THE MALE ELEMENT IN SACRIFICE
The form of individual approach was prescribed : it was not left to taste or inclination. A man disposed to bring an offering would be in the mood to ask, “What shall I offer?” just as a person inclined to make a present would ask, “What shall I give?” A person wishing to make a present would desire to offer what would be acceptable. In the case of a human being, it would not matter much, because a gift of any kind would be likely to be in some degree acceptable: but in the case of a human being approaching God, it is different—the relation of the parties being so different. The difference is in some degree illustrated by the difference between a common neighbour and a royal personage. Anything might do to give to the former, but only what court etiquette would allow would be permissible for the latter. If so with a human dignitary, how much more with God, the Creator, the Holy, and the sinned against?
“If any man of you would bring an offering to the Lord, ye shall bring”—thus and so: not anything that might occur to the offerer, but that which is required. Cain brought of the fruits of the ground: Abel brought of the firstlings of his flock: God accepted the latter, but not the former (Gen. 4:3–5). It is probable that Abel’s offering was a conformity to revealed requirement, while Cain’s would be in accordance with his own ideas of what was suitable. If it was “by faith” that “Abel offered unto God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain” (Heb. 11:4), we have to remember that faith acts upon revealed requirements.
The Israelite desiring to make an offering to the Lord was to bring it “of the cattle, of the herd, and of the flock” (Lev. 1:2). It must be a living creature put to death in the act of offering, with the blood poured out at the altar foot. The explanation was given afterwards: “It is the blood that maketh atonement for the soul”—“for the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls” (Lev. 17:11). The pouring out of the blood was the pouring out of the life, and therefore an acknowledgment on the part of the offerer that he was worthy to die. It was a typical declaration of that righteousness of God which was proclaimed in Christ in the one great offering as the basis of forgiveness (Rom. 3:25–26).
“If his offering be a burnt sacrifice of the herd, let him offer a male without blemish” (Lev. 1:3). The sex feature is prominent in all the appointments of the law. The numbering of Israel applied to males only (Num. 1). So with the law of the firstborn (Exod. 13:12), “every male shall be the Lord’s”; So with the three annual feasts: “three times a year shall all your males appear before the Lord” (Exod. 23:17; Deut. 16:16). The seal of the covenant was imprinted in the flesh of the males only (Gen. 17:10). On the other hand, the female, in cases of vow, was to be assessed at a smaller value than the male (Lev. 27:4–7), and in the case of the birth of a daughter, the mother was to be a longer time in purification (Lev. 12:7) A female animal could not be used for sacrifice except for peace offering (Lev. 3:1, 6) or for the sin of one of the common people (4:28, 32; 5:6).
As all these things have an allegorical significance, we naturally desire to penetrate the meaning. Where shall we find it? We are probably not far away from it when we read “Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection … for Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression” (1 Tim. 2:11–14). “The man is the image and the glory of God, but the woman is the glory of the man. For the man is not of the woman, but the woman (taken out) of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman, but the woman for the man” (1 Cor. 11:7–9). Here are historical facts and moral responsibilities at the beginning of human history that in-weave themselves with the whole work of God with the race. Of course, the modern school, with their “new woman” racing hither and thither and posing in attitudes and relations for which she is unfitted by nature, will rebel against these divine appointments, Mosaically recorded. They might as well fight against gravitation. Woman was secondary in the purpose for which she was formed, and she was influential in deflecting man from the path of obedience which he probably would have observed if left to himself. If God has chosen to preserve the memorial of these facts in the constitution of things He has established among men, who can make demur?
Man has the first place all the way through, especially in the one great institution that brings man back to God in reconciliation. It was to be in a man and not in a woman that the righteousness of God was to be declared for the putting away of sin by forgiveness. It was to be by the obedience of one man that justification was to be provided for believing and obedient sinners, and not by the obedience of one man and woman, although it was by the disobedience of one man and woman that death entered the world —not that the law was laid down to Eve: it was to Adam the command was addressed: “Thou shalt not eat”: but Eve considered herself included (Gen. 3:2), and was, in fact, included as one flesh with Adam (2:23). So in the case of the last Adam—the remover of sin: his bride, the Lamb’s wife, shares the victory achieved by him when it has been decided at the judgment-seat who constitute such.
In both cases, it is the male that is the subject of direct operation. Though there is neither male nor female in Christ Jesus, it is by a man and not by a woman that life has come, though she is instrumentally contributory: for as she was the beguiler of Adam, to the death and ruin of both of them, so she is made his rescuer, in being made use of in a virgin descendant of the House of David to bring the Saviour into the world. Male and female are thus coordinate in the scheme without interfering with the headship appointed in the beginning. As Paul beautifully expresses it in his letter to the Corinthians: “Nevertheless, neither is the man without the woman, nor the woman without the man, in the Lord. For as the woman is of the man, even so is the man also by the woman; but all things of God” (11:11). There is congruity in all the ways of God when the relations established by His law are observed. Man is the head, but only for nurture and protection and honour of the woman. Woman is man’s equal fellow-heir of the salvation that is offered in Christ, but not to usurp the position that belongs to man both by natural constitution and divine appointment. Man is for strength, judgment, and achievement. Woman is for grace, sympathy, and ministration. Between them, they form a beautiful unit—“heirs together of the grace of life”
Modern theories are the mere thoughts of a naturalism that rejects the law of God, and as such can find no sympathy with those who stand in the faith of Christ. Though inspired by naturalism, they are contrary to nature—which is an intelligible anomaly. Naturalism is the system of sentiment and opinion formulated by the brain of man unenlightened by the knowledge of divine ways. Nature is the constitution imparted to creation by divine wisdom and power in the beginning. Divine law is in harmony with the latter, but is at the antipodes of the other. We have to realize that there is such a thing as folly in the thoughts of man—due to the fact that man is by nature ignorant of all things and has to learn. Wisdom belongs to the mind of God alone. Recognizing this, we are prepared to look round and ask —which is which?
Human folly on the subject of sex has extended even to the subject of God. It has recently revived the idea of “the divine feminine” (Scientific Religion, Laurence Oliphant). The idea is that there is in God a female element of which woman is the expression; and that as this element is in God fused with the masculine element and forming a harmonious unity, so it ought to be and was originally with man before woman was “taken out of” him: the thought is that he was man and woman in one person, and the he became harsh as the result of abstraction of the feminine, and she became effeminate through the abstraction of the masculine! What shall we say? That such an idea is the offspring of speculative presumption. There are things quite too high for the human intellect; and the constitution of the God-head is certainly one of them, and for the matter of that, so is the constitutional differentiation of the sexes, or of species. What in the abstract constitutes the difference between one creature and another? Facts only we can note. Their origin or subsistence in the metaphysical sense is beyond the human intellect.
One fact is plain to natural observation—that all creation is one stuff in different order—(in harmony with Bible revelation that all things are of one spirit, which is one God, with detailed aspects revealed). The natural fact is obvious in the case of a zoological collection, which might be started with the very young of each species. There might be 500 creatures—great and small, and of every variety—from the elephant to the dormouse: from the hippopotamus to the tadpole: from the albatross to the humming bird: from the whale to the stickleback. Let the specimens be all at the infant stage of each species, and let a few human babies be included. They are all fed from without with the same food (in the main) and the same water. If they are not fed they die, and you will have a collection of dead little things that will soon disappear in dust. But you feed them, and they grow, and at the end of a certain length of time, you have big creatures of all sorts—the elephant weighing tons, the lions and tigers hundredweights, the birds and monkeys pounds. Where has all this living stuff come from? It is the straw and the oats and the butcher’s meat and the water that you have brought from the outside, turned into hippopotamus, giraffe, crocodile, as the case may be. These foodstuffs have turned into different creatures according to the mouths into which you have placed them to be ground up. What you put into the mouth of a lion has turned into lion: what you put into the mouth of a monkey has turned into monkey: what you put into the mouth of an emu has turned into emu, and so on. Go back to the beginning of the process, and you had a mountain of foodstuff and a congregation of tiny mites of creatures (which a little way back were no creatures at all). At the end of the process, your mountain of foodstuff is gone, and you have this variety of creatures, great and small.
This may seem irrelevant to the subject. It is by no means so. The same stuff differently organized makes different creatures. Woman is different from man only on this same principle: the same stuff in a different order. A boy-baby and a girl-baby brought up together in the same house and fed on the same food will, by and by, be full-grown man and woman—both made out of the same stuff, and yet differing by reason of the differing constitution imparted by the organic law at the bottom of things. The same soft, rain, and sunshine in the garden will produce roses and cabbages side by side—for the same reason. They are the same stuff—the same material—the same forces differently ordered or arranged by the organic stamp, bent, or bias, appertaining respectively to each.
The comparisons may seem degrading, but they belong to truth. When men have accounted for the organic impress stamped on seed of all kinds in man and beast, they touch the root of the phenomenon, and will touch God. But they are held off. We cannot by searching find out God. We see He is there, but only as a mystery. He has to reveal Himself, and He has done so. All we have to do is to accept the revelation, and not go speculating about divine feminines to account for woman, like the heathen who invented a god of war to account for war; a god of love to account for love! and so on—professing themselves wise, thus becoming fools. We might as well, like the Egyptians, speculate about the divine feline to account for cats; the divine simian to account for monkeys, etc.
God is one, and He has no peer: as He says, “There is no god with me: I lift up my hand to heaven and say, I live for ever”, He has no divine feminine with Him.
Jehovah dwells alone,
No equal can He see—
The unchangeable, the Mighty God,
To all eternity
But He is all we could wish Him to be. What of loveliness we may conceive as appertaining to the feminine, dwells in Him: for He created the feminine. The fountain of it is in Himself. It is His invention. He is love and pity infinite, but also wisdom unerring; constructiveness, superb: and executiveness, terrible to the point of being “a consuming fire”; vast and sublime in all His ways and all His thoughts: as much above the thoughts and ways of man as heaven is above the earth. “He is a great King”: not a queen—but more lovely than any queen we ever imagined. He is the perfect masculine of which man in his best form is a poor reflex ;—and no reflex at all, when he is harsh, and churlish, and rude, and selfish. Because God, as the eternal masculine, is head, therefore, man, the image of His glory, is head in the human sphere; and a man and not a woman, the Saviour; and, therefore, a male and not a female animal, to be chosen from the herd as his type.
The offerer, bringing “a burnt sacrifice of the herd… a male without blemish” (in typification of the perfect obedience of Christ) was to “put his hand upon the head of the burnt offering”—at the door of the Tabernacle of the congregation, with the assurance that it should “be accepted for him to make atonement for him” (Lev. 1:4). Putting his hand on the animal’s head was an act of identification. As we read in another case: “Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat, and shall send him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness” (Lev. 16:21). For the offerer, therefore, to “put his hand upon the head of the burnt offering” was to transfer himself to the sacrifice, as it were, and to acknowledge himself justly dealt with in whatever should befall the animal. He was then to “kfil the bullock”, and the priests were to sprinkle the blood upon the altar, and to cut up the body and place the severed pieces on the altar for consumption.
Paul says (Heb. 10:4): “The blood of bulls and of goats could not take away sin”, but “it was a figure for the time then present” of the “one offering” that could and did, even “the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (10:10) memorialized in the breaking of bread’ “My body given for you … .. My blood shed for the remission of the sins of many”, We identify ourselves with “the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world” when we are “baptized into his death”, We confess our sins, and offer ourselves to God in him, and are forgiven for his sake, in whose crucifixion “sin was condemned in the flesh” in the shedding of whose blood, “the righteousness of God was declared”, The testimony of the apostolic word is that it was so (Rom. 8:3; 25–26); and the fact that Jesus was the seed of David according to the flesh shows us how it could be so. Here we should rest in “faith in his blood”, There is a danger of men reasoning themselves out of the verities of the Gospel by using their own thoughts as natural men against the appointments of God.
The same routine was to be observed in the case of a sheep or goat (Lev. 1:10). It was to be a male without blemish—a fit type of the man without sin. The inwards and legs were to be washed with water before offering, which points to preparation for sacrifice. The Lord was prepared for sacrifice during the 33 1/2 years of his mortal life. The washing with water we saw in the type of Aaron to be the type of the cleansing operation of the Spirit—in power and in doctrine. Applied to the inwards, it signified the purification of the heart, or “inner man” applied to the legs, the making clean of the life or “walk and conversation”
That the Lord should be the subject of such a process is foreign to the thoughts of such as have derived their ideas from the idealisms of Romish and Protestant theology’ but it is the teaching of the word both in type and antitype—in psalms and prophecy—as we have already seen. The Lord Jesus was human nature taken hold of by the Spirit, and morally washed both in the act of his begettal and in the moral operation in his mental development afterwards, while physically Adam’s nature unchanged. Thus washed as to mind, while the heir of death as to nature, he was fitted, in the arrangements of God, to perform that wonderful achievement of destroying through death, that having the power of death, and delivering them (believing in him) who, through fear of death, were all their lifetime subject to bondage (Heb. 2:14). If men have a difficulty in understanding this, it is not a wonder, considering that it is a divine arrangement with divine aims—both of which are liable to be unintelligible to the mere mind of the flesh.
If the burnt sacrifice was to be of feathered creatures, a turtle dove or a young pigeon might be brought (Lev. 1:14)—fitting type in their harmlessness, of the Son of God—“holy, harmless, and undefiled”—which a vulture or an eagle or an owl would not have been. Death (the appointed necessity in the case) was to be inflicted instantaneously in the wringing off of the head—a violent wrench, but succeeded in a moment by the healing balm of unconsciousness. (The Lord’s sufferings were intense, but short-lived.) The creature’s blood was to be wrung out by the side of the altar (the indispensable element of every sacrifice). “The blood is the life”; “without the shedding of blood, no remission of sin”, because “the wages of sin is death”, and “all have sinned”, except the sacrificial man, the Son of God, who is touched only indirectly —by descent from Adam, as to nature: by the mode of his death, as to law: and touched so, that he might die for us.
Angel or beast or un-Adamic man could not “die for us”, because the dying was not to be a punishing the innocent in the room of the guilty, but an establishing of the divine supremacy in righteousness as the basis of favour in forgiveness in the case of all such as see and believe and submit. The idea may be subtle but not invisible to spiritual discernment. If only few understand it, it is only because the majority judge of it as a transaction between man and man, instead of the high etiquette of heaven in receiving sinners unto life eternal.
“Crop and feathers” were to be cast aside among the ashes as the mere adjuncts of Life before sacrifice—temporary and not needed in sacrifice—such as the Lord’s clothing distributed among Pagan soldiers, or his occupation as a carpenter, or his flesh-relation to the family of Mary—cast all aside when the moment came to lay down his life. All these belong to “the place of the ashes” in the widest sense.
The body was to be cloven but not parted asunder—in token that the Lord’s sacrifice was only to be carried as far as the spiritual requirements of the case required: crucifixion, but not bodily destruction: wounds, but not mutilation: blood shedding, but no bone-breaking: death, but no disappearance in a dishonoured grave, as would have been the case had the Lord’s body been cast in the ordinary course into the local Gehenna as that of a condemned criminal.
The whole process of the Lord’s death and burial was so guarded (while giving to mankind every security as to the fact of his death, and every evidence of a complete conformity to the law of sacrifice, as a shedding of blood for the remission of sins), as to fence off all needless humiliation or outrage. A short three days in a new and honourable tomb, and then the body that had been impaled revived in healing life, without having experienced dismemberment or disintegration, or the humiliation of decomposition. Changed by the Spirit, it ascended to the Father, “a burnt sacrifice, an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the Lord.”