The tabernacle when established, was for individual use. Israelites in trespass, or distress, or in special prosperity for which they desired to express gratitude, were to come near in trespass offering, peace offering, or thank offering in the manner prescribed. But independently of all this, there was a routine daily service to be conducted by the priests when their installation was complete, and before the daily service, there were stages in the process of installation. All this will reward consideration in detail.
We have already considered the opening stages of that process. It was not complete with the operations described in the last chapter. After the anointing with the holy oil, and the sprinkling with blood of the sin offering, there was the offering of the ram of burnt offering (Lev. 8:18) and the ram of consecration (verse 22) and the waving of a composite offering of “consecrations for a sweet savour” (verses 26–28)—followed by a seven days’ seclusion in the tabernacle, at the close of which, “the glory of the Lord appeared unto all the people” (Lev. 9:23).
We may find an interesting counterpart to all these details in the truth plainly revealed since that time concerning Christ, of whom and his work they are declared to have been the concealed foreshadowings.
Some views entertained concerning Christ prevent the true recognition of Christ in the signification. The Roman Catholics cannot find a place for their immaculate Christ in a ritual and an apparatus for every part of which atonement had to be offered. Nor are the Protestants more favourably situated with a view that makes the work done by Christ the saving of immortal souls, for which there is no counterpart in a system that at every step proclaimed death as the heritage of sinners. Nor can those other views more equally adjust themselves to a typology which involved the high priest in every operation at every stage. Under Paul’s guidance, even the sin offering (the bullock) with whose blood, after the anointing with the holy oil, Aaron and his sons were sprinkled, brings Christ into view. The bullock (in hide, flesh, and interiors) had to be carried outside the camp and burnt (Lev. 8:17). Paul’s comment on this is as follows: “The bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned without the camp. Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate. Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach” (Heb. 13:11–13). Paul thus identifies Jesus in crucifixion with the bullock burnt without the camp, whose blood was sprinkled on the furniture of the sanctuary, then on Aaron, and afterwards on his sons, and on all the people. Under apostolic guidance, we see Christ both in the bullock, in the furniture, in the veil, in the high priest, and, in brief, in all these Mosaic “patterns”, which he says were “a shadow of things to come” (Heb. 8:5; 9:23; 10:1; 3:5). All were both atoning and atoned for (Lev. 16:33).
There is no counterpart to this if Christ is kept out of his own sacrifice, as some thoughts would do. He cannot so be kept out if place is given to all the testimony—an express part of which is that as the sum total of the things signified by these patterns, he was “purified with” a better sacrifice than bulls and goats—viz., his own sacrifice (Heb. 9:23, 12). If he was “purified”, there was a something to be purified from. What was it? Look at his hereditary death taint, as the son of Adam, through whom death entered the world by sin, and there is no difficulty. Look at the curse of God brought on him in hanging on a tree (Gal. 3:13; Deut. 21:22, 23). We must not get away from the testimony. As the antitypical bullock without the camp, Jesus was a sin offering—an offering to be burnt, consumed—to be which, he had to be the very nature cursed by sin, that “the body of sin might be destroyed” (Rom. 6:6). As the antitypical victim of the accursed tree, he personally bore the very curse of the law, as Paul argues: that thus, God might lay on him the iniquity of us all, and make him to be sin for us who knew no sin: and that thus, in being baptized into his death, we might be washed from our sins in his own blood, God forgiving us for Christ’s’ sake (Eph. 4:32).
But this is going back on our subject. We have left the “bullock for a sin offering”—-in which we see Christ crucified. The ram for burnt offering, though killed, and the blood sprinkled on the altar (Lev. 8:19), was not carried out of the camp. This carrying out of the camp was the repudiation of sin, antitypically effected in the direful experience which led Jesus, outside Jerusalem, to exclaim, “My God, why hast thou forsaken me?” The ram of burnt offering was not carried out of the camp, after being slain, but was burnt on the altar, which we may take to represent the second stage of the one great offering, viz., the consumption and absorption of the human nature of Christ in the change to the Father-nature after his emergence from the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea. It was “a burnt sacrifice for a sweet savour, and an offering made be fire unto the Lord” (Lev. 8:21). Such was the man Christ Jesus, after having been offered as the sin offering, when he stood restored to life on the morning of the third day, ready for the fire of the spirit to flash forth in transforming energy upon his revitalized human nature. He had been offered as a sin offering’ in which there was “putting to grief”, “forsaking”, “curse”, He was now “a burnt sacrifice for a sweet savour”—acceptable to God and joyful to Christ. The Spirit, “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye”, changed the human substance of the Son of David into the divine nature that is glorious and lives for ever.
Then Moses “brought the other ram, the ram of consecration’ and Aaron and his sons laid their hands upon the head of the ram. And he slew it; and Moses took of the blood of it, and put it upon the tip of Aaron’s right ear, and upon the thumb of his right hand, and upon the great toe of his right foot”; and the same with Aaron’s sons.
Here was a third stage whose significance is indicated by its characteristic term, “consecration”. The blood of the ram of consecration was not offered upon the altar, but applied to the leading faculties of Aaron and his sons; ear, hand, and foot. Blood is life; blood poured out is death; but blood applied to ear, hand, and foot is life devoted to hearing, working, and walking in the ways of God.
There was to be a method in this hearing, working, and walking; something to hear, something to do, somewhere to go—a definite working life in appointed forms—as indicated by Moses placing the parts and inwards of the offered ram of consecration upon Aaron’s hands to “wave”, or sway backwards and forwards “before the Lord’ but not until he had placed on the parts of the offered animal, in Aaron’s hand, an unleavened cake out of the basket of unleavened bread that was before the Lord, and a cake of oiled bread, and one wafer (Lev. 8:25–28). Unleavened bread was the symbol of “sincerity and truth” (see 1 Cor. 5:8): an oiled cake, food of joy and gladness (Isa. 61:3); a wafer, the bread of God—manna in the wilderness (Exod. 16:31), as representing him who come down from heaven to give life to the world (John 6:51). The combined meaning seems to be this, that the life which succeeds sin offering is a life of consecration. not contemplative and supine, but of active, joyful work in righteousness: yet, there is the intimation that this ideal is not reached till the immortal state: for Moses took all “from off Aaron’s hands, and burnt them on the altar upon the burnt offering: they were consecrations for a sweet savour: an offering made by fire unto the Lord” (verse 28).
In the application of these things to Christ, we see him (1) a sin offering” without the gate”, like the bullock outside the camp; (2) the sacrifice “for a sweet savour” in his joyful change to spirit-nature when he awoke from the sin offering state on the morning of the third day (like the ram of the burnt offering consumed on the altar, as “an offering of sweet savour by fire unto the Lord”); (3) his entrance thereafter into a state of total consecration to the Father’s service, in which, without the fatigues and intermissions of mortal life, he would be wholly occupied in the joyful exercises represented by the waving of parts of the ram of consecration, garnished with the piece of unleavened bread, the oiled cake, and the manna-like wafer—all “burnt on the altar as consecrations for a sweet savour” (verse 28).
We have to remember that the law, while declared” a shadow of good things to come”, is also said to be “not the very image thereof”, A miniature is “the very image” on a small scale, but a shadow is the rough and exaggerated outline of an object. The ordinances of the law are a rough outline of things concerning our relation to God—now and hereafter: but the details cannot have an exact resemblance. There are various sacrifices and various things to represent various aspects of the truth which in reality centre in one object—the man Christ Jesus, as the firstborn among many brethren.
The stages in the typical consecration of Aaron and his sons to the priesthood were an interesting and useful exercise for Moses and the faithful men related to the process. But they had a deeper meaning than they knew. “So hath the Lord commanded”, was about as far as their enlightenment extended. This was really the first lesson of all godliness, and of the utmost consequence for them to learn. It is the last that moderns apprehend’ the commandment of God as the reason of a thing. We learn it over again, and with renewed force in the study of the law of Moses. Nevertheless, it is a delightful exercise to be also able to trace analogies and foreshadowings of the ultimate purpose of God with man on the earth, in the midst of ordinances and appointments for which no higher reason was given to Israel by Moses, than “so hath the Lord commanded”. This ultimate purpose is neither more nor less than the gradual metamorphosis of the race by a complete assimilation of the will of man to the will of God, and the complete extinction of human antagonisms to God in the abolition of human nature by voluntary sacrifice, required by God, and Divinely accepted, and ratified in a transformation which will change it from a mortal thing to a state of equality with the angels. The whole process is exemplified in Christ the firstborn, and foreshadowed in these diversified ordinances of the law. It is only partially experienced by his brethren in the present state but they became related to the whole process by association with him in whom it has been wholly accomplished, and in the end they will become the subjects of its entire operation.
They become identified with the sin-offering stage in being baptized into the death of Christ. Christ “suffered without the gate”, as the bullock was burnt outside the camp’ and they “go forth to him without the camp bearing his reproach”, Any man in a hearty manner identifying himself with the death of Christ in the way provided in the gospel, and rejoicing in it as acceptable to God, and certain to lead to unutterable good in the end, will certainly find himself “without the camp”, even in Gentile society —both as regards his acceptability with Gentile friends, and as regards their suitability for his society. But he can bear it, if he remembers it is of Divine appointment. It helps him to remember this when he thinks of the body of the sin offering carried outside the camp under Moses, and when he thinks of the antitype in Christ, who was “rejected of men”, and conveyed out of Jerusalem to be crucified, that sin might be condemned in the flesh.
He becomes identified with the burnt offering “sweet savour” stage when he arises from baptism to “present his body a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God”, through Christ, who has become” the Lord, the Spirit”, by transformation; and he becomes identified with the ram of consecration, with all its adjuncts in the wave offering, when he goes forth in the diversified activity of a life consecrated to God.
This is the measure of his experience of the Mosaic significance for the time being. It is no small measure when realized in the full intelligent joy of the truth—in faith and hope. Still, it is nothing by comparison with Christ’s actual experience in the Spirit-state—which every true worshipper in the sanctuary will be permitted to share, in the change from this burdened mortal state to the glory of the incorruptible at the coming of Christ.
One aspect of that experience is pleasant to contemplate: activity. This was the feature of the wave offering as distinguished from the other sacrifices. There was action; and the nature of the action is betokened by the unleavened bread, oil and cake, and wafer waved with it: “righteousness and holiness”. These were all consumed by the altar fire: all taken into Spirit-nature. Popular theology thinks of the saved state as a state of passive “bliss”, It is evident from the type before us that the life of Spirit-nature will be a life of active service in holiness. This is confirmed by what is testified concerning the angels with whom the saints are to be raised to equality: “Bless the Lord, ye his angels that excel in strength, that do his commandments, hearkening to the voice of his word. Bless ye the Lord, all ye his hosts, ye ministers of his, that do his pleasure”.
This is a charming prospect. We are liable to think of the Kingdom as a place of rest. This it will truly be, but not the rest of inaction. Nothing is more irksome to a state of strength than inactivity. It is only infirmity that delights in the ease of the couch: “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; they shall walk, and not faint” (Isa. 40:31). Immortal energy will want suitable scope, though doubtless allied with the ability of a perfect self-composure when required. And this scope it will find, to the constant joy of its possessors. What will be its forms of activity in detail we cannot know in advance, except that they will have to do with the government of men and the worship of God. We may be sure that “the pleasures of the chase” (so exhilarating to the children of the flesh) will form no part of their delights, whose chief joy is to confer blessing on even the meanest of creatures. “The unleavend bread, the oiled cake and wafer”, tell us of joy in righteousness, holiness, and kindness, whose forms will be infinitely diversified in a perfect and holy state.
While the bulk of the ram of consecration was consumed on the altar as “an offering made by fire unto the Lord”, part of it, after being waved, was to be eaten, with unleavened bread from the basket in the holy place (Lev. 8:29, 31). The cooking and the eating were to be done by Aaron and his sons at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and any flesh or bread remaining uneaten was to be burnt (verse 32). The meaning of this we may see, if we reflect that the consecrated state in its final development is the immortal state, into which “the forerunner hath for us entered” The entrance into this state is by the eating now at the door. None will be found in the consecrated state who have not now availed themselves of the means of consecration in the spiritual eating of the flesh provided—(” My flesh which I give for the life of the world”—JESUS—eaten, too “not with the old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” (1 Cor. 5:8). And when the whole family have eaten, the surplus flesh and bread will be burnt with fire, destroyed in judgment; withdrawn in anger; the door shut no further admission to the consecrated state. Many will run eagerly after the grace of God in Christ when his glory is revealed—to be met only with the fateful words: “Too late.”
And all this consecration work was to be gone through for seven days in succession’ “Ye shall abide at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation day and night seven days”, “Ye shall not go out of the door of the tabernacle of the congregation in seven days, until the days of your consecration be at an end for seven days shall he consecrate you. As he hath done this day, so the Lord hath commanded to do, to make an atonement for you” (Lev. 8:35, 33). We may see in this the larger shadowing of the reconciliation work. In its completeness, it extends over seven thousand years, embracing the whole family of God that will people the earth as its ransomed population in the endless ages. The family in this sense are at the door of the tabernacle for seven days of a thousand years each—the seventh a Sabbath of rest, but still a day of atoning work.
On the eighth day, there was a specially imposing ceremony which we can scarcely err in regarding as the typification of what will occur at the close of the Millennial phase of the kingdom, when “the Son shall deliver up the kingdom” to the Father, “that God may be all in all” (1 Cor. 15:24, 28). Moses gave directions as to certain things to be done, and said to Aaron and the elders, “To-day (the eighth day) the Lord will appear unto you”, The things being done, “the glory of the Lord appeared unto all the people. And there came a fire out from before the Lord, and consumed upon the altar the burnt offering and the fat: which when all the people saw, they shouted, and fell on their faces” (Lev. 9:1, 4, 23, 24). Could there be a more perfect type of that final filling of the whole earth with the glory of the Lord, which has been the burden of promise from the beginning?
We know little practically of the state of things that will prevail on the earth in the eighth millennium from Adam’s expulsion from Eden and onwards. But we know this, that “there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying” (Rev. 21:4). We know that” the throne of God and the Lamb” will be established; and” His servants shall serve him: and they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads. And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever” (Rev. 22:3–5). What more fit illustration of such a state than the spectacle of Israel on their faces in the presence of the manifested glory of the Lord on the eighth day after the commencement of the consecration work?
The nature of the preparations made on the eighth day for this manifestation may appear to interfere with such an application. It was a re-offering of the dedicatory sacrifices; for Aaron, a calf and ram, for sin offering and burnt offering respectively: for the people, a kid of the goats for sin offering, and a calf and a lamb for burnt offering, and a bullock and a lamb for peace offerings, with their appropriate meal offerings. It may be asked what parallel could there be in the deathless state reached after the thousand years, to the offering of “Lambs and bullocks slain”?
The answer does not seem difficult. There will always be the antitype to these things. It will never drop out of truth or memory that the salvation attained through Christ is a salvation achieved by sacrifice. It will always be a theme of joyful celebration among the glorified righteous that they owe their position “to him that loved them and washed them from their sins in his own blood”, Would it not, then, be in perfect keeping with the attainment and the nature of the perfect ages that will succeed the kingdom of the thousand years that they should be inaugurated by some special recognition of the sacrificial foundation upon which the glory stands?
Every form of God’s work hitherto and what has been revealed concerning the constitution of the age to come, supplies an affirmative answer to this question. First, the individual privileges of faith in this present state have always been associated with sacrifice, from the very gate of Eden to the divine condemnation of sin in the flesh on Calvary. Second, wherever the gospel savingly comes, it brings the broken body and shed blood of the Lord in the memorial supper to be partaken of by the most enlightened believers. Third, in the midst of all the glories of the restored kingdom of David under Christ in the age to come, the Lord’s death is memorialized in the restoration of sacrifice on the most elaborate scale, in the offering of which the Lord himself takes prominent part, “for himself”, too, as expressly declared (Ezek. 45:22).
What the form of the inaugural ceremony of the perfect age in this respect will be, we may not know exactly: but in view of the type before us, and the considerations just referred to, we shall not wander far from very strong probability if we suppose—(when the post-millennial Gog and Magog have been destroyed, and the mighty congregation of the responsible dead have been dealt with before the Great White Throne)—that there will be some great ceremonial reassertion of the righteousness of God as sacrificially accomplished in Christ and ratified by every living soul present, preliminary to that wondrous transfer of the visible headship from the Son to the Father, that “God may be all in all” (1 Cor. 15:24–28).