sorrow, loss, death.
2. That the light of after-days often explains his dealing with us. We can see now that the paramount and supreme importance of maintaining the purity of Israel, its separateness from all the abominations of surrounding heathendom, made the most stringent regulations on that subject necessary and wise, and therefore kind. So with us. Looking back on the way by which we have been led, we frequently see that that very thing which at the time was not only distressing but perplexing, was the most signal act of the Divine wisdom and goodness, the providential ordering for which, above every other thing, we now give thanks.
3. That present faith should rise to the realization that, somewhere in the future, apparent severity will bear the aspect of wise and holy love. "What we know not now we shall know hereafter." "Then shall we know," etc. (1 Corinthians 13:12).
II. OCCASIONAL HUMAN SEVERITY.
1. That we are sometimes obliged to seem severe towards those for whom we are responsible.
(1) The statesman is obliged to introduce a severe measure;
(2) a father to take a strong and energetic course;
(3) a Church to excommunicate a member.
2. That apparent severity is sometimes the only rightful course which wise and holy love can take. It is the action which is (l) due to itself (James 3:17);
(2) due to the object of its affection (1 Timothy 1:20). - C.
the rights of Jehovah from invasion. The fat was a gift sanctified to God. The prohibition of the blood was to keep up the idea of atonement, the blood being regarded as the soul of the animal which God had appointed as the medium of atonement for the soul of man. Here is -
I. THE SUPREMACY OF THE DIVINE CLAIMS.
1. The recognition by the conscience in doctrine, in the place religion holds in the life.
2. The social state should be regulated on this principle. Man must not invade God's rights if he would retain God's blessing. Observance of the sabbath. The law of nations rests on the Law of God.
3. The individual believer will take care that he robs God of nothing. His service demands the fat, the choicest faculties, the deepest feelings, the largest gifts.
II. THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD MADE THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF MAN. Life for life. The blood sanctified, the blood saved. On the foundation of a perfect reconciliation alone can a true humanity be preserved and developed. Mistake of the ancient Greeks in worshipping humanity unredeemed, leading to animalism, and eventually to the substitution of mere art for morality, therefore the degradation of humanity. The elevation of the soul is the elevation of the whole man; "Im ganzen, guten, schoenen resolut zu leben," is a motto only to be adopted in the Christian sense. "He that sayeth his life shall lose it;" he that offers it up to God shall redeem it. - R.
I. THE DUTY OF THE OFFERER.
1. He had to bring his oblation unto the Lord.
(1) The "oblation" here is not the "sacrifice," but "of the sacrifice" (verses 28-30). It was that portion of the sacrifice which, more especially, was claimed by God, viz. the fat prescribed to be burnt upon the altar. It included also the breast and right shoulder.
(2) This he was to bring in person. "His own hands shall bring the offerings of the Lord made by fire," etc. This requisition is so express that even women, who under other circumstances never entered the court of the priests, did so when they had offerings to bring. The Hebrew name for oblation (קרבן, korban) is derived from a root (קרב, koreb) which signifies to approach or draw near. By the introduction of our Great High Priest, we personally, under the gospel, "approach" or "draw nigh" unto God (see Hebrews 7:19; Hebrews 10:21, 22). We cannot save our souls by proxy. We cannot acceptably serve God by proxy.
2. He had to bring the fat laid upon the breast.
(1) What our version construes "the fat with the breast" (verse 30), may be better rendered, as it is by the learned Julius Bate, "the fat upon the breast," i.e., laid upon the breast (comp. Leviticus 8:26, 27). The breast was that appointed to be waved before the Lord; and it would appear that it was waved with the fat laid upon it. The breast was the natural symbol of heartiness and willingness. This action would, therefore, express the cheerful and grateful willingness of the offerer, and his earnest desire that his offering might be graciously accepted. What we devote to God should be heartily given (2 Corinthians 9:7).
(2) The "heave shoulder" was also brought. This was the right shoulder. It had its name from the ceremony in which it was moved tip and down before the Lord. As the "breast" symbolized affection, so the "shoulder" expressed action, and the "right" shoulder, action of the most efficient kind. Love expresses itself in deeds (Matthew 22:37-40; Luke 6:46; Romans 13:9; Galatians 5:14; James 2:8).
II. THE DUTY OF THE PRIEST.
1. He had to offer up the oblation.
(1) The Mishna says this was done by the priest placing his hands under those of the offerer, upon which the wave breast was laid, and then moving them to and fro. The priest certainly had a hand in the ceremony of waving the breast (see Numbers 6:20). And if we regard him as a type of Christ in this, then the teaching appears to be that we should look to Jesus to sustain the fervency of our love in the offering of our oblations of prayer and praise and service.
(2) The priest in the next place, it appears, offered up the fat in the fire of the altar (verse 31). Then the right shoulder was "given to the priest for an heave offering" (verse 32). This, we are told, was moved up and down. Thus these motions of the wave breast and heave shoulder were at right angles, and so they formed the figure of a cross. Houbigant thinks that by this "was adumbrated the cross upon which that Peace Offering of the human race was lifted up, which was prefigured by all the ancient victims" (comp. John 21:18, 19; 2 Peter 1:14; together with the historical tradition concerning the crucifixion of Peter).
2. The breast and shoulder were then claimed by the priest.
(1) They had these by a Divine ordinance (verses 31-34). They were first given to God, and now became God's gift to his ministers. What is given to sustain the ministry should not be regarded by the giver as a gratuity, but as a service loyally and faithfully rendered to God (see Numbers 18:20-24). Ministers should receive their support as from the hand of God (see 2 Corinthians 9:11; Philippians 4:18).
(2) They had it by a birthright. It was given to "Aaron and his sons." Those who were not sons of Aaron had no part nor lot in the matter. And true ministers of the gospel must be sons of Jesus; they must be spiritually born, or they are intruders into sacred functions (see Psalm 1:16; Acts 1:25; Romans 1:5; 1 Timothy 1:12; 2 Timothy 4:5).
(3) They had it also by consecration. The sons of Aaron, though as their birthright were served from the altar, had no title to serve the altar until anointed for that service. So the birth of the Spirit, by which we become sons of Jesus, does not alone constitute ministers. For the ministry they must have a special vocation. Note: "Aaron presented his sons to minister unto the Lord," in which he acted as the type of Christ, who calls and qualifies those he sends. If the harvest be plenteous and the labourers few, the more urgently should we "pray the Lord of the harvest that he would send forth labourers." - J.A.M.
fully given and carefully set aside and publicly offered up. Generous support of the sanctuary.
I. SERVICE OF GOD'S HOUSE REQUIRES SPECIAL OFFERINGS; which should be:
1. Large and freely bestowed. Reciprocal blessings; those that give receive, and as they give, they receive.
2. The ministry should be so provided for that the service rendered be joyful and unrestrained.
3. The subordinate arrangements of the sanctuary should partake of the cheerfulness which flows from abundance. A festival of worship.
II. SANCTIFICATION OF GIFTS. Both by personal preparation and by systematic beneficence. Lay aside for God as we are prospered. God's claims should precede all others. The blessing of the sanctuary overflows into common life.
III. PUBLICITY A POWERFUL STIMULUS AND A BINDING PLEDGE. Waving, and heaving represented extent and elevation, Much in example. Our gifts should not be ostentatiously published, but yet, if held up to God, and so presented as to set forth the universality of our consecration to him, they will both glorify his Name and incite others to his service. - R.
I. THE PORTION RESERVED FOR GOD. The fat parts and the bleed were not to be eaten by man; the former must be burnt upon the altar, the latter poured out at its foot. There are claims God will not waive. The homage man owes to his Maker can never be remitted. Full trust and unfaltering obedience can be demanded only by an Infinite Being. Life must be acknowledged as dependent upon him. "The blood is the life," and for the Israelite to drink it is to be cut off from the congregation. The choicest portions belong to God. He will not put up with inferior parts. They mock him who fancy that a remnant of time and money and strength will suffice for his service.
II. THE SHARE ALLOTTED TO THE PRIESTS. God takes care of his chosen servants, provides amply for their wants. The priests devoted wholly to the work of the tabernacle shall not be forgotten, but considered as one with their Master, so that whenever he is honoured they shall be likewise thought of. To wear God's uniform is to be well eared for, to receive good wages, to be sure of a pension. Once taken into his employ, our future comfort is assured. And those who preach the gospel may claim to live by it. See this principle enunciated and inculcated in 1 Corinthians 9:7-14. Variety is secured. Food to cat, skins to wear. The atonement of the priest "covered" the sinner, and the covering of the animal was naturally appropriated to the use of the officiating priest. Both flour and flesh fell to the lot of the priests. The quality shall not be inferior. Portions are selected, the breast and the shoulder, which were counted as most delicate in flavour and nutritious in substance. Why should God's messengers yield to fear lest they should be neglected? He feedeth the ravens, clothes the lilies in splendour, and will not forsake those whom he has called to do his work in the world.
III. THE REMAINDER HANDED BACK TO THE PEOPLE. We have not to do with an avaricious, unreasonable God. He might justly have claimed the absolute disposal of all brought to his shrine as an offering, but he graciously received a "memorial" for himself and a portion for his ministers, and the rest was returned to the worshippers, consecrated, and for their festal enjoyment, Let us but acknowledge God's requirements, and we shall find that we are not debarred from the innocent pleasures of life, but can enter upon them with sacred enhancing zest. By spending money in the purchase of ointment for the Saviour, Mary did not deprive herself of all her store, but rather increased the satisfaction with which she indulged in the customary household expenses. We are sure that the widow who cast her all into the treasury was not allowed to remain utterly destitute. She had really made a profitable investment of her little capital. Emptying her hands was only preparatory to having them filled. How ennobling the thought of being sharers with God and his servants! We all partake of the same food, and are made "one bread and one body" (1 Corinthians 10:17). There is better sauce than hunger! It consists in previous dedication to God. Selfish exclusion of the rights of God diminishes the intensity and narrows the sphere of our delights. Not the miser, but the Christian donor, knows the joys of property. - S.R.A.