« AnteriorContinuar »
LEV. 1. 1—3. HE Levites were all of the tribe of Levi, one of the twelve tribes of Israel ; they were also of the family of Aaron, who descended from that tribe. These were all employed in various sacred
services in the sanctuary, and their lives were wholly set apart to these services.
For a long time the patriarchs were priests in their own families, and offered up sacrifices ; but by divine appointment the family of Aaron was now set apart to perform all sacred duties, as there was a large congregation, and a Tabernacle in which they were to assemble.
This book treats of the duties which the priests and Levites were to perform.
In this chapter you may read the account of the burnt-offering.
You will see that it was to be “a male without blemish ;" that is, the best of the herd, for we ought always to serve God with the best of everything. Then it is said, " he shall offer it of his own voluntary will, at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, before the Lord;"_to teach us, that if We do not serve God with all our hearts, our service is not pleasing in his sight.
It is also said in the fourth verse, “ And he," that is, the person who offers the sacrifice, “shall put his hand upon the head of the burnt-offering; and it shall be accepted for him, to make atonement for him.” Now in doing this, it was to signify that he deserved to die as the poor beast was to die; but that he begged of God to accept the life of the animal instead of
his life. And God did so; having respect to the death of his dearly beloved Son Jesus Christ, who is called “the Lamb slain from before the foundation of the world.” There is no doubt that as we look back by faith to the merits of his death, so good men then looked forward, through these ceremonies, to him who in a future time should come to redeem Israel.
Now you may better understand the meaning of that verse of a hymn which is often sung in many congregations
“My faith would lay her hand
On that dear head of thine,
And there confess my sin."
But some persons were too poor to bring a bullock to be sacrificed when they offered a burnt-offering, and then they were to bring a calf, a sheep, a goat, a kid, or even a lamb—a “ turtle dove," or a “young pigeon.” So that the poorest were not neglected by a merciful God, and were taught alike to look to the same way of salvation. The rich and the poor both alike need a Saviour, and Jesus Christ, who is "the Lamb of God," is "rich in mercy" to all them that call upon him.
LEV. II. 1–3. The meat-offering was of five sorts :—1. Simple flour and meal. 2. Cakes and wafers ; that is, very thin bread. 3. Cakes baked in a pan. 4. Cakes baked on the frying-pan, or probably a gridiron. 5. Green ears of corn parched.
In offering their meat-offerings, the Jews owned God as the giver of all the fruits of the earth.
There was to be no learen or yeast in this offering ; for that ferments and produces corruption, and our offerings to God must be pure. There was to be salt with all the sacrifices; for it seasons things and makes them savoury, teaching us again that our good things must be presented to God.
All these things are called typical—that is, they are meant to show to us other things of much more importance than they themselves ; just as a picture shows us the likeness of a real person, but you know it is not the person.
Lev. III., IV., V., vi., vir. As the sacrifices very much resembled each other, all having respect to the great sacrifice of Christ, we need not explain them any more, separately. Only it will be well for you to remember, that when we read about the killing of the animals, and the sprinkling of blood upon the altars, and the offering of fruits, and the burning of different parts, and the giving of other parts to the priests, and a number of other particulars; though at first sight they may not seem to be very interesting, yet they are very much so, when we can find out their meaning; and this is not left to our fancies, but we may know it by looking at other parts of the Bible. For instance, we read in the ninth chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews, “For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh; how much more shall the blood of Christ, who, through the eternal Spirit, offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God ?”-in other words, if the blood of the animals offered by the priests under the law given by Moses, had so much virtue, that it removed uncleanness and guilt, or sin and guilt before God, he having promised it should do so because he had commanded it; then how much more shall the precious virtue of the blood of Jesus Christ, who died to save sinners, and through the power of his Spirit sustained all our load of guilt, which no mere human creature could have borne ;-how much more shall the virtue of his sacrifice take away all guilt from the conscience arising from sinful deeds, so that you may with pleasure serve the living God !
Again, we read in the same chapter, that “ CHRIST was once offered to bear the sins of many." For other sacrifices were offered from time to time, as offences occurred, and there were even daily sacrifices; but when Christ died on Calvary, he died once for all, and all sacrifices then ceased. For, it is worthy of your notice, that soon after Christ had died on Calvary, the Jewish nation was, for their hardness of heart against God, destroyed and scattered abroad in all countries, as they are to this day. The Romans, then a great power, were God's instruments to effect this; and then their temple was destroyed, in which their sacrifices were offered, and the tribes were mixed all in confusion; so that the tribe of Levi could soon no longer be known, to offer sacrifices. But Christ had made them needless: they had all along been as guides to lead to him; and now he was slain, thoso
who would be saved, must by faith trust on the benefits of his death, “ who himself bare our sins in his own body on the tree."
Think what a labour and expense all these sacrifices must have been ; and what a burden of ceremonies was taken away, when the Saviour closed, as it were, the book of the Law, and opened to us that of the everlasting Gospel, which says only, “ Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.”
You will find a number of seemingly trifling instructions given to the priests in performing their duties and offering the sacrifices, and perhaps some may be difficult to understand; but you must never forget that they teach us this one great truth,—they point, as it were, to Jesus Christ, and say, “Behold the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world.”
There are some customs not yet noticed, which must also be explained before we proceed. In the fourth chapter we read that the bullock offered in sacrifice was to be burnt without the camp. The Israelites, you know, lived for a long time in tents in the wilderness, and when these tents were all pitched together, they formed what is called a camp-looking like a number of little cottages standing in rows. The carrying of the bullocks outside the camp to be burnt, was intended to signify that sin is a very offensive thing.
The priest had committed a sin, he had laid his hand on the head of the animal and confessed it; the sin was thus considered as laid on the beast, and the bullock was made vile. It also expressed that this sin was now taken away and the camp was purified from it. Now, the writer to the Hebrews says, “It is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sins.” No; they only did this as a type or picture of what Christ afterwards did in reality. So in the Hebrews this custom is thus explained :—“For the bodies of those beasts whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest, for sin, are burned without the camp. Therefore, Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate.” When the Jews dwelt in houses, and worshipped in the Temple at Jerusalem, these bodies were carried outside the gates of the city; and when Christ, the great sacrifice, was offered up, it was on Mount Calvary, which was outside the gates of that city. This will help further to show you the meaning of these sacrifices, and how nearly the type, or thing representing, was like the antitype, or thing which had been represented.
Consecration and Duties of the Priests.
LEV. VIII., IX. Moses, in the way in which he was commanded, consecrated, or set apart, Aaron and his sons to be priests, and to offer up the sacrifices of the people of Israel.
There is one thing which ought to be noticed in this place, that you may understand its meaning, because it appears at first to be a very odd kind of ceremony. After the ram of consecration was slain, “ Moses took of the blood of it, and put it upon the tip of Aaron's right ear, and upon the thumb of his right hand, and upon the great toe of his right foot;" and then he did the same also to Aaron's sons. This is generally supposed to mean, that the priest's ears should be holy, and that his hands should be employed in holy work, and his feet should tread in holy ways; and as the blood was to touch each part, that the blood of the atonement, shed on Calvary, as it were, touching our hearts by believing in it, alone can render our services acceptable and pure in the sight of God. Every little thing here commanded had, without doubt, some interesting meaning.
Awful Judgment on Nadab and Abihu.
LEV. X. 148. See here the consequence of not minding the commands of God. Nadab and Abihu had just been appointed priests, and it was a part of their duty to burn incense, as an emblem or sign of prayer (which, if offered aright, ascends to heaven), and especially of the merits of Jesus Christ, which always plead in heaven for them that pray for blessings on his account.
But Nadab and Abihu disobeyed the command of God; for they not only took the incense of their own accord, when he “commanded them not,” but they presumptuously disregarded what God had said about burning incense on the altar of incense, as it is recorded in the ninth verse of the thirtieth chapter of Exodus—“Ye shall offer no strange incense thereon.” Moses had not given them any of the incense which he had ordered to be made according to the Divine direction, so that they must have used some common kind of incense; besides this, instead of taking sacred fire from the altar, which had been kindled with fire from heaven, they took strange fire, probably from that with which the flesh of the peace-offering was boiled, as Moses commanded Aaron and his sons, as mentioned in the eighth chapter and the thirty-first verse.