|BIBLE STUDY SERIES #236, 237 and 238|
26 May, 1996
By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.
The present series of Bible Studies, beginning with God's Call to Abram in Genesis 12 has led us down the centuries from Abraham's day to that of the generation of The Exodus. Last week, we took a step away from the progression of lessons to review once again the more general setting within God's Great Plan which extends from age to age, and within which each generation of mankind finds a place. Presently we are, in our imagination, standing among the children of Israel at the foot of Mount Sinai as Moses returns to the people further of God's Commandments regarding the restoration of broken relationships between man and God, and between individual members of mankind. We are in the midst of a series of injunctions concerning the appropriate sacrifices which are to be made in order to bring about that restitution and renewed relationship.
Let us read the first seven verses of Leviticus 6 before commenting further.
1. And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
2. If a soul sin, and commit a trespass against the LORD, and lie unto his neighbour in that which was delivered him to keep, or in fellowship, or in a thing taken away by violence, or hath deceived his neighbour;
3. Or have found that which was lost, and lieth concerning it, and sweareth falsely; in any of all these that a man doeth, sinning therein:
4. Then it shall be, because he hath sinned, and is guilty, that he shall restore that which he took violently away, or the thing which he hath deceitfully gotten, or that which was delivered him to keep, or the lost thing which he found,
5. Or all that about which he hath sworn falsely; he shall even restore it in the principal, and shall add the fifth part more thereto, and give it unto him to whom it appertaineth, in the day of his trespass offering.
6. And he shall bring his trespass offering unto the LORD, a ram without blemish out of the flock, with thy estimation, for a trespass offering, unto the priest:
7. And the priest shall make an atonement for him before the LORD: and it shall be forgiven him for any thing of all that he hath done in trespassing therein.
In verses 2 and 3 we find several ways in which a person may transgress against a neighbour. First, if a neighbour has entrusted something into the care of a person, that person might be tempted to set that thing aside, hiding it and pretending that it has been stolen or the value of it has so far diminished as to make restitution a paltry sum compared to the true value. The second case concerns that which is entrusted in fellowship. This might today find expression in a business venture in which two or more people join to advance some project, into which they all place some capital, and for the success of which a measure of mutual trust between the partners is required. If one of those partners decides that a bit of fraudulent dealing can be hidden from the others, in order to advance his own wealth or position, and chooses to take that course to the financial detriment of the others such a case might well be classed in the group described here. Thirdly, a person may simply have taken something violently from a neighbour under circumstances in which it can not be proven that such was done, there being no second witness to the theft to testify as to what happened. Fourthly, a person may simply have drawn a neighbour into some investment which has been, from the start, conceived as a fraud, by which a false picture of the project is presented through a series of lies. In a fifth case, a person may find something which belongs to another person, but simply keep it and lie concerning its present location. In all such cases, the person has certainly committed a theft in some manner against a neighbour, but in each case, the act also constituted a sin against God's Law, for we are to love both God and our neighbour with a positive will, not holding back for selfish gain.
If someone later sees, or is shown, that the situation which he has brought about is not tolerable in good conscience, and sees that The Almighty God will place a judgment against that person for what he has done, then a trespass offering is demanded. It will be required that the guilty party make full restitution plus an added fifth over and above the total sum stolen or diverted from the neighbour. The neighbour must receive full compensation and more. Even then, the restitution is not yet complete. After that there remains the yielding of a ram as a trespass offering before the LORD and this sacrifice must be presented to the priest who will present the atonement offering on behalf of the sinner. Not until then is the person who sinned forgiven his trespass.
There are some in our day who take the stance that they are "New Testament Christians" and these view all those ancient Laws of the Old Testament as void and of no force in this present dispensation. For any such, who may be listening, I can assure you that those Old Testament Laws are the only ones that were in force at the time when Christ stated, in Matthew 5:17-19 "Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven." Incidentally, note that both groups are stated to be "in the kingdom", so entry is not obtained by keeping the law as an earned right. However, there they part company, some being "least" others "great" in the kingdom, on the basis of the keeping of God's Law.
However the point I wish to make in reading that quotation is that it comes just before some most appropriate verses, for there is a simple re-statement of the law which is before us just a few verses farther on in that very same chapter, Matthew 5:23-24 where Jesus, speaking of one who is angry with his brother, says this: "Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift." Thus we can state with assurance that the essence of those old Levitical laws which we are studying is still in force today. The trespass must be made good, while that ram without blemish which is offered is now replaced by our trespass-offering in its final form, that of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, to Whom we must yield our bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, as Romans 12:1 implores.
The New Bible Commentary explains: "The offering in every case is a ram (cf. xix. 21f), also called a he-lamb, (xiv. 12), a 'lamb of the first year' (Nu. vi.12). The trespass offering formed part of the ritual for the cleansing of the leper (xiv. 12) and of the Nazirite (Nu. vi. 12).
Of the next portion of the Book of Leviticus, the Commentary continues under the heading: "The portion of the priest and of the offerer (vi. 8-vii. 38)." It says: "Up to this point, except in the case of the meal offering (ii. 10, cf. v. 13) attention has been focused on the Godward side of the sacrifices: the manipulation of the blood and the portions to be consumed upon the altar or burned without the camp. A series of laws is now given which deal particularly with the portion of priest and offerer. This subject is introduced by the words 'Command Aaron and his sons' (9), and each topic commences with the words, 'This is the law of' (9, 14, 25, etc.). Each of the laws already discussed is now dealt with from this angle."
8. And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
9. Command Aaron and his sons, saying, This is the law of the burnt offering: It is the burnt offering, because of the burning upon the altar all night unto the morning, and the fire of the altar shall be burning in it.
10. And the priest shall put on his linen garment, and his linen breeches shall he put upon his flesh, and take up the ashes which the fire hath consumed with the burnt offering on the altar, and he shall put them beside the altar.
11. And he shall put off his garments, and put on other garments, and carry forth the ashes without the camp unto a clean place.
12. And the fire upon the altar shall be burning in it; it shall not be put out: and the priest shall burn wood on it every morning, and lay the burnt offering in order upon it; and he shall burn thereon the fat of the peace offerings.
13. The fire shall ever be burning upon the altar; it shall never go out.
Here The New Bible Commentary explains of the burnt offering "Since the entire animal is consumed on the altar, there are only two matters of importance: the disposal of the ashes and the tending of the altar-fire. This fire is never to be allowed to go out. It is the sacred fire kindled on the altar by God Himself. Furthermore the burnt offering is to burn continually upon the altar as the token of Israel's consecration to God. The statement that the burnt offering shall burn during the night indicates that this law has the continual burnt offering (Ex. xxix. 38-42) primarily in view."
We shall take up further verses of the chapter in forthcoming lessons. Let us keep ourselves mindful of the great Sacrifice to which all such continual offerings point. It is that Jesus is now, and for ever the one continuing substitutionary sacrifice acceptable in our place. Let us value and love the One who gave Himself for us in such overwhelming love on Calvary.
2 June, 1996
By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.
Our present series of Bible Studies, beginning with the Call of Abram in Genesis 12 is taking us, in our imagination, along with the tribesmen of ancient Israel, as they hear the specific instructions for worship which are recorded in the Book of Leviticus. We have arrived at Leviticus 6, and today we will be reading from verse 14 and following, but first I wish to add a few comments which relate to the previous passage.
This chapter contains part of the set of instructions which Moses is relaying to the Israelites concerning the manner by which certain offerings are to be prepared and presented. Symbolic meanings are inter-woven into each of the instructions which are outlined, and while there appears to be much repetition, the approach is designed to give each segment of the nation its instructions in a logical manner. We are now observing how the priests are to receive their portions of certain of these offerings.
In verses 10 and 11, which we read in our last lesson, we saw that in the morning the priest, dressed in his linen robes, was to clear away the ashes of the burnt offering which the fire on the altar had consumed over night, but then, before taking these to a clean place outside the camp he was to change into other garments. Keil and Delitzsch explain this order in these words: "The priest was only allowed to approach the altar in his official dress; but he could not go out of the camp with this." In other words, the portion of the cleansing task which was performed at the altar must be accomplished while dressed in the appropriate symbolic robes which must be worn in connection with that position, but the same robes were not to be profaned by use outside the camp, so others must be put on in order to carry the ashes beyond the camp perimeter.
Verse 13 stated of the altar fire in the midst of the nation that "The fire shall ever be burning upon the altar; it shall never go out." Keil and Delitzsch comment on this point, explaining that wood was constantly to be supplied to the fire. Their view is stated in these words: "Fire was to be kept constantly burning upon the altar without going out, not in order that the heavenly fire, which proceeded from Jehovah when Aaron and his sons first entered upon the service of the altar after their consecration, and consumed the burnt-offerings and peace-offerings, might never be extinguished...; but that the burnt-offering might never go out, because this was the divinely appointed symbol and visible sign of the uninterrupted worship of Jehovah, which the covenant nation could never suspend either day of night, without being unfaithful to its calling." Their view of the reason differs somewhat from that noted in the Companion Bible.
The Companion Bible remarks on that passage of instruction thus: "This fire was originally from heaven (9. 24), supernatural fire. Only this fire could be used to set fire to the incense on the golden altar. So only those who have atonement can pray or worship. Ever burning until rekindled by a special descent. [This is the origin of the perpetual light in Roman Catholic worship.] It was preserved till the destruction of the temple by Nebuchadnezzar; was one of the five things lacking in the second temple." I place the alternative views before you because it sometimes happens that some insight or truth can be missed by one commentary but caught by another. In a Bible Study, a stimulating benefit can be found as we weigh various viewpoints for ourselves. We continue with today's portion.
14. And this is the law of the meat offering: the sons of Aaron shall offer it before the LORD, before the altar.
15. And he shall take of it his handful, of the flour of the meat offering, and of the oil thereof, and all the frankincense which is upon the meat offering, and shall burn it upon the altar for a sweet savour, even the memorial of it, unto the LORD.
16. And the remainder thereof shall Aaron and his sons eat: with unleavened bread shall it be eaten in the holy place; in the court of the tabernacle of the congregation they shall eat it.
17. It shall not be baken with leaven. I have given it unto them for their portion of my offerings made by fire; it is most holy, as is the sin offering, and as the trespass offering.
18. All the males among the children of Aaron shall eat of it. It shall be a statute for ever in your generations concerning the offerings of the LORD made by fire: every one that toucheth them shall be holy.
The Companion Bible explains of these instructions that in Chapter 2. 1-3 we have the directions. In 6. 14-18 we have the law, and additional directions. We might remember that the "meat" (or better, "meal") offering was a voluntary one, with frankincense, which was one of four ingredients of the holy incense, placed on it, and salt, and it also usually included oil. The dedicated memorial handful which was burnt held all of that frankincense as this represented for the individual what the twice-daily burning of holy incense on the golden altar signified for the nation as a whole.
We see, once again, that leaven is omitted as it would be the symbol for sinful infusion in the meal. The Companion Bible notes of the "he" of verse 15 that this is one of the sons whose turn it was. The portion burned was as incense, and it is to be a memorial portion. The wording of the translation in verse 16 is very slightly confusing. The Companion Bible margin gives this passage the meaning "unleavened shall it be eaten", noting that "there is no 'with' in the Hebrew." The meal, sin and trespass offerings were "most holy" and portions would be consumed by the priests, with the exception that, where it is the priest himself who is making this offering on behalf of himself, he is not to eat of his own sacrifice. I might clarify some distinctions. The normal meal offering was voluntary. The sin offering was mandatory where a sin was committed in ignorance, not intentionally, and later, a realisation of guilt then required such a sacrifice. The trespass offering, likewise mandatory and consisting either in the withholding of God's tithes on the one hand, or alternatively, the transgression of His Commandments, differed in that it involved a sin for which prior restitution was required to one's neighbour and to God.
I might add one further explanatory detail concerning that case wherein a poor person was unable to supply an animal or bird of which the blood was required to be offered in the fire as a sin offering. Blood formed the essence of the symbol for Christ's sacrifice and a substitute "meal offering" contained no blood. The New Bible Commentary gives this explanation: "In the case of the extremely poor a further concession is made: a meal offering may be substituted for the animal sacrifice... . Being a sin offering it differed from the usual meal offering in an important respect: it was offered without oil and without frankincense. Furthermore the handful which was offered as a memorial was burnt on the altar 'upon the offerings of the Lord made by fire'... . This clearly gave it the value of a bloody sacrifice, by virtue of its being mingled with the fire offerings which were on the altar. Hence it could be called a sin offering, and in offering it the priest made atonement for sin. In this way what appears to be an exception to the principle that 'without shedding of blood is no remission (Heb. xi. 22) really ceases to be an exception but rather serves to illustrate that principle of vicarious substitution which it is the main object of the ritual of sacrifice to illustrate and enforce."
As we are about out of time for today's Bible Study, I shall have to close, but before I do, I should remind our listeners of the fact that we, of the British-Israel-World Federation, see the main body of the present-day descendants of these same Israelites to whom these words of the book of Leviticus were particularly addressed as now represented as people of the generally Anglo-Celto-Saxon and kindred folk, so it becomes especially important that these should now be given an understanding of their heritage, but also their responsibilities, found in these Holy Scriptures.
Blood sacrifices of the Old Testament find new fulfilment in the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ on Calvary, and He becomes the reality of substitutionary sacrifice to which all former such rituals pointed forward. He opens the door to "whosoever will", to enter into God's Grace and to Reconciliation with Himself by acceptance of His sacrificial gift, and accepting the presence of Himself within our minds and our lives, and a renewal of desire to show our love for Him by the keeping of His Commandments as He stated in John 14:15. May we all, this week, review the implications of this great revelation to which the book of Leviticus introduces us. We shall continue our studies in this important area on our next programme.
9 June, 1996
By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.
Our present series of Bible Studies, beginning with the Call of Abram in Genesis 12 has led us down through the generations of his progeny Isaac, Jacob (Israel) and the development of the tribes of Israel as they passed into Egyptian bondage, and then emerged through the miraculous events of The Exodus, into the wilderness of Sinai. We followed them, in the imagination of our minds as we read the Scriptures which tell of these happenings, and now we find the whole nation presently gathered at the foot of Mount Sinai as they receive the contractual obligations which form part of what is, in essence, their marriage contract in becoming The Almighty God, Yahweh's (Jehovah's) peculiar, that is to say, special, people in service to Himself.
We are studying the record as contained in the third book of the Bible, Leviticus, and we had reached chapter 6, dealing with sundry sacrifices which appear superficially to be a boring repetition, but which in fact turn out to be parted from one another on the basis of real differences in the relationships for which they are necessary.
Part of the reason that these instructions are necessary may be completely overlooked or misunderstood if it is not repeated. This is the fact that these sacrificial acts represent a prophetic commitment in and to a ( for them) forthcoming consummation on Calvary, to the benefits of which these earlier Israelites might, by that means have a form of access prior to its actual completion. To this the greatest act of Love, we and all subsequent generations may likewise find complete substitutionary atonement and thus, like those ancestral Israelites of so long ago, renew the Adamic relationship of the Garden of Eden, broken by the impertinence and poison of the rebel waywardness of Sin in adopting our own choices and ignoring what is set out as the only wise and safe pathway of existence.
We have now reached Leviticus, Chapter 6, which has been listing directives regarding those sacrifices which are appropriate for various categories of relationship between a person and The Almighty God. There are sins which might be classed as essentially those produced by some form of personal corruption, others which affect our relationship with, and interpose between, ourselves and The Almighty God, and still others which have also a further component wherein we have broken our loving relationship to our neighbour as well.
On our last programme we were considering the particulars concerning the sacrifices of which the priests were to receive some portions, and yet others of which, because they were offered by the priests for their own sins, they themselves could not partake any portion. We now move to consider Leviticus 6:19-23.
19. And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
20. This is the offering of Aaron and of his sons, which they shall offer unto the LORD in the day when he is anointed; the tenth part of an ephah of fine flour for a meat offering perpetual, half of it in the morning, and half thereof at night.
21. In a pan it shall be made with oil; and when it is baken, thou shalt bring it in: and the baken pieces of the meat offering shalt thou offer for a sweet savour unto the LORD.
The Companion Bible notes that the words "and when it is baken" might be better expressed "thou shalt bring it in well kneaded." For the "sweet savour", it suggests the wording "savour of satisfaction."
22. And the priest of his sons that is anointed in his stead shall offer it: it is a statute for ever unto the LORD; it shall be wholly burnt.
Here, the Companion Bible explains that the offering shall be wholly burnt in this case because the priest did not eat any part of his own sacrifice.
23. For every meat offering for the priest shall be wholly burnt: it shall not be eaten.
Of the verses we have just read, The New Bible Commentary says "To the law of the meal offering of the people there is added a brief statement (19-23) regarding the continual meal offering for the priests. It is to be offered by the anointed priest (Aaron or his successor in office) perpetually, morning and evening. It would seem to be a kind of priestly counterpart of the perpetual burnt offering. Since it is offered for the priests, no part of it can be eaten by them; it is to be wholly burnt." There follows in the next verses, 24-30, a passage which details matters pertaining to the sin offering.
24. And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
25. Speak unto Aaron and to his sons, saying, This is the law of the sin offering: In the place where the burnt offering is killed shall the sin offering be killed before the LORD: it is most holy.
The Companion Bible explains that the Hebrew term here which is translated "sin" is "chat'a" which is a sin involved when a person's conduct somehow comes short of the proper measure. It is a stumble, rather more than a transgression. The offering is, the reference notes, stated to be most holy "because of the Antitype." The reference here is, of course, to Jesus Christ.
26. The priest that offereth it for sin shall eat it: in the holy place shall it be eaten, in the court of the tabernacle of the congregation.
27. Whatsoever shall touch the flesh thereof shall be holy: and when there is sprinkled of the blood thereof upon any garment, thou shalt wash that whereon it was sprinkled in the holy place.
28. But the earthen vessel wherein it is sodden shall be broken: and if it be sodden in a brasen pot, it shall be both scoured, and rinsed in water.
The Companion Bible states that "This explains Heb. 13:11." I might digress slightly to read Hebrews 13:10-13 because it may assist our understanding of this passage. It says:
10. We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle.
11. For the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned without the camp.
12. Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate.
13. Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach.
The New Bible Commentary explains that the sin offering was most holy, and everything which touches it must be or become holy. This applies even to the vessel in which it is cooked. Anything touching it must be withdrawn from common use thereafter and thoroughly washed or, if earthen (and hence incapable of being sufficiently thoroughly washed and rinsed), broken.
29. All the males among the priests shall eat thereof: it is most holy.
30. And no sin offering, whereof any of the blood is brought into the tabernacle of the congregation to reconcile withal in the holy place, shall be eaten: it shall be burnt in the fire.
The Companion Bible comments regarding the words "shall eat it" in verse 26, contrasted with "no sin offering... shall be eaten" of verse 30. It explains the offering mentioned in verse 26 may be eaten "Because blood not taken within the holy place" and that offered in verse 30 was to be wholly burnt "Because the blood was taken into the holy place."
That reference adds a useful amplification to the understanding of the reader by listing together in a single note the eight offerings to be eaten by the priests in the precincts of the holy place, together with a Biblical reference for each. Perhaps, although we haven't time today to expound upon the matter without going into the various Biblical references which explain each item, this might be a suitable moment to just insert a quotation of that short list, in order to give you a very brief idea of what is involved. The list covers the following items:
(1) The flesh of the sin offering.
(2) The flesh of the trespass offering.
(3) The peace offering of the congregation.
(4) The remainder of the 'omer.
(5) The meal offering of the Israelites.
(6) The two loaves.
(7) The shewbread.
(8) The leper's log of oil.
Where blood forms any portion of a sin offering that is brought into the Tabernacle of the congregation, it represents Christ's Blood, and it must therefore be wholly given to God in the fire. Once again, we see the importance of this Book of Leviticus within the whole context of God's Great Plan. As we of the British-Israel-World Federation consider that the vast majority of the descendants of those ancient Israelites are now found within the generally Anglo-Celto-Saxon and kindred lands, this observation ought to be of particular interest for ourselves even at this present hour.
We shall continue these Biblical studies on future programmes.
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