Thursday, January 29, 2015

#78. “The law of the leper in the day of his cleansing.” (Leviticus xiii. & xiv.).

     The great outstanding type of cleansing in Leviticus is that of the leper, given in  chapter xiv. — “The law of the leper in the day of his cleansing”.  Before we can hope to appreciate the blessing of this typical cleansing we must have some understanding of the nature of the defilement, and this necessitates a consideration of  chapter xiii.  also.   In  chapter xiii.   the priest pronounces the leper unclean, while in  chapter xiv.   he pronounces him clean.

     Alongside the main subject of the leper and his cleansing are the related subjects of leprosy in a garment or in a house.  Leprosy in the person is typical of sin within, it is indeed “deeper than the skin” (Lev. xiii. 2).  Leprosy in the garments is typical of our “habits” — the English idiom retains the figure, for we still speak of some clothing as a “habit”, e.g., “a riding habit”.  Scripture uses the figure continually.  “Be clothed with humility.”  “The robe of righteousness.”  “Put on (as clothing) the new man.”  The house speaks of relationships — home, witness, service, etc., “The house of God”, “The household of God”, “The household of faith”.  The subject matter of  Leviticus xiii. & xiv.  is disposed as follows:--

The   law   of   leprosy    (Leviticus  xiii.  &  xiv.).

A   |   xiii. 1-46.   The leper.   Pronounced unclean.
     B   |   xiii. 47-57.   Leprosy in a garment.
          C   |   xiii. 58.   Cleansing of garment.
               D   |   xiii. 59.   “The law.”
A   |   xiv. 1-32.   The leper.   Pronounced clean.
     B   |   xiv. 33-47.   Leprosy in a house.
          C   |   xiv. 48-53.   Cleansing of house.
               D   |   xiv. 54-57.   “The law.”

     Upon reading  Leviticus xiii.  one of the first impressions received is the extraordinary care that the priest must exercise in judging as to whether the person before him is, or is not, suffering from leprosy.  No hasty judgment is allowed.  No indiscriminate generalizings, for leprosy cuts a man off from fellowship with God and his neighbours, deprives him of all visible means of grace, all domestic and social privileges, and consequently it must be dealt with most carefully.  The priest is given the most detailed account of the symptoms, and his diagnosis does not depend upon his feelings or his reasoning, but upon the Word of God.  Then, observe the care that must be exercised whenever there is a doubt in the mind of the priest.

“Then the priest shall shut up him that hath the plague seven days” (Lev.xiii.4).

     If at the end of that time there is still uncertainty, the suspected person must be shut up for yet a further seven days (xiii. 5).  How this should warn us against hasty judgments, uncharitable interpretations, or biased opinions of the actions of others.

     “It is but a scab” (xiii. 6).  The whole subject is loathsome, but also is sin, and we are but looking into the mirror of the Word.  A scab may, or may not, be a cause for putting away.  The one great point that the priest was to observe was that “it spread not”.  If, however, spreading be evident, “he shall be seen of the priest again”, then, if the spreading continues, the dread sentence goes forth, “it is leprosy”.  Here is a lesson that should give us pause.  The person is pronounced leprous and unclean when the plague with which he is afflicted spreads!  If we would have this interpreted for us in spiritual language, we may heed the apostle’s statement:--

     “I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean (or common) of itself:  but to him that esteemeth anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean” (Rom.xiv.14).
     “All things indeed are pure, but it is evil for that man that eateth with offence” (Rom. xiv. 20).
     “Hast thou faith?  have it to thyself before God.  Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth” (Rom. xiv. 22).
     “We know that an idol is nothing in the world . . . . . howbeit there is not in every man that knowledge:  for some with conscience of the idol unto this hour eat it as a thing offered unto an idol ... and through thy knowledge the weak brother is perishing, for whom Christ died” (I.Cor.viii.4-11).

     While we live and walk in this world it is impossible to avoid contact with evil somewhere, and while this is to be deplored, it is but an indication of the present state of things, and the effect upon us is described in the language of the type as, it is but a “scab”.  Though by no means spiritual or right, such things are not a sufficient ground for the breaking off of fellowship, for “then must ye needs go out of the world”.  But where anything tends to “spread”, and weaker brethren are stumbled, then it is time to judge the thing and pronounce it unclean.

The   law   of   cleansing.

     While we should not too quickly turn away from the awful picture of sin given in  chapter xiii.,  our immediate object is rather the cleansing of the leper, which is given in  chapter xiv.   Referring to the structure (see above “A”), we see that the section dealing with the cleansing of the leper occupies verses 1-32.  This, we shall discover upon reading, is further divided into two sections.  First the full ceremonial (1-20), then the provision for one who might be too poor and unable to afford so much.  This, therefore, reduces our field of investigation to the first twenty verses.  The intricate detail of this passage is apt to overwhelm the reader, and he may thus miss one or two most essential distinctions.  To enable all to see these features we set out verses 2-20 as follows:--

A1   |   xiv. 2-7.   Out of the camp.
A2   |   xiv. 8, 9.   Into the camp.
A3   |   xiv. 10-20.   At the door of the tabernacle.

     It is vital to the understanding of this lesson that these three divisions shall be kept distinct.  Each has its own ceremonial, and what is done at the door of the tabernacle would be impossible either outside the camp, or during the seven days tarrying abroad in the camp.  We can now fill in the detail of each section:--

A1   |   xiv. 2-7.   Out of the camp.
               a   |   The two birds.
                    b   |   Cedar, scarlet, hyssop.
               a   |   The two birds.
      B1   |   xiv. 7.   “HE SHALL PRONOUNCE HIM CLEAN.”
A2   |   xiv. 8, 9.   Into the camp.
               c   |   Wash clothes, shave and wash flesh.
                   d   |   Seven days tarrying.
                   d   |   Seventh day.
               c   |   Shave, wash clothes and wash flesh.
      B2   |   xiv. 9.   “AND HE SHALL BE CLEAN.”
A3   |   xiv. 10-20.   At the door.
               e   |   Trespass offering.
                   f   |   Wave offering.
                       g   |   The blood applied.
                       g   |   The oil applied.
               e   |   Sin offering.
                   f   |   Burnt offering and meat offering.
      B3   |   xiv. 20.   “AND HE SHALL BE CLEAN.”

     As we observe what is said regarding the cleansing of the leper, we shall find food for thought.  In the first section he is “pronounced clean”.  In the second, he begins to take active part “that he may be clean” (verse 8).  “And he shall be clean.”  In the third, there seems at first to be a set-back.  He is spoken of as “the man that is to be made clean” (verses 11, 18 & 19), and not until atonement has been made do we read, “and he shall be clean” (verse 20).  It is evident that deep teaching is here.  May we look ever to the Lord that we may be guided into the truth.

The   two   birds.

     First let us consider the initial act of cleansing.  The margin tells us that the birds may be sparrows, and there is a possibility that the English word is derived from the Hebrew, which is tsippor.  With these two birds are taken cedar wood, scarlet and hyssop.  Perhaps we may never penetrate the typical intention, yet these things are written for our learning.  A variety of suggestions have been made from time to time, which it would serve no useful purpose to repeat here.  But two N.T. passages come before the mind that seem to point the way to the truth intended.  The spiritual equivalent of leprosy is found in the words:--

     “Hating even the garment spotted by the flesh” (Jude 23).
     “Keep himself unspotted from the world” (James i. 27).

     The flesh and the world are the two great sources of spiritual defilement, and nothing but the cross of Christ can deliver the believer from their contamination:

     “They that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh” (Gal. v. 24).
     “The world is crucified unto me” (Gal. vi. 14).

     By nature we are all defiled and unclean.  “In the flesh . . . . . and in the world” is the centre and circumference of the natural man (Eph. ii. 11, 12).  The combination of cedar and hyssop makes one think of  I Kings iv. 33,  where the whole range of the vegetable kingdom seems comprehended in the words:  “He spake of trees, from the cedar tree that is in Lebanon, even unto the hyssop that springeth out of the wall”.  Scarlet is what we know as cochineal, and the combination may indicate the world and the flesh, the contaminating agents, being placed under the power of the death and resurrection of Christ.  However this may be, the great feature of this offering is found in the two birds.

     It is not often that we have, in one offering, so vivid a picture of both the death and resurrection of Christ as we have here.  One of the birds was taken and killed in an earthen vessel over running water (the same word as “living” in verse 6), and then the living bird, together with the cedar wood, scarlet, and hyssop, were dipped into the blood of the bird that was killed:  the leper was then sprinkled seven times, and the living bird let loose into the open field.

The   two   aspects   of   cleansing.

     As a result of this, the man is “pronounced clean”.  Here is the initial cleansing.  All this while the leper has done nothing.  He is brought to the priest.  The priest goes out of the camp to inspect him.  The priest commands to take for the leper the two birds.  The priest kills the one bird, the priest dips the bird, the priest sprinkles the leper, the priest pronounces him clean.  But immediately following this extremely passive attitude comes one of personal activity:--

     “He shall wash his clothes, and shave off all his hair, and wash himself in water, that he may be clean” (Lev. xiv. 8).

     “That he may be clean.”  What does that mean?  He had been pronounced clean already, yet upon his own washing and shaving the words are added, “that he may be clean”.  The same idiom and the same explanation are found elsewhere:--

“Love your enemies … that ye may be the children of your Father” (Matt.v.45).

     Does any one understand this to mean, that a man may bring about his own regeneration by loving his enemies?  No, it is understood to mean “that ye may be manifestly the children of your Father”.  The lesson is this.  First our cleansing is entirely the work of God in applying to our need the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Then when this is done, and we are “pronounced” clean, the newly awakened soul begins to stir itself, that it may be in act, what it is in fact.  This is set forth by the washing of the clothing — the habits, and the flesh — by our own act, and the shaving off of all the hair which has been associated with the disease (see Leviticus xiii.), and  II Cor. vii. 1  is a commentary upon the type:--

     “Let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.”

     To this same Corinthian church the apostle had already written:--

     “But ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God” (I Cor. vi. 11).

     The same sequence is the same as in  Leviticus xiv.:--

I & II  Corinthians
Leviticus  xiv.
“Ye are washed.”
“Let us cleanse ourselves.”
“Pronounced clean.”
“He shall wash himself.”

     Another precious parallel is found in  John xiii. 10  where a due consideration of the two words translated “wash” is most helpful:--

“He that hath been bathed needeth not save to wash his feet,
but is clean every whit.”

The   eighth   day.

     The washing and shaving is repeated on the seventh day after the admission back into camp, and the word then goes forth, and he shall be clean.  With the eighth day, however, we seem to start all over again.  We read now of “the priest that maketh him clean”, and “the man that is to be cleansed”.  The man is now “presented” at the door of the tabernacle, and full acceptance, conscious access, real service is in view, and for that a further preparation is necessary.  In other articles we have shown that redemption (exodus) and atonement (eisodus) are complementary.  The former is set forth by the two birds, with never a word about trespass, sin or acceptance, and the latter is set forth by the full fourfold offering — trespass, sin, meal and burnt offering — fully set out in  Leviticus i.-vii.,  and analysed with some care in other articles of this magazine.  In this cleansing, the whole man is not sprinkled, but three representative members are touched, first with the blood and then with the oil.  The right ear, the thumb of the right hand, and the great toe of the right foot.  This is a symbol full of service.  The servant must hearken in order to obey, and then hand and foot are engaged in loving obedience.  All this takes place on “the eighth day”, the day of circumcision, which finds its exposition in  Philippians iii.  and  Colossians ii.:--

     “We are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh” (Phil. iii. 3).

     “In Whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the flesh (R.V.) by the circumcision of Christ” (Colossians ii. 11).

     Here is the resurrection stand.  Here is where and when the four great offerings of  Leviticus i.-vii.  have their place.  Redemption is for the sinner, atonement for the saint.  First deliverance from, and then access to.

The   oil   on   the   blood.

     Here is a most important order, a corrective to much mischievous teaching that is abroad to-day.  Sanctification of the Spirit is taught in the Word.  Cleansing by the Word is scriptural.  But the Spirit is powerless, and the Word unavailing, unless behind and beneath all is the precious blood of Christ.  An undue emphasis upon the Holy Spirit may not be from God.  It is the Spirit’s office to glorify the Son of God.  The true order in sanctification is that of  Leviticus xiv.   First the application of the blood, then the application of the oil “upon the place of the blood” (Leviticus.xiv.28).  Just as the initial cleansing of  Leviticus.xiv.2-7  underlies all that follows, so the initial sanctification by the blood of Christ underlies all progressive appreciation on our part.  The trespass offering speaks of personal acts of sin, the sin offering speaks of inherent, radical sinfulness, the burnt offering is the recognition of the satisfaction which the Father found in His beloved Son, and the bloodless meat offering, the gift of thankfulness for mercy received.

     The Lord, Who cleansed the leper, and whose once-offered sacrifice did away, for ever, with all the offerings of the law, endorsed the whole typical teaching of  Leviticus xiv.,  and bade the cleansed leper “offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them” (Matt. viii. 4).

     We do most earnestly pray that every reader, after pondering the teaching of  Leviticus xiv.  together, will appreciate perhaps more than ever the blessed meaning of the words, “The blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanseth us from all sin”.

#77. Leviticus. Some phases of holiness.

     The laws enumerated in Leviticus were all given by the Lord from Mount Sinai.  This is plainly stated four times.  At the end of  chapter vii.,  where the five great offerings are detailed, we read:--

     “This is the law of the burnt offering, of the meat offering, of the sin offering, and of the trespass offering, and of the consecrations, and of the sacrifice of the peace offering;  which the Lord commanded Moses in Mount Sinai, in the day that He commanded the children of Israel to offer their oblations unto the Lord, in the wilderness of Sinai” (Lev. vii. 37, 38).

     Again at the beginning of   chapters xxv.   and end of   xxvii.   we read:--

     “And the Lord spake unto Moses in Mount Sinai.”

     “These are the commandments, which the Lord commanded Moses for the children of Israel in Mount Sinai.”

     Throughout the book there are indications that Israel are living in camp.  Both the incidents that break into the narrative, namely, that of Nadab, and that of the blasphemer (chapters x. & xxiv.), speak of the camp, and their very introduction indicates that the actual giving of the law was in progress.

     The time occupied in the giving of the law in Leviticus is just one month.  This is discovered by referring to the following:--

     “And it came to pass in the first month in the second year, on the first day of the month, that the tabernacle was reared up” (Exod. xi. 17).

     “And the Lord spake unto Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, in the tabernacle of the congregation, on the first day of the second month, in the second year after they were come out of the land of Egypt” (Numb. i. 1).

     Under the shadow of the law and its threatenings, therefore, was given this gracious typical provision for sin.  The laws of Leviticus come with the same divine authority as the ten commandments of  Exodus xx.   The book of Leviticus contains more of the spoken words of God than any other, and while we do not intend by this statement to imply that it is more inspired than the rest of Scripture, nevertheless, the fact should give pause to any waverer who listens to the critic who relegates the whole to later times, and speaks of it as a pious forgery.  Leviticus, moreover, is quoted in forty places in the N.T. and these quotations are not confined to one section, but are found in the  four Gospels,  the Acts,  Hebrews,  Peter,  James,  Jude,  Revelation,  I & II Corinthians,  Galatians,  Romans,  Ephesians  and  Colossians.

     The fundamental basis of the book is holiness, and it is no exaggeration to say that holiness is implied in every law, every ordinance and every offering.  Qadosh, “holy”, and its variants occur over one hundred times, variously translated,  “holy”,  “hallow”,  “sanctify”,  and  “sanctuary”.   Closely allied with this holiness are the various laws and ceremonies that deal with uncleanness and purification.  Redemption from sin is not in view in these.  The great central offering for sin is seen in the institution of the day of atonement.

     As one patiently seeks out the varied laws that deal with uncleanness in Leviticus, and as the scriptural emphasis upon the many and varied causes of contamination begin to be translated by the Spirit into their spiritual equivalents, one feels like Isaiah who, in the presence of the Lord, cried, “Woe is me, for i am undone, because i am a man of unclean lips”, and more than ever are we thankful for that precious blood “that cleanseth us from all sin”.  In this book we discover that even the natural workings of the body may nevertheless be unclean, and we learn that, irrespective of any fault of our own, there are many outside sources of defilement that may render us unclean.  There is one case, where the near relation of the dead is definitely permitted to make himself unclean out of love and devotion, but, though permitted, this uncleanness is nevertheless not allowed to pass;  it must be removed, as must all other (See Lev. xxi. 1-4).

     In Leviticus, cleanness is used as a synonym for holiness, and to know this is a valuable help in the understanding of the will of God concerning our sanctification:--

     “Put difference between holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean” (Lev. x. 10).

     In  Leviticus xi.  we have the law regulating the matter of clean and unclean beasts that might or might not be eaten by an Israelite:--

     “These are the beasts which ye shall eat among all the beasts that are on the earth . . . . . and in the waters.”

     A long list is given of prohibited beast, fish, fowl and creeping thing, and then come the concluding words:--

     “Ye shall not make yourselves abominable with any creeping thing that creepeth, neither shall ye make yourselves unclean with them, that ye should be defiled thereby.  For I am the Lord your God;  ye shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and ye shall be holy;  for I am holy:  neither shall ye defile yourselves with any manner of creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.  For I am the Lord that bringeth you up out of the land of Egypt to be your God:  ye shall therefore be holy, for I am holy” (Lev. xi. 43-45).


     Another opposite to holiness, in Leviticus, is profanity.

     “They shall be holy unto their God, and not profane the name of their God” (Lev. xxi. 6, 7).
     “He shall not go in unto the vail, nor come nigh unto the altar, because he hath a blemish;  that  he  profane  not  My  sanctuaries:  for  I  the  Lord  do  sanctify  them” (Lev. xxi. 23).
     “If a man eat of the holy thing unwittingly, then he shall put the fifth part thereto . . . . . they shall not profane the holy thing” (Lev. xxii. 14, 15).
     “Neither shall ye profane My holy name;  but I will be hallowed among the children of Israel;  I am the Lord which allow you” (Lev. xxii. 32).

     The word translated “profane” is chalal, and means “to penetrate”, and so, in its more intensive forms, it means ruthlessly to violate all sacred bounds, brazenly to enter holy ground.  The adjective chol is rendered “unholy” in  Lev.x.10,  where it is placed in contrast with “holy” and “clean”:--

     “That ye may put a difference between holy and unholy:  and between unclean and clean.”

     The idea of being “common” in opposition to “sacred” can be seen in  Ezek.xlviii.12-15,  where chol is translated “profane”:--

     “This oblation of the land . . . . . a thing most holy . . . . . and the five thousand that are left in the breadth . . . . . shall be a profane place for the city.”

     That this “profane” place simply means, the place for the common people is seen by the concluding words of the verse, “for dwelling, and for suburbs”.


     Not only are uncleanness and profaneness placed in contrast with holiness, but, in the setting aside from holy service all that are physically blemished, another aspect is typified.

     “Speak unto Aaron, saying, whoever he be of thy seed in their generation that hath any blemish, let him not approach to offer the bread of his God . . . . . he hath a blemish;  that he profane not My sanctuaries” (Lev. xxi. 17-23).

     What is true of the priest is also true of the offering:--

     “Whatsoever hath a blemish, that shall ye not offer;  for it shall not be acceptable for you . . . . . it shall be perfect to be accepted:  there shall be no blemish therein” (Lev. xxii. 18-25).

     How these types force us to the blessed realization of the fulness of the Lord Jesus Christ!  Both as Offering and High Priest He was “without blemish and without spot”, “holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners”, and can we not see in  Eph. i. 4-6  the close connection between holiness, and acceptance in the Perfect One?

“That we should be holy and without blame . . . . . accepted in the Beloved.”

Holiness   and   sin.

     The removal of defilement in order to attain to holiness is set forth in a great variety of ways in Leviticus.  We have rinsing in water, washing in water, sprinkling with blood, anointing with oil, and the making of atonement, in order to cleanse.  Some of these different processes we must consider, but the only aspect we propose to notice before closing this article is a special word translated “cleanse” which shows the intimate connection between unholiness and sin:--

“And he shall take to cleanse the house . . . . .” (Lev. xiv. 49).
“And he shall cleanse the house with the blood of the bird . . . . .” (Lev.xiv.52).
“And Moses took the blood . . . . . and purified the altar” (Lev. viii. 15).

     These words “cleanse” and “purify” are the piel form of the verb chata, “to sin”, and there can be no true holiness that is not intimately connected with the sacrifice of Christ.  True, we read of the sanctification of the Spirit, and the sanctifying by the Word, but this is subsequent to, and based upon, the sanctification which is by His blood.  This we shall see more clearly in the passage we hope to consider in our next article.

Thou   shalt   put   a   difference.

     When Israel were redeemed out of Egypt, we read that the Lord “put a difference” between Israel and the Egyptians (Exod. xi. 7), and where, in  Exod.viii.23,  we read, “I will put a division between My people and thy people”, the margin reads, “(Heb.) a redemption”, for “a division”.  What, therefore, is holiness or sanctification but redemption carried to its logical conclusion?  The teaching of Leviticus is expressed in the words of  Lev. x. 10:--

     “And that ye may put a difference between holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean.”

     This putting a difference between righteousness and unrighteousness, between light and darkness, Christ and Belial, believer and infidel, is summed up in  II Cor. vii. 1,  as “perfecting holiness in the fear of God”, and separation from evil unto God, perceiving, and acting out the difference that grace has made, is the essence of true sanctification.  While the law made nothing perfect, and Levitical cleansings and offerings failed to touch the conscience, they foreshadowed the great work of Christ, “the very image”, and are a preservative against that emotional and fleshly “holiness” that passes, with some, for the real thing.  “True holiness” is ours in Christ (Eph. iv. 24).

#76. Leviticus. The book as a whole.

     In the series entitled “Redemption” in volumes XVII & XVIII we have given the five great offerings with which Leviticus opens a fairly close study.  We now pass on to a wider consideration of the book, asking all our readers to refer to the articles dealing with  Leviticus i.-vii.  in the volumes referred to above, so that their study may be as complete as possible.

     Before attempting a detailed exposition, it is incumbent upon us to seek the general disposition of subject matter, and at the outset we must confess that the task appears formidable.  However, believing Leviticus to be a part of inspired Scripture, we approach it with the same confidence that we should an epistle of Paul, expecting to find beneath the surface those evidences of its divine composition which we have observed so frequently in other parts of the Word.

     The complicated character of the book and the mass of intricate detail preclude all idea of an exhaustive analysis, but the following presents a survey of the teaching of the book without the omission or suppression of any section.

     All that is necessary at the moment is to indicate in a few words the obvious relationship of the various parts.  Leviticus opens and closes with freewill offerings.  Five great basic sacrifices occupy the opening chapters, and five separate sets of vows, and their redemption, occupy the closing chapter.  While there is not an exact parallel between these two sets of five, it is noticeable that in both cases the opening offering is the highest in character.   In  Leviticus i.  it is the whole burnt offering, entirely devoted to God.   In  Leviticus xxvii.  it is the devotion of persons, men, women or children, to the Lord.  The second offering is the meat (or meal) offering, while the second vow is the sanctification of a house.  The third offering is the peace offering and the third vow the sanctification of a field and its produce.  The sin offering and the firstling of beasts come fourth, and include one kind that can never be redeemed (xxvii.28).  Lastly we have the trespass offering and the redemption of tithes.  The fuller exposition of  Leviticus xxvii.  must await its place in the series.

     The two sections under the letters   B   and   B   should be read and compared together.  The first is occupied with the sanctifying and the service of the priests.  The second with the feasts and service that were incumbent upon all Israel.  In both there is a most impressive warning.  The sacred nature of the priest’s office is most tragically enforced by the destruction of Nadab and Abihu, when they offered strange fire before the Lord.  The equally sacred responsibility of the people is enforced by the tragic end of “the son of an Israelitish woman, whose father was an Egyptian”, who for cursing the name of the Lord was stoned to death.

     Associated with both of these groups is the law concerning clean and unclean things.   Chapter xi.  gives a long list of clean and unclean animals, and its true object is revealed in the words:  “Ye shall sanctify yourselves . . . . . make a difference” (Lev. xi. 44-47).   Chapter xii.  is occupied with the purification of women after child-birth;   xiii. & xiv.  deal with the plague of leprosy and the law of its cleansing, and  xv.  with various physical causes of uncleanness.   Chapters xviii.-xxii.,  which supplement  xi.-xv.,  take up the question of defilement and uncleanness once more, dealing with unlawful marriage relationships and unchaste acts.    Leviticuss xvii. & xix.  are concerned with the abominable rites of Molech and further unchastity,   xx.  with defilement by death and physical blemishes, and   xxi.  with the peculiar separateness of Aaron and his seed.  Once again the teaching of these chapters focuses upon the separateness of Israel:  “Ye shall therefore put a difference … I have severed you from other people” (Lev. xx. 24-26).  The two outstanding features that remain are the atonement and the punishment for sins in  chapters xvi., xvii. & xxvi.

     It would serve no useful purpose to attempt the exposition of any one feature at this stage;  we leave the outline with the prayerful student, trusting that he will not only compare it with the various outlines put forward at different times by other servants of God, but above all test it by close reference to the Book itself.  In subsequent studies we hope to deal with a series of salient features that are of importance in the school of faith.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

#75. The new covenant anticipated (Exodus xxxiv. & xxxv.).

     In preparation for the proclamation of the Name of the Lord, and the partial revelation of His glory to Moses, the Lord instructs Moses to hew two tables of stone like to the two that had been broken, and to be ready in the morning to ascend the mount.  Precautions were to be taken that neither man nor beast should be near.  This being accomplished, we read:  “And Moses rose up early in the morning, and went up unto mount Sinai, as the Lord commanded him, and took in his hand the two tables of stone” (Exod.xxxiv.4).  The proclaiming of the name of the Lord immediately followed:--

     “Then the Lord passed before him, and proclaimed, Jehovah, Jehovah God, tenderly compassionate and gracious, long-suffering and abounding in mercy and truth, reserving mercy for thousands, bearing away iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and fourth generation” (Exod.xxxiv.6,7).

     There is by no means unanimity among Hebrew scholars as to the correct reading of the phrase:  “And that will by no means clear the guilty”.  We may see by the italic type that “the guilty” are words added to complete the sense.  The words “by no means” are the rendering of an idiomatic use of the verb with which most students are familiar.  For example, “Thou shalt surely die” is a good English translation, yet literally the words are, “Dying, thou shalt die”.  Here in  Exod. xxxiv. 7,  “Clearing, He will not clear” represents the order of the words.  Spurrell translates the passage:  “And justifying the unjustified;  yet visiting the iniquity of the father”, etc.  Dathe and Boothroyd, after De Dieu, render the passage:  “And do not altogether destroy the impious.”  Boothroyd, moreover, in his “Bible” translates it:  “Clearing him that is not clear.”

     There is no essential difference between “clearing the guilty” and “justifying the ungodly”.  The introduction of the words, “That will by no means clear the guilty”, in some measure nullifies the gracious words that precede.  There we read that the Lord forgives or “bears away” the iniquity, transgression and sin which constitute a person guilty.  Surely, it is the blessed truth taught alike to Abraham, Moses and David, and made abundantly plain by Paul in  Romans.iii.&.iv.,  that He Who bears away our sin does “clear him who is not clear”.

     The proclamation of the name Jehovah involves a two-fold attitude to sin:  an attitude of graciousness, mercy, long-suffering and faithfulness in bearing away sin, yet, by no means condoning sin or compromising God’s own Holiness.  This shows that sin, though it be forgiven, often leaves behind a crop of trouble that must be reaped.  For example, David was forgiven, yet as a result of his sin, even though forgiven, war never departed from his house.  Moses was forgiven, but he nevertheless never entered the promised land.  So here, sin will be forgiven, yet the iniquity of the fathers is visited upon the children.  The sins of a believer to-day are forgiven, but the effects of his sin go on.

     Once more we see Moses grasping the intention of the Lord by faith, and daring to urge yet more grace:--

     “And Moses made haste, and bowed his head toward the earth, and worshipped.  And he said, If now I have found grace in Thy sight, O Lord, let my Lord, I pray thee, go among us:  FOR IT IS A STIFF-NECKED PEOPLE;  and pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us for Thine inheritance”  (Exodus xxxiv. 8, 9).

     Surely Moses knew that God did “clear him who is not clear”.  Look at the holy boldness that faith possesses when standing on the ground of grace.  The Lord had said that the reason why He would not remain with Israel was that they were “a stiff-necked people”  (Exod. xxxii. 9,  xxxiii. 3 & 5),  yet Moses, with the vision of the glory still fresh and the proclamation of the name of the Lord still present to his memory, urges this as a reason for the Lord to alter His threat, to turn away His wrath and to go among them once more.  Truly, the principles of grace and merit are at the two extremes.

The   re-stated   covenant.

     Following this manifestation of grace the Lord re-states covenant conditions in verses 10-17, following it up in verses 18-26 with a selection of the commandments which are the working out of the terms of the covenant.  It will be observed that, in this new statement, practically one item only is stressed, the matter of idolatry and the making of a covenant with idolaters.  Every covenant must have at least two parties, with mutual obligations.  Consequently verses 10-17 are distributed under the pronouns “I” and “Thou”.

     The omission of the remaining nine commandments from these words of the covenant does not imply that they were not repeated (see verse 28), but the insistence upon the first commandment would cause Israel to realize that the worship of God alone was the first essential.  No amount of obedience to any other command would compensate for the breaking of this, the essential clause.

     When Israel came out of Egypt many marvelous plagues attended their deliverance;  but the Lord says here that He will, in the working out of this covenant, “do marvels”, and that it will be a “terrible thing” that He will do with Israel.  Moreover these marvels will be such as have not been seen in all the earth, nor in any nation.  There are hints of this scattered throughout the history of Israel.  A very definite statement is found in  Micah vii. 15-17:--

     “According to the days of thy coming out of the land of Egypt will I show unto him marvelous things.  The nations shall see and be confounded at all their might:  they shall lay their hand upon their mouth, their ears shall be deaf.  They shall lick the dust like a serpent, they shall move out of their holes like worms of the earth:  they shall be afraid of the Lord our God, and shall fear because of thee.”

     It is evident, when we survey the teaching of Scripture, that these unprecedented marvels are not described in their full import until we reach the book of the Revelation.  When we compare the opening of the Revelation with the original covenant of Sinai, we perceive the change that is brought about by the changed covenant:--

     “Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles wings, and brought you unto Myself.  Now, therefore, if ye will obey My voice indeed and keep My covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto Me above all people:  for all the earth is mine;  and ye shall be unto Me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation” (Exod. xix. 4-6).

     This is the original covenant, and upon hearing its term Israel said, “All that the Lord hath spoken we will do” (Exod. xix. 8).  Alas, the flesh cannot fulfil such promises.  But a few weeks pass and Israel break the covenant and are threatened with extinction.  Though the people will never become a kingdom of priests on the terms of their own law-keeping, the words of  Revelation i.  indicate that by the grace of God, and through the redemption of Christ, they will ultimately attain to this glorious position:

     “Unto Him that loveth us and loosed us from our sins by His own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and His Father, to Him be glory and dominion for ever and ever, Amen” (Rev. i. 5, 6).

     The covenant of marvels is fulfilled by the Lord in this book of the Revelation.  The vials of His wrath are poured out upon the earth and,  sun, moon and stars share in the judgment.   Micah vii.  tells us that the nations shall come out of their holes like worms.  Revelation tells us that they shall hide themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains (Rev. vi. 15).

     What Israel failed to attain by law, they shall reach through redeeming love:  and this re-stated covenant of  Exodus xxxiv.  follows the wonderful exhibition of divine forbearance and forgiving grace revealed at the intercession of Moses.

     Following the new terms of the covenant of marvels is a repetition of one or two commandments that arise out of it.

     The commandments so put forward, and thereby emphasized and enjoined upon this people, are as follows:--

     1.  The four feasts that mark out their ecclesiastical year.—Unleavened bread is a reminder of their separation from evil unto the Lord, but the statement in verse 25 concerning the unleavened sacrifices would remind Israel that it is by the blood of atonement, and not by the works of the law, that they can ever hope to find acceptance.  The last feast, the ingathering, symbolizes all Israel’s hope, and keeps it before them.

     2.  Redemption.—This is selected for repetition.  The firstborn of man and beast belong to the Lord.  This, as we find by referring back to  Exod. xiii. 12-15,  was ordained to keep perpetually in mind the deliverance of Israel and the slaying of the firstborn in Egypt.  The firstling of an ass did not come into the same class as the firstling of an ox or sheep, for the ass was not an animal fit for sacrifice.  It must either be redeemed by the sacrifice of a lamb, or its neck must be broken.  All firstborn sons, too, like the ass must be redeemed.

     The injunction at the close against seething a kid in its mother’s milk, guards the mind against what might appear indifference to animal suffering or cruelty.  God’s commands concerning animal sacrifices were necessitated because of sin, but He would have His people follow the paths of love and kindness.

     3.  The observance of the sabbath knew no exceptions.—Ploughing and harvesting are exacting periods in the life of an agricultural people, nevertheless, however pressing the apparent need, the seventh day sabbath must be preserved.  It was, as we have seen, a sign between Israel and the Lord.

     4.  The first of the firstfruits were to be given to the Lord.—This is much in line with the many customs still existing in virtue of which some tangible tribute is paid annually to an overlord in recognition of his dues and demands upon the fealty of the one in covenant.  As we shall see later, these firstfruits were a foreshadowing of resurrection.

     What was the effect upon Moses of this new covenant of graciousness?  The skin of his face shone.  He could not but catch something of the glory.  True, both the record here and the inspired comment in  II Corinthian iii.  show that the glory was transient, yet it foreshadowed the fuller blessings of the new covenant where they who behold the glory of the Lord with unveiled face are transfigured.  Moses, we are told, “wist not that the skin of his face shone”.  To boast of modesty is to be immodest.  To parade humility is to be proud.  True sanctity walks hand in hand with conscious unworthiness.  Boldness of access by reason of the faith of Him, and fear and trembling when working out that salvation, go together.  Paul did not know his own greatness.  He rather marveled at the grace given to the least of all saints.  David was a man after God’s own heart, but he knew what it was to pray for forgiveness of deep and awful sin.

     Others will take knowledge of us when we have been in the presence of the Lord, just as the priest who had been offering incense would carry some of the fragrance with him on returning from the sanctuary.

     The section concludes with one more reference to the sabbath, this time particularizing its effect in the household:--

     “Ye shall kindle no fire throughout your habitations upon the sabbath day” (Exod. xxxv. 3).

     The law of the sabbath suited Israel’s land.  Even the law concerning fires on the sabbath would mean sickness and death if applied to a northerly country such as England.  The climate of this country would not allow the sabbatic year to be kept, unless the Lord accompanied the command with perpetual miracles.  But these are particular features of the covenant made between the Lord and Israel.

     After this last reference to sabbath rest, the remainder of Exodus is occupied with the description and making of the tabernacle under the guidance of Bezaleel and Aholiab.  When the work was finished, the gracious promise of the Lord’s presence was kept:--

     “Then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle” (Exod. xl. 34).

     The closing words of Exodus tell us that the token of the Lord’s presence never again left the people.  He Who led them out, led them in.  The redeemed of the Lord have no need to plead for His leading, for it is theirs as part of His one great act of love.  What they need is eyes to see the cloud and the fire, and hearts responsive to the indications of His will.

     Thus  all  things  are  now  ready  for  the  great  covenant  worship  with  which  the  ten commandments open.  The book of worship, so far as details are concerned, is the book of Leviticus, and this must be our next study.

#74. The presence and the glory (Exodus xxxiii.).

     We take up the narrative at the point where the Lord promised to send His angel to go before Israel, but said that He Himself would not go up in the midst of them, lest He consumed them in the way.  These were “evil tidings”, which brought about a general mourning.  No man put on his ornaments, for the wearing of these was a sign of rejoicing, as abstention therefrom was of mourning.  The Lord said to Moses:  “Say unto the children of Israel, Ye are a stiff-necked people;  if I had come one instant among you, I had destroyed you (Horsley and De Wett):  therefore now put off thy ornaments from thee, that I may know what to do with thee” (Exod. xxxiii. 5).  Here we have, set forth in symbol, the necessity for repentance.

     Following this manifestation of repentance came the removal of the “tent” without the camp, indicating the necessity for separation from the prevailing ungodliness, a witness-bearing by active association.  This “tabernacle” must not be confounded with the tabernacle already so fully described, for that was not then made.  This one is called “The tabernacle of the congregation” (or “assembly”).  The LXX translates this, “The tabernacle of witness”, and although there is no apparent connection between “congregation” and “witness”, we do not get the full intention of the Hebrew word moed unless we include the idea of testimony.  Ed is the Hebrew word translated “witness” in  Exod. xx. 16;  eduth is the word translated, “the tabernacle of witness” in  Numb. xvii. 7.   Moed, translated “congregation” in  Exod. xxxiii. 7,  is rendered in  Gen. i. 14  “for seasons”, and in  Gen. xvii. 21  “at this set time”;  also “feasts”, “set feasts”, “solemnly”, etc.

      This removal of the tabernacle “without the camp” was itself a witness, and the congregation that worshipped there was no longer “all Israel”, but “every one that sought the Lord went out unto the tabernacle of the congregation which was without the camp”.  It is plainly around this feature that  Heb.xiii.13  is written, and about this self-same separation that the great cloud of “witnesses” are arrayed in  Hebrews xi.    In this separated congregation we have in germ the idea of a church, “a  called-out company” as ekklesia means.  Exodus xxxiii. 8-11  must be read as a description of what happened subsequently, that is, when the true seeker after God had given his testimony by going without the camp.  Then, each time after that, when Moses entered the tabernacle to communed with the Lord, these same men (and possibly others following their example) rose and worshipped, every man in his tent door.  There is a precious lesson here.  By his act of separation and devotion, each man turned his own dwelling-place into a sanctuary, much as the early church worshipped in houses, remembering all the time that their great Mediator was in the presence of God, and outside the camp.

     There is strong emphasis here upon communion with God:  “And the Lord spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend” (Exod.xxxiii.11).  What a glorious contrast to the obscene worship of the golden calf!  Here is no visible image, just a small tent, and the cloudy pillar to indicate the presence of the Lord.

     This peculiar prerogative of Moses is mentioned more than once, to show how specially favoured and honoured he was:--

     “If there be a prophet among you, I the Lord will make Myself known unto him in a vision, and I will speak unto him in a dream.  My servant Moses is not so, who is faithful in all Mine house.  With him I will speak mouth to mouth, even apparently, and not in dark speeches;  and the similitude of the Lord shall he behold” (Numb. xii. 6-8).

     It is among the last things said of Moses, at his death, that “there arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face” (Deut.xxxiv.10).

     Moses now faces the altered conditions, and seeks of the Lord guidance and renewed assurance:  “See Thou sayest unto me, Bring up this people, and Thou hast not let me know whom Thou wilt send with me.  Yet Thou hast said, I know thee by name, and thou hast also found grace in My sight” (Exod.xxxiii.12).  Here we are permitted to hear the communion of Moses with his God.  How blessedly simple, intimate and direct it is!  Moses neither overrated his own abilities, nor under-estimated the task before him.  How was it possible, he argued, to reconcile such a task with the favour in which he stood with the Lord?  So he continues:  “Now, therefore, i pray Thee, if i have found grace in Thy sight, show me now Thy way, that i may know Thee, that i may find grace in Thy sight:  and consider that this nation is Thy people” (verse 13).

     Let us observe that Moses does not tell the Lord what to do, nor does he even voice his own conscious need of the Lord’s presence, but just asks, “Show me now Thy way”, adding, as an additional plea, “Consider that this nation is Thy people”.

     There is no reference in the Lord’s first answer to the “way” or the “people”, but He met Moses’ initial fear and need by saying:  “My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest” (verse 14).  Moses had before him, perhaps a task more gigantic than has ever since fallen to man to perform, but here, at the outset, he is assured of rest.  From now onward he may enjoy a continual sabbath, for the word for rest here is used by the Lord in  Exod. xx. 11.   So, when Moses responded to this gracious word of God, he did not speak of “bringing” up the people of Israel himself, but of the Lord “carrying” them:  “If Thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence” (verse 15).

“I   will   give   you   rest.”

     Here service takes on a new form — a more blessed form — it becomes fellowship.  We cannot do better than turn to  Matthew xi.  to obtain an illustration of the principle set forth here.  The whole setting of this chapter is one of doubt, disappointment and triumphant trust, John the Baptist had sent from prison saying:  “Art thou He that should come, or do we look for another?”.  The generation that had seen the Lord’s miracles and heard His words is next compared to fractious children who will neither mourn at funerals nor rejoice at weddings.  The cities of Chorazin and Bethsaida are rebuked for their unbelief, and it is then, at that time, and in these circumstances, that we read:  “At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank Thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.  Even so, Father:  for so it seemed good in Thy sight” (verses 25, 26).  It is in this setting and context that the words of comfort follow:  “Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me;  for I am meek and lowly in heart:  and ye shall find rest unto your souls.  For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light” (verses 28-30).

     The following sentences taken from With Christ in Palestine, by A.T.Schofield,M.D., are suggestive:--

     "I was looking at a very good commentary as to what ‘yoke’ is supposed to mean here, and I found it means ‘fellowship, restraint, and subjection’.  No doubt these are three minor uses of a yoke . . . . . but the chief great primary use of a ‘yoke’ is seldom grasped by Christian people;  most are so occupied with the secondary uses I have named that its great purpose is entirely missed.  A yoke first of all is a contrivance to enable oxen to pull a load along the road or across the field;  ‘yoke’ is simply another word for ‘harness’.  Harness is not put upon an animal primarily for subjection or restraint or fellowship;  it is put on to enable it to draw a load.
     Speaking now for a moment as a physician, who sees a great many nervous and broken-down people of all sorts, I find that the greater number are not only sick in their bodies, but also sick in their minds, and what they mostly suffer from is a complaint which I call ‘sore neck’.
     What, then, had made the neck sore?  It is that the collar either does not fit, or it has not been properly padded . . . . . Christ has come to us and says, It is not enough for you to come to Me as weary and heavy laden and find rest for your conscience in Myself:  you want some means of shielding your heart from all the petty worries and troubles . . . . . and all the contrariety and meaningless vexations of this world of sorrow . . . . . When the yoke is easy then the burden is light.
     What, then, is this yoke padded with?  The two materials mentioned are meekness and lowliness of heart . . . . . I take it, meekness is our attitude towards man, and lowliness is the attitude towards God."

     It is something of this that we find in  Exod. xxxiii. 15:  “And he said unto Him, If Thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence”.  Now it is in connection with the very fact that the Lord had spoken to Moses face to face, that we meet the statement:  “Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth” (Numb. xii. 3).  It is evident that this meekness is displayed on many occasions when lesser souls would have given way to impatience.  But alas for human nature!  the meekest man on earth spoke unadvisedly with his lips and failed;  One only could ever be the “perfecter of faith”.  Moses reasoned that the presence of the Lord was the great evidence of His favour:--

     “For wherein shall it be known here that I and Thy people have found grace in Thy sight?  Is it not in that Thou goest with us?  So shall we be separated, I and Thy people, from all the people that are upon the face of the earth” (Exod.xxxiii.16).

The   positive   side   of   sanctification.

     “So shall we be separated.” — Here is a word in season for us all.  Separation is, too often, a matter of “separation from”, a negative thing, whereas it should be “separation to”, the positive truth.  Fellowship with the Lord is the great antidote to worldliness, but separation from worldliness alone has produced Pharisees and founded monasteries.  Hebrews xiii. 13,  the oft-quoted passage, does not merely say:  “Let us go forth therefore without the camp”.  What it does say is:  “Let us go forth therefore unto Him without the camp.”

       Israel’s separation from the nations was evidence by their observance of clean and unclean meats:  “I am the Lord your God, which have separated you from other people.  Ye shall therefore put a difference between clean and unclean” (Lev. xx. 24, 25).  Israel’s separation brought about this observance.  It was because the Lord had separated them, that “therefore” they made the difference.  Israel were not permitted to intermarry with the Canaanite, but this abstention did not make them separate.  They abstained because they had been separated:  “Neither shalt thou make marriages with them . . . . . for the Lord thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto Himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth” (Deut. vii. 1-6).

     The sanctification which is summed up in a series of negatives is not the real thing.  That is not scriptural sanctification which merely does not do this, does not go there, does not drink this, for we are solemnly warned against the false system which says:  “Touch not, taste not, handle not.”  Our positive sanctification is found in Him, and proceeds from this alone.

     The Lord’s answer to Moses reveals the value, in His sight, of true intercession:  “I will do this thing also that thou hast spoken:  for thou hast found grace in My sight, and I know thee by name” (Exodus.xxxiii.17).

Show   me   Thyself!

     Answered prayer beget prayer.  The Lord’s promise of His presence stimulates Moses to a further request: “And he said, i beseech Thee, show me Thy glory”.  What is the true burden of Moses’ request?  Together with Israel, he had seen the glory of the Lord manifest upon Sinai, and in the cloud.  Moreover, he had entered into the presence of the Lord, and the Lord had talked with him face to face, and the similitude of the Lord he had seen.  Yet, upon the gracious promise of the Lord’s presence with him, he is emboldened to press further and say:  “Show me Thy glory.”

     The word “show” involves seeing.  A similar request is found in  Song.of.Solomon.ii.14,  “Let me see Thy countenance”.  Moses said, “Let me see Thy glory”.  He evidently sought something fuller than he had experienced hitherto.  He had been “shewed” the pattern of the tabernacle;  this was something he had “seen”, and in the Lord’s answer to this request he uses the same word, saying, “My face shall not be seen” (Exod. xxxiii. 23).  Earlier in Exodus we have means adopted “lest the people break through … to gaze”.  When Moses, Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and the seventy elders ascended the Mount, we read that “they saw the God of Israel”.  In the passage we are considering Moses must have desired something more than had been vouchsafed on the earlier occasion.  Moses said, “Let me see Thy glory”.  The Lord answered:--

     “Thou canst not see My face” (Exod. xxxiii. 20).
     “While My glory passeth by, I will put thee in a clift in the rock, and will cover thee with My hand, while I pass by:  And I will take away Mine hand, and thou shalt see My back parts:  but My face shall not be seen” (Exod. xxxiii. 22, 23).

     Does it seem evident that in this passage “glory” and “face” are interchangeable in some way?  Spurrell translates  Exod. xxxiii. 18-23  as follows:--

     “Furthermore he said:  O show me, I pray Thee, THINE OWN SELF! ... then will I turn aside . . . . . this the hollow of My hand, and thou shalt behold Me retiring, but My face shall not be seen.”

     This was the fullest revelation that could then be given to any mortal man.

     The prayer of Moses is answered for us all in  II Cor. iv. 4 & 6:--

     “The light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, Who is the image of God . . . . . the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the FACE OF JESUS CHRIST.”

     That this is connected with   Exodus xxxiii. & xxxiv.  is seen by a reference to  II Corinthian iii.   There we read of the passing glory of the old covenant, and the failing glory of the face of Moses (II.Cor.iii.7).  All that the Lord could do for Moses was to let His goodness pass before him and proclaim the Name of the Lord before him.  Moses needed protection from the fuller personal revelation of the Lord, and the clift in the rock and covering hand might well speak to Moses of his need of Christ.  The glory of the law fades in the presence of “the glory that excelleth” (II Cor. iii. 10, 11).  It was nevertheless a gracious revelation to Moses.  The proclamation of the Name, its effect upon Moses, the altered covenant, and the summary of its terms given in  Exodus xxxiv.,  must be reserved for our next paper.