And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,…
Cf. Ephesians 4:30; 1 Thessalonians 5:19. We have here sundry sacrificial laws enabling us the better to understand the details of the preceding sacrifices; but the cardinal idea in them all, as we shall now see, is that which heads this homily, "Quench not the Spirit." And -
I. THE FIRE OF THE BURNT OFFERING WAS TO BE CAREFULLY PRESERVED, SO THAT IT SHOULD NEVER GO OUT. This necessitated a regular removal of the ashes to the clean place selected for their reception without the camp. These ashes represented what would not ascend in the fire, and were a fitting symbol of the dross and corruption which attaches to all human services. Everything which would prevent the fire from burning was to be removed. Now, we have already seen that the fire of the altar symbolizes the Holy Spirit. It is what came from God in the first instance, and what renders the sacrifice acceptable. Hence the lesson about the perpetuation of the altar-fire is to remove everything which would hinder or would quench the free action of the Spirit within us. The purer we try to be, the freer will the movements of the Holy Ghost be within us. On the other hand, negligence in life must interrupt the spiritual action. Let us diligently use every means, like the priest laying on the wood and clearing away the ashes from the altar, and the Holy Spirit as a fire within us will make us ardent and enthusiastic in the Divine life.
II. NEW OBEDIENCE OUGHT TO BE AS HOLY IN OUR EYES AS ATONEMENT. This principle is symbolized for us in the details about the meat offering (verses 14-18). For the priests are not only to burn carefully the due proportion upon the altar, but also to prepare the remainder for themselves without leaven, and to regard it as a "holy of holies" (קֹדֶשׁ קָדָשִׁים), like the sin offering and the trespass offering. If, then, we saw reason to regard the meat offering as emphasizing the idea of consecrated life-work, this direction to the priests about regarding the meat offering as just as holy as the sin offering or trespass offering, embodies the idea that "new obedience" should be as holy in our eyes as "atonement." Now, there is no principle more likely to please the Holy Spirit, to foster his indwelling, and to maintain his reign. The whole Christian life is elevated in tone when this ideal is comprehended. The perfection of our Saviour's atonement and righteousness is to be the model of our lives.
III. A CLASS IS NEEDFUL WHOSE SELF-DENYING LIVES ARE ABOVE SUSPICION. This seems taught by the arrangement that the meat offering of the priests must be wholly burnt (verses 19-23). The life-work is to be all consecrated, all a dedicated thing. Never are the officers of God to be "off duty," "out of season" as well as "in season" should they serve God. Now, the self-denial of a class of men, if realized, goes far to secure the continuance and blessing of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of self-denial - this is the most important evidence of his work - and the demonstration of this to men is a concomitant of his abiding. It need hardly be observed - it is so evident - that Jesus, our Great High Priest, realized self-denial in all its fullness. He could say, as none other can, "My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work" (John 4:34). Every portion of our Lord's life-work was laid upon the altar, permeated with the oil of the Spirit, and enveloped in the incense of prayer. It is for priestly believers to follow in his steps.
IV. THE CONSECRATING POWER OF THE ATONING SACRIFICE SHOULD BE KEPT CONSTANTLY IN VIEW. In the remaining verses (verses 24-30), we have brought before us the intense holiness of the sin offering. It is to be regarded as a "holy of holies" (קֹדֶשׁ קָדָשִׁים). In ordinary cases the priest, is. to. eat. that which, remains, after God's share has been offered on the altar, to sustain him in his atoning duties, and to sustain also his sense of consecration. In the more important cases, such as are referred to in Leviticus 4:1-21, the remainder of the animal was to be carried out to the clean place outside the camp, and burned there in the place of the ashes. Moreover, every person and thing which touched the flesh was thereby consecrated, So intensely holy was the atoning sacrifice, that it pervaded with its sanctifying power everything in contact with it. That this is typical is clear. A similar but much more real consecration attaches to the atoning sacrifice of Christ. And this great truth must be kept in view if we would preserve the Spirit within us. To separate consecration from the atoning work of Jesus must ever be grieving to the Spirit, whose chief mission is to take of the things of Christ and show them unto men (John 16:14, 15). We have thus discovered in these miscellaneous laws what course we should follow, if the Spirit is not to be quenched within us but is to abide. We must diligently use the appointed means, we must have the highest possible ideal of a consecrated life, and we must give all honour to the atoning sacrifice of Jesus. In such circumstances we shall retain, in large and abiding measure, the Holy Spirit within us. - R.M.E.
Parallel VersesKJV: And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,