BIBLE STUDY SERIES #182, 183 and 184

14 May, 1995

HALLOWING THE PRIEST - PART II

By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.

The present series of Bible Studies is tracing the outline of God's Great Plan for the re-constitution of His Creation into a more perfect accord with His ultimate design. We began with the Call of Abram, and we have followed Abraham's descendants through the line of Isaac, Jacob (Israel) and Israel's children, the twelve Tribal Patriarchs. We saw the family of Jacob enter Egypt under Joseph's care to escape a famine, and later followed the Tribes of Israel as The Almighty God withdrew them from bondage in that land through the historic days of The Exodus. Now they are gathered at the foot of Mount Sinai where Moses is receiving God's instructions for the nation of Israel. In recent studies we have examined the Covenant whereby the national marriage to Yahweh (Jehovah) was undertaken and His Laws and provisions for sanctification were given. The Tabernacle and its priesthood is presently the focus of our attention and we are looking at the method whereby the priests are to be inducted into their holy office.

On the last programme, we had begun to examine Exodus 29, wherein this procedure is described, and we had reached as far as verse 13 of that chapter. There is contained therein a series of references to various sacrifices, which are covered in much greater detail in Leviticus.

Indeed, we saw that Keil and Delitzsch, when approaching verses 1-37 of this chapter, under the heading "Consecration of Aaron and his sons through the anointing of their persons and the offering of sacrifices, the directions for which form the subject of vers. 1-35", simply make the following statement "This can only be fully understood in connection with the sacrificial law contained in Lev. i.-vii. It will be more advisable therefore to defer the examination of this ceremony till we come to Lev. viii., where the consecration itself is described." However, we did undertake to follow the Scripture passage and found that Aaron and his sons were to approach the Tabernacle with a sacrificial bullock, two rams, unleavened bread and wafers. The priests were there to be washed and clothed in the priestly garments followed by anointing and consecration.

We looked at the verses describing the robing and had started to examine the passages which detail the manner of sacrifice. After laying hands upon the bullock it was to be slain as a sin offering, its blood put upon the horns of the altar, and at its base, and the entrails fat burnt upon the altar. Today we pick up the passage at Exodus 29:14.

14. But the flesh of the bullock, and his skin, and his dung, shalt thou burn with fire without the camp: it is a sin offering.

Of this, The Companion Bible explains "an unholy camp was unfit for a holy sin offering." The New Bible Commentary (Revised) says "When a sin-offering was offered for priests or for the whole community including the priest, the flesh was burnt... This ram was to be offered as a burnt-offering... of utter submissive devotion to God.

15. Thou shalt also take one ram; and Aaron and his sons shall put their hands upon the head of the ram.
16. And thou shalt slay the ram, and thou shalt take his blood, and sprinkle it round about upon the altar.
17. And thou shalt cut the ram in pieces, and wash the inwards of him, and his legs, and put them unto his pieces, and unto his head.
18. And thou shalt burn the whole ram upon the altar: it is a burnt offering unto the LORD: it is a sweet savour, an offering made by fire unto the LORD.

The Companion Bible notes of the words "sweet savour" that the Hebrew is "savour of rest" i.e. complacency or satisfaction.

19. And thou shalt take the other ram; and Aaron and his sons shall put their hands upon the head of the ram.

The New Bible Commentary says this: "The act of sacrifice was threefold: a bullock for a sin-offering (10-14), a ram for a burnt offering (15-18), another ram for consecration (19-22)." For the form and significance of the sin and burnt offerings we are guided to the quite valuable series of notes which that Commentary presents when discussing the various sacrifices in the earlier chapters of Leviticus. The notes covering the sin and burnt offerings occupy approximately one page each and we shall probably find occasion to introduce some of that information when our course of study reaches that portion of Scripture. Regarding the words "Their hands upon the head", in verse 10 it says "See also verses 15, 19. The offerer identified himself with the animal which was sacrificed, as being the bearer of his sin (10), or an offering dedicated to God (15), or the symbol of his consecration to his sacred charge (19). Substitution is clearly and repeatedly commanded in the Old Testament, so that there should be no doubt as to the way in which our Lord makes Himself an offering for us. The other ram (19), i.e. the ram of consecration (Lv. viii.22). This ordinance constituted the unique climax of the whole act of consecration. When the priests had identified themselves with the ram, its blood, i.e. its life, as given up in death to atone for sin, was applied to their bodies and to their garments, thereby cleansing and wholly setting apart to the service of the holy God all that they were and did. Note especially in verse 20 the consecration of their attention to God's word, of the service of their hands and of their walk in the way of holiness.

20. Then shalt thou kill the ram, and take of his blood, and put it upon the tip of the right ear of Aaron, and upon the tip of the right ear of his sons, and upon the thumb of their right hand, and upon the great toe of their right foot, and sprinkle the blood upon the altar round about.

The Companion Bible explains the wording to be such as to lay stress upon each of the several parts touched by the blood, saying "All were consecrated, and each one is singled out and emphasized..." Of Aaron, it says "The Antitype, Christ, so anointed and set apart 'on the holy mount' (2 Pet. 1.16-18).

The New Bible Commentary (Revised), speaks of the second ram thus: "This was essentially a peace-offering... the special characteristic of which was that the flesh of the sacrifice was eaten by the worshippers" as found in verses 32-34.

21. And thou shalt take of the blood that is upon the altar, and of the anointing oil, and sprinkle it upon Aaron, and upon his garments, and upon his sons, and upon the garments of his sons with him: and he shall be hallowed, and his garments, and his sons, and his sons' garments with him.

The New Bible Commentary notes: "The blood... the anointing oil (21). Consecration is twofold, by the atoning blood which brings the man to God, and by the oil, symbol of the Holy Spirit, which brings the power of God into the man. Cf. Eph., i. 7, 14." If we look up those verses, we will find that, speaking of Christ, Ephesians 1:7 says "In Whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins." and in reference to "that holy Spirit of promise", verse 14 says "Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of His glory."

22. Also thou shalt take of the ram the fat and the rump, and the fat that covereth the inwards, and the caul above the liver, and the two kidneys, and the fat that is upon them, and the right shoulder; for it is a ram of consecration:
23. And one loaf of bread, and one cake of oiled bread, and one wafer out of the basket of the unleavened bread that is before the LORD:
24. And thou shalt put all in the hands of Aaron, and in the hands of his sons; and shalt wave them for a wave offering before the LORD.
25. And thou shalt receive them of their hands, and burn them upon the altar for a burnt offering, for a sweet savour before the LORD: it is an offering made by fire unto the LORD.
26. And thou shalt take the breast of the ram of Aaron's consecration, and wave it for a wave offering before the LORD: and it shall be thy part.
27. And thou shalt sanctify the breast of the wave offering, and the shoulder of the heave offering, which is waved, and which is heaved up, of the ram of the consecration, even of that which is for Aaron, and of that which is for his sons:

The Companion Bible notes of the "wave offering", "Turned to the four quarters of the earth" and of the "heave offering", "Lifted up to heaven for Jehovah only." To each note, it adds a reference to Appendix 43 wherein we find some amplifications. There it explains of the former "Tenuphah = The Wave Offering, because it was waved to and fro (not up and down...), and presented for the four quarters of the earth" while it explains for the latter, "Terumah = The Heave Offering. So called because it was lifted up on high in presentation to Jehovah for Himself alone."

28. And it shall be Aaron's and his sons' by a statute for ever from the children of Israel: for it is an heave offering: and it shall be an heave offering from the children of Israel of the sacrifice of their peace offerings, even their heave offering unto the LORD.

The New Bible Commentary explains "By the symbolic 'filling the hands'(22-28) the most sacred parts of the ram of consecration were placed in the hands of the priests by the consecrating minister (Moses in this instance) for them to make their first sacrificial offering and thus to be inducted into their charge as priests... The offering was 'waved', i.e. held out towards all quarters of the sky, to signify their presentation to the omnipresent God. Sanctify (27), i.e. set apart for the use of Aaron and his sons." The New Bible Commentary (Revised) explains "Part of the ram of consecration is returned to Aaron and the priests as their perquisite. In this meal, signifying God's acceptance of all that has been done and the bestowal of His favour, the consecration of the priests is complete."

As our time has gone for today, we shall have to leave the further examination of this chapter for our next study. Until then, let us hold in our meditation the fact that all these detailed instructions were for one purpose. They were to reveal the true nature of the work which would be accomplished at the time appointed by Our Lord Jesus Christ, Who is our true High Priest and intercessor, our Saviour and Redeemer.

21 May, 1995

HALLOWING THE PRIEST - PART III

By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.

In this series of Bible Studies we have been giving attention to the Genesis and Exodus records which explain the Great Plan of The Almighty God for His Creation. That Plan aims to bring about the rectification of conditions in that Creation to a more perfect accord with His design.

Starting essentially with the Call of Abram we have traced the descent of God's selected line of people from that aged Patriarch as they entered Egypt, there to increase in numbers and to experience bondage from which they have more recently been delivered through the marvellous days of the Exodus.

Now gathered at the foot of Mount Sinai, the nation of Israel, (whom we, of the British-Israel-World Federation see as ancestors of the generally Anglo-Celto-Saxon and kindred peoples of today), awaits the eighty-year-old Moses as time after time, he climbs Mount Sinai and each time returns to them with further of God's instructions. The Nation of Israel now having agreed to be the People of The Almighty God, the matter of the Priesthood is being explained, and today we continue with the instructions regarding the service of consecration by which their priesthood is to enter service before The LORD, on behalf of the nation.

The robes have been described, and we had begun to realise the symbolic meanings to be attributed to each of the ceremonial details of the various sacrifices to be offered. We have reached Exodus 29:29, and today, as we pick up our Scripture reading at that verse, we continue to glean further information with regard to the topic of induction.

29. And the holy garments of Aaron shall be his sons' after him, to be anointed therein, and to be consecrated in them.
30. And that son that is priest in his stead shall put them on seven days, when he cometh into the tabernacle of the congregation to minister in the holy place.

A note in the Companion Bible at the word "holy" prompts us to look up a previous notation at Exodus 3:5 wherein we read "holy = separated or set apart [for God]." The Hebrew word is kodesh, which, that reference states, "must have one identical meaning... in all passages; and does not imply moral quality except when used of God Himself." That is an interesting and revealing comment for it would point to a usage which might be translated "apart-ness", and exhortations to God's people to be "holy" would then be directly opposed to such trends as "multi-cult" mergers which, today, are apparently favoured as "politically correct"!

The New Bible Commentary says that "Verses 29 and 30 are a digression on the permanent rights of the priests. Verse 31 returns to the consecration service."

31. And thou shalt take the ram of the consecration, and seethe his flesh in the holy place.
32. And Aaron and his sons shall eat the flesh of the ram, and the bread that is in the basket, by the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.
33. And they shall eat those things wherewith the atonement was made, to consecrate and to sanctify them: but a stranger shall not eat thereof, because they are holy.
34. And if ought of the flesh of the consecrations, or of the bread, remain unto the morning, then thou shalt burn the remainder with fire: it shall not be eaten, because it is holy.

The New Bible Commentary says of verse 32 that it is "The meal of communion between God and the worshipper." Of verse 32, The Companion Bible notes "This explains John 6.33. In Ex. 29 this was literal, but in our case it must perforce be purely and wholly spiritual. Cp. the eating of v.33 and the burning of v. 34 with the eating and burning of the Paschal Lamb. Ex. 12.10,11."

(That reference in John 6:33 speaks of Christ as bread. Taking the context from the previous verse we read there "Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but My Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is He Which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world.")

Of the word "atonement" in verse 33, the Companion Bible note continues: "The first occurrence of the English word. The Heb. kaphar, to cover, gives the essential meaning, as shown in its first occurrence, Gen. 6.14, where it is rendered "pitch [it]"..." (That is a reference to Noah's Ark, covered with pitch to seal it against the waters of the Flood.) "...Hence used of the mercy-seat... The English "at-one-ment" has no connection whatever with the Heb. word kaphar."

While that comment may very well form a true statement, the thought of "at-one-ment" does, for many Christians, appear to approach the result of the "covering" and many will consider such a memory-aid to be useful none-the-less.

35. And thus shalt thou do unto Aaron, and to his sons, according to all things which I have commanded thee: seven days shalt thou consecrate them.
36. And thou shalt offer every day a bullock for a sin offering for atonement: and thou shalt cleanse the altar, when thou hast made an atonement for it, and thou shalt anoint it, to sanctify it.

The New Bible Commentary notes that "The rites of consecration (probably entire) were to be repeated on each of seven successive days. Each day also the altar had first to be cleansed by an atoning sacrifice (36).

37. Seven days thou shalt make an atonement for the altar, and sanctify it; and it shall be an altar most holy: whatsoever toucheth the altar shall be holy.
38. Now this is that which thou shalt offer upon the altar; two lambs of the first year day by day continually.

At verse 38, a note in the Companion Bible draws our attention to related references in Hebrews 9:9 and 10:1-2 which indicate that this Old Testament law held but a shadow of good things to come with the culminating sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

39. The one lamb thou shalt offer in the morning; and the other lamb thou shalt offer at even:
40. And with the one lamb a tenth deal of flour mingled with the fourth part of an hin of beaten oil; and the fourth part of an hin of wine for a drink offering.
41. And the other lamb thou shalt offer at even, and shalt do thereto according to the meat offering of the morning, and according to the drink offering thereof, for a sweet savour, an offering made by fire unto the LORD.
42. This shall be a continual burnt offering throughout your generations at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before the LORD: where I will meet you, to speak there unto thee.
43. And there I will meet with the children of Israel, and the tabernacle shall be sanctified by my glory.
44. And I will sanctify the tabernacle of the congregation, and the altar: I will sanctify also both Aaron and his sons, to minister to me in the priest's office.
45. And I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will be their God.
46. And they shall know that I am the LORD their God, that brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, that I may dwell among them: I am the LORD their God.

The Companion Bible notes concerning the words "that I may dwell" that "This was the object in bringing them forth from Egypt", and that "among" means "in the midst." The New Bible Commentary notes of verses 38 to 46 that "Expiation, dedication, thanksgiving and prayer must be continually renewed. Hence the ordinance of the daily sacrifice and meat and drink offerings, with the incense (xxx.8)." Of the words in verse 42 "where I will meet you", it explains "The tabernacle of the congregation is therefore the 'tent of meeting' (RV), the place not where the people congregate together but where God meets with them, particularly through their representative, the High Priest. Note the change from 'you' to 'thee', the latter being the representative of the former." In other words, the priest represents the people.

Moving to verse 45, the Commentary continues: "Holy persons and holy things are sanctified not by outward ordinances (which merely symbolize inward grace), but by the indwelling presence of God Himself. The varied manifestations of God's presence impart knowledge of Himself, and it is those who accept and profit by such knowledge who may be assured of the continuation of His presence."

The New Bible Commentary (Revised) makes a sweeping appraisal of the whole chapter, stating: "The priesthood itself was not free from sin, and therefore there could be no consecration without atoning blood. As the priests were to serve before God in matters so essential for the people, all this had to be done according to God's requirements. It is significant of God's grace that He reveals and makes provision for the things He demands. The consecration of Aaron and his sons to the priesthood was completed by the following items: washing for purification (v. 4), investiture to office (vv. 5-9), putting on the official robes, anointing, sacrificing for atonement and consecration (vv. 10-21), and filling their hands to authorise them to sacrifice (vv. 22-28)."

Our time has gone for today. Next week we shall move ahead to examine subsequent scriptures in Exodus 30. Once again, we must remember and re-emphasize that all the Tabernacle furnishings, the Priestly Robes and Regalia, the Sacrifices and the Ceremonies were given in order to convey to the people for preservation through the years, in a most dramatic, (albeit for a while hidden), fashion the significance and importance of the work of Jesus Christ.

These were given far in advance of His Coming in order to prepare the way for that appearing. Down through the centuries the whole nation could thus preserve these symbols and by that means prepare themselves and later generations, to understand what God was doing for them and all who would draw near in Christ. Indeed it was doubtless of such passages of scriptures as those we have been examining that Christ spoke to the two on the road to Emmaus after His Resurrection, as we find recorded in Luke 24:27. May these meditations sustain your spirits for the coming days.

28 May, 1995

ALTAR OF INCENSE- PART I

By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.

In this series of Bible Studies we have been tracing the Genesis and Exodus accounts which explain the Great Plan of The Almighty God for His Creation.

Starting essentially with the Call of Abram we have traced the line of Abraham's descendants into Egyptian Bondage, and through the Exodus to Mount Sinai where we now find the Children of Israel gathered under the leadership of Moses, to receive God's instructions and to make their agreement to a covenant of national marriage with their God.

Presently, we are watching as Moses receives instructions regarding the national focus of worship, the Tabernacle of meeting, and the Priesthood which is to officiate therein on behalf of the people of the nation.

We had completed our examination of Exodus 28 and 29, wherein we found the scriptural digression of two chapters which have explained the features of the Priestly Robes and Regalia, and the ceremonies whereby the priests were to be inducted into their high and honourable offices. Introducing the notes to his lecture on The Golden Altar, A. Widdison, in his "Outlines of Lectures on the Tabernacle in the Wilderness" says "Note that chapters 28 and 29 are taken up with the institution of the Priesthood. The instructions regarding the Golden Altar and the Brazen Laver follow this break. These Vessels are spoken of as Vessels of Approach because they have to do with our approach to God - the other Vessels with God's approach to us. Hence for the functions regarding the former, the Priesthood is needed."

Now we approach Exodus 30 which returns us to the succession of furnishings of the actual Tabernacle itself. Here we will now find a description of an altar. It is not like the altar previously described. It is, rather, intended for a different function. Let us begin by reading from Exodus 30:1. As is my custom, I shall insert comments as we read.

Exodus 30
1. And thou shalt make an altar to burn incense upon: of shittim wood shalt thou make it.
2. A cubit shall be the length thereof, and a cubit the breadth thereof; foursquare shall it be: and two cubits shall be the height thereof: the horns thereof shall be of the same.

The Companion Bible Appendix 51 explains that, although the length of a cubit was "still in dispute", the actual length of this cubit would be somewhere between 21 and 25 inches.

3. And thou shalt overlay it with pure gold, the top thereof, and the sides thereof round about, and the horns thereof; and thou shalt make unto it a crown of gold round about.
4. And two golden rings shalt thou make to it under the crown of it, by the two corners thereof, upon the two sides of it shalt thou make it; and they shall be for places for the staves to bear it withal.
5. And thou shalt make the staves of shittim wood, and overlay them with gold.

The staves of "shittem wood" were acacia wood, which is strong. "The New Compact Bible Dictionary", edited by T. Alton Bryant and printed by Pillar books in New York, under the item "Shittim", says that this is "the name of the wood which comes from the acacia tree, mentioned 26 times in connection with the tabernacle and its furniture (Exodus 25-38). The wood is hard, fine-grained, yellowish-brown in color but turns nearly black with age."

As with the other Tabernacle furniture thus equipped, this arrangement shows that the Altar of Incense was to be carefully carried by hand, and with reverence, transported on foot, and not carted about like some baggage in a moving van. Due reverence must be given to the Holy furniture, as representing God's habitation among His people, and their reverend worship of Himself. We have only to remember that incident mentioned in II Samuel 6:1-9, wherein David the King had ordered that the ark of God be brought to the city of David to realise the full force of this. You may remember that on that occasion, the ark had been put on a cart, which was against the specific instructions for careful movement by priests on foot, and when the oxen shook it, Uzzah the son of Abinadab took hold of the ark to steady it, and was killed.

6. And thou shalt put it before the vail that is by the ark of the testimony, before the mercy seat that is over the testimony, where I will meet with thee.

A. Widdison comments of the material and form of this altar that it is of "Shittim Wood and Pure Gold. The Person of Christ. One cubit square by two cubits high, it was small but choice" and of its Crown and position he says "Crowns are connected with victory and kingship - victory over death and hell and Satan's power. It was immediately before the Throne of God." Of "The Horns" he notes "Emblems of power, and typify the efficacy of the work with which the Altar is identified."

7. And Aaron shall burn thereon sweet incense every morning: when he dresseth the lamps, he shall burn incense upon it.
8. And when Aaron lighteth the lamps at even, he shall burn incense upon it, a perpetual incense before the LORD throughout your generations.
9. Ye shall offer no strange incense thereon, nor burnt sacrifice, nor meat offering; neither shall ye pour drink offering thereon.

A. Widdison notes of this incense "The worth of Christ. The fragrance of His Name to God." Quoting "Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in My name, He will give it you", he goes on, "It was 'perpetual' incense. His fragrance ever ascends to the Father." Perhaps I might also quote the rest of A. Widdison's words regarding this Altar. Of its use, he says:

(a) Intercession. The Incense Altar was the Holy Vessel from which day and night the holy perfume ascended from coals of fire taken from the Brazen Altar, filling the Tabernacle with fragrance. Our best gifts to God are defiled by the iniquity of the giver. Our most devoted acts are tainted with self-pleasing, pride and self-complacency. What a merciful provision has been made for us in this Living Christ. In John 17, one of the most wonderful chapters in the Bible, we are in principle at the Golden Altar, and are privileged to stand by and hear our Lord pray, that we may know the character of His Great High-Priestly work for us. The intercession of our Lord covers all defects in prayer and worship and service, like incense added to the prayers of the saints in Rev. 8. 3-4. Justification has been made by His Blood; preservation is by His Life. He is our living Representative before God, and He ever liveth to make intercession for us. At the Brazen Altar we see the efficacy of the Sacrifice; at the Golden Altar the acceptability of His Person.

(b) Worship. A type of priestly worship. Aaron burning incense at the Golden Altar is a type of a believer priest. He was to take 'a handful' of incense, what he could grasp in his hand, suggesting a personal appreciation of Christ. His hand grasped the incense; his finger sprinkled the blood. Worship is the highest form of adoration. The essence of all true worship lies in communion with God in all that Christ is and has done. The two essentials of worship are, an appreciation of Christ, and the power of the Holy Spirit."

A. Widdison stresses "Four Important Things" saying that these are "NO STRANGE INCENSE . . Only Christ, NO STRANGE FIRE ... Worship only by the Spirit, NOTHING BUT INCENSE. No mixture, NO STRANGE PERSON.. Only Aaron and his sons were to offer it." He continues with notes explaining the correspondence in daily service, saying "Morning and evening, OUTSIDE, a lamb, a continual Burnt Offering; INSIDE, the Incense, perpetual Incense. A. Widdison goes on to stress the threefold sacrifice of the believer priest. He notes that all believers are priests, and points to New Testament references in I Peter 2, 5 and Rev. 1, 6; 5, 10. He lists for the believer's "PERSON" Rom. 12, 1, for "HIS PROPERTY", Heb. 13, 16, and for "HIS PRAISE", Heb. 13,15.

The Companion Bible note says of the word "burn", used in verse 7, "with fire taken from the brasen altar of atonement, implying that there could be no acceptable worship except on the ground of atonement made. All other fire was 'strange fire', and all other worship strange worship, and therefore unacceptable." Of the words "at even" in verse 8, it explains that these words translate the Hebrew "between the two evenings" which means "at dusk."

Remember that where the word "LORD" is offered by the translaters of the AV with all four letters capitalised, as in verse 8, it translates the Hebrew name of God, "Jehovah" or "Yahweh" which is the special "family name" allowed to Israel, being the national "wife" of The Almighty.

Of the "strange incense" mentioned in verse 9, The Companion Bible notes that it is "incense different from and other than that which God had prescribed." A. Widdison's notes on the ingredients of this we shall have to take up later as we are approaching the end of our time for this lesson.

10. And Aaron shall make an atonement upon the horns of it once in a year with the blood of the sin offering of atonements: once in the year shall he make atonement upon it throughout your generations: it is most holy unto the LORD.

The words "once in a year", the Companion Bible says, refer to "the tenth day of the seventh month." Leviticus 16:18, 29 and 30, and Numbers 29:7 are given as related passages of scripture.

At this point we shall have to postpone further comments for our next lesson. But do let the fragrance of that incense come upon you in meditation as you seek The LORD during the coming week.

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