And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,…
We gain three truths from these verses.
I. THE PRIMARY TRUTH, INTENDED FOR THE HEBREW NATION. The special instruction contained in this passage is that the altar of God was to be honoured in every possible way; therefore to be preserved from everything that would bring it into disregard; and therefore to be unapproached by any priest who had a bodily blemish. It was impossible for the people to dissociate the altar itself from those who ministered thereat; if, therefore, any physical disfigurement had been allowed, and those who were uncomely or misshapen had been permitted to officiate, the sacred ordinances of God would have suffered, in some degree, from the association in thought of the man with the thing. The priest with a blemish might not "come nigh unto the altar,... that he profane not my sanctuaries" (verse 23). We may learn, in passing, that it is almost impossible to overestimate the influence for good or ill which is unconsciously exerted by those who minister, in any function, in the Church of Christ on the popular estimate of their office.
II. THE SECONDARY TRUTH, APPLICABLE TO US ALL. In a typical system it is necessary that the body should frequently represent the soul, the organs of the one picturing the faculties of the other. The requirement of a perfect bodily frame on the part of those who "approached to offer the bread of their God" (verse 17), intimated to them, and now indicates to us, the essential and eternal truth that the beast is to be brought to the service of God: not that with which we can most easily part, but the very best that we can bring.
1. Not the unattractive service ("flat nose," "scabbed," etc.), but that which is as beautiful and inviting in its form as we can make it.
2. Not unacquaintance with our subject ("a blind man"), but the fullest possible acquisition and understanding.
3. Not an example which is defective, a walking which is irregular (a "lame man," "crookbackt), but an upright, honourable demeanour, walking in the commandments of the Lord blameless."
4. Not a feeble and faltering delivery ("brokenhanded"), but a facile, skilful "handling of the Word of God." We may note, before we pass, that the God whom we serve is expectant, but is not inconsiderate. He who refuses to allow a priest with any blemish "to approach to offer the bread of his God," expressly desired that such priest should "eat the bread of his God, both of the most holy, and of the holy" (verse 22); be might not serve, but he should not suffer, on account of a bodily misfortune. God requires of us that, in approaching him, we should bring not our exhaustion but our freshness, not our hurried but our patient preparation, not our remnants but our substance, not our worthless belongings but our worthiest self; at the same time, he makes every allowance for our weakness, our infirmity, our human feebleness and frailty: "he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust."
III. A FURTHER TRUTH, RELATING TO THE FUTURE LIFE. We dare not hope to render to God any absolutely unblemished, service here. "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves" (1 John 1:8). Here our holiest services are marred by spiritual imperfection. It should be our aim, our prayer, our endeavour, to make our worship, our work, and our life as little blemished as may be; to make all our service as elevated in spirit and motive as may be; and doing this, we may look confidently and joyously onward to the time when "his servants shall serve him" in the very fullness of their strength and joy, and when their service shall be not only undimmed by any gathering tear, but unstained with any rising thought of sin. - C.
Parallel VersesKJV: And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,