And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God!
~ John 1:36
And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering? And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together.
~ Genesis 22:7-8
But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:
~ 1 Peter 1:19
And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.
~ Revelation 5:6
He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.
~ Isaiah 53:11
Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;
~ Hebrews 1:3
A Commentary of the Book of Leviticus, by Andrew Bonar. The following contains an excerpt from his work.
BEHOLD THE LAMB OF GOD, THAT TAKETH AWAY THE SIN OF THE WORLD.
John i. 29.
The Burnt Offering
The tabernacle was that tent whose two apartments, separated by the veil, formed the Holy place, and the Most Holy. This 6 tabernacle” was God’s dwelling-place on earth; where he met with men—the token of his returning to man after the fall. It was here that “ the voice of the Lord God” was often heard, as in Eden, in the cool of the day.
Ver. 1. “And the Lord called unto Moses, and spake unto him out of the tabernacle of the congregation, saying.”
The cloud that guided Israel* had descended on the tabernacle; and while this pillar stood over it, the glory of the Lord filled the Holy of Holies within. (Exod. xl. 34.) Rays of this glory were streaming out all around, perhaps like the light that shone from Christ’s form the holy Mount,” through his raiment, till the whole hill shone. Out of the midst of this “excellent glory” (2 Pet. i. 17) came the voice of the Lord. He called on
* In Exod. xl. 34-38, we have the general history of this cloud; not the narrative of its motions on a particular occasion.
Moses as at the bush; and having fixed the undivided attention of Moses on him that spake, Jehovah utters his mind. What love is here! The heart of our God, in the midst of all his own joy, yearning to pour itself out to man!
The date of these laws is probably a few days after the tabernacle had been set up. They are given not from Sinai, though at its foot (see chap. xxvii. 34); but from over the mercy-seat, from between the cherubim, where the glory had so lately found a resting-place. Perhaps this intimated that all these institutions about to be given bear on the same great subject, viz., Atonement and its effects. Sinai and its law, a few weeks before, with the dark apostasy in the matter of the golden calf, had lately taught them the necessity of reconciliation, and made their conscience thirst for that living water. And it is given here. The first clause of this Book declares a reconciled God :-” The Lord called to Moses,” as a man to his friend.
Ver. 2. Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, If any
man of you bring an offering unto the Lord ye shall bring your offering* of the cattle, even of the herd and of the flock.”
When the Lord said, “ Speak to the children of Israel,” instead of himself addressing them, it taught the people their need of a Mediator. It was as if he had said, These things are addressed to sinners who cannot see my face or hear my voice, except through a daysman.
The offerings first spoken of are those that are to be wholly consumed, types of complete exhaustion of wrath. In these cases, everything about the animal was consumed, sinews, horns, bones, hoof, the wool on the sheep’s head, and the hair on the goat’s beard. (Willet.) Hence they were called Whole burnt-offering’s, “Sloxavtomata.” God prescribes the symbols of atonement, even as he fixes on the ransom itself. It is a sovereign God that sinners are dealing with; and in so doing, he fixed on the herd and the flock, as the only class of cattle (tana), or four-footed beasts, that he would accept. If we are to inquire into a reason for this beyond his mere sovereignty, there are two that readily present themselves as every way probable. First, oxen, sheep, and goats (the herd and flock), are easily got by men, being at their hand. He did not wish to make them go in pursuit of beasts for offering, for salvation is brought to our hand by our God. Second, the characteristics of these animals fit them to be convenient types of various truths relating to sacrifice. The ox taken from feeding by the river-side, or the sheep from its quiet pastures,—perhaps from among the lilies of Sharon,was an emblem of the Redeemer leaving the joy and blessedness of his Father’s presence, where he had been ever “by the streams that make glad the city of God.” Another reason has been assigned,* viz., all these were horned animals. Whether in the East such were reckoned more valuable than other animals we cannot say. It is, at least, worthy of notice, that the horn, which is the symbol of power and honor, is found in them all.
* The Septuagint render this “ Tpoooltete Ta dwpa úpī.” Hence, perhaps, Heb. viii. 3, gifts and sacrifices.”
Ver. 3. “ If his offering be a burnt-sacrifice of the herd, let him offer a male without blemish ; he shall offer it of his own voluntary will, at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, before the Lord.”
“ A male,” representing the second Adam, – without
* See Guild’s “ Moses Unveiled.”
blemish.” Christ, by his one offering, makes his church spotless (Ephes. v. 27), and, therefore, he was to be so himself…
In the peace-offerings it was different: for these typified rather the effects of Christ’s atonement on the receiver than himself atoning; and the animal, in that case, might have some defect or blemish, even as the effects of his work may be imperfectly experienced by the sinner, though the work itself is perfect. But whatever speaks of Christ himself must speak of perfection. “Before the Lord,” is an expression ever recurring: it is remarkable that it should occur so often.
But perhaps it was because the Lord meant thus to insert a Divine safeguard against the Socinian idea, that sacrifice chiefly had reference to the offerer, not to God. Every sacrifice is brought before “the great Inhabitant of the sanctuary.” So also this expression guards us against Popish error, as if ministers of Christ are priests in the same sense as the line of Aaron. No; ministers of Christ approach men in behalf of God, who sends them as ambassadors, but these priests approached God in behalf of guilty men. “ He shall offer it of his own voluntary will.” * The Gospel warrant is, “Whosoever will, let him come.” There must be a willing soul; none but a soul made willing in the day of his power pays any regard to atonement. The Lord allows all that are willing to come to the atoning provision. “Are you thirsty for the living God? for yonder altar’s sacrifice ?” might some son of Aaron say to a fearful soul. The fearful conscience
* Some translate this, “ He shall offer it in order to be accepted.” I do not think this meaning can be proved to be the true one, although the Septuagint generally renders the expression « δεκτον έναντι Κύριου ;” and the Oxford ΜS. here has « δεκτον αυτω εξιλασθαι έναντι Κυριου.”
replies, “I cannot well tell if I be really thirsty for him.” “But are you, then, willing to go to yonder altar ?” “Yes, I am.” “ Then you may come; for read Leviticus i. 3, and see that it is neither riches, nor poverty, moral attainment nor deep experience, but simply a conscience willing to be bathed in atonement, that is spoken of by the God of Israel.”
Come then with the sacrifice to “the door of the tabernacle.” The altar was near the door of the tabernacle; it faced it. It was the first object that met the eye of a worshipper coming in. The priest met him there, and led the offerer with his sacrifice on to the altar. The presenting any sacrifice there was a type of the worshipper’s object being to get admission into the presence of God by entrance at that door. (“Access,” Eph. ii. 18.) Thus the offerer walked silently and with holy awe to the door of the tabernacle, and there met his God.
As a type of Christ, it would declare Christ’s willing offering of himself;—”Lo, I come ;’—and how he was, in the fulness of time, led silently as a lamb to the slaughter. For we are to distinguish between the presentation of Christ before he went forth, and the presentation of himself after all was done.
Ver. 4. “ And he shall put his hand upon the head of the burnt-offering; and it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him.”
This action of the offerer gives us a view of faith. The offerer puts his hand on the same head whereon the Lord’s hand was laid, and thereby agrees to all that is implied in his choosing that offering. God and the believing soul meet at the same point, and are satisfied by the same display of the Divine attributes.—“He shall put his hand.”* It is yet more forcible in the Hebrew, -“He shall lean his hand” (720?), the very word used in Psalm lxxxviii. 7, ” Thy wrath leaneth hard upon me.”
We lean our soul on the same person on whom Jehovah leant his wrath.
When the worshipper had thus simply left his sins, conveyed by the laying on of his hand upon the sacrifice, he stands aside. This is all his part. The treatment of the victim is the Lord’s part. The happy Israelite who saw this truth might go home, saying, “I have put my hand on its head ; it shall be accepted as an atonement.” Faith in the Lord’s testimony was the ground of an Israelite’s peace of conscience, nothing of it rested on his own frame of mind, character, or conduct.
Ver. 5. “ And he shall kill the bullock before the Lord; and the priests,
Aaron’s sons, shall bring the blood, and sprinkle the blood round about upon the altar that is by the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.”
It is interesting to notice here, that Outram, Witsius, and others seem to have proved that, in Patriarchal ages, every man might offer his own sacrifice. Heads of families, and heads of a tribe or nation, often acted for those under them; but the idea that the first-born were the only priests is without foundation. The Patriarchal age was taught that every man must take Christ for himself personally. In the Mosaic economy, however, this is
* We make no reference, here or elsewhere, to Jewish traditions as to the manner in which the thing was done, and the words used. It is strange that Ainsworth, Patrick, Outram, and others, should waste so much time in this department. Are these traditions anything more than human fancy,—often, too, of a somewhat modern date? Augustine judged well when he said, “ Quid scriptura voluerit, non quod illi opinati fuerint, inquirendum.”
altered. There is another truth to be shown forth. Any one (2 Chron. xxx. 17,) might kill the animal-any common Levite, or even the offerer himself-for there may be many executioners of God’s wrath. Earth and hell were used in executing the Father’s purpose toward the Prince of Life. But there is only one appointed way for dispensing mercy; and therefore only priests must engage in the act that signified the bestowal of pardon.
The animal is “killed” in the presence of the Lord. And now, what an awfully solemn sight!
The priest “brings forward the blood.” As he bears it onward, in one of the bowls of the altar, all gaze upon the warm crimson blood! It is the life! So that when the blood is thus brought forward, the life of the sacrifice is brought before God! It is as if the living soul of the sinner were carried, in its utter helplessness and in all its filthiness, and laid down before the Holy One!
The blood was then “sprinkled round about upon the altar.” The life being taken away, the sinner’s naked soul is exhibited! He deserves this stroke of deathdeath in the Lord’s presence, as a satisfaction to his holiness! As the blood that covered the door on the night of the Passover represented the inmates’ life as already taken, so the blood on the altar and its sides signified that the offerer’s life was forfeited and taken. It was thus that Jesus “poured out his soul unto death” for us.
It was, further, “ round about,” as well as “upon,” the altar. This held it up on all sides to view ; and the voice from the altar now is, “Look unto me and be saved, all the ends of the earth.” All within the camp might look and live ; for this sacrifice represents Christ’s dying as the only way for any, and the sufficient way for all.
The altar mentioned here was the “ altar of brass,” not the “golden altar,” which stood in the Holy Place.*
Ver. 6. “And he shall flay the burnt-offering, and cut it into his pieces.”
Here, again, any one might act, as well as the priest; for any of God’s creatures may be the executioners of his wrath. ” He shall flay.” The skin torn from off the slain animal may intimate the complete exposure of the victim, uncovered, and laid open to the piercing eye of the beholder. But specially, it seems to show that there is no covering of inherent righteousness on the person of the sinner. While the skin was unwounded, the inward parts were safe from the knife; thus, so long as man had personal righteousness interposing, no knife could pierce his soul. But the taking away of the victim’s skin showed that the sinner had no such protection in God’s view; even as the bringing of such skins to Adam and Eve, after the Fall, showed that God saw them destitute of every covering, and had, in his mercy, provided clothing for them by means of sacrifice.
The “cutting it into pieces” would leave the sacrifice, at last, a mangled mass of flesh and bones. Entire dislocation of every joint, and separation of every limb and member, was the process. By this the excruciating torment due to the sinner seems signified. God’s sword Abraham’s knife-spares not the sacrifice; but uses its sharpness and strength to pierce and destroy to the uttermost. The slashing sword of wrath leaves nothing to the guilty ; but, as “one woe is past, behold another woe cometh quickly.” Yet it is into his pieces.” There was an order observed a regularity and deliberate, systematic procedure. So will it be in the damnation of hell; every pang will be weighed by perfect holiness, every stroke deliberated upon ere it is inflicted. And, in truth, this deliberate infliction is the most awful feature of justice. It leaves the sufferer hopeless. The stroke is awfully relentless, determined, righteous! Such, too, were the Saviour’s sufferings. Every part and pore of his frame were thus mangled; every member of his body, every feeling of his soul. There was not an action of his life, or desire in his heart, but was combined with woe. And all so just, that from the cross he lifts his eyes to his Father, and looking on him as he had ever done, cries, “But thou art holy !” (Psa. xxii. 3.)
* See some remarks on the brass of this altar in a note, Chap. xiv. 5.
Ver. 7. “And the song* of Aaron the priest shall put fire upon the altar, and lay the wood in order upon the fire.”
This verse is well illustrated by Heb. ix. 14, “Who, through the Eternal Spirit, offered himself without spot to God.” Christ was prepared, in his human nature, by the Holy Spirit. The Father prepared the fire of wrath, filled the vial with that wrath, and then poured it out. The Holy Spirit, as Heb. ix. 14 declares, set all things in order, in Christ’s human nature, ready for the vial being poured out. At the moment, when the fire came down and consumed him, love to God and man was at its highest pitch in his soul-obedience, holy regard for the Divine law, hatred of sin, love to man.
The wood, taken by itself, is not a type of anything; but it must be taken thus: the laying the wood in order preparatory to the fire coming. In this view it represents what we have just said.
* We sometimes see mistakes committed in representations of Tabernacle scenes. Levites are made to act as priests, and Levites are exhibited blowing the silver trumpets. But all this was the duty of Aaron’s sons alone. True, they were Levites, but they were the priestly family am the Levites. Priests are Levites, but all Levites are not priests.
The fire was from that fire which descended from the cloudy pillar. It was, therefore, divinely intended to show “the wrath of God revealed from heaven” against all ungodliness of men. Indeed, the fire from the bosom of that cloud was no less than a type of wrath from the bosom of God against him who lay in his bosom. See Chap. vi. 9, and ix. 24.
Ver. 8. “And the priests, Aaron’s sons, shall lay the parts, the head and the fat, in order upon the wood that is on the fire which is upon the altar.”
The fat did, of course, help the flame to consume the head, notwithstanding the gushing stream of blood. But what is the type? The head was that whereon the offerer leant his hand, conveying to it his load of guilt. The fat (979) is a word that occurs only thrice, viz., here and ver. 12, and chap. viii. 20. Some understand it to be the midrif; others, the fat separated from the rest of the flesh; but there is no way of arriving at the certain import. The type, however, is obvious. The head and this fat are two pieces,-one outward, the other inward—thus representing the whole inner and outer man. Christ’s whole manhood, body and soul, was placed on the altar, in the fire, and endured the wrath of God. There could be no type of his soul otherwise than by selecting some inward part to signify it; and that is done here by the “fat.” It is on the fat, too, that the fire specially kindles. It is at the man’s heart, feelings, and desires that God expresses his indignation most fully. It is the heart that is desperately wicked. It is the carnal mind that is enmity against God. *
Ver. 9. “But his inwards and his legs shall he wash in water : and the priest shall burn all on the altar, to be a burnt-sacrifice, an offering made by fire, of a sweet savor unto the Lord.”
Answerable to the “head and fat” of the former verse, as parts representing the inward and outward, we have here the legs and the intestines. The legs and intestines may be supposed to be selected to mark outward and inward defilement-man’s polluted nature needing to be washed in water. But why wash these in water, if they are to be burnt? Because here is a sacrifice for others—” the just for the unjust” —Christ taking our place. Now, lest anything should seem to indicate personal defilement in him, these portions are washed in water, and then presented. Christ’s body and soul, all his person and all his acts, were holy. His walk was holy, and his inmost affections holy.
Such was the sacrifice on which the fire came! See Isaac on the wood ! but the knife has pierced this Isaac! -in symbol, the original and immutable sentence, “Thou shalt die.” Here is death ; and it has come in such a manner as not to leave a vestige of the victim’s former aspect.
The victim is all disfigured, and has become a mass of disjointed bones and mangled flesh, because thus shall it be in the case of the lost in hell. The lost sinner’s former joy, and even all his relics of comfort, are gone forever-no lover or friend would ever
* The North American Indians long practised sacrifice, and D. Brainerd, in his Journal, tells us of a great sacrifice where “they burnt the fat of the inwards in the fire, and sometimes raised the flame to à prodigious height.”
be able to recognize that lost one. Even as it was with Jesus when he took the position of the lost; his visage seemed to every eye more marred than any man, and his form more than the sons of men. But, lo! as if even all this were not expressive enough, that mangled mass is committed to the flames, and in the consuming flame, every remaining mark of its former state disappears. All is ashes. So complete is the doom of the lost—as testified on this Altar and fulfilled by Jesus when he took the sinner’s place. That smoke attests that God’s righteousness is fully satisfied in the suffering victim. His blood -his soul—is poured out! and the flame of Divine wrath burns up the suffering one. The smoke ascends _”a sweet savor to the Lord.” He points to it, and shows therein his holy name honored and his law magnified. It is sweet to Jehovah to behold this sight in a fallen world. It reminds him (so to speak) of that Sabbath-rest over the first creation (Gen. ii. 2,) only this is deeper rest, as being rest after trouble. This “sweet savor” is literally “ savor of rest” (1117? ???); as if the savor stayed his wrath and calmed his soul. So Eph. v. 2. And, at the view of that ascending smoke, more joyful hallelujahs are sung than will be heard over the smoke of the pit. (Rev. xix. 3.) For here love has free scope as well as righteousness. What a rest will the millennial and heavenly rest be, when, in addition to other elements, it has in it this element of perfect satisfaction! “He shall rest in his love.” (Zeph. iii. 17.)
Such, then, is the “ox and bullock that has horns and hoofs” (Psa. Ixix. 31); and such, too, the meaning of the offering The antitype set forth in Psa. lxix. has magnified the name of the Lord, and set aside the type.
Ver. 10. “And if his offering be of the flocks, namely, of the sheep or of the goats for a burnt sacrifice, he shall bring it a male without blemish.”
It appears that wealthier men generally selected oxen as their offering ;* and men less able took sheep or goats; while ver. 14 shows that those yet poorer brought doves. God thus left the sacrifice open alike to the rich, the middle classes, and the laboring poor. For in Jesus Christ there is neither Greek nor Jew, barbarian nor Scythian, bond nor free; he is within reach of all alike. Our High Priest welcomes sinners under the wide name, “ Him that cometh” (John vi. 37); the advancing footsteps of a sinner to his altar, whether he be great or small, is a sweet sound in our Aaron’s ear.
Here is specially included the offering of the Lamb. Morning and evening this was done by the priest for all Israel. “He was led as a lamb to the slaughter.”+ (Isa. liii. 7.) Every day that picture was exhibited to Israel.
Ver. 11. “ And he shall kill it on the side of the altar northward, before the Lord; and the priests, Aaron’s sons, shall sprinkle his blood round about upon the altar.”
There is a peculiarity here which does not occur in the sacrifices of the herd, namely, it is to be killed on the north side of the altar. One obvious reason seems to be this, there was a necessity, for the sake of order, that there should be a separate place for killing the oxen and the sheep. No quarter of the heavens was sacred; and since, at other times, the sacrifice was presented on the east side, a variety like this answered the purpose of proclaiming that Jesus is offered to any soul in any nation, east or north, i. e. from east to west, north to south; his death is presented to the view of all, to be believed by men as soon as they see it. 66 Look unto me and be ye saved, all ends of the earth.”*
* That is, oxen were always part of their sacrifice. Thus Numbers vii. and 1 Chron. xxix. 21.
An old writer asks, why Christ is called so often “the Lamb of God,” and not “the ox, or the ram, of God.” The reply is; because these were not offered“ every day,” whereas the lamb was a daily offering, and therefore fitted to proclaim Christ’s blood as always ready for use. It being the type of innocence would be another reason.
Ver. 12, 13. “And he shall cut it into his pieces, with his head and his fat; and the priest shall lay them in order on the wood that is on the fire which is upon the altar. But he shall wash the inwards and the legs with water: and the priest shall bring it all and burn it upon the altar : it is a burnt-sacrifice, an offering made by fire, of a sweet savor unto the Lord.”
The sheep or goat is not commanded to be “flayed,” as ver. 6 commands as to the ox or bullock; perhaps because flaying signified the defencelessness of the victim left without a covering. Now, the sheep or goat is, by its very nature, defenceless enough. Our attention, therefore, in this type, is rather fixed on the complete stroke of the knife, that separates all into its pieces ready for the fire. When the Lord said, “Awake, O sword, against my shepherd!” (Zech. xiii. 7,) the Saviour was smitten to the very soul, and wrath came down on him like fire.
In ver. 13, the words, ” and shall bring it all,” intimate the solemn care with which the priest advanced to the spot and lighted the wood, attending to every point, although his offering was one of the flock, and not of the herd. This clause seems intended to put equal honor on the offering of the flock as on that of the herd, for the antitype is all that gives either of them any importance.
* Some have tried without success to discover a deeper meaning the north,” and have suggested that the omission of it in Psa. lxxv. 6 strengthens this idea. But in that passage “south” also is omitted, the Hebrew being 427an, “ from the desert ;” referring to the caravans, which, amid all their rare commodities, never brought the gift spoken of.
The other particulars are the same as those mentioned vers. 7-9.
How simple the rules laid down for ordering his favorite type, the lamb! But let us not fail to notice that the use made of the lamb is what we are chiefly called to observe-not the lamb itself in particular; as if to show that it is not Christ’s meek nature, but Christ, the meek and lowly one, in his connection with the altar, that we ought to be reminded of by the name of “ Lamb.” If it had been his character only, or chiefly, that was referred to in that name, “Lamb of God,” there would have been no propriety in typifying him by the “ox,” and the “goat.” But, if the manner of his death and the intention of his sufferings were mainly referred to, then all is appropriate.
Burnt Offering of Fowls.
Ver. 14. “ And if the burnt-sacrifice for his offering to the Lord be of fowls, then shall he bring his offering of turtle-doves, or of young pigeons.”
In John ii. 14, we find this third class of offerings referred to, along with the other two-oxen, sheep, and doves.
From chap. v. 7, we learn that the poorer class were to bring this sort of sacrifice. “ To the poor the Gospel is preached.” And ministers must be as solicitous for the salvation of the poor as of the rich.
The dove or pigeon was to be a male ; for the Hebrew word for “young pigeons” is (tan) “sons of the dove.” Thus it was fitter to represent Christ. And, of the winged tribes, none were ever taken for sacrifice, except the dove and the turtle-dove. These abounded in the Holy Land, so that the poorest could get them easily.* They were fitted, also, to be emblems of Jesus, just as was the lamb. He is undefiled and holy, full of love and tenderness; therefore the dove is his type. And as the dove at the Deluge brought the message of peace, and as the turtle dove is the known emblem of peace, because its voice is heard from the olive-tree (itself the type of peace), in quiet, calm security, so, on this ground more especially, they are the better types of Jesus. The previous suffering of the offered dove, or turtle, represents Christ suffering ere he enters into peace, and becomes the peace-maker. Taken from his Father’s bosom, he comes to suffer. The dove, “ by the rivers of water” (Song v. 12), in peace and joy, is caught, and wrung to death on the altar. The olive-groves must be searched, and the turtle-dove taken from its own happy, peaceful olive-tree. It is then violently brought to the altar, and left lifeless there! Thus it was with Jesus. But from this suffering and death of the Peaceful One results “peace on earth.” “He is our peace.” (Eph. ii. 14.) He breathes out on us nothing less than his own peace -“My peace I give unto you.” (John xiv. 27.) And soon, too, as the grand and wide result of all, “the voice of the turtle (the herald of spring and of storms
* In the course of my ordinary visits in the country, I one day sat down to converse with a poor illiterate believer, at whose board a beautiful tame pigeon used to feed. I opened the Bible at this passage, and showed this type of a suffering Saviour. It seemed to be specially blessed—she long remembered this type of Jesus: and in this simple incident, there seemed to me discernible something of the wisdom and goodness that so provided for the poor of Israel.
past) shall be heard in our land” (Song ii. 12); and, the deluge of fire being passed, this dove shall bring its olivebranch to announce to the new earth that wrath is forever turned away. Christ, who died to make peace, shall reign in peace, over a peaceful earth, which his own blood has made the dwelling of righteousness.
He of whom these things are spoken, when on earth showed, from such Scriptures as these, that he needed to suffer unto death. “Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer” (Luke xxiv. 46), said Jesus, while showing the things written in the law of Moses concerning himself.
Ver. 15. “And the priest shall bring it unto the altar, and wring off its
head, and burn it on the altar; and the blood thereof shall be wrung out at the side of the altar.”
The method of putting the dove to death must be regulated by the nature of the victim; hence, here it is by “wringing off its head.” But this arrangement is the better fitted to exhibit another feature in the death of Jesus, viz., the awful violence done to one so pure, so tender, and so lovely. We shrink back from the terrible harshness of the act, whether it be plunging the knife into the neck of the innocent lamb, or wringing off the head of the tender dove. But, on this very account, the circumstances are the better figure of the death of Jesus. “He had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth; yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him.”
After this, “the blood was to be wrung out” (squeezed or pressed out) over the side of the altar, till it ran in a crimson stream down the altar’s side, in view of all. Then it collects at the foot of the altar; and there is a cry, like the souls under the altar in Revel. vi. 9, against the cause of this bloodshedding, viz., sin. A testimony against it sounds up into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth. But his blood speaketh better things than the blood of Abel, or the cry of the martyred ones; for the response to this cry of blood is not vengeance, but pardon to man.
It was the priest who performed this apparently harsh and cruel act, for the Father bruised Jesus, and the priest acts in his name.
Ver. 16. ” And he shall pluck away his crop with his feathers, and cast it beside the altar, on the east part, by the place of the ashes.”
The crop, containing the food, seems to be considered unclean, because an emblem of man’s appetites. Now, as there was nothing of man’s sinful appetites in the Holy One, there must be nothing even in the type, that might lead us to suppose that he was otherwise than perfectly holy. Hence “the crop” is removed.
…feathers,” also, are removed, because they are a covering to the dove; and it must be left quite unsheltered when the drops of the storm fall thick and heavy upon it. These are to be cast “ to the place of ashes,” out of sight of God; and thus the dove is offered, in a state of purity and of unprotectedness, on the altar.
Ver. 17. “And he shall cleave it with the wings thereof, but shall not divide it asunder; and the priest shall burn it upon the altar, upon the wood that is upon the fire: it is a burnt-sacrifice, an offering made by fire, of a sweet savor unto the Lord.”
“ The cleaving” (you) implies such a separation as is not complete. It is only dislocation, but not disruption of the parts, as is also explained in the clause, “but shall not divide it asunder.” In this we see another typical circumstance. It is like that in the case of the paschal lamb-“A bone of him shall not be broken.” At the same time, this type gives us, in addition, a reference to the Saviour’s racked frame on the cross, when he said, “ All my bones are out of joint.” (Ps. xxii. 14.) All this seems intended to declare that Jesus, in his death, was whole, though broken,” sin for us,” but no sin in him.”
“ With the wings thereof,” to show nothing left whatsoever that could be means of escape-total weakness. Jesus said, as he suffered, “I am poured out like water.” (Ps. xxii. 14.)
And this sacrifice is “ of a sweet savor to the Lord.” It satisfies the Father well-So much so, that we find his redeemed ones called by the name that refers us back to the sacrifice. For example—the Church is called “the dove,” Song ii. 14. So- Deliver not the soul of thy turtle-dove into the hands of the enemy.”” (Ps. lxxiv. 19.) Just as both Christ and his Church are called “the lily,” in Song ii. 1, 2; and both his voice and theirs is ” like the voice of many waters” in th: book of Revelation. (Comp. Revel. i. 15; xiv. 2 ; xix 6.) If the Church says, “Behold, thou art fair, my beloved (1717), yea, pleasant’ (Song i. 16,) it is in response to Christ, who had said, “ Behold, thou art fair, my love (“n3n); behold, thou art fair.” So truly one is Christ and his people, they are in a manner identified! “Lord, thou art my righteousness, and I am thy sin; thou hast taken from me what was mine, and given me what was thine.” 4 ‘ Ω της γλυκείας ανταλλαγής, ώ της ανεξιχ. νιαστου δημιουργιας, ώ των απροσδοκήτων ευεργεσιών !” (Epist. ad Diognet. 9.) “Oh, sweet exchange! Oh, unsearchable device! Oh, benefits beyond all expectation!”
And now, looking back on this chapter, let us briefly notice that the rudimental sketch of these offerings and the mode of their presentation, will be found at the gate of Eden. Some have sought for their origin* in Egyptian ceremonies, at one time imitated, at another purposely opposed. But this is altogether erroneous.
Davison, on “ The Origin and Intention of Primitive Sacrifice,” refuses to admit that sacrifice in the patriarchal time was identical in meaning with sacrifice in the Mosaic dispensation-admitting that, if that identity could be made out, the Divine origin of sacrifice would be proved. Now, is there one text in all the Bible to show that sacrifice (which Davison gladly admits had in it the atoning principle in the institutions of Moses) ever has more than one meaning? As well might we ask evidence to prove that “ to call on the name of the Lord” in the days of Enos was quite a different act from “calling on the name of the Lord” in the days of the Psalmist; or that “righteousness” in Abraham’s day (Gen. xv. 6) was different from “righteousness” in Paul’s days. (Rom. iv. 3.) Just as we believe the Hiddekel and Euphrates of Genesis ii. are the same as the Hid. dekel and Euphrates of later history; and the Cherubim of Genesis iii. the same as those in the tabernacle; and the “sweet savor” of Genesis viii. 21, the same as that in Leviticus i. 9, and Ephesians v. 2 ; so do we regard the intention of sacrifice as always the same throughout Scripture. There would therefore be need, not of proof to establish this principle, but of argument to refute it. Ours is the obvious and common-sense principle. All these ordinances were parts of the one telescope, through which men saw the Star of Bethlehem from afar. In Mosaic rites, the telescope was drawn out farther than at Eden, and the focus at which the grand object could be best seen was more nearly found. But the gate of Eden presents us with the same truths in a more rudimental form.
* Vide Spencer, &c.
Some have traced the outlines of the Mosaic ritual at the gate of Eden in the following manner: Within the gate stood the cherubim, occupying the hallowed spot where the Tree of Life waved its branches. This resembled the Holy of holies, and the veil that prevented the approach of any one from without was the flaming sword, flashing its sheet of fire on every side. But opposite to this sword, at some distance we see an altar, where our first parents shed the blood of sacrifice-showing in type how the barred-up way of access to the Tree of Life was to be opened by the blood of the woman’s bruised seed. On this altar, bloody and unbloody offerings were appointed to be presented in their season. And when we find clean and unclean noticed (Gen. viii. 20), and in Abraham’s case (Gen. xv. 9, 10), the heifer and goat, the turtle and the pigeon, and also “commandments, statutes, and laws” (parallel to ch. xxvi. 46), we cannot but believe that these fuller institutions in Leviticus are just the expansion of what Adam first received. The Levitical dispensation is the acorn of Eden grown to a full oak. If so, then may we say, that the child Jesus, wrapped in his swaddling-clothes, was, in these ceremonies, laid down at the gate of Eden!